Showing posts with label england. Show all posts
Showing posts with label england. Show all posts

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Where'd All The Good People Go?

Compare the decks prepared for the SSC Test between Sri Lanka and India to those prepared in the ongoing England v Pakistan series and you have before your eyes ample evidence of a sad and irritating attitude of subcontinental indifference to one of the key ingredients that will ensure the continued success of the most revered format of our great game. Add to this the utterly illogical support for the SSC surface from one of the greatest names in Sri Lankan cricket and the picture, of a total lack of understanding of the issue at all levels, is complete.

While the third Test track for the Lanka v India series was almost the perfect subcontinental track in terms of balance between bat and ball, one gets the distinct feeling that such occurrences are a function of happenstance, rather than the result of strategic planning and / or scientific formulation. The issue is one of supreme importance because there appear to be two distinct schools of thought on the issue of good cricket wickets: those that care and those that do not. Unfortunately, these groups are delimited by geographic and board room voting lines, thereby, making it very difficult to impress upon them the need for change.

It is an irrefutable fact that a healthy bottom line is integral to the continued success of the game. It is, however, a travesty that the Asian boards are now intent on devaluing the product to make it last longer for their TV executive masters. Surely it is not that difficult to create a 'product' that maintains its quality while still lasting the best part of five days? What's the point of Viagra, if there is no climax?

As with every malaise in subcontinental cricket, the rot starts at the very top. The charge of apathy towards the what's really good for the game can be laid squarely at the feet of cricket administrators who's wont for power and tendency towards greed far outweighs their sense of responsibility towards the stakeholders who look to them for leadership, guidance and vision.

The ineptitude blighting the administration of the game in both the East and West will do it no good. While not perfect, Cricket Australia actually makes admirable attempt at introspection and continued self-improvement. Its experiments and players may not be the most popular, but name me another cricket board that faces as much pressure from rival sports as Cricket Australia, and still manages to succeed? I guess it really is true that competition really does sort the wheat from the chaff.

Given the rapidity with which preparations for another of the subcontinent's great sporting hopes, the Commonwealth Games, are unravelling I'm moved to join Jack Johnson in asking, "where'd all the good people go?"

Continued >> >>

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Are ODI's A Thing Of The Past?

On The Match Referee's Facebook fan page I recently asked whether there would ever come a time when England could be taken seriously in ODIs. Here, I found my answer. In one fell swoop the Poms have decided that one-day cricket is superfluous to their requirements and clearly not a priority for the future.

I can't help but get the feeling that this is a decision motivated by (wait for it...) financial considerations rather than any stiff-upper-lip English response to the less than pure forms of the game. If it wasn't, why wouldn't they scrap the 40 over competition too?

Given that the ODI Cricket World Cup is going to be around until at least 2015, for that's when the ICC's TV broadcasting deal expires, the Poms have virtually guaranteed their players the most imperfect preparation imaginable for these, still, prestigious tournaments. To be fair, English performances in limited overs cricket have been as inept as the ICC's handling of world cricket over the past decade. The Poms should do us fans a favour and withdraw from future ICC ODI tournaments altogether.

Is the ECB trying to convince the world that ODIs should be reduced to 40 overs or is this decision the strongest hint yet of the imminent disbandment of ODI cricket? What do you think?

Continued >> >>

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Is Australian Cricket Missing The Point?

The immediate aftermath of Ashes 09 has predictably seen a flurry of opinions pertaining to everything and anything that may be wrong with Australian cricket. A lot of this noise has been made by the top chiefs and former players about the need to professionalise Australia's selection panel, with Jason Gillespie the latest to proffer his two-cents-worth. However, does a professional panel necessarily improve on-field results or does it just make them more predictable? I put it to you that in its haste to exhibit disappointment and an appetite for change, Australian cricket has simply missed the point.

I believe that Australia's cricket establishment has been blinded by the success of its recent crop of greats and it should have indulged less in self-absorbed back-patting and doffed the Baggy Green more earnestly to pure and unadulterated luck, for good systems and processes may help to produce more consistent cricketers but true greats arrive on our TV screens through nothing more than the grace of God. It is because of this mindset that Australia's most recent loss of The Ashes is being universally attributed to a failure of the system and the real reasons for this loss are being ignored.

