Posts Tagged ‘zimbabwe’

Shakib al Hasan has been putting in notable performances for some time, and he continues to impress despite having a relatively low profile internationally. If you’re not familiar with him, then watch the below and learn something.

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Whilst the cricketing world has been looking forward to the Fifth Ashes Test at the Oval, remarkable things have been happening in Zimbabwe. Trailing 2-1 in the ODI series against Bangladesh, the hosts must surely have fancied their chances of levelling it after posting 312 in their 50 overs, including a world-record-equalling 19 not out from Charles Coventry (which is almost certainly also a record for a man wearing glasses).

Even that wasn’t enough as the tourists, led by Tamim Iqbal‘s 154 from 138 balls (a career best), reached the required 313 in just 47.5 overs. It must have been one hell of a batting pitch.

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The legal dispute between the PCB and the ICC has apparently reached a conclusion, with agreement seemingly reached on an out-of-court settlement. The Pakistani board look set to drop their legal action over the security-influenced decision to deny them their share of 2011 World Cup hosting rights, with chairman Ijaz Butt (“possibly the worst PCB chief ever“, in at least one person’s opinion) claiming that they will receive the full hosting rights fee (around $10.5m) as well as “a substantial amount” of compensation from the ICC.

Interestingly, the issue of Pakistan travelling to play in India is still unresolved, with Butt saying that his team will only travel if Pakistan’s government allows it, otherwise “the World Cup could be affected or cancelled“, which shows at least that no-one at the PCB is guilty of underestimating Pakistan’s importance to the competition. I don’t remember Nasser Hussain and company worrying about the possibility of the 2003 competition being cancelled because England wouldn’t travel to Zimbabwe (although admittedly that competition hardly suffered for their loss in the way a subcontinental World Cup would without Pakistan).

Here’s hoping all the politics get sorted out well in advance of the cricket.

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The boycott by the West Indies Players’ Association has meant that the West Indies’ side for the First Test against Bangladesh has a distinctly unfamiliar look to it. Floyd Reifer (who has played four Tests, the last of them more than a decade ago) comes in as captain of a side that features such relative unknowns as Kraigg Brathwaite, Chadwick Walton and “Combined Colleges and Campuses’ Ryan Austin“.

Whether or not this means Bangladesh win finally win a Test against a team that isn’t Zimbabwe remains to be seen. The Windies do have the experience of Tino Best (returned from ICL exile) and Darren Sammy in the side, and the rain seems to be holding things up at the moment.

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England have always struggled for balance and stability in their Twenty20 side, particularly at the top of the order, and the absence of Andrew Flintoff seems likely to exacerbate those struggles, as does the fact that the Test and 50-over captain does not feature in the squad for this tournament. Home advantage may be valuable, however, and in any case the team can hardly do worse than in 2007- in that tournament, England managed only a single victory (over Zimbabwe) .

The Netherlands qualified along with Ireland and Scotland, with Ryan ten Doeschate and Peter Borren impressing in the qualifying tournament. Added to those players for the finals is Dirk Nannes, a Twenty20 specialist who has ‘gone Dutch’ after continually missing out on selection for Australia. Progress to the Super Eight stage seems unlikely, but a surprise result against England (or even Pakistan) isn’t out of the question.

Pakistan are highly fancied to go one better than in 2007 and win the tournament. Their T20 International record is the best around. The exclusion of Pakistani players from this season’s IPL may have been a blessing in disguise, as it has given the national side plenty of time together to train (and has allowed the week-long RBS cup to become a sort of intensive private rehearsal for the players who would otherwise have been in South Africa).

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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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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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Speed & Zimbabwe

Malcolm Speed has revealed that his ‘vigorous’ opposition to the ICC’s inaction over Zimbabwe was the main factor in his sacking.

With the situation in Zimbabwe showing little sign of improvement, the links between Zimbabwe Cricket and the ruling Zanu-PF party are more and more embarrassing for the ICC, and the lack of action is one of the biggest missed opportunities for cricket in the last few years.

There’s more from Malcolm Speed here.

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The First ODI between Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe was a little one-sided. The Second was a hammering, with the tourists winning by 9 wickets with 194 balls remaining.

There was little in these first two matches, then, that suggested the Third ODI would be a close run thing. Nevertheless, Sri Lanka scraped home by a mere 5 runs. Only the combined might of Muralitharan, Mendis and Thushara finally slowed the home side down, tipping the balance in an incredible 28-over thriller.

Whilst the political situation in Zimbabwe hasn’t improved at the rate I had hoped (and may even be getting worse), it seems the nation’s cricketers are still capable of giving a side like Sri Lanka a decent game.

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Not all countries are automatically invited to the Twenty20 party. Some have to qualify. There are three spots available for Associates in next year’s tournament, including the extra slot which has been created by the non-participation of Zimbabwe. Next weekend, the following teams will try and fill them:

  • Group A features Ireland, Scotland and Bermuda. Ireland should probably top this group, but you can never reckon against the mighty Sluggo.

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Despite the recent political turmoil and the ongoing social crisis, not to mention the fact that its cricketing infrastructure is non-existent, Zimbabwe has been allowed to remain as a full member of the ICC.

This decision (or rather, non-decision) continues the ICC’s long tradition of burying its collective head in the sand where Zimbabwe is concerned.

There has been much debate within cricketing circles on the efficacy of sporting boycotts, but I find it interesting that the two strongest proponents of a ban have been England and South Africa. Both countries, lest we forget, have some experience in such things.

In any case, why wasn’t this the first point on the ICC‘s agenda? Is it because more time was needed to try to persuade Pakistan or Sri Lanka to support the ban, or because the needless reclassification of a dead-rubber from two years ago was considered to be more important?

The exclusion of Zimbabwe from the World Twenty20 is a fudge, and offers the ECB an opportunity to keep hold of a potential cash cow without provoking the rage of Gordon Brown (assuming he’s still in power by then).  When it came down to it, it seems that the ICC has (not for the first time) let money talk, whilst avoiding the real issue.

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Following Cricket South Africa’s suspension of bilateral agreements with Zimbabwe yesterday, the ECB (in response to government pressure, with the matter even being discussed in today’s Prime Minister’s Questions) has followed suit, which has increased the pressure on the ICC to take strong action when they meet to discuss the issue next week.

Hopefully, the crisis will soon be resolved for the long term good of the country. I know that some people reading this will be sick of me writing about things other than those directly relating to cricket, and I’ll be glad when I can write about Zimbabwean cricket without immediately calling to mind stories like this.

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