31 December 2007

Sri Lanka v England "real" averages

It's taken a while but I've finally got round to pulling together the "real" averages from the Sri Lanka v England series. Somehow a 3 match series doesn't seem to do justice to the players - someone like Pietersen was only actually out 4 times but even his real average is only 31.5, with his official average being 25.2 after the catch that never was, meaning that officially, he was out 5 times. Likewise Bopara undoubtedly goes down as a failure in his first 3 Test matches having officially averaged 8.4 and only slightly more than that with his real average. But of the 5 times he was out, one was not out where he was given LBW, and one was run out, so in effect he was got out by the Sri Lankan bowlers only 3 times. I hope he isn't discarded based on his performances in Sri Lanka.

For Sri Lanka, Sangakarra only has a "real" average of 48.3 as opposed to an official average of 72.8, and Vandort suffered a poor decision so while his official average is a highly respectable 53.3, his "real" average is 71.

England will be hoping that the New Zealand series brings a better set of batting averages - only Bell and Prior had a "real" average of over 40, with the next best being Collingwood at 32.8.

Check out the latest "real" averages here.

28 December 2007

More England fines for slow over rates

As captain Michael Vaughan received the heaviest fine for slow over rates in the final Test in Sri Lanka - 40% - but the other players also lost 20% of their match fees. I've always been a fan of Vaughan's captaincy but even he must be kicking himself for the way he ignored some of his "lesser" bowlers who would have got through their overs quicker.

Of the 148.5 overs that England bowled in Galle, 22.5 were bowled by Collingwood, Bopara and Pietersen, and none by Vaughan himself. It would be really interesting to know how much input Moores' has had in the bowling tactics and whether it has been stipulated that Vaughan shouldn't bowl himself to prolong his career. In the absence of knowing that though, it can only be assumed that Vaughan himself chose to rely on his "specialist" bowlers which in Sri Lankan conditions not only reduced England's chances of winning, but also cost the team money.

26 December 2007

Sri Lanka tour, good for..............

Owais Shah, Andrew Strauss and......................Simon Hughes. Whilst never a great fan of Simon when a player (remember him being carted for a huge six off the first ball of the last over of a Lord's Final?), I think all his books are splendid and now having got away from that cramped analysts box he's been a fantastic addition to the commentary summariser team.

Several of his colleagues are very good at the bl**ding obvious but Simon always seems to have something new to say and the beauty is that only some of it is peculiar.

18 December 2007

The usual wrong decisions...

...have impacted on the first day of the final Sri Lanka v England Test. It seems that England are 2-1 up in terms of wrong decisions, but I assume there will be a few more to come. Click here to see the latest wrong decisions.

10 December 2007

Karthik and byes

When India toured England last summer, Karthik was rumoured to be the better keeper above Dhoni. Having got his chance in the latest Test v Pakistan, he's managed to concede 31 byes and the innings isn't near to complete yet. I don't think Dhoni has much to worry about...


...to see that DJ Harper referred a catch to the 3rd umpire, despite having full view of the incident in the Sri Lanka v England match today. You can read more at Cricinfo. When umpires ignore the regulations suggesting that they can't refer catches to the 3rd umpire unless they are unsighted, it's pretty safe to say that there is a problem.

9 December 2007

Wrong decisions go against England

Along with Vaughan's unlucky dismissal where he middled the ball only for short-leg to hold on to the catch, England also suffered two wrong umpiring decisions today - Pietersen and Cook, so can consider themselves a little unlucky. Only a couple of days ago, I mentioned how pleasing it was to hear Clive Lloyd's views on using technology, and now Michael Vaughan has also said that technology should have been used to ensure the correct decision was made today when Pietersen edged the ball to slip.

The question is...why are we resisting the inevitable? If the game of cricket was invented today, it would be considered rediculous not to use what technology we have to ensure that the correct decisions are made. But given that cricket has survived for so long without the use of technology, there is an understandable reluctance to accept change. In a business context, it's inconceivable that the senior management team of a company wouldn't embrace change - if they did it would cost their company money and, probably, cost them their jobs. There aren't the same financial impacts for not embracing inevitable change in cricket, but it really should cost people their jobs if they can't make the decision to use technology at the right time and manage that change appropriately.

