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Archive for the ‘south africa’ Category

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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Club cricket takes a new turn this week with the inaugural Twenty20 Champions League. Here’s a brief run-down of the sides involved:

  • The Cape Cobras, although without the injured Graeme Smith, will still have plenty of firepower with JP Duminy and Herschelle Gibbs the main threats. The lack of access to the large pool of overseas talent that the IPL teams will enjoy could be an issue, though, as could a lack of familiarity with subcontinental conditions from the non-internationals amongst the squad.
  • The Deccan Chargers boast a wealth of talent, with Adam Gilchrist, Andrew Symonds, Chaminda Vaas and Scott Styris all in the squad alongside Indian players of the quality of Laxman and RP Singh. One of the IPL sides will be expected to win the competition, and the Chargers will certainly fancy their chances.
  • The Delhi Daredevils pulled off a coup in securing Dirk Nannes‘ services for the tournament, and some of his fellow Victorians may be cursing that decision on Friday when he could well open the bowling against the Australian side. Meanwhile, Gambhir, Sehwag and Dilshan could be an irresistable top order combination if they all hit form. The loss of Paul Collingwood to injury is unlikely to be felt too deeply (except by Collingwood himself, who has ‘a little niggle in his buttock’, no less).
  • The Eagles are on paper the weakest team in the competition, but the likes of Dillon du Preez and Ryan McLaren have overseas experience, and Twenty20 competitions have proved ripe for surprising results in the past, so they shouldn’t be underestimated.
  • New South Wales could upset the IPL hegemony, with the likes of Simon Katich and the famously big-hitting David Warner providing the runs, whilst Stuart Clark, Nathan Hauritz and Brett Lee will be a potent attack. If the problems which the Australian national side had in the World Twenty20 can be overcome, then NSW could be heading home with some silverware to go with their international players’ natty new white jackets.
  • Otago‘s chief asset, as ever, is the power-hitting of Brendon McCullum, but brother Nathan can also contribute. Dimitri Mascarenhas, available as neither Hampshire nor Rajasthan have qualified, has a strong track record in this format with both bat and ball, and is a strong addition to the squad.

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  • South Africa have always been the nearly men of 50-over cricket, but they did win the Champions Trophy back in 1998, since when they have developed a reputation as big tournament bottlers. This is South Africa’s best chance in years to win some ICC silverware, as well as to cast off the ‘chokers‘ tag.
  • Sri Lanka could be dark horses, with Dilshan‘s firepower matched by the steadying hands of veterans Jayasuriya, Jayawardene and captain Sangakkara. The return of Murali and the recent form of the pace attack will worry opposing batsmen, but the side will need to take a step up to taste glory.
  • England, having been humiliated in the ODI series against Australia, and without their two best limited overs players in Flintoff and Pietersen, will do well to win a match. The batsmen seem to fail whenever the bowlers succeed and vice versa, so expectations, it’s fair to say, will be easy to live up (or down) to.

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

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Now that we know who the four semi-finalists of the ICC World Twenty20 will be, who’s going to win it?

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Group E

  • The West Indies may have hammered Australia, but that victory owed a lot more to Chris Gayle’s power-hitting than it did to competent fielding from the team at large. Conceding as many runs as the side has recently probably won’t see them progress any further, but such is Gayle’s talent that few totals are unequivocally out of reach if the Windies bat second.

Group F

  • Ireland have exceeded many expectations by reaching this stage, and the lone Associate side remaining in the competition will need more than a little luck to progress any further. The match against Pakistan, though is bound to rekindle memories of 2007, and there’s still a chance of another upset or two being sprung.
  • New Zealand haven’t shown as much promise in their two group matches as I thought they might, but the quality of Vettori, McCullum, Oram and Taylor (if all are fit at the same time) will raise hopes of a Semi Final place.

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New Zealand beat India in their recent warm-up match for this tournament, which is bound to raise hopes that the Black Caps will pose a real challenge. Brendon McCullum is perhaps the archetypal Twenty20 batsman (as he showed in his dramatic introduction to the IPL last year), and Daniel Vettori and Jacob Oram are both top-class bowlers in the short format, so anything is possible, but it would still be quite a shock if New Zealand were to take home the trophy.

Scotland’s preparations for the competition have been hit by John Blain’s walk-out, and the Saltires’ fortunes in general have been on a downward curve for the last four years. Gavin Hamilton (who has played Test cricket) is still around, but there seems little hope for Scotland to win a match in the tournament, especially given the group they find themselves in.

South Africa are now the top-ranked ODI team in the world, and have beaten Australia twice in their last two T20 Internationals, but their reputation as ‘chokers’ hasn’t yet been entirely shaken off. The recent emergence of the likes of JP Duminy and Morecambe’s own Wayne Parnell – along with the experience of players such as Kallis, Steyn and Smith – may prove enough for the Saffers to finally get their hands on an ICC trophy.

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South Africa and Australia, the two highest-ranked teams in the world (at least at the time of writing, India are bearing down on them with some speed), are playing some of the most compelling cricket in the world against each other.

After the two three-Test series, which overall were tied 3-3, the second leg of the back-to-back ODI series is providing results which are no less interesting. The first ODI went Australia’s way (and then some), with the South Africans being trounced by 141 runs, but the momentum has swung back the other way with Saffer victory in the second match, Dale Steyn and Wayne Parnell laying waste to the Aussie batting lineup, leaving their compatriots a mere 132 to knock off for victory (something they managed in just over 26 overs).

The series moves to Cape Town on Thursday – I wouldn’t like to say which way the series will go (although I’m sure some people are already working on it), but I’m prepared to predict a high level of drama and two sides going all-out for victory.

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With the World Twenty20 fast approaching, two of the potential winners go head-to-head with a two-match Twenty20 series which starts tomorrow in Johannesburg.

South Africa are the world’s number one One-Day side, but don’t have a great Twenty20 record against Australia. JP Duminy and Albie Morkel (with a Twenty20 strike rate of 133.90) will be amongst the Test players expected to step up, but there could be some unfamiliar faces in South African colours as the home side look to test out various combinations ahead of the summer.

For the tourists, a number of slots for the summer may be open, and the likes of Shane Harwood and James Hopes will be hoping to ensure their places in the Aussie World Twenty20 squad with strong performances against South Africa. Meanwhile, Mitchell Johnson‘s recent batting form may mean he may be considered an all-rounder in the shorter format, lending Australia an extra edge.

In all, things look set for another close series between the two sides.

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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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