Archive for the ‘Cricket’ Category

IPL 2022 – Only 6 teams left with a real chance

May 5, 2022

We are at the sharp end of the IPL.

10 teams. 14 matches each. 

70 matches in total before the play-offs. (We are now at match 50 later today).

The arithmetic is straightforward. A total of 140 points to be played for. In theory every team could win seven matches and end up with 14 points with everything to be decided by net run rate. In any event, net run rate will be needed to determine the final four. The fight for fourth place could well involve 3 – 4 teams on the same number of points.

Gujarat Titans have qualified with aplomb and Mumbai Indians are humiliatingly eliminated I think. I don’t think DC, KKR or CSK will make it either and that leaves 6 teams with a chance to make the play-offs. A number of the “young” captains have not excelled. Pant, Shreyas Iyer and Jadeja have been found wanting.

The most outstanding, match-winning performance so far was in match 14 on 6th April with Pat Cummins’ 50 off just 14 balls as he blasted Kolkata Knight Riders to a 5 wicket win over Mumbai Indians.

My take on the current status. 




The Ashes: England in a panic with team selection for 3rd test

December 25, 2021

Team selections were announced for the 3rd test starting tomorrow.

Australia: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins (c), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland.

England: Zak Crawley, Haseeb Hameed, Dawid Malan, Joe Root (c), Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler (wk), Ollie Robinson, Mark Wood, Jack Leach, Jimmy Anderson.

That England needed to make changes was inevitable. But there is a hint of panic in the changes made.

That Rory Burns needed to be dropped and replaced by Zak Crawley (for want of anybody else) was unavoidable. That Ollie Pope also needed to be left out was also inevitable but Bairstow rather than Lawrence as his replacement is questionable. Mark Wood comes in instead of Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson is retained. Ollie Robinson is also retained and Jack Leach replaces Chris Woakes(!). Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad have been taking wickets (3 and 2 )and their batting is not negligible.

Woakes also averages 54.28 away from home and 55.61 in Australia while Broad averages 37.88 in Australia.”

The paradoxical thing is that there is now a longer tail but the bowling attack has simultaneously been weakened. And the batting remains just as vulnerable.

The line between winning and losing can be very thin. Of course a hundred by someone (Root or Buttler for example) together with a Ben Stokes blitz is all that is needed for a huge batting success. That may still happen but there is panic showing in the England camp.

2nd Test India vs England: The delayed declaration was a masterstroke in the psych-war

August 18, 2021

At the start of the 5th day England were in a winning, if not commanding, position. At best India should get a lead of perhaps 180, but certainly under 200, runs and England would have a comfortable 75 – 80 overs to get those. In any event, even if India managed to hold out for a full hour, there were just not enough overs left for England to be bowled out again to lose the match.

Or so it was thought.

There have been many good articles written about the India win (for example in The Guardian end even in Forbes) but what has escaped much attention is the psychological impact of Kohli’s delayed declaration. In my view, a master-stroke. After the ineptness of the England fielding tactics by a petulant Joe Root & Co had enabled the unexpected batting heroics by Shami and Bumrah, England were already in the sulking doldrums of a bullied bully. At lunch, India were leading by an astonishing 260 runs and a lunch time declaration would have given England about 66 overs to face. The odds for an England win had already plummeted. The asking rate of 3.9 runs/over was difficult but far from impossible from a team used to scoring 200 runs in the 20 overs of white-ball cricket. Losing the match by being bowled out in 66 overs was a very remote possibility.

But lunch was a time to shake-off the morning’s blues, for Sibley and Burns to gird their loins and for Root and Bairstow and Buttler to muster their resolve. So off they went, fully expecting to hear around 10 minutes before the lunch interval was over that Kohli had declared. The openers ate quickly and were getting ready to pad-up. The bowlers were licking their mental wounds and winding down physically. Their part was over. The others were just lounging around, trying to relax and secure in the knowledge that they didn’t have to field again. But the bombshell was the dawning realisation that no declaration was coming. That bloody Kohli was going to keep batting. That perverse Kohli was not even trying to win the match! He was just rubbing their noses in it. They whinged and whined. They were indignant. They felt hard done-by. This was just not cricket. The openers put away their pads and thigh-pads and boxes again. The bowlers rushed to finish their lunch. High dudgeon reigned.

