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Friday, October 30, 2009

Questioning Allegiance




Former England captain, Micheal Vaughan whom I respect highly has written in his newly released autobiography about the sad state of English cricket. It is truly sad and disturbing to learn that Jonathan Trott forgot which team he is in.


Micheal Vaughan has accused Jonathan Trott of celebrating with South Africa's players after England's loss in 2008. The then English skipper claimed he saw South Africa-born Trott, congratulating the opposition after the match at Edgbaston and drinking and celebrating with them. He wrote in his book, 'Time to Declare', "It was a sad day for English cricket that on my last day against South Africa I saw Jonathan Trott celebrating with South Africa, when the week before he had been our 12th man at Headingley. I was going into the press conference and I saw him patting them on the back. It hit home what English cricket has become like." This is a heartfelt cry of disappointment from the skipper that clearly shows the current condition of English cricket and also International cricket. Truly a sad state.

Trott has replied saying, "My commitment to England is 100%. I've spent seven years working hard to be able to wear the Three Lions and in that time my allegiance has never wavered." For those words to mean what he meant he must now back it up with performances.

Trott enjoyed a dream Test debut in August of this year when he hit a century as England clinched the Ashes at The Oval. Vaughan added, "The selection of Jonathan Trott after much fevered speculation proved an excellent decision. He immediately had that look about him of being comfortable at the highest level, and could prove to be a more stubborn version of Kevin Pietersen. I suppose you might wish Trott was a bit more English, but after such a brilliant debut it appeared we had found another high-quality batsman." I bet that Pietersen would not be all that happy learning he has competition. But what is really surprising is that no one has blamed the IPL so far.


It is a sad thing to note that most of the players who 'proudly' wear the Three Lions are actually foreign players. English county cricket has a massive influx of foreign players. Even in the national side, Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Strauss, Jonathan Trott, Matt Prior (all South African-born) and a few others like Simon Jones, Owais Shah are all born outside of England. Monty Panesar and Ravi Bopara are also not fully English or at least their roots aren't. With a mix of race, the 'English multi-national team' is bound to strike doubts of loyalty.

But then again, is it a surprise that players 'tend' to forget their allegiance nowadays? Just look at football, where a player scores for Manchester United, runs around and kisses his jersey and turns up the next day and do the same for their rivals.

Let's just hope that cricket doesn't end up like football.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

'Cricket has been everything to me' - A tribute to David Shepherd




I was shocked to read in cricinfo that, David Shepherd, former England legendary umpire, has passed away after a long battle with cancer. He was only 68. One of the best umpires in the world passed away on 29th (yesterday) leaving the cricketing world shocked.


Shepherd was a renowned international umpire who officiated in 172 ODIs, including three World Cup finals, and 92 Tests between 1983 and 2005. He also played for Gloucestershire as a batsman over a 14-year career, which included 282 first-class matches. He scored 12 first class centuries.

He is regarded as one of the greatest umpires. His decisions were always accurate and he earned the respect of the players he officiated and also the millions of fans. His superstitious and humorous approach to umpiring won him many admirers. Spectators loved it when he used to stand on one of his legs when the scoreboard read '111' or the same triple digits (eg. 222, 333,). Professionalism has always been his key stone.


Shepherd has always been close with cricket and once said that, "Cricket has been everything to me". He always held Gloucestershire close to his heart. The Gloucestershire website's statement said, "He was respected by all with whom he came in contact, especially the international players whom he encountered in so many Test Matches. He always brought a smile to all our faces. For him cricket was a lovely game, a simple game and a game to be enjoyed. He himself brought so much enjoyment to so many of us."

One of the first personal tributes came from his long-time colleague, Dickie Bird. "I feel very saddened this has happened. He was a fine umpire, we spent many happy hours together. He was a great man and a tremendous man to umpire with. He was a good bloke, he'll be sadly missed."

In his last test match as an umpire, the West Indies skipper, Brian Lara presented Shepherd his MRF bat that said: "Thank you for the service, the memories and the professionalism. Enjoy your retirement."

I'd like to conclude this tribute article to the great man with David Shepherd's own words on his love towards the game.


"Cricket has been my life. It has been everything to me and I would like to give something back..."

Surely the man who redefined umpiring remains a legend and a role model for all umpires. We will surely miss you for your impeccable umpiring skills. Thanks for the memories and may your soul rest in peace.

