25 December 2011

Australia v India - Five Hours Before The First Test

The current 22-legged experiment by the mad dawgs scientists at CA: David Warner, Ed Cowan, Shaun Marsh, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke (capt), Michael Hussey, Brad Haddin (wk), Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Nathan Lyon, Ben Hilfenhaus (!)

(How Wes reads this line-up:
OMG Hilfy is in the side HILFY IS IN THE SIDE OMGGG world do you hear me Hilfy is baaaaack. Please don't get hammered :/ )

A fearsome and female-friendly selection from: Ravichandran Ashwin, MS Dhoni (capt/wk), Rahul Dravid, Gautam Gambhir, Zaheer Khan, Virat Kohli, VVS Laxman, Abhimanyu Mithun, Pragyan Ojha, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha, Virender Sehwag, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Sachin Tendulkar, Vinay Kumar, Umesh Yadav

(How Wes reads this line-up:
Hehe Dhoni... has the ears of an emperor! Well... of an emperor's elephant. Still have to see a pic in which he looks shit. Ojha... induce melting process in 3... 2...1... lol 'Wriddhiman' lol lol. Umesh Yadav hopefully I'll get a good stream!!!)

In English:

Bring it on.


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23 December 2011

Josh Taylor: My favourite game of 2011 – Zimbabwe v Bangladesh, Only Test

There was perhaps a question over height. However, there was never a question over whether or not Kyle Jarvis deserved his fourth wicket of the innings. Umpire Dhamasena raised his finger to trigger celebrations on the pitch and amongst those who had come to watch. Never before had a contest between the 9th and nominally 10th ranked test teams carried so much significance. Following five and a half years in a self-imposed exile for reasons not entirely cricket related, Zimbabwe returned to test cricket under the guidance of Alan Butcher and with a young, highly talented captain in Brendan Taylor.

Zimbabwe flag by Alpak
Though four Zimbabweans made their test debuts, including new ball pair Kyle Jarvis and Brian Vitori, a team unity was clearly visible, one that rose far above the turmoil and divisions of decades previous. This was a side selected on merit, eleven players incredibly proud to be the new faces of Zimbabwe cricket. Bangladesh’s captain Shakib al Hasan won the toss and after three nervous overs, including an unbelieveable missed run-out opportunity, Tino Mawoyo crashed three off-side boundaries off Robiul and Zimbabwe were away.

A century opening stand was followed by three figures for Hamilton Masakadza, a man almost ever-present in the side during the years in exile. Bangladesh clawed the innings back, taking 8-66 but on a Harare wicket showing movement in the air and off the pitch, 370 as a first innings looked imposing. And so it proved, as despite decent innings from Shakib and Mohammed ‘in-out-in-out’ Ashraful, debutant Vitori utilised left arm swing at pace to take 4 wickets and dismiss Bangladesh for 287.

Following a shaky start to the second innings, it seemed apt for Taylor to strike his maiden test century, removing all but the slimmest of hopes of a Bangladesh victory. A declaration at tea on the fourth day displayed how intent the home side were to win and despite some entertaining slogging from Abdur Razzak, the match was only going to end one way. Kyle Jarvis generated away swing to great effect, accounting for four batsmen including Robiul, to end the match.

It was a victory toasted not just in Zimbabwe but by most cricket supporters around the world. Much had been made of the plight of cricket in the country; a victim of political instability, of players departing for pastures new and of rapidly dwindling resources. People rightly hark back to the times of the Flower brothers, Campbell, Johnson, Streak, Olonga. Of course they were days to savour, but Butcher built this current side with the future very much in mind. To move on fully from troubled times is the best way for this ‘new’ test nation to progress, and the 4th to the 8th of August 2011 was the perfect first step.

As for Bangladesh, well they were always going to lose out on this tour. Had they won, they would have been dismissed as minnow bashers. On the other hand, a loss served only to amplify the voices querying their status as a test playing nation. Zimbabwe meanwhile went on to face rather more substantial tests against Pakistan and New Zealand, but nobody could suggest (well, except for Scyld Berry) that test cricket would be better off without them.

~ ~ ~

You have just read a guest contribution by Josh Taylor, the friendly Hampshire squirrel from Clear Cricket. You can get in touch with Josh via Twitter (@halftracker) and Facebook (Clear Cricket: page, profile).


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12 December 2011

Australia v New Zealand At Hobart: Who Let The Doug Out?

Hobart, day 4
Kiwis, you've stunned me!!! Congratulations, back pats and hair tousles on your most important Test victory in 20 years.

Coming to Hobart New Zealand found familiar conditions and exploited them to maximum benefit. A fair while ago, when thinking about my favourite grounds, Hobart seamed (haha pun!) to me like a natural extension to the row of New Zealand cricket grounds, not just for its picturesque seasidishness but also for providing conditions that more often than not guarantee a high degree of entertainment for the fast bowling fetishist, no matter in which format of the game. New Zealand's young talents were given a more than condign frame to show off their skills, and boy they did. What a historical triumph for new skipper Ross Taylor and a side in the midst of renewal. Young Doug Bracewell, who routinely finished the job for the Kiwis, Dean Brownlie the middle order batsman, 22 year old Trent Boult, and Chris Martin, the Benjamin Button of Kiwi cricket, seized the chance to stomp their feet down and tear the Australian batting line-up apart. Daniel Vettori tragically had to watch the thriller from the sidelines but The Man will be more than pleased with the result.

On the Australians, you have to mention the Vics. Man Of The Series James Pattinson delivered some amazing goods, and with both him and Cummins two extraordinary fast bowling talents have been unearthed for future apocalyptic crusades against the enemy. Even though ahead of the Test I had not got tired of mentioning that in Hobart also Peter George gets 10 wickets. On a side note, the loud howls of the warcry "Vics do it better" are based on the assumption that only Pattinson and Siddle had been able to reap the Kiwi wickets. A bizarre misconception. The wickets would also have fallen, if the selectors had picked a bunch of Indians for the attack.

Oh. I'm beginning to see my mistake here. ^^

David Warner shoved his big fat bat up his critics' digestive channels, and certain people who had been backing him to deliver were hopefully running around in their backyards in the middle of the night with the Australian flag in hand (true story, the latter). It still makes me laugh like a maniac to look at the scorecard and see the highest score of the match, an unbeaten century, stencilled behind David Warner's name, in a game played on a minefield in the lushest of greenhouse vegetation. It's been a long hard battle for Pitbull to reach Baggy Green honours, and unlike any other First Class batsmen complaisantly nodded through, Warner successfully defeated the windmills in the shape of the ever-doubting ignoramuses. Long may his rise continue.