I have no quibble with expert's suggestions that the job of an Australian selector (or that of any other top cricketing country, for that matter) is likely too arduous and important to leave to semi-professional part-timers. It should be made a full-time position and in this post-greats era it definitely should have a greater emphasis on early talent identification and promotion. However, this alone is unlikely to take Australia back to the top of the ICC Test rankings.

It is no secret that talking tough (remember mental disintegration), playing aggressively and appearing clinical in all respects was decisively easier with a team that included players of the calibre of Messieurs Warne, McGrath, Gilchrist, Waugh, Waugh and Hayden. But in the afterglow of their retirements, Australian cricket has developed a severe case of amnesia. It has forgotten its own two golden rules:

1. The brave make their own luck (ie. victory will not be achieved without taking calculated risks); and

2. Aggressive, in-your-face cricket is the Australian way and must be played at all costs.

The reason Australia lost The Ashes is not because the selectors failed to devote enough time to their duties, but because they took the safe and sensible route when the daring and provocative was the need of the hour. The Australian selectors sent a team to England that ticked all the boxes rather than one that was going to take the proverbial bull by the horns. Then, while in Her Majesty's backyard they didn't exhibit the gumption to make changes as and when the situation demanded.

In contrast, the English selectors, contrary to all expectations, resisted the urge for knee-jerk reactions, backed their instincts and took calculated risks (the most decisive being one Jonathan Trott). At Leeds the English could have stacked the team with batsmen, played for a draw and waited for a fit Andrew Flintoff to return at The Oval. Instead, they stuck to their guns and selected a team they thought would win the Test. They traded on aggression throughout.

On the other hand, Australia's selections favoured out-of-form bowlers and was based more on the captain's comfort level with favourite players rather than the conditions at hand or the interests of a balanced team. Is Bryce McGain so inferior to Andrew McDonald that he doesn't even deserve a place in the touring party? Especially after Shane Warne's debut, surely the selectors have learned that one bad debut Test doesn't warrant eternal exile? Is Mitchell Johnson so indispensable that the selectors couldn't bring themselves to cut their losses?

Professionalism is an oft-abused term in cricket these days. Incompetent administrators simply fail to understand that batting, bowling and fielding is an art and not a mathematical equation. It is very easy to wax lyrical about aggression and ruthlessness when the obstacle in your path is not worthy of its title. It requires heightened self-confidence to stick to those guns when the periods between successive chews of the captain's fingernails become shorter and shorter.

Australian cricket administrators must stop hiding behind irrelevant corporate management jargon. Australian cricket needs to rediscover its mongrel and self-worth, for cricket needs a strong and aggressive Australia.

Continued >> >>

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ashes to Ashes: The Aftermath

Well another Ashes series over and I am sure the reviews and respective post-mortems are already under way, at least for the Australian camp. Despite the fifth test being a lop-sided affair and ending inside four days, the 2009 Ashes has been fiercely competitive and both sides have shown glimpses of test cricket worthy of the number 1 test ranking.  

As is the way with all major test series, actions speak louder than words, but in all honesty, which team will undergo severe changes for the future? Ricky Ponting is once again down to his last fingernail in another Ashes series and holds an infamous record, in that he is the first Captain of Australia to lose the Ashes twice since the 1900's! But will it be his minions that will face a wielding axe, or the triumphant English team?

Ashes 2009 has definitely lived up to the hype of another big series ticket with all dramas starting with Kevin Pietersen's injuries, Andrew Flintoff's retirement and an emphatic English win. So this begs the question, where to now for team England? Flintoff retiring, Bopara's barren spell with the bat and a middle order lacking the stability required to sustain positive results. Winning the Ashes is one thing, but for the likes of Alastair Cook and Paul Collingwood, the exit door never seems to far away. Other than his Cardiff heroics, Collingwood proved susceptible to the short ball and could never seem to tighten his technique against the Aussie quicks, and Cook's 95 at Lords was the only showing of his true ability with the bat, along with his inability to convert 50 to 100. I cannot see the likes of Ian Bell or Collingwood for that matter holding their places once Pietersen is fit again, and rumours are that selector Geoff Miller is trying to persuade Marcus Trescothick out of retirement, so watch out Alistair Cook. In addition, the stunning debut of Jonathan Trott will certainly dampen Ravi Bopara's spirits, despite carving up a double hundred for Essex mid week.

