Archive for August 2009

Andrew, The Ashes are yours!!!!

August 24, 2009

I’m too delighted. I tried hard to write. There was some intense cricket today but I just can’t write  now.

Farewell Freddie Flintoff. The cricketing world is going to miss you. But this moment is yours. The Ashes are yours. It’s celebration time England!!

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England all the way

August 22, 2009

I cant explain the Aussie batsmen’s dismissals with too many cricketing reasons. The atmosphere had England written all over it. That’s how I felt while watching it. Broad did the damage but we shouldn’t ignore the good work done by Anderson and Flintoff at the start of the innings. Pressure was exerted right from the beginning. England would have had more than a laugh during Harmy’s batting and that last wicket partnership would have taken some excitement away from the visitors. The openers were kept quiet and there was no room for Watson to do a Dilshan. The makeshift opener has had three half centuries in as many innings and he just had to get out.

  If there’s one bowler who has progressed through the series its Broad and not Johnson. Broad has always been bowling well while Johnson was poor in the first three tests. He was okay in the fourth and the talk of his directional issues is back. He got a wicket on the first day here and then bowled a wide one ball later. This is why Ive never been a fan of him. Broad though had been warming up for this kind of a spell. He has been hitting the right spots since Cardiff. He showed great improvement at Leeds and he’s got his reward here. And he’s put so much into his batting.

 Now Johnson has had a torrid series and he was always going to be a gamble. I would have still gone for Lee in his place. You didn’t pick him for Leeds (where he was fit and ready) because of lack of match practice. He played the practice game before the fifth test and performed well. If you still aren’t going to pick your country’s No. 1 bowler, you are  adamant. Yes, Hilfy, Siddle and Mitch performed against South Africa and deserve the rewards but they cant be called as the country’s top three test bowling options so soon. (Andrew Hilditch did) What wrong did Lee do? Johnson has had four bad outings while Lee is itching to be back and is this what you do?

 Australia now have serious problems at the top of the order. Katich worked hard for his fifty but is not in ideal form. Watson simply cannot open for Australia in tests. Even his bowling is far from effective. Chris Rogers and Phil Jacques should be back in contention.

 Coming back to the game,

 Watson – Should have been forward but went back sensing the movement of the ball towards his pads. Suicidal mistake

 Ponting – How many times have you seen him getting bowled off an inside edge?

  Hussey – Please don’t drop him (I’m expecting Hilditch  to do that). Hes another who has had a torrid run. Very good ball to receive early in your innings. Quick, sharp inward movement and caught in front.

  North – Unlucky. Looked solid again but as I said, the all English atmosphere might have just influenced the umpire’s decision.

  Haddin –  Believe me. I jumped out of the sofa when the ball hit the stumps. Beauty. Real beauty. I still dream of getting a batsman out in that fashion.

 Katich – It was England’s day after all. He wasn’t going to survive for too long.

 

I wanted Freddie to be the killer today and its someone who could be his successor. He cant match the aura that Flintoff carries, can’t create the theatre Flintoff does but can surely become a fine and regular allrounder in the eleven. 

 Don’t you worry England. Broad has just established himself. He’s the man most fitting to be carrying Freddie on the shoulders once that last Australian wicket falls.

Day 1,The Oval

August 21, 2009

Well, just look at the eleven which I wanted ever since the third day at Leeds and the eleven England are fielding today. And the time in between was described as the most dramatic week in the English sporting media ever since Ponting’s men last visited English shores. ( The Ramprakash – Trescothick and others saga) Marks for SJK’s selection credentials??

 I wanted Lee in the Australian eleven but Johnson has retained his place. And I should say I admired the way he picked up Prior today. Around the wicket to the right handed batsman, the first delivery was quick and angled in towards the batsman. It took some dust out of the wicket and while the speed gun showed 142 ks, the tv commentators called it a slower ball on first sight. The second ball was a very well directed short ball on the body. The third was a fantastic follow up. Just outside off, the slower delivery and Prior was the last man on the planet to be expecting that. The shot looked hopeless and the rest was catching practice at point. ( Remember a similar slower ball from Mitchell from around the wicket to get  Sachin in India last tour?) It also came at a very wrong time for England. Trott and Prior had a 48 run partnership going and they needed a big one. They needed some stability.