Nathan Lyon showed again his remarkable character, coming in at 11 with a respectable number of runs to get he was determined to finish the job, just like when he helped Australia to double their score in the now legendary Saffa Test. And in my opinion the goal was absolutely within reach. But I am wondering a bit why he basically was on strike all the time. Perhaps Warner should have stepped up here. I'm not saying Pitbull was concerned about the well-being of the asterisk behind his score. But surely he has taken an important lesson from this match: when you are batting with the tailenders, you carry an additional load of responsibility.

An extra word on David Warner and Nathan Lyon. Until the start of the second innings a number of people who you'd expect to know matters better were doubting Warner's maturity as a player of the long format. The same applied to some opinions about Nathan Lyon even after he had proven his value in Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka. Views were presented which obviously stemmed from fallacies such as "I and the majority of my readers and listeners only know Warner from the T20, thus he is not suitable for the longer format and will fail" or "Neither me nor my audience have heard of Lyon before, therefore he is a ridiculous pick for the Australian Test side and I feel fairly safe mocking him". Not only does this thinking expose severe flaws in the respective person's logic, but you have to be wondering why people who are paid to write and talk about Australian cricket have no idea of Warner's evolution or have seemingly never heard of Lyon, not even of his leading position in the Big Bash table of wicket takers. But wasn't there also a selector who preferred to walk his dog while Australia were playing Test cricket... I do honestly expect from a professional or semi-professional cricket writer or a panel show of cricket experts to present the facts to their audience and not to simply mirror their readers' or listeners' uninformedness to an extent that makes the average follower of Australian cricket sink into the ground with embarrassment. /rant

Picking a video to round off this post has not been an easy task but eventually I settled for a Peter Siddle press conference, which reminded me of the reasons why I used to collect his interviews :D

That's about all the scrambled egg inside my head can come up with for today. I'm looking forward to the clash with India. Some Indians are already celebrating the victories before the matches have actually taken place. Let's just wait and see what happens.


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4 December 2011

Australia v New Zealand Round 1: New Faces, Old Story

Lessons from this match:

All hail the brave Lyon king rawwwwrrrrr, 7 for 88 in his first Test on home soil is not bad for an offie with just a dozen or so First Class matches under his belt. Michael Clarke is in stellar form, and loves Nathan Lyon, too. It is overwhelming to see the amount of appreciation, which the hesitantly welcomed Canberra boy is beginning to receive. The Redbacks, who plucked him off the heavy roller's seat and chucked him into the Big Bash arena with stunning results, have ironically lost him to the Australian Test side before they could actually benefit from his talent in Shield cricket.

Those were the times... Nathan Lyon on his way to utter Big Bash success

The looming chopping block brings out the doggedness in Punter. Muss is still struggling. Phil Hughes manages to get out when Australia are chasing 19. David Warner carries the bat on debut. Vics do it better. Hahahaha joking! They are just lucky sometimes.

And the Kiwis minus Dan still collapse like a card house outside their backyards against proper opposition.
Except for Dan Brownlie and Jesse Ryder, who makes 36 in tributoid anticipation of Mark Cosgrove's Test debut.


No in fact it is Dan frickn Christian who will possibly stride out into the arena in Hobart!! Well, with some likelihood. Yes he is regarded as inconsistency on legs, but in my opinion he has been improving steadily in the last two years and I hope, and know for that matter, that if he receives the Baggy Green he will fight like a Spartan and ram his claws into the Kiwis' eyes and sink his teeth into their soft bodies and tear out lumps of flesh and gnaw on their bones and... ah you are getting the idea. He will totally be just Dan. Read more about his deservingness in this article by Adelaide Now, and the respective Cricinfo announcement.

Dan Christian as himself

Since Callum Ferguson has totally fallen off the edge of the world - or does anybody actually remember that this guy was once regarded as the future of Australian middle order batting before he sacrificed his health for his fatherland, came back strongly, but nobody freaking cared!!! - I'm now schlepping sacks of fruit and nuts to the temple of DC in order to make him bang in the door of the Australian Test side.

You can facepalm some more over my delirious Redbacks hype if you follow the South Australia Redbacks FB page :)


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1 December 2011

Cricket On The 1st Of December

Germany WK-batsman Kashif Mahmood supports Bayern München. Poor bloke must have been hit on the helmet pretty often.

India aren't playing. I am endlessly sad and aggrieved. The Harbhajan Singh bashwagon has inevitably come to a halt. And with Surrey signing Murali Kartik an ambassador from the land of the roaming moos is once again going to be a pain in the butt of a team I support (Middlesex in this case).

South Africa are hibernating for another couple of weeks. Sleep won't come though. As soon as they close their eyes a bright boyish smile appears in front of them, slowly running apart until it exposes huge ugly fangs like rusty knives, ready to tear into the flesh and souls of the South African players.

Pakistan. Has any of you guys heard anything about Shahid Afridi Pakistan? I haven't. For proper information please contact the cricket teams of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, should they still manage to pick up a phone.

England have ceased to exist. Hurrah!!!

Australia and New Zealand: no known activities. But admittedly I have not been able to keep track of them anyway, since I'm heaps busy maniacally sacrificing lens cleaning cloths at Daniel Vettori's altar.

Zimbabwe: No news either. And now excuse me, I have to go and roll myself in Brendan Taylor's lucky socks.


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24 November 2011

Mumbai Indians And NSW Blues To Play Biennal T20 - What Shit Is This?

Shaun Tait's field to Sachin Tendulkar.
Mumbai Indians v Redbacks, CL T20 2010
I will tell you: awesome shit!!! As you may know, I absolutely love the concept of the Champions League T20, there might be the odd thing to fix, but for a meta cricket fan with an interest in domestic cricket it's like the climax of the domestic T20 season.

Now, NSW Blues is one great, star-studded team and Mumbai Indians likewise, but due to the estimated 80% mercenaries on temporary contracts they always bring some fresh faces into the mix. I think the idea of a private little feud between an Indian and an Australian domestic team is just magnificent. 

Imagine Bayern München playing against Juventus or ManU every two years -realistically it would probably just be Lyon-, let's call it the Lederhosen trophy!! As a German I would absolutely love that.

Now as I like the NSW Blues and the CL T20 I absolutely welcome this move, since the collaboration extends to many other fields as well. It's great for the fans, as well as the clubs and their treasuries. In fact they should play this every year and try to brand it as some kind of Mini Ashes. And the greatest benefit of which I hope that it will come from this is... Indian overseas players at the Big Bash League ^^ Alright that's a long way to go, but a challenge is there to be accepted! They have signed Poms, they might as well take that last step and look around in India. Imagine an Indian spinner (coughcough) bowling the Redbacks to the title. The mere idea makes me faint like a stupid little fan goat.

