Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Cricketing Lookalikes

Andrew Strauss

Jack Coleman aka Mr Bennet from Heroes

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Bangladesh vs India 1st ODI

So I did wake up at 4.30am - but shortly thereafter fell asleep with the tv left on in low volume - the recipe for a few cricket flavoured dreams. Woke up once more at 6am to discover the Bangladesh position wasn't as disastrous as I had seen in my dreams.

Anyway a score of 250 was a very good effort by the Bangladesh team. They managed to construct a ODI innings as one is meant to. It was quite healthy to see Bangladesh approach the final ten overs with Ashraful and Aftab Ahmad to come. If luck favoured these two a little more, than we may have seen an unpassable target of 260.

Where did Bangladesh lose it?

I don't think in the batting. 250 is a decent score, particularly for Bangladesh - forget the dismissals of Tamim Iqbal and Bashar. Only with Australia (on current form), does team batting go exactly to plan.

They missed Mortaza. Without him, India were able to give their innings the impetus that ultimately provided sufficient a cushion for Dhoni & Kartik to be able to chase down the target later on.

Shahadat Hossain - this is the first time i've seen him. He looks good but needs to learn consistency of line and length to begin with - then how to extract movement off the pitch. He has all the raw materials and more so than say a Mohammad Asif - so I hope he strives to become worldclass rather than Bangladesh test-team class.

Now we come to the three SLAs. Sometimes they look like magicians weaving a web. Today they started off so - but when teams realise they don't spin it sharply, and batsmen get in and stay in - then the runs start to flow. The key is not to lose it when in for a new batsman will then come in and before you know it another few overs will be bowled in no time for minimal runs. That is how I think the 3 SLA approach has worked those couple of times during the world cup, and almost in today's match.

If only BD had a decent 6th bowler who could bowl something different than SLA. That's what is missing for now, in my opinion.

Habibul Bashar's captaincy (not outstanding but not bad) not withstanding, I would love to be able to fit Shahriar Nafees into this side. Hopefully by the next ODI series.

Saquib al Hassan is my Bangladeshi player of the day today. A word must go out to Javed Omar also. He surprised me with some late innings aggression. Sometimes I've thought of him as an individual rather than a team player. Plenty more innings like today and I will change my mind.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Faultline Cricket

It is quite clear now that there is a white-man vs brown-man split emerging in international cricket today. This sounds crass especially as South Africa is a team currently fielding a majority of white players, and England is a team that has played up to 3 players of Asian origin in the past few months. The administrators of international cricket are split along these racial lines, however. (Note: the players get on fine themselves)

We have England, Australia & New Zealand on the one hand.

We have India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Zimbabwe Bangladesh

West Indies is the Switzerland in all this, though hover towards the brown block apparently.

Decisions about ICC base, Daryl Hair, World Cup hosts and the position of ICC chief have all been debated in the recent past, with these two sides broadly sitting on two sides of the fence, and the Asian-Afro bloc winning by majority vote.

For this reason of course it's the White-bloc who are most disenfranchised by this and increasingly amongst the press, particularly the antipodean press, there are articles coming out which base all cricketing problems on the shoulders of this cartel. Whilst sympathising with them on some issues, I feel some of this has been excessive and smacks of a resistance to cricketing traditions evolving / changing. They would rather have the game remaining static at the expense of commercial success. Again they have a point, there are far too many international one day games being played but not everything that is evolutionary or commercial is necessarily a bad thing.

In essence, there are faults on both sides. I see the disagreements widening but can not envisage a permanent split - that would kill the game off. So what do I see? more of the same. The Asian cartel outweighting the Anglo-pedian cartel and the latter continue to lay all blame on the former's shoulders. It is a pity as I think world cricket would benefit if both groups gelled better - a bonding weekend comprising media commentators as well as the administrators is what's needed!

Monday, 7 May 2007

Where to bat Fred

In my opinion that is what the selection of the next England test squad boils down to.

Obvious picks:

1) A. Cook
2) A. Strauss
3) I. Bell
4) K. Pietersen
5) P. Collingwood
9) Harmison
10) Hoggard
11) Panesar

I say obvious but it is consistency of selection which means I include Collingwood over the slighty younger and perhaps more talented and in-form Owais Shah.

I want to pick Matt Prior over Nixon, because Prior is more likely to be the long term option and is more of a batsman by pedigree than Nixon, but I would like to pick Nixon for the 20-20 World cup side (and maybe for the next ODI squad - as he is someone with the nous which is lacking in the present set-up).

Panesar hasn't shown any wicket taking potential of late but is ahead of the rest of the field, so gets a series to reconfirm his international credentials.

