Monday, 21 December 2009

0-0 so far ? Only on Paper.

The recently concluded first test between South Africa and England at Supersport Park has received raving reviews from sources far and wide, and rightfully so.

That the final result after 5 gruelling days in the sun was still in the balance with 1 ball of the Test match remaining speaks volumes for the format and indeed the nuances of Test cricket that are often forgotten during extended periods of Pyjama Cricket. It was a fantastic spectacle and with 3 Tests remaining in the series, one can only hope for more.

Some humble observations from my side include the following :

NTINI IS AT, OR FAST APPROACHING HIS SELL BY DATE
This loyal servant, workhorse, super-star - call him what you must, has given his all for his country over the last 13 years. That only 6 other seam bowlers have played as many Tests as he has is proof enough that the guy is special. My view is that he should quit while he's ahead. Allan Donald played a season too many and is often remembered more for that, than for the special talent he displayed for the better part of 15 years. Ntini should avoid doing the same. I don't question his fitness, his pedigree or his attitude. I just believe him to be less effective than he was at or near his peak, and less potentially effective than the guys in the wings. The modern game requires variation from spinners and seamers alike. The fact that Makhaya has never had a slower ball makes his 100th cap even more of an achievement. No off cutter, no leg break. Seam up, varied length - between 130-140 kph. How many modern day top order batsmen are gonna lose sleep over that ? Not a helluva lot of them I can tell you. Makhaya you are and will always be fondly remembered for your services to SA and World cricket. Quit while you're ahead big guy.
SIDEBAR : CSA may ask him to play on to balance the 'colour' scales until a replacement is found. That's a whole new discussion though.

AFTER STRAUSS AND KP, ENGLAND HAS NO TOP ORDER
Yea sure. Trott has done well thus far, but Kingsmead will be only his 3rd Test. The Saffas will get under his skin, just you watch. Ian Bell ? Geoff Boycotts grandma is better than him. Alastair Cook has looked completely out of sorts since getting off the plane. I don't expect much to change there. I would suggest Swann has shown more application to batting in Tests in the last 18 months than some of his specialist colleagues. And that doesn't only include the recent game at Centurion.

If Dale Steyn returns to full fitness in time for the boxing day Test, expect Friedel de Wet to sit out, and wrongly so. He has more hunger, a younger frame and more pace and variation than Ntini, but my gut feel is that CSA will not let Ntini go just yet. Not for a white bloke anyway.

If de Wet had not overstepped when trapping KP plumb LBW early on in his innings, the game would have been done and dusted with 20 overs to spare. Having said that, if the umpire had called the no-ball that dismissed KP in his first innings, England may have won. A lot of Ifs Ands Ors and Buts.

England will probably replace Bell, and possibly give Sidebottom a bowl. Steyn will most likely replace de Wet for SA. Weather permitting I think Sa still have the advantage, especially now that Kallis is expected to resume duties with the ball. Time will tell.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

ODI's NEED A LEASE OF LIFE - "THE VDW METHOD EXPLAINED"

The ongoing ICC Champions Trophy was promoted as the possible saviour of the One Day International format. A good, exciting tournament, said the pundits, would ensure that the format survived another day. Test cricket is as healthy as it could be, and T20's popularity hits new highs every 3 months (Cue the Champions League next month).


Most often, the ODI's most criticised quality is the fact that the so called 'middle overs' are boring. Not enough happens when the field is spread, TV viewers run their errands and make coffee or bath their children, to return near the end of the innings when the bigger shots come into prominence. So say many different critics.


Various solutions have been put forward. Sachin Tendulkar says the format should be split into 4 quarters of 25 overs each, ensuring that the conditions and pitch are shared and experienced in equal doses by opposing teams. Some prominent ex-players and administrators have called for the format to be scrapped completely, so that more T20 cricket can be pasted into the calendar.


As a Protea supporter who has had nothing to do since Graeme Smith was dismissed late on Sunday night against England, I have a few suggestions of my own, and will shortly be contacting the ICC to suggest them.


Powerplays : The first 10 overs, pretty standard. We currently have an additional bowling powerplay and a batting powerplay. 9 times out of 10, the bowling powerplay is taken by the fielding captain for overs 11-15. More often that not, the batting powerplay is taken some time between overs 42 and 50. Its all fairly predictable most of the time. It leaves us with the 'dead' period in between where batsmen pick off singles waiting for the next powerplay (or so say the critics). We could simply make all 50 overs a powerplay I guess. It may not conform to too many people's definition of a good contest but I can assure you it will be entertaining.


My recommendation on Powerplays is that they become cast in stone, and that Powerplays are enforced rather than taken.

Powerplay 1  - Overs 1-12 (12 overs)

Powerplay 2 - Overs 36 -45 (10 overs)

So I am effectively advocating for an extra 2 overs of powerplay cricket, which is hardly profound. But here's the catch : With wickets in hand, and assuming the batting team has some momentum - overs 46-50 will be equally explosive. If momentum is gained during the final powerplay, batters will hardly go back into their shells and start picking off singles again. Sub-Conscious powerplays we will call them.

"Oi, how many runs did England manage to add in the SCP ? I had to pop down the store for some milk?"


This leaves us with a 'dead' period in overs 13-35. It is during this 23 over period where the game can potentially put punters to sleep. However, with this writer's next suggestion that too can be avoided. All cricket fans have long watched as gangly number 11's strode to the crease to face the oppositions premier wicket taker, and we have all felt sorry for the batsman at one stage or another. Glen McGrath or Courtney Walsh padded up and striding to the crease were always a fantastic sight for whoever had the ball in their hand at the top of their run up because it was almost certain that they would routinely add another wicket to their figures for the day. Good bowlers have always had to potentially be ready to bat when their teams have needed them. But never have good top order batsmen been forced to bowl while specialist batsmen from the opposing team were making merry. Until now that is.


In ODI dreamland where my format is used, between powerplays 1 and 2 as outlined above, the opposing captain shall be forced to use a minimum of 10 different bowlers during overs 13-35. This effectively means that everyone bar the keeper needs to get through at least 1 over of 6 legitimate balls. Who can possibly suggest that Matthew Hayden bowling his gentle medium pace to Tendulkar in his prime would not have been entertaining? And that with a powerplay due shortly ? It can only add to the entertainment value.


By suggesting new powerplays and enforced use of non-specialist bowlers, everything here has been slanted the way of the batting side. Until now. Because the fielding captain will have potentially been forced to use approximately 5 below par bowlers, we need now to add an arrow to his depleted quiver. How about letting him choose 3 bowlers in his team to bowl a maximum of 12 overs, and not the standard 10 ?