The chairman of NSW explains that the match is going to take place "(...) in the month of September in Australia, because in Sydney, at the time, there is a week-long festival called Parramasala. It's held in a region of Sydney called Parramatta where a majority of Indians and South Asians live. It's a week of Indian culture, drama, art; we get artists from India. We thought by playing a short game of Twenty20, it'll fit in nicely to add colour to that."

I am not sure what he means by "short T20", five overs a side? And the event is already being promoted like some happy pancake party with puppies and overjoyed, uninterested young mothers and their blissfully giggling babies floating through the air, not the emergence of the little rivalry one would wish for. However, I'll hope for the best, nothing is eaten as hot as it's cooked.

But they should play one match in Sydney and a re-match in Mumbai of course. A genuine little mini series. The trophy is already in the making, Mark Taylor has been picked as a name giver, the respective Indian counterpart is still to be decided upon.

I think the idea bears great potential and I want the Redbacks to pick it up, too. Unfortunately old rivals Mumbai are now taken already, but Bangalore would be great as well. Keep the flame burning!!! :D

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Edit: It just occurred to me that Mumbai's visit will provide the classic NSW Blues team with a some T20 again, remember, the state T20 teams have ceased to exist with the foundation of the city-based Big Bash League, which is supposed to emulate the IPL a little. How ironic :)

Edit of the edit: it's of course not the Mumbai Indians, but the Mumbai team (which renders the whole articles rather pointless). Thanks to Anonymous in the comments for pointing the misunderstanding out to me!


23 November 2011

Very Green And Very Baggy: The All-Australian Cricket Podcast!

Click to go to episode 1 of the podcast

A few days ago I said to Ian from The Baggy Green Blog, hey Ian why don't you do a podcast, and lo and behold, the baby has come into this world today! Ian is a Cricket Australia fan machine, the guy lives, breathes and shits Australian cricket, and now he also talks it!!!

He sounds like he has done nothing in his life but recording podcasts, he reminds me a bit of Iain O'Brien in the way he speaks, don't ask me why, he offers the same level of enthusiasm and genuine dedication to discussing cricket. Would love if Ian did live comms during a match, would sure be fun and first and foremost very informative and interesting. The pod has rocketted to a top rank on my personal list of fav pods right away. Let this be a recommendation to you :)

Style: monologue, straight-forward, no frills, no crap, no intro, and most importantly no irritating, infuriating jingles!!! Just the way a pod has to be. Thank you and live long and prosper, Baggy Green Pod!

Subscription links here (RSS, itunes, zune and so on)

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21 November 2011

Pat Cummins Is The New Santa Claus

Who needs Christmas after this match, I am speechless, and sweatless, and nerveless, and have lost another fair few other things as well during that chase, two kilos of weight perhaps, my mind and my pants. Almost^^

Yeah sure it would have been great if Mitch had been able to hit the winning runs, but then when Haddin went out and I was cursing my rear off, what an epic tale was brought to the ultimate climax in Pat Cummins the kid striking the winning boundary. Do you know the feeling when something is so right you might start to cry. That's how I feel at the moment.

Tests in South Africa are generally always worth following no matter who's touring. Don't know what it is that makes them so interesting, the thing they all have in common is that they are hosted by the Proteas in their home grounds, both of which are among my favourites because they will always provide a great contest between bat and ball. SA have not been able to win a home series against Australia since the Battle at the Teutoburg Forest, and only a liar would deny that this circumstance added some more spice to the contest, and will contribute to the tingle in the next one.

Everybody is lauding this two-Test series as unforgettable, the proof for the vitality of Test cricket, but if you look at it from all sides equally you will realise that this unforgettability is based on some really forgettable outings; like Australia only just scrapping past their lowest ever Test total (thank you Nathan Lyon :)), fumbling behind the stumps, partially wayward bowling, average fielding and small crowds.

As a counterweight shooting stars like Pat Cummins, Vernon Philander and Usman Khawaja have provided the star dust, the excitement and, more or less literally, the wide, happy smiles, thus consequently setting the social networks on fire. So either of these aspects, the mix of the abysmal and the heavenly elements of this match, the light and the darkness, both evenly embodied in the person of Mitchell Johnson, turned this summit of the elephants (buffaloes respectively) into such a spectacle.

I agree with many people who say that his innings might have bought Ricky Ponting some more time. I'm not so sure if this also applies to Brad Haddin's emergency-fifty in the last innings. My head is too full to ponder what might happen next in terms of the Aussie line-up. And what do we make of Phil Hughes??? Let me unearth out a few reminders from you:

I am honestly wondering if he is ever going to start this journey predicted for him...

Anyway. Great series. Wish there had been a decider. The crowds seem do be increasingly uninterested, but the internet boils over during Tests. Are we seeing a shift in preferences here? People simply don't want to sit in the stadium all day any more, when they can as well watch the match on their TVs at home, scratch their butts, get a beer from the fridge without having to enqueue (for the loo neither), or work/do whatever simultaneously, probably particularly the latter. At the T20 the grounds are reasonably full, and in 50 over cricket the disastrous scheduling might effect the crowdkill. Well, that was just a random thought.

My brain still feels like just removed from the pressure cooker, as you can tell from this load of rubbish, so I'll call it quits for now.

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16 November 2011

Sorry Graeme Smith... I didn't mean it so!

One day before the next Test between South Africa and Australia I have to share this absolutely precious nugget with you. It is called "savausday2".

The post originally appeared on Rishabh's Billy The Worm blog and as usual when Rishabh creates a cricket comic he just nails it (pretty remarkable for a pink little earthworm ;)) Thanks Rishabh for the permission to share this.

And yes just a few days after I thought I was over the old Boofhead, old wounds are torn open and I ruefully take him back. ARGHH! Apart from that, his chest might be fatty, but his brain is not!


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13 November 2011

Warner, Dravid, Sehwag. Just Because.

Pitbull - ready to bite
So David Warner has been called up to replace Shaun Marsh in the second Test against the Saffas. Judging from the reactions, it still comes as a huge surprise to many. Obviously the broad public can't help associating him with T20, but the elders have long attested Pitbull his capabilities in First Class cricket, where he averages 59.66 (!) at a strike rate of 70.75, albeit from ten matches only.

Warner has always insisted that his goal is Test cricket, and has consequently worked on his game. Smart, patient and skilful are not the first attributes that come to your mind when you think of his brutal outings in the shortest format.

But let figures speak. His high average originates from 16 innings incl. one not out, in which he scored 895 runs altogether. His strike rate seems to suggest that he runs his top of the back of the legs off. But out of these 895 runs he scored a whopping 518 (almost 58%) in fours and sixes. I actually thought that was really much. Until I looked at.... but more on that later.