However, despite this change, everyone knows the biggest impact after this Ashes will be the Freddie factor, how will England replace the versatile all-rounder? The improvement of Stuart Broad with bat and ball will be a positive for the ECB, but is he ready to bat at seven? In addition, England's bowling stocks seem to be hitting their straps at the moment and gentlemen such as Graham Onions, Ryan Sidebottom and Steve Harmison will be chomping at the bit for their future places in the squad.

You would not think a winning team would require such thought and immense change for the future, but what about the Australians? Can we as selection critics really see big 'Merv' wielding the axe on the squad members? As a batting lineup, it's obvious that Australia's batsmen were personally more successful than their English counterparts, but where does the buck stop? Michael Hussey was a big candidate for future omission, however surely his defiant hundred on a deteriorating Oval wicket will guarantee him a spot for the upcoming home series. Furthermore, Shane Watson proved to be a revelation and Marcus North is fast becoming one of my personal favourites and that's not just because of his big Lara-esque back-lift. So where does all this leave the Aussies?

The coming weeks will make for interesting reading, to see where the criticisms will be directed, no doubt Ponting and his inconsistent leadership along with the selectors decision's over the course of the tour will be the initial talk, but I certainly look forward to the upcoming home test series against an improving Pakistan. Until then, readers, your thoughts over the immediate future over the Australian test team personnel would prove interesting, but for me personally, I honestly cannot see much change, unless they start from the very top

Continued >> >>

Monday, August 24, 2009

It's Time To Go, Ricky Ponting

With the cricketing world appearing more like Big Brother, and less like a professional sporting environment, there could not have been another title for this piece. Ricky Ponting has lost The Ashes (for the second time) and must now make good all his and Cricket Australia's claims of professionalism and accountability by falling on his sword. Period.

Ponting's on-field tactical deficiencies, lack of selectorial vision and penchant for acting in a manner unbecoming of the office of Australian captain should have been grounds enough for his removal many moons ago. Just how long can Cricket Australia afford to support a compromised captain?

Playing a clearly out of form Mitchell Johnson after the first three tests was inexplicable, especially when one considers that Johnson has never consistently exhibited the one trait that is necessary to take wickets in England: movement in the air or off the wicket. Not playing the redoubtable Stuart Clark until the fourth Test was simply baffling. Using part-timers when pressing for victory in Cardiff would be considered unforgivable in a schoolboys match. Omitting Nathan Hauritz for the fifth Test even after the home team was considering playing a second spinner should have indicated the nature of the surface and has proven an inexcusable error. Setting defensive fields during the English second innings of the fifth Test when the clear mandate was for aggressive cricket and quick wickets was the sign of a confused and incompetent captain. These are merely five seminal moments that could have produced a different result against an opponent that, unlike 2005, can only politely be described as mediocre.

One of the pitfalls of Cricket Australia's strategy of anointing captaincy successors very early in players' careers is that significant pressure is placed on the incumbent after a string of failures. And what a string of failures it has proven to be - started by India during the second half 2008, continued by South Africa down under and topped off by lowly-placed England in the just concluded Ashes series! For how much longer can Australian cricket risk its next generation in the hands of a severely flawed leader while there is a well-groomed and more able replacement ready and waiting to assume the mantle?

Ian Chappell and even James Sutherland, Cricket Australia's CEO, have offered that Ponting may quit cricket altogether if he is relieved of the captaincy. This appears a sorry and irrelevant excuse for an absence of gumption to take decisions that will benefit Australian cricket in the long term, for the presence, or lack thereof, of an individual should never overshadow the interests of the team. If Ponting does consider retirement upon being sacked then Cricket Australia must ensure that he is appropriately counselled.

However, Ponting is a proud and patriotic Australian and has the best interests of his nation at the core of whatever he does, even if some his means are abhorrently misguided. For this reason and given all that he can still contribute to the team through his batting, I don't buy into the conclusion that Ponting would retire immediately if demoted.

Australia is known for backing out-of-form greats, but a realistic and objective post-series review must only come to one conclusion: that Ponting's days at the helm are well and truly numbered. This exit may not require Gretel Killeen's dramatics, but the writing has now been engraved on the wall - it's time to leave, Ricky Ponting.

Continued >> >>

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Does It Hurt, Ricky?

Ricky, first they give you out caught when you clearly weren't in the same suburb as the ball, then they fail to pick up a ridiculously obvious no-ball, and to cap their ineptitude, they don't refer the Philip Hughes decision to the third umpire! Doesn't it just feel like your guts have been ripped out, Ricky? Don't you feel oh so cheated, Ricky? I mean, what drugs are these umpires on, right?