Now you as the fielding captain have some sort of ace up your sleeve. 2 more overs from each of your top 3 bowlers could translate into 2 or 3 wickets for the fielding captain. Does the fielding captain use these overs in a powerplay ? Does he use them during the 'dead' overs ? Or does he use them during the SCP ? This is about as close as my bright idea will come to maintaining an even balance between bat and ball.

"An arguement against my proposed format would be around selection. Will selection policies change to suit only batsmen that can bowl well ? The answer to that is a simple 'No!'. Specialist bowlers are currently being picked knowing full well they may have to bat at some stage. They are picked for their ability to bowl. Specialist bowlers do sometimes go for 15-20 runs in a single over of ODI cricket. In a similar vein, specialist batsmen will still be picked for their ability to make runs with the bat, the fact that they may concede runs in their solitary over applies to both teams and as a result the playing fields are level for both teams. I could argue that with my format, not a single selection change to any of the teams that have completed ICC Champion's Trophy matches should or would have been changed at all. What I can guarantee is that the matches would have been more exciting"


The ODI is dead, long live the ODI !!!

Thursday, 18 June 2009

THIS IS THE BUSINESS END

With the T20 World Cup nearing it's close, the main stories in world cricket still seem to centre around the abject failure of India to qualify for the knock out stages. India were poor, they lost all 3 games in the Super 8s phase and its becoming more and more likely that if not heads (plural), then at least 1 head will roll. The 2 obvious candidates would be Dhoni and/or Kirsten. I cant imagine Dhoni's head would roll. There's no-one else to lead India, his slump in form will correct itself and I think he is well liked liked by those in powerful places. Kirsten however .... As well as he has done with this team in the last 18 months, the T20 WC was not a speed bump - it was a fiasco. It's not like India lost out in a close semi final. They got their asses handed to them 3 times before the semi final stage. This is a catastrophic failure and I think Gazza will be well advised to put his CV out there. The ECB for one is regularly hiring and firing consultants, coaches and other backroom staff. Maybe earning a few quid over the summer is not a bad idea for Gary if things don't work out for him after the next gathering of the BCCI's hot shots.

SOUTH AFRICA vs PAKISTAN
Cricinfo has billed this as Science vs Art. Nice romantic headline if it wasn't a complete crock of shit. They are effectively saying that PAK's approach is more artful than that of South Africa. If Gibbs and de Villiers in full flow are not art, then I don't know what is. If Botha's effort in taking 3 wickets and strangling the run rate against India is not art in the cricketing sense then nothing is. The SA juggernaut clearly does it's homework, and works hard in preparation for matches in which it plays. This in no way, shape or form means that they have not relied heavily on flair and flamboyance from the individuals. It does seem rather better controlled that may be the case with other teams but check the result in tomorrow morning's paper and then decide for yourself. Pakistan have 3 useful bowlers and 1 useful batter on current form. That the rest of the team are all hit or miss does not mean they are artists. Roelof vd Merwe is to orthodox cricketers what Geoff Boycott is to explosive run rates. Scientific ? I think not. I think Ajmal and Afridi hold the key for PAK in today's game. IF they go for runs and don't get at least 4 wickets between them - PAK will lose and lose comfortably.

SRI LANKA vs WEST INDIES
This is a closer game to call than the other semi final methinks. Jayasuriya vs Gayle could go either way, they are both capable of winning games on their own. But the clincher is the Three M's vs WEST INDIES batting. Unless Gayle or someone up front goes ballistic before the spinners settle, I can't see the WI dream continuing.

A Sri Lanka - South Africa final at Lord's is on the cards here ...

Monday, 15 June 2009

INDIA DOWN AND OUT

The ponytails handling marketing and budgets for the ICC would not have had a good day on Sunday. Cricket's Superpower has been eliminated from the T20 world cup before the Semi Finals stage and revenues from the tournament will be the loser. Having said that, no-one really cares about the ICC so lets focus on the next most important thing : The Indian Fan.

Any Indian fan worth his Sahara sponsored replica shirt will be distraught at his cricket team's demise. The number of followers drawn to Indian cricket in full internationals and even IPL's hosted away from home has led me to believe that players like Yuvraj, Tendulkar, Dhoni and CO. hardly ever have to wear their "away" hats anymore. With the support that follows them around the world they are almost always playing at home. Lord's yesterday was no exception. That England play in blue and the stands were "a sea of blue" was pure coincidence. The 2 were not linked. India had by far the majority of support at the Home of Cricket and the script was going along nicely until ... mmm ... Where indeed did it all go wrong ? Ah yes, now I remember. When Dhoni won the toss and decided to field. No no my apologies. It went wrong even before that. Probably in a team meeting when Dhoni and the rest of the brains trust decided to drop the India's leading tournament wicket taker for a youngster playing in his first game of the tournament. Yea maybe that was it. Or at least the start of it. Jadeja making 25 of 35 balls when the required rate was escalating would not have helped matters.

In the field India weren't bad at all. They restricted England to a total they would have fancied chasing. It was not to be however and their (in)ability to cope with shorter pitched bowling had not shown any improvement since their last match (read : defeat) against the West Indies. On balance, they deserved to get knocked out, they could clearly not cope with the levels required for play-off places. But their fans would have expected more, of that I have no doubt. My sympathy is with the fans. That INDIA possess the talent is undeniable. Depth Even. But the pressure proved to be too much and if anything it showed that T20 should almost never have favourites. Not amongst the top 8 nations anyway. On their day, anyone of the last remaining teams could win this thing.

But we shall wait and see. I reckon we give the players a break. The quality ones will be back in October for Champions League. YAY ! More T20 !

Saturday, 13 June 2009

INDIA ON THE ROPES

India were well beaten by the Windies last night and will hope to avoid a repeat in their next fixture against England. Tomorrow's game takes on quarter final proportions and there are a few things that India will want to do in order to set the record straight. Apart from getting off to a better start, I can only imagine that they will do their homework on opposition batters this time round. Anyone who watched the IPL (ie. the whole of India) will know that Dwayne Bravo loves playing inside out and when pressured for runs, that's where he will look to get them. That he got away with it for so long last night would have been disappointing to the Indian fans. Apart from Yuvraj, the top order failed and I can't see that happening again, especially not against England's toothless attack. I definitely think Dhoni's place in the batting order is 6 or higher. In his career thus far I cant remember him ever knowing when to milk singles. Last night he had Yuvraj on fire, with the maximum number of men posted to the boundary and still he tried to hit everything out of the park. In true Dhoni style though, on a wicket which wasn't as flat as a pancake, he struggled with his timing in trying to hit the cover of everything. Eventually he got hold of one, timed the pants of it, and hit it straight into the sweeper's chest. If anything I can only imagine that most Indian fans would have been relieved at his dismissal. Dhoni has a very good cricketing brain when he captains the team from behind the stumps, but with bat in hand it almost looks like every game he plays, until he gets to 30 or 40, that he is playing his first game at this level. Until he plays a mature innings where some judgement is required either way, in my mind he will always be a flat track bully. He has hard wrists (very un-indian) and has no idea when to accept that discretion may be the best option. As skipper though he is India's best choice and will keep his untold millions of fans on that basis. As a viewer I find him incredibly frustrating to watch. Enough said. I favour India to win and win well against the hosts.