Now if you subtract these runs and the respective number of deliveries from his total of balls faced and runs scored, you will see that from the remaining 1143 deliveries he made 377 'run' runs (in singles and twos or threes). So minus his boundaries he has a strike rate of 33 (2 runs/over) that gets upped to about 71 by the fact that he hits nearly every 10th ball (9.6%) for four or six.

To put this into perspective here are Rahul Dravid's Test figures: average 52.92, SR 42.43. Over half of his runs come in boundaries as well (50.9%), but he only strikes it big off about every 20th delivery (5.37%). Off the remaining (non-boundary) deliveries he scores at a strike rate of 22! Dravid makes a hundred in more than every 8th innings, and a 50 in over 25% of the rest, so altogether he makes a big score in over one third (34.91%) of his innings. Ahh The Wall. Excuse me while I pause to grin blissfully with eyes turned inwards.

OKAYYYY I know. We should rather look at Virender Sehwag for comparison. Sehwag strikes 64.07% (!!!) off his runs in boundaries. That means he strikes boundaries off 12.68% of the balls he faces, or in other words, more than every 8th ball. Off the remaining deliveries he makes one run every third ball on average (like Warner). Sehwag's overall Test average is 52.30, which is remarkable if you look at his monstrous strike rate of 81.98. Sehwag makes a hundred in about 14% of his innings, which is about every 7th innings (!), and scores fifties in 21.64% of the remaining ones. Overall, he converts 32.69% of his innings into big scores.

David Warner has so far scored hundreds in 18.75% of his innings (about every 5th innings), and converted 15.38% of the remaining innings into fifties, which is an overall big score conversion of 31.25, i.e. nearly one third. Of course you cannot read too much, perhaps nothing at all, into ten four dayers against largely non-international attack. But I am not the only one who is keen to see Warner prove his point. Go Pitbull!

Very unfortunately for injured Shaun Marsh it is him who is returning home, and not little Phil Hughesless* .

I hope Marsh recovers quickly. However, since Warner and Hughes have played at least a few matches together at NSW, perhaps something productive can emerge from this new opening partnership. Here is a post on Ian's Baggy Green Blog that contains some more in-depth views on the possibilities at the top of the Australian batting order.



PS. I'd like to apologise for any mistakes made in the frenzy, but my brain kept racing and I couldn't stop. Sachin is only missing because the respective numbers are not provided in his Cricinfo profile. Generally the figures given above should be okay, though. Feel free to leave me a comment, or give me a pasting for my blasphemous comparisons on Twitter or Facebook ;)

11 November 2011

On The Smack List With You, Graeme Smith!

I have tolerated his fat.

I have tolerated the fact that he says "Ahhhh, look" in every second sentence.

I have tolerated that he got married (not to me, mind!)

I have supported him through his darkest hours, when even the fiercest of the Saffa fans were crying for his cubic head.

And how does he repay my loyalty?

With a matchwinning, batcarrying, 101notoutbeing captain's knock against Australia!

I've had enough. On the smack list with you, Graeme Smith!!!!!


7 November 2011

It's Not The End Of Indian Test Cricket Yet!

This is what score of the first India v West Indies Test looks like right now:

West Indies 304 & 21/2 (14.0 ov)
India 209

No, the match isn't taking place overseas, the tragedy is unfolding in India. Of course the Indians can still win the match, but they'll have to pull the socks up high here.

Upon expressing my surprise on Twitter I got the following reply from Homertweets (hope Shrikant doesn't mind me quoting him here):

'@WesPFCNFS wake up and smell the coffee sunshine.. Its IPL or bust!'

To be frank, even if all signs seem to confirm this assumption, I still refuse to believe it. Giving up on the highest form of the game contradicts anything I've ever learnt about India so far. Indian fans are obsessed with rankings, they always want their team to be the first, the best, the most, the highest. Still fresh in my memory are the jealous Indian moans during the last football world cup, from which India were shut out due to the lack of a proper football team; the ecstasy after winning the cricket world cup at home this year; and the satisfied tummy pats all around when India had climbed to the top of the Test ranking, particularly compared to England, who almost made an embarrassed impression after taking possession of the five day throne.

Therefore, I'm stubbornly ruling it out that the Indian cricket fans are willing to let India's reputation in the highest form of cricket go down the drains for the sake of a domestic T20 tournament. At the end of the day, Sachin is still God, The Dhoni is not to be doubted, Rahul Dravid still has a frenetic following, and in the bowling department some delicate, pink, albeit bearded, little flowers are shyly blossoming.

Also, Indians -except those to who it doesn't apply of course ;) - are classical in-rubbers, i.e. each and every success will be smeared on the opponent's bread with great determination, each defeat is played down with the most adventurous excuses and you needn't waste time disagreeing here because I know what I'm talking about! This is why India is the most popular and most important opposition a cricket team can have. The fire and the steam that comes with every match against the Indians turns the clashes into the most entertaining and exciting battles on a cricket field. I have written about the necessity of a strong Indian Test team already and can only repeat myself here.

A friend of all things Russian, Pragyan proudly presents his newest
Spotting the above tweet, Sehwagology rebutted:

'@HomerTweets @wespfcnfs - except we keep finding good test bowlers. :('

I bet Sehwagology is sharing my dream of locking up Praveen Kumar and Pragyan Ojha in a room for a couple of years in the hope that many arduous, consistent and workhorse-like little Test bowlers will emerge from this.

I find it a tad weird but also exciting that it's India's bowling that keeps the Test flame burning. The passing on of the sceptre from the batsmen to the bowlers, especially the ones I had selected for worship a fair while ago already, makes the team a lot more amiable to me. There is of course still a huge gap to fill in the fiery, searing, cattywampus fast bowlers department, but pace alone seems not be indispensable as long as India can open the bowling with Pragyan Ojha...

...OMG OMG finally we have reached the paragraph in which I can bubble with joy about the selection of my favourite non-Australian spinner besides Ollie Rayner.  I had predicted that he would save Test cricket and there's no doubt that he must have read this post and thought by himself HELL YES I'M GONNA DO THAT

He took seven out of the twelve Windies wickets that have fallen so far, it should have been eight even, and will hopefully keep steamrolling on tomorrow. It is a shame that the selectors have only picked him in a Test they perhaps did not deem that tricky, but who cares, Ojha is the man. Please allow me to rub my belly in satisfaction, and to happily nibble on a chocolate-filled cookie.

So for the love of Test cricket, let's hope India can steer the boat into safe waters.


PS You can always join me on Twitter or Facebook for a little banter.
PPS Apologies if you find that this post is all over the place :P

1 November 2011

About Couch Talk - The Cricket Couch Podcast

This post is long overdue, let me introduce to you one of my all-time favourite cricket podcasts:

Couch Talk - The Cricket Couch Podcast is hosted by Subash Jayaraman, an Indian cricwit residing in the United States. As far as I know he also publishes at Spin and is the co-founder of the cricket website Clear Cricket. Anyway.