 Trott displayed great composure in his first innings for England. He loves feeling the ball in the middle of his bat and looked confident.

  One major thing that went against the Aussies was over-rate. When you don’t play a specialist spinner, the over rate factor is going to affect you, unless of course something like Leeds’09 happens. Once Colly and Bell were gone, Trott and Prior were the new batsmen. And Ponting couldn’t afford to apply pressure from both ends. They were 7 overs down at tea and he had to go with Marcus North from one end. North, for his part bowled much much better than how a part time spinner would bowl. The length was good, the line was consistent and he extracted good bounce and turn. Had the Aussies had more time, England would have been struggling to reach 270.

  Alastair Cook provided a nervous start for the English fans and myself. Bell and Strauss were then responsible for making it England’s session. 108 for 1 at lunch after winning the toss is a dream start. To lose that initiative is very irritating for the English fan.

 So what did Australia do to wrest that initiative? They were always on the ball. They tried new things. They were constantly looking for wickets. They got an early reprieve after lunch when Strauss was caught behind. But when Bell and Collingwood were building on a strong partnership, they were made to work hard for the runs. The line was tight. The length was full and the pace was up. What struck me when Collingwood was caught at gully was that he would be better off at No. 5.He bats well with the lower order and bowlers target him less. I don’t think he’s well suited for No. 4. He couldn’t withstand the pressure Siddle created and was forced to play that loose drive. Mathew Prior was absolutely out thought. That’s the way the bowling department must be working in dry pitches like these. They didn’t have a spinner but they could still induce so many English wickets on a dry first day pitch in sunny conditions.

 Stuart Broad showed tremendous commitment towards his batting. Oh and I almost forgot to mention Flintoff. Another example of gifting your wicket away. He couldn’t see off two overs from Johnson. Sad. What was the need to play that extravagant slash?? Why? These are the little things which count in the end.

 The day surely belongs to Punter’s men. Flintoff has to make amends with the ball. Or that’s what Im praying for.

Day 3, Galle

August 21, 2009

It was an intriguing day of test match cricket at Galle. Muralitharan who went past Warnie yesterday for the record of most maiden overs in tests, bowled a spell of nearly thirty overs. That meant that the Kiwis were facing him at one end continuously for nearly two sessions on a rain curtailed day. And that marathon spell produced just three Kiwi wickets. So three Kiwi wickets from 36 Murali overs in Galle speaks volumes of New Zealand’s want of spending time in the middle.

  McIntosh played a brilliant knock. It was classic test match opening batting. He would have never faced this kind of music in his life. Saqlain Mushtaq seems to have helped a lot but in the end it’s the batsman’s temperament which is going to save him.When did we last watch so much of grit from a Kiwi opening batsman? Mark Richardson? Mathew Bell? 

 One opening slot well and truly belongs to McIntosh now. Guptill is good enough to seal the other. Jamie How and  Aaron Redmond are going to give him a good run. I’d like to see Guptill establish himself.

  Taylor played a fighting knock as well, although he had his share of luck. Theres no doubting his class. He belongs to the No. 4 league with Clarke, Pietersen, Jayawardene, and Yousuf. He was a little Rohit Sharma of New Zealand last year, struggling for consistency but he’s been playing good long knocks of late.

  The commentators at cricinfo were predicting a quick fire knock from Jesse Ryder but he too displayed commendable temperament, realizing the gravity of the situation. While McCullum missed out, Jakes was unlucky to be given out that way.

  Two hard days at the office coming up for the visitors

Looking forward to a Lankan batting collapse tomorrow at the hands of Dan and Jeets

The Kiwis in Galle

August 20, 2009

This was a piece of advice Ian Chappell got from his grandfather – Nine times out of ten when you win the toss, bat first, and the tenth time, think and then bat. Dan Vettori won the toss and chose to field. He would argue the conditions were overcast. But if you do that in a country like Sri Lanka with two spinners in your eleven, it is a bad reflection of the confidence you have in your batsmen. All it takes is a session of getting your eye in and if you’re through to lunch with just a wicket or two down, you’re in for a big first innings score. Don’t tell me the rain diminished the spinners’ chances of success. This is Galle, not J’burg.

     Martin got off to a dream start though Sangakkara gifted his wicket away. But not all of Mahela, Sangakkara, Samaraweera and Dilshan are going to have a bad day together, surely not in Galle. In the end, three of them made big scores.