And so the England team came out to field again after lunch. Those tail-end, master-batsmen, Shami and Bumrah came out smiling, anticipating more verbal scrimmages as they chased their maiden centuries. They were in no hurry – it seemed. Their opponents were now resentful at being there at all. Shami took down his trousers and waited for a new thigh pad. He wasted another 6 minutes. And then, just as England were getting resigned to another long session in the field, Kohli declared. He declared mid-over. Another 11 runs had been added. Shami was only 44 runs away from his maiden century and still Kohli declared!

Now they really had to rush. Burns and Sibley had only 10 minutes to pad-up and get their focus back. 

And, of course, they didn’t. They were both out for ducks. 1 for 2 it was.

And the rest is history.

But the non-declaration during the lunch break was a psychological masterstroke.

Cricket at the 1900 Paris Olympics

August 9, 2016

From Espncricinfo

A handbill advertising the match. Note the lack of any reference to the Olympics and that the Great Britain team is referred to as “England” © PA Photos

In 1900, Great Britain won the only Olympic cricket tournament to have been held – but they were totally unaware they had even competed in the Games.

At the 1896 Games in Athens it was intended that cricket would be included, but a lack of entries meant plans were quietly shelved. Four years later in Paris, four teams entered – Great Britain, France, Belgium and Holland – but in the event, only one match was played, between Great Britain and France. Holland and Belgium had originally been touted as co-hosts for the second Olympiad but those plans faltered and the two countries’ entries went the same way. …..

The Great Britain cricket side was not a nationally selected XI but a touring club team, Devon & Somerset Wanderers. …….. The French side was anything but, formed largely of expat Englishmen, and was selected from two Paris-based teams – Union CC and Standard Athletic. …….. 

It was agreed by the captains that the game would be 12-a-side. ……. Great Britain batted first and scored a creditable 117, largely thanks to 23 from Charles Beachcroft, who opened for Exeter, and the Old Blundellian Frederick Cumming, who top-scored with 38. France were then bowled out for 78. The British scored 145 for 5 second time around, with fifties from Beachcroft and Alfred Bowerman, setting the hosts a target of 185. In the event, this proved way beyond them, and they were bowled out for 26, with Montagu Toller, who had played county cricket for Devon in 1897, taking 7 for 9.

The winners were awarded silver medals, the French bronze ones – both XIIs also received miniature replicas of the 11-year-old Eiffel Tower.

The Great Britain side… also known as the Devon & Somerset Wanderers © PA Photos


Richie Benaud 1930 – 2015

April 10, 2015

As John Arlott was to cricket commentary on radio, so was Richie Benaud to cricket commentary on TV.

But before he became the gold standard for former cricketers aspiring to make their mark in TV commentary, he was a world class spin bowling exponent who then created a new standard for the “thinking” captain. As a leg-spin exponent he was my schoolboy hero and role model.

As a TV commentator he set a standard for the model that Grieg and Boycott and Shastri have followed but have not quite matched. No non-cricketer TV commentator comes anywhere close to his under-stated but remarkably effective style. Almost laconic he exuded cricket erudition. Gavasker and Boycott had the erudition, but one had an axe to grind and the other played politics. Sidhu does not even count.

John Arlott and Richie Benaud were in a class of their own and I loved listening to them.

Richie Benaud 1930 – 2015.


Tragic death of Phillip Hughes triggers memories of Nari Contractor

November 28, 2014

Phillip Hughes image

The tragic death of Phillip Hughes has triggered some discussion about safety and the design of helmets. But I am not sure that this is the right discussion to have. Hughes was hit on the top of his neck, behind his ear but just below his helmet. He was hooking and had hooked a little early so that he was almost facing long leg at the moment of impact.

I know first hand just how hard a cricket ball is. Forty years ago I was hit on the head by a cricket ball while playing a club match in Birmingham. It was not the bowler in this case and I was not wearing a helmet. I was running between the wickets and the ball was thrown in by a fielder and caught me on the top of my skull – a little forward of centre. Apparently I just crumpled to the ground but came to a few minutes later. I was kept in hospital for a few hours for observation but fortunately suffered only a mild concussion. But I am told that if the point of impact had been an inch further forward or an inch further back, the result could have been far more serious.