7 December 2007

England selection issues

It seems that Hoggard is doubtful for the 2nd Test v Sri Lanka and the chances of him playing seem to be reducing rather than increasing. So who do England turn to to fill that slot in their XI? I'd like to see a wholesale change of bowling tactics.

England seem to be largely ignoring the likes of Vaughan, Collingwood and Bopara, who bowled 20 overs in the 1st Test between them. Admittedly the Sri Lanka 1st innings didn't require many overs in total, so no surprise that of the three Bopara got just one over in the first innings. But in the second we chose to bowl Anderson for 23 overs compared to 19 in total for the three "part-timers". I reckon that Bopara, Collingwood and Vaughan are all just as likely as Anderson, Broad or Harmison to get wickets, so we need to use them - not using them is the equivalent of batting a specialist batsman at 10.

Given Hoggard's injury, our best line up is:


If England utilise all their options, this leaves us with 6 bowlers. A more radical step would be to use Swann instead of Anderson and open the bowling with Bopara as he did successfully in the warm-up game. I wouldn't be upset to see England do that, but I think it's a step too far given the restricted thinking about who is considered "a bowler" to date.

6 December 2007

Clive Lloyd wants to use technology

It's great to hear that Clive Lloyd supports the use of technology to aid umpires to make the correct decisions! I was beginning to wonder if anyone in authority had any sense, or if it was a simply a case of wanting to stubbornly resist change. Given his comments below, I hope he can persuade others of his opinion sooner rather than later.

"We want to have the best team winning, with the least amount of mistakes possible; that's what the game should be about. If the technology exists to get a close-up on a catch or to show that the ball's hit going down the leg side, we should use it. You can't tell me that the umpire is going to pick up every bat-pad with the naked eye. No man can do it. So sometimes he's going to end up looking stupid. All I would like to do is to stop guys getting exposed and looking bad."

I'm sure that Asad Rauf and Billy Doctrove, who have both made clangers in the last week, would agree.

While cricket would benefit greatly from using technology, other sports also stubbornly refuse to use technology when it's there to be used. Rugby lovers may have noticed on the weekend that New Zealand narrowly beat Fiji in the Dubai sevens and their last try (after Fiji had scored 3 in a row and had all the momentum) came after a knock-on.

Oh for more Clive Lloyds across the senior administration of all sports.

5 December 2007

Murali ranks an Englishman as 2nd hardest to bowl to

Interesting to hear Murali's comments on who the hardest batsmen were to bowl against following his record. Brian Lara heads the list, but an Englishman was next on the list along with Andy Flower of Zimbabwe. Who? Graham Thorpe was apparently right up there as the hardest player to bowl at, according to Murali - I've always felt that we didn't quite realise what a great player Thorpe was while he was playing, so it was interesting to hear Murali's thoughts.

30 November 2007

4 day floodlit Tests

I think Mr Boycott's suggestion of 4 day floodlit Tests is very sensible - not for all tests, but for some. Having tested the water - initially over 5 days, but with a view to moving to 4 if possible - we can see if floodlit tests achieve greater audiences in the ground and what the impact is on the TV audience.

28 November 2007

Test Match Special

The trailers say that the Sri Lanka v England commentary is to be on Five Live Sports Extra so since I'm going to be away from home at the weekend with no access to Sky reckoned I was going to have to either buy a digital radio or pack my laptop.
Have no fear it's still on Radio 4 longwave (would have been nice if they'd told us in the trails though).

More Kolpak irritation

So Vaughn van Jaarsveld has turned his back on Warwickshire and decided after all that he wants to be South African rather than English. The natural instinct is to criticise him for a self-serving attitude or to criticise his county for getting themselves into this situation.

But it seems to me that both sides deserve some sympathy in that the player has only got one short career to make the most of and you can see from the press releases from Gilo and Cricket Burble's old friend Colin Povey (the county's chief executive used to score runs for Whitchurch until we learnt he didn't like the old f&g).

The problem is that the legal system doesn't allow cricket to control itself so there is no alternative to a voluntary code of conduct. How about a minimum of say 7 England qualified players in each team with financial penalties if the code is contravened?