Why is the Couch Talk one of the best cricket podcasts around? Because Subash gets them all. Jarrod Kimber, Nitin Sundar, Osman Samiuddin, Dileep Premachandran or Firdose Moonda; the chat with the latter has been one of my favourite episodes to date. A lot more nuggets than those I am remembering right now have inhabited Subash's Couch, not just renowned cricket journalists and officials, but also fans, bloggers and pundits such as Nishant Joshi, the mastermind behind Alternative Cricket, mspr1nt from the Wicket Maiden, the great Anupam Mukerji from the Pitch Invasion radio (this episode prompted me to tune in to the station and what shall a say except for confessing that I'm a true PI zombie now) or former Zimbabwe bowler Henry Olonga; this was a cracker of a pod as well and a must listen for all who are genuinely interested in cricket.

But it's not just the quality of the guests which makes this show so enjoyable. Subash is usually well-informed, has researched his topics well, audibly loves what he is doing and first and foremost he allows his guests get into a flow, he gives them the opportunity to open up and tell their stories, just like the psychoanalyst would do with his patients; while he himself just gently guides this stream of words by asking the occasional question. The result is a fantastic and pleasant, informative and inviting listening experience, which is, by the way, introduced and concluded by the greatest cricket podcast theme music in the history of the sport. It gleams and glitters like the sole star in an otherwise pitch black sky, because let's be honest, most podcast jingles have obviously been made to annoy the living hell out of the listeners. But this one does not only please the ear, but puts dancing little hearts in my eyes whenever it is playing. Kudos to Aravind Murali for creating this wonderful piece of music.

Sana Kazmi (@sanakazmi) and Masuud Qazi (@MasuudQazi)
So, if this show is dripping with nectar and honey - and liquid chocolate -, why am I writing this post only now? Ashes and dirt all over me, but it needed the appearance of Magic Masuud, aka Masuud Qazi from the Bloody Cricket Blog, to pen down these lines of delight. Masuud has been attending the London spotfixing trial and is talking about his experiences there, in tandem with Sana Kazmi, world's most well-known Afridi fangirl :P, and both give their thoughts on the latest Pakistan-related topics, a very insightful talk this is, and it provides the listener with a good dose of new brain food. You guys should check this out!!

You can follow The Cricket Couch on Twitter @thecricketcouch and via Facebook The Cricket Couch, and of course also subscribe to it on itunes: The Cricket Couch on itunes.

Hope you're gonna enjoy the pod as much as I do,


27 October 2011

Australia's Little Ones

Awwwww. They are so funny and innocent still.

Patrick Cummins and Mitchell Marsh are doing a tour diary during Australia's current visit to the Saffaland (where the moocows are mooing louder than anywhere else and they also have more meat on the hips, healthy and happy moocows they are, with shaggy fur though and bucket hooves, hence a related story is discussed by the two shy little Aussie rugrats).

I hope that during the Test leg of the tour, when Mitch Marsh is not a part of the squad anymore, Usman Khawaja will join Pat for some banter.  Uzzy is hilarious, as anybody who has read his diary on the NSW website will have to confirm. 

Now watch this:

PS. I know that some of you want to Mrs. Robinson Mitch Marsh.  I can see it down at the bottom of you black hearts!! ^^


25 October 2011

Aussies Who Don't Sledge

The Pitch Invasion guys and girls brought up a very interesting topic in one of the latest shows:

Which players in the recent history of cricket never sledge anybody?

When the question came to Australia, a lot of umming and ahhing filled the room, until one eventually managed to come up with the names of Michael Hussey and Pat Cummins, the latter of who still being too new-born and innocent to spew out any verbal filth, but sure to catch up with Watto and Mitch very soon. I was shocked by this poor outcome and also slightly irritated because I couldn't think of any other players either. This can't have been it already? So my brain started rotating and as usual, the thought process yielded some amazing results:

The first name that popped up was Nathan Lyon. This guy is just too odd-looking and too decent to have a dig at the opponent's female family members. He's awkwardly-spoken, but decent. And how could they forget about Nathan Hauritz, the greatest non-sledger (and probably also biggest sledge-receiver) in the history of mankind! Which takes us to Xavier Doherty... can you imagine Xavi sledging anyone? I can't. And Steven Smith? Well to be frank, he has the balls, but probably keeps his mouth shut for obvious reasons.

Are we beginning to see a pattern here? Yep. Australia's presumable non-sledgers are almost all amongst the recently picked spinners. Now compare both, their success with the ball and amount of foulmouthery, to Shane Warne's. Are we beginning to see a pattern inside the pattern? And why the heck has nobody noticed it yet?

So here's my advice to Australia's recent, current and future spinners:

For the sake of God, fatherland and cricket, start bloody sledging!!!


23 October 2011

India v England - The 'Payback' Series

Does anyone remember how Australia, losing the last two Ashes series,
beat the shit out of England in both of the subsequent ODI series,
away and at home?



21 October 2011

Are You Kakmal In Disguise

Due to not being able to watch yesterday's 3rd ODI between India and England I just read the Cricinfo bulletin and nearly choked one my tongue upon the realisation that Craig Kieswetter had not only fluffed the Jadeja runout, but also two further, very costly chances earlier in the game.

Kies is not considered the next Gilchrist, not even the next Manou. He has his critics. You would expect him to make the odd mistake. But last night he must have had a shocker. Had the subcontinental air, the relative closeness to the Pakistani border, benighted his mind and nullified his skills?

No, I will tell you what it is: the bloke is under immense pressure. With Buttler and Davies and half of England breathing down his neck he cannot afford any hiccups behind the stumps, and let's not talk about his spot as an opening batsman in ODIs, a dance in butter stilettos on glowing embers.

It could not become any more obvious than in this series that nerves turn into failures, failures turn into more nerves, which will turn into more failures. Give the guy a break! Tell him that he's gonna play in the next 10 matches. Let him calm down, settle in and do his job. 

Kies can.


17 October 2011

Are India The Most Boring Cricket Team In The World

India either win by a large margin or lose totally lamely, at least that's what most of the matches look like which I have recently followed. Actually I am wondering if this could be backed up by statistics, don't think so, they aren't Bangladesh or Zimbabwe, and I guess there are as many nailbiters amongst their matches as amongst those of other teams, but that's how it looks to me.

I am waiting for a match involving India that makes me cling to the edge of my seat, the last one I enjoyed was the tie against England during the World Cup about 500 years ago, and I want more of this, moooaaaaarrrrrrrrr!!!

Come on the cappuccino boys, I know you can do it. Give me some sugar, some pepper, some spice! Lose some wickets, get only just over the line, take the series to the last match!

