Sunday, September 30, 2007

Somebody Get Munaf Patel A Dictionary

Sample this, courtesy of Cricinfo:

"What is this intensity?"

Is Munaf Patel kidding? I admit the title of this post is somewhat facetious, but the intent is definitely not so.

If you have seen Munaf Patel play for India over the last 4-6 months, even if you were as blind as Stevie Wonder you would have noticed the sluggishness and lack of "intensity" that has characterised his every performance. The mind boggles at the number of times he coughed up easy runs in the field and then flashed a grin, as if to say, "ah well, sh*t happens." Don't even get me started on the his lackluster performances with ball in hand.

It is now apparent that Patel still hasn't got the clear message that he needs to put in more and let the ball do the talking. What class of clown puts in abysmal performances for his country and then has the gumption to yell:
"Let somebody tell me to my face that my attitude is not right."

If only somebody would tell Munaf Patel to hit me up via the email address provided on this page and I'll organise a place and time to tell him exactly how much his attitude is so off the boil.

Munaf needs to zip it quick fast and take the lead of his former vice-captain, Virender Sehwag, and use his time away from the national squad to get fitter and improve his weaknesses. If he wants an example of what happens to players who disappear without a trace when they spout rubbish on selection issues, he need look no further than Dinesh Mongia.

The ball is now in Munaf Patel's court. It is up to him to decide whether he wants to smash it right back or lamely limp off the court and try to settle his scores from the sidelines.

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Continued >> >>

Andrew Symonds: Sparks Of Jealousy

It's quite obvious that Australia's bundling out at the Twenty20 World Cup at the hands of Team India has cut deep. Very deep. So much so that Andrew "Roy" Symonds was compelled to voice his displeasure at the unadulterated display of euphoria that greeted the Aussie's arrival in India.

I've got a simple piece of advice for ya Roy - shut up and cop it.

Symonds' confused mutterings will undoubtedly bring a wry smile to the faces of many non-Australian fans who have endured years of failure, frustration and often injustice at the hands of Australia.

It must be said that most wounded champions deal with failure by shutting up shop and steeling themselves to demolish their opposition at the next opportunity. Those former champions that publicly deride their opponents for doing nothing more than celebrating well-earned victory expose only their arrogance and set themselves up for more failure.

Andrew Symonds', as good a player as he is, must understand his position in this big, bad world. He is no Shane Warne or Glen McGrath. These two players could spout rubbish at their opposition (remember McGrath naming his bunny at the start of every series) and usually get away with it because they were masters of their art. Symonds' needs to concentrate on improving his cricket so he can avoid embarrassment, especially if he intends to talk more nonsense in the future.

Just as an aside, why is it such an Australian trait to complain when the proverbial hits the fan?

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Continued >> >>

ICC World Twenty20 Final

I apologise for the lack of posting over the last couple of weeks. I could scarcely believe that the ICC could actually put on a tournament (of a high degree of frivolity, it must be qualified) that didn't bore spectators to death and then Team India did the unthinkable.

It has taken me a few days to get over the stupor of seeing my team win and anything that I could have possibly wanted to write since that epic final has been written many times over. So I'll leave you with a few lasting images from that wonderful day. Do not hesitate to plaster it all over your own desktops:

I'd love to be able to photoshop out of the photo the three stooges standing at the back of this photo:

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Continued >> >>

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Shoaib Akhtar: Liar Liar Pants On Fire

Quite obviously, being convicted of ball tampering, taking performance enhancing drugs and being the thorn in the side of any decent soul who has ever tried to do any good for Pakistan cricket isn't enough. Shoaib Akhtar decided he needed to bash one his team mates - with a bat, no less - to prove his point.

The point is, nobody seems to quite understand what Akhtar's point actually was.

A typically Shoaib Akhtar-esque situation has resulted in more questions than answers. Why did the fight start? Who were the protagonists? Was Shahid Afridi the peacemaker, or was it Mohammad Asif? Which company sponsored the bat that Akthar used to strike Asif? Will the said company use Akhtar and that darned bat in an advertising campaign?

On a more serious note, we have been fed absolutely conflicting versions of the events that led to Pakistan's most potent immature fast bowler of the modern generation being sent home for the second time within 12 months from an ICC event. It seems clear to me that Akhtar has taken a few liberties with the truth in an attempt to weasel his way out of an extremely tight spot.

Another question: how will the PCB punish Mohammad Asif for speaking out on the issue, after the Board issued a diktat warning all players not to do so.

It must come as no surprise to regular readers of The Match Referee that the various comment pieces from the usual suspects have left me slightly flabbergasted. It surprises me that there hasn't been a unanimous call for a permanent ban to be handed down to Akhtar. Instead, some people are wondering whether this is the end of the road for the rogue paceman.

Pakistan cricket, similar to the country itself, needs swift and decisive action. Only tough and exacting measures will bring about a sense of normalcy that is so abhorrently lacking in the current setup. There is no point pondering over what action might be a fair punishment.

There is only possible step and it must be taken to rid the game of cricket of one its most unwanted fools. Shoaib Akhtar must be banned.

Continued >> >>

Monday, September 10, 2007

Matt Prior Becomes First Casualty Of English Summer

For a while after the England v India Test series it seemed as if Ian Chappell had been personally slighted by Matt Prior, such was the vehemence with which he was arguing for Prior's axing. The English selectors might just have been listening, for Prior has been been omitted from the list of 12 centrally contracted English players.

Nothing has yet been officially uttered by the England management, but one would have to guess that Prior's England career is all but over. I include his ODI career in that last comment, because he simply did not do enough with the bat to warrant his place in the team at the top of the order, especially now that Luke Wright looks to have at least a brief future at the top of the English order.

