28 April 2011

Youngest County player ever

It may only be a University game but this is still pretty special - 27 days into his 16th year Barney Gibson has become the youngest County cricketer ever, breaking a record that has stood for 144 years, by playing for Yorkshire against Durham University.

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27 April 2011

Fletcher and the Indian coaching job

While the World Cup was on I read Behind the Shades- the autobiography of the new Indian coach Duncan Fletcher. A few things stood out. The first was the fact that Fletcher can't agree to disagree....he holds grudges and the whole book is an exercise in score-settling. The second is that he holds Gary Kirsten in extremely high regard and they clearly have a good relationship (the book was written before Kirsten got the India job). The third is that he makes it clear the (negative) impact the England job had on his family. And the fourth is that he's ambitious and the book demonstrates that he's been successful in all his coaching roles and wants to continue to challenge himself.

The second point means that Kirsten would have put in a good word for him in relation to the Indian coaching role (once Fletcher said he was interested) and Kirsten's word would have been taken very seriously as following the World Cup win, he is now revered for life in India. The third about the impact on his family may have been a problem for him, but the fourth point - his ambitious nature - meant that he would never let his family stop him from taking the top (and toughest) coaching job in cricket, and as they understand him presumably they wouldn't want to stop him either.

But it's the first point that makes me worry for him. Indian cricket is full of politics and back-stabbing - right now there will be a group of people who wanted someone else to be coach who will be undermining him. And there will be numerous leaks of information, something that he mentions time and time again riles him, so unless he changes his attitude he's going to have only himself to speak to for fear of a leak. How he deals with the administrative challenges of the Indian coaching role will determine how successful he is...

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Strange selection issues at Steyning

Sorting out the Steyning sides last night was a very strange experience. I'm used to discussing potential names that could be approached in a desperate attempt to fill out the bottom side, knowing that 9 is the minimum needed to get a side out. Once you have 9 the game can go ahead, and there's always the chance of finding someone from a pub, club etc (I remember getting my 11th for a Sunday match in a London night club about a decade ago).

Last night, the discussion at Steyning was all about who would get left out from the 3rd XI, the bottom side. Good honest club cricketers, available throughout the season, might not get a game this Saturday. What a problem to have! It's not quite as simple as just adding a side, although the numbers suggest we could, because Steyning have only one pitch. But as we have a thriving Colts section that just keeps churning out players good enough to play adult cricket, we're no doubt going to have to overcome that and create a 4th XI at some point.

Talking of the thriving Colts section, selecting the 1st XI involved picking two under 16s and narrowly leaving out an under 17. It comes to something when a player has the 95 extension to his email address to indicate the year in which he was born, and yet he isn't the youngest in a side selected entirely on merit. Rather than let anyone point it out I will make the point for you - yes, those two players are less than half my age!

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Will Shafayat make it back?

I was amazed when I got The Spin yesterday and read about Bilal Shafayat, aged 26 and apparently on the County Cricket scrapheap, or the 1st XI scrapheap anyway. A teenage prodigy, I assumed that the very least Shafayat would make of his cricketing career was to be a regular County pro. I realised he was struggling to make the impression his talent suggested he should (I've now seen he has a first-class average of 30), but it didn't occur to me he might find it difficult to find a County.

Interesting then that he's trying to make it back into the County game via Sussex 2s, with some decent initial success. Owain Jones, a Steyning product who now plays his cricket at Horsham played in that match and he couldn't have been more complimentary about Shafayat's input. Such is Shafayat's experience and knowledge "he seemed more like 40 than 26" apparently. Only time will tell if Shafayat will make it back, but even if he doesn't it sounds like some of the Sussex 2's squad will benefit from his experience and be more likely to make it themselves as a result.

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Duckworth-Lewis go up in my estimation

I know, I know, I'm a little behind. But hopefully I'll catch up over the next 48 hours. This piece in The Guardian about Duckworth-Lewis weekend before last completely changed my opinion of them - they insisted on meeting over a "pub lunch in semi-rural Oxfordshire"! I wonder if it's a pub known to Thames Tourists...

Considering criticism of the DL method, I'd have to say that criticism tends to come when the cricketing authorities try to use their calculations over too short-a-period. For example, can you shorten a Twenty20 match and get a fair result? Not really...why bother trying?

Anyway, DL are doing their best and anyone that runs meetings over lunch in semi-rural Oxfordshire goes up in my estimation. I trust they were drinking Brakspears....

[One final note - on going to the Brakspears site the rotating homepage image is of The Unicorn at Peppard and the King William at Hailey- pubs definitely known to Thames Tourists].

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22 April 2011

Bad luck for residents of Dartmouth

Off to spend a week in Dartmouth so do all the checking on the internet - pubs, pub quizzes, places to visit etc. Then you think 'wonder if I can watch some cricket?' Extraordinary - Dartmouth, population 5,512 has no cricket club! Having been raised in the rus and suburbs of the home counties it never occurred to me that such a prominent town wouldn't or couldn't have a cricket club.
Rugby Club yes as many burble readers know and soccer yes ( sine qua non) but no cricket club. It doesn't bear thinking about. There is something called The Dart and District Cricket Club but that seems to be a league of pub teams - better than nothing ; in fact better than most things. Oh and there's Dartmouth College Cricket Club, but that's in America.
I think I'll have to concentrate on drinking (closer to my skill level, anway)

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16 April 2011

Happy cricket reading....