I hope the Poms will buck up and win the next one to insert some life back into this tour. Otherwise I will be doomed to follow the rest of the series just for the sake of listening to Pitch Invasion. Don't get me wrong, it is brilliant on its own, but it would be even more fun with the panelists killing themselves and each other with excitement ^^

So come on Poms, pull the socks up and come back hard!!!


14 October 2011

Ollie Rayner Has Joined Middlesex And Nobody Tells Me!

Ollie Rayner in his Middlesex attire
I think my eyes just popped out of my head!

Ollie Rayner has joined Middlesex in a permanent deal, the news was hidden at the bottom of the Dalrymple departure article. Oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god?!?

To anyone who has been following Middlesex's fate in the County Championship Division 2 over the last two years with at least a quarter of an eye (like me) it is fairly obvious that Sussex mercenary, Teutonic hunk and PFCNFS pet Ollie Rayner has single-righthandedly dragged Middlesex out of what you can basically call the utter gutter, and effected their promotion to Division 1.

This post was actually a draft I never published  -had a tummy feeling that there was still something coming in this regard- , originally about Middlesex exploiting Ollie Rayner's invaluable services in order to get promoted to Division 1 and then leaving him to rot with Sussex in the basement, but there is justice and decorum in this world, and Ollie has been signed for good, yes for good, because they would  be fools, with barn gate sized holes in their heads, to let him go again.

So what can we look forward to next year?

A full freaking season of Gareth Berg and Ollie Rayner, the Snow-White & Rose-Red, the Hänsel & Gretel, the.. well... Stan and Ollie of County Cricket. Berg has been absolutely outstanding this season again, if you don't believe me look up his figures, I have shamefully failed to acknowledge his performance appropriately thus far;  and we shall not forget how the these two Marilyns kickstarted Middlesex's 2011 season to put the club's promotion aspirations on a solid basis.

Anything else?

Ohhhh yes. Another year in the centre of Middlesex's frontline significantly increases his chances to spearhead the German ascension to Test Cricket. And when the glorious day has come we shall commemorate his 2011 season in our Hakas Schuhplattlers. A furore germanorum libera eos domine! Harg harg.

On a more serious side note, gratz the Middle! Too bad Hampshire have gone down... will  my two favourite county sides ever play a four-dayer against each other? Perhaps in two years already, when Middlesex have inevitably returned to Div. 2 due to their lack of Owais, and should Hampshire fail to get re-promoted (likely, given Howell's, Tahir's and Hamza's absence, as well as Corker's full and Macca's gradual retreat from the county of brain.)

Anyway. Lobet den Herrn!!! ^^


11 October 2011

Match-Fixing: Australia's Bracken-, Excuse Me, Bracket-System

The Mazhar Majeed tapes are keeping the cricket pundits on their toes, as more and more details from Majeed's meetings with NOTW Journalist Mazher Mahmood are cropping up during the London spot-fixing trial.

I am sure that most of you are informed about the latest proceedings and everybody has more or less already made up their minds about these news, however, there are a few things that need to be taken into consideration:

What speaks in Majeed's favour is that his revelations have proven sufficiently true in the past. Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif have all been found guilty. Furthermore Majeed has now also thrown the names of Imran Farhat, the Akmal brothers and Wahab Riaz aka Jacket Boy into the mix, out of who Kamran Akmal and Wahab had been under scrutiny by the pundits anyway (and the letter combination S-Y-D-N-E-Y is starting to hover above my head again). Majeed nebulously stated they were "his" players. Interestingly, he did not mention Danish Kaneria.

It never gets old: Wahab Riaz aka Michael Jacket (Pak v SA ODI 3, Dubai, 2 Nov 2010)

Apart from that the past has shown that not even the most reputable men are able to resists the call of cash, and in the world of corruption there exist no frontiers.

The bracket fixing, of which Majeed speaks, sounds like a proper plan due to its relative undetectability. Bowling-wise, depending on the match situation, only one player is required, however if you want to fix the batting things get a bit more complicated.

Ummmm. These were the thoughts that crossed my mind when the fear crept up that any Aussies could indeed have red stains on their hands as well.

Here's how James Sutherland reacts to Majeed's claims. I am not sure if he has understood in which way the allegations against the Pakistan trio emerged, since he keeps harping on the fact that the ACSU has not approached him over any suspicious observations, and hence suggests that Majeed's statement holds no water.

Now, what are the factors that make Majeed's claims appear like the incoherent mutterings of the Crazy Cat Lady?

Majeed states to have close connections to Brad Pitt, Roger Federer and other celebs, who he could recruit for a cricket tournament; as well as to have managed Chris Gayle and Nathan Bracken, and to know the agent of Ricky Ponting; the latter two of who had their respective representatives deny any such claims vehemently. Further names he mentioned during his boasting fit were those of Brett Lee, Yuvraj Singh, Habhajan Singh, several retired England players, Lalit Modi, and even that of former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf.

Another argument against Majeed's claims is brought forth by the ACA CEO Paul Marsh, who rather harshly replies that "...one of the differences between the Pakistan players and our players is we've got a proper player system in place here. Our guys are paid well, they are educated well and you would have to question the motivation our players would have to get involved whereas in Pakistan they are not paid very well, are not educated very well and they leave themselves open to approaches from blokes like this."

Also, unlike in the case of the no balls, which can be executed individually by single players, the bracket system applied to the batting period can only work, if a certain number of players collaborates. Since Majeed speaks of ten brackets per match a considerable part of the Australian line-up would have to be involved in the fixing, which currently overstrains my imagination.

But: since Amir, Asif and Butt have been found guilty, one cannot even approximately estimate at which point in this cascade of swaggering and name-dropping the truth ends and fantasy begins.

So although it seems that Mazhar Majeed might simply have exaggerated the facts grossly, these "new" revelations, recorded over a year ago in the course of the investigations by NOTW undercover journalist Mazher Mahmood, have opened a new can of worms. It remains to be seen if any consequences accrue from these claims apart from Nathan Bracken litigating the bejesus out of Majeed.

What a huge pile of dung.


8 October 2011

Help Save BBC Cricket!

Last night I saw this article on Will Atkins' The Short Midwicket blog:

It came to me as a major shock to hear that the BBC wants to cut costs exactly there where it hurts not only us continental and overseas county cricket followers most. Will, a well-known and popular Middlesex pundit and aspiring cricket journalist, details why the the move is wrong, and tells you what you can do to protest the decision, and thus the most likely consequences.

I'd like to add that the live coverage of the county cricket matches, broadcast not only via radio but also internet stream, does not only serve as an umbilical cord between the expats and their home clubs, but it also recruits new county cricket fans and followers in the most unlikely corners of the world, and thus helps spread the word of cricket (and should therefore actually be ICC-funded, but that's another story ;)).