Nari Contractor image

But after the Phillip Hughes accident, what comes to my mind is not my little accident but the Charlie Griffith bouncer which caught Nari Contractor on the back of his skull in March 1962. Like Hughes, Contractor was a left-hand bat. This was 52 years ago when as a schoolboy avidly following the tour of the West Indies, I was up at all hours listening to the live radio commentary whenever I could. Helmets were not in use in 1962. India were playing Barbados between the second and third Test matches. Contractor was leading the side after a series win against England and he opened the innings with Dilip Sardesai. Contractor seems to have turned his head due to some distraction from the pavilion. But he was, like Hughes, facing sideways with the back of his head exposed at the time of impact. He suffered a fractured skull and was unconscious for 6 days.  A neuro-surgeon had to be flown in from Trinidad and he went some 24 hours – unconscious – before proper medical treatment began. He needed a blood transfusion and Sir Frank Worrell – the West Indies captain but who was only a spectator at this match – was the first to donate blood. Later Contractor had to have a metal plate inserted for the fracture. He survived and went on to play first class cricket but never again played a Test match.

Contractor is now 80 and spoke about the Hughes accident to the Mumbai Mirror:

“I am not sure if any technology or better technology can prevent such injuries. My injury took place in 1962 and it has taken 52 years for another such injury. You cannot ensure anything in cricket.”

I do agree that safety and safety standards should be reviewed. But without trying in any way to minimise the tragedy of Phillip Hughes demise, it is nether opportune or appropriate, I think, for any knee-jerk reactions.

My point is that all rules for safety or safety equipment are inextricably linked to the skills of the game. Every new rule or new piece of equipment suppresses some skills and encourages others. There is nothing wrong with that of course but it does change the game. There is little doubt that the advent of helmets and chest pads has suppressed the skill of weaving and dodging to avoid being hit by the ball while not taking your eyes off it. On the other hand the use of helmets and other protection has allowed the hook shot – among other shots –  to be played much more confidently and – for the best players –  has led to the development of new skills of shot making. Shot making has never been as inventive as today (to the chagrin of many bowlers) and this is partly due to the lower level of physical risk perceived by the batsmen. For the less skilled players, it could be argued, it has led to a greater proportion of injudicious shot selections because the downside is low. More players try to hook today and fail – but it is safer to do so. The balance between “avoidance” and “playing the shot” is different to that when there were no helmets. The skill of “avoidance” is needed less and is therefore less well developed.

Phillip Hughes was certainly one of the better players of the game. But the game today is not the same game as it was in 1962 when Nari Contractor suffered his injury. But would a player of the 1962 game, brought up without the use of helmets, make the same shot selection that Phillip Hughes did? It is impossible to know but the 1962 batsman would surely have had a different background of risk assessment and a different basis for selecting when to play the hook shot and when to avoid the ball.

Changing the risk level in any game changes the game. But – lest we forget – without risk there is no game.

Just not cricket anymore!

May 22, 2014

It is quite possible that there are no longer any matches – especially in the Indian Premier League – which have not been fixed in some way. But the malaise is present even in English County Cricket.

1. ECB charge Lou Vincent and Naved Arif with match-fixing county cricket game

The England & Wales Cricket Board are anticipated to make history later these days by announcing they have charged Lou Vincent and his former Sussex group-mate Naved Arif with fixing the outcome of a county cricket match.

Telegraph Sport can reveal that former New Zealand batsman Vincent, who has currently confessed to fixing, and Arif, a Pakistani living in this nation, are becoming charged with additional than 15 counts of match-fixing.

If the players are found guilty they face lifetime bans from the sport, and the 40-more than match amongst Sussex and Kent played at Hove in August 2011 will be the initial verified case of the result of a county match becoming fixed.

Vincent, who has given proof to the International Cricket Council of fixing in five countries, faces a lot more than 10 charges of fixing some relate to the Sussex/Kent match and other individuals relate to an additional 1-day game he played for Sussex in 2011.

Arif faces at least 5 counts relating to the Sussex game versus Kent alone.

2. Chris Cairns named by NZ Test player’s ex-wife in match-fixing testimony

Former New Zealand Test player Chris Cairns continues to protest his innocence amid more evidence against him, this time from Lou Vincent’s ex-wife, who alleges he was a cricket match-fixing ringleader.

Cairns’ name was publicly linked with sworn evidence to International Cricket Council investigators for the first time on Tuesday, as the former New Zealand all-rounder issued a second statement in a 12-hour period. ‘‘I totally reject the allegations against me, and I will prove this.’’

