Monday, 21 December 2009
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
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
Monday, 15 June 2009
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
Thursday, 11 June 2009
Wednesday, 10 June 2009
Tuesday, 9 June 2009
"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
Sunday, 31 May 2009
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.
- 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.
Sunday, 24 May 2009
Friday, 22 May 2009
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Thursday, 7 May 2009
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.
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.
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 ?