27 November 2007

Another inexperienced coach

What is about Pakistan and India that makes them select coaches with limited experience? First Geoff Lawson (check out his photo if you haven't already) for Pakistan, and now, it seems, Gary Kirsten for India. I don't understand it. It's a vital role, and yet they've gone for someone with only limited experience. Of course, it could be inspired, but it's a gamble and why take gambles when there are good coaches out there to select from?

It seems that the BCCI have only learnt half the lesson from the first round of selection for their national coach - they interviewed Kirsten without it being leaked, but with about a week to go until he was to be announced as coach, an insider - he obviously remains un-named - could keep his professionalism no longer, and had to prove just how in the know he was by telling the press. I hope he was paid well.

25 November 2007

More wrong decisions....

The latest wrong decisions have been added to the wrong decisions page. Should anyone know the offending umpires where there is currently a TBC, please email cricketburble@gmail.com.

24 November 2007

Please don't pick Harmison

I have a lot of sypathy for Barney Ronay's article in the Guardian today. Titled "why can't we dump Harmison?" he likens Harmison to an unreliable boyfriend - "the one we can't stop seeing even though we know he's just no good for us - he'll eat all the food in our fridge, blow his nose on our towels and inexplicably hurl a moon-ball second-slip wide through our kitchen window while attempting to peel an orange."

I hope Harmison doesn't get the nod. Of the others, 3 can be picked from 4, as it seems everyone is agreed that there should be 3 specialist seamers. Hoggard and Sidebottom are in for me without much question. Anderson or Broad? I don't like the idea of Sidebottom batting at 8, and 3 similar bowlers doesn't give enough variety, so Broad it is. Very different to my thoughts only a month ago!

But the selectors could still spring a surprise and go for Bopara or Swann instead of Broad - we'll see. Either way, I hope Vaughan gives himself a decent chance to bowl - he and Collingwood could both play big roles with the ball on the slow Sri-Lankan pitches.

England need batsmen to really dominate

I found this table intriguing. Not only does it back up the view of fellow Cricket Burbler Dave on Daniel Vettori being a mainstay of the New Zealand batting line up, but it also gives an interesting perspective on the upcoming Sri Lanka v England series. England, under Duncan Fletcher, placed great emphasis on trying to make sure that all members of the team could make a contribution with the bat, and it seems results show that effort was worth it, with the batting average of the 4th-11th best batsmen being second only to Australia's.

Conversely though, England's top 3 aren't that far ahead - coming second bottom of the table with only New Zealand below them. Contrast that with Sri Lanka who's top 3 are top of the table. So the key for England is to target Sangakkara and Jayawardene in particular. And they need a batsman (or preferably more than one) to dominate in the way that was last seen when Michael Vaughan dominated against Australia in a losing effort in 2002/03. Pietersen had some joy against Sri Lanka when they toured England in 2006, memorably reverse sweeping Murali for six - England will be hoping for him to dominate again.
You can read the whole article at Cricinfo here, which elsewhere talks about Pakistan's top 3, who aren't included in the table above.

23 November 2007

A spare £8k?

If so, why not get a debenture seat at Lords...

15 November 2007

The best Aussie ODI player ever

I think I'll get shot down again here, but I'm not sure I agree with the Australian ODI players on their best One Day player ever. If you haven't heard already, nearly 40% of Australia's past and present ODI representatives went for Adam Gilchrist. For me, it's Michael Bevan every time. Well ok, nine times out of ten anyway. Anyone agree?

13 November 2007

Pink Balls - good idea but wrong reason

Pink balls instead of the white ones that lose their colour (we know what they mean) seems a good idea particularly if it gets rid of the tedious ball changing routines and it certainly shows that someone at The MCC is thinking 'outside the box' (never expected to say that).

But it's supposed to be to help batsman - Wow!, name the last rule change that was designed to help the bowler.

What they should have concentrated on is helping the spectator to pick up the ball and reduce the opportunities for bad light to interfere. Now that would be worthy of applause.

Seriously when was the last Law Change to help the bowler - the third stump in The Eighteenth Century?

Whatever Next?

