31 January 2008

More on Harbajan

Not the least odd part of the whole overblown story is the revlation today that the judge who handed out his 50% match fee fine, John Hansen, was unaware that he had 'previous'.

Firstly 'why not ?' as it's public knowledge but far more importantly 'so what ?' since he should only have been judging the facts of the incident (and there seems to have been very few of them).

30 January 2008

Finger spinning in Australia

A conversation in the pub a couple of months ago turned to the lack of success of finger spinners in Australia. This conversation came just after the Sri Lanka series and Murali's lack of success (I know most people don't consider him a finger spinner these days). Thinking back its hard to rember any finger spinners taking large hauls on Australian soil. Vettori has had his moments, but not many. Going back further Peter Taylor and Tim May for Australia did OK without ever setting the world on fire, and I seem to remember reading about Ashley Mallett having a good season in the seventies. Talking to a few old timers it appears even Bishan Bedi found it difficult on Aussie soil.

Its an interesting one because without thinking too hard I can come up with a number of wrist spinners who did well on these shores: Warne, MacGill, Kumble, Mushtaq Ahmed and even part timers like Michael Bevan and Simon Katich (sadly not Brad Hogg).
I intend to do some statistical research on this phenomenon and will post soon with my findings.

29 January 2008

Harbajan gets off

It's interesting that the footage of the players around the time of Harbajan Singh's alleged comments has now come out, and you can hear what the players say, with the exception of the vital bit - when Harbajan allegedly called Symonds a "monkey"!! Nevertheless it shows the conversation around that time and I have to say in my opinion, and it's only an unproven opinion, Harbajan has been lucky. I've previously said on Cricket Burble that unless it can be proven through a microphone or one of the umpires hearing the comments, then Harbajan should be assumed to be innocent.

I stand by that, but the conversation doesn't appear to be contrived to try and get a guy into trouble. If the Aussies wanted to frame Harbajan then why not just say he said it, and without all this chat that was recorded? You can watch the video and hear the comments here.

What is said is:
Symonds: "Go and yell at your team mates" (obviously there has been some sort of conversation before that point which isn't heard)
Singh appears to say something back but the comments aren't picked up.
Symonds: "You called me monkey again?"
Hayden: "You've got a witness now champ. That's the last time."
Harbajan: "No, listen, he started it."
Hayden: "Doesn't matter mate, it's racial vilification mate. It's a sh*t word and you know it."

There is no doubt that in a world where everyone should be innocent until proven guilty, Harbajan should not be found guilty. But that's different to saying that he's innocent. I believe that in Scotland they have verdicts of "unproven" in court cases which basically means they think the guy or girl did it, but can't prove it. The fact that Harbajan was found guilty of a slightly lesser charge (compared to racist comments) of obscene language, just goes to show that is the view of all concerned - there is no evidence of obscene language either, but it was a desperate attempt to keep the peace and punish him for something that it seems he probably did. He should have been let off entirely or found guilty of making racially abusive comments.

Anything in between, in the absence of any evidence, is farcical.

In The Wisden Cricketer letters section...

If you read Cricket Burble, you will have heard my views on using technology to help make decisions before, but now a few people that don't read Cricket Burble have also been subjected to that view. In the latest edition of The Wisden Cricketer you'll see my letter in the letters section near the start. Of course it was an email rather than a letter, but that's not important!

26 January 2008

Gilchrist calls it a day

The end of a brilliant career. Cricinfo have highlighted Gilchrist's best 5 innings. A very special player with over a decade of cricketing achievement at the highest level. Spectators will miss him for the excitement he brought whenever he batted, and we will all have to listen to every wicket-keeper/batsman under the sun being called "the new Gilchrist" for a long time to come....

23 January 2008

Count down to The Ashes

Yes, I know what you're thinking....that's a while off yet and England should concentrate on New Zealand. But in fact, the Ashes start next Friday with a Twenty20 - the women's Ashes that is. The good news from an England point of view is that the Aussie keeper has just broken her thumb. Come on England!