Had I not stumbled upon Kevin Hand's excellent Middlesex live coverage, not got addicted to the highly emotional commentary and hilarious banter between him and his guests and co-hosts there would not have been any Middlesex section on this blog. No Berg-bandwagon, none for Toby Roland-Jones and none for Ollie Rayner.

I wouldn't have a clue about the delectable rivalry between Middlesex and Surrey, Mark Church's excellent and charming coverage of the Surrey matches, and first and foremost I would not have started this mindless, highly enjoyable Tim Linley hype during a time when he was still trying to get picked for the first string side regularly.

I also would not keep my fingers crossed for Somerset and Sussex, and godcanyouimagine I would not know anything about Hampshire. The mere thought makes me writhe in pain. In fact I have met so many  great people through following the county cricket I can't even recall all their names.

Thanks for all that, Kevin.

And due to the insights into the whole county cricket circus I've also grown a soft spot for some of the English players.

No thanks for that, Kevin :P

To cut a long story short, a summer without the BBC cricket coverage has become unthinkable for me.

So please guys, join the moan and support the protest against these cuts, if you want to keep enjoying how Kevin nearly kills himself trying to pronounce archipelago or Satyanarayana Srinivas. And if you love your county cricket!!!


5 October 2011

Champions League T20 - The Redbacks Are Out

Royal Challengers Bangalore v South Australia at Bangalore

Don't know what to say. Anybody who has seen the match will understand what I mean. 

Dan Harris with his gorgeous 100, Ferguson with his well-timed 70, and at the end Dan Christian piled on a total of 214, of which I thought the Redbacks could defend it rather easily. What a foolish thing to believe. Klinger's injury, which earned him a free ride in an ambulance, now seems like a bad omen.

Of course the same batting conditions applied to the opposition as well and the Kohli/Dilshan partnership took the match away from the South Australians. Until Shaun Tait, omitted in the last two matches, came back for an incredible, mindfunking three over spell, and the wickets fell in bunches. Dan Christian, who had been granted the honours to bowl the last over, had to defend six runs with the last ball... and gave them away.

I still can't believe it. Hats off to Bangalore for chasing this total down. I had a feeling at the start that it would be Kohli-Day.

After the previous match against Somerset had been abandoned without a ball bowled, and the teams earned one point each from it, both South Australia and the English side were in the position to reach the semis, if they won today. Somerset lived up to the expectations and kicked the Warriors out of the competition.

Now it is up to NSW to keep carrying the Aussie flag. I hope they and of course Somerset will reach the final.


3 October 2011

A Cricket Post On New Germany's Birthday

Happy 21st birthday to my home country New Germany. This bulky, yet kinda handsome young bloke from the heart of Europe is now allowed to drink in the USA! But I guess he'll rather just have a glass of water^^

On this occasion I would like to say thank you to everyone including my mum, who dared to stand up for a democratic change in 1989 and risked their safety and lives, and those of their families, to make East Europe a better place, and to finally end the Cold War.

Without these guys I wouldn't be sitting here writing these lines on my own blog.

Without them I would not be reading English cricket websites, would not be talking to cricket players -and their mums- from Israel, to fellow Redbacks supporters from Adelaide, or cricket-obsessed maths teachers from New Zealand.

I would not be able to engage in heated discussions with cricket wits from Asia, I would not be sharing big hopes with fans from Zimbabwe, I would not debate cricketing buffaloes with Bangladeshi Saffa-fans residing in Canada, I would not be watching live matches on the internet, or laughing my arse off listening to an Indian cricket radio station.

Without these guys, Rana-Javed Iqbal would not have taken 8 for 9 against the team of the Czech Republic. I would not know who he is. I would not know cricket. There would not be a Czech cricket team. And there would not be a Czech Republic.

Now, like every cricket fan I tend to view life as a match of cricket, and to explain and describe it in cricket terms and metaphors. So, here comes the inevitable question of the day:

What sort of cricket player is New Germany?

As a right-handed batsman he is a heavyweight in the middle order, who can always be relied upon to save the innings, if the top order has imploded. Not a Hussey yet, but he's working on that problem with Katoesque determination. Gifted with seemingly infinite patience, he would rather scratch around for a whole day than chuck his wicket into the bowler's throat. The tailenders and younger players generally like to bat with him because he protects them well and makes them feel safe, so that they can concentrate on doing their job. He is a player of the classical Test mould, has a fairly good range of shots and uses his feet against the spinners to some success, but takes no risks. Unlikely to get stumped, run out, or caught in the deep. When he middles it, the ball tends to fly out the ground.

Fantastic ODI batsman, but will never really make it into the T20 team, because he values his wicket too much. His Test average oscillates around 48, but not everyone in the team appreciates that. Everybody knows that he could bat at the top, but he insists that he's happy with what he calls "opening the middle order batting".

He is a handy medium pacer known to bowl in precisely the same spot for hours and hours, but he hardly has any tricks or tactics up his sleeve, and if he knew any, he probably wouldn't make use of them. Once or twice in a day he likes to bowl the odd bouncer, just to underline his standpoint.

Whenever the captain tells him to field at slip or short leg he starts to grumble, because he does not like running around with a helmet on. Eventually he gives in, realising that everyone in a team has to take responsibility. However, if the captain employs all-too-offensive tactics, he often would just like to leave the field. In such situations he is unmotivated to the point of stubbornness, and needs to get kicked and dragged along. He believes that he will not change his mind on this issue in the foreseeable future and therefore is assigned tasks of a more auxiliary nature, which he can accomplish enthusiastically and reliably.

He doesn't understand the concept of sledging and will thus often be seen shaking his head and sighing sadly.

As the vice captain of the side he knows how to guide and motivate the team, but he sometimes tends to try and do all the batting and bowling by himself. Although he encourages the less experienced players and those that are going through a form dip, he needs to dare delegate work more efficiently to the other seniors in the team.

In the dressing room he is not considered the greatest entertainer, he hardly ever sings, and he dances like a bear. Often he can be found sitting in a corner pondering his technique, the mistakes he made in past matches, and how to do better in the future. He likes to share these experiences with the younger players, but some just roll their eyes over his endless repetitions of "this mouldy old shit". Sometimes he has his 'special five minutes', in which he audibly wonders if winning is the primary goal of the game, and if it is fair to crowd eight fielders around a No. 11.

Mrs. New Germany:
Hides inside the house, terrible WAG
Doesn't really have a best friend in the team. People who know him better are ok with him around. He is expected to deliver and usually does; he considers these expectations an indirect way of expressing appreciation and is content with that. He benefits from his thick skin when it comes to putting up with the different kinds of personalities in the team.