I am intrigued to read today that the MCC are testing pink balls, and fluorescent at that!

The excuse seems to be that they may be able to be seen more clearly in fading light. Perhaps the experiment could be extended to other colours dependent on the level of the light and taking into account the various coloured clothing worn these days.

I can just imagine the commentary from the Test Match Special team when they change from pink to lime green to .......

I understand that the experiment is being conducted by Imperial College so this may lead me to the source?!

12 November 2007

Vettori the batsman

Just after the recently concluded South Africa New Zealand test a mate texted me saying that he thought Dan Vettori was a very under rated batsman. In my reply I said that over the last two or three years I reckon he would average close to 40, and that not many of the NZ top six would be able to say the same. I then decided to check the stats and the results surprised even me.

I went back to January 2005 (not including the recent test against SA), and since then Vettori has scored 768 runs in 14 tests at 45.17. I then looked at similar stats for all the guys who have batted in the top 7 for the kiwis in that time (Fleming, Styris, Oram, James Marshall, Cumming, Papps, McCullum, Vincent and Astle). Of these players, the only one to average more than Vettori was Lou Vincent, with 541 runs in 7 tests at 48.18. Next were Fleming (957 at 41.6 from 15) and Astle (796 at 34.6 from 15). Of the rest only Styris averages more than 30 (32.6).

Its obviously simplistic to just go on averages. As a lower order batsman Vettori would rarely have to face a new ball with a fresh attack. He would also often come in late in th day when the attack and fielders tired (although not all THAT tired going on their latest performance). Having said that, I think a move up the order is justified. As one of their more successful batsman, New Zealand don't need Vettori running out of partners. In the current line-up, I wouldn't mind seeing Vettori shifted up as high as six, leaving Oram at seven and McCullum at eight.

By the way, I haven't done the numbers for ODIs, but I imagine thay'd be similar.

9 November 2007

The Indian Test captain

It seems crazy to me that India have gone for Anil Kumble as Test captain, and it is even crazier that it is public knowledge that Tendulkar was asked first and turned it down! Kumble himself is an awesome professional and I'm sure he'll do a decent job, but the way the BCCI came to their decision was wrong and the end decision is wrong (irrespective of whether Kumble plays for 2 years and wins every game!).

First announcements on who was going to be captain had to be put back, then it became public that Tendulkar didn't want it, then the announcement was put back again, and then the announcement came (several hours late) and it was Kumble. The reason I think this is wrong is that India have a problem with a number of players likely to retire at similar times and Kumble is one of them. It was important that the captain wasn't in that group, to ensure a decent transition, even if an experienced vice-captain was required.

While I've seen all but nothing of Dhoni's captaincy, his attacking instincts in the Twenty20 appealed to me, and I hope his confidence doesn't get knocked by the way this has been handled - the selectors seem to be saying they'd rather have anyone but him to captain the Tests!

Read more here.

8 November 2007

How long?

How long before "Aussie" Dave Marshall posts about Phil Jaques' hundred made on debut (Ed. it has subsequently been pointed out it's wasn't his debut!) against the Sri Lankan's? I give it a few hours max. It sounds like a good innings but also one that had it's fair share of luck as he was dropped twice - the first time on 60, but a real average of 60 isn't bad.

You can read about Jacques' innings at Cricinfo.

2 November 2007

Banned for hitting a can

I can't help feeling sorry for Lionel Cann of Bermuda - I'm not really prone to angry outbursts having got out, although slow trudges off and glances back at the umpire are more my style. But a lot of players I've played with have hit cans, hit bags, thrown their bat etc etc etc to vent frustration having got (what they perceived to be) a bad decision.

Nasser Hussain was famously filmed stamping on a set of crutches in frustration - I don't remember anything happening to him in terms of match bans. And yet here Lionel Cann has been sent home! I can't help thinking this can't be his first problem!

1 November 2007

Aussie test squad announced

The Australian squad for the first test against Sri Lanka next week has been announced. Frankly it has been a bit of an anti-climax. The selectors have opted to buy themselves some time to make the tough decisions picking 13 players. Phil Jacques has been picked to replace Justin Langer at the top of the order. Jacques is in excellent early season form and was the only realistic option left after Chris Roger's injury and Brad Hodges dip in form. The other contentious positions of third seamer (McGrath's replacement) and spinner (Warne's replacement) are still not clear. Mitchell Johnson and Shaun Tait have both been selected and will vie for the vacant seamer birth as will Stuart MacGill and Brad Hogg for the spinner position.

