DECEMBER 12, 2014

New Zealand cricket

The making of Trent Boult

New Zealand fast bowler Trent Boult speaks to Andrew Alderson in the Herald on Sunday, on how his bowling has developed, his ODI career, his fitness, and his Cadets club.

"I used to come in and bowl as fast as I could but, over the years, I've learned there are times you have to bowl within yourself. I always talk about Dale Steyn 'sniffing the moment' to take the initiative in a game. A lot of people talk about 'the zone' but I prefer not to overthink it. At the Basin [during the 10-for] against the West Indies, I was just running in and letting it go hassle-free. Simple is the best recipe. Making sure I had the right wrist position was as complex as it got."

OCTOBER 06, 2014

English cricket

The KP files

In an explosive interview with the Daily Telegraph on the eve of the release of his autobiography, Kevin Pietersen lashes out at former England coach Andy Flower for "ruling by fear", and alleges that wicketkeeper Matt Prior - who, along with the bowlers, was a bully - orchestrated a campaign against him.

"I could give you telephone numbers of international players around the world. You ring them and ask them about the way the England team conducted themselves through the last three, four years. Listen to them. Ask the Sri Lankans, ask the Australians. Ask the West Indians, ask the Indians. I got messages from Indians and stuff when they played against them saying: 'I can't believe you could play with these guys.' "

In the Guardian, Barney Ronay tells us about the flotsam in the decaying cricket universe, and why Kevin Pietersen is "such an obvious lightning rod for English cricket's transformation anxieties".

SEPTEMBER 18, 2014

English cricket

Root, Ballance and the Idle days

In an extensive interview with BBC Sport, Joe Root and Gary Ballance reminisce about their early years in Yorkshire's cricket set-up and the time they spent as house-mates in a village called Idle. Root, a practical joker according to Ballance, recalls an incident involving Ryan Sidebottom and a sock that paid a quirky tribute to the legend of the Yorkshire Snipper.

Root grins knowingly, then adds: "The worst one was when I did it to (veteran fast bowler) Ryan Sidebottom after dropping two catches off him. At the end of the day's play he was sitting next to me in the dressing-room and was already absolutely furious.
"Then he got out of the shower, pulled his first sock on right up to the top of his thigh and just blew up. All the lads were trying not to look at him and laugh. I just knew I had to get out of there or I would be in a bit of pain."

AUGUST 21, 2014

English cricket

My flair turned out to be productive - Gower

That elegant left-hander, David Gower, talks to KC Vijaya Kumar of the Hindu about his style, and how it was all about scoring runs, whether your batting looked good or not.

Yes in terms of left-handers, for me it was always pleasant when people said that there was elegance and style but then none of that works unless you get runs and spend 10 to 15 years playing Test cricket. For me to walk out to bat at Lord's, the Oval, the Eden Gardens, the SCG, wherever it might be, I am not thinking hope this looks good, I am thinking hope I get some runs.

JULY 02, 2014

Corruption in cricket

'That's when my life changed'

In a five-part interview with NewstalkZB, Lou Vincent details how bookies offered him an initial US$15,000 during the Indian Cricket League, how his "hero" was furious after Vincent couldn't carry out a fix as planned, and whether he thinks a life ban is a severe enough punishment.

JUNE 30, 2014

Pakistan cricket

'I'm the sort of captain who can produce good players'

In an interview with pakpassion.net, Pakistan allrounder Shoaib Malik has criticised the PCB for its inconsistency in dealing with the players as well as running cricket in the country, and said he might consider taking charge once again if the board offered him the captaincy.

If they asked me [to captain] before the 2015 World Cup then I wouldn't be able to do it. If the Board asked me after the 2015 World Cup and the offer came with clarity about my role and the appropriate support then I would think about it. I feel I'm the sort of captain who can produce good players without being selfish. I've never been selfish and have always put the team ahead of individual aims.