India draw blood




India finally level the series thanks mainly to Dhoni's majestic hundred and equally important contributions from Gambhir and Raina. After being put into bat India scored an mammoth 354 and asked Australia to do what they have never done before - chase a target in excess of 350. And as expected they fell short by 99 runs [scorecard].


Dhoni's innings was well compiled and also well paced. When he came to the middle the scoreboard was 97 for 3, and Dhoni didn't lose the momentum as he ticked away the singles, and started to construct one of his best innings. Dhoni's innings is really significant as a.) It has come after a very long time, b.) It was just the type of innings that a skipper of a team is supposed to make, c.) Proved the world why ICC rates his the number one batsman in the world, and d.) He scored the highest score by an Indian captain against the Australians.

Being always cynical of Dhoni, even I am surprised at myself at the praise I am heaping upon Dhoni. No wonder he added his 23rd bike (man of the match award) to his collection thanks to his ton. Now the series is wide open as the teams head towards Delhi.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Sreesanth Saga



Sreesanth Question -
If you happen to be one of the leading pace bowlers in the country with a serious attitude problem and is currently out of the Indian team, what do you do to get back into the team?

Sreesanth Answer -
Skip the Ranji Trophy camp arranged by the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) and attend the Chairman of the selectors, Krish Srikanth's son's wedding.

Sreesanth has been missing from the camp by KCA since the 12th of this month. And as the captain (?), shouldn't he be leading by example. I always thought that Sreesanth was a nut case, but it seems the people who head KCA also are in the same category. Who in the right mind would put Sreesanth as captain of a cricket team?

Sreesanth was probably called as the wedding reception probably lacked a dancer. He is an exceptional break dancer. I still remember the time when he hit Andre Nel for a six and started dancing. The video is given below.



Sreesanth is a psychology student (?). Yes the man who needs serious Psychiatric help himself is a student of the subject. Is this all a coincidence?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lessons from Vadodara




The Indian team staged a dramatic fightback under Praveen Kumar and Harbhajan Singh in Vadodra only to miss the target by a whisker [score card]. The match was truly lost but Praveen Kumar's and Bhajji's assault against the Australian bowlers made sure that India would go down fighting. When the margin of victory is just 4 runs, it generally is heart break for the losing team and specially if they reached the position from an unattainable situation. India under Dhoni would be ruing the missed chances while the Australians and Ponting would feel a little undone by their wayward bowling that nearly cost them the match. Surely lost of lessons are to learnt from Vadodara. More for the men in blue than the kangaroos from 'down under'.


India in the last 12 months have been a complete let down in the field when it comes to fielding. With plenty of fresh young legs in the team, the fielding standard is bound to increase, but sadly that has not been the case. Right now the team drops plenty of straight forward chances. The best fielding side is generally the winner in an ODI. So it was no wonder that India lost. Maybe if the chances were taken and the fielders had been more alert on the field then the margin of four runs would be negated, but unfortunately it didn't pan out that way. Gifting free runs do not make a team World Champions. And if India are to achieve that status then they require to make the opposition struggle and grind for every single run. This is probably one of the reasons why Australia and South Africa are so successful in the shorter format.

Also another major problem with the Indian team is the lack of intensity when running between the wickets. The Indian team is really lucky to have so many stroke makers in it's batting line-up who can clear the boundary at will. This team doesn't really struggle scoring boundaries such as England or Sri Lanka do. The boundaries rarely ever dries up since the team is filled with aggressive batsman. But taking is gifted aggression for granted is a major sin. The batsman running only a run when there is two easily available, is a crime that comes to haunt you in close run chases like yesterdays. The running between the wickets must be equally aggressive, as the batsman look to capitalize on every ball bowled. Another failure is the failure to make most of the batting power play. But India would be glad because they have found an excellent allrounder in Harbajan Singh.


The Indian team would be looking at the reasons they lost and hopefully they can rectify it soon. At least momentum is with the Indians despite the loss.

The Australian's main lesson from the match would be their bowling unit. The bowlers except Lee were erratic in their approach. They didn't stick to the basics and experimented a little to much. Stump to stump bowling was discarded and Harbhajan crashed in on the lack of proper death bowling. The important 49th over bowled by Shane Watson is a clear example of this. The very next over when Siddle decided to go to the basics he was rewarded with Singh's wicket. Another main concern is the amount of extras the Australian's gave. With 24 runs from extras and 14 of them wides, the bowlers, specially Siddle has some fine tuning to do. The way they almost lost yesterday's match would have a few alarms going in the Australian camp.

But the Australian's main concern would be the injury sustained by James Hopes, and the their two in-form bowlers Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson. Allrounder, Hopes has suffered from a hamstring strain, while Mitchell Johnson left the field briefly with a left ankle problem. Lee complained of a sore elbow and bowled only 6 overs. Ponting would surely be a worried man knowing that his bowlers are not fully fit and may miss the next match.

Surely with momentum in India's favor, and the injured Yuvraj Singh returning to the side against an depleted Australian team due to injuries, it would be the ideal place to level the series and set the tone for the remaining matches.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

T&T left singing the blues




The Airtel CLT20 has finally concluded. It was an amazing tournament that has changed the way cricket has been organized so far. Reciprocating the UEFA Champion's League, the Airtel CLT20 has been an great success, despite the Indian teams not qualifying for the semis. Truly 'franchise' or 'club' cricket has evolved into an whole new level.


The finals was a match worthy to be called a final as the Australian all-time great New South Wales took on the Trinidad and Tobago who had been undefeated till yesterday night. Brett Lee starred with a stunning all-round performance as New South Wales beat Trinidad & Tobago (T&T) to win the inaugural Champions League Twenty20, in Hyderabad. The 41-run margin of victory, however, didn't mean it was a one-sided contest: T&T dominated initially, reducing NSW to 83 for 6, before Lee's innings lifted his side to a competitive total. Lee also featured in a fiery opening spell where he picked up two big wickets.

Yours truly was supporting Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad is a team that had entered the league as an underdog but has done immensely well capturing every one's imagination. Darren Ganga is a captain above excellence and I admire the way he has led this team. Opening with a spinner in the semi and the finals takes courage and he did just that. Also I love the way he openly shared his plans and views to the world wide audience. Truly T&T (or as I call it T.N.T) are a team to watch for.

With the big money given away, it's time to turn our attention to the series the Indian media have started calling 'The honor series' and 'The grudge series' where India take on rivals Australia. This is surely the series to watch. Jai Hind.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Why I Like Swann...




After a week of writing for Castrol Cricket, I return my attention to Poshin's World and come up with this totally unrelated article.

Graeme Swann, the boy from Nottinghamshire is currently England's number one spinner and one of my favorites. Swanny is a seriously funny bloke whose antics on the field often bring a smile on the spectators face.


Here we can only imagine what Swann and Tim Brensen are doing....

This is one of my all time favorites of Swann as he mimicks Brett Lee. 'Binga' has finaly got another livewire to compete with him.

Another thing I like of Swann is the 'fights' he has with James 'Jimmy' Anderson via Twitter (http://twitter.com/swannyg66). Twitter is one of the places where he revels and reveals his talent. In his bio he interduces himself as 'i play cricket, i'm in a band, and i recently stopped wetting the bed! oh and i'm funnier than jimmy anderson.' I still remember once when he asked what was wrong to cook and eat a bird that the cat brought in. Surely with a player like Swann the English dressing room is a lively place.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I Won the HALL OF FAME CONTEST!




Harsha Bhogle has commented on one of my answers and the answer has been selected by Harsha as the the answer of the day. My first award in writing.

My answer can be found at http://www.castrolcricket.com/askandanswer/viewQuestions.php?qid=1255349554389457. This was the one that won the award.

I'll be answering at Castrol Cricket (http://www.castrolcricket.com/) so please do drop in to see my responses.


Cheers;



Monday, October 12, 2009

Pigeon Power



I finally got to see one of my favorite bowlers bowl again after more than 12 months. Glen McGrath playing cricket after quite some time was on song yesterday from ball one when he hit the good length area and had the ball straighten away at the off-stump line. The 39 year old Australian had last played for Delhi in May 2008.

After the brilliance of Sehwag and Dinesh Karthik the Daredevils posted a more than competitive score of 170. But it was the Delhi bowling that really turned me on. The match was all but sealed when Nannes and McGrath punched holes into the Wayamba top order to reduce them to a hapless 36 for 5. Dirk Nannes was fast and furious and scalped 4 while comeback man McGrath took 2.

Glen McGrath has been a match winner but his exclusion in this season's IPL still bewilders me. A man who can produce bounce and be nippy in the air and who can swing the ball both directions is always a front line option. And specially some one like McGrath who can keep probing the off stump and test the batsman's patience. In the death he would be the ideal bowler, but sadly Delhi couldn't figure it out until yesterday. At least they realised it and McGrath delivered.

