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Posts Tagged ‘shivnarine chanderpaul’

Australia go into their first Test series since the Ashes with a strong desire to bounce back, and one could hardly dispute that the West Indies are in need of a boost following their recent troubles, so both sides should be sufficiently motivated for the three Test series which starts on Thursday.

For Australia, the side is fairly settled, with Doug Bollinger confirmed as the 12th man for the First Test. Mitchell Johnson will be hoping for a return to form following his well-publicised struggles over the English summer, whilst Stuart Clark now seems to have been cut adrift indefinitely. As for the batting line-up, Shane Watson is well established as Katich’s opening partner, and the rest of the top and middle order is similarly predictable. Anything other than a series win for the hosts is unthinkable for captain Ponting, who will desperately be trying to shake off the disappointment (and the stigma) of a second Ashes defeat under his stewardship.

The tourists will be boosted by the return of Chris Gayle from Jamaica in time for the First Test. Much, as ever, rests on the captain’s shoulders, as well as those of Chanderpaul and Dwayne Bravo, with the latter hoping to translate his good form for Trinidad & Tobago across to the Test format. Meanwhile, 19-year-old Adrian Barath looks set to open the batting alongside Gayle in a partnership that will have to gel quickly in the face of the formidable Aussie pace attack, not to mention the pace-friendly conditions at the Gabba. The Windies face an uphil struggle, to say the least.

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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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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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Australia, as in any competition in any form of cricket, are amongst the favourites, but they are nowhere near as highly rated as usual. Most of the impressive Aussie performances in this year’s IPL were from players retired from international cricket or not included in the national team. Of course, there are enough top-quality players in the side to beat anyone else on their day, but a tough draw and the distraction of the upcoming Ashes may mean that this is not the Australia that usually turns up and dominates international tournaments.

The West Indies were disappointing in the last tournament, but given their captain’s recently-expressed view on the merits of Twenty20 cricket, they should presumably put in more of an effort this time around. If Gayle, Chanderpaul and Bravo all live up to their billing, then the Windies will be a force to reckon with, but none of them performed well in either  the Tests or the ODI series against England, so the pressure is on.

Sri Lanka will be playing their first international cricket since the team fell victim to a terrorist attack when on tour in Pakistan, and hopes will be high that the country can make headlines for the right reasons. Players like Kumar Sangakkara, Lasith Malinga and Ajantha Mendis are well-equipped for match-winning performances, and although the side has a tough draw, Sri Lanka could be the dark horses of the competition.

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England fans who have handed over £45 to watch England versus the West Indies at Headingley (or up to a whopping £66 to watch the Second ODI at Bristol) may be, how shall I put it, a little disappointed that they will see neither Andrew Flintoff nor Kevin Pietersen. They may also be less than impressed with the tourists’ attitude so far.

Nevertheless, England’s success in the ODI series over in the Carribbean, as well as ever-growing Ashes fever, will ensure plenty of attention is paid to this series. The return to the side of Dwayne Bravo, and the move to a format of cricket that Chris Gayle cares about, will boost the Windies’ chances no end.

For England, much of the attention will be on the new blood in the squad. Tim Bresnan returns for the first time since 2006, whilst Eoin Morgan looks set to get his big chance in Pietersen’s stead. Meanwhile, Ravi Bopara’s recent Test and IPL form means that he may now be the headline-grabber.

England are favourites, but I think they’ll have a tough time of it if Chanderpaul, Gayle and Bravo all perform for the Windies.

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After a brief interlude which many of the players involed spent playing (or bench-warming) in the IPL, England and the West Indies go toe-to-toe for the second time this year with the Test series starting tomorrow. The Windies, of course, were hastily lined up as replacements for first Zimbabwe (who were banned from touring the UK for political reasons) and then Sri Lanka (who decided they preferred the IPL millions and to getting rained on in May in the UK), but have proven themselves formidable opponents for England, winning the series in the carribbean after a memorably awful performance from the English batting order.

For the hosts, thoughts are already drifting towards this summer’s Ashes series, and many of the squad will be looking to stake their claim for a spot in the side to face Australia. Ravi Bopara gets his chance at number three, on the grounds that everyone else is either too young, too old or too rubbish. Tim Bresnan and Graham Onions are the other new faces as Andy Flowers tries to liven things up a bit. The absence of Flintoff means there will be opportunities to shine for the young bowlers, but it will take something special to guarantee an Ashes place.

The West Indies haven’t had the best of preparation, being soundly beaten by the England Lions in the absence of their captain (who seemingly shares the Sri Lankan’s preference for the IPL over the UK), but their performances over the winter will have brought encouragement. As ever, Gayle and Chanderpaul are the danger men, but the likes of Fidel Edwards and Sulieman Benn also gave England plenty to worry about last time around.

Anything less than a series victory for the hosts will be seen as catastrophic, but catastrophe has befallen England so often recently that it’s difficult to rule out another abject failure from the home team.