Ricky, mate, I feel for you. No, I'm dead serious. I really, really feel for you pal. I mean, you are the epitome of everything it means to play within the spirit of the game, and to have to face such acts of deception and skulduggery, and that too from the captain of the opposition! Rick, I'm lost for words. I mean, could Andrew Strauss not tell that he'd grounded the ball between his very own fingers?

Ricky, in your career you've faced challenges bigger than Merv Hughes, but this is absolutely ludicrous. I mean, what is it about these Poms? They just can't seem to play the game in the right spirit - from bringing on a specialist fielder as 12th man to run you out, to claiming catches of bumped balls - their integrity is as intact as the Titanic.

Geez, I still can't believe these English would have the gall to select a great fielder to be their 12th man. Couldn't they find a bloke who could at least bat and bowl?

Mate, seriously, you handled the situation impeccably on the field today. I mean, even though you're the strongest advocate of taking the fielder's word on dodgy catches, you did really well to tell young Philip that he should stay in his crease, even after Strauss had confirmed the catch. Mate, that right there is a fine display of the art of astute and ethical leadership.

Now that you've probably broken a few chairs, killed a few bats and generally spat the dummy in the dressing room during the luncheon break, I just want you to know that you shouldn't question Andrew Strauss' integrity during the press conference. I mean it's really not his fault that he's really South African, right? Mate, in fact, you need to use those Popeye forearms of yours to personally eject any journalist who poses you a question about Strauss' integrity. After all, journalists are only ever about causing you trouble, right? What good have they ever done you, mate?

Mate, make sure you give those umpires hell - I know you will, because there's absolutely nobody in the business better at it than you. Oh, and Ricky, don't listen to them when they tell you that you've got sour grapes when you call for Rudi Koertzen and Billy Doctrove's sacking. After all Ricky, what would they know about how much it hurts to lose a Test to a team of cheats and two blind blokes.

You're a top bloke Ricky. I can't believe great blokes like you have to live in such an abhorrent and cunning world. You're a legend mate and you don't deserve to be treated this way.

Give it to 'em Ricky! Give 'em hell.

PS. Ricky, if you need remind yourself of exactly what happened, have another look:

Continued >> >>

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Stanford Empire Crumbles, Cricket Is Saved

Once again the survival of our great game can be attributed not to the brilliance or efficacy of its administrators, but pure and unadulterated luck. Allen Stanford came across as the rotten apple he has now proven to be to everyone, but cricket administrators. Why is it that the very "professionals" entrusted with the responsibility of growing and advancing the sport regularly exhibit daft and amateurish decision making skills?

People wonder why a country of a billion people struggles to win Olympic medals, I wonder why a world of over 6 billion people struggles to produce sports administrators worth the paper on which their business cards are published?

The Match Referee has long advocated the need for more talented individuals to take the reigns of the various national boards, including the ICC. The alternative is a game fractured by petty personal agendas, dubious relationships and a lack of concern for the real stakeholders.

The following three videos are from a BBC Panorama documentary, aired at the time
when the collapse of Stanford's empire had only just been put in motion. We can only be thankful to the Gods that through His grace and administrators' ineptness this conman was unable to tarnish our great game any more than he had already managed.

Continued >> >>

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Ashes 2009 Preview:Can England Re-Discover Their Swagger?

Unstable Top order and lacklustre bowling, is it all doom and gloom for England? Now with all the hype about the shift of the IPL, its impact on the game and the literal take over by the BCCI of world cricket, one cannot help but wonder about the upcoming Ashes series in England this year. What was once the most revered series in world cricket, is now falling away behind the glitz and glamour of the IPL and its big money stars.

However with the Ashes approaching, here is a look at the make up of the probable English Bowling Outfit and their upcoming series with the number one rebuilding Aussie team looking to hold onto the Urn.

Every cricket lover knows how to win a test match: is it by churning out century after century on batsmen friendly wickets? No. The number 20 should be the most important number on every player's mind, 20 wickets equals a win.

Going to the Caribbean sipping on ale whilst playing a bit of cricket on the side looked to be the mindset of the English team, and they were quickly brought back to reality with a crushing innings defeat at the hands of a meagre West Indian team. 

