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Archive for October, 2009

Kevin Pietersen is feeling ‘refreshed‘ after his forced break from cricket (time which he exploited to promote pomade, although sadly not Dapper Dan).

England will certainly be glad of his return, having had an uneven and inconsistent end to the summer, and apparently Pietersen has prepared himself for the winter by spending “a month on the couch doing little other than watching some cricket and his favourite channel — National Geographic“.

With such a strong interest in wildlife, maybe KP would enjoy pondering the comments on this post.

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It looks like Chris Gayle’s future as West Indies captain is far from certain, with Daren Ganga widely touted as a possible replacement after his success with Trinidad & Tobago. But who deserves the job?

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David Shepherd RIP

David Shepherd, a true cult figure amongst umpires, has died at the age of 68 following a long battle with cancer.

For a generation of English cricket fans, Shepherd’s many superstitions (including hopping when the score reached 111, and his status as “full-bodied in good nature and girth” will be much missed.

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India are hosting Australia for a seven-match ODI series, which normally would have been hyped for weeks (if not months) in advance, but the Ashes (and its attendent ODIs) blurred into the Champions Trophy which blurred into the Twenty20 Champions League which only finished yesterday, so it’s almost as if the series has crept up on both sides.

For India, the headline news is the return of Virender Sehwag and the injury worries over Yuvraj, but it’s the bowling attack which is arguably under pressure after a poor run of late. Munaf Patel returns to give the seam bowling a little more control, whilst the pressure is mounting on Harbhajan to shrug off his recent slump and return to the form he showed before the Champions Trophy.

For Australia, there are fewer concerns, although the absence of Michael Clarke will probably necessitate some tinkering with the batting order. Most of the side will be familiar with Indian conditions through IPL and more recently Champions League experience, although the fatigue factor after exertions in the latter may come into play with regard to the likes of Brett Lee.

Although those Aussies who played for NSW in the Champions League will be a little on the tired side, I would expect Australia to have the upper hand in the series unless India significantly up their game. The hosts’ poor showing at the Champions Trophy has cast doubt on their ambitions to be the worlds’ best.

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Four months after Australia’s poor showing at the World Twenty20, a number of the players involved in the Aussie set-up have managed to claim an international Twenty20 trophy by other means, with Brett Lee, Stuart Clark, Nathan Hauritz, Philip Hughes, David Warner and Simon Katich all involved in New South Wales’ victory over Trinidad & Tobago in the Twenty20 Champions League final.

Lee in particular showed his class in the final, hitting 48 from 31 balls and then taking 2-10, whilst Clark (3-21) and Hauritz (2-23, including the wicket of Kieron Pollard) also made telling contributions with the ball.

Now that the focus shifts to Australia’s ODI series against India, the main concern for those involved in both the Australian and NSWelsh sides is the lack of time to rest before the first ODI on Sunday. Two-thirds of the Australian touring party has been involved in the Champions League, and if similar situations continue to arise, then the sort of club vs country row that often fills column inches in football could be on its way to cricket soon.

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Monty Panesar may have been cut adrift by England despite winning the Ashes for them with the bat, but he’s on a new mission now – trying to bring success to the Highveld Lions. Monty looks set to make his debut in tomorrow’s match against the Chevrolet Warriors, and it will be interesting to see how he copes with the pressure of being the side’s star turn.

With Monty facing a difficult winter out in the metaphorical cold, success in South Africa could be just the kick-start he needs to get back onto the international scene. Overhauling Swann and Rashid will take a serious improvement in Panesar’s technique, and some time playing overseas could help him add some much-needed variety to his bowling.

Panesar’s new team-mates will need a strong performance to get a win against the Warriors, who have just recorded a victory over the Dolphins, with their performance in the field particularly impressive. They won’t need to worry about facing Wayne Parnell, though, as he is suspended for undisclosed disciplinary reasons.

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With the Twenty20 Champions League now down to the last four, who’s going to win the thing?

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  • New South Wales, who had probably been the best team in the competition up to that point (and who may yet win the thing) were made to look foolish by Kieron Pollard when they should have cruised to victory. Could this be an Australian side choking?

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54 runs. In 18 balls. Enjoy:

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It seems that sense may be about to prevail, as an agreement appears to have been reached between the WICB and the WIPA over their long-running and bitter contract dispute.

The agreement came after “a three day meeting between Dr. Julian Hunte and Mr. Dinanath Ramnarine” (presumably with frequent toilet breaks), and means that the forthcoming tour to Australia should feature the likes of Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, rather than Tino Best and a load of people you’ve never heard of.

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Yorkshire’s decision to release Matthew Hoggard (if it was indeed their decision rather than his – reports so far tend to take one side or the other) is surprising, to say the least. He took more First-Class wickets than any other Yorkshire bowler (although admittedly he didn’t do too well in the shorter formats), and for such a long and distinguished spell with the county to come to such a rancorous end is sad and unexpected.

Leicestershire are already interested in signing up the most sheepdogesque of England’s 2005 Ashes winners, and no doubt there will be other counties who will be keeping an eye on developments as well, but for Hoggard to be playing for anyone other than Yorkshire just seems wrong, even through my own Red Rose-tinted spectacles.

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The county season’s over for another year, and so here are my picks for the best of 2009

  • Best Bowler: Alfonso Thomas was impressive in the limited-overs competitions, but Graham Onions managed to take 69 first-class wickets at an average of less than 20 whilst breaking into the England side and taking a five-for on Test debut.

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