Apologies for the low levels of Burbling lately - been pretty busy but I'll try to Burbletastic next week! In the mean time, have you seen that The Cricketer has a new look site now that the Wisden Cricketer magazine is overseen by the likes of Jonathan Agnew and CMJ? Alternatively you can read about Adil Rashid getting worse and Ben Stokes getting better at King Cricket. Or Reverse Sweep's piece about how we should look out for 17-year old Reece Topley following his wicket-taking antics for Essex. Happy cricket reading.... Bookmark and Share

11 April 2011

Sensational batting from Shane Watson

Shane Watson: 185 not out from 96 balls. Tendulkar's 200 was truly amazing, but had Australia been batting first, just imagine what Watson might have ended up with!!

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7 April 2011

A world first - 5 wickets in an over

Well OK, I'm sure it's been done before outside of first class cricket, but this was the first time in first class cricket. Soon to be New Zealander, Neil Wagner, was the lucky man who took 4 wickets in a row before a bad ball wrecked his over(!), and then he bounced back with another wicket. With a first class average of 22 with the ball, South African-born Wagner looks like he might be taking the field for New Zealand when he qualifies for them next year. Bookmark and Share

Martin Crowe needs to learn to split work and play

Apparently, it's all become too much and Martin Crowe has resigned from the Cricket Committee in New Zealand because of a conflict of interests. He wants Ross Taylor to be named captain now but others aren't so sure. That's not a conflict of interest, that's a disagreement on policy. He's resigned in a huff because he hasn't got his way. If Taylor really is his mate, then Crowe might want to consider whether he's helping his mate by being so open about his stance on the captaincy, or if he just fancies a few headlines for himself. Bookmark and Share

What would you do if you won the World Cup?

It seems that for MS Dhoni, the answer was to cut his hair. Here's a photo of him just after the final. And here's a photo of Dhoni the next day holding his man-of-the-match award and the World Cup.

Clearly he's not a drinker (and he's said as much). But his countrymen are as alcohol sales have jumped with India's success....

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Afridi talks nonsense

Oh dear. No stranger to controversy, Shahid Afridi spoiled what was a good World Cup campaign that led to his team being received by the Pakistani PM (the PM being castigated by some for the cost to the tax-payer of the reception), by suggesting that "Indian's will never have hearts like Muslims and Pakistanis. I don't think they have the clean and large hearts that Allah has given us." Sigh. No further comment required really, but this article tries to make sense of the way religion is sometimes aligned with cricket in Asia. Bookmark and Share

Clarke takes over from Ponting

Michael Clarke began his tenure as Australian captain today in a friendly in Bangladesh yesterday and made a run a ball half century before retiring. I think his batting form is going to be critical - from his matches captaining Australia when Ponting was either injured or rested, he appears to be tactically superior, but his form seems to dip in and out and a significant bad run at the start of his captaincy could cause the Australian selectors problems. Should Clarke have problems with the captaincy, his vice-captain is Shane Watson, and you know my thoughts on Watson as a potential captain! Bookmark and Share

Tears and deaths

Tears of joy for Indians it seems, and sadly a terminal heart attack for one Sri Lanka supporter.

3 April 2011

Team of the tournament

There's some tough selections when trying to work out the team of the tournament, but I've ended up going for a team with 9 of the 11 coming from the semi-finalists.

Honourable mentions for those that got edged out go to Murali, Ajantha Mendis, Ray Price, Lee, Malinga and Kemar Roach in the bowling department, ten Doeschate in the batting all-rounder department, and Tharanga, Trott, Jayawardene, Dhoni and Clarke as batsmen. In fact, how about this for a World Cup 2nd XI: Tharanga, Trott, Jayawardene, Clarke, Dhoni (c), ten Doeschate, Lee, Roach, Mendis, Price, Murali? Perhaps a bit of a long tail so you could potentially drop Lee and play Watson to open with Tharanga and drop the other batsmen down a slot, while still keeping a (lesser) bowling option.

1st XI:

Dilshan (SL)
Tendulkar (India)
Sangakkara (SL (c) - edges out Dhoni with an average of nearly double Dhoni's 48)
de Villiers (SA)
Yuvraj Singh (India)
Taylor (NZ)
Oram (NZ)
Afridi (Pakistan)
Khan (India)
Southee (NZ)
Tahir (SA)

3 from winners India, (surprisingly?) 3 from New Zealand, 2 from Sri Lanka, 2 from South Africa and 1 from Pakistan.

Any glaring omissions? Looking at it again I wonder if ten Doeschate should play ahead of Oram to lengthen the batting even more, given that the top 6 already includes two all-rounders who'll bowl plenty of overs in Yuvraj and Dilshan....