I am of course assuming Vaughan won't make it. It's really not fair on Strauss (I assume he is next in line to skipper England), to just step in on Thursday morning if Vaughan can't make it, when he is pushing all stops to even dream of being fit for the 1st match in the series.

Which takes me to the crux of this post:

Andrew Flintoff to bat at 7 (bringing in Shah in the absence of Vaughan) - allowing England to bat down to 8?

or play Flintoff at 6, and stick to the Ashes 2005 winning formula of 5 bowlers (not to mention formula that won England 10 wins in 11 matches. ) When Vaughan plays, this would solve who of Cook, Bell & Collingwood to leave out (I say Collingwood).

I'm going to say bat Flintoff at 6 against the West Indies. Play Andersen in the side. This leaves open the expected slot for Simon Jones (unless of course Anderson excells). Otherwise will England be expected to restructure the batsman-bowler ratio to re-accomodate him? Better to stick to a format where players know what role they play in the side (as batsmen).

So my suggestion:

6) Flintoff
7) Prior
8) Anderson (of course not batting at 8)

Squad members: Dalrymple & Plunkett

Bangladesh vs India

The Bangladesh vs India ODI and test match series gets underway on Thursday.

I guess it's a reflection of the relative success Bangladesh experienced in the world cup that this series is being televised on Sky sports tv in the UK. That, together with the fact, India are almost the Brazil of international cricket by having Tendulkar, Shewag, Ganguly, Yuvraj, Dhoni and even Dravid in the side. All quite easy on the eye or high on entertainment value. Though this Thursday Tendulkar and Ganguly won't be on offer. (What happened to Ganguly after the world cup, was ridiculous in my opinion. I have an image of Greg Chappell gripping Ganguly tight by the knees and dragging him into the ocean with him).

I remember watching a South Africa vs Bangladesh series on Sky years ago and it was cringeworthy tv - such was the gulf of difference in quality and the lack of atmosphere (typical of South Africa test series).

I fear this series may turrn out to be the same also. Bangladesh play 5 bad matches for every half decent fist of a game. Yet nonetheless I shall be tuning in on Thursday with a little eager anticipation - such is my personality type.

The other sign of improved recognition for Bangladesh cricket was New Zealand hosting a series against them - apparently on the back of the world cup campaign. yes, New Zealand where Martin Crowe, that renowned fan of Bangladeshi cricket , rules supreme over the airwaves apparently. The seaming wickets may give rise to some easy wins, and a few easy notches for Shane Bond (and even Mortaza - injurys not withstanding - and I say this with regards to both of these guys) - but may improve the technique of the Bangladeshi boys, providing they stay in long enough.

So Thursday 4.30am it is.

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Neutral Umpires

The fiasco on Saturday evening has renewed calls for the best umpires to stand in test matches rather than neutral umpires. The risk I see in this is that it may end up that the same two umpires are chosen for every match or that one nation ends up supplying all the umpires. It isn't that easy to decide who is the best umpire - even Simon Taufel made mistakes during the World Cup - but his fans overlook this. In fact, I think unless one analyses an umpire's performance scientifically (like the ICC actually do), the naked eye won't necessarily reveal the best umpire.

That's one argument. The more pertinent argument here is that on Saturday we had Steve Bucknor (veteran of 5 world cups), and Aleem Dar (widely seen as the 2nd best umpire on the circuit). Simon Taufel is seen as the best (remember even he has made errors of judgement on umpiring decisions in this WC). Thus do we deem that he is chosen to umpire every match? or is it just every important match? in which case, take a scenario where India are playing Pakistan in a test series - it's 1-1 - do you fly taufel in to umpire the deciding rubber?

Umpiring isn't a god given talent like batting, bowling or fielding. Mere mortals can dream of becoming good umpires. I say stick to neutral, but just give them all it takes to be the best - not just 1 super-umpire, but a team of super-umpires.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007



In the last entry I explained why I think Saj Mahmood is over-rated. This time by way of contrast I make a timely case for James Benning's introduction to the England cause. On Sunday he scored 150 odd in a Surrey total approaching a scoring rate of 10 runs per over. He has, in Ali Brown, the best England qualified one-day pinch hitter, to learn from. Sunday wasn't a fluke for him or Surrey. They and he has precedence. Last year he hit 189 out of a Surey total of 337, chasing a target of 339. The next highest score made by a Surrey batter was 22. Pick him and pick him for the next ODI against the Windies. It would be incredulous if he has not been pencilled in for the 20-20 World Cup. The Analyst will back me on this.