DECEMBER 10, 2014

Pakistan's ODI batting a decade behind the rest

Hassan Cheema: The return to tried-and-tested underperformers for the World Cup squad will undo all the good work done over the last 14 months
With the successes of Fawad Alam and Sohaib Maqsood, it looked like Pakistan would finally have a modern batting order © AFP
MAY 05, 2014

Australia's rise and the climb ahead

Michael Jeh: Under Michael Clarke, they have had a fantastic summer. But can they continue to keep the competition at bay in Tests, and win the World Cup?
JANUARY 06, 2014

The Ashes 2013-14

The worst implosion ever?

The UK media are picking through the bones of England's Ashes skeleton, partly trying to work out where it all went wrong and partly assessing where it ranks among sporting thrashings. Paul Hayward, in the Daily Telegraph, argues the 5-0 whitewash has to rank at the top of English humiliations given that they came off the back of winning 3-0 just a few months ago.

This time, after a reasonable first day of the series in Brisbane we saw England assailed by technical, intellectual and emotional chaos, with no one able to stop it. Recent Ashes history makes no sense. The swing from the summer is too great for us properly to comprehend because it takes us beyond mere sporting factors into a vast realm of psychology, team spirit and character. Flintoff has spoken of his depression on the 2006-07 tour. One wonders at the private thoughts of captain Cook and his men now and how they will suffer with the results from these five Tests slung permanently around their necks.

In the Daily Mail, Paul Newman writes that the rebuilding for 2015 - the next Ashes - has to start now and that five players who appeared in this series should never play for England again

The senior players have let England down. Graeme Swann will be the hardest to replace. Jonathan Trott will have to convince England that he is well enough not to leave a tour again if he is to come back but Matt Prior will return, possibly as early as the first Test of next summer. But there will be those who should never play Test cricket again after this -- Monty Panesar, Tim Bresnan, Chris Tremlett, Michael Carberry and Jonny Bairstow.

In the Guardian, Vic Marks assess the performances of Boyd Rankin and Michael Carberry on the third (and last) day in Sydney

We have seen plenty of Carberry already on this tour. He has impressed by his swift-footed valour against Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris at the start of the innings. Then, so often he would stagnate. Perhaps he felt he was doing his duty as wickets fell at the other end. Then he would be dismissed, a victim of his own inertia.

In his column for the Daily Telegraph, which was also published in the Sydney Morning Herald, Geoffrey Boycott does not think England will take the tough decisions that are needed.

Over recent years England have employed more backroom staff believing it makes them more professional. In fact, they have over-complicated professionalism. We have coaches for everything. Psychologists, team analysts and an 82 page diet book that made us a laughing stock. It is time they got into the real world and stopped wasting money on frivolous luxuries that do not make any difference when Mitchell Johnson is whistling it around your earhole. The players have stopped thinking for themselves.

NOVEMBER 20, 2013

The Official Confectionery Stall Ashes Preview

Andy Zaltzman: Andy Zaltzman provides the almost-definite preview of the Ashes series and why England should, could, or might not retain the urn
NOVEMBER 18, 2013

The Ashes 2013-14

England a fading force

The resumption of Ashes cricket is drawing nearer and there is a sense of a change in mood: England standing as clear favourites has been eroded somewhat by their tricky build-up and the form of many of the Australia squad. In the Sunday Telegraph, Scyld Berry says that England's batsmen, with the exception of Ian Bell, are beginning to fade which sets up the prospect of a shared series.

Some Australians, emboldened by signs their team have bottomed out, are predicting 3-1 - conceivable, if injury strikes a major England player. For instance, if Alastair Cook broke a finger and Matt Prior had to take over as captain; or if Kevin Pietersen's knees give way again and England lose their capacity to score quickly and give their bowlers extra time; or if James Anderson, heaven forfend, proved mortal at last.

Many England supporters are predicting 3-1 in their favour which, again, is possible if injury intervenes. Australia's batting would be lost without Michael Clarke, whose back ruled him out of the Champions Trophy last summer. Or if Ryan Harris, their attack leader, is injured - and he has managed only 16 Tests in his 34 years - they are down to the reserves of Ben Hilfenhaus and the uncapped Nathan Coulter-Nile.

Michael Vaughan, in his Daily Telegraph column, argues that both Alastair Cook and Michael Clarke have work to do on their captaincy - Clarke needs to win a few Tests and Cook needs to come out of his shell

I will be interested to see Cook in the field in Australia because I think he will have been damaged by what Warne has said. The environment in this England team is to try and improve every day and that means you also have to be open to feedback. If I were Cook and Andy Flower I would be saying: "OK, some of Warney's stuff has been out of order but we could be more proactive and aggressive in the field."

The Brisbane Test will mark the 100th of Kevin Pietersen's England career, a period of time studded with breathtaking batting and a fair few controversies. In the Observer, Vic Marks says that the landmark shows how durable Pietersen has been

Now Pietersen is in the autumn of his career. The body is creaking. When he sets off for that first single it is not only the non-striker who looks on with trepidation; so does the physiotherapist. Often it takes longer for him to acclimatise at the crease. Yet to the Australians he surely remains the most coveted of England wickets in this series.

And in the Daily Mail, current and former team-mates discuss Pietersen's impact

FEBRUARY 21, 2013

Where is No. 2 and No. 20?

Anantha Narayanan: A study to rank and analyse Test batsmen and bowlers across various performance parameters
JANUARY 05, 2013

Does the Hicks-Botham particle exist?

