Archive for October, 2008

Gambhir and Laxman both scored double tons for India against Australia, and both were special: Gambhir’s effort showed real maturity from the new Sehwag, whilst Very Very Special‘s was very, very special.

Meanwhile, Australia toiled in the field until India declared, with Brett Lee finishing the innings with figures of 1-119 and even Ponting bowling a couple of overs himself.

Things do not bode well for the tourists.

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Finally, some proper cricket is taking place. Gambhir has stepped up a gear (as well as impersonating Alan Shearer) in front of his home crowd, Sachin made his umpteenth Test fifty, and no-one is upset about whether or not it’s appropriate for someone to sit on someone else’s lap.

Incidentally, Ricky Ponting still seems a little reluctant to toss the ball to his spinners (although the first day was never going to belong to Cameron White). The Australians may not be over their Mohali nightmare just yet.

That said, no-one ever got rich underestimating Australia’s cricketers.

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Following Lancashire‘s decision to ditch Stuart Law, their ICL-tainted captain, Surrey have announced that they will be releasing Saqlain Mushtaq due to the spinner’s Indian Cricket League links.

Far from a thawing in BCCI-ICL relations, the Indian Board seems as intent as ever on eliminating ICL-connected players from county cricket. The counties, keen to curry favour in the hope of opening up the EPL to Indian players (which will mean more money for the counties themselves), are happy to go along with this, especially if they otherwise face the threat of exclusion from lucrative events like the Twenty20 Champions League.

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With everyone getting excited about all the money up for grabs on Saturday, it’s refreshing to hear that David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd would give away the prize money if he had been involved in something similar. Of course, that’s easy for him to say as he knows there’s no danger of him ever being in that situation, but it makes you wonder what the current England side might do with the cash should they emerge victorious from Allen Stanford’s cash bonanza.

Time was that KP would probably have spent it on a haircut, but in these times of financial turmoil, he’s more likely to spend it a little more discreetly (perhaps on elocution lessons?).

Luton Town fans will be disappointed that Monty’s not involved, as he pledged to save the club with any money he won. Better than James Caan, I suppose.

How would you spend the money, or how do you think the England players should (if they win, which doesn’t seem a certainty after the game against Middlesex)?

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Andrew Strauss will find himself in the unusual situation of playing against England tonight.

When Middlesex take on England (as part of the Stanford Super Series), the county side may well be considered favourites, not least due to their wealth of Twenty20 experience. Also, Middlesex’s flexibility in terms of bringing in overseas stars such as Neil Carter gives them an edge, although KP isn’t exactly England born and bred.

You can follow the game live here.

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With the cash bonanza that is the Stanford Super Series about to get underway, here’s a quick introduction to some of the personalities involved:

  • England arguably have the least Twenty20 experience of the four sides competing, but the likes of Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff should be able to adapt their big hitting to the format.

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Geoff Lawson has had his contract as Pakistan coach terminated, mere hours after he was assured that he had the full backing of the PCB for the remainder of his contract. Whilst the announcement on Monday that Lawson‘s contract would not be renewed in April was always likely to undermine his position somewhat, few would have predicted such a rapid turnaround.

Few, that is, outside of the crazy world of Pakistani cricket.

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Sri Lanka’s tour of England has fallen victim to a combination of the IPL and the political machinations of the BCCI.

Does this signal a shift in priorities on the subcontinent? The death of Test cricket has been long heralded, and Twenty20 is certainly making the headlines at the moment with the Stanford Dash for Cash and talk of an ICL-IPL merger. Personally, I’d take the longer form of the game any day of the week, but it seems many in Sri Lanka (and of course India) disagree.

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As the Stanford 20/20 for $20m approaches, it’s becoming clearer that the money involved is affecting the way that fans are seeing the game. Only three members of the Barmy Army, for example, are travelling to Antigua.

It’s not too difficult to see why. What interest does the average England fan have in a one-off Twenty20 match against an ‘unofficial‘ West Indies side? Furthermore, it’s possible that England fans may even want England to lose, as winning $1m apiece might be enough to turn the head of a younger player and lead him astray, or to encourage an older player to retire rather than holding on for another few years (and another Ashes series). On the other hand, an individual mistake that costs all of one’s teammates a fortune might lead to division and resentment within the dressing room.

At the root of these issues is that, clearly, this match is about nothing other than money. There is no pretence that the Super Series is about trying to find the world’s best team (those two sides, at least in Twenty20 terms, are both in India at the moment).

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Bangladesh, not for the first time, were close, but not close enough to a Test victory. Even Shakib Al Hasan’s fine performance with bat and ball was not enough to deny Daniel Vettori‘s men.

One day, the tigers will beat an ‘established’ Test side. But it probably won’t be anytime soon.

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When was the last time Australia lost by 320 runs? When was the last time they (and Ponting in particular) looked so disconsolate? Where do they go from here (apart from Dehli, obviously)?

As for India, the only question is what to do about Kumble. His replacement as captain (Dhoni) was man of the match, his replacement in the side (Mishra) took 7 wickets. Will he be be encouraged to step down and retire?

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Does Ricky Ponting trust his spinners? During India’s second innings of the Second Test, White and Clarke bowled just 9 overs between them. Even Mike Hussey, who has never taken a Test wicket, bowled 8 overs.

It’s not as if the conditions in Mohali aren’t suited to spin bowling. Amit Mishra took 5 wickets in the first innings, and Harbhajan took 2 wickets in his first over today, triggering a top-order collapse from the tourists. The absence of an experienced spinner, one of the few chinks in Australia’s armour, is perhaps starting to make a difference.

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