World Cup batting total runs list.
World Cup bowling total wickets list.

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A great chase befitting World Champions

Congratulations to India who managed to take all that pressure on them and still put in a good performance in the final. And particularly to Dhoni who captained well throughout the tournament and stepped up with his batting when required. His decision to move to 5 above Yuvraj in the final - apparently made on the basis that Sri Lanka picked two (or three if you include Dilshan) off-spinners who would be more dangerous to left-handers, was inspired as it turned out.

However, there is no-one else as far as I know, who would have considered it as an option, with Dhoni's top score in the tournament being 34 and Yuvraj averaging in the 80s for the tournament coming into the final. He took a big risk and it came off, and he would have known the pressure he was under so you have to give him huge credit for that. He also took a risk playing Sreesanth (who bowled 8 overs at 6.5 without taking a wicket) - I and many others would have expected them to play Ashwin.

But it was Sri Lanka who unexpectedly weakened their team through strange selections. As an impartial observer, I'm gutted that Mathews got injured because I think the match would have been even closer, and Sri Lanka probably wouldn't have been tempted to change their team. I feel desperately sorry for Ajantha Mendis who bowled fantastically in the tournament to go at the least runs of any bowler - 3.14 - and then got left out of the final. Herath had a relatively poor tournament and you can see why the Sri Lankan's were tempted to bring in Randiv for him, putting right what many saw as a wrong in the original selection.

My man Kulasekara - who I would have brought in for Mathews - batted well, but bowled with too much width, demonstrating how hard it is to come into a match cold and play well. I also felt that he could have made a better attempt at catching Gambhir at long-off during the bowling powerplay and that could have been crucial. Perera did what we know he can do - hit the ball a long way and bowl relatively expensive medium pace. If they wanted to drop Silva and/or play Perera I think they needed to take the chance to bat Perera at 6 rather than play Kapugadera who hadn't played all tournament and has never been successful at international level.

How would a team of Tharanga, Dilshan, Sangakkara, Jayawardene, Samaraweera, Perera, Kulasekara, Randiv, Malinga, Mendis, Murali have gone in the final? We'll never know. Personally, I'd have liked them to make just one change to replace Mathews - a side builds up morale and winning momentum through a tournament and then it's partially taken away for the final - it's surely poor selection? Given what they know now, I bet Sri Lanka would have picked Randiv instead of Fernando in their squad, given the pre-eminence of spinners in the tournament.

Overall, I think both sides over-thought things. India played Sreesanth ahead of Ashwin and changed their batting order on the basis of the team Sri Lanka picked. Sri Lanka changed 4 players for the final, only one of them enforced through injury, including dropping the tournament's most economical bowler. Just play your best side irrespective of the opposition!

But Dhoni deserves to bask in glory for now. The pressure on him was immense already before he promoted himself to 5, and even greater then. And he came through, showing immense guts to do so. Congratulations to Dhoni and India, worthy World Cup winners, even if - for the moment - they're still ranked only number 2 in the world in ODIs.

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2 April 2011

Surprising team selections

Amazing team selections from both teams, but particularly Sri Lanka. Sreesanth playing ahead of Ashwin is a surprise but far less than Sri Lanka leaving out both Herath and Mendis. I know there is a school of thought that India read Mendis easily but Mendis has been in great form and I can't believe they didn't back him to get the better of the Indian batsmen.

How Kapugedera got picked is beyond me. Perhaps he'll score a hundred and win Sri Lanka the game now. What will be interesting to see is how Kulasekera and Perera bowl as they haven't bowled competitively for a while, not to mention Randiv as this will be his first World Cup match. I feel very sorry for Herath and Mendis...but if Sri Lanka can win the match that will make up for it for them.

As well as team selections I also said that the toss would be vital so typical that there should be confusion! But there's more being made of it than necessary - Sangakkara won the original toss as well so nothing has changed apart from Martin Crowe being embarrassed for the second World Cup final in a row!

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India's incentive

No, not to make it a fairy tale with Tendular scoring his hundredth hundred and winning the World Cup on home soil. In case you've missed it, 20 year-old Indian model Poonam Pandey has been making headlines in India after promising to go nude if India win the World Cup. All publicity is good publicity perhaps, but there are areas of India that are chronically conservative, so I'm not sure it was that sensible in career terms.

Interesting also to note at the end of the article that cricket is under fire for using leather in cricket balls rather than synthetic substances....

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Team selection and the toss will be critical

With Angelo Mathews out it tips the World Cup final slightly in India's favour so I'd love to see Sri Lanka win the toss and bat first. The toss could be a vital contributor to the final result and if India win it and score 300+, life could get tough for Sri Lanka. It remains to be seen who will replace Mathews and whoever they pick their batting is much weakened....I think I'd go for Kulasekara who has a good recent record against India's much vaunted batted line up.

With Nehra out India will surely play Ashwin, which means they'll play what most see as they're strongest XI and both sides will go in with 3 spinners and some part-time spinners. There's still the chance that Sri Lanka will play 4 spinners plus part-timers, if they choose to play Randiv in place of Mathews of course.

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