In private life he is married with a gorgeous girl, who buzzes with energy. She likes to cook, to sing and dance, and to wear beautiful dresses. People turn their heads after her when she shows up outside the house, but it doesn't happen very often. He loves and admires her exuberance and joyfulness, but they just won't rub off on him.

Overall, he looks like he's still gonna have a long and successful First Class career ahead of him. Some say he has peaked already, but with his skillset, learning aptitude and the game changing so quickly, predictions are really hard to make.

I'd pick him any time. Would you?


2 October 2011

Master Of Puppets

I just spotted a great post by Tim Holt, it is called Cricket Marketing 101- Use The Name Of Sachin Tendulkar, in which Tim de-constructs the cheap and obvious strategies employed by Shoaib Akhtar's PR consultants, who use the name of Sachin Tendulkar and the remote-controllability of his easily manipulable zealots, to increase the sales of his silly little book, and the hype around it. On this occasion Tim also mentions how bloggers more or less blatantly exploit Sachin's name to trigger a deluge of blog visitors.

From the top of my head I can name several blogs who played that card. I did that, too, as a rather obvious pisstake on this strategy of "no given f*k + little effort = many clicks"; put Sachin in the title and gazed at the jump in visitor numbers with disblief. It is hilarious, and it gives you a feeling of power over the masses, to summon them just by pronouncing the magical two words, but at the same time it is also scary to get overrun by a raging mob, and logically copping a fair bit of stick from them as well. Tim, in his article, calls them fanbois, I used to call them "Sachin zombies" and Sachin the "zombie master", and if you adopt the role of a high priest, by singing his gospel and giving the Sachin sermon, you can control them as well, which is exactly what these bloggers are doing. The same crazy effect does, BTW, also apply to Shahid Afridi.

Which means that the current constellation of Tendulkar, Akhtar and Afridi involved in one and the same incident is getting mirrored as a superangry multi-climax in the visitor figures of any cricket-related medium. This peak in the traffic stats, and subsequent slump, also seems to suggest the other way round that the respective audience doesn't care about much else (but I guess most people I personally talk to are "meta" cricket fans, who are interested in cricket in general and will click any headline that promises a good read).

What I find interesting as well is how different the priorities of the fanbois are, if you compare Sachin and Afridi as players, their image, personality, reputation and aura, and what they have accomplished in their careers. But I guess it takes a bunch of bored sociologists to analyse the motivation of the two kinds of fanatics, and their reasons for picking these two specific, opposite types of national sports icons to idolise.

But back to Tendulkar, the tactic of utilising his name while actually not giving a shit could be observed excellently when Sachin had made his ODI 200. Everybody wanted to have their share of the traffic cake, and Sachin posts kept popping up on blogs on which you would otherwise not find a single article about him, let alone India in general. Some even posted two posts in a row about him, making it fairly obvious that they were just trying to stay at the top of everybody's blogrolls *ahem*.

Most bloggers are amateurs, hobby writers who don't earn a single penny with their texts. So why this frenzy, this anxiety, if you couldn't care less about the player? Apparently the blogger's currency, in which his or her efforts get rewarded, is attention, reputation, response, approval, and the great summoning powers described above; measurable by the number of clicks, comments and shares. Shoaib Akhtar however is milking the holy Sachin cow for real monetary profit, measurable in his bank account, and willingly aided by anybody who picks up his cheap manoeuvre and helps him deliver the word to the potentially outraged.

I would say Akhtar 1, Bloggers 0

And while we, the media, the bloggers, readers, consumers and Akhtar, are getting lost in this secondary theatre of war, there is a guy whose market value benefits most from these permanently and continuously bubbling emotions, which provide him with seemingly eternal public omnipresence... his name is The Little Master, and he needn't even pull the strings :)


This post also appeared on DieHard Cricket Fans

27 September 2011

Champions League T20 - The Redbacks Strike Back!

Kolkata Knight Riders v South Australia Redbacks at Hyderabad

Callum Ferguson... Australia's most extravagant omission

Since I have little time today let me just hammer some figures around your ears:

Callum Ferguson 70* off 40, Dan Christian 41 off 27

Dr. Daniel Harris due to another three wickets is currently second in the bowling table with Rusty Theron et al... lulz? And this ranking includes the wickets taken by bowlers in the qualification tournament as well!

The Redbacks have pulled this back magnificently here, of course you can't tell if dropping Tait and unfortunately also Rashid, and drafting Gary Putland and Kane Richardson in, effected the change of fortune or not, but the change worked insofar that they have won today. We have to take into consideration that South Australia could bat first and were thus, thanks to sensible batting all the way, in the position to confront KKR with the big total, which of course helps any bowler. But on the other hand Putland and Richo shared five wickets amongst them and bowled well in the given circumstances.

However, a win is a win. The team is now heading to Bangalore, hope they can take the momentum with them.

Onward and upward from here!!!


PS. Aaron O'Brien did not just bowl well (best econ), but he also took another ripper, just saying. If you are nice I will undig the GIF I made of stunner he took in the Big Bash^^

25 September 2011

Champions League T20 - Redbacks Under Siege

Warriors v South Australia at Hyderabad

Well to make a long story short, after losing the toss and thus bowling first, the Redbacks' new ball bowling basically gave away all the runs that made the total unchaseable. While the two Dans, Redbacks Player Of The Year Dan Christian and Dr Daniel Harris, bowled wonderfully at max 6/ov and took four of the five wickets, Shaun Tait leaked a shocking 13.25 per over, and opening with the spinners was perhaps not the smartest move (although in the Big Bash it worked at times). I am not blaming Taito for the large Saffa total but he's had one of his mitchy lowlights today. Hats off to JJ Smuts for his 88 off 65; Saffa greats Mark Boucher and Colin Ingram made the best of their stays at the crease as well.

Having to chase 172 the Redbacks batsmen crumbled in the face of the classy South African bowling attack, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Rusty Theron, Johan Botha, Wayne Parnell, Nicky Boje are all experienced campaigners and past or present fixtures in the South African national side and I must admit that their experience made the difference here. It felt a bit like two different worlds clashing and the side with plenty of internationals in it came out on top.

Generally the competition is a lot tougher this year and due to the qualification round all of the weak teams got eliminated prior to the group stage, unlike last year when there were still a few punching balls around, on whose defeats you could coast to the semis. I guess the Champions League really deserves its name this time.

The Redbacks will now have to look how to plan for the next match, whether to stick with the three-pronged spin crown, or to throw another seamer into the mix. Gary Putland has done a good job for the Redbacks over the last years, and Big Bash final protagonist Kane Richardson is surely keen to get a shot as well. I'm having the feeling that perhaps Ben Edmondson could have added value to the attack... :(


This post also appeared on DieHard Cricket Fans