30 June 2007

Tendulkar answers critics

I always enjoy watching players who have been unfairly criticised in the press come back with a big performance. Michael Vaughan earlier this summer was one of them, and Tendulkar is another. I burbled about why I didn't agree with some of the negative comments aimed at Tendulkar earlier this week ("Tendulkar criticised"). I also suggested that Dravid move to 3 which is what happened - perhaps Rahul Dravid reads Cricket Burble?

In the latest match against South Africa, Tendulkar passed 15,000 runs. But more importantly, he helped win the game for India, scoring 93 at the fastest strike rate of any Indian batsman in the match. You can view the scorecard here.

I trust the same commentators who were so quick to give Tendulkar a hard time for scoring 99 - yes 99!!! - the other day, will also give him the praise he clearly deserves for his latest innings....

Celebrations for Shah to learn from

Here is just one example from "Backyard" cricket that Owais Shah can learn from. Note the lack of choreography demonstrating that the celebrations were instinctive...

Maybe celebrating isn't something that can be taught?!

Cricketing celebrations

There are some cricketing celebrations that you think of when it comes to cricket. Ian Botham doing some strange hip swaying holding a stump above his head on the player's balcony is probably the one that comes to mind immediately, plus Freddie Flintoff taking his shirt off and whirling it around, football player style, after taking a wicket with the final ball of an ODI in India a few years ago, to win England the match.

But poor old Owais Shah really needs to work on his celebration. Did anyone notice him after England's win yesterday? As the ball ran away to the boundary for 4 wides he ran up to the other end and did a tiny little half skip, tentatively pushing his bat skywards, as if he was trying a new move for the first time but suddenly realised he shouldn't as there were loads of people watching. As if that wasn't bad enough, he seemed to have a sudden realisation that another run may be required so he put his bat down and turned for a second (unnecessary) run. There must be a few celebrations on YouTube Owais - I'd do a bit of research, and perhaps even a little private practise before your next game....!

Cook playing in Twenty20s

A very cricket knowledgable friend of mine sent me two texts last night....the first read "He's a great player and he'll probably prove me wrong, but I don't think Cook should be playing for England in Twenty20s". It was followed shortly afterwards by "oooops!" which I took to mean that Cook was out. I checked the latest score online and found that Cook had indeed gone cheaply, again scoring no quicker than a run a ball.

So should Alastair Cook be playing for England in Twenty20s? The answer to whether he should open for England in ODIs was unequivocal - he received the most votes of any of the candidates, but he seems to have struggled at Twenty20. Does this mean he shouldn't be picked again in that format of the game? Vote above or comment to let us know your views....

29 June 2007

Walking in ! Why?

So the keeper is eager to make a noise and impose himself. What does he shout? "Walking in !" But we're already doing it and I bet even Paul Nixon doesn't make that call - if it's instinctive at our level the pros must do it in their sleep.

But why do we do it ? We're all taught at age 6 that it's to make sure we're 'on our toes'. Well fine but if you're walkin in and say you've just put your weight on your right foot just before taking your left foot off the ground and the ball is hit to your right you can't move towards it until your left foot has completed its movement forward. You've lost time.

So we want to be on our toes and alert; why not just start in the place you're going to walk in to and then just put your wait forward - the fielder's trigger movement?

28 June 2007


We have a new home at www.cricketburble.com.

This URL will of course still work and be the home of the Cricket Burble blog, but there is more information to find at www.cricketburble.com.

If you have any comments, please email cricketburble@gmail.com.

No Panesar, no win

It seems slightly strange that England's best bowler during the recent Test series was left out of the Twenty20 at the Oval, despite the recent history of spinners bowling well there. In fact, Panesar got nearly 50% more wickets in the recent series than any other bowler. So how Collingwood must be regretting the fact that he didn't have Panesar at his disposal.

I hope that Collingwood will be a very astute captain and, if he is, I'm sure he'll learn to assert his opinion on selection quickly. Panesar can be relatively expensive in limited overs occasionally but, more often that not, he takes wickets. England, it seems, are still to understand that taking wickets, in any form of the game, means a much larger chance of winning.

I look forward to seeing Panesar in action tomorrow with Yardy. (And, given the poor quality of my predictions, going for 60 off 4!)

Zimbabwe irregularities

It seems that the ICC are concerned about Zimbabwe cricket's potentially illegal finances. Is anyone surprised?

There's no need to find an excuse to ostracise Zimbabwe - they should be ostracised anyway for the atrocities carried out by the Mugabe regime. But if it takes the excuse of some dodgy accounts, then that's better than nothing....

Early mistake from Collingwood

I've championed Paul Collingwood on Cricket Burble so I'm hoping that his mistake to concede a no ball for having less than 4 players inside the fielding circle was a one-off! Everyone is allowed a mistake every now and again...even the best captains...

West Indies look well set, although the Oval is a good ground to chase on, especially with the small boundaries in use today.

27 June 2007

John McEnroe arguing a call

Given the mention of McEnroe and line calls I thought it would be remiss of me not to show what happens when a hot head like him gets a bad call and is unable to challenge through Hawkeye!

26 June 2007

Hawkeye used at Wimbledon

From the brief bits of Wimbledon I've caught so far, Hawkeye is in use on the show courts I think, but not on the outer courts. Use of the Hawkeye technology, that has been used so widely by the media in their cricket analysis, seems to be suggesting that more balls are "in" than was previously thought via the naked eye.

John McEnroe's view was interesting I thought. He thinks that the use of Hawkeye increases the accuracy of the calls by the line judges because they relax when they realise that they have technological back up if they make a mistake. I wonder if the same could be said of cricket umpires if technology was to be used for all decisions?

Tendulkar criticised

Much as I hate to even mention the pointless extra games that have been scheduled in Ireland, South Africa won in the final over today, chasing down India's 242. For India Tendulkar opened and scored 99 off 143 balls which has lead to criticism of his scoring rate, not for the first time.

It reminds me of the England New Zealand game in the final group stage of the Commonwealth Bank game in Australia, where Fleming scored 106 off 149 balls and New Zealand came up 14 runs short. The Kiwi media were clear that their skipper was part of the problem rather than the opposite opinion which could have been argued - that he held the innings together.