19 January 2008

Australia v India highlights

It was an amazing match that not only brought to an end Australia's winning streak, but also gave India a great win. It's got to be good for everyone if Australia's dominance in world cricket is reduced, and it sets up a tantalising 4th Test. For 5 minute highlights, click here. (It takes a while to load as no doubt the most of India is watching.)

New umpires, same result

Not surprisingly, the change by the ICC to use Billy Bowden instead of Steve Bucknor in the 3rd Test between Australia and India resulted in no less mistakes by the official. Like Bucknor, Bowden made two definite mistakes in all and, like Bucknor, one came at a crucial stage on the final day. The reduction in wrong decisions actually came at the other end, with Asad Rauf also making two wrong decisions, compared to Mark Benson's four* in the 2nd Test (*although 4 is harsh on him - it was really 3 as the "catch" by Clarke of Ganguly was given on the basis of the agreement between the sides that the fielding captain would be trusted to say if the ball carried - it wasn't Benson's mistake).

Bucknor made no secret of the fact he was disappointed to be replaced, but yesterday said that he's happy to continue for another year if the ICC want him. On the basis of the wrong decisions in the 3rd Test being no less than the 2nd, the ICC need to apologise for the way they treated him and continue with him in all matches as scheduled, whether India are involved or not.

But the damage has now been done and India will feel that they can change umpires when they aren't happy with them. All it takes is for this to happen:

"We have asked our team management to lodge a protest to the ICC match referee against the wrong umpiring decisions made today by Steve Bucknor. The wrong decisions made by Bucknor have been commented upon by all cricketers and analysts alike," said BCCI vice president Rajiv Shukla."I am sure the International Cricket Council will be monitoring the matter in Dubai and take appropriate actions," Shukla said.

Funnily enough there doesn't seem to be any mention of India complaining about the wrong umpiring decisions now that they've won, so presumably there will be no pressure on the ICC despite their replacement making the same number of definitely wrong decisions as Bucknor.

(Incidentally, I've finally found video footage of some of the 2nd Test controversial decisions - click here to see them on YouTube).

18 January 2008

Warne puts poker first

I'm all for ex-cricketers making money however they can, but it seems strange that such a huge talent as Shane Warne would choose to reduce his Hampshire cricket rather than make the most of his last year or two of professional cricket. According to the Guardian, Warne's new poker playing agreement will mean he misses a fair bit of the season, but given the money in gambling, the assumption is that Warne is making serious money from his role on the world poker circuit which is why he's put it ahead of cricket in his priorities.

As this article says, poker's gain is cricket's loss.

Another question

Is Ishant Sharma, currently playing for India, the possessor of the largest adam's apple in first class cricket ever?

17 January 2008

Ian Botham

Next time you hear him talking about playing straight or correctly or in an orthodox style it's nice to remember that in The Cricketers Coggeshall there's a fine photograph of a very youg Ian Botham playing a reverse sweep!

16 January 2008

An Australian Suggestion

MEDIA RELEASE - From the International Cricket Council for immediate release (especially in India).

The ICC has announced several changes to the playing conditions for the forthcoming 3rd test in Perth between Australia and India. These changes include:
* India must win.

* The umpires shall be nominated by the Indian team. It will be acceptable if reserve Indian players rotate as umpires.

* During the game all appeals shall be referred to the Indian management team and the Indian media contingent prior to any decision being made. (This includes where an Indian player may appear, to the naked eye, to have been bowled.)

* When the Indian team is batting the boundary rope shall be moved inwards 20 metres.
* Australian bowlers shall bowl under arm.
* India must win.
* Any time Ricky Ponting is on the field he shall be restrained in a full length strait jacket and muzzled.
* Any Australian spin bowler must advise the batsman in advance what type of delivery is going to be bowled.
* At any time Andrew Symons is on the field he must wear a gorilla suit and accept any sledging in the light hearted manner that
this is intended.

* India must win.
* Harbhajan Singh will be cleared on appeal and be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
* Indian batsman may be permitted to use larger bats.
* Australian batsmen may use a bat every fifth over.
* Australian fieldsman should praise every batting attempt by the Indians by saying "Good shot chaps." Apart from this Australian players are not permitted to speak.

* During the lunch and tea break both teams shall get together and have a cup of tea.
* India must win. The ICC and the BCCI hope that all Australians will understand these minor changes are intended in the best interest of the game.