The only worrying thing about South Africa's campaign so far is that they have not yet had a bad game. They seldom have 2 bad games in one tournament and they are now reaching the stage where they can ill afford a shocker because it will eliminate them from the tournament. On that basis I am hoping that SA lose to India in the final game of the Super 8's. I believe it could fire SA up massively for semi finals and give India an air of complacency. I hope. If Dhoni pushes himself up the order it will make it that much harder for SA to lose though.

HAs anyone else noticed that the camera work thus far in the tournament has been shocking ? Too often that batsmen give it the kitchen sink, from front on you can see he's top edged it into the offside, only for the camera to pan the stands at mid wicket, no doubt looking for the crowd catch, only for the ball to land inside the 30 yard circle. SKY need to up their game.

"JP Duminy. Left hand batsman. Favourite player : Justin Ontong "

Do me a favour. Geoff Boycott once said that he'd work Ontong around the park with a stick of Rhubarb. I for one, believe him. Why would JP patronise a benchman like that ?


Thursday, 11 June 2009

TIME TO SHINE

Super 8's kick off today, and in one of the most poorly thought out competition formats in the history of cricket, it should still be a lot of fun despite the ICC's incompetence. First things first. I would like to place on record that I think Ireland will play three and lose three convincingly. The dream ends here. Nice for the teams in their group, but by far the more entertaining group will be India,SA, ENG and West Indies.

Given current form, most people would say our 4 semi finalists should be Sa, India, NZ and Sri Lanka. But as we saw with the Calypso King against Australia, 1 good performance can blow away any team if it's not their day. On that note it wouldn't be wise to ignore Pakistan, West Indies or England. Pakistan's bowling especially looks capable of upsetting absolutely anyone.

NZ will win easily today against Ireland and on form I fancy SA to do the good against England. Despite a proliferation of stories in the press about there being no animosity between KP and the rest of the South Africans especially the captain - rest assured : Animosity there is. Temperatures will be running high, emotions will follow suite. Look for a cracking game, animosity and boundaries should flow. For England I think their key men are KP and Bopara - if those 2 fail, England will lose by some margin.

Rain rain go away, come back another day


Wednesday, 10 June 2009

HERE COME THE "SUPER" EIGHTS

Cracking game last night between Sa and NZ - In difficult conditions for batting, I thought both sides did well and would have come out of the game with positives to take in the latter stages. Conditions were clearly bowler friendly, movement through the air and off the deck was on offer and this could be a sign of things to come for future matches at HQ if the prevailing weather forecasts don't undergo any major changes.

I must admit, I am starting to wonder if commentators are even necessary anymore. Or maybe SKY have just decided that for this particular tournament they're not gonna hire anyone half good at it. Jeremy Coney should seriously not be allowed to make a living from calling cricket matches. Bumble needs new material. Kepler Wessels was the only one adding to my viewing pleasure, with comments not always directly related to the pictures I could see for myself, but often aimed at actual analysis of the game and god forbid : Expert Opinion.

A lot was said about SA getting the batting order wrong. Too an extent I agree but with the game being a dead rubber, I agree with Mickey Arthur sending Roelof into the cauldron on a tricky surface. The experience of being in a tight situation like that, whether he made runs or not, will be something he should have learned from, and this bodes well for the latter stages of the tournament should he find himself in a similar position. Herschelle played one of those innings where he looked like he didn't know how to hold the bat - he did this in the IPL too and eventually came good so look out for him. AB was unlucky, the openers did well and JP and Albie did their level best on a difficult surface with no time to play themselves in.

In the fielding and bowling departments SA were their usual clinical selves. The spinners were absolutely world class. Roelof and Botha deserve all the credit they get. On the subject of Roelof though, anyone reading this will know that I campaigned for his inclusion in the RCB team at the start of the IPL. When eventually included, it coincided with a turnaround in RCB's fortunes and they finished as finalists. I am not suggesting vd Merwe was solely responsible for this but I do think he played a role and deserves credit for it. But what's with his attitude lately ? Manly screaming and flexing and spitting and cursing whenever he gets a wicket ? If Roelof wants to be the complete product, he should consider taking a page from Vettori's book in this regard. Celebrate by all means, but a little bit of humility goes a long way. vd Merwe has regularly looked a spoilt brat when misfields occur off his bowling, or when he gets a wicket. His steep rise to the highest level may have caught his testosterone management skills off guard but it's something he will do well to improve on going forward.

During NZ's innings, was I the only person in the world to see that on that wicket, McCullum was only ever gonna score meaningful runs when given width on the off side ? Short lateral boundaries, especially towards the top of the slope were begging to be found. And for the first 10 overs, not a single SA bowler concerned themselves with cramping McCullum for room. As soon as they realised this, they bowled a bit straighter and suffocated the guy, eventually leading to him dancing down the track only to be stumped. McCullum is not a batsmen. HE is an out and out slogger. No difference between him and a guy like vd Merwe. He has a limited repertoire and bowlers are cottoning on to him. Don't give him room on the off side in the first 6 overs and he will struggle to go at more than a run a ball. Its simple. He simply doesn't have the technique to seek runs in other areas if cramped.



Iain O'Brien to me is an enigma. I bracket him with Jeremy Coney in that I find it mind boggling that he can make a living from the game. The guy does a much better blog than me admittedly but he works from a better base with a nicely decked out home on Cricinfo, the top cricket website in the world, bar none. Take that away from him and what skills does he have ? None. The guy can't bowl. He can't bat. He can't field. He is the poor man's Mohammad Sami. Against Scotland the other day he got absolutely hammered, bowling as many as he could into the slot, with no variation in pace. In the interview after that innings, he said he felt that the 'bowling plan' had been effectively executed, but Scotland's batsmen had been up to the task and got the better of them. WTF ? He was bowling to Scotland's top order, not the Windies side of the 80's. There was no Greenidge, Haynes, Lloyd orRichards. Ryan Watson took him for four boundaries in the first over that eventually went for 18, and O'Brien was not used again in the match. "We bowled according to plan, but Scotland were too good on the day" - Bollocks. The bowling was shite and you got carted. For a positive spin, the poor bloke doing the interview had to bring in a reference to Ian's blog, or they would have had nothing to chat about.