The latest leaked evidence is a sworn 10-page document from Elly Riley, Vincent’s ex-wife, that she provided to anti-corruption investigators last October. It follows leaks in the past week of former Test opener Vincent’s explosive 42-page testimony, and New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum’s signed three-page statement, both of which are understood to name Cairns as a fixing ringleader.

Riley’s evidence was that the fixing began at the Indian Cricket League in 2008, and that Vincent told her: ‘‘Chris was going to pay him $US$50,000 a game for the fixing.’’

The amount of money sloshing around in Indian Premier League and in the betting surrounding the matches makes spot fixing both tempting and extremely lucrative

3. IPL spot-fixing allegations

The IPL is no stranger to controversy, but on May 16 it met arguably its biggest crisis when Delhi Police arrested three Rajasthan Royals players – Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan – soon after their match in Mumbai for spot-fixing. Eleven bookies were also arrested at that time, including one – Amit Singh – who was a former Royals player. Royals later suspended their players and the BCCI set up an inquiry, headed by its ACSU chief Ravi Sawani, into the allegations. The board also announced enhanced anti-corruption measures, including two more security personnel with each team. The arrests kicked off a nation-wide search and arrest of bookmakers – betting is illegal in India. One of those picked up in Mumbai was a small-time actor, Virender “Vindoo” Dara Singh, arrested on charges of links with bookmakers. His testimony led the police to arrest, on May 24, Meiyappan Gurunath, a top official of Chennai Super Kings and son-in-law of BCCI president N Srinivasan. Delhi Police eventually chargesheeted the players, among 39 persons, under sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, while the BCCI handed out life bans to Sreesanth and Chavan after Sawani’s probe found them guilty of fixing.

For cricket lovers — Three all out!

April 27, 2014

No comment needed about this score today but it was not the lowest score ever- that achievement was by Somerset club Langport who were dismissed for zero  against Glastonbury in a 1913 match.

I suppose that the innings lasted for as long as 56 balls is something of an achievement.  And Mr. C Hobson – the No. 11 – was the highest scorer with one run in 7 balls. Wirral batted second after their opponents scored 108 and lost by 105 runs.

Wirrall Cricket Club scorecard against Haslington

Wirrall Cricket Club scorecard against Haslington 27th April 2014

Source: BBC Sport

Peter Roebuck committed suicide after accusation of sexual assault on young cricketers

November 14, 2011

Yet another case of predatory behaviour by sports people in authority over young boys. Peter Roebuck committed suicide in S. Africa by jumping out of his hotel window after being questioned by police about drugging and sexually assaulting a young boy. Many people must have known anout his behaviour.

He wrote very well and I always enjoyed his articles. But he had some dark secrets and they are not very pretty. In 2001 he was found guilty of caning 3 young S. African cricketers he was training.

Daily Telegraph Australia: In 2001, the former Somerset cricket captain was given a suspended jail sentence after admitting caning three young cricketers he had offered to coach. Roebuck, of Exmouth in Devon, pleaded guilty to three charges of common assault involving three South African teenagers between 1 April and 31 May, 1999. He had pleaded not guilty to three counts of causing actual bodily harm, which was accepted by the prosecution. Roebuck was sentenced to four months in jail for each count, with the sentences suspended for two years, at Taunton Crown Court. Judge Graham Hume Jones told Roebuck he had abused his power and influence over the boys, who were far from home and far from friends and family.

Update! I see that tributes, and here, are flowing in about his writing and his cricket career. But I am afraid that whatever he may have done well, his sexual predations and the lives of all the young people he has traumatised is too heavy a price.
Better that he had never written a single word if that would have meant that his horrible behaviour to young cricketers under his authority could have been avoided.


Cricket World Cup round up No. 1: Sehwag bludgeons, Kiwis soar and ambush marketing builds up

February 20, 2011

Cricket World Cup media

Image via Wikipedia

The 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup has started.

India easily won the opening match against Bangladesh as Virender Sehwag bludgeoned his way to 175.

New Zealand crushed a hapless Kenya by 10 wickets.

The ICC is concerned that ambush marketing cannot be stopped and it is eroding the value of its official corporate sponsorship contracts.

Some of the corporate contracts border on the obscene and the ambushers – who can be much more creative than the officially sponsored advertising – have my sneaking support.

The best fixtures calendar I have seen is here (modelled on the one made for the football world cup).

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