JUNE 25, 2014

Indian cricket

Dravid, through the eyes of Pujara

Cheteshwar Pujara has borne the tag of being the next Rahul Dravid for the better part of his Test career. The similarity in temperement is apparent and their fondness for playing the long innings is another unifying factor. Shirin Sadikot of bcci.tv asks Pujara how his technique compares against his predecessor's.

I think his square drive was much better than mine is right now, mainly because he could play that shot even on the front-foot. I am good at playing the square drive on the back-foot but I haven't tried doing it on the front-foot. It's about picking the swing and the length early on. You really need to be good at it to play the square drive on the front-foot because otherwise it puts your wicket at risk. These are the shots you try out in the shorter formats rather than in Tests. I have tried it out in the Ranji Trophy but not at the Test level, where the ball comes at a higher pace and the wickets have more bounce. It's better to play it on the back-foot.

SEPTEMBER 30, 2013

England cricket

Boyd Rankin: skillful pacer, skillful ploughman

Jonathan Liew, writing for the Telegraph, visits Boyd Rankin's family on their farm in Northern Ireland, to learn about the lesser-known side of the bowler who recently earned an Ashes call-up.

Boyd's height marked him out from an early age. By the age of 11 or 12, he already stood 6ft tall. Soon after that, he was playing age group cricket for Ireland. But his parents made sure he remained grounded. In fact, his eventual move to England at 18 was not motivated solely by cricket. His main objective was to complete an agricultural degree at Harper Adams University in Shropshire. "He was ploughing from eight or nine," says his father Bob. "If he's home,  he's out at seven in the morning. He knew he had to rise in the morning to work. Other boys could just lie in their bed all day. That's not him. He's a very skilful tractor man, a very skilled  ploughman. He's quite skilful, too, at repairing machinery. He taught himself to weld, pretty much."

SEPTEMBER 19, 2013

Indian cricket

Using cricket to tell India's story

The Great Tamasha mirrors India's rise as a nation to its rise as a cricketing power. James Astill, author of the book, documents the evolution of cricket - with its introduction during the British era to its extravagant and controversial avatar, the Indian Premier League. Speaking to Will Davies of the Wall Street Journal, Astill explains his take on the sport that verges on obsession in the country and believes it is an apt tool to describe the India's story.

I wanted to tell that story, but not through the usual all-India generalizations - not from the usual New Delhi vantage. There have been too many books like that already. Rather, I wanted a unifying theme or a story, which would allow me to reflect on India's broader narrative. And it was only natural that I found this in Indian cricket - which is spectacularly rich and politically powerful, also riven with infighting and corruption, and just unbelievably popular. Most of India loves it. And I love it too

SEPTEMBER 02, 2013

Kenya cricket

The chronicles of Karim

In his time with Kenya, Aasif Karim has enjoyed some unforgettable highs, even if they were sprinkled between his team's struggle to cope in the international arena. Aditya Iyer of the Indian Express caught up with the former Kenya captain, who recalled his side's startling victory over West Indies in the 1996 World Cup, his ouster and subsequent retirement after the 1999 tournament and a surprise call-up for 2003 edition.

"I couldn't believe it. The same selector who had sacked me wanted me to be part of the World Cup team. I hadn't played a competitive match since 1999. But he was adamant," he says. Fast forward a couple of months and we meet our protagonist, wearing the green and red in Kingsmead. "There I was, too old to play cricket four years ago. Not only was I here, but Kenya had qualified for the semifinals of the World Cup," says Karim. "In front of me were the mighty Aussies. In a Super Sixes match. And behind me was a scoreboard that read: Karim: 8-6-3-3."

JUNE 26, 2013

Indian cricket

The life and times of Dicky Rutnagur

Dicky Rutnagur, veteran journalist for Hindustan Times and the Daily Telegraph passed away on June 21. Tony Cozier in the Stabroek News reminisces about sharing a press box with "the voice, spoken and written, of Indian cricket through three decades"

I cherish a picture of the two of us in the Bangalore Test during the 1974-75 West Indies tour (later carried in Wisden), Dicky's face wreathed in the typically impish smile that signaled he was holding forth with some yarn or the other. He made friends, and admirers, easily. Wherever his career took him, he had the respect of cricketers of all generations. The tributes that have followed his death confirm that impression.