"Neil Broom. Right Hand Bat. Favourite shot : The Sweep" - Most Kiwi's still have a sense of humour and that may be why they are so well liked by the neutrals. I did find it a bit disappointing that no commentator pointed out Broom's fielding position during most of the powerplay. He was sweeping on the offside boundary.

Today's cracker, weather permitting will be West Indies vs Sri Lanka. Look for loads of boundaries, lots of excitement and some poor commentary.

Til Next time

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

2 WEEK HOLIDAY IN LEICESTER ON THE CARDS

What a joy it was to watch the Aussies crash out of the T20 World Cup. Their form guide in T20 Internationals over their last 5 fixtures reads as follows : LLLLL. So why's the press making this out to be a huge upset ? If anything its more or less what should have been expected (see my previous post). And it couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch of guys.

Just yesterday, David Hussey went on record in his usual arrogant Aussie twang and said the following : "It was highly disappointing but we've got to move on and play Sri Lanka tomorrow afternoon and we've got to win and win well to hopefully stay in the tournament," Hussey said. "Our backs are against the wall and that's what Australians love, being in that situation.

"Once Australian backs are against the wall we generally come out on top and hopefully we put on a good show. It's an opportunity to glide through the tournament like a shark. Come tomorrow afternoon we can put on a show and glide into the Super Eight phase."

Hahahahahahah - Dave - slide to Leicester my son - and sit there for 2 weeks watching the pro's do it on TV why don't you ?

**************************************

"David Hussey - Right Hand Bat - Favourite player - Mike Hussey" - When that came up I puked in my mouth a little bit haha

Monday, 8 June 2009

ENGLAND SURVIVE BUT WILL AUSTRALIA ?

With the T20 WC now well and truly underway, the drama of a host nation struggling for form has been complimented by the possibility that Australia may exit the competition this evening. Oh, the joys of T20 and smug Australians !

Sri Lanka will be making their first appearance of the competition, Australia could be making their last. Pound for pound I think the sides are pretty evenly matched, and similarly out of form. But they do have talent and class that will show itself at some point. Australia seemed very excited before the tournament at Brett Lee's availability for the tournament. I can't imagine that excitement is still there - Gayle absolutely murdered him. Lee was lucky to only got for 56, he bowled a very tight 4th over or it could have been way more. Popular opinion has it that they will bring Hauritz in for Lee on a track that should start taking spin. Now that's funny. A right arm offspinner against Sri Lanka expected to be the shrewd change needed to revive Australia's campaign ? The Sri Lankans will be licking their lips at the prospect of a 60MPH bowling machine trying to keep them quiet. On the flipside - Murali will have a longer batting line-up to go through if he intends bowling his team to victory. The Aussies do bat til at least 9 and in their last outing they were disappointing - expect an improvement tonight. All in all it should be a tight game, bookies have Australia as favourites but I will comfortable enjoy a small wager on the Lankans at 15/10 and watch Jayasuriya and Co send the Aussies on 2 weeks' compulsory leave ahead of the Ashes.

On the Symmonds issue - it amazes me that so many supposedly 'intelligent' and 'educated' people are so surprised at how things have turned out for him. The man is an alcoholic. After falling out with Australian cricket authorities on more than one occasion, the best they could do for him was make him 'promise not to consume alcohol in public'. They did not care that he would be doing untold damage to himself, as long as it was done behind closed doors. The important thing to them was that Brand Australia continued to fair well, and be seen as an upstanding, marketable entity. Too hell with the individual's health. In hindsight it has become clear that Symmonds should have been offered a little more. And included in a little more support in his personal battle, should be complete abstinence from alcohol. If Symmo as an alcoholic, were able to ween himself off booze, he would have been the first alcoholic ever to do so. Cricket Australia are as much to blame for the broken relationship as what Andrew Symmonds is. Silver lining : As a T20 freelancer, their is no doubt that Symmonds could earn more playing the lucrative T20 leagues of the world, than he would have travelling the world with Ponting's men, and making sure he follows the 'family rules'. I for one hopes he is able to stay clean long enough to secure his future of the course of the next 3 years. The man is a joy to watch.

David Lloyd describe the last 12 or 18 balls of any innings as 12 or 18 'events'. Events that could be crucial for either side in their quest for victory. Fair enough. Could someone please ask him to stop explaining the theory behind it at the end of EVERY SINGLE innings ? Man alive, its frustrating. We like you Bumble, but don't take us for granted.

On television, before any batsman makes his way to the middle, viewers are tortured through pre-recorded mundane introductions by the players themselves, describing their favourite shot, nickname or favourite player. Scott Styris - nicknamed Miley - that's funny. Most of the others are not funny, nor informative. These guys are all professional cricketers, and over the course of a decade they will generally do what they do very well. Public speakers they ain't : Most are inaudible, very few even bother looking into the camera, and for some reason most of them have a favourite shot that they look incapable of playing. James Foster's favourite player in the history of world cricket is Nasser Hussein. Essex kiss-arse !

C'mon Sri Lanka - send Australia on a 2 week holiday to Leicester hahahahahahaha !

Sunday, 31 May 2009

T20 WORLD CUP PREVIEW

Just 12 days after the Mighty Chargers lifted the IPL trophy, cricket fans (most of us anyway) are licking our lips at the 3rd biggest thing in T20 after the IPL and the proposed Champions
League. It will not impress the ICC that their tournament ranks 3rd in my book, but to hell with them. It should still be a lot of fun.

In my view, the thing that sets the other 2 tournaments aside is the fact that there haven't been, nor are there likely to be any matches deemed to be very obviously one sided before a ball is bowled. The same cannot be said about the T20 WC. To look down the fixture list in search of a one-sided clash, one needs look no further than Game 1 featuring (term used loosely) England and the Netherlands. No matter how crap England are at the moment in the T20 format, one can't see the Dutchmen banking maximum points on opening day. 3 of the first 5 games should result in landslides and there will be many more to follow in the group stages. I do believe it will be good to watch from Game 13 onwards by which time minnows should have eliminated. The tournament really only kicks off at Super 8 stage.

After a fantastic warm up in the shape of the IPL, all except possibly 7 or 8 of the world's best players will have had time to play themselves into form, or get the bad form out of the way depending on how you wish to look at it. Mitchell Johnson, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and 1 or 2 others along with the entire Pakistan team should be reasonably well rested. So everyone participating will be able to put a positive spin on their preparations.