This was a tour marred with complaints, umpiring deficiencies and of course the ever present 'KP Spat'. After being bundled out for 51 in the second dig of the first test, the rest of the series may have showed graceful batting on docile pitches. But their biggest concern going into this ashes series must be their bowling? Unable to take 20 wickets in either of the 3 following tests, makes it hard to believe that this current crop of England bowlers can in fact penetrate the Australian line-up, I for one cannot see them doing it, but when at home anything can happen just like the last Ashes series in England. 

Typically unsettled, the tour of the Caribbean saw the selectors try over 8 bowlers, with nothing to show for it other than the positive work ethic of the toiling Graeme Swann. If they are to stand any chance of getting 20 wickets this Summer they need a fit Harmison, Flintoff and if ever possible the crippled Simon Jones. The likes of Anderson and Broad will continue to improve, but to regain the Urn they require immediate results. As is commonplace in contemporary English cricket, their lack of depth shines through with re-occurring injuries. With the powerful pace battery of Harmison, Flintoff and Jones aging and crippled regularly, gaping holes shine through of their reserve fast bowling department. I mean honestly, can one see the likes of Sajid Mahmood, Liam Plunkett and Ryan Sidebottom carrying this line-up throughout a gruelling 5 test series against an improving Australian team?

Therefore the spinners should carry a fair workload on their shoulders as Strauss should turn to them on regular occasions. Swann, in my opinion is the best spinner English selectors have to choose from and he proved his worth in the first 2 tests he played in the Caribbean with two 5 - wicket hauls on flat un-responsive pitches, so his selection really is a no-brainer. Clearly more confident and capable than Monty, Swann showed good toil with many overs throughout a long tour and displayed the variety England need in a spinner. Swann flighted, darted and turned the ball regularly, whilst his bowling partners were dispatched to all ends of the Caribbean. 

After returning with 1/122 off 47 overs in the first test, Monty continued to show his usual signs of 'Dart - Like' Finger Spinners, with lack of variety and an inability to vary his pace and Flight, leaving the door wide open for Swann who took his chance with open arms. Which begs the question, is Monty finished? Bursting on the scene with nearly 100 wickets in quick time, the opposition have reacted to his lack of variety with strong counter-punching and aggressive batting. Despite being recalled for the final test, Monty still needs to show the world that he has much more than a stock delivery and close the door on the younger and consistent Adil Rashid, hot on Monty's heels. 

So yet another Ashes approaches, who will emerge triumphant? No doubt in my mind who that will be, and after their morale boosting victory over the Proteas, the Australians will be looking to inflict more pain on this controversial England squad. I can only hope that Freddie, Harmy and dare I say it, Simon Jones be fit for this series in order to provide some form of competition. 

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 >> >>

Sunday, February 08, 2009

The 'Sun Is Shining': Reggae Style

Test captain-on-debut, Andrew Strauss, would have been found scratching his head in the England team viewing deck at Sabina Park. And post match, the rushed-in skipper had some difficulty in forming intelligible answers for the media after the West Indies epic victory. This latest strain to the proverbial English boat, has left it sitting precariously on the waterfall's edge - right next to Australia.

This innings defeat of England, has breathed life back into Caribbean cricket. Be it Jerome Taylor's Man-of-the-Match spell in the second innings, the developing promise of Suleiman Benn, the resurrection of Sarwan, the stalwart Nash, or the exhibitionist abilities of their captain, the magic is evidently returning to the West Indies.

Now some may be thinking, "he's getting ahead of himself here", "it's a lone victory over an out-of-sorts English side", "what is he on about?!". I would beg to differ.

Preceding this series, the West Indies toured New Zealand, in what many considered would be a 'chore tour', only being played out to keep the ICC content. Even their greatest fan, Tony Cozier, was struggling to find much appeal in the series.

However, the series seemed to have awoken the desire of old to win and enjoy their cricket, which had evaded the side since the 80's. Remarkable performances from Chanderpaul and Gayle, were witnessed consistently, but were expected. But it was the responsibility taken up by Nash, Sarwan, Taylor, Benn, and Powell in particular, which has brought a fresh sense of change to West Indian cricket. Although the test series with New Zealand drawn, and the ODIs lost 2-1 (decided by D/L decided match which the WI looked like to win), things were changing.

And this test win at Sabina Park supports this theory. It was a sight for the sore eyes of many fans that have waited for this day to come for almost two decades. That a Chanderpaul innings was not depended on for this victory, speaks volume of the growing maturity of this team. Taylor and Benn were phenomenal, and their partnership will sure deliver similar memorable results in the future.

