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Archive for August, 2008

The Flintoff comeback is gathering pace. At the time of writing, he tops England’s series averages for both batting and bowling, has taken more wickets and scored more runs than any of his team-mates against South Africa, and is rated first in the ICC’s rankings for all-rounders.

Whilst Freddie is unlikely ever to reproduce his golden form of 2005, he’s certainly still got something special about him.

Here’s hoping for more of this and this, and much less of this

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Shoaib Aktar-watchers are used to surprises, but many an eyebrow will be raised if he signs for Surrey.

The county are facing relegation from the top level of the County Championship, and an injection of Shoaib‘s raw pace (not to mention the extra revenue he might generate in ticket sales) could be just what the Bears need.

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Bangladesh were destroyed by Australia, as one would expect. Australia’s bowlers took advantage of the opportunity to improve their averages, with Cameron White taking 3-5, Mitchell Johnson picking up 2-10, and Brett Geeves taking 2-11.

Tamim Iqbal, one of those you should be watching, made 21, which sounds rubbish until you realise that 21 runs was more than a quarter of his team’s total.

Interestingly, Andrew Symonds didn’t play after being sent home. What for? Drunken rock ‘n’ roll excess? Punching a paparazzo? No, fishing.

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India were all out for 103 in the fifth and final ODI against Sri Lanka, allowing the hosts a handsome 112 run win under the D/L method as consolation in the face of losing the series.

India’s collapse (only Kohli managed to score more than 20) was mainly orchestrated by Ajantha Mendis (4-10) and Nuwan Kulasekara (4-40), proving that India’s batsmen are still as vulnerable as ever.

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Another One Day International for England, another ‘Michelle‘ for an English bowler. Samit Patel took 5-41 as South Africa were 170 all out in lukewarm pursuit of England’s 296/7.

Kevin Pietersen might be tempted to get carried away with himself (after all, England have won every match since his permanent appointment as captain), but this South Africa side look about ready for the plane home, and aren’t really the side to set a benchmark against. Only Amla made any real impression for the tourists, with 46 runs from 66 balls.

Aside from Patel, England’s star performer was Flintoff, who made 78 not out at more than a run a ball, then took 2-33 from his 7 overs.

The next match is at Lords’ on Sunday, but the series is already England’s.

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Ambiguities over to what extent the Stanford Superstars are a West Indies team look set to spill over into court, with a date set in London for a hearing of an injuction brought by Digicel (the official sponsors of the West Indies team, but not the Stanford side, which has an agreement with rival telecoms company Cable & Wireless) against the WICB.

The board are confident that the venture will go ahead as planned, but a court date so close to the start of the Super Series, including the game against England, will increase the uncertainty surrounding the event. Watch this space.

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The Don would have been 100 today. There’s not much I can add to the forest of features that have been written this week, so here are a few clips:

Enjoy.

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India confirmed their first ever ODI series victory in Sri Lanka with victory in Colombo.

What’s more, the batsmen finally delivered. Raina and Dhoni continued with their form from the last game, and Virat Kohli made his maiden ODI 50 as the tourists assembled a score of 258, the highest of the ODI series so far.

For Sri Lanka, the story is their first ever back-to-back home series defeats. Ouch. Vaas took his 400th One Day International wicket, but it was scant consolation for the hosts, who struggled throughout.

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Yep, that’s right – 215 balls remaining. Graeme Smith is presumably drowning his sorrows (and maybe himself) in a Nottingham watering hole after England’s bowlers, especially Stuart Broad, ripped through South Africa’s batting line-up to such an extent that Andre Nel (ODI average 12.70) top scored with 13. Flintoff and Harmison also finished with nice-looking figures (although the latter only bowled one over and was just mopping up the tail).

Matt Prior had a good game too, taking 6 catches behind the stumps, then making 45 not out as England knocked off the runs required in a mere 14.1 overs. KP’s honeymoon continues…

UPDATE: You can see youtube highlights of Broad’s five-for here.

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Bangladesh are over in Australia for some ODIs. Thing is, a couple of the ‘established’ Australia side (new father Ricky Ponting and Bollywood star/Underpants salesman Brett Lee) won’t be taking part.

This means that Michael Clarke gets to take charge of his first full series, and Brett Geeves gets the chance to prove he isn’t just a mispronunciation of the player he’s replacing.

Perhaps more interestingly, Australia ‘A’ are off to India, which will be a fascinating proving ground for the spinners battling for the Test spot last occupied by Beau Casson (who himself is on the tour).

I know at least one person will be watching with interest.

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India edged ahead in the series with victory over Sri Lanka in the 3rd ODI at Colombo.

India’s 237/9 from their 50 overs came largely due to MS Dhoni, who played the leading role in the tourists’ fightback from 91/4 , making 76 from 80 balls before falling to Mendis. The main support came from Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma, both of whom shared 50-run partnerships with the Indian captain.

Sri Lanka’s response stalled early on, and the margin of victory would have been considerably more than 33 runs were it not for Mahela Jayawardene‘s battling 94 from 111 balls. The rest were swept away by India’s bowlers, mainly Zaheer ‘Wrath of’ Khan and Munaf Patel.

Neither side’s batsmen have really got going up until now, but this match had signs that there may be bigger scores ahead, after the first two ODIs of the series were dominated by the ball.

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The ICC Champions Trophy, due to take place in Pakistan in two-and-a-half weeks’ time, has been postponed until next year. This is understandable given the recent political turmoil in the country, but are things likely to be any different in 12 months’ time? The decision seems to be either a soft option, or the precursor to an unpopular decision sometime next year.

As things stand, Pakistani cricket is visibly suffering on a number of fronts, not least from the continued reluctance of Australia, amongst others, to tour the country, despite the fact that it has hosted competitions such as the Asia Cup without serious incident.

The Champions Trophy itself may be another victim of this postponement, not least because next year’s schedule is already packed with the World Twenty20, the next edition of the IPL (and its many competitors and/or copycats) and of course the Ashes. Is there room in amongst all that for a poor man’s World Cup?

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