I think Johnson should get the seamer position as his one day form has been good and the fact that Tait is just returning from injury. I think the selectors will probably stick with MacGill, though I would go for Hogg. MacGill didn't have a great season for NSW last summer and he is also returning from injury. Hogg on the other hand has been in excellent form in ODI's for quite a while now. He also took seven cheap wickets for WA last week in Shield game (it will always be the Shield for me, not the Pura Cup). Hogg will also provide more with the bat and in the field. The other factor in Hogg's favor is that he is known as a good team man, and a solid character to have in the dressing room. MacGill on the other hand has had several run-ins with administrators, umpires, opponents and team mates throughout his career and may be seen as a disruptive influence.
The 13 man squad will be trimmed to 12 on Wednesday so we are unlikely to know any more until then. The squad is: Matthew Hayden, Phil Jaques, Ricky Ponting (capt), Mike Hussey, Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, Adam Gilchrist (wk), Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Stuart Clark, Shaun Tait, Brad Hogg, Stuart MacGill.

30 October 2007

Fan Clubs

It seems that pretty much anyone has a fan club these days, especially on social networking sites!

Interesting top 6

The top six in the list of best batsmen at the bottom of this article interested me. Rearrange them into a different order and the top 6 in the rankings would probably be the top 6 in the ODI world XI...

28 October 2007


I have just been reading an article in the latest newsletter from The Cricket Society concerning the speed at which this form of "cricket" has developed.

The jist of the argument is that it is not real cricket and mainly satisfies the interest of people who find the longer version of the game. There is no doubt that it has generated a greater following for the game but are we happy to see the game's elite reduced to little more than a circus act with batsmen swinging wildly at almost every ball and bowlers acting as cannon fodder?

Call me old-fashioned but I prefer to see a game develop over a longer period of time and the fascination in the contest that develops between bowlers and batsmen. I have to agree with Adam Gilchrist when he said that he was looking forward to "getting into some proper cricket" after the Twenty20 competition.

It may have its place as a sideshow but please do not call it cricket - English baseball perhaps?

Flintoff & drinking

I find it difficult to have much sympathy for Flintoff, if the comments attributed to Duncan Fletcher are true. It is suggested that Flintoff drank in the Australian changing room until midnight after the 2nd Test defeat in Australia, and that a net session had to be cancelled because he had been drinking.

It is often the players who are more extroverted outside the game that are the match-winners on it but, if these comments are factually correct, there seem indefendable. I'm all for socialising with the opposition post-match, but in a game where Flintoff's team had thrown the Ashes away, his duty was to his own team and attempting to rebuild confidence before the 3rd Test, not drinking to the Aussie's success.

It will be interesting to see whether the comments are considered to be accurate or have been exaggerated...

26 October 2007

Interesting Warne comments

This week's free Sport magazine, has an interview with Shane Warne in it, and he makes a few interesting comments.

Talking about Michael Vaughan he says "he's the best captain you guys have by a mile" - something that's been discussed at length at Cricket Burble! He also has some interesting advice for Monty Panesar, saying "He's better in Test matches that one-dayers, where he tends to be a bit too negative. He bowls negatively to attacking fields when he should be the other way round - he should be aggressive with a defensive field and challenge the batsman to go over the top".

Enjoy the interview by clicking here.

19 October 2007

England's starting XI?

With Strauss the casualty of the latest England squad selection, Shah and Bopara both have a chance of playing in the 1st Sri Lanka Test. But the question is will they both play? Given that Michael Vaughan can bowl his off-spinners, and the fact that the importance of bowlers like Collingwood and Bopara increases on the slow Sri Lankan pitches, I'd be tempted to play them both. But that doesn't mean I think the England selectors will agree! Shah will want to bat 3 and it will be interesting to see if they bat him at 3 or 6, along with Bell. I think Bopara is the one with the much harder battle to get in the side, fighting it out with Swann I guess:


The BBC have described the England selectors as "ruthless" for dropping Strauss - I think they have been patient and to wait any longer for a return to form would have been a mistake. And, although I know Mark Davis disagrees, I don't think Ramprakash coming back was ever going to be a realistic option, with Shah and Bopara both playing well. It will be interesting to see who does get picked from the squad though....

