September 2, 2013

Lehmann apologises to Broad over comments

And Panesar relieves himself of the burden of keeping the England team culture a secret

Players take children, Root on Ashes victory lap
It was wonderful to see some of the England players bring their children out onto the field for their victory lap after the final Ashes Test came to a close last week. For a match that ended on such a disappointing, even acrimonious note, the sight of youngsters flouncing around the place with their fathers lent the evening some much-needed charm.

There was James Anderson and his daughter. There was Graeme Swann and Matt Prior, posing for photos with their sons, all decked out in England colours. And there was Alastair Cook and James Root, posing for pictures as well.

How was the youngster enjoying his outing, then? "Don't let him fool you," smiled Cook as Root attempted to hide behind daddy's legs. "He laps this stuff up." The proud skipper then let the little one run along, but not without warning him not to stray too far, else the bad man who punishes all naughty little boys, would show up to punch him in his little face again.

Breaking: today is another day that India is not playing Sri Lanka
This fact is all the more astonishing when you consider that neither team is involved in a tour at the moment. There have been entire days that could have easily been filled with the kind of stop-gap tour between the two teams that dreary fans of the two countries have come to expect to the point of ennui.

The unfilled void has left fans feeling confused. "On the one hand, I maintain that I really, really don't want to see India play a series against Sri Lanka anytime soon, if not ever again," said one discombobulated fan. "On the other, I don't know how else this emptiness I feel at the pit of my very being can be filled," he moaned, doubled over and rocking back and forth.

Panesar speaks out about "urine culture"
The latest wave of controversy to sprinkle English cricket has prompted Monty Panesar to speak out against what he calls a "urine culture" entrenched within the England team set-up. "I was just a patsy, someone made to take the fall for what pretty much everyone who has been a part of recent England teams knows is very much a part of team culture," said a visibly upset Panesar, a few days after his former England team-mates were reportedly caught urinating on the pitch while celebrating their Ashes win.

Panesar went on to describe how England cricketers were selected under the pressure, so to speak, of proving who could relieve themselves the fastest and over the longest distance, and that players were often inculcated with the idea that "everything, including a cricket match, boils down to just one thing: a pissing contest".

Panesar also explained that on the night of his recent arrest, he had only been experimenting with training methods as part of an effort to push (so to speak) for an England comeback. Specifically, he wanted to see if a changed "angle of release," i.e. delivering from a greater height, wouldn't achieve better results.

Zimbabwe almost pull off shock series win against selves
Brave Zimbabwe made a fist of it, but ultimately their opponents, Zimbabwe, proved too strong and experienced a side, denying themselves that elusive series win. The team was unable to replicate the kind of form they displayed in the first ODI, when they managed to hold on against the odds to overcome themselves and in the process register their first win against Pakistan in 15 years.

In the deciding match, however, the likes of Vusi Sibanda, Brendan Taylor, Brian Vitori, and pretty much anyone else you are able to mention from recent Zimbabwe teams, proved too strong to overcome. Experts agree that these are all dangerous players, probably the toughest any Zimbabwe team has had to play against, given the horribly defeatist mindset they have settled into in recent years, created in no small part by issues of non-payment and player defections.

"It's like my grandfather used to say," said Prosper Utseya, "sometimes you have to be able to overcome yourselves before you can beat anyone else; especially if you're a Zimbabwe cricketer."

Australia supposes it can pencil Finch into team
Cricket Australia yesterday stated that on the basis of his match-winning innings in the first T20 that gave Australia their first win of the tour, it supposes that it might just be able to find a permanent place for Aaron Finch in the team.

"Look, Australia is traditionally one of the hardest teams to break into," said a spokesperson for the board. "I mean, just ask Stuart MacGill. Hell, ask Lehmann, for that matter. We like to make it clear that you have to earn your right to be a lasting part of any Australia team, be it Test, ODI or T20. So we'll see what we can do.

"Now, onto the next matter of business: whether the unveiling of the new Aaron Finch statue should be done at the entrance of Cricket Australia's headquarters or in the newly constructed panic room."

Lehmann apologises to Broad over comments
Darren Lehmann has clarified that he was only joking when he said that the Australian public should round on Stuart Broad for his alleged cheating, and that he hopes the bowler will go back home crying. "To think that I would really want a fellow cricketer to be sent home crying is preposterous," said the coach. "I mean, what kind of man would he be if he were to cry after copping the abuse he deserves? Are you telling me Broad is a sissy as well as a cheat? Well, why does that not surprise me?"

R Rajkumar tweets here

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