Tendulkar seems to be getting similar flack. Dravid came in at 4 and the two of them rebuilt the innings after two early wickets so both can be forgiven for scoring slowly - Dravid scoring 74 off 93. I can't help feeling that India are still struggling to understand each player's role in the team - for me Dravid must bat 3 for India or not play. If you look around at the number 4's around the world in ODIs they tend to be free flowing batsman. So Tendulkar did bat slowly, yes, but I don't think he should get all the blame. Dravid needs to step up to 3 and lead from the front.

New Road under water

Worcestershire's ground is totally under water - the image on the BBC site shows the situation perfectly! View the full story here.

Given the torrential rain in the north of England it's perhaps surprising that there aren't more cricket grounds affected - New Road always seems to be particularly susceptible given how close it is to the River Severn. What's the likelihood of it being a seamer's track once the ground is ready to play on again?!

25 June 2007

Boxing Day & New Years' Tests

Apparently South Africa are lodging a complaint against Australia having a monopoly on the Boxing Day Test and the New Years' Test as they would like to schedule Tests then too. You can view the full article here.

Perhaps I'm being naive (feel free to comment and let me know if I am!), but why can't games go on in South Africa and Australia on these dates? Yes, the TV rights become less expensive as people can't watch two games at once, but if it's that important to South Africa then they'll just have to go head-to-head against Australia and see how they do.

I'm not against positive change, but I can't see what is positive about robbing Australian fans of matches that have become national institutions.

Delhi belly strikes in Ireland

Having just got back from India and had a couple of brief days of stomach issues, there's something vaguely amusing about this story that the Indian team are falling ill in Ireland. I wouldn't wish any of the Indian team ill, but it seems only fair that dodgy stomach's should work both ways....

Bangladesh slump to 89 all out

Sri Lanka are dominating against Bangladesh, to an absurd extent, with Bangladesh all out for 89. You can view the Cricinfo report here. Unfortunately the change of skipper has had little effect on Bangladesh's fortunes and it's difficult to see where they go from here.

There is fast becoming a three teir structure to Test matches:
1. Australia
2. England, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka
3. West Indies, Bangladesh, (Zimbabwe)

I hope the West Indies and Bangladesh can overcome their problems quickly, so that all test playing nations can play in relatively evenly-matched games, creating greater interest from spectators and potential spectators.

24 June 2007

Real averages

Just updated the real averages again. As predicted Chanderpaul's average is severely affected - yes, he's played well, but if England could catch he wouldn't have ended up with an incredible official average of 148.7, but a decent average of 44.2.

And who would have ended up top of the averages if they were calculated as real averages? Michael Vaughan. The top 3 would have been Vaughan, Prior, Pietersen as opposed to Chanderpaul, Pietersen, Prior.

Real averages are always available as links on the right hand side of the Cricket Burble blog. Does this not give a far better indication of how well the various batsmen have played?

No crowd in Ireland

I've burbled about the pointlessness of random ODIs being played around the world before on Cricket Burble, but it's still sad to see the Cricinfo report on yesterday's Ireland v india game, which India one easily, which dispairs at the lack of supporters. I can't see any young aspiring Irish cricketers being persuaded to focus on cricket over football, rugby or any other sport, on the basis of a small spattering of a crowd. Perhaps it would have been better not to play the game?

Twenty20 starts & mexican waves

I wonder how many people, like me, arrived during the second innings of Twenty20 matches they went to after work. It's pretty tough to get anywhere by 5:30pm. Next Friday I'm off to the Rosebowl after work (central London) for a 7:30pm start - fingers crossed I can make that! Twenty20 has drawn in a new audience to cricket so as long as they can get to the games on time, I guess that's the main thing as long as this new interest is sustained.

Am I a complete killjoy or do Mexican waves just stop people who want to watch the game from watching it? When I've only got 10 overs of cricket to watch I would like to see every ball....not have someone in front of me stand up just as the bowler enters his delivery stride.

Last year I was involved in organising a league team for Saturday's so I was on the phone to various players trying to get them to turn out. The couple in front of me turned round and told me to get off my phone as it was spoiling their enjoyment of the game. Not wanting to cause a scene a reverted to text messages, despite the fact that I was perfectly entitled to use the phone, only for the couple in question to take part in the mexican wave many times so that I couldn't see the cricket. Being the mild mannered man I am (most of the time!) I bit my lip, but I find it interesting that people who take part in mexican waves aren't in the least bit bothered about those behind them....

Fielding all important in Twenty20

On Friday night I had a ticket to go to the Surrey v Middlesex Twenty20 game at the Oval. After a late meeting I got there with Surrey in trouble, roughly 50-3 chasing 164 to win. But Ramprakash and Jon Batty put together an excellent partnership and somehow you always had the feeling that Surrey would pull themselves out of the tough situation they'd got themselves into. What I found interesting was the reporting of the match (or at least the online reports), which failed to mention the fielding in the penultimate over that gifted the game to Surrey.

With 15 required off 9 balls Ramprakash played the ball down to long-off for a regulation single. Mahmood at the other end is an excellent player but wasn't set like Ramprakash and 14 off 8 would have been a tough ask. But the Middlesex player at long-off inexplicably missed the ball allowing it to roll past him for four. With Ramprakash back on strike the next ball was a full toss on leg stump which was duly dispatched. 7 required off 7 and Surrey hot favourites. The last ball off Ben Hutton's over was sliced to backward point in the air only for Tim Murtagh to drop the catch and allow Ramprakash a single so he was on strike for the final over. With one a ball needed Ramprakash needed only 2 balls, hitting a four and a six to complete the match. You can view the match report here.

I've looked at all the online reports I can find and no-one has mentioned the misfield at long off off the 4th ball of the penultimate over, so the identity of the fielder will remain a mystery. And most reports don't mention the dropped catch off the last ball of the penultimate over either! I'm not sure if this is a result of poor reporting, a wish to focus on the positives, or a lack of appreciation for just how vital fielding has become in Twenty20s and ODIs.

Having been rained off in the game I was playing in on Saturday, I watched the final few overs of the Lancashire v Nottinghamshire Twenty20. Similar to Surrey, Notts had one player well set, Samit Patel, who offered a simple chance to Stuart Law at extra cover which was spurned. Notts went on to win the game with 3 balls to spare...but it would have been interesting to see how the game would have turned out if Law, who is normally reliable, had caught Patel. The match report can be seen here (without a mention of the Stuart Law drop!).

It's not going to be long before fielder's have catch percentages and misfield or direct hit statistics which, being the sad man I am, I'm looking forward to. Perhaps then fielding will truly gain it's place as an equal next to bowling and batting - I can't help feeling that those that talk about the importance of fielding at the moment are simply paying it lip service.

23 June 2007

England ODI openers

Well here's how you voted:

Alastair Cook - 34.2%
Marcus Trescothick - 29%
Matt Prior - 18.4%
Michael Vaughan - 10.6%
Mal Loye - 2.6%
Andrew Strauss - 2.6%
Vikram Solanki - 2.6%
Ian Bell and Ed Joyce - 0%

Now you can pick your side for the first ODI on Cricket Burble too....one day we'll be affecting selections!!

22 June 2007

England ODI squad

As expected England have announced that Paul Collingwood will captain the ODI side and left out Michael Vaughan. There are various players unavailable for selection who would have played which has allowed for some interesting selections.

The squad, in alphabetical order, is: Paul Collingwood, James Anderson, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Monty Panesar, Kevin Pietersen, Liam Plunkett, Matt Prior, Owais Shah, Ryan Sidebottom, Jonathan Trott, Michael Yardy.

It's good to see Alastair Cook in the squad, and Stuart Broad despite the pasting he took yesterday for England Lions. Ryan Sidebottom is an interesting selection - he is in the same mould as Matthew Hoggard so it will be interesting to see how economical he is in international cricket. In English conditions with the ball swinging he may go alright, but I'd be concerned about him opening the bowling against players like Hayden and Gilchrist or Smith and De Villiers abroad. Michael Yardy is an obvious one as Dalrymple didn't really impress when given his chance and Yardy showed promise when he played in ODIs before.

The two new boys are Jonathan Trott and Dimitri Mascarenas. They both spent a lot of time abroad in their youth which can only stand them in good stead! And they have really good County records so given the injuries England have, why not see if they can step up?

An Indian fans' view

I think it's probably fair to say that Cricket Burble hasn't exactly been a supporter of the various actions of the BCCI recently. You can read the last post about the BCCI here.

Indian cricket fans aren't backward in coming forward if they aren't happy, particularly online. One particular fan has given a few examples of where the BCCI have gone wrong on Sportingo.

I particularly agree with one of his points - the fact that there are some obvious wrong choices for contracts - but also disagree with him about the vice-captain. The vice-captain needs to be able to step in if Dravid is injured on this tour so there's no point having a young cricketer who may be captain in 4 or 5 years time as captain - the vice-captain has to be someone who has the respect of the rest of the team as of now.

20 June 2007

Test Player Rankings

The big winners from the England team in the latest ICC rankings are Alastair Cook and Monty Panesar, monty having broken into the top 10 bowlers in the world. Just goes to show what a terrible decision it was to leave Monty on the sidelines in the first two matches of the Ashes. Apparently, he is now the highest rated English spinner for 30 years!

So with Panesar and Hoggard joint 6th, Pietersen still at 3rd and Paul Collingood up to 13th, along with Alastair Cook already up to 20th, England players are doing a little better than normal! Unfortunately this may say more about the standard of test cricket right now 9with the exception of Australia) rather than the prowess of the England players, but it's a time to be positive!

You can see the Test and ODI rankings here.

Very low scores

Low scores happen on wet piches but this is rediculous. But for Plunkett scoring 30, Essex could have defended 71!

You can see the match report here.

It's strange how the Durham bowlers appear better for their county than in international colours, even accounting for the lower standard of the batsman.

19 June 2007

"Disasterous" World Cup?

I've just heard on the BBC Sports News that Michael Vaughan has stepped down from the captaincy of the ODI side following "a disasterous World Cup". Read more about him stepping down here.

I must have been watching a different World Cup. We were ranked 7th in the world going into it and came 5th. India and Pakistan had disasterous World Cups - England didn't. I was out of the country when England won the Commonwealth Bank final against Australia through one good victory and another chance one when the game was reduced due to rain, so all I can assume is that the media built up the chances of the England team at the World Cup following that win to such an extent that the general public thought we would magically out-perform our ODI ranking by more than 2 places? Or maybe the media is now telling us it was a "disasterous" performance, and we're all beginning to think it was?

To be positive, if the England Test team move up just one place in the rankings we're top!

18 June 2007

Vaughan wants to play on...

It has happened and Vaughan has announced he is stepping down from the captaincy of the England ODI team. But why, oh why, would he carry on as a player - I presumed that he was stepping down because he felt (wrongly in my view given the number of runs he gains England through his captaincy) that he wasn't worth his place in the side, but it appears he is now saying that he wants to give someone else experience of captaincy and continue to make himself available. This doesn't ring true - the best way that someone can learn is to watch him in action and be made his official vice-captain.

Vaughan's comments can be read in the Cricinfo article here. Although Paul Collingwood hasn't yet been named as captain, congratulations to him in advance - there is really only one candidate in Vaughan's absence. The full England ODI squad will be announced on Friday.

Vaughan to bow out of ODIs

If Michael Vaughan is to announce his retirement from ODIs as has widely been speculated today, then in my opinion it's really sad news. I remember watching the last match of the Commonwealth Bank Series group stages in Australia in the winter, when England had to beat New Zealand to get into the final against Australia. Vaughan was masterful that night, and England's win was more to do with him than any other player, despite Collingwood's brilliant 106. With New Zealand cruising after 10 overs at 64-0 chasing England's 270, he didn't take the powerplay but still attacked bringing on Panesar. Panesar duly took the wicket of Lou Vincent and the game swang back in England's direction as Vaughan maintained the pressure throughout with well thought out fielding placements and bowling changes. Vaughan scored 0, but he won the game for England as far as I was concerned.

