Archive for May, 2008

The World Cricket League Division 5 (see Well Pitched‘s guide to the WCL) reached its climax today as Afghanistan edged Jersey by 2 wickets in a low-scoring final.

Hamid Hassan took 4-27 for Afghanistan as the hosts were bowled out for a mere 80. Jersey made it hard work for the Afghans to chase down this seemingly low total, though, with only 20 balls remaining when the game was decided.

Both sides will now go on to compete in the WCL Division 4 tournament in September, along with Fiji, Hong Kong, Italy and Tanzania.

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Despite his obvious cricketing credentials (Cricinfo’s profile calls him “England’s best strike bowler since Bob Willis and Ian Botham”), much of what is written about Darren Gough is not about cricket. From his Strictly Come Dancing appearances to advertising Yorkshire, his obvious talents as a bowler (or indeed as a footballer) are seldom the things that first come to mind upon mention of Dazzler.

For my money, though, his hat-trick against Australia at the SCG, or his ability to bowl world-class yorkers, are far more worthy of note than his failure to beat Austin Healey at arm-wrestling.

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Australia, following their wobble in the first Test against the West Indies, have made an ominous start to the second Test, with Katich and Ponting already having passed 50 at the time of writing. Jrod, over at Cricket with Balls, is keeping a close eye on proceedings for those who like their reports with a little more sauce than Cricinfo’s ball-by-ball.

What Jrod is unlikely to report on is a win for the Windies – this Australian side (for all its faults) doesn’t do second chances. Unless your name is Michael Clarke.

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Rajasthan Royals annihilated Delhi in the first IPL semi-final, meaning that Warne and friends will take on either Chennai Super Kings or Kings XI Punjab in Sunday’s final.

Shane Watson was the outstanding performer, making 52 runs and then taking 3-10 from 3 overs.

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After what seems like about a thousand games of cricket, the Indian Premier League has now reached the Semi-Final stage. Here’s a brief roundup of the teams still involved

  • Dehli Daredevils: Having Glenn McGrath in the side has obviously helped, but the Daredevils still had to wait on other results to make the final four after losing to Punjab. Dehli probably won’t be many people’s tip to win the whole thing.
  • Chennai Super Kings: After a strong start, the Super Kings suffered when all their Australians left part-way through the season to tour the West Indies. With Stephen Fleming also unavailable for the rest of the season, Chennai will struggle to replicate the explosive form of April, but they still have enough quality (especially in their bowling, with Ntini, Muralitharan and Balaji) to win.
  • Kings XI Punjab: Punjab should be strong on confidence after beating Rajasthan by 41 runs on Wednesday, and Luke Pomersbach is tailor-made for twenty20. With the likes of Pomersbach and Kumar Sangakkara (who’s made five 50s in 18 innings of twenty20), as well as plenty of young Indian talent, the Kings XI are serious contenders.

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The ECB will tomorrow discuss radical changes to the structure of domestic cricket in England and Wales. Is this a necessary move to keep pace with the changing times, or cricket gone crazy?

The prevailing opinion amongst many seems to be the latter, but some of the proposals deserve consideration individually.

A return to a three-day County Championship, in my opinion (and that of some counties’ Chief Executives), would be a backward step. Three day games would provide little or no parallel with Test cricket, whereas the four-day game, for all its faults, can occasionally produce games of close to Test standard.

A revamping of the much-maligned Pro40 format, which of course has no parallel in the International game, is one of the more interesting proposals. It is suggested that the format be split into a game of two 20-over innings, which seems to be gimmicky and a little muddled. Also, apparently the counties “love” the current format, which will mean more resistance from Chief Executives.

Ultimately, the reasoning behind all this is making space for a much larger twenty20 competition, featuring 21 teams – an English Premier League, if you like. This is obviously seen as a money-spinner in light of the apparent success of the IPL format.

Whatever is decided, it will certainly be interesting.

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The ECB has announced the itinerary for England’s 2009 tour of the West Indies. The tour finishes five weeks earlier than usual, which has led some to speculate that a window is being left open for some English players to play in the IPL next season.

This is obviously not confirmed yet, but England may feel there is a case for letting some of the team get some practice in ahead of the World 20/20 in May.

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Stuart Clark and company put the West Indies to the sword for 191, 95 short of their victory target.

The “tall and lanky opening bowler” (can you be lanky without being tall?) took 5 for 32 to wrap up the Test for the Aussies, who had looked more than a little shaky with bat in hand.

By the time the 2nd Test comes around, of course, the English bloggers’ favourite batsman will be back in the side, and things will probably return to normal, with Australia scoring 600-0 declared. Or something.

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England’s batsmen have done something well, and helped England to a six-wicket victory over New Zealand, in a match that the Black Caps seemed to have sown up at lunch on Day 3. The turnaround was of course mainly thanks to Monty Panesar’s 6 2nd-innings wickets (youtube here).

As for England’s batsmen, Bell and in particular Collingwood still looked nervous at the crease, and there is still a strong case for one (or both) being dropped for the Third Test.

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..and it looks like this. Monty Panesar took a career-best 6-37 to give England a chance at victory over New Zealand, despite a first-innings deficit of 179 runs.

Now it’s time for the batsmen to prove their worth.

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England barely saved the follow-on against New Zealand. The top six have not pulled their weight, and (whatever Ian Bell says) changes need to be made.

But which changes? Collingwood’s recent form hasn’t been great, but the others seem to have a knack of making a big score just when the axe seems about to be wielded, so whoever is dropped will be able to complain that they’re no worse than others who have kept their place. Also, the likes of Bopara, Shah and Key haven’t quite done enough to bang down the metaphorical door to selection.

Maybe things will just muddle along as they are, but I hope not.

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After the beamer, the bouncer is perhaps the most controversial weapon in the bowler’s armoury. Those who utilise it don’t always aim to pick up wickets directly (although it can happen), but rather to soften up the batsman. Some bowlers are notorious for their short-pitched missiles at the batsman’s head, ribs or shoulder, and a sustained assault can be considerably unnerving for whoever is at the crease.

Sometimes the force of a bouncer is enough to dislodge the batsman’s helmet, something which could prove costly, as Kevin Pietersen well knows.

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