Andrew Hughes: Plenty of oddities in cricket point to the possibility of this god-only-knows how particle - like England being good at one-day cricket
SEPTEMBER 15, 2012

Test players: a look into their best decades

Anantha Narayanan: Performance analysis of Test batting and bowling careers of players by decade
AUGUST 22, 2012

Pakistan's unexpected fourth

Kamran Abbasi: South Africa's deserved rise to No.1 in Test cricket offered the world a lingering view of the new Test rankings. The top three were as expected, vanquished England sitting above Australia
AUGUST 01, 2012

Test players' career-to-date average analysis

Anantha Narayanan: A detailed analysis of Test batsmen and bowlers using career-to-date averages
JANUARY 22, 2012

India never cultivated aggression, even when they were No.1

Samir Chopra: Nothing has surprised me more than the defences mounted of Dhoni's tactics in Wellington and Dominica
AUGUST 07, 2011

Test rankings

'Let's not take the ICC rankings too seriously'

Paul Newman may have played a part in getting the concept of rankings for Test cricket off the ground 18 years ago but he doesn't feel the current system gives an accurate reflection of where teams actually stand. Read more in the Independent on Sunday.

Today's ICC Reliance Test Championship uses a ratings system developed by David Kendix, an actuary and cricket scorer. It is based on some complex calculations, though the basics are not dissimilar to the system that originated from Independent Towers, with results covering a rolling four-year period and taking into account the number of matches and series played.

The current table shows India in the lead, ahead of South Africa and England. However, while India are widely recognised as the world's best one-day side (even if, ironically enough, they lie third in the official ICC one-day rankings behind Australia and Sri Lanka), you might struggle to find neutral observers who regard them as the best Test team.

DECEMBER 26, 2009

Test rankings

No runaway best in Test cricket

Shane Warne, writing in the Times, says there is little to choose between what he reckons are the top four teams at the Test level, and gone are the days when there was one team, like the West Indies in the eighties and Australia for much of the noughties, that was miles ahead of the others. The reason, Warne writes, is the lack of match-winning individuals and players whom one could really refer to as "great".

With the ridiculous amount of cricket being played, it is probably time to think of best squads rather than best teams. To be able to field your strongest XI is becoming a luxury and the absence of key players has a serious bearing on results. Ask South Africa, who really missed Dale Steyn against England in Centurion.

If they were the runaway best, they would have beaten England on that pitch in those conditions. I think the West Indies side of the Eighties and Australia in the late Nineties/early 2000s could have won with a day to spare. Without Steyn, the kingpin of the attack, South Africa lacked firepower to finish off the job.

DECEMBER 01, 2009

Test rankings

The illusion of the top spot

If it happens, the No. 1 ranking for India will no doubt be a historical moment of trumpeting, but it will only be a moment. It is because of the BCCI’s miserable scheduling previously, when there was no IPL to serve as a distraction. Sharda Ugra explains on her blog on the India Today website.

The bigger pity is India’s Test team contains a small but very influential clutch of cricketers who have spent a decade pushing their team forward at home and abroad. Along with Mr T, to have batsmen of the quality of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman play seven Tests in ten months is like limiting an artist’s access to canvas and paint. Or, if artistic metaphors are not your choice, try telling men building a house that their use of brick and cement is being restricted to mood, rather than measure.

NOVEMBER 04, 2009

Grandmasters of cricket

Cricinfo: The ICC should commence an Honorary title system for the greatest players in the game
SEPTEMBER 03, 2009

Test rankings

Who will rule the world?

Can any team dominate cricket the way West Indies and Australia have done? Test cricket now sits at the mercy of any nation with the required credentials. South Africa occupy top place in the rankings, but it’s a close run thing and Sri Lanka and India are snapping at their heels. And England are still barking, writes Peter Roebuck in the Sportstar.

Of these, India, South Africa and England are the likeliest to take over at the top. The Sri Lankans are adept at living on their wits. Intelligence, originality and imagination are the hallmarks of their cricket. But they are a relatively small cricketing nation and will be hard-pressed to retain their standing. India and South Africa have advanced in step with the nations at large. India has become more confident, ambitious and organised. No longer are occasional triumphs enough, nor is the country prepared to depend upon talent and affection for the game. Domestic cricket is better funded, grounds are improving, wages are higher and the game is open to all comers. Fitness and pace bowling have been emphasised, a combination that has previously held the team back. Under Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India is poised to take first place in the rankings, a distinction it has never previously attained.

In the same magazine S Ram Mahesh analyses the top five teams in the fray.

AUGUST 30, 2009

Test rankings

'Tough for any one team to hold sway'

With Australia slipping from the top spot in the Test rankings, Anil Kumble believes it will be tough for one team to dominate from here on. Even if that happens, he doubts if it will be for periods of about a decade. The Twenty20 threat to Tests, day-night Test matches are some of the other topics he speaks about during an interview to Lokendra Pratap Sahi in the Telegraph, the Kolkata-based daily.

Is there a lesson to learn from Australia’s fall?

It hasn’t been a sharp fall... The Australians haven’t had great success over the past year-and-a-half or so, which is why it’s such a challenging time for them. You can’t be at the top forever... It’s a cycle... One shouldn’t forget that quite a few teams travel quite a lot nowadays and, so, are more used to playing in conditions overseas... Till a few years back, it was assumed that it would be difficult to beat Australia, that has changed and India took the lead in bringing about that change... We showed the way by beating them in India and winning Tests on Australian soil as well.

OCTOBER 16, 2008

Exciting to be among the elite

Cri-Zelda Brits: It is an honour to be named in the top 20 of the batting rankings, while I am delighted that the progress of Alicia Smith and Ashlyn Kilowan has also been recognised in the bowling rankings
SEPTEMBER 10, 2008

Another look at the best ODI batsmen

Ric Finlay: Stats analysis ranking the best ODI batsmen
SEPTEMBER 07, 2008

World Cup day dreams

Cri-Zelda Brits: Six months to go and we’re now really counting down to the start of the World Cup