The captain's decisions don't always go right but Vaughan gets more things right than anyone else in England by a huge margin. So much as I sing Collingwood's praises and will continue to do so, to make him skipper of the ODI side will be a step into the unknown versus what we could have had - the equal best skipper in the world with Mihale Jayawardene. No - I don't think the likes of Ponting or Smith come close, and Fleming has now retired from ODIs. I presume that if Vaughan does step down, Collingwood will get the nod - Pietersen is getting talked about but I presume that is just poor press speculation trying to make a story where there is none.

Who is going to come in and replace Vaughan as an opener? Ed Joyce? Hardly inspires confidence. Mal Loye? Well if you think Vaughan is past it and his fielding may be exposed, then Mal Loye is surely unselectable. Marcus Trescothick - will his head go again? Ian Bell - let's not repeat mistakes from the past. Alastair Cook - definitely the best option but unproven in ODIs and doesn't set the world alight with his fielding. I presume the other openers slot will go to Matt Prior.

So if England go into the ODI series v West Indies lead by Collingwood, I'll be very happy for the ginger northerner, but I can't help feeling that England are taking a step backwards.

17 June 2007

Cricket Burble lists updated

I've updated the Cricket Burble lists which are always available if you click on the links to the right of the page. Interestingly, Chanderpaul's "real" average is less than 50, despite an official average of 120 after the first 3 Tests of the summer. The difference between his real and official averages is likely to increase even further after his not out century in the first innings at Chester-le-Street having been dropped on 9. So while he is batting well, he is also capitalising on large slices of luck. You can view the list of "real" averages here.

The 3rd Test featured just one decision that technology proved was wrong. There were several LBW appeals turned down where the ball was just clipping the stumps but, as explained on the "wrong" decisions page, decisions are only considered "wrong" where there is a large degree of certainty. You can view the list of "wrong" decisions since the 2007 World Cup here. The main question to be answered is "would England still have won at Old Trafford if Cook had been given out on 12 as he should have been in the 2nd innings, when he went on to make 106?" As they say, "you decide".

Bishan Bedi criticises Gavaskar

It's all getting a bit bitchy in India at the moment with Bishan Bedi accusing Sunil Gavaskar of "liking power without accountability". You can read the full article here.

Even the most one-eyed observer would have to admit that the huge number of ex-cricketers in cricket administration positions is statistically extremely unlikely to be down to the fact that they are the best candidates in the world. Whether it's Gaveskar or anyone else, the sooner that ex-players - no matter how great - are judged on their business and administrations skills rather than their playing glories, the better for the game.

Don't devalue Test Cricket

The same message has come in different forms from Ricky Ponting and the ICC's chief match referee Ranjan Madugalle over the last 24 hours (check out the photo of Madugalle on Cricinfo - slightly out of date I think!). Madugalle was perhaps thinking of some of the play in the Old Trafford England v West Indies Test when he said, "We should concentrate on improving the quality of cricket rather than the quantity of cricket. We must also ensure that Test cricket which is your icon product should not be compromised in terms of standards." You can read the article in full here.

Meanwhile Ricky Ponting has been telling an Indian audience that spin bowling could die as an art within 10 years if the amount of ODIs around the world does not reduce. I haven't heard Ponting being self-depricating before (or any other Australian!!), but he was perhaps playing to his audience when he told them that playing Harbajan in 2001 was like batting blind-folded!

It's amazing that with so many voices speaking out about the scheduling of extra ODIs by some international boards, that they still ignore all that goes on around them and try to line their pockets even further.

Central Contracts

The BCCI have just announced their central contracts for the coming 12 months and it seems that everyone is well aware what each player is paid. Grade A get 5 million rupees (£62,317), Grade B 3.5m and Grade C 2m.

Grade A: Rahul Dravid (captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Grade B: VVS Laxman, Harbhajan Singh, Virender Sehwag, Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar.

Grade C: Gautam Gambhir, Wasim Jaffer, S Sreesanth, Zaheer Khan, Suresh Raina, Munaf Patel.

Irrespective of the arguments over who should be in which grade, the system of tiering pay seems inherently wrong to me. England do it as well, although at least who is in which grade and how much they are paid is not publised publicly. What is the reason for tiered payment systems?

A payment system that gives the same base salaries across all contracted players, but varies based on number of games played/unfit for would seem to be as complicated and as simple as it needs to get. (That way you don't get divisions in the dressing room. The senior players can make more money than the more junior ones through sponsorship and endorsements etc, so if the only way they feel good about themselves is by earning more money than their peers, they can do so.

New Zealand have found that they have a problem with Hamish Marshall as he was only offered the lowest band of money, so has turned down a central contract in order to play for Gloucestershire. This could be a trend that increases if the tiered payment system continues, but having set up their payment systems as they have it takes an extremely strong administration to change things, and strong administration is not something in abundance around the world of cricket.

15 June 2007

New Sri Lanka coach announced

It's the Australian Trevor Bayliss as you can read about on Cricinfo. Bayliss has previously been head coach of New South Wales.

The Sri Lankan board have done well here I think. In Moody and Bayliss they have now twice gone for relatively young up and coming coaches rather than looking at guys who feel they have already been there and done that and, I assume, demand more money. It will be interesting to see if Bayliss can continue where Moody left off....

It will also be interesting to see the reaction of the Indian public when they see that their neighbours can recruit a good coach with a minimum of fuss...

The Indian Cricket Board

Interesting to note that there are plenty of anti-BCCI stories on the web, so it's not just on Cricket Burble that they get a hard time! It was interesting to read an article on India enews noting just how much of a farce the appointment of a coach has been. The author seems genuinely worried that Chandu Borde may not survive his appointment given his age!

You can view the orginal Cricket Burble post about the mess made of the BCCI's recruitment process here.

13 June 2007

Boycott would have dropped Strauss

I burbled earlier this week about how Strauss could be dropped, despite the fact that he's a class player, but England showed their loyalty by picking him again for the 4th Test.

Interesting that Geoff Boycott has now said he would have dropped him.

