Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Yuvraj Singh Immortalised In Napier

Our main man Yuvraj Singh (we honestly hold him in high esteem here at The Match Referee) is famous for a number of things: Sunny Gavaskar believes he is the cleanest hitter of the ball in Team India at present; VVS Laxman believes that the media are unnecessarily harsh on the poor bloke and should really back off; and I picked up on the effects mic that a comedian in the crowd at the recently concluded second Test in Napier had this to say:
"Ey, ey, Yuvraj Singh
Ey, ey, Yuvraj Singh
He hits the ball, he hits the bitches
Yuvraj Singh"

Excuse me?!?!

While I don't pretend to believe that either Shakespeare or Tagore would be mightily impressed with the quality of language or prose above, I would like to congratulate the author for producing, if nothing else, something highly original and different to "Saaaachin, Saaaachin" or "Indiiiia, Indiiiia".

However, I do wonder about our comedian friend's motives in trying to open our eyes to Yuvi's exploits off the field, and not least of all the accuracy of his contention? Imagine if such standards were applied to today's sporting heroes.

A school of thought, and one towards which I lean in this instance, is that some people have far too much time for their own good.

Continued >> >>

Friday, March 27, 2009

Ranjit & Rameez Simply Do Not Cut It

So I was wrong about the BCCI and their intentions with respect to shifting IPL2 out of India. In fact, the egotist in me is inclined to believe that Lalit Modi surreptitiously read my musings and his larger-than-life ego forced him to prove me wrong. Lucky the egotist within me is not a dominant force, otherwise I wouldn’t blame you for believing me to be somewhat deluded.

More significant than my ego is news that the IPL (read BCCI) has signed a new TV rights deal for the next nine years – with the same group with which it terminated its previous broadcasting contract. Huh?

Word is that the BCCI hadn’t counted on IPL1 being such a huge success and wanted to milk the TV contract within an inch of its life. To boot, Lalit Modi was a friend of the previous CEO of the rights-holder and speculation exists that he didn’t really like the new kid on the block. Add to this a clause which allowed the BCCI to tear up the contract at any time of its choosing and the world was burdened with another situation in which the BCCI was free to act like a thousand pound gorilla.

Before I bore you with another rant about my pet peeve, the real reason for this post was a quote from Manjit Singh, new CEO of recently reinstated broadcaster:
"At Multi Screen Media & World Sport Group we have done some pioneering work in showcasing cricket in an entertaining and informative way and we will continue to innovate and extend the excitement of cricket through the IPL."
Once again we have another cricket broadcaster well and truly missing the point. A game of cricket is entertaining because of the deeds of the cricketers on the park, not because of the frills and follies of the presenters or the commentators. At most, cricket commentators are like the smidgen of parmesan cheese that I sprinkle on my pasta – they add to the flavour and texture, they don’t create it.

This is especially true when you have the likes of Rameez Raza, Laxman Sivaramakrishnan and Ranjit Fernando (and by no means is this a complete list) occupying the box. Give them cans of Pepsi / Coke to promote and you have a recipe to make even the most placid viewer cringe dry wrench.

On behalf of all cricket fanatics the world over, I plead with the broadcasters of IPL2 to first and foremost, not steal the cricketers’ limelight - commentators are accessories to the action, they are not the main event. Second, commentators shouldn’t be promoting anything during a match because a) they’re not very good actors, and b) we’re burdened with enough ads without having our intelligence further insulted. Last but not least, commentators don’t have to be gun ex-players. Normal people with proper spoken English skills, a passion for the game and knowledge of its working will, more often than not, suffice.

I have a feeling that my protests / suggestions will, once again, fall on deaf ears. But hey, why suffer in silence? I prefer to go down fighting.

Continued >> >>

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Specialised Website Builder For Cricket Clubs

Are you a member of a cricket club that doesn't have website worth mentioning? Is your cricket club lacking the funds to develop a customised website? Wouldn't it be so much easier if everything you needed to know about our club was all published in one place?

John Cook has started a website called CriciWiki. If you believe your club needs a professional website with all the functionality of a professional website, pay CriciWiki a visit and get your club on the world wide web.

Continued >> >>

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Such Are The Ways Of The BCCI

That one can never be sure that what it says is going to happen, will actually happen. Nothing is certain until the first ball of the first game of IPL2 is actually bowled. One might even be moved to surmise that the BCCI is the most self-centred and two-faced organisation on the face of this planet.

Sachin Tendulkar opines that an internationally hosted IPL2 will be no fun. Yuvraj Singh doesn’t really care, as long as he has his family around him (when did Yuvi become such a 'family' man?) and John Buchanan thinks the IPL will still be played in its country of birth.

I subscribe to the conspiracy popular theory that the IPL Commissioner’s announcement on the weekend was merely an attempt to pressure the central government into falling at his feet. The murkiness of Indian politics (cricketing and otherwise) forces me to believe that the BCCI is currently applying every devious instrument it can get its hand on to turn the screws on the Home Ministry. Why else would the name of the new host nation still be shrouded in mystery, when it was to be unequivocally announced almost 12 hours ago?

I have strong suspicions that Cricket South Africa and the ECB are merely pawns in the filthy game that is the interplay between the BCCI and the Indian government. While the other two boards don’t have an option other than to fight over the BCCI’s scraps, the BCCI could do worse than to consider the implications of its scaremongering and, potentially, further sullying of its already compromised reputation.

A reality series on the behind-the-scenes workings of the BCCI would be a fascinating watch, wouldn’t it? Any TV producers short of a good idea?

