Archive for March, 2009

Andre Nel (and, presumably, Gunt(h)er) has retired from international cricket. Cricinfo describes him as “a rambunctious and wholehearted cricketer“. The BBC have in the past given him the accolade of “cricket’s craziest man“. I would describe him, after careful consideration, as ‘properly mental‘.

Nel’s last Test appearance was Kevin Pietersen’s debut as England captain in August 2008, but the latter stages of his Test career were also associated with the controversial quota system operated by Cricket South Africa.

The good news for Nel-lovers in the UK is that Andre will be featuring for Surrey as a Kolpak player (I suppose Gunter has a German passport).

He will also be featuring for Mumbai Indians in the IPL, where his lack of international commitments in the future (and undoubted box-office value as bonus entertainment) will surely make him a prized asset.

With luck, his retirement from the international game will leave plenty of time for honing his ‘Frustration’ skills.

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Cricket’s authorities continue to be perplexed by the weather, with South Africa the main beneficiary. After Sri Lankan cricket authorities lost out on the chance to host the Champions’ Trophy after unacceptably failing to guarantee no rain for a fortnight, allowing the (presumably weather-controlling) South Africans to step in, a similar situation has arisen with regard to the IPL’s search for a temporary home.

Now that the IPL bureaucrats have realised that ‘April showers‘ isn’t just a phrase used during a B&Q sale on Tritons during the spring, the shocking fact that it sometimes rains in Britain has allowed Cricket South Africa to step in and profit again.

Of course, it couldn’t be anything to do with money

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If Paul Harris was a busty woman (or Jesse Ryder-shaped), it would be tempting, in the style of tabloid sub-editors everywhere, to say that ‘he has his knockers’. Undoubtedly, he has had his fair share of criticism (not least from Geoffrey Boycott, who described the South African spinner as “a buffet bowler — you just help yourself“).

His critics may be reconsidering (or perhaps not – Boycott isn’t known for reversing his original stance) following Harris’ career-best performance in the Third Test against Australia. While it is true that the match was a dead rubber with no bearing on the series, Australia don’t suffer many innings defeats, so when they do it’s worth sitting up and taking notice. Given the sub-par performance of another noted spinner in the same match, it may be time to re-evaluate Harris’ credentials.

The people behind the world rankings for Test bowlers obviously agree, as Harris is – at the time of writing – newly installed in the Top 10.

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The second season of the IPL will not be played in India.

England and South Africa have emerged as the most likely to step in as temporary hosts. With less than 20 days until the competition is set to start (and with Lalit Modi insisting the schedule will be kept), there’s not much time to make arrangements. Presumably England would be preferable for the ready-made Anglo-Indian fanbase, but the impending county season could cause logistical difficulties.

There will undoubtedly be further details emerging soon, but speculation is sure to be rife until fixtures are finalised. What impact this will have on the involvement of certain players from potential host countries, whether the pre-existing sponsorship deals will cause any issues, and what this means for the future of the IPL are just three questions already being raised.

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Not the men, obviously. England’s women have won their third World Cup, and their first on foreign soil.

The winning runs were hit by Nicki Shaw, who also took 4-34 as New Zealand were bowled out for just 166. Shaw was only included in the side for the final after injury to Jenny Gunn, but was the standout player for the victors.

Congratulations to all involved with the team (including, it must be said, the ECB, who have invested considerably in the women’s game).

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England and New Zealand will contest the World Cup Final in Australia with both looking for their first tournament wins away from home (and the first ICC-sponsored Women’s World Cup).

England were much fancied at the start of the tournament, but their 17-match winning run was recently brought to an end by Australia (admittedly in a dead game), and New Zealand’s performances throughout the competition have earned them an increasing number of fans. The odds for the final suggest England are expected to win, but a close encounter is on the cards.

New Zealand’s hopes hinge on Suzie Bates (also an Olympic basketballer) and experienced captain Haidee Tiffen, who has won the trophy before.

For England, all eyes will be on Claire Taylor (widely regarded as the world’s best batsman/batswoman/batsperson) and captain Charlotte Edwards.

Although the competition hasn’t garnered as much media attention as it might have, but it seems to have been successful as a sporting event in itself. With luck, the final will live up to the high expectations that the recent performances of the two teams involved have raised.

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Lots of things have happened in the last 33 years. Punk, Margaret Thatcher, Chernobyl, a cloned sheep, and my entire life. Until today, that list didn’t include an Indian Test win in New Zealand.

India’s 10-wicket win in Hamilton was effectively sealed by Harbhajan Singh‘s 6 for 63 in the second innings, but it was Sachin Tendulkar who deservedly claimed the Man of the Match trophy following his sublime knock yesterday.

For India, the next goal is their first ever series win in New Zealand, which few would now bet against. For the Black Caps, getting anything out of the series will be an uphill struggle, especially given the poor showing with the bat so far from everyone other than Ryder and Vettori (without whom, New Zealand’s first innings would have been even more embarrasing).

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