13 October 2007

Bowled off a wide

It can't be possible to be bowled off a wide obviously but, for a few seconds it happened today in England's 5th game v Sri Lanka. Owais Shah bowled one down the leg side to Sangakarra, who missed it and was bowled around his legs as the ball turned. Rudi Koertzen signalled a wide much to the confusion of the players!

After consultation with the other umpire, the correct decision was given. I'm not sure if technology was used to come to the decision, but unfortunately another "human error" umpiring issue....

11 October 2007

Ramprakash for England

I'd have him like a shot, but then I've always been a huge fan, even when he left us for our rivals across the Thames (immediately after a benefit, but that was the Middlesex way then and he did have good reasons and it seems to have worked out well for him!).

I also think it would be a tremendous waste of talent if we didn't take him, he's a terrific player of spin and he'd add to the knowledge bank. Let Strauss have a rest and score his runs for his county for a time - he'll come good again certainly. And as for 'planning for the future' and 'backwards step' - nonsense. It's Test cricket, pick your best XI.

10 October 2007

An Aussie walks

I think this post may shatter a few Aussie Cricketer stereotypes. In my club game over the weekend, I walked after being given not out. It was the first time I've done this in a competitive game in 22 years of playing cricket. I don't know what came over me........must be getting soft in my old age, or maybe Gilly's rubbing off on me..

Great delay

Wow ! The delay in the sky signal is so big today that if you were working from home and heard radio commentary of Shah taking a slip catch you could look up to the TV to see Sidebottom running in to deliver the ball that's going to be nicked.

Disappointing performance by the dogs

Very disappointing to hear no reference to a visit to the pitch by any dogs during the last ODI at Dambulla after at least one had turned up on each of the two previous occasions.

It showed that top players have to live with the sort of thing we real players are used to (well used to be).

We used to play a fixture at the very pretty Bentley Heath ground. Here you had to carry your kit over a barbed wire fence and through heavy vegetation until you found (if you were lucky; occasionally you failed and got seriously lost) a clearing cut into the Hertfordshire savanna. This plot had been generously donated by the local landowner and you later had tea in the baronial hall.

In the meantime the main point of the story is that the clearing , except for the square which was cordoned off, was used by cattle during the week.
So the badge on our friendly host caps was a bat crossed with a shovel.

8 October 2007

England gaining momentum

It's great to see England starting to win tight games batting second, with the likes of Bopara, Swann and Broad all contributing to unlikely wins. It's those sort of games that only the likes of Australia won and it's all part of getting the winning culture going. It would be great if the top 5 scored the runs, but a win is a win.

What's been interesting to see is Graeme Swann's perfomances - you can read Cricinfo's view in their article written after the 2nd ODI. Readers of Cricket Burble might remember more than one post from yours truly saying that Panesar should be picked for all ODIs, and I considered a rant along those lines when Swann was picked for the first ODI, but something stopped me. It was a combination of Panesar not being in great form, and the thought that Swann could actually play well - thankfully he has done that. The key is that he is taking wickets - England have been guilty of being too defensive in the middle overs and that mindset was characterised by leaving out Panesar (a wicket-taking bowler) a couple of times last summer. But Swann seems to be getting wickets, and his superior batting then makes him a good choice ahead of Panesar.

Panesar is still our number 1 spinner and a dead cert for the Tests, but it's great that Swann is putting pressure on him and may even be edging ahead of him in the ODI pecking order. It's only 3 games and things can quickly change, but so far Swann has put in 3 excellent performances. Long may it continue.

5 October 2007

Hussain slates Gatting and Morris roles

It was a near certainty that Nasser Hussain wouldn't be happy with Gatting getting a senior England role and he hasn't disappointed. He argues that this smacks of "jobs for the boys".