We will watch with great anticipation, if this cricketing super power of old can invigorate this rekindled flame and cause Strauss' England a great deal more torment and pain.

Continued >> >>

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Pietersen & Moores Situation Spiraling Out Of Control

So it is being widely reported across the cricketing press corps. The blood between the two is so poisonous that Peter Moores may even be replaced in the next few days. This whole fracas is beginning to sound increasingly akin to salacious subcontinental skulduggery than a traditional and a proper British disagreement between two noble gentlemen. One can only assume that the flamboyant English captain has become quite adept in the ways of his pals in the media.

Various media outlets are reporting that Pietersen and even some senior players (does that term ring a bell?) in the England camp believe Graham Ford is currently the best coach in old country. What is it about the Poms and their love of South African coaches?

Curiously though, Ford is believed not to be on the ECB's shorlist of replacement if the blue between Pietersen and Moores cannot be resolved. By drawing up this shortlist, the ECB has already conceded that the captain is more valuable the coach. Is the non-inclusion of Ford a deliberate action on the part of the ECB to ensure that Pietersen does not wield power disproportionate to his position?

Moores' ouster would be an admission on the ECB's part that they got it horribly wrong after Duncan Fletcher was sacked. Would it not seem logical that the board then take the opportunity, especially with an upcoming opportunity to sink a boot or three into the appalling Aussies, to start with a blank canvas and appoint a man widely regarded as the finest in the land? Surely, the continued success of the team takes precedence over limiting the political power of one man?

Maybe my contention is far too simple or maybe this is simply another example of short-sighted and inept administration.

Love Pietersen's Poms? Grab an authentic Adidas England Cricket Shirt

Continued >> >>

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Professional Indian Selectors Are A Myth

I use "professional" with tongue firmly in my cheek in this instance. As with India's aping of most western concepts, the structures, responsibilities and intended benefits of employing professional selectors have quite clearly been deemed far too trivial to be understood by the powers that be and then communicated to the selection panel. Why else would professional selector think it appropriate to leak details of an alleged heated discussion in relation to the selection and non-selection of Irfan Pathan and RP Singh?

MS Dhoni was unequivocal in his denouncement of such despicable acts, which are unfortunately all too common in every walk of Indian life where the grimy hands of politicians have been allowed to wreak havoc. Selection meetings, like company Board meetings, are confidential for a reason - the players do not need to know every sordid detail that is discussed about them. This reprehensible action has ensured that Dhoni is now in a pickle that is not of his making and will undoubtedly impact team morale.

This leak further burdens the massive weight of evidence which clearly identifies that the BCCI administrators are inept and have not a care for the health of the game nor the players through whom they rake in the big bucks. This matter is likely to be swept under the carpet and life will go on. Unfortunately, the selector concerned will not be made an example to encourage current and future appointees from deterring from such cowardly acts.

The cricket will go on and India will go a long way to whitewashing the Poms. However, this incident again proves the inadequate level of administrative intelligence and checks and balances that are necessary to ensure continued success on the field beyond the current crop.

Support Team India? Get yourself a Team India Nike Cricket Shirt

Continued >> >>

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Stanford Superstars Smash England For 20

$20 million, winner takes all, and the Poms leave the Caribbean with not a penny in their pockets. Kevin Pietersen believes that the miserable England performance was a result of all the off-field shenanigans involving the players' wives and one egotistical, crass and self-obsessed American billionaire. This incident was easily explained away. However, the question of the English players' interest in participating in future such cash grabs will prove far more difficult to answer.

Coming from a country that prides itself on being so "proper" I find it hard to fathom how the ECB could agree to whore England's integrity at the altar of a smug Texan who cares not for the game, its people or their cultures. Even rational Americans will understand why it's just not cricket.

Take nothing away from the Caribbean players who have demolished their opposition and earned their millions. This money will change many of their lives, hopefully for the better. For English cricketers who are not so poverty stricken, what will keep them coming back? Surely further humiliation will not prove a big enough carrot.

I do not buy that Allan Stanford is interested in promoting the interests of West Indian cricket. Until Stanford's hidden agenda is outed, anything this man does will be viewed with a large dollop of cringe, cynicism and suspicion. For all the feeble protestations of Stanford and Giles Clarke the Stanford 20 for 20 will not capture the hearts of the cricket lovers across the globe. After all, there is simply nothing official about it.