I guess the England selectors are working on the assumption that Strauss is just as likely to get his form back playing international cricket against the West Indian bowlers as he is against County bowlers - the standard being similar. But the West Indies bowlers, particularly Sammy, put in a much improved performance in the last Test, so this may no longer be the case. Time will tell if it is a good decision.

India squad for tour

India have announced their squad for the Test matches in England which looks like this:

Wasim Jaffer, Dinesh Karthik, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid (capt), Sachin Tendulkar (vice-capt), Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Ramesh Powar, Anil Kumble, Zaheer Khan, Sreesanth, RP Singh, Ishant Sharma, Ranadeb Bose.

The key people left out are Virender Sehwag and Harbajan Singh and it presumably doesn't come as a surprise to either. Sehwag played brainlessly in Bangladesh and one particular innings in an ODI will stick in my mind - he crashed four 4s of the first 4 balls in the over and was then out to the 5th trying to hit a 5th boundary from a ball that wasn't there to hit. Despite his reckless approach to batting, his test average of nearly 50 proves that he can bat, but I'd definitely back the Indian selectors in dropping him. I would have kept him in the ODI squad though.

Harbajan has been more harshly dealt with. In some ways he seems to have been made a scapegoat for the loss to Bangladesh in the World Cup, the suggestion being that he bowled too negatively and that if he'd given the ball more air the Bangladeshi's would have been tempted into injudicious shots. To blame him, rather than the lack of runs India made, is rediculous. At not yet 27, he is the future of Indian spin bowling and England must be very pleased that he's been left behind, although Anil Kumble is bound to still be a handful on his own.

It was interesting to read Cricinfo's analysis of the Indian team selection. The problems surrounding the opening partnership remain and England will be hoping to take full advantage given that Indian batsman traditionally haven't played the swinging ball too well.

The team will be managed by Chandu Borde, whose 73rd birthday falls during the tour of England. It appears that the BCCI are back to square one in terms of filling the role long-term, having now ruled out John Emburey.

12 June 2007

New Indian Coach

No, it hasn't been announced yet....

Is it just me, or has the appointment of the Indian national team coach been the best possible case study that organisations can learn from in terms of how NOT to go about a senior appointment? Off the top of my head, don't:

- constantly give journalists off the record snippets that find their way into the media
- give any opinions on who the next coach might be, or what nationality they might be
- give any commitments on how long it will take to make an appointment
- publicly narrow the field to two
- go public with which board members suggested which candidates
- bring someone with only a moderate non-international record in for interview
- publicly announce that you have been turned down by a candidate

The list goes on. The BCCI have shown they are incapable of average administration once again...let alone good administration.

We love you Monty, we do....

Congratulations to Monty on his first 10 wicket hall. And on being called for bowling a bouncer. I'm not sure which achievement is the more impressive....

Plunkett out

Following the series win against the West Indies the selectors have announced the squad for the 4th Test which includes Matthew Hoggard as expected, at the expense of Liam Plunkett. Steve Harmison has managed to save himself with some hostile bowling over the last couple of days at Old Trafford. Peter Moores must be wondering about the balance in his side - he is now going to play in the next Test with 4 players who shouldn't really bat higher than 10 in a Test match....one of them is going to be coming in 8! While this is unlikely to be exposed against the West Indies, it's not a situation he's likely to be happy with in the long-term.

On the batting side of things, Strauss is again under pressure to play a big innings but Peter Moores is showing the same loyal streak that Duncan Fletcher showed in his time as England coach. I don't think there is anyone in England that isn't hoping Strauss gets runs....

11 June 2007

Cricinfo bought by ESPN

This is the press release - I'm not entirely sure what my feelings are on this at the moment...will think about it and then post again!

ESPN and The Wisden Group today announced that they had agreed to terms for ESPN’s acquisition of Cricinfo, the world’s leading cricket website.

“Growing our business in the on-line world is vital for us to serve sports fans," said Russell Wolff, managing director of ESPN International. “Cricinfo is a tremendous property with a great fan base and it will be a strong addition to ESPN.”

Lynne Frank, managing director of ESPN, Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “Cricket has a huge worldwide following and Cricinfo has created a great product for cricket fans everywhere. The acquisition complements our growing online business and underlines the fact that ESPN is committed to serving a diverse fan base. We are delighted that Cricinfo has joined the ESPN family.”

The acquisition of Cricinfo enhances ESPN’s on-line portfolio, which includes ESPN.com - the U.S.’s premier online sports destination; ESPNdeportes.com - the number one Spanish-language sports website among Spanish-preferred fans in the U.S. and ESPNsoccernet.com - the world’s leading English-language football website.

Cricket lends itself perfectly to online coverage: the length of matches and the statistics-rich nature of the game combine to drive high global usage and build loyalty.

Wisden Group director Mark Getty, said: “Cricinfo has developed into a significant cricket brand in its own right, combining huge global popularity with strong commercial success. ESPN is a major sports broadcaster and international rights holder and will provide the perfect environment for Cricinfo to further realise its enormous potential. The Wisden Group will continue to focus on its Hawk-Eye sports technology business in cricket, tennis and a growing range of other sports.”

And Tom Gleeson, Managing Director of Cricinfo, added, “We have had a strong working relationship with ESPN for a number of years and we know how successful they are in providing innovative online sports content. We look forward to working with the ESPN team and drawing on its expertise in sports marketing and digital media.”

ESPN’s digital media initiatives combine to deliver an industry-leading combination of live and on-demand sports events; up-to-the-minute sports news and information; scores, statistics and analysis; extensive on-demand and downloadable video and audio programming; fantasy sports, and video games across Web, mobile and other non-linear platforms.

ESPN Digital media properties are leading sports destinations: online- (ESPN.com); mobile (wireless Web sports site mobile.espn.com); radio ( the most listened-to online sports radio destination ESPNRadio.com); the leading English-language Soccer news and information site (ESPNsoccernet.com); leading fantasy games that are played by millions of fans each year; one of the most successful premium content services on the Web (ESPN Insider); the most downloaded sports content on the iTunes Store, and a one-of-a-kind in-game content integration platform appearing in many of the most popular sports video games.