As readers of Cricket Burble will know, it has long concerned me that cricketing authorities seem to think that ex-pros should get preferential treatment when recruiting for cricketing administration positions. If you look at the skills required logically, playing the game to a high standard would come well down the list of requirements. It's a bit like having a foreign language when interviewing for a UK based jobs. It's no more beneficial than that. So why are so many cricket roles filled by ex-cricketers?

I agree with Hussain that until positions are filled on merit, English cricket won't move forward with the pace that would be ideal.

2 October 2007

Gatting in line for England role

It's always unfair to make assumptions about someone without having any first hand experience of them, but the good thing about blogging is that it is perfectly acceptable to give an opinion based on a sample of one! I was scared to see that Mike Gatting is likely to get a senior England role. This is based on the following:

- anyone who starts emotionally finger wagging with an umpire when captaining their country clearly doesn't have sufficient ability to make rational decisions under pressure
- he averaged just over 35 in Tests and less than 30 in ODIs...so he's not a great England player demanding respect - it took him 54 test innings to make a hundred (I realise not everything can be read into an "official" average which is why we keep "real" averages at Cricket Burble, but it gives an indication). That has nothing to do with whether he is right for this job, but even if you agree that great ex-cricketers will be good at cricket administration (which I don't), he isn't a great ex-cricketer.
- he seems to get a bee in his bonnet about particular players, rather than leaving doors open (that came from reading Nasser Hussain's autobiography - I admit just one opinion!)

So I'm a little concerned about his future role with England. Nothing to go on but the above, but there we go. As an aside, why do a number of the more emotional characters in cricket go on to fulfil administrative roles where the exact opposite is required - clear thinking under pressure and diplomacy/man management (eg. Gatting, Broad, Gaveskar, Miandad, Dean Jones)?

1 October 2007

Two test series

South Africa and Pakistan have just commenced a two test series in Pakistan. I don't know about anyone else but I just find two test series so unfulfilling. I understand the difficulty in fitting in longer tours into the packed schedule, and to be honest, three test series involving Bangladesh can be too one-sided. When two evenly matched teams are involved two test just aren't enough. This current series has the potential to be a cracking contest, it would be a shame to leave it one all. I would much rather fewer series if they were longer, even four tests.

Yousuf.......Coming or Going?

What is going on between Mohammed Yousuf, the Pakistan Cricket Board and the Indian Cricket League? First Yousuf appeared to turn his back on Pakistan cricket when he signed for the ICL. Then he made himself available for the Pakistan test team saying he was going to opt out of his ICL contract. In the latest twist he has now pulled out of the test team at the eleventh hour citing a lack of practice. I for one certainly don't buy this excuse, and as this article points out, it will only fuel speculation about possible legal ramifications of Yousuf turning his back on the contract he signed with ICL. Such drama and intrigue can only happen on the sub-continent!

28 September 2007

Pollock to be dropped?

South Africa look set to drop Shaun Pollock for their upcoming Test v Pakistan, which seems highly risky to me. The tactics seem all wrong - in Twenty20 when he tends to serve it up ona length, he was selected, and yet in Tests when he will bowl metronomically on off stump he is likely to be dropped. I wonder if the same would have happened if he bowled exactly the same but was 10 years younger. It'll be interesting to see how the younger quicker bowlers go....

24 September 2007

Who will partner Hayden

Since the great Justin Langer retired at the end of last summer one of the great discussion points in Australian cricket has been who will take his place. A number of possibilities have been put forward: Phil Jacques, Chris Rogers, moving Mike Hussey back to the openers slot (freeing up a middle order birth, possibly for Brad Hodge), and more bizarrely Shane Watson.

I think you can rule out Watson. It would be pure madness to go for a makeshift opener when you have two specialst openers in Jaques and Rogers who have been scoring mountains of runs in first-class cricket for years, and a third in Hussey currently in the middle order. I'm surprised, and frankly a little concerned, that Watson is being discussed as a serious contender even by Ricky Ponting. Anyhow, I think his latest injury will probably rule him out of contention.