Diehard England fan? Show your true colours with an authentic England Shirt

Continued >> >>

Monday, September 22, 2008

Stanford 20/20 Falls At First Hurdle

The Stanford 20/20 is finally being exposed for what it is - a multi-million dollar sham to satisfy the whims and fancies of one man. Don't get fooled into thinking this is payback for the IPL not including any English players in its competition - any millions the players make are purely coincidental.

Unlike any other cricket competition running at present, this exhibition match between England and the Stanford All-Stars is all about Texan billionaire Allan Stanford continuing to stamp his authority all over the WICB. We all know how loud money talks in today's world and Allan Stanford seems to love throwing it all around the Caribbean islands in the guise of helping West Indian cricket.

Proceedings brought by Digicel, the West Indian cricket team's principal sponsor, against Stanford 20/20 may see the indefinite postponement of the match involving the Poms. Digicel is arguing that the Standford All-Stars team is the West Indies national team by another name, thereby Digicel's sponsorship agreement with the WICB permits it to brand the Stanford All-Stars playing kit with the Digicel logo.

Stanford has made a lot more money by selling these branding rights to Digicel's fierce competitor, Cable & Wireless. This is a legal battle that cricket doesn't need, but one that is utterly necessary to ensure that no one individual hijacks a national board or national players for one-off tamasha matches.

If Stanford really cared for West Indies cricket he would globalise his domestic 20/20 tournament to include prominent players and teams, such as structures adopted by the IPL, ICL and domestic cricketing structure of every other national board.

I'm not foolish enough to believe that Lalit Modi or Subash Chandra are indulging in generous philanthropic acts. However, their tournaments are going some way to bettering the global standards of cricket, cricketers and the facilities they utilise.

Support the Aussies? Purchase a West Indian cricket shirt!!

Support Team India? Purchase a Team India Nike cricket shirt!!

Continued >> >>

Friday, January 25, 2008

Is Saqlain Mustaq A Pom?

Or, more accurately, will he be accepted as one by the English public, wonders Jonathan Liew. This to me sounds like merely another example of why the 2005 Ashes success was a fluke, the English attitude to building a successful cricket team is still way off the mark.

Let's face it, the question is not whether Saqlain Mushtaq should play for England, it's who should he replace in the side.

English cricket, in it's current state of utter disarray, can ill afford to delay the inclusion of a tweaker who is better than anything that country has produce before, or will produce for a long time yet. With Monty Panesar showing predictable signs of stalling in his development, who cares if Saqlain has played a World Cup final for Pakistan, or, that he turned out for Pakistan at all (a matter that would make Poms cringe)?

The Poms need Saqlain Mushtaq and the sooner they got over their typically colonialist attitude, the sooner they might have a faint shot at winning cricket matches again.

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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.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

England v India: Does Anybody Care About The ODIs?

That is not a question asked in jest. After an almighty Test series that left us all chomping at the bit for a couple of encore performances, do seven meaningless ODIs hold any significance with us cricket fans?

I don't know about you, and for this reason I'd like you to tell me, but the matches start at 11.30pm Australian Eastern time and that doesn't leave much of an appetite in my stomach to watch England get trounced - again.

Ok, ok. Maybe I am being a little unfair to the Poms in this case. They are a team that made it to the Super 8's of the that World Cup, whereas Team India crashed out rather early. I also recall them beating Australia in the most meaningless of triangular series held at the start of this year.

Even then I cannot seriously entertain the thought of an English upset in this ODI series. For mine, this series is about individuals rather than the team. Players like Yuvraj Singh, Piyush Chawla and Rohit Sharma (if he plays) have a chance to make a lasting name for themselves.

Although, this is not a make or break series for any of these three players, successive failures will increase the pressure on Yuvraj to justify his reputation as the heir apparent the thrones of the fab four. Chawla and Sharma will hopefully be treating us to their wiles for many years to come. As I have opined previously, giving them an extended taste of the big time will stand them in good stead for the future, when the senior players of today stage a collective disappearing act.

For the Poms, I seriously hope Andrew Flintoff remains fit and fighting for the duration of the series. He, along with, Kevin Pietersen are the only two English players capable of taking the game by the scruff of the neck and posing any real threat to the chances of an Indian series triumph. Flintoff, especially, has been a bane for Indian batsmen over the past 2-3 years and English fans will be hoping that he hits his straps earlier in the series, rather than later.

