Archive for April, 2009

It seems a slightly amateurish website hasn’t hindered the fledgling American Premier League from attracting players. Although the ICC has deemed the competition ‘unauthorised’ and the ECB has discouraged county players from taking part, the likes of Astle, Gillespie, Hick and Hollioake.

Whether or not October in New York will be a little too cold for cricket doesn’t seem to have been addressed yet. The baseball season will still be underway, which suggests that there is an appetite for outdoor sport in the city, but whether the players already signed up will convince NYC’s expatriate population to come out in force remains to be seen.

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After all the speculation about whether Bell, Key, Shah or Vaughan would be England’s number 3 batsmen against the West Indies, the collective gasp from the nation’s cricket writers was almost audible even outside of London as none of the aforementioned candidates even made it into the squad for the First Test.

Ravi Bopara is now expected to fill the third slot in the England’s batting order. Whilst I’m a fan of Bopara, he doesn’t strike me as a Test number three. It has always struck me as a little strange that Kevin Pietersen is so reluctant to bat at three, which suggests that he doesn’t rate himself against the new ball.

To think that Kevin Pietersen doesn’t rate himself at anything is so counter-inituitive that it makes my head hurt.

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There was much excitment in some quarters when it was announced that English players would be available for the second season of the IPL, and Chennai and Bangalore alone spent $3m between them on Flintoff and Pietersen respectively, but how have England’s IPL stars got on so far?

  • Kevin Pietersen has struggled too, getting out cheaply in nearly every innings. His famed aggression hasn’t always been on display for Bangalore (at least not until after he’s out), and the treatment he’s getting from the South African crowds can’t have helped. Having captained his side to four defeats in a row, the Royal Challengers might not be too upset to see the back of him when he returns to England.
  • Dimitri Mascheranhas, the only English player with prior experience of the IPL, made an explosive start to his second season, taking 2 wickets in 2 balls, and batted well against Kolkatta. He seems to have graduated from last year’s bit-part at Rajasthan to the role of front-line bowler, and has taken the wickets of some very good players indeed.
  • Owais Shah has apparently enjoyed practising his Hindi with his Delhi Daredevils team-mates, and has had plenty of time to, with little in the way of cricket to occupy himself with.
  • Ravi Bopara blasted 84 from 59 balls against Bangalore, and claims that he has now learnt how to open in Twenty20 cricket, something that may bring cheer to England ahead of the World Twenty20 in June.
  • Paul Collingwood has made it onto the field, but only as a substitute fielder (would it be cruel to suggest that Delhi signed him with that in mind?), and may not get a chance before England duty calls.

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Michael Vaughan missed another chance to prove his form ahead of the announcement of England’s sqaud to play the West Indies when he fell to fellow England outcast Steve Harmison for 24. Television replays suggested Vaughan may not have got a touch on the fatal ball, but the evidence from the single available angle was inconclusive.

The selectors almost seem to be looking for an excuse to pick Vaughan, so this score will frustrate them as well as their former captain. The number three spot is looking increasingly like it might end up being filled by Ian Bell, which is fine if he’s in form, but it’s only a matter if weeks since he was dropped, so it seems more likely that any recall would owe more to the lack of options available than to a belief that Bell has improved in the intervening period. Indeed, his attitude to being dropped suggests little or nothing has changed.

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Australia’s poor one-day form continued as they lost to Pakistan by 4 wickets with a whopping 35 balls remaining. Chief amongst their tormentors was Shahid Afridi, who took 6-38 from his ten overs, his best ever bowling performance in an ODI.

In fact, eight of Australia’s wickets fell to spinners as they crumbled to 168 all out. James Hopes made 48, but ran out of partners and ended as the lone player not to be dismissed (and as the only player other than the top 3 to make it into double figures).

The sides play again on Friday, when Pakistan will be hoping to continue their good form and Australia will be hoping to arrest their seeming decline. The likes of Andrew Symonds, playing in this tournament in the hope of gaining an Ashes place, will nio doubt be desperate to get back out onto the field.

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Much of the talk (in England at least) ahead of Bangalore Royal Challengers against Chennai Super Kings was of Pietersen vs Flintoff, but it was Muralitharan and Hayden who made the biggest contributions as Chennai rolled over Pietersen’s side, claiming victory by 92 runs.

To be fair to Flintoff, he did hit 22 from 13 balls and took 3-11 from 4 overs (including the wicket of Pietersen) to leave Bangalore reeling, finally slumping to 87 all out in pursuit of Chennai’s 179.

65 of those 179 runs were scored by Matthew Hayden off just 35 balls as the Super Kings ran riot.

The second season of the IPL is starting to heat up now, and if the marquee names like Hayden, Muralitharan and Flintoff continue to deliver, then the competition is sure to monopolise cricket coverage for the next few weeks.

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If you’ll excuse the pun, it’s fair to say that one of the true giants of Associate cricket has retired in Dwayne Leverock. Sluggo, as he is known, has often been a figure of fun owing to his size, but his talent as a spinner should not be understated. His figures – 34 wickets at 33.02 with an economy of 4.00 in ODIs, 71 wickets at 26.47 in just 15 first-class appearances – are strong, but he will be remembered by most of us outside of Bermuda for his outstanding catch against India in the 2007 World Cup, which you can enjoy again below (with, admittedly, a somewhat questionable soundtrack):

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