If nothing else, we will now be spared of that annoying and unnecessary chirping from behind the stumps.

Continued >> >>

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Tendulkar To Retire

Breaking the big stories is the Match Referee's forte' and dont we have a massive one here. Get out the tissue paper ladies and gentlemen because we have reliably learnt from sources close to the great man himself that his retirement from the One Day format of the game is imminent.

18 years at the top level, coupled with the burden of carrying an entire nation’s hopes during that time has eventually taken its toll on Sachin Tendulkar who has almost certainly decided to retire from One Day International Cricket.

He had previously planned to play on and make the next World Cup in India his swan song but recent injuries and demanding nature of the game has eventually caught up with him. Tendulkar had planned to announce his retirement on the tour of England but close friends such as Venkatesh Prasad and Robin Singh urged him to do so back home in India, where he has brightened the lives of so many people.

More news to follow on this one and I will hand it over to Ayush T to analyse the great masters great career.

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Continued >> >>

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Darryl Hair Saga: The "R" Word Raises Its Ugly Head

Malcolm Conn believes Darryl Hair's sacking from the ICC's Elite Panel of umpires was "disgraceful". The Match Referee has vehemently maintained that Hair's illogical and self-serving actions deserved a much earlier wave goodbye. The only disgrace here is that Conn and his ilk continue to support a selfish and attention-seeking umpire who put personal agendas above those of the game he was appointed to serve.

To date, cries of racism in cricket have been the sole domain of the non-Anglo Saxon nations (it must be said that such claims have often been based on nothing more than sour grapes). However, as has been his wont throughout his chequered career, Darryl Hair is about to set the record straight, for all the wrong reasons.

For as long as I care to remember, at work or school, if you have a problem with something you don't dob in another student, colleague or friend. Hair has shown us that he cares little for such social norms and will the basis of his case against the ICC will be a very childish, "but, he got away with it", in reference to Billy Doctrove.

I've got news for you Darryl, it's not racism, its your track record. This is not the time to blame an innocent party, but to take responsibility for your incredulous and unnecessary actions on and off the cricket field.

Unfortunately, we all know that the chances of Hair taking responsibility for his mistakes are about as likely as him losing weight. So pucker up and watch this man's feeble and inadequate allegations get thrown right back in his face.

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Continued >> >>

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Australia Sweat Over Langer's Replacement

The Australian team has almost been forgotten after not being involved in a serious cricket match since the completion of the World Cup. It has been an almost perfect setting to allow them to plan for the absence of Shane Warne, Glen McGrath and, to a lesser extent, Justin Langer in their future.

The replacements for Warne and McGrath are already in the system and have tasted success at some level. Players like Shaun Tait, Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus will be tried over the next few series to find a long-term replacement for McGrath. Stuart MacGill will do a reasonable job in place of Shane Warne.

It is the role of opening batsman that will be trickier to fill. The drawback of having a steady and consistent opening partnership over a number of years is the lack of knowledge pertaining to the relative quality of the bench-warmers. Phil Jaques was dropped after scoring 96 on ODI debut against South Africa. Chris Rodgers hasn't showed us his face in an international.

These two players, along with wildcard Shane Watson, are tipped to replace Langer as Australia's second opening batsman. Personally, I do not believe Watson has what it takes to be a Test match opener. A handy late order batsman, maybe, but not an opener. Mark Taylor has a point when he opines that Australia need wickets from Watson, more than they need inconsistent runs at the top of the order.

Asking Shane Watson to open may send him the way of India's Irfan Pathan, whose bowling fell away to such an extent that he lost his confidence in dramatic fashion. From the little he has shown us, I do not believe Watson's bowling is of a level that will rip through good international batting line-ups. Until he manages to develop a couple of balls that move off the straight at pace and with control, he will only manage to hold up an end for a few overs, at best.

The experience of Andrew Symonds has proven the size of the leap from ODI to Test cricket. I don't believe, and I don't think anybody else does either, that Shane Watson is a better cricketer than Symonds. If Symonds struggled so much after being given a consistent run, what fate awaits Watson if he is able to string together a few matches?

Keeping all this in mind, why not give him the best possible chance of success by playing him in a position where his is most comfortable - at seven or eight. We must remember that McGrath and Warne are not around any more to save the day.

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Continued >> >>

England v India: Its Not Just A Laugh

Time has come for Indian cricket to stop offering excuses about why certain players have not a chance in hell of doing the basics right. Bending one's knees to pick up a ball rolling along the ground is not rocket science. Letting through hundreds of runs, over the course of a series, because players simply cannot be bothered doing the basics is deplorable and inexcusable.

It frustrates me to know end to see the likes of Ramesh Powar, Munaf Patel and Sourav Ganguly making elementary fielding errors and then smiling and laughing straight after the fact. The smiles may be a direct result of their embarrassment, but it's obvious that any such embarrassment has not spurred them into improving that facet of their game.

This group of offending players have had enough chances to work on their fielding and bring it up to an acceptable standard. This situation is hindering the whole team and turning them into the laughing stock of the international cricket community.

It is high time that all players who cannot field at an acceptable standard are not selected to represent India. A bowler is not only a bowler and a batsman is not only a batsman. These 'specialists' spend a majority of their time fielding and it is of crucial importance that they we competent enough in this area before being selected in an Indian squad or team.

At the very least, it will send the message that poor fielding will not be excused, nor tolerated. Even the best bowlers would not have been what they were had it not been for the fielders around them. India, with their current attack, can ill-afford a fielding unit that gifts runs like a leaky tap.

For all the experience and/or skill that Powar, Ganguly and Patel bring to Team India. They need to be benched until they display a discernible lift in their fielding standards. Until then, they are a burden on Team India and superfluous to requirements.

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Continued >> >>
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