2 sides in particular will put their hands up in the form department - India and SA. Defending champions India will have a lot more pressure on them this time round as holders I would think, not that there wasn't much pressure on them in the previous edition. In a way, SA will have less pressure on them given the fact that they've had a good summer regardless and this time round they are not hosting the tournament. Sa have gone in with a squad that virtually selected itself, and most of the team members reached good form during the IPL. To be an Indian selector can't be the easiest job it world sport at the moment and no matter what final XI is settled on, there will always be good players being left out, such is the depth in Indian cricket at the moment

While all teams will have a chance and anything can happen come semi final time (pick your cliche), the reality is that teams with quality players and proven BMT are more likely to rise to the top. For your winner, look no further than India, South Africa or Australia. There, I've said it. Every other side in this tournament is there to make up the numbers.

The warm up games have led me to believe a few things to be true :
  • Scott Styris - the 'step' shaven into his head didn't work for Jason Donovan, and it won't work for him - but he'll be there to mop up the shortcomings of his so-called flamboyant opening batsman - he of KKR fame
  • Rohit Sharma - In 15 years' time Rohit will be remembered as one of India's best ever. And by that time it will be a case of Yuvraj who ?
  • Like any of the top sides, India can blow hot and cold. When they blow cold they may lose close games or even still win against lesser teams. When they blow hot they will be decidely unstoppable.
  • South Africa look very well prepared. As they did for World Cups in 1996 (Lara blitz in quarters),1999 (tied semi after mix up),2003 (DL cock up) etc etc - need I say more ?
  • DLF maximums (although not so called in this tournament) will abound. In some areas, the boundaries at Lords are 60m. Ropes have been brought in at both other grounds as well. For people like Morkel,Yuvraj,Jayasuriya and numerous others, short-arm jabs will clear the ropes at a canter
  • The IPL's 160 avg winning score will have to climb. Pitches will be flat and with short boundaries and dare I say a few inferior attacks, 180 will become par.
  • The recent IPL produced 2 centuries in 59 games. The T20 WC will produce more hundreds in half the number of games
  • I think the pitches will offer something to real pace, and good spin. Run of the mill medium pacers will travel. Collingwood, Oram, Maharoof, Luke Wright and co had best hope they all bat and field well if they intend to contribute.
  • Minnows are minnows in any form. Bangladesh may surprise the odd team, but Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands will leave , in the words of Anne Robinson, with nothing.
  • Pakistan will be Pakistan. They will murder more fancied opposition at some stage. And they will throw away at least 1 game from a very dominant position. Of not entertaining they will never be accused.
  • If the full England team were playing in my back garden, I would draw the curtains. A sorrier, less glamourous, less effective outfit you will not see. KP will produce the odd cameo but it will not be enough to save the 3 Lions.
  • 1 of Sa, India or Australia will win it.
Enjoy !

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Deccan Charges on to the Title !!

I called it, And so it came to pass : Less than an hour ago Deccan Chargers were crowned 2009 IPL Champions and I for one was ecstatic to see it ! In T20 cricket, any team can win on the day and while Deccan's campaign often seemed to stutter, they started well, and finished well. What a glorious occasion for the 10 million people of Hyderabad, and indeed for the team's adopted fans across the world. To finish stone last in IPL's first season and then return to lift the trophy in the 2nd edition is a fantastic achievement and all credit is due to Shrek, Gilly and the team for this remarkable turnaround in fortunes.

The final itself was an unconventional thriller in many respects. Being inserted and scoring 143 after losing the captain on 0 did not inspire too much confidence, but then finals are a different animal. Kumble oozed class, and his 4 wickets kept Deccan in check. Gibbs would have been praised in one respect for carrying his bat but criticized in another for marshalling the strike inefficiently and not upping his strike rate sufficiently in the closing 5 overs. That none of that matters anymore is a huge source of joy for Deccan and their loyal fans. A comfortable victory loomed for the Bangalore faithful when it seemed Ross Taylor was getting comfortable with almost 6 overs to go and the score on 99/4. It was almost as if the occasion was not going to live up to it's billing, that the hype around the final and indeed the IPL was going to finish in an unimaginable anti-climax. But the the commentator's curse struck. To cut a long story short, a steady procession to and from the dugout eventually left Bangalore with too much to do in the last 2 overs and the result was in the bag. 

For Bangalore, Kumble was a treat to watch, slowing down the scoring rate at will, and dismissing key batters almost at will. Kallis' 0/24 was more quality than the bowling figures suggested and both vd Merwe and Ross Taylor were dismissed just when they seemed to be swinging things the Royal Challengers' way. Dravid will remember tonight's game for all the wrong reasons. He dropped an absolute dolly to grant Symonds a life and then scratched around for 9 before losing his leg stump. 

For Deccan, Gibbs was instrumental, and Symonds and Sharma were crucial without being destructive. Gilly marshalled the bowlers superbly and Symonds, Ojha and Harmeet Singh strangled the RCB batsmen just when it seemed the game was getting away from them. Harmeet Singh saved his best performance of the tournament for the final, grabbing 2/23 from his 4 overs and holding on to a fantastic diving catch at fine leg in the dying stages. Not enough can be said about the teams' revival but my bias prevents me from looking for any downside. Mental disintegration is and will always be part of the modern game and so Symonds' actions early on in Bangalore's innings I believe should not be criticized too much. The young Pandey was clearly unsettled and paid the ultimate price when he was dismissed cheaply when concentration waned.

Deccan Chargers. 2009 IPL Champions !

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Ravi Shastri said at the end of the match that 145 in a final is like 165 on any other night batting first, and this is why Bangalore struggled to reel the total in. As much as I enjoy Mr Shastri I would like to respond to that comment by saying : "What an absolute load of crap". At the halfway mark, not a single commentator thought it was enough, although they did point out the 3 individuals that gave the total a respectable look. That commentators always need to be correct in hindsight astounds me. We know they are human and fallible, just like Gilly. The difference is that Gilly sees no shame in accepting it. They should try it sometime, its not like we'll stop watching cricket.

As anybody who has read this blog more than twice will tell you, I have been rooting for the Chargers since last year's IPL.  Times were tough for 12 months, but now I have 12 months' worth of bragging rights. Aint it cool ? I made a host of predictions before the tournament, some of which came good and others that were way off the mark.

Some of my dodgier predictions included Dhoni's efforts as a batsman. He did much better than I thought he would - it doesn't make me a bad person. Graeme Smith did worse than I expected. Rohit Sharma performed better than I had expected, as did JP Duminy.

I also got some predictions right though, and I am certainly not gonna miss the chance to brag about them. Before a ball was bowled I predicted Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore to waltz in to the semi's. They waltzed in in exactly that order. I then predicted that Deccan would be a challenger as it were for the fourth spot on offer and so they were. I called for vd Merwe's inclusion into the Bangalore starting line up long before Ray Jennings felt it necessary. I also predicted a drought in all areas for KP and Freddie Flintoff. The one prediction I will rue because it was neither right nor wrong centres around Charl Langeveldt. How the worst team in the IPL could keep one of its best bowlers restricted to just a single performance is an absolute travesty. Rumours abound that Ricky Ponting will be given the captaincy and full authority around the team for next year's IPL and if it is the case, expect them to make semi's. How's that for nailing your colours to the mast before a ball is bowled ?