That leaves Hussey, Jacques and Rogers. Given how successful he has been in the roll, I'd like to see Hussey remain in the middle order. I might be a little biassed, being from his home town of Wollongong, but I think Jacques' form on the recent A tour to Pakistan may have given him the edge over Rogers. Many have seen this tour as a straight shoot-out betweenthe two for the vacant position, and if this is the case, Jacques has certainly won. In the two "tests" Jacques made 370 runs from three innngs at 123 including two centuries, compared to Rogers' 110 runs at 37.

I guess time will tell. You can see Chris Rogers' profile here, and Phil Jacques' here.

No T20 title to Australia

Well, to the rest of the world's delight Australia were bundled out of the World Twenty 20 in the semi-final by India (who have gone on to win a thrilling final over Pakistan).

When the Australian team for this tournament was originally anounced I remember being a little surprised that Cameron White wasn't in the squad given his excellent performances in this format on both Australian and English domestic scenes. With the benefit of hindsight I'm now certain he should have been there. I think Michael Clarke is an under-rated performer in the fifty over version of the game, but I'm not sure he's suited to T20. His strength in ODI cricket is his ability to rotate the strike and score off nearly every ball during the middle overs. Unfortunately for him, in T20 the middle thirty overs have effectively been removed. I think replacing Clarke with White would actually strengthen the middle order, one of Australia's weaknesses in this tournament. While I'm not a fan of White's bowling, he certainly couldn't do any worse than Clarke did in the 5th/6th bowler roll.

That brings me to the other major weaknesses in the Australian team throughout the tournament, the fifth bowler and the lack of a quality spinner. These rolls was shared between Clarke and Symonds and they routinely went for 10 to 15 runs per over. This nullified one of our major strengths, the four pronged pace attack. Shane Watson is not a particularly popular figure among the Australian public, most feeling he has been given a dream run by selectors on potential, without delivering much. I believe that a fully fit Shane Watson could have strengthened both these problem areas. By playing Watson at number seven as your fourth seamer, you could also play Brad Hogg without lengthening the tail too much. Unfortunately, I've just about given up on a fully fit Shane Watson.

Dhoni to captain test side?

Although I hardly got to watch any of the Indian matches in the Twenty20 I have been able to read about their games afterwards, and listen to the odd one, like the final today. What seemed to stand out was Dhoni's captaincy....today he had 2 slips in even when Sreesanth was getting hammered at the start of Pakistan's innings.

I like that sort of attacking captaincy. Dhoni seems to have a much better chance of getting the Test captaincy after India's successful Twenty20 tournament.

21 September 2007

SA Choke Once Again

Wasn't it wonderful to see South Africa choke once again. They needed to make just 126 against India to secure a berth in the semi-final. While India bowled very well (despite a few early wides) and fielded out of their skins, you'd expect a batting lineup including Gibbs, Smith, Kemp, Boucher, Pollock and DeVilliers to stroll home. While Smith and co continue to try and shake off the chokers tag, its not going anywhere.

South Africa rue "one" loss

Interesting to hear Graeme Smith's thoughts after South Africa went out: "It's very disappointing knowing you've lost only one game in the tournament and you're out... That does seem a little bit weird."

Following on from my previous post about how Kemp was plumb LBW on 6 in the game against New Zealand, and then went on to win the game for them, I'm pleased. It was luck that saw you through against New Zealand Mr Smith - you should have lost two but for poor umpiring, and you deserve to go out while New Zealand deserve to go through.

20 September 2007

Defending cricket and cricketers.

You're in the pub and England are losing and some (literal or metaphorical) football-shirt- wearing Sun-reader starts criticising them. So although the team is playing rubbish you feel obliged to defend them because it's your job to criticise them not the football-oik's and because somehow their criticism of a team is really a criticism of cricket itself. Doesn't seem fair does it?

Not that I dislike football as much as its ubiquitousness and the Sun is very good for predicting results. Or perhaps I'm just suffering from end of season blues. But it is depressing how football takes over everything in its way and how 'fans' lock onto their teams and start talking about 'our' achievements ,usually in pubs where I'm trying to hold a proper conversation.

Still it does have its funny side. I recently learnt that a so-called long term Chelsea fan of my acquaintance with a CFC tattoo used to be a fan of Crewe Alexandra and had to have the 'A' removed!