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Michael Clarke won't be the only captain hoping desperately that Australia avoid a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of England on this year's Ashes tour. After Ian Botham predicted such a clean sweep, Allan Border, the man in charge of Australia's 1989 Ashes triumph made a promise.
"I'll piggyback Beefy round Piccadilly Circus if England beat Australia 5-0," Border told the London Evening Standard. "England deserve to be favourites. But Botham's 5-0 just won't happen, it's going to be a lot tighter."
The 1989 success came as a surprise to many in England and Clarke's 2013 squad has been compared to Border's group in terms of the lack of experience and expectations. Border said any disparagement of the Australian outfit in the media could actually be used to their advantage.
"The best way to motivate an Australian side is to grab a few of those headlines and stick them up around the dressing room," he said. "It's amazing how it puts a bit of fire in the belly.
That was the case in 1989. England had a very good side and the headlines then were very similar. Before the First Test, I grabbed a few of those headlines and it riled our blokes enough. It's just amazing how you get motivation. And we all know what happened in '89."
Too early to start Ashes sledging? Never.
David Gower has heated up the pre-Ashes talk by claiming Australia has no culture and that the cricketers have an "animal mentality."
When asked, in an interview with the Radio Times magazine, if England verses Australia was a clash of cultures he said: "I'm tempted to say, how can you have a clash of cultures when you're playing against a country with no culture? That would almost be sledging."
And he did not stop there, recalling memories of being an England cricketer in Australia. "If you're on the boundary you have to be very, very thick-skinned, because the Aussie crowd will try you with absolutely anything."
"The trouble is, if they've had 10 cans of lager, their ability to come up with something akin to Oscar Wilde diminishes. A lot of it therefore tends to be very stereotypical. But it's feral; if they sense weakness, they'll come at you."
Now all we need is the retort from Allan Border, Merv Hughes, Dean Jones to Shane Warne
Thrifty Champions Trophy organisers in Cardiff have come up with a scheme to prevent too many balls being lost to the River Taff that flows behind one end of Glamorgan's ground: a man with a net in a boat (or, to be specific, a coracle).
With the likes of Chris Gayle - who last month hit a world-record 17 sixes during one IPL innings - Eoin Morgan and MS Dhoni expected to play in Cardiff, coracler Karl Chattington may also need a helmet to protect from flying projectiles.
The first coracle to set sail on the Taff will also save Glamorgan a few quid each time its operator fishes another ball out of the water.
"Chris Gayle is renowned for hitting sixes and with the number of big hitters appearing in the ICC Champions Trophy games in Cardiff, we just can't be too careful," Simon White, Glamorgan's finance director, said. "Although this tournament is a significant contributor to our finances we have to manage the cost of bills and every time a ball is saved that's £50 to us as a business."
The Champions Trophy will commence next Thursday in Cardiff, with India v South Africa the first of five games to be held in Wales. Despite hopes for an exciting tournament, Glamorgan can be sure no one will make too much of a splash in Wales.
Sreesanth is currently in the headlines for all the wrong reasons - his shopping list, romantic gestures and dance moves - but People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have zeroed in on an idea they think could bring him some goodwill.
"Star in a PETA ad promoting a different kind of 'fixing' - sterilising dogs and cats. No one would call you 'out' about that," said a statement from the organisation, who want Sreesanth - who was PETA's Sexiest Vegetarian Alive in 2009 - and the other cricketers, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan, to participate in a campaign against "unchecked breeding".
All three players are currently back in police custody, until May 26, after a Delhi court remanded them without bail on Tuesday. So they might just be a while answering.
Sachin Tendulkar has the honour of having a wax model of himself on display at Madame Tussauds in London. It doesn't need telling that his contributions to cricket have elevated him to 'godlike' status, not only in India, but across the world. So it is not very often that a goof up regarding him is made. Such was the case though, when his second wax likeness - this one at the SCG in Sydney - was unveiled by the iconic wax museum; the jersey that the figure sported was India's kit from the 2012 World T20, a tournament Tendulkar wasn't part of, Mid-Day reported. It has been almost seven years since Tendulkar suited up for a T20 international, his only such game being India's maiden T20I, against South Africa in December 2006. Madame Tussauds has admitted to the rather embarrassing gaff and will change the figure's kit to reflect Tendulkar's crowning glory with a 2011 World Cup India jersey.
Sachin Tendulkar has been on TV screens around the world for over two decades but he's now set to make his debut in animated form - as part of a new series called 'Master Blasters.' Tendulkar will travel the world in his "spaceship cum stadium", playing cricket matches with and against some of the best cricketing talent on offer. He even has his own arch rival, Peter, who looks to humiliate the hero at every turn.
In the series, Tendulkar is appointed by the Programme for International Training of Cricket Heroes (PITCH) to run a training camp for the finest young cricketers around the world. Tendulkar will feature along with an assortment of twelve kids, with the series promising elements of comedy, life coaching, and of course, cricket. Tendulkar says he was a Superman fan in his youth; here's his chance to live yet another dream.
Most of you have probably heard several jokes about 'Sir' Ravindra Jadeja, in the Chuck Norris/Rajnikanth template, floating around. How about his one? "Sir Jadeja once wanted to make a silt mountain to play as a kid, now we all call it Mt Everest." That one's courtesy Jadeja's India and Chennai Super Kings' captain, MS Dhoni.
Jadeja had to put up with some serious ribbing from Dhoni and his Super Kings' team-mates on Tuesday, prior to their evening practice session in Mohali. Dhoni, Suresh Raina, R Ashwin, and even franchise official Gurunath Meiyappan, all got into the act, tweeting joke after joke about "Sir Jadeja". Among other things, Jadeja was credited with inventing something new every time he made an error, making the road move whenever he sat in his jeep with the intention of going for a drive, and making the ball come to him instead of running to claim a catch.
Jadeja's response? He tweeted Dhoni and Raina confirming he had no intention of being the next Rajnikanth, and went on to pose for photos in the team bus with Raina.
God realised RAJNI sir is getting old so he created sir ravindra jadeja— Mahendra Singh Dhoni (@msdhoni) April 9, 2013
Sirr Jaddduuu Off to training lol twitter.com/ImRaina/status…— Suresh Raina (@ImRaina) April 9, 2013
Shakib Al Hasan's celebrity status in Bangladesh has taken a leap after he shot scenes for a Bangla movie during the weekend.
He made a guest appearance for Shob Kichu Pechone Fele (Leaving Everything Behind) at the Cox's Bazar beach. He parachuted on to the beach and played cricket with five friends, the main characters in the movie. Director Rajibul Hossain told Bangla daily Prothom Alo that the movie is about the adventures of these five friends.
Shakib is a regular in TV advertisements in the country and also supports several charities as brand ambassador for various products.
Brad Hodge carried it once for reporting late to the team bus. Kevin Cooper clutched it around for not wearing the right kind of swimwear. Pinky was a pink doll, which Shane Warne, the former Australia legspinner had brought with him during his time as captain and mentor at Rajasthan Royals. One of the numerous tricks out of Warne's book of eccentricities, Pinky was actually a punishment imposed on a Royals player for breaking a team rule/curfew or walking late to the team bus or making a mistake. Warne had imposed the ruling that the concerned player would be forced to carry the doll everywhere from the ground, to the dressing room, to the team bus, to the parties. But all that is in the past. "Pinky will not be seen this time around. Hopefully, Paddy [Upton, the coach] will come up with something more unique," Royals CEO Raghu Iyer was quoted as saying in Times of India.
Ravindra Jadeja, the India allrounder, has two first-class triple-centuries to his name in the 2012-13 season and is currently in the purplest patch of his career with the ball, having accounted for Australia captain Michael Clarke in five innings out of six in the ongoing Test series. Yet even those deeds paled in comparison to a recent insertion in his Wikipedia profile - it called him "a philanthropist, a Nobel Prize winner, a double Laureus sportsman of the year, and the nearest human to god."
Wikipedia - the free, online 'encyclopedia' that readers can edit - is known, or notorious, for the ease with which entries can be tweaked by the public, and the qualifications were as swiftly deleted. Who added it in? Could have been an admirer, could even have been those who doubt his Test credentials. It was a cricket fan for sure, because it stopped short of calling Jadeja god - that is reserved for only one cricketer.
The Bangladesh players got a surprise break from training when a snake snuck up out of a trough near the car-park of the Cricket Academy next to the R Premadasa Stadium.
The snake, estimated to be between two and four feet long, caught the attention of the dog catchers, and the Bangladesh players, who chased after it. But after being scared away once, it reappeared to the surprise to some of the players, two of whom were fully padded up.
The dog catchers, meanwhile, cast their net a little wider and found a few preys in the stands of the stadium. But they wouldn't even look at the snake.
Coach Shane Jurgensen was not too impressed by all the squealing of the dogs. But his strong words didn't have any impact as the person they were directed to didn't understand English, and so the poachers remained vigilant.
Pakistan cricketer Rana Naveed can be a big hitter when needed - and now he's shown he can be a fast bat too. He faced 45 balls in one minute at an event in Lahore on Wednesday, taking him into the Guinness Book of World Records for the most number of deliveries faced in a minute after easily overhauling Andrew Flintoff's record of 19.
Of the 50 bowlers who lined up to have a bowl at Naveed at the Lahore City Cricket Association Ground, only 48 managed to hit the deck. Naveed missed three of those balls. Incidentally, he would have faced the remaining two bowlers had the eager crowd not run on to the pitch to celebrate the record.
No use blaming the batsmen, the pitches, or the lack of spinners. Former Australia fast bowler Merv Hughes, instantly recognisable in his playing days by his handlebar moustache, has said what Australia lack on the tour of India is not skill, determination or a magic wand, but 'facial hair'.
Currently in India with a touring party for the Test series, Hughes said, "I feel facial hair brings the best out of the players. I would like to see the guys with moustaches, beards, goatees, half-beards and half-shaved heads."
