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Posts Tagged ‘ramnaresh sarwan’

Sir Allen Stanford has been arrested by the FBI and will face charges in a US federal court this morning. The allegedly fraudulent cricket-loving Texan billionaire and admirer of Matt Prior’s wife has denied any wrongdoing.

If any aggreived West Indian cricket fans want to see the man who was briefly touted as the WICB’s saviour (and who may still owe Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul a million dollars) in tears, then go here.

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Kings XI Punjab
Punjab have been relatively quiet in the transfer market, having added only Jerome Taylor, Ravi Bopara, and the previously obscure Burt Cockley. Sarwan has departed – having apparently only been on a one-year contract – and a number of key players will only play part of the season (Shaun Marsh, Brett Lee and James Hopes are all likely to be called away by Australia).

As with last season, much will rest on the shoulders of Yuvraj, who will be expected to provide batting pyrotechnics every time he plays. If he can find form whilst the Australians are unavailable, and Marsh can continue his impressive form from last year, then the Kings XI are capable of mounting a strong challenge.

Kolkata Knight Riders
The KKRs build-up has been dominated by talk of multiple or rotating captains, but the unusual situation has partly arisen out of the fact that the side has so many top-class players at its disposal. Chris Gayle is made for Twenty20 cricket, as is Brendon McCullum (who should be available for the whole season). David Hussey, Ricky Ponting and Ajantha Mendis will probably only play cameo roles, but home-grown talents such as Cheteshwar Pujara will be available throughout.

Sole auction signing Mashrafe Mortaza probably won’t alter the balance of the side much, but Umar Gul’s bowling will be missed, putting a lot of pressure on Ishant Sharma.

Mumbai Indians
A disappointing start last time around saw Mumbai fail to make the play-offs, and the Sreesanth slapping incident stirred controversy. He’s out with an injury, so discipline may be less of an issue in 2009. Dwayne Bravo’s recent form has been impressive, suggesting that he will be a key player with both bat and ball, and the additions of JP Duminy and Graham Napier should boost the batting.

Zaheer Khan has also come in for Robin Uthappa, whilst a number of the overseas players can offer something with both bat and ball, leaving the side well-balanced in the middle order. Harbhajan has so far failed to impress in Twenty20 cricket, but is likely to feature throughout.

Rajasthan Royals
Rajasthan confounded a lot of people’s expectations with their victory last season, but key player Shane Watson could miss much of the 2009 season due to international call-ups. Tyron Henderson comes in as cover, but the lack of big-name players (Graeme Smith’s recovery from injury may also prove more costly for the Royals now that they have lost the element of surprise.

Rajasthan, of course, are nominally my team, so all the best to them.

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England go into their first Test series of 2009 with a new captain, no permanent coach, and a significant chunk of the batting order likely to have one eye on the IPL auction during the First Test. Despite all this, they’ll be widely expected to pull off a comfortable series win as they continue their battle with Australia to see who can be worst prepared for the Ashes this summer.

In case any of the players not included in the IPL auction feel there’s insufficient time for them on camera, they need fear not – this series will be England’s first encounter with the TV referral system that many other teams have used already. Ian Bell may want to make use of it while he can, as a poor performance in the First Test may see him relieved of Test duties for a time, especially if Owais Shah can seize the opportunity.

For the hosts, expectations have been steadily building, and the quality of Gayle, Sarwan and of course Chanderpaul is enough to win them at least one Test if all find form at the same time, although the team often collapses if they don’t. The Windies bowling attack, once so feared, is potentially a weakness if it reverts to mediocrity once the new ball shine has worn off. Recent unlikely batting hero Jerome Taylor could be key, given his ability to swing the ball both ways.

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The Stanford Superstars, who will compete against England for megabucks in the Stanford Super Series, have been selected. There are a couple of surprises in there, notably the uncapped likes of Lennox Cush and Chad Hampson, as well as established West Indies players like Chanderpaul, Gayle, and Sarwan.

The squad raises an interesting point which has been debated elsewhere (albeit with reference to India). To what extent can an ‘unofficial’ team represent the West Indies (or whoever), and is this a rival team to that backed by the ‘official’ board (in this case the WICB)? The WICB’s involvement has already been controversial, causing it to go into arbitration with one of its sponsors, Digicel.

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