Archive for August, 2009

Sri Lanka’s 2-0 series win over New Zealand now means that, if things don’t work out for South Africa against South Africa B England this winter, Kumar Sangakkara’s side could potentially end the year as the world’s top-ranked team if they win the series in India. If India were to win the series 2-0, then they would take the top spot.

India’s home record against Sri Lanka is impressive, with the tourists never having won a Test, but the side which is likely to tour will be very strong indeed. The emergence of Rangana Herath as a genuine spin threat in the series against the Black Caps means that there’s less dependence on Murali to constantly take wickets (which is handy, given Ajantha Mendis’ struggles), whilst the batting order has looked assured.

Thilan Samaraweera in particular has been making centuries with impressive regularity of late, and Dilshan’s elevation to opener seems to be a smart move. Could Sri Lanka be the world’s best? On their day, quite possibly.

Read Full Post »

After making his Victoria debut at the ripe old age of 29, going missing in Middlesex and briefly going Dutch, Dirk Nannes is set to establish himself as a key part of Australia’s One Day attack. Having made his ODI debut yesterday in Australia’s demolition of Scotland, ‘Dirty’ Dirk will be looking to make an impact in the two Twenty20 matches against England in Manchester, and he certainly has the pedigree to do so given his success in the Twenty20 Cup with Middlesex and in the IPL with Delhi.

Of course, I’m hoping he’s on the losing side on Sunday (assuming the fabled Manchester climate allows enough play for a result ), but seeing him in the flesh will be special.

Read Full Post »

With almost two full years to go until the 2011 World Cup, qualification for the 2015 competition is already well underway, with the World Cricket League (sadly, unlike the World Soccer League, not featuring the Timborary Shamrocks) having reached the Division 6 stage in Singapore. Bahrain, Botswana, Malaysia, Guernsey, Norway and Singapore will all be competing for the two places available in Division 5, to be held in Nepal in early 2010.

  • Bahrain have already had to qualify for this stage, winning Division 7 back in May, due in no small part to the wickets taken (and the half-century scored in the final) by Qamar Saeed. As well as Saeed, Adil Hanif (the second-highest run-scorer in Division 7) will be key. Confidence will be high, but Bahrain have never faced most of the other sides in the competition, so it’s hard to say what reasonable expectations would be.
  • Botswana have prepared for the tournament with a training camp in Sri Lanka, and are apparently the fifth-best non-Test team in Africa, but that’s the sum of my knowledge of the game in Botswana, I’m afraid.
  • Guernsey, like Bahrain, qualified from Division 7, having been associate members of the ICC for less than a year at the time. Having enjoyed home advantage back in May, things will be harder this time around, but if Jeremy Frith can find form with the bat, then progression is possible.
  • Malaysia beat Singapore earlier this month in the Stan Nagaiah Trophy, which they will hope proves to be a good omen. The Malaysian side will be hoping that conditions will be in their favour, and that the likes of Thushara Kodikara and Suresh Navarathnam can inspire them to victory.
  • Norway dropped down to this level after finishing 9th in Division 5 last year, and will be hoping to bounce straight back with a strong showing this time around. Most of their players are of subcontinental origin, with the majority of Pakistani descent, but there are few if any names amongst their squad that mean anything to me.
  • Singapore are coached by Trevor Chappell, who hopefully won’t have encouraged the side to start bowling underarm. Home advantage may be crucial, but defeat to Malaysia in the build-up may have knocked the side’s confidence

Read Full Post »

England beat Ireland by a mere 2 runs in a rain-shortened thrller in Belfast, having posted a mere 203/9 from their 50 overs. Oddly enough, Owais Shah saved the day by taking a best-ever 3 for 16 after Trent Johnson had embarrassed England’s batsmen, claiming four wickets (including Trott and Bopara for ducks).

Australia will be hoping for better luck when they take on Scotland tomorrow in their own warm-up match, although it’s hard to see Scotland putting up the sort of fight that Ireland did – the latter beat the former convincingly last weekend.

Read Full Post »

There’s not much time for England’s cricketers to get over their Ashes hangovers (although that seems less of a problem this time) as they head off to Belfast for a One Day International against Ireland. Paul Collingwood resumes his role as stand-in captain whilst Strauss takes a rest, and of course both Pietersen and Flintoff are recovering from surgery, but the inclusion of Irishman and spell-check confusion-causer Eoin Morgan in the England side will guarantee a fair bit of ‘banter’, as Irish captain William Porterfield put it.