McCullum promised to resign if his team did not make playoffs. He should possibly have resigned 6 games before the end of KKR's campaign, so obvious was it that they would be rooted to the foot of the table. Another prediction that I got spot on before the start, if I may say so myself.

Disappointments from the rest of the tournament include Gony, Yuvraj Singh, Jayasuriya, Sreesanth, Kallis the bowler and Virender Sehwag. I guess we need to understand that a tournament like this will always create new stars and at the same time cast doubt in the direction of established ones. There is just too much cricket for certain players to perform consistently, and others to continue playing in their shadows. Next year's edition will prove no different. 

To Lalit Modi and the numerous people and bodies that work with him - South Africa loved every minute of the IPL. Being a true cricket fan I can only hope that all future editions are held safely in the country of their birth, India. But if ever again a substitute venue is needed - you know where to come. 

After nearly 6 weeks of constant T20 cricket I am now left to pick up the pieces insofar as the rest of my life goes. I will have to re-establish relationships with my son, my parents and of course my trusty Jack Russell who by the way was the only one who never once questioned my sanity throughout the tournament, not once. After the unfortunate incident where a father killed his son for watching too much IPL on TV, I received 2 phone calls from friends asking if I was OK, such was my dedication to the cause. Altogether I was only able to attend 4 live games but I enjoyed them all thoroughly. Only 320 days to go til IPL 2010.

In the meantime my focus will shift to things like the T20 WC, The ICC Champions Trophy, The Ashes and the Champions League scheduled to take place in India in October 2009. So the 320 days I lie in wait may not be spent quietly after all ....


IPL AWARDS - PART 1

Every major sporting event is often followed by the customary set of awards and the IPL will be no different. Apart from The Purple Cap and The Orange Cap, the IPL also annoints the most promising Indian u23 player. RP Singh, Matthew Hayden and Rohit Sharma take a bow - all 3 awards are well deserved. 

They say its never a good thing to reward mediocrity but this blog disagrees. So for the sake of naming and shaming the less publicised achievements of the 2009 IPL, please see attached :

MOST OVERRATED APPEARANCE IN IPL (FINALLY)
ANDREW FLINTOFF - toothless with the ball and harmless but to a lesser degree with the bat, CSK's owners must be wondering if they did the right thing signing the overweight pedalo professional from Lancashire. $1.55 mio for 6 weeks' work paid pro rata saw Freddie earn a hell of a lot more than he was worth. He was not a landslide winner here though and the runner's up award eventually went to KP

MOST EAGERLY ANTICIPATED DEPARTURE FROM IPL 2009 (FINALLY)
KEVIN PIETERSEN - a top score in the 30's, a mistimed switch hit, a couple of ducks  and a few poor decisions as captain would not have helped other RCB team members shed a tear when it was time for KP to join his England team back in blighty. That RCB reached the final was despite KP, not because of him. RCB cocked up their selections on a regular basis at the start of IPL 2009 and as captain KP would have played a role in that as well. Good riddance I say ....

MOST DISAPPOINTING SHOW FROM A BIG NAME
SANATH JAYASURIYA - 221 runs @ 18.4 with the bat and 7 wickets @ 23.3 might be enough to satisfy lesser players but I think its fair to say more would have been expected from the Mumbai stalwart. He's never gonna retire, so lets hope next season brings with it new fortunes for the little blaster. You may be wondering why KP and Freddie haven't won this award and the answer is simple - The Poms can't win everything, it wouldn't be fair to the other crap players.

BIGGEST DLF MAXIMUM
Yuvraj Singh hit local boy Albie Morkel for a DLF-er at Supersport Park that cleared the corporate entertainment suites and connected the floodlight pylon half way up. That can't be beaten. 119m if the television network is to be believed - to me it looked even bigger. This award will be treasured as much by him almost as much as the other thing he would seem to have won : Preity Zinta's heart ....

WORST TEAM
KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS - Sure, it seems an easy award to allocate. But this award is included here purely so I can gloat. This blogs previous home, nominated Semi Finalists and Wooden Spoonists before a ball was bowled. To see how far off I was, simply click here to compare your initial selections with mine. McCullum sucked and so did Buchanan. Ganguly played 1 decent innings and never completed it. Ishant could not hold up the attach by himself and KKR's best player in this format, Charl Langeveldt was only given 1 game. Need I say more ?

SO FAR SO GOOD

It has come to pass that Deccan and Bangalore both advanced in their semi's - A surprise to many, but not to me. Final is tougher to call though. But I lean towards Decan so the bet still in play :)

Friday, 22 May 2009

IPL - THE NEXT 3 DAYS

A quick sneak peak at fixed odds for the last 3 IPL games shows value in places not a lot of punters will bother to look, but here it is anyway. Back Chennai and Delhi both to lose in the semi's and pick either team from Bangalore or Deccan to win the trophy. Any half decent bookie should be able to give you 10-1. Risk-Reward I think its a good bet :)

DECCAN VS BANGALORE

Team supported
I have supported the Deccan Chargers since the IPL started. I felt that with Gibbs, Gilchrist, Symonds and Afridi in their ranks, anything under 400 was gettable : ). I was proven very very wrong and was ridiculed for 12 months. This year things are very different and (despite today’s loss), I still fancy Deccan to lift the trophy.

Key performer
Manish Pandey – The 19 year old Indian right hander emerged from Virat Kohli’s shadow to post the highest ever score by an Indian in the IPL – a massive 114* off 73 balls including flicks, drives and paddles. He was given a life early on when RP Singh let a sitter through the fingers but made his own luck from there.

One thing you’d have changed about the match
It would have been nice if either one of these teams really needed the result. As things stood both teams were safely through to the semi finals and a loss for either side would not have changed tournament ambitions. I think a bit of needle with a loser bows out scenario would have been ideal. Having said that we did still get a good game.

Face-off you relished
Not a direct face-off as such but each team had a proven middle order boundary hitter in Ross Taylor and Rohit Sharma respectively. I was looking forward to either one of them getting stuck into opposition bowlers and inflicting a few DLF Maximums but it was not to be as they both fell cheaply and were upstaged by opening batters in their teams.

Star-spotting
To be honest, I think even celebrities are suffering from IPL fatigue now. Their numbers have dwindled substantially. Apart from the usual faces associated with each team there was nothing new on show. For me a chance meeting and photo op with Sunny Gavaskar made up for the absence of a proliferation of attention seeking actresses and B-Grade celebrities.

Wow moment
RP Sing’s dropped catch was an absolute sitter – Bangalore fans loved it – and it ultimately cost Deccan the game. High pressure moments often swing big games and so it proved – the batsmen went on to add 111 runs to his teams score and duly take Man of the Match honours.

Cheerleader factor
A fantastic showing by both sets – Bangalore’s Mischef Gals probably showed a dash more energy and for all we know – their team drew strength from this to post the win.

Crowd Meter
Very close to a full house at Supersport Park, one of the best grounds and playing surfaces in the competition. Grass banks were choc-a-bloc and despite a few open seats in the main grandstand, with the usual fireworks, music and lights, one could not be blamed for feeling like it was indeed a full stadium.

Entertainment
This time the cricket entertained – A local band was employed as is normally the case but their cover versions fell flat and the Indian music coming through the PA system kept the spectators pumped up. As I said though, the real artists were Pandey and Gibbs.

Overall
Marks out of 10

I would rate it as 8.5 out of 10, with points being deducted for lack of consequences on the day for the losing team – they were both already through to the semi’s. Still a very entertaining game with 2 batsmen getting going nicely – just a pity Gibbs couldn’t follow through. Gibbs found no support at all from his team mates, but it must be said that Kumble marshaled the troops and bowlers superbly to set up a win for Bangalore.


Bring on the semi’s – With Deccan blowing hot and cold throughout the tournament, I think Delhi will be apprehensive about today’s semi. Last time out Deccan had them surrounded only to demonstrate the most dramatic collapse IPL has ever seen, and lose the game. Don’t expect any favours from the Chargers this time round though – they will know they have it in them to beat the Daredevils.

And in the other semi ? Lets just say that a Deccan/Bangalore final is not out of the question in my opinion – and this time round Herschelle WILL follow through and see the Mighty Chargers Home ……

Monday, 11 May 2009

C'MON YOU CHARGERS !

I never checked before but just saw that Ryan Harris averages 10 with the bat at less than a run a ball and 21 with the ball at 7 an over in List A T20 cricket. Allrounder my arse. He is garbage. Deccan won tonight's game as a direct result of sacking him and replacing him with the impeccable Chaminda Vaas. Well done Gilly and Darren for being proactive. For the record, Vaas got 20 off 15 with the bat and 2 for 19 in four overs with the ball. If Deccan are to continue their winning ways, Chaminda needs to be first choice for the rest of the tournament. For the record, Deccan would have won tonight with a bonus point (See previous post). Lets see how it goes ...

On the points table, it appears as if Deccan are 1 win away from a spot in the playoffs. Chennai and Delhi are certainties. This leaves Punjab,Bangalore, Mumbai and the perennial poor man's favourites, Rajasthan with a major battle on their hands to qualify. First team to blink loses. I fancy Punjab to come through. Watch this space.


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THE IPL STEAMS AHEAD

We've had some fantastic matches since last I posted and the IPL's second season is shaping towards a thrilling climax no doubt. KKR have confirmed themselves as wooden spoonists. Mumbai's hopes hang by a thread. And 1 of Punjab,Deccan and Rajasthan will not make semi's. Bangalore I believe are out of it now as well barring amazing miracles. Chennai and Delhi meanwhile go from strength to strength.

ALL HAIL THE SOUTHPAW
Looking at the Orange Cap standings, 1 thing stands out like a sore thumb : 5 of the top 6 run getters are left handers, with the top RHB in the series, AB de Villiers coming in at number 5. Given the number of left handers in the tournament it should not be too amazing, but it certainly is interesting to note that numerous world class right handers simply do not feature. Tendulkar, Kallis, Dhoni and Gibbs are miles behind with no chance of catching the top 5 at this stage.

THE DECCAN DISASTER - RYAN HARRIS IS CRAP
In their most recent match, Deccan were all over Punjab like white on rice until Gilly tossed the ball to fellow Australian Ryan Harris and 6 balls later the game was lost. Fidel Edwards was always going to be missed when he departed but could Harris possibly be any worse than he is ? And defending 19 runs in 2 overs, he gets the nod to bowl ? The Kimberley track had proven itself to be slow. Rohit Sharma had figures of 2/10 from 2 overs. Rao had recently bowled an over for 3 runs. WTF was Gilly thinking ? Ryan Harris has done absolutely nothing in the tournament with bat or ball and he is Deccan's overseas allrounder. If Deccan are to make playoffs, Harris needs to be benched. He is simply not good enough to be playing at this level, his regular dose of full tosses at the start of the innings should have given Gilly a clue. Chaminda Vaas would be more effective. What has Scott Styris done wrong ? Deccan have options, they need to use em. Ryan Harris is an option only if they want to finish 5th or 6th.

THE LAW OF AVERAGES
No matter how powerful a team is in any sport, in any competition - slip-ups do occur. Hiccups will come along when least a team needs it and the IPL will be no different. KKR despite languishing in 8th place - will dismantle or seriously dent someone's hopes of making playoffs before the tournament is over. Chennai and Delhi each have at least 1 loss in their tanks before the last 4. It will be very important for teams like Rajasthan, Deccan, Mumbai and Punjab to be mindful of this and make sure they're on the right side of things when the laws of averages kick in.

IPL 2010 SHOULD BE BONUS TIME
There have been no reasons in either IPL season to suggest that organisers have got a whole lot wrong with their format. For some fans its overkill - but for me its bliss - There is no such thing as too much top class cricket on TV. But with 8 teams each playing 14 games, the chances of 4th or even 3rd and 4th places being decided by NRR is larger than some may think. Here's my suggestion - Bonus points. 2 points for a win and 1 point for a washout remains standard. A bonus point is scored if the winning team's run rate is 1.25 or more times that of the losing team. Run rate, for each team, is calculated by dividing the number of runs scored by the number of overs faced; but if a team is all out their run rate is the number of runs scored by the total number of available overs.So if the team batting first wins, the bonus point is scored if their margin of victory is at least 20% of their total score; and if the team batting second wins, the bonus point is scored if they have at least 20% of the available overs remaining when the match ends. In the event of a no result, no bonus point is scored. This could encourage teams already in a hopeless position to attempt to pick up the pace and deny their opposition a bonus point. Or a team that would ordinarily have finished 5th on the log under the old system, to force a arger winning margin and then hope with their bonus point, to qualify on NRR if the possibility existed. Either way I think it will sort the sheep from the goats and ensure that the top 4 teams all make semi's. As a matter of interest, this is what the log would look like as at the end of game 39 if the conditions above conditions applied.

