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 !

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

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.


CLICK HERE TO BOOKMARK CRICKET GURU

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.

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

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

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.

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

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. 

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

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.


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

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 ?