Ireland have caused a few surprises in recent years (including their recent elimination of Bangladesh in the World Twenty20), and if any of the tourists are nursing sore heads, they may well be found out by the likes of Niall O’Brien and Boyd Rankin. Jonathan Trott looks set for his ODI debut in the match, and will be hoping to take to Limited Overs Internationals as naturally as he seemed to settle into Test cricket.

With the One Day series against Australia coming up, a comfortable win will be expected of England, but the Irish are often underestimated, and almost as often throw a spanner in the works. Also, it should of course be remembered that England’s recent record against so-called ‘minnows’ isn’t great.

Read Full Post »

Now that Australia have slumped to fourth in the ICC rankings, what does the future hold for Test cricket?

Read Full Post »

Far removed in many ways from the drama of the world’s most famous Test series, some extraordinary cricket has been taking place in Amstelveen. Twenty wickets fell on the first day of the Intercontinental Cup match between the Netherlands and Afghanistan, the Dutch managing to make 181 whilst the tourists made just 107 in reply.

Hamid Hassan and Mohammed Nabi took four wickets each for the Afghans (the latter for only 45 runs in a ball less than 18 overs), but their batsmen were soon 10/4 in reply on the sort of pitch that would have the average county Chief Executive waking up in cold sweats.

Tom de Grooth bucked the trend by making 54, which is probably worth about 200-odd on the sort of wicket Tests are usually played on these days.

Read Full Post »

The Urn

Congratulations England, farewell Flintoff, hard luck Hussey, and hats off to young Broad.

It hasn’t been the greatest series ever, but winning the Ashes still means a lot. Of course, it’s all thanks to Monty’s last stand at Cardiff

Read Full Post »

Australia are facing an almost impossible task to avoid defeat at the Oval after Jonathan Trott made an impressive ton on debut as England set the tourists a stratospheric 546 to win.

If any side is capable of making 546, it’s the side that made 674/6 at Cardiff (albeit in very different conditions), and if any side is capable of losing a Test from such a commanding position, it’s definitely England. Nevertheless, the open-top bus is surely booked, the vats of alcohol on their way to the dressing room, and the obituaries for Australian cricket being composed.

The decision by Australia not to include a spinner in their side for the final Test has already come in for a lot of criticism, but it is clearly apparent that Australia have had bigger problems than that throughout the series.

Whatever happens tomorrow (and, if there’s any play, on Monday), there will probably be people who will say this has been a classic series. Based on the quality of the two sides, the general standard of cricket on display and the overall intensity, ‘classic’ would be putting it far too strongly.

Read Full Post »

It’s Nearly Time

After all the hype, the mind games and the avian pitch invasions, the Ashes are about to reach their denouement at the Oval.

It might not be as tense as 2005, but cricket fans across the globe will still be calling in sick, scheduling phantom ‘meetings’ that last the same amount of time as the afternoon session, hiding behind the sofa and trying to teach their non-cricket-fan friends and colleagues the intricacies of the LBW rule.

Read Full Post »

I’m not sure Tillakaratne Dilshan has fully grasped the concept of what an opening Test batsmen is supposed to do. Filling the role for the first time in the First Test against New Zealand, he ‘steadied the ship’ after Sri Lanka had lost two early wickets by hitting 92 from 72 balls, including the fastest ever Test fifty by a Sri Lankan.

It’s difficult to imagine many other Test openers reacting with in quite such an aggressive approach (certainly not any of England or New Zealand’s openers). Whilst it could be argued that Dilshan was playing high-risk cricket to a degree which is often unsuitable for the longer format, his positivity certainly turned the match in his side’s favour (from 16/2 to 134/3).

Who knows? Test Cricket may just need more crazy openers – what price Afridi to open for Pakistan?

Read Full Post »

Away from the tension, hype and seagulls (yes, honestly, seagulls) of the build-up to the final Ashes Test, New Zealand and Sri Lanka are preparing for a Test series of their own.

For most of the tourists, Test cricket in Sri Lanka will be a new experience (only three members of the Black Caps’ squad have played a Test in Sri Lanka before). Their recent record is a cause for concern – a mere four Tests won in the last two-and-a-half years (with three of those coming against Bangladesh). None of the likely front-line bowlers have much experience of Sri Lankan conditions, which may prove costly. The likes of Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder will be taking a step into the unknown, and – on recent form – New Zealand’s top order is hardly likely to set them up with a comfortable platform to do so.

The hosts will be comfortable favourites, and will be looking to sneak the Number 2 spot in the ICC Test Rankings. Ajantha Mendis looks set to miss out given Rangana Herath‘s performances against Pakistan, whilst Murali returns to the side to worry New Zealand’s inexperienced batting line-up.

Anything other than a Sri Lankan series win would be a massive surprise.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »