JUNE 17, 2014

England cricket

Save all the Root praises

Jon Hotten, writing in his blog the Old Batsman, believes that while Joe Root's 200 at Lord's was no doubt impressive, it hardly signals a return to form for the batsman.

It was instead an innings that played into the enigma of his batting. It was most impressive in its opening passage, played when England were within sight of difficulties that, given the parlous state of their cricket, could have caused significant image problems. Yet at the start of the second day, when a seam bowling attack best categorised as of county div 1 standard went all Bodyline for half an hour or so, the deep-set problems in his technique came running back out. As all of cricket knows, Root can be forced back into his crease and squared up, and he'll waft his bat with his weight and body travelling in opposite directions.

JUNE 11, 2014

Australia cricket

Gus Gilmour, a legend to children of the 1970s

In the Sydney Morning Herald, Malcolm Knox remembers the cricketing charisma of the late Gary Gilmour, and the effect he had on children in backyards all around Australia.

Whereas the Chappells, Rod Marsh and Dennis Lillee showed how cricket could feed the competitive colonial fire, Gilmour's appeal was more simple: he showed, without words or facial hair, how cricket could make you happy. He was responsible for more kids trying to bat and bowl left-handed than anyone but Garfield Sobers.

JUNE 09, 2014

India cricket

'All investigations till now are independent silos'

In an interview with the Week, former Delhi Police commissioner Neeraj Kumar shares his views on the fixing scandal of IPL 2013 and the ongoing probe led by Justice Mukul Mudgal. Kumar stresses the need for further investigation and says the focus should be on pursuing all loose ends across different cities.

"The committee should look at the bigger picture. All investigations till now are independent silos. One module each in Chennai, Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Delhi. They have to be put together. All leads related to the names in the sealed envelope should be followed."

JUNE 09, 2014

Australia cricket

When Clarke stood up with a broken shoulder

Andrew Ramsey, writing for Cricket Australia, uncovers the story behind Michael Clarke's courageous knock against South Africa in Cape Town, where after being struck by Morne Morkel, he batted with a shoulder injury to post a match-winning 161.

As the overnight drizzle dried and the sun broke through, the captain underwent a series of examinations and drills to make sure he was fit to resume an innings that had already served as inspiration to his teammates, and a stirring rallying cry to his country. In the end, Clarke maintains the decision of whether or not he could resume his innings was simple. "I had no choice," he says matter-of-factly. "I had to go and bat.

JUNE 08, 2014

Sri Lanka in England 2014

The morals of mankading

A blog post on the Economist website explores how the recent mankading controversy in the ODI between England and Sri Lanka has brought to the fore the issue of guarding ethical norms in sport. The writer suggests that abiding by the rules - which allow mankading - may not necessarily be the same as behaving in a correct manner.

There might be an argument for moral relativism; that given the pressures they face, professionals should play to different standards than the rest. But this, it seems, is just a way of saying that professionals' conduct can be less ethical than others'. And there is a difference between what has become accepted and what is right.

JUNE 07, 2014

Australia cricket

Cricket soothes asylum seekers' woes

Ayslum seekers to Australia have to undergo mandatory detention to assess health and security issues. Most of them are smuggled into the country via boats from Indonesia, but the journey isn't the safest and deportation is only a phone call away. Phil Mercer of the BBC meets a group of Tamils from Sri Lanka who have taken to the cricket field as a way to escape the dread they feel about going back home.

"It helps them to almost feel that they are part of the community they want to be a part of," said Deenu Rajaratnam, the Sydney league manager for Last Man Stands, which runs the global T20 competition.

"Here they are getting a chance to actually live like anyone else on the field. They are equal, they are competing. They have the same chance of hitting a six, or a four or of getting a wicket as the opposition."

JUNE 06, 2014

Offbeat

Green gloves, ducks and bats taped to ceilings

While reviewing Chris Waters' book 10 for 10 - on Hedley Verity's record - for the Guardian, Andy Bull recounts some entertaining stories of superstitions that cricketers have followed.

Others take things further still. Duck seemed so portentous to Steve James that he refused to eat it, and wouldn't even let his children have a rubber one to play with in the bath, until after his career was over. He sympathised with Neil McKenzie, who developed an obsession that meant he would go out to bat only when all the toilet seats were down, and even went through a phase of taping his bat to the ceiling because his team-mates had once done that to him on a day when he scored a century.

JUNE 06, 2014

South Africa news

'International sport is a fickle thing' - Amla

Days after being appointed South Africa's Test captain, Hashim Amla shares some insights on his leadership style in an interview with Sport 24, and also stresses there are no cliques within the side.

You can recognise cliques. There are two kinds: the one that can be positive and the destructive one. The destructive ones try to marginalise others in the team. Naturally we don't want any of them ... and luckily there aren't any in the team. Look, there will be guys who have their close friends: maybe they like the same music, movies or whatever. There's no harm there ... actually it's healthy to have somebody to relate to. And if mutual respect still exists within the team then what more do you want? The team is in a good space and to keep it like that will be one of the challenges, because cancers can develop, with a few losses here and there. It's not just the captain's responsibility ... it's the players, the coach, the management.

JUNE 05, 2014

Women's cricket

Just like the men of the 90s

India Women cricketer Snehal Pradhan writes on her blog that the current women's side resembles the India men's team of the 1990s, which was "famously talented and infamously inconsistent." She hopes that Mithali Raj's team can turn it around just like the men did in the 2000s.

The doldrums of the '90s must give way to the genesis of a new fate. The ingredients are all there. Younger, fitter players have been proving their international credentials over the past couple of years, and some prodigal talent is bubbling under the surface. Only a catalyst is required. Just as the men went from being a one man batting line up to a team with a big three and a big four, the women have the quality to find themselves similarly positioned.

JUNE 04, 2014

Sri Lanka in England 2014

England should apologise for mankading, not SL

An editorial in the Guardian says Sri Lanka's mankading of Jos Buttler was well within the rule books, and so it should be England who apologise for the incident, not the visitors.

In the words of Sir Donald Bradman: "If not, why is the provision there which enables the bowler to run him out? By backing up too far or too early, the non-striker is very obviously gaining an unfair advantage." If it's good enough for the Don, it should be good enough for Alastair Cook. It's England who should apologise.

JUNE 02, 2014

England cricket

Broad's Brisbane trial

Stuart Broad has a endured winter riddled with disappointment, in Australia and then in the World T20. He was likely to receive a sour welcome on the return Ashes series after choosing not to walk when he nicked to first slip. He had sought psychiatric help, but in an interview with Donald McRae for Guardian, Broad recounts how the events of the first day of the Brisbane Test were beyond what he expected.

Broad looks almost shocked again. How did he feel amid such raw animosity? "I just went 'Wow - that's 50,000 people properly booing me'. It ruffled me and I bowled a no-ball with my first delivery. I also slung one down leg side in that over. So I must admit I was shaken by it.

"But I got a wicket with my first ball next over and I felt fine. I went down to deep square and the whole crowd stood up and shouted and I had a singalong with them and just relaxed. There was a moment when I found myself whistling along to 'Broady is a wanker' and I thought: 'What am I doing here?' It was a hell of an experience for a 27-year-old to go through. I'll never face anything that tough again."

MAY 29, 2014

IPL 2014

Because Knight Riders are happy

From staring down at the prospect of elimination, to winning eight games in a row in order to become the first team to reach the 2014 IPL final, Kolkata Knight Riders have had a lot to be happy about, as evidenced by their rendition of Pharrell Williams' popular number.

MAY 27, 2014

Fixing

Do fans care about fixing?

The fans, not the players nor the arenas nor the competitions, lend cricket its magnificence. That means it is up to the fans, not the press nor the ICC nor even the police, to decide whether match-fixing matters, writes Telford Vice on www.gocricket.com. He provides the examples of Hansie Cronje and Mohammad Azharuddin and fans' response to them, and says that people "get the game they deserve."

If the folks who buy their own tickets to matches or give up their own time to stare at their own televisions enjoy cricket just the way it is, who is anyone to tell them they should not bother with something crooked?
MAY 27, 2014

Broadcasting

Harsha Bhogle, the storyteller

Harsha Bhogle discusses the early influences that shaped his commentary, censorship, unsavoury trysts on twitter and physical attributes in television presenting. Arun Venugopal of the Hindu has more.

You will find very few networks on cricket broadcast actually taking on matters of this sensitivity. So, for example, you won't find anyone talking about why a Pakistan player shouldn't be in the IPL. [These are] very sensitive matters that you have got to be careful not to inflame. In my case, I am very clear that my job here is not to be an opinion-maker, but to be a storyteller. I believe I am an opinion-maker on Twitter, in my articles. But, I have never ever been told, 'You will not say this'. I have just been told, 'Let's not say something that might offend.' That was a long time ago. In recent times, I haven't been told that.

MAY 26, 2014

New Zealand cricket

The agony of Lance Cairns

On his website, Martin Crowe writes of his warm relations with Lance Cairns, who inspired him as a youngster, and hopes that the controversy surrounding Chris Cairns finds some resolution.

These are dark days indeed, with darker ones ahead. Leaks are flying everywhere, and Chris is being nailed in the court of public opinion, without a chance to answer, as the ICC circumvent him. That in itself is appalling. They simply must wind this matter up and make a decision. They act as slowly as a hedgehog in a thoughtful meditative state. The longer they carry on at this roadkill pace, the sooner they destroy the very game they supposedly govern. The ICC are serious serial offenders in gifting their wicket, and this is one of their worst innings.

Worst of all, from a personal standpoint, is what Lance will make of it all.

MAY 25, 2014

Match-fixing

Cricket's leaders should share blame for mess

In the Herald on Sunday, Paul Lewis writes that the ECB, ICC and the BCCI have hardly covered themselves in glory in trying to eliminate the evils of fixing and corruption. The Stanford controversy is a case in point and the BCCI too hasn't been fast enough in tackling the problem of fixing in T20s. Much would depend on the 2015 World Cup to set a fine example.

So the World Cup, contested in two countries populated mostly by hard-nosed players for whom a world title is more than just an opportunity for graft (of the palm-greasing variety) may not only re-assert the virtues of the 50-over game, but it may also help save cricket. There will be millions watching for any sign of a rogue no-ball, coloured bat handles and surprising errors in the field.

MAY 23, 2014

Spot-fixing

BCCI should do better to restore fans' faith - Bhogle

Harsha Bhogle, in his column for Indian Express, a long tournament like the IPL can fall prey to spot-fixing. Unfavourable sources could take advantage of an event where one match is forgot in the wake of the next. This heightens the need to be more vigilant, if the fan's support is to be safeguarded.

With power comes this responsibility and at the first whiff of impropriety, they need to come down hard. The BCCI can argue they did precisely that by banning Sreesanth and the others almost immediately but by their opposition to the Mudgal Commission they have got the public concerned. Like all organisations they must feel the pulse of the consumers, the fans, and while the public enjoy watching the IPL, as indeed I do, there is a growing feeling that the BCCI isn't trying hard enough to convince them that they are watching a fair contest everytime. And as more revelations, like those from Vincent and others that gave testimony, tumble out, the need to reach out to the public must grow even stronger.

MAY 21, 2014

Corruption in cricket

Is this the death of live sport?

Tanya Aldred writing for the Telegraph, discusses the suspicions creeping up in the game as a result of match-fixing allegations.

In practice, match-fixing is a betrayal - of the game, the spectator, the players and the human spirit. The fan feels as the thwarted spouse who discovers the last 20 years of jolly family photographs have been a sham. You can never again conjure up happy memories of the moment, the day, the man without thinking of the reality -- the past is forever spoilt by knowledge gained in the present.

The first step to weed out corruption in the game is by accepting that cricket is no longer infallible, writes Andy Bull in the Guardian.

Were the approaches reported by Shane Watson, Mashrafe Mortaza, Paul Nixon and so many others insufficient proof? Or is it that cricket, the community around the sport, is still in denial about the extent of the problem it is facing?

MAY 20, 2014

Sri Lanka cricket

The social consciousness of the Sri Lanka team

In an interview with Donald McRae of the Guardian, Kumar Sangakkara shares the experiences that have influenced him as a player and individual. Sangakkara also talks about how the national cricket team transformed itself into a more socially conscious outfit after the 2004 tsunami that devastated parts of Sri Lanka.

"The team also represented something so unique, so loved and longed for - the diversity of people, ethnicity and religion and how we manage to understand and value each other and perform so well. That instilled a sense of responsibility in us.

"The tsunami [in December 2004] was a big turning point. Seeing the devastation, alongside Murali [Muttiah Muralitharan], Mahela and other cricketers when we went up the coast with supplies, changed us. We spoke to people and you saw the desperation and tragedy in their eyes. We met a man who had lost all his children and his wife. And he stood by himself. It was terrible - and so the cricket team transformed itself."

MAY 20, 2014

IPL 2014

What makes Rajasthan Royals tick?

In an interview with iplt20.com, Rahul Dravid opens up about his role as mentor of Rajasthan Royals, the unique philosophy of the team, and the elaborate planning that goes behind the scenes to prepare for a "fighting brand of cricket".

In the end, you have to empower players to make decisions on their own. They are in the middle and they have to make choices and decisions. All we tell them is to make smart decisions and back themselves to execute those decisions. It may not always work and we may not always succeed, but as long as our players are making the right choices with the bat or the ball, or at least the right choices in their opinion, there is a logical thinking behind the decisions that they are making in the middle.

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