West Indies fighting hard

I'm amazed at the determination of the West Indies to go down fighting in this Test Match. Yes, England have dropped catches and not helped themselves, but the fight that West Indies have shown has been a delight to see given the capitulation at Headingley. No-one could have predicted at the start of their innings that they would have reached lunch on the final day requiring just 76 runs with 3 wickets in hand. An exciting game was much needed in this series, but as an England supporter I can only hope that England still come through to win.

It's going to be a time-consuming task updating the "real" averages and "wrong" decisions pages after this Test Match - rumour has it there have been a few bad decisions and there have certainly been some dropped catches - it will be interesting to see how the various individual's real averages change.

9 June 2007

The worst Test day ever?

I didn't have the chance to watch any of yesterday's play so it was interesting to hear Jonathan Agnew had described the day's play as "just about the worst day of Test cricket I can remember."

I can only hope that Allan Donald manages to work some magic with Harmison and Plunkett, but it's not a job I would wish on anyone, not even Troy Cooley. England can't afford two mis-firing bowlers out of 4 so I presume that one of them will be dropped when Hoggard is fit again. I wonder if the time has come for Harmison to work on his bowling outside of the Test arena and come back when he is ready, and has proven he is ready.

With poor old Strauss getting a duck (I still maintain he's a class player who has mysteriously lost confidence after 3 terrible umpiring decisions in a row last winter), the England team for the next test could look a little different.

How's about this? Vaughan, Cook, Bopara, Pietersen, Collingwood, Bell, Prior, Plunkett, Panesar, Sidebottom, Hoggard.

When Stuart Broad is ready he could then come in for Plunkett - Moores reportedly being a Broad fan.

I'd love to see Vaughan get another hundred today...fingers crossed.

No love for Virgin

A quick rant. I am currently sitting in an internet cafe typing this as Virgin's broadband service has let me down. It hasn't worked since Thursday afternoon which is why there was no post to Cricket Burble in that time - my apologies for the silence.

This isn't the first time I've had to ring Virgin's helpline and even when the engineer turns up on Tuesday to fix it, I am pretty confident I will soon be back on the phone to tell them about another problem. So imagine how I felt when I was told in the recorded message you get when you ring with a problem that from 1st July calls will cost 25p per minute from a Virgin landline and 10p to connect (as opposed to the current free "service"). So the more incompetent they are the more money they make! I should really provide them with the receipt for the internet cafe and ask them to pay it I reckon...

So apologies if there is a bit of intermittent nature to posts on Cricket Burble over the next few days - it's down to Virgin I'm afraid.

Emburey/Gaveskar link

It's all becoming clear. You probably read how surprised I was to find John Emburey was being considered for the Indian coaching role on Cricket Burble, summed up in the title "Emburey for India...really?".

I don't have full faith in Sunil Gaveskar as the head of the ICC's newly formed Cricket Committee - I have also burbled about that before.

Now the link between the two has become clear. BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah has been quoted as saying "Emburey's name was suggested by Gavaskar." That explains it.

7 June 2007

Vaughan and Flintoff

I don't understand the latest story about what Vaughan said. I read the interview and it seemed to me he was blaming 3 things for the change in attitude in the World Cup from what had been a positive one when they arrived - Fredalo, himself and Duncan Fletcher. Who cares whether he called it "Fredalo" or "the pedalo incident involving Freddie Flintoff"? The meaning is the same and if Flintoff reads the Guardian interview in full I don't think he'll have any issues.

What I don't understand is why Vaughan is saying that he didn't use the word "Fredalo" when he did - the guardian's own tape contradicts that. What would have been a sensible and perfectly reasonable objection to the media coverage would have been to ask why they tried to single out one part of the interview and create a headline where there wasn't really one. Why he feels he shouldn't have used the word "Fredalo" is beyond me - it's an irrelevancy.

Let's hope the players can all get back to playing cricket....and as well as they did at Headingley.

6 June 2007

English County Cricket

In England much has been made of the fact that Peter Moores has come through the County system (as did Duncan Fletcher to a lesser extent in case anyone had forgotten) and has much greater faith in the players who excel at County level to come through in international cricket. This may be so, but the success of an old-fashioned England medium/quick bowler in helpful conditions against the West Indies (i.e. much like bowling at County batsman) should not be blown out of proportion. I thought Sidebottom bowled excellently at Headingley and he could well force his way into England's plans when they are full strength if he continues to bowl well, but I think we're probably getting ahead of ourselves if we say that County cricket is an excellent production line for international cricketers.

David Graveney has been suggesting as much recently. "The selection of Ryan speaks volumes for our domestic game. He's developed his game with the coaches at Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire and swings the ball much more than when he previously played for England."

I hope that Graveney has his head screwed on enough to be playing the PR card with the Counties. There's no way that the County game, with all it's manufactured results, can be seen as on a parallel with the Sheffield Shield in Australia. Until that time, County Cricket still has a long way to go.

Afro-Asia Mismatch

The World Cup proved just how much the equality of the two sides taking the pitch goes into creating a great game, but unfortunately the 2 sides taking the field in the Afro-Asia Twenty20 yesterday were anything but evenly matched. I realise that it was a Twenty20 so Test experience is perhaps not the best gague of skill levels in this form of the game, but a lopsided 207 Test matches had been played by the Asian XI, to just 5 by the African team. Here's the African team:

Bosman, Bodi, Ouma, Mishra, Obanda, Dabengwa, Odhiambo, Morkel, Tshabalala, Mupariwa, Varaiya.

Clearly I'm not keeping up on my African cricket because only Bosman and Morkel even ring a bell! If you are the same, I've linked each player off to their Cricinfo profile so that you can find out about them if you so wish! By contrast, here is the Asian XI - no need to link off to their profiles I assume....

Iqbal, Nazir, Akmal, Ashraful, Dilshan, Malik, Afridi, Maharoof, Mortaza, Razzaq, Sreesanth.

Given the quality of the two sides that Asia only won with 4 overs to spare, possibly partly due to them batting Shahid Afridi who could have won the game very quickly if he'd got going. You can see the scorecard here.

What a pointless game. You've heard me burble about what a waste of time some of these extra games are - the only thing that gives them any credibility is if the two sides are top quality. These sort of games may make a quick buck, but they will surely lose all credibility unless the teams are fairly matched.

5 June 2007

Emburey for India...really?

When Duncan Fletcher resigned, England were in the lucky position of having a solid replacement lined up without too much upheaval. But had there not been an obvious candidate, if the name of John Emburey had been mentioned, we all would have choked laughing...wouldn't we? Highly respected player though he is (although Cricinfo describe his as "the Ashley Giles of his generation"), his coaching record is fairly lamentable. It's akin to Kevin Keegan and Glenn Hoddle getting the England football manager's job. Or perhaps it's even worse, and the equivalent of considering Glenn Roeder.

While there is no doubt that players can make or break the career of a coach, results surely can't be dismissed as irrelevant when it comes to appointments, whatever the standard of the players he was coaching.

Why the BCCI would want Emburey is beyond me...

"Fredalo" incident

Michael Vaughan has given an interesting interview to The Guardian where I think he probably gets quite close to the truth of why England came 5th in the World Cup rather than make it any further. Of course, the fact we were ranked lower than that going into the tournament gave a good indication that 5th was as good a result as we could expect, but really only Australia and South Africa were fancied prior to the tournament and England were no doubt eyeing up a semi-final place at least.

According to Vaughan, the "Fredalo" incident left the England players afraid to go out, and a lot of pressure within the camp. He and Duncan Fletcher also felt under pressure and this transmitted itself to the players who played without freedom. All team sports do require a bit of spirit to build up for a team to be successful, however that is done. It's just a shame that one incident where a few players drank too much meant that the players were worried to have a few social drinks - presumably they knew from their media training that were they to be photographed with a drink in their hand that would be in the English papers. (You should have seen how worried Monty Panesar was when I approached him in a bar in Malaysia before the Ashes tour!)

Once again the English press have managed to damage our chances of doing well in a sporting event. Yes, it's mostly down to the players etc. But, as Clive Woodward showed at the 2003 Rugby World Cup, there's a lot of peripherals that influence things - Woodward and his team got all those peripherals right to such an extent that England won that World Cup without even playing well. Remember Svengate (which one I hear you ask?!) - when The News of The World ran a story about Sven slagging off certain members of the England football team just before the last World Cup? How could that possibly help us win the World Cup? And then you have the Cricket World Cup where the players were forced into a siege mentality....

If the press could put England's success before getting a scoop, we might increase our chances of winning something just a little, but the chances of that happening are low to say the least.

No Announcement on Indian Coach

Why do boards and coaches do it to themselves? Don't set yourselves a deadline by telling the press and then miss it! Guessing at what has happened we can only assume that Dav Whatmore turned the Indian coaching role down.

Cricinfo is now reporting that South African Graham Ford is in contention with one other, believed to be Arjuna Ranatunga - the former Sri Lankan captain.

I'll stop speculating....looks like Dav Whatmore was way off the mark!

4 June 2007

Lords - the home of...archery?

The banner flew proudly from the back of a helicopter when the Test v the West Indies was played earlier this month: Lords - the home of cricket. At the time I wondered why we needed reminding and wondered who was paying for that helicopter...after all we clearly had no doubt about where we were sat. But perhaps it was decided that we needed a little reminding that Lords was the home of cricket as it was only shortly before today's big launch of London 2012 at 12:30. After all, for a short while in 2012, Lords will be the home of archery.

While Lords is obviously steeped in tradition, the building of the NatWest Media Centre showed that there were people willing to look to the future without forgetting the past. Back in 2005, Lords was the stage for an archery demonstration during the Bangladesh Test match that year and Lords will be used to host the archery tournament in 2012. London 2012 Chairman Sebastian Coe was impressed back in 2005 "the atmosphere generated by the spectators in the ground today offers a tantalising glimpse of the levels of support Archery would enjoy at a London Games in 2012. Today's archery demonstration highlights one of London 2012's key selling points - our ability to combine state-of-the-art new facilities in Olympic Park with existing iconic venues such as Lord's and Horse Guard's Parade.

I couldn't agree more. Just keep off the square.

Pakistan board get tough

Interesting to see the Pakistan board's stance on players talking to the media recently. A board official was quoted as saying "The days of the players enjoying freedom to enter into deals with the media outlets are gone. So are the days of players ignoring the clauses of their central contracts."

In theory the potential penalty for talking to the press without prior permission is match bans but presumably all that will happen is that stories won't be attributed to the particular player who has spoken to the media....which was exactly what happened when this news came out!!

"We have been told that if we violate this new ruling we can be banned for a number of matches. But, the ban would be for how many matches they have not told us as yet. Obviously the players are not happy with the new restrictions which have come into effect more strictly after the World Cup," the player said on condition of anonymity.

"But, the ban would be for how many matches they have not told us as yet." - you don't have to be Miss Marple to work out that the player in question isn't totally fluent in English....I wonder how many that narrows the contenders to. The Pakistan board might just need Miss Marple, as England did on their tour of Australia when their team tactics were leaked....

3 June 2007

Same XI for England

England have announced their XI for the Old Trafford Test early and unsurprisingly it is identical to the side that won so comprehensively at Headingley as we thought.

Ashraful named Bangladesh captain

Habibul Bashir has lost the captaincy of Tests as well as ODIs in Bangladesh after the Bangladeshi board announced 22-year old Mohammed Ashraful as captain in both forms of the game. They have also named Mushrafe Murtaza as vice-captain.

Ashraful has been around for a long time after bursting onto the international scene with a century on debut against Sri Lanka shortly after his 17th birthday. Subsequently he's played some great innings, such as his century in Cardiff against the Australians in 2005, taking Bangladesh to an unlikely victory, but his form has been so patchy that he's been dropped more than once since he first broke into the side.

He has undoubted talent and the selectors must be hoping that the additional responsibility will improve his shot selection which has at times been found wanting, as his batting average of less than 25 in both forms of the game shows. He has a lot to prove.