The ICC would also like to announce that Steve Bucknor has been appointed as the ICC's new cricketing ambassador to Kazikstan. The ICC wishes Steve all the best in this important, newly created role.

RIP International Cricket

14 January 2008


Why does W H Smith at Waterloo station keep The Wisden Cricketer on the top shelf with all the other magazines you'd expect to see there?

Why did Chris Gayle need a runner in the last test for a broken thumb?

Why do they measure the speed of a cricket ball in miles per hour when it will never go for a mile or for an hour ? What we need is a measure based on how deep it would go into a hedge at that speed or how many fingers it would break.

13 January 2008

Ganguly in the last test

I've checked all the reports I can and can find no "proof" that Ganguly wasn't out caught by Michael Clarke in the last Australia v India Test. And yet someone who saw the replay on Sky suggested that it was definitely, without doubt, not out and the ball didn't carry.

Anyone with Sky care to comment? At the moment the Ganguly decision isn't on the wrong decisions list.

6 January 2008

Decisions go in Australia's favour?

I'm trying my best not to make every post about wrong decisions but it's pretty tricky right now with the amount of them. You can read Cricinfo's view on the Australia v India match here, along with reader comments. I'll say no more. Except that the wrong decisions list has been updated again!

4 January 2008

England selection for New Zealand tour

While I don't necessarily think that there is anything wrong with the squad on paper, as I mentioned yesterday, I'm worried about the inconsistency in England selection. Don't think Prior can cut it as international level? OK, so make the number 2 on the previous tour the first choice keeper - Mustard. And yet all the press seem to think that Ambrose will be first choice keeper.

And I feel very sorry for Bopara. It looks like he might have to follow the path previously trod by Collingwood. A proven pressure player in ODIs who is assumed not to be able to step up but he will deliver when he gets a proper chance. The poor guy has only had 5 innings in Tests and was given out when he wasn't in one of them and run out in another - it's far too early to be casting him aside. I hope it's not too long before he gets another go.

The next question is, what number will Strauss bat?

3 January 2008

Strauss back in?

I've nothing against Strauss at all, but in many ways I hope this report that Strauss may come back for the New Zealand series is wrong. It would be back to the bad old days of reactionary England selections. Bopara or Shah would be the obvious people to go, but neither of them has done anything to warrant exclusion based on the Sri Lanka trip, and Strauss has done nothing to warrant inclusion having been left out of the squad for Sri Lanka - as far as I know he hasn't even played although he is going to play for Wellington in New Zealand.

One of the few successes in Sri Lanka was the opening partnership which was more solid than recent times so there seems no rationale for bringing Strauss back, and to bring him back would be to admit that the selectors think they made a mistake in their squad selection for Sri Lanka.

2 January 2008

50 not out

Cricket Burble has now reached it's half-century of wrong decisions following Ponting's LBW today where he got a big inside-edge. Over 50 wrong decisions since May - that's a pretty worrying strike rate considering that the Cricket Burble list of wrong decisions is likely to be an underestimation as I can't watch all Test and ODI cricket around the world on TV, much as I might like to!

Anyway, 50 not out and expecting to power our way to a century pretty quickly given the rate of wrong umpiring decisions.

Later note: in fact the 50th wrong decision in the list is now Ponting's edge down the leg-side that wasn't picked up, leaving the subsequent wrong LBW, mentioned above, as the 51st wrong decision.

1 January 2008

Ranatunga takes Sri Lanka role

It must be because professional sport offers such a short career that so many ex-players end up in administrative positions after their retirement. After all, it would be pretty tricky to take up a completely different career, so no-one can blame them. However, presumably ability to do the job must come first in the selection criteria, and the fact that they used to play the game a distant but advantageous second, I would hope.

But time and again players move into admin roles all around the world. And it's not necessarily the down to earth business like players that get these roles - it's often the more outspoken players like Gaveskar and Miandad. This time it's Ranatunga in Sri Lanka who is changing his role within Sri Lankan cricket. I hope that he does well, but I can't help feeling that he may be another who's ego comes first, and his job requirements come second - I hope I'm proved wrong.