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  • Durham surprised a lot of people with their Championship win last year, and with Steve Harmison out of favour with England once again, their bowling attack looks just as strong as it was in 2008. Ian Blackwell has come in to bolster the middle order and add a spin option, and Shivnarine Chanderpaul returns in June following the World Twenty20.
  • Hampshire arguably owe last year’s survival, let alone their eventual third place, to the spin bowling of Imran Tahir, who returns from June. In the meantime, Australian Marcus North comes in as an overseas player to add runs, and Dominic Cork also arrives following his release by Lancashire. Chris Tremlett will also be key for the attack, whilst Mascarenhas’ England and IPL commitments will drain the Rose Bowl’s resources for much of the season.
  • Lancashire have released Dominic Cork and Stuart Law, whilst Andrew Flintoff and James Anderson are likely to make very few appearances for their county, so the Red Rose lineup will be somewhat unfamiliar in places. Mark Chilton and Francois Du Plessis need to improve on last year’s performances with the bat, or relegation may threaten to make Peter Moores’ 2009 even worse.
  • Nottinghamshire may spend the majority of the season watching their three best bowlers ply their trade for England, so the likes of Shreck and Pattinson will be key. If Samit Patel gets fit enough to be called up as well, the side could look a little thin in the middle order, but if newlywed Adam Voges can translate his limited-overs form to the four-day game then the prospect of a title challenge isn’t too far-fetched to consider.
  • Somerset continue to have an incredibly strong top order (especially with and Marcus Trescothick as an opening pair), but with Ian Blackwell moving to Durham and Andy Caddick into his 40s, the bowling attack looks worryingly thin. Unless a young gun steps up to take wickets, a proliferation of draws may ensue.
  • Warwickshire face the step up from Division Two without Ian Salisbury, but Jeetan Patel should be a strong addition to their four-day side. If Ian Bell stays out of the England team long enough to feature regularly, then the Bears can reap the benefits. Similarly, Tim Ambrose will be a force in the County game even he doesn’t cut it at Test level.
  • Worcestershire enter the post-Hick era in 2009, which puts a lot of pressure on Vikram Solanki and the likes of Stephen Moore. Gareth Batty’s recent England call-up underlined his quality with the ball, but the pace attack is relatively weak, especially given Simon Jones’ continuing injury problems. If Solanki and Kabir Ali find form, then the side can look for more than just consolidation in their return to Division One.
  • Yorkshire came uncomfortably close to relegation last year, but players of the quality of Michael Vaughan, Anthony McGrath, Matthew Hoggard and Adil Rashid should see them improve in 2009 (assuming England call-ups don’t intervene). A championship challenge may be asking too much, and adjusting to life without Darren Gough will be difficult, but there is enough class (especially with Jacques Rudolph in the side) for a top-half finish.

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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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One of the interesting ramifications of Kevin Pietersen’s departure from the England captaincy is the prospect of an extended participation from the ‘uppity bok‘ in the second season of the IPL.

Pietersen, along with the rest of the England squad, is yet to sign his central contract, and the recent events in England have been very closely followed by a number of IPL franchises. He would certainly be one of the most attractive, if not the most attractive, English player in terms of sponsorship for any of the IPL teams, which could be a crucial factor.

Bangalore Royal Challengers are, according to Cricinfo, amongst those who have expressed an interest in signing Pietersen for next season, as are the Mumbai Indians. The mouth-watering prospect of KP sharing time at the crease with the likes of Shivnarine Chanderpaul or Sachin Tendulkar is likely to be more than enough to excite and interest cricket fans the world over.

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Shivnarine Chanderpaul added another entry to his “Big Long List of Times I’ve Saved the Windies” by making 100 not out on the first day of the Second Test against New Zealand. The West Indies made 258/6 despite being 74/4 at one stage, with Brendan Nash also making a notable contribution with 74.

Obviously, the Lord Megachief of Gold has tired of making centuries by proxyand decided to make one for himself this time. He may or may not also have been using some sort of secret voodoo/psychic Megachief abilities to make Iain O’Brien’s feet hurt, but that doesn’t sound like the sort of thing he would need to do.

The Tests taking place in Mohali and Perth will doubtless overshadow this one, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.

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I love a good lower-order century, and Jerome Taylor‘s remarkable 97-ball hundred against New Zealand looks set to become a classic of the genre.

Taylor had the advantage of being at the crease with Shivnarine Chanderpaul, and some of the Lord Megachief of Gold‘s magic must have rubbed off on the Jamaican bowler.

The weather has disrupted the First Test to such an extent that a result looks unlikely, but there’s been enough in the way of incident to suggest that the Second Test will be worth keeping an eye on, even though much of the cricketing world will be distracted by events in India and Australia.

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With the cash bonanza that is the Stanford Super Series about to get underway, here’s a quick introduction to some of the personalities involved:

  • England arguably have the least Twenty20 experience of the four sides competing, but the likes of Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff should be able to adapt their big hitting to the format.

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