Continued >> >>

Thursday, March 19, 2009

South Africa’s Historic Victory in Oz is Replaced with Epic Failure at Home

Contrary to the previous story about the Aussies, South Africa’s tale is one of sterling success on 30 December 2008 to shocking defeat on 10 March 2009. In a series that promised so much for the Proteas – defeating the Aussies in consecutive test series, claiming the mantle of no 1 test nation in the world and putting on a show in front of their home fans, it was a major disappointment to all South Africans.

The Proteas have clearly performed below expectations and this is attributable to a number of factors. Certainly the loss of two coin tosses didn’t help them but this can’t be attributed to their second test defeat as they only had 352 runs to chase for a first innings lead. What has been most disappointing with their batting was the inability of their frontline batsman to step up when called upon.

Neil McKenzie was ordinary and should have been replaced with Ashwell Prince (regular vice-captain) at the commencement of the series. Now McKenzie makes way for Prince in the third test and in being recalled to the side, Prince is also elevated to captain in Smith’s absence for the third test. Strange stuff!!! To make things appear more bizarre, the selectors turned around 48 hours after Prince’s announcement as captain to do a backflip and announce that Jacques Kallis would take the reins for this encounter. Hashim Amla continually got starts, as he did in Australia, but could never get past 60 runs. Kallis scored a 93 but for a player averaging close to 55 runs per innings, was clearly an underperformer.

The only two innings of notable standard were A B DeVilliers sensational 104 not out in a team total of 220 in the first test and J P Duminy’s 73 not out in a team total of 138 in the second test. Both of these innings demonstrate the lack of performers within the side.

Graeme Smith’s finger injury in the second test certainly didn’t help their cause. However in saying that, there should have been other willing contributors with the bat to make up for Smith’s absence in that encounter.

The bowling of the South Africans was also unspectacular and far from the fearsome outfit that trodded the Australian pitches a few months ago. Morne Morkel was erratic and unreliable and Paul Harris didn’t have many answers to the likes of Hughes and North. It clearly demonstrated the reliance on Dale Steyn to provide the wicket at their time of need.

Going into the third test, South Africa will be without Smith who is injured and have omitted McKenzie and Morkel. Ashwell Prince will open the batting despite normally being at number 5. Imraan Khan, the top scoring batsman in the South African first class competition, who incidently scored 100 against the Aussies for the Presidents XI in the tour opener, joins the squad and Prince in opening the bat. Albie Morkel will replace his brother Morne though Wayne Parnell has also been added to the squad.

South Africa needs to finish the series on a high to make up for their ordinary efforts over the first two tests. At this moment in time, 30 December 2008 seems like a distant memory. It’s time for Jacques Kallis and co to recapture their summer of glory.

Continued >> >>

Australia Puts the Proteas Away in Straight Sets and Turn Around a Forgettable Summer

30 December 2008 – a day the Aussies would like to forget. A day that many felt would signal the end of a decade of cricketing supremacy and dawn upon a new era, one where the side would be the hunter and no longer the hunted and have to undergo a lengthy rebuilding phase.

10 March 2009 – the rebuilding phase is virtually done and Australia defeat South Africa 2-0 in a test series that they were widely tipped to lose. They regain their aura as a devastating force in world cricket and re-affirm their status as the number 1 nation in test cricket.

The win by the Aussies comes as a surprise to many but at the same time an expectation to others. Given the fact the Aussies have been dominating the world scene for many years and the series against South Africa in the Australian summer was a close battle (2-1 in the Proteas favour), it would be silly to think Australia had next to no chance in this series.

What has been most encouraging was the immediate success of the Aussies three debutants, Philip Hughes, Marcus North and Ben Hilfenhaus. The Australian selectors made a number of enterprising choices for this series and their decisions have been clearly vindicated in the results.

Hughes has been the major revelation and understandably so, given the fact he is barely 20 and has taken up the most talked about batting position in the world over the last 6 months – Matthew Hayden’s opening spot. Hughes, coming off a glorious first class summer for New South Wales, took no backward step in the South African’s outspoken plan to bombard him with the short stuff.

Also impressive was his ability to turn around his rather ordinary debut knock, a fourth ball duck and disregard it from his mind to then turn in performances of 75, 115 and 160 in his next three knocks. His performances have been startling and he has the realistic prospect of scoring 1000 in his first calendar year of test cricket.

Prior to commencement of the series, Marcus North’s position in the side was the hottest topic when describing the makeup of Australia’s XI for the first test at the Wanderers. The tour game against the South African Presidents XI which included a hundred, a fifty (retired) and a six-for in the second innings to secure victory locked in his position at number six in the order. A hundred in his debut test innings locked his position for the short to immediate term future, where even a fit Andrew Symonds or Shane Watson may find it difficult to usurp he Western Australian captain from his position.

Ben Hilfenhaus has found it difficult to break into the Australian test squad. With Peter Siddle and Doug Bollinger breaking into the side before the tall left armer from Tasmania, it appeared that ‘Hilfy’ mightn’t break into the test line-up in South Africa. An injury to Bollinger prior to the series saw to that not occurring and Hilfenhaus has shined in his opening two tests, with his left arm swingers proving more than a handful to the Proteas top order.

From a team perspective, these three have gelled quite impressively and even Andrew McDonald, who has had an ordinary series to date with the bat, has found his own role in the team with the ball. Whether Australia selects a spinner to replace him in the future is a question for another time and day.

Ricky Ponting has shown astute leadership and has backed his players like McDonald and Siddle to perform jobs for him at critical moments. Mitchell Johnson has stepped up another level to now be touted as Australia’s new all-rounder after his 96 not out and 8 wicket haul in the first test. With extravagant strokeplay supported by solid technique to couple his bowling exploits, this claim certainly has its merits.

All in all, Australia has regained its mojo and will head to England beaming with confidence.

Continued >> >>
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