Prediction: An Indian series victory

What's your call?

If you support Team India click here to purchase a Team India Nike ODI cricket shirt

Continued >> >>

Sunday, August 19, 2007

An Englishman And A Beamer

Michael Atherton, that selfless defender of batsmen's livelihoods and bane of the cunning and evil band of beamer bowling bowlers, has not been heard from in that curious case of the Chris Tremlett beamer. We all know Atherton's expedience in lambasting India's Shantakumran Sreesanth when the bowler's post-beamer apology simply did not cut it with the former England captain.

The furore that Sreesanth's bouncer created in the Kingdom says as much for how flustered the commentators and the media were by the barrage that had just hit their national team. Atherton's double standards have been well exposed by all and sundry. For a man that has never worn a fast bowler's boots, his outburst seemed rather ill-informed, callous and sensationalist.

Sreesanth's beamer did not look good from any angle, but then beamers seldom do. As quick as the beamer was bowled, so was an apology tendered to a diving Kevin Pietersen.

It takes an extremely cynical washed up ex-player pundit to presume that any one of Brett Lee, Sreesanth or Chris Tremlett would ever intentionally bowl the most hideous of deliveries one can be witness to on a cricket pitch.

I have deliberately not added the name of one express Pakistani fast bowler to the list of three names above. I wonder what venom Atherton would spew if the said bowler happened to send an Englishman crashing unceremoniously to Earth with a tasteless ball that simply knows not how to bounce.

If you support Team India click here to purchase a Team India Nike ODI cricket shirt

Continued >> >>

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

India Defeats England - Presentation Ceremony Videos

For some strange reason, probably at the sponsor's behest, two 'Man of the Series' awards were presented: to one member of each team. Surely, the presentation of two 'Man of the Series' awards is a contradiction in terms. Surely.

Note, however, the graciousness with which Michael Vaughan accepts defeat and lauds Team India, but also his own players. This man, along with his Indian counterpart Rahul Dravid, is the epitome of the finest breed of sportsman - tough as nails on the park, humble and grounded off it. I hope Ricky Ponting was taking a few notes.

I won't keep you waiting much longer, this is the presentation to the English team, interviews with the two Men of the Series, Zaheer Khan and James Anderson, and the post-match interview with Michael Vaughan:

This is the presentation to Team India (the expression on each and every Indian player's face tells a thousand words about the journey the team has travelled, none more so than Sachin Tendulkar) and post-match interview with our man Rahul Dravid:

If you support Team India click here to purchase a Team India Nike ODI cricket shirt

Continued >> >>

India Beats England - Nothing Else Matters

Forget the World Cup. Forget the Greg Chappell saga. Forget all the near misses of the recent past. For heaven's sake, forget the fact that Rahul Dravid didn't enforce the follow-on. For, this is a time to stand and scream yourself hoarse to celebrate a ground-breaking Indian victory.

Team India's performance during this tour of England has been the most comprehensive and cohesive display of teamwork that any Indian cricket team, for the last 20 years, has put on show. If there was ever an example for why a good team will always triumph over a set of stunning individuals, this is the most fitting.

Every player from No 1 to No 11 played a significant role somewhere along the line. These little contributions may not have been as heroic as Mahendra Singh Dhoni's 76 at Lords, masterly as Sachin Tendulkar's 91 and 82 or stunning as Zaheer Khan's 5-fer in the second Test, but they all helped to forge the path to a well deserved victory.

For once in my life, I find myself agreeing with Andrew Miller, when he makes the point that many Indian fans have allowed their cricketing judgement to be so skewed by "burger bar" cricket that they have managed to lose all perspective. This situation is unfortunate as it may dampen the joy that many of the said fans may have otherwise felt. However, the naysayers will keep on neighing. To be brutally honest, life wouldn't be nearly as enjoyable without them.

In the meanwhile, let me take this opportunity to congratulate and thank Rahul Dravid and Team India for all that they have delivered over the past few weeks - may much, much more await us in the coming months and years.

Be sure to cherish and savour the sweetness of a series victory, 21 years in the making. Amid the confusion that abounds in all our worlds, let's not forget that nothing else matters.

If you support Team India click here to purchase a Team India Nike ODI cricket shirt

Continued >> >>
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