Team Mat Won Lost Tied N/R BP Pts Net RR
Chennai 10 6 3 0 1 3 16 1.222
Delhi Daredevils 9 7 2 0 0 0 14 0.329
Rajasthan Royals 10 5 4 0 1 1 12 -0.114
Deccan Chargers 9 5 4 0 0 1 11 0.125
Kings XI Punjab 10 5 5 0 0 1 11 -0.447
Mumbai Indians 10 4 5 0 1 1 10 0.435
Bangalore 10 4 6 0 0 1 9 -0.437
Kolkata 10 1 8 0 1 0 3 -1.107


New Table Toppers then ? And very well deserved given the brand of cricket they have played. Interesting to note as well that Delhi missed a bonus point by 1 delivery in their win over Punjab. And Punjab themselves missed a bonus point by 1 run in their win against Rajasthan - a win that would have put them safely into the top 4 as opposed to their 5th position implied above.

If nothing else this is food for thought, its not overly scientific - and as always criticism and comments are most welcome. Enjoy the rest of the IPL and;

MESSAGE TO LEHMANN AND GILLY : Please put Harris on the bench or better yet an aeroplane back to AUS.

Friday, 8 May 2009

THE SHOW GOES ON

Heavy showers last night in Centurion were not enough to dampen the fireworks dished out by Chennai to start and then a resilient Punjab team keen to go down fighting, or to fight hard and not go down at all. Hayden and Dhoni were in sublime form against some mediocre bowling, but 187 off 18 overs seemed well out of reach of a Punjab batting line up with few members in form. Katich, Yuvraj and Jayawardene had other ideas and great knocks from all three proved not enough in the end as an inspired choice by Dhoni to bring Raina on to bowl 2 of the last 4 overs nipped the run chase in the bud. Full marks must go to both sides for the spectacle provided.

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The second half of IPL 2009 has taken a knock with the news that Bracken, Watson and Hopes have been withdrawn by CA on the grounds that they are all 3 nursing niggles and need to be ready for T20 WC, Their respective franchises will not be overjoyed by the news but such is life. As a result only 3 Aussies will return to play in the latter stages - Symonds, Lee and David Hussey

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This weekend's fixtures will be crucial to sorting the sheep from the goats in the IPL Points table. Mumbai will want to win tonight to stay in realistic contention, and build momentum for the 4 wins they will require in the next 6 games to make semi's.  Another loss and will basically leave them with no more margin for error in the rest of the tournament.

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Delhi could qualify for semi's by the time the weekend finishes, while Chennai, Deccan and Rajasthan will all be hoping to consolidate good log positions. Lets just hope the weather holds out as forecasts almost across the country are calling for intermittent showers throughout the course of the weekend, especially late afternoons. 

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Looking back on it, this is actually a really crap posting. My apologies for the poor quality. I will wait til I have something valid to add before I post again. Sorry.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

ROHIT LIGHTNING BOLT CHARGES DECCAN

Cheesy headlines apart, a lightning bolt looked the only thing likely to save Deccan at one stage earlier this evening. With the required rate below 8, two batsmen well set at the crease and 8 wickets in hand, Mumbai looked set to creep into the top four of a congested table. It was not to be.

RP Singh started the rot by dismissing Jaya and Sachin early on, and Rohit made an impossible position his own when he delivered a timely hat trick to put Deccan back in charge. He effectively sealed the match when he had the in form Duminy caught down the leg side by Gilly to complete the hat trick. With the fat lady clearing her throat, and RP Singh bowling the last over to tailenders with 25 runs to play with, the end was nigh given the fact that the bowler was just like my dog : He had 2 short legs, and balls that swing both ways. The result was in the bag.

A near capacity crowd showed a lot enthusiasm and appreciation for the game , despite the Bollywood Contender who was picked out of the crowd declaring that her favourite cricketer was "Herschelle Gibbs, The South African Captain".

That Herschelle completed his second duck in 3 knocks will concern the brains trust at The Chargers, but the young upstart Rohit Sharma has made amends for Gibbs' poor form in the last 3 games and continued in that vain earlier this evening with both bat and ball to achieve a landslide of votes for Man of the Match. 38 from 36 balls with the bat and 4/6 off two overs with the ball will do that to you. A fantastic come from behind win for The Chargers who will gain confidence and experience from this match in a tournament which is sure to test them in a similar fashion again soon.

Now handily placed in second place, Deccan probably need to win only 2 of their remaining 6 games to make semi's, although I am sure Gilly will demand more. Mumbai have it all to do now - A win tonight would have catapulted them into the top 4, but instead they are left pulling out calculators and seeing what it will take for them to qualify. They will probably have to win 4 out of 6 in the home stretch.


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At Lord's today a number of poms continued doing what they spent 2 weeks in South Africa doing. Bopara scored runs - again. KP scored none - again. Collingwood did very little - again. Flintoff watched from the sidelines - again. I am left asking if it could possibly happen to a nicer bunch of guys. Oh and then there's Fidel Edwards who took wickets and generally made life difficult for batsmen - again.

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You know how commentators of the modern era (mostly ex-Test players) have a knack of either consciously or sub-consciously slagging off modern players ? Constantly making out that modern players have it easy compared to them, and generally do a poor job of being a cricketer ? Not all of them do it, but a large number certainly do. Well I dusted off an old book on Sports Insults earlier today, and delighted in some of the things that were said about modern day columnists and commentators back in their day. Just for laughs I have included a few :

Martin Johnson on Angus Fraser in The Independent :
Fraser's approach to the wicket resembles that of someone who has his braces caught in the sightscreen

Mike Selvey on Ashley Giles in The Guardian :
There was a time when a batsman had more chance of being hit by space debris than being done in the flight by Ashley Giles

David Hopps on Nasser Hussein in The Guardian, after the latter ran out Andrew Strauss on his Test debut at Lord's :
In his 96 Tests he has only been run out twice, which draws to mind Jasper Carrot's joke about his mother-in-law : "She's been driving for 60 years and has never had an accident - she's seen a few though"

Barry Norman on Phill Tufnell:
The archetypal fag-puffing, bird-pulling, bouncer-evading, beer-swilling village cricketer who lurked rather than fielded in the deep, and yet somehow made it into the big time.

Australian Spectator in Bay 13 to Bob Willis, Ashes Tour 1970/71:
I never knew they stacked shit that high mate !

Matthew Norman on Mark Nicholas in The Evening Standard :
There is a lounge lizard narcissism about this fellow that brings to mind the Yiddish phrase that translates to : "Of all his mother's children, he loves himself to death", "Simpering to the camera in the self-besotted manner of one who's been told he has bedroom eyes"

Late night Quiz question on Classic FM, where the question was posed :
The next question has absolutely nothing to do with either Art or Sport. At which ground did Geoff Boycott score his hundredth hundred ?