Archive for March, 2008

The last two of my XI to watch:

That completes the XI. Now watch me squirm as they fade from view.

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Here are some more young guns (although not in the Wham! sense) who will soon be setting the cricketing world alight like wire wool and a battery.

  • Virat Kohli: Has the world at his feet after captaining India’s U19 side to World Cup glory. Has signed up to play for Bangalore in the IPL, so could be making headlines sooner rather than later.
  • Tamim Iqbal: Just turned 19, but is already established as a confident batsman (and confidence is quite an attribute for a Bangladeshi cricketer). Iqbal burst onto the scene some time ago now, but looks like he is ready to step up his performance to the next level.

Next to be added to the list, and probably see their careers crash and burn, will be an all-rounder and a wicketkeeper.

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The Indian Premier League (or at least IPL franchises) could be coming to Lord’s or the Oval, according to The Times.

This development is bound to focus the minds on county boards. Surrey’s chief executive is already talking about “rescheduling our own Twenty20 and we hope it will involve franchises” such as “Vodafone London – I think we should consider that possibility”.

I’m not sure things will go quite that far in the next couple of years, but the fact that people involved in county cricket are even talking in such terms is worthy of comment.

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Now that Shane Warne has decided to quit First Class cricket, here are some of his finest moments.

Warne, of course, burst into Test cricket’s collective consciousness with ‘The Ball of the Century‘, and it wasn’t long before he was annihilating batting line-ups on a regular basis. He was always a match-winner, and in the One-Day version of the game, as well, he was always capable of delivering on the big occasion.

Whilst some will remember Warne for his off-field exploits, for most (including this fella), it will be his 700-odd Test wickets that form his enduring legacy.

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Part-time Neighbours star and former Hampshire captain Shane Warne has announced his retirement from First Class cricket, in order to concentrate on his other interests such as dubiously flogging hair-loss treatment, playing poker and raking it in playing in the Indian Premier League.

The IPL is already changing the way county chief executives think. The money available on the subcontinent will make it harder for county sides to attract world-class overseas players, and even English players may want a slice of the action.

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After the spinners come the seamers. No real surprises

  • Tim Southee: I was going to include him anyway, but he tops the list after this. Crazed batting aside, taking 5-55 in your first Test is pretty special in and of itself.
  • Mitchell Johnson: Won acclaim in some quarters after pulling out of the IPL in order to develop his international career, and it looks like the decision may pay off. At the time of writing, he’s already taken 24 test wickets and has made an unbeaten 50 against India.
  • Ishant Sharma: Completes the stating-the-bleeding-obvious hat-trick. I’ve already mentioned Sharma, and he’s set to take the cricketing world by storm if he can distinguish himself from the seeming mass of young Indian pace bowlers.

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So, has England’s first away Test series win for three years answered the questions that I said they were facing a month ago? Not entirely, of course, but things are a little clearer.

  1. Should Strauss play? We had to wait until the 3rd day of the 3rd Test to get any evidence that the Wing Commander / Lord Tweedy Brockett-Strauss was still capable of making decent scores in Test cricket, but his 177 will see him included in the next squad.
  2. Is it time to try another spinner? Monty bowled well when the conditions were in his favour, and his 3rd Test figures (a career best) would have been even better if not for this chap.
  3. Who is the best wicket-keeper? Tim Ambrose has done enough to keep his place (despite a missed stumping), and his innings in Wellington may well have been the turning point in the series.

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I’m so late to the party, I may as well direct you to Republique Cricket, Are YOU a Left-Arm Chinaman or The Googly.

What can I say? I’m too busy wondering if my questions have been answered to worry about such events.

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Dominic Cork has suggested dropping Michael Vaughan.

At the moment, Vaughan’s captaincy skills are keeping him in the side, but how bad a captain can you be if you have Ryan Sidebottom taking 7-47?

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I was going to do a Top Ten To Watch, but I’m lazy so I’m doing it in installments:

  • Sulieman Benn: I’ve already mentioned that Benn impressed me during the Stanford 20/20, and he’s currently making his Test debut for the West Indies.

Now, sit back and watch them squander their opportunities like lottery winners going back to work.

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Like a pair of schoolboys who had been forced to give up runs for Lent, Ian Bell and Andrew Strauss gorged themselves yesterday on the New Zealand attack. It was less buffet bowling than smörgåsbord bowling.

New Zealand, by contrast, face a gargantuan task to save the match and the series. If Fleming makes a big score, then something positive could come out of the game from the Black Caps’ perspective, but that will probably be the best they can hope for at the moment.

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Anything England can do, New Zealand can do better, or rather worse.

Ryan Sidebottom continued his recent good form, taking best ever figures of 7-47. This will no doubt add weight to the argument that he is one of the best in the world at what he does.

Also continuing his recent form, although in this case not so much good as god-awful, is Jack Davenport lookalike (and England captain) Michael Vaughan. The shot that got him out, off the third ball he faced, was properly mental.

Stephen Fleming now needs a fairly decent final Test innings of 54 to get his career average up above 40. If England’s batsmen break the habit of a winter and do their job properly, it could be a little while before he gets the chance.

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