  To highlight the impact of Dilshan, Sri Lanka are using him like how Sehwag is used in India. There was the era of Atherton-Stewart, Hudson-Kirsten, Taylor-Langer, Mark Richardsons and the like. Today, there is at least one opener in teams around the world who are good at three things

  1. Attack right from the start of an innings
  2. Counter attack when wickets fall at the other end
  3. Always give the bowlers a chance.

 Hayden, Sehwag, Gayle, Smith ( some would disagree with me) are the leaders in this category. Dilshan could join with more knocks like this.

  NZ  Bowling

 Chris Martin – Gave cent percent right through the innings.Good pace and good lines. Deserves a pat on his back.

  Vettori – Tight and probing as usual.

  Jeetan Patel – Disappointed with the way Vettori handled him. There was a lot of weight on his shoulders even before the series started due to the sub-continental conditions they were going to play in. But in overcast conditions on the first morning of a test match with some sweat in the pitch, it’s a little difficult for his off spin to be dangerous. Mind you, Im not contradicting myself here. I did say spinners have a big chance for success here but not with so many overs on the first day. 2 spinners generally help only after say, day 2.

 Jakes could have been used a lot more. Patel shouldn’t be disappointed with this effort. There are more favourable conditions coming up, atleast in Colombo.

  O Brien – Lots of effort, needs more patience and experience on these conditions. Couldn’t  do much when Dilshan was on high gear.

  NZ Batting

  McIntosh showed a lot of grit till close of play. Daryl Harper produced a great decision when he was struck by Mendis. The ball was hitting the middle of middle but had pitched a little outside leg. This experience should serve the opener well in the years to come.

Martin Guptill’s favourite shot is the pull. He played it so well in Australia last summer, despatching quick bouncers into the stands. He played it well against India at home. But in Sri Lankan pitches, he has to be careful.Who on Earth doesn’t know that  the pitches are a lot slower and the bounce is uneven. He mistimed quite a few balls and  I saw a short ball hitting the toe end of his bat. The short ball brought about his dismissal in the end. ( Pulling early, inside edging and being bowled). Andy Moles needs to talk more to him, about dealing with the short stuff in these sort of pitches. The likes of Flynn need to play more spin in order to tighten their defenses.

 Hope Taylor and Jesse have a good day.

Go Ross!!

August 18, 2009

Have a look at the 11 I suggested for the Oval and the one Geoff Miller and co. have picked.Spot on isnt it.. and this is significant due to  reasons well known. Marcus Trescothick,Mark Ramprakash,Rob Key,a couple of other names, dropping Ian Bell, no talk of Trott for a while and what not. It was a sensational week for the media and the amount of speculation was huge.

They just needed to do some calm thinking,the selectors and they did it.Trott was the extra batsman in the squad at Headingley and he automatically comes in.Ian Bell was good enough to be recalled for the previous test and he hasn’t gone bad enough in one test.England have had a lot of time after Leeds and that should help them overcome that nightmare.

Ponting has said he would have liked to have a look at Trott in the practice game.So the selectors have done well again to disappoint the Aussies.Mark Ramprakash simply would have been sledged out had he been selected. Full marks to the selectors until now.

Will Ponting surprise the Poms by playing Lee??? Unlikely but stay awake,England.

The NZ-SL series gets underway tomorrow and Im looking forward to see Jeetan Patel and Dan undo the Lankan batsmen.Go Ross Taylor!!

Langer in trouble

August 10, 2009

Langer on Anderson I’m still wondering how Justin Langer’s document to Tim Nielsen got leaked out.He lives in England now and is going to have a tough time . It was interesting to see what details international cricketers observe in each other.

Here‘s the entire dossier.Sorry Justin.

West Indies cricket is in a sad state today.The WIPA seems to be no better than the board. Tim May and the Australians created a group of the top 80 -90 cricketers in the country (in the late 1980s) in order to get a players’ association going. Dinnanath Ramnarine and co. seem to have the right reasons but they have’nt got all the resources  in their side.A players’ association needs to take care of not only the best 15 players but the best 90 players in the country. WICB, ideally, should make sure that there’s no break up of West Indies cricket into it’s constituent parts.This is huge and  dangerous but looms large.

I wish I ‘re the President of Trinidad and Tobago