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Posts Tagged ‘shane warne’

After that all that talk about Phil Hughes not being under pressure evaporated in a single tweet on Thursday morning, and Shane Watson made his case as a makeshift opener, the pressure is starting to build on Mike Hussey, not least because of this shocking leave yesterday. As has been mentioned on numerous occasions by various others, Hussey’s form has been poor for some time now, and if Australia were to lose at Edgbaston with ‘Mr Cricket’ failing in the second innings, he may prove to be the fall guy.

Interestingly, given Australia’s struggles so far with the ball, the selectors have left the bowling attack unchanged (aside from the extra option that Watson provides). There have been suggestions in some quarters that in reality, Hughes is paying the price for Mitchell Johnson’s continuing troubles, rather than his own failures with the bat.

Even if all of these decisions prove to have been the wrong ones, however, the quality of Australia’s reserves has been somewhat understated by many in the English media – much as Hughes was built up by the same media based partly on big scores for Middlesex in matches that lots of journalists had seen – and surely Graham Manou can’t be quite as anonymous as he seems. In short, Australia may not have the big names any more, but it is a brave (or foolish) thing to discount players purely because they aren’t as well known as Shane Warne or Brett Lee.

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Shane Warne, hair-loss expert (“The decision for me to do something about my hair loss was simple… I didn’t want to go bald“) and sometime soap star, thinks Ravi Bopara is “too worried about how he looks” to make an impact on the Ashes.

The Ashes phoney war, it seems, is well and truly underway.

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Everyone who has an opinion on cricket seems to have an opinion on Sophia Gardens. Shane Warne has called the decision to hold the First Ashes Test there ‘a disgrace’, and there’s even talk that the poor state of the pitch (which was recently reported) is part of an English spin conspiracy.

As it happens, I’m not too impressed with the decision to start the Ashes at a ground which has never held a Test before, and on a personal level I’m upset that there will be no Test cricket at Old Trafford this year (especially given England’s decent record there of late) for what seem mainly to have been financial reasons. But the home side’s record in Ashes Tests at Lord’s is hardly awe-inspiring, so a change of venue may have some positive impact. The fact that the Aussies are complaining may even suggest that the ECB could be doing something right (completely by accident, and for the wrong reasons, of course).

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The two best Test cricket teams in the world move on to the second leg of their epic clash (the first was, of course, the recent series in Australia) as the Aussies embark on their first Gilchrist-less and Warne-less (and, for that matter, Lee-less, Hayden-less…) tour of South Africa. The series will be the first for either team to make use of the referral system, and it will be interesting to see how Smith and Ponting choose to utilise it.

For the tourists, much of the focus will be on the less familiar faces – the likes of old Bryce McGain and young Philip Hughes. Marcus North, recently signed by Hampshire, is also in line for a debut, probably in the First Test.

For South Africa, the faces will be more familiar given the team’s performance in Australia- even to the extent that a fit-again Ashwell Prince can’t break back into the side. The pace attack (especially Steyn), so potent in December, will be crucial once again.

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Way back in April, when the Indian Premier League was hogging all the cricketing headlines and ‘recession‘ was something Shane Warne wanted to avoid happening to his hairline, the ECB were drafting plans for an English (and Welsh) version of the IPL.

The new structure of the county season from 2010 onwards was announced in July with two 10-team divisions including ‘guest’ overseas teams. Those plans have now been radically scaled back, partly due to the global economic situation and partly due to a seeming lack of interest.

The new model is to be called, apparently, P20 rather than the EPL, to avoid confusion with (and legal action from) the footballing equivalent. It will be interesting to watch over the next few months to what degree other plans around the world for copycat IPL-style competitions will be similarly put on hold.

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Ajantha Mendis is now the fastest man to 50 ODI wickets, after taking 3-15 as Zimbabwe were humbled to 80 all out in the second match of the Tri-Series currently being hosted in Bangladesh.

The young spinner’s brief career has already included six matches against Zimbabwe, two against Bangladesh and one against the UAE, so his current average (a preposterous 9.82 at the time of writing) is sure to rise, but he has also bowled against India six times (including his amazing spell in the Asia Cup final), so it may not rise by as much as some might think.

By way of comparison, Shane Warne took six matches longer to take 50 ODI wickets, but his first 20-odd ODIs were nearly all against established sides.

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Australia have, for the second Test match running, let South Africa off the hook. In Perth, they allowed to tourists to chase down a preposterous 414 for victory, and in the current match at the MCG, they conceded a first-innings deficit despite a strong performance from Peter Siddle in particular which had at one stage reduced the tourists to 184/7 in reply to Australia’s 394. Although JP Duminy deserves credit for his remarkable innings, it is tempting to speculate how many he would have scored against a more experienced attack.

With Brett Lee (who would, in fairness, probably have been dropped anyway) out with a foot injury, the hosts will most likely go into the final Test with a massively inexperienced bowling unit. The days of Warne and McGrath seem now to be of a different era, even though it’s only 2 years or so since they were both in the Australian side.

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After their first series defeat since that business in 2005, there are many questions being asked of Australia’s cricketers, and their captain in particular. Accusations of a lack of mental (and testicular) strength are not often levelled at Australia, but they are facing such accusations now. There are a number of questions that need answering:

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Harbhajan Singh has predicted that Australia’s new spin attack won’t cause many problems for India in next month’s series: “There are no spinners in Australia of the quality of Warne and MacGill now, and I’m sure our batsmen, who are the best players of spin in the world, are going to have fun with this challenge”.

I’m sure that people were saying similar things about Mendis not so long ago…

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Back in April, things looked pretty bad for Hampshire. Warne had retired, Mascarenhas was off to join him for a stint in the IPL, and they’d only just managed to sign Shane Bond after much legal wrangling due to his ICL links.

At the time of writing, they sit atop the County Championship Division One table. They’ve played one more game than their nearest rivals, so probably won’t win the thing, but nevertheless, hats off to them.

Particular kudos is due to Michael Carberry, Nic Pothas and Imran Tahir.

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Rajasthan Royals annihilated Delhi in the first IPL semi-final, meaning that Warne and friends will take on either Chennai Super Kings or Kings XI Punjab in Sunday’s final.

Shane Watson was the outstanding performer, making 52 runs and then taking 3-10 from 3 overs.

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After what seems like about a thousand games of cricket, the Indian Premier League has now reached the Semi-Final stage. Here’s a brief roundup of the teams still involved

  • Dehli Daredevils: Having Glenn McGrath in the side has obviously helped, but the Daredevils still had to wait on other results to make the final four after losing to Punjab. Dehli probably won’t be many people’s tip to win the whole thing.
  • Chennai Super Kings: After a strong start, the Super Kings suffered when all their Australians left part-way through the season to tour the West Indies. With Stephen Fleming also unavailable for the rest of the season, Chennai will struggle to replicate the explosive form of April, but they still have enough quality (especially in their bowling, with Ntini, Muralitharan and Balaji) to win.
  • Kings XI Punjab: Punjab should be strong on confidence after beating Rajasthan by 41 runs on Wednesday, and Luke Pomersbach is tailor-made for twenty20. With the likes of Pomersbach and Kumar Sangakkara (who’s made five 50s in 18 innings of twenty20), as well as plenty of young Indian talent, the Kings XI are serious contenders.

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