I just hope to see more of the pigeon brilliance in the games to come.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The lack of quality



The Indian domestic set up lacks quality and serious competition. The domestic circle in India is no where near the level of the International level leaving a large gap that needs to be filled. One of the many reasons the Australian's have produced so many match winners is because of their rigid domestic structure. The quality in the Australian domestic circle is almost par with the international level. By raising the quality of the game, the talents and potentials of the players are bound to be raised.

Indian cricket has been surging due to commercialism and domestic cricket in India is being improved but still a lot is to be desired. The IPL certainly helped the cause as overseas players mingled with the Indian players and raised the standard of cricket, but now even the IPL teams are behind when compared to the English County teams or the Australian and South African domestic teams. This is seen clearly in the Champions League T20 so far as all the Indian teams have suffered losses.

Bangalore Royal Challengers may have been out shined by the brilliance of Duminy, but Delhi Daredevils and the Deccan Chargers are to be blamed. The Indian teams have an huge advantage as they play four overseas players while most others play only one. Another great advantage is the knowledge of the local conditions which the Indian teams failed to use as in the case of Delhi against the Bushrangers.

New South Wales is probably one of the strongest teams in the world and has produced a vast number of players for the Australian team. Only if the Indian domestic circuit undergoes drastic changes can they expect to bring out raw talent out and emerge as a world super power in cricket.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Champions Trophy reaches climax



Today, in the Champions Trophy finals the Aussies take on rival New Zealanders. In a tournament where India, South Africa and Sri Lanka (the three top favorites) crashed out in the the group stages, Australia and New Zealand had to hold their nerve to reach the finals.



Both Australia and New Zealand look stable and are more or less settled. Australia look like the better team with Shane Watson peaking just at the right time. With Tim Paine, Watson, the in-form Ponting, and Hussey, the Aussies have a more than formidable batting line up. While the islanders without Jesse Ryder and the big hitting Oram do seem a little fragile. It will be up to McCullum to fire and Ross Taylor to hold the innings together. The Kiwis' main worry would be their inconsistency with the bat.

Australia have won the last 4 out of 5 matches they played, surviving the Pakistan scare. The Kiwis have been less successful but have won 3 out of their 5 games.

Daniel Vettori and Shane Bond would be the main bowler for the Kiwis. They would be looking up to Mills and Butler, but I say that the match would be determined by the wickets Bond and Vettori take. The Aussies bowling looks menacing once again with Lee and Johnson. But it has to be seen whether Siddle or Hauritz can rise to the occasion.


New Zealand have entered 13 tournament finals before this, and have won four of those. While the Aussies since their 1999 World Cup triumph, have reached 19 tournament finals, and have lost only three. The whole New Zealand team has scored six ODI centuries between them (Ross Taylor 3 and Brendon McCullum, Martin Guptill and Grant Elliott one each), while Ponting alone has 28.

Surely the stats favor the Aussies but I hope the men from New Zealand can pull of a sensational upset.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Cricket Quiz - 6




The cricket Quiz will be posted every Friday and the answers to the quiz must be sent to me via email (christopherdavid007@gmail.com) on or before Wednesday. Therefore the last day for this quiz is 8th of October. Please write in the subject cricket quiz.

The answers will be published every Friday with another set of questions along with the winners of previous quiz to cricket quiz -5.
The answers to the previous quiz.
1.) Which legendary Indian spinner has the figures 12-8-6-1 (read as overs-maidens-runs conceded- wickets) against East Africa in 1975 World Cup?
Bishan Singh Bedi

2.) Which Australian captain was nicknamed 'Captain Grumpy'?
Allan Border
3.) In which city is the Gaddafi Stadium located?
Lahore, Pakistan

4.) Which year was the Wisden Cricketer's Almanac first published?
1864
5.) Name this famous English batsman [In the Picyure] . [HINT - He played for Surrey]
Jack Hobbs

The Winner(s) of the previous Quiz are, Deepak Balamurali, and Gaurav Kumar
- Congrats.

This weeks questions are,
1.) Who are the only father and son combination to have ever played in a World Cup. [HINT - The father played for East Africa and the son for England]

2.) Who invented the 'Leg Glance'?

3.) Which country has the unenviable record of being dismissed twice in the same day during a test match.

4.) Which famous umpire said, "I married cricket"?

5.) Name this cricketer [in the picture].