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,