Moody worried about player burnout

Tom Moody may have recently retired from international coaching but he has had an excellent view of international cricket as coach of Sri Lanka, and he's also part of the ICC's cricket committee. So when he suggests that the international calendar is far too crammed because of the greed of some international boards, everyone should listen.

Moody has suggested that the scheduling of extra ODIs on the sub-continent is a particular problem. "There seems to be more add-on tournaments than there is on the set out and structured fixture list that the Australians and England and some other countries tend to have," Moody was quoted as saying in 'The Australian'.

"It's finding the balance of the financial gain the cricket boards can have against harming the game and the players along the way. Looking at the Australian fixtures in 2008, Australia play something like 22 Tests in little more than a year, and that's at least seven too many.

"If we're trying to look after the game and get our best cricketers on the park full-time and give the public the best standard of cricket with the best players on display, you're not going to do it trying to play 22 Tests in a year and throwing in more than 30 one-dayers as well as Twenty20 matches.

Moody went on to suggest that the result of all the money-grabbing by the various boards could be that each country has two different international sides - one for Tests and another for ODIs. "If they're going to continue down that track there must be serious thought given to a full one-day set-up and Test set-up with two teams and two coaches. If that's what they (cricket boards) want. If the demand is there for more cricket, maybe the price for that is that you're not going to see a Ricky Ponting or an Adam Gilchrist in both forms of the game. Players would be designated to one form of the game and countries build a team for the other format."

Given Moody's concerns, it was interesting to read an article vehermently attacking the BCCI for their sole aim being financial reward. You can see the article at Business Standard.

The sad thing is that Moody seems resigned to the fact that all these games will be played and is offering a possible solution to the problem by having 2 teams for each country. It is worrying that he's doing that rather than trying to add pressure to the boards who think only in terms of money - perhaps in his time with Sri Lanka he has already decided that is a fight that won't ever be won.

4th June for India coach announcement

Chennai online reports that that the announcement of the Indian cricket coach will be made tomorrow and that the front runner is Dav Whatmore. Remember, you heard it here first!

2 June 2007

Bopara dominant again

Ravi Bopara again stole the show for Essex today, guiding them to victory with 147 not out against Glamorgan. I realise that someone would have to make way for him to come into the England side and that's a difficult selection issue, but I just hope that the 22 year-old gets his chance before he's left in county cricket for too long to then make the step up successfully. And his bowling is good enough that he can give us 4.75 bowlers even if you wouldn't term him quite a "5th bowler".


I don't think there's anyone that is unaware of how successful Muttiah Muralitharan has been in international cricket, but I for one was surprised to hear just how successful he's been for Lancashire. He has played for 22 matches for Lancashire and has taken 5 wickets in an innings 19 times. Had he had time he would have made that 20 today too, having taken 4 wickets out of 5 before Sussex's game against Lancashire ended in a draw. Not bad.

Wrong decisions in football

This is clearly a cricket blog - don't worry! But I thought it was interesting, having posted yesterday about wrong umpiring decisions that may or may not change the course of a game, that Brazil apparently had a perfectly good goal ruled out against England last night in the 19th minute for offside. I didn't watch the game - I've just read the reports.

So the "real" score was 2-1 to Brazil and that decision changed the result. Given the huge amount of money floating around in football you'd think the pressure to get decisions right would be enormous, and yet wrong decisions that change the result get a one line mention in match reports, although I suppose this was only a friendly. One day perhaps we'll find a way to ensure decisions in both sports are made more accurately.

Somerset look like they'll lose

Well it looks like Somerset will lose against Middlesex despite Langer's attempt to change the course of the game through his declaration at 50-8 in the first innings. I hope this doesn't stop the more creative captains in the County Championship from using creative tactics.

Yesterday, Somerset looked to have given themselves a chance after a hundred from Hildreth and half centurys for White and Jones, but it doesn't look enough as Middlesex have nearly reached their target and still have 8 wickets in hand. You can view the scorecard here.

1 June 2007

"Wrong" umpiring decisions

Cricket Burble is now listing all the "wrong" umpiring decisions that we know of from the end of the 2007 World Cup. Currently this page is here:


It's unlikely that the list will stay at this URL forever, but it's a good temporary home and I'll update you if the list moves address.

If you know of any other "wrong" decisions then please let me know by emailing cricketburble@gmail.com, preferably with some supporting evidence for why the decision was "wrong".

Results of the ICC meeting

You can read more about what happened over the last two days on Cricinfo.

I have a number of concerns (surprise, surprise). I don't want to be contrary, but sometimes it's impossible not to be.

Why, oh why, would anyone want there to be an increase in 3 fielders outside the circle in the 2nd and 3rd powerplays? Surely that just makes it more likely that captains will take both powerplays immediately, meaning that there could be "boring" overs from 20-40...exactly what the ICC wanted to avoid. It seems strange that this should be a recommendation given that Jayawardene was part of the committee, along with Tom Moody, and yet Sri Lanka were by far the most innovative in their use of powerplays during the World Cup.

The captain of the batting side being able to take a powerplay is laughable...is he meant to somehow communicate by telepathy if he isn't in the middle? We'd see an increase of the number of messages mascarading as drinks or changes of gloves to roughly once an over. The ODI game is already a batsman's game - they don't need any more help.

Last comment: as any reader of Cricket Burble will know, I have little regard for Gavaskar's views given his strange antics on the field and I've also found that I disagree with a lot of his comments since he's retired. Using him as Chairman of this Committee was a risky decision, to say the least.

Hopefully the ICC will only take on the sensible proposals and ignore the stranger ones, but only time will tell.

Don't write off Somerset yet

I hope that Justin Langer's bold tactics for Somerset pay off because without some creative captaincy county cricket can at times get pretty boring. More captaincy like this will help to reduce the number of games that are engineered into creating results in an even more obvious way.

Given the batting line up Somerset have to come, and the obstinacy of people like Langer and Cameron White, a bet on Somerset may just be worth looking into...

Come back tomorrow to find out if I have egg on my face (pretty likely) or Somerset have dug themselves out of a hole. Click here to see the scorecard.