Hughes also had another, practical, reason for his suggestion. "When the Australians come to the subcontinent, a lot of the guys grow beards to protect their face from the sun. It is not just a fashion statement.
"When I played, a lot of people had moustaches - David Boon and Graham Gooch both had lovely moustaches."
Interestingly, neither Gooch nor Boon were a part of a series win in India and - Hughes never played a Test in India.
The partnership of 664 between Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli, in 1988, in an inter-school match, is a lore many Indian fans are fond of. But the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the landmark - a world record, broken only in 2006-07 - was dampened when it was found that the original score-sheet that noted the achievements of the future India batsmen was 'incinerated'.
"The score-sheet was kept along with all the other records of games and has since been incinerated as we could not store them all. You cannot expect us to store files that are 25 years old," Mumbai School Sports Association secretary, HS Bhor, said.
Bhor rubbed in the irony by saying that the score-sheet was 'like a sheet from any other match'.
Kambli gave voice to his disappointment on Twitter.
Its very upsetting,that our world record score sheet is been destroyed they shld know it was a record which change my n sachins career.shame— Vinod Kambli (@vinodkambli1972) February 27, 2013
Many of England's players are known to enjoy a round of golf on a day off and there a plenty of wonderful courses for them to take advantage of in New Zealand.
However, Stuart Broad may have second thoughts about playing alongside Graeme Swann again after the offspinner did some serious damage to Broad's driver while attempting to show off a trick shot. Put it this, way Broad won't be making many fairways with it any more. Check out Broad's Youtube video for the full picture.
Virender Sehwag and his opening partner for the forthcoming Australia series, Shikhar Dhawan, took some time off to encourage cricketers on a different playing field. The duo visited Tihar Jail, the largest prison complex in South Asia, to cheer on inmates at a cricket match. The match was organised as a part of sporting competition organised for inmates.
A quiet post-retirement life isn't everyone's cup of tea. Former New Zealand cricketer Nathan Astle, for one, has stepped up a few gears after giving up cricket, reveling in a love for speedway racing. "I couldn't do it when I was playing cricket. So when I gave up [in 2007] I started thinking about it. [Former team-mates] have me on a little bit because none of them knew I was a closet speedway freak - or bogan. They were quite surprised,"Astle said. The fastest double-centurion in Test cricket has already had some success in his third racing season, claiming the third spot at the South Island championship.
A whiz move by the ECB's marketing department to liven up the innocuous Test-match tea break could set off a fresh round of sniping across the Pennines. For the next three seasons, the time between 3:40 and 4pm during Tests in England will be called the Yorkshire Tea Break. Every tea break would now be made "fun and engaging for the many fans of the game", a Yorkshire Tea representative said. Not, perhaps, the fans in traditional rivals Lancashire. On hearing the news, the Manchester Evening News' cricket writers, true Lancashire loyalists, snapped back on Twitter: Yorkshire Tea have just signed deal with ECB to be the "Official Brew of England Cricket"! Not at Old Trafford it isn't!" Old Trafford stages the 3rd Ashes Test in August and a Lancs CCC's spokesman said politely of the new development, "Of course we will be selling Yorkshire tea, but we would expect sales of coffee to go through the roof as a consequence."
For many people, there are few things that matter more in life than brownie points with one's mother, and with the help of Sri Lankan comedian Jehan Ranatunga, Mahela Jayawardene has marketed a charity concert he is supporting as the ultimate way to earn Amma (mother) points. The youtube clip posted on January 31 has Jayawardene providing 10 tips on how to butter up mumsy, including comparing your mother's cooking favourably with other mothers' fare, fixing computers for your mother's friends, and dancing with your mother at weddings. Proceeds from the Ignite charity concert in Colombo on February 2 will go to the Maharagama Cancer Hospital.
Unsurprisingly, the other half of cricket's greatest bromance is doing pretty much the same thing around the same time. Kumar Sangakkara is teaming up with classical crooners The De Lanerolle brothers for a show supporting Sangakkara's Bikes for Life campaign - which provides bicycles to children in rural areas so they can attend school - as well as the Ceylon School for the Deaf and Blind. Rumour is that sadly, Sangakkara won't be singing, but if a healthy donation is on the line, you never know.
The abandonment of Sunday's ODI between Australia and Sri Lanka in Sydney due to rain left many dissatisfied but some in the crowd, it seems, channelled their frustration in a productive way. Well, at least if you consider setting a new world record for the longest 'beer snake' productive.
Several Australian outlets, including the Sydney Morning Herald and Big Pond Sport, reported on the feat, which was apparently assisted by a public-spirited security guard. The snake - made of empty beer cups stacked in a long, winding line - was said to have stretched the length of the Victor Trumper stand and cheers went up around the SCG when a notice flashed up on the big screen declaring it a new world record.
The beer snake was estimated at being up to 175m long in some reports and apparently exceeded the mark set at the WACA in 2007. While it isn't possible to accurately measure such constructions, there have already been dark whispers that the Sydney snake would quite easily have been swallowed up by some of the bigger beasts to be occasionally found lurking on Headingley's notorious Western Terrace...