Raju Bharatan in the Hindu, describes why Rutnagur was good enough to cover over 300 Test matches.

He was to cricket what Zubin Mehta was to music. He conducted himself as the quintessential professional. Not for him the literary flourishes of a K.N. Prabhu or an N.S. Ramaswami. Dicky Rutnagur was first a reporter, only then an opinion moulder. His smooth narrative style held you spellbound. This was reflected in the absorption with which his Editorial Musings and his day-to-day account of Test matches were read -- months after the events took place.

Amit Roy in India's Telegraph paints the various facets of Rutnagur's life - the journalist, the man, the cricket lover and devout Zoroastrian.

One reason I wanted Dicky at the Lord's lunch on Friday was because of what he felt about the ground. I had asked him about the world's most beautiful cricketing venues when I had done a formal interview with Dicky in 2005. "Lord's, of course," he replied. "My hair still stands on end when I go through the Grace Gate (the main gate at Lord's) after all these years. It is a privilege to go to Lord's. I will wear my best clothes to go to Lord's always, even for a county match."

Rutnagur was as noted for his pranks as he was for his opinions on the game, writes R Mohan in Mid-day

A few may have suffered at the hands of the press box joker that he was reputed to be. You were not initiated into cricket journalism until you had been doused by his water pistol. Mercifully, he carried it in days when security was not the watchword it is, otherwise he may have had a tough time explaining what a gun was doing amidst the paraphernalia.

JUNE 18, 2013

Cricket writing

Chronicles of the ghost-writer

In a piece in Man's World magazine, Sharda Ugra shares her experience of being a ghostwriter on two vastly different cricket biographies - John Wright's Indian Summers and Yuvraj Singh's The Test of My Life: From Cricket to Cancer and Back.

Now that the books are done, in hindsight, I think it would be close to impossible to take on an ultramarathon without either affinity or respect for the subject. A key commandment? Abandon your ego and your own stylistic imprints, replicate the narrator's own voice. The book, after all, belongs not to you but to the sportsman whose life it contains. It is he who must speak, authentically and credibly, to the reader and hold their attention. That's what you're there for.

JUNE 17, 2013

England cricket

I fire myself up to get into the right zone - Anderson

James Anderson has stamped his authority as England's leading bowler in the record books. He surpassed Darren Gough to become the country's highest wicket taker in one-day internationals, a month after claiming his 300th Test victim. Sam Sheringham of the BBC catalogues Anderson's interview with his colleague Mark Chapman, in which the he talks about the skill, physical and psychological requirements of bowling quick.

"When I first got picked for Lancashire I couldn't swing the ball, so [coach] Mike Watkinson took me aside and taught me how to do it: the grip and the seam position," reveals Anderson.

"He said imagine the feel of it coming out of your hand almost like an off-spinner, your arm coming over almost like a round-arm, or low-arm. That really worked for me because I'm a feel kind of bowler.

JUNE 10, 2013

Pakistan cricket

The birth of the reverse sweep

Mushtaq Mohammad takes Aditya Iyer of the Indian Express on a trip down memory lane, reflecting on how it felt to become Test cricket's youngest centurion, his admiration for brother Hanif, and his exploits during club matches in England.

"In one such match, I was up against a Middlesex club with the great Fred Titmus in it. We were chasing a rather large target and Freddie, a giant of an off spinner, was bowling. I couldn't get a run. I looked around and realised that the only gap was at third man. My shot was pre-meditated, but it connected and went for four," he says. "But Titmus appealed!"

Appealed? "Yes, poor old Freddie. He went wild and pulled his hair out. This was 1964, you see. The umpire told Freddie, 'You got a ball in your hand, he has a bat. He can do whatever he wants with it'. And there, the reverse hit was invented."

MAY 10, 2013

Interviews

'My greatest innings was not going to South Africa'

In an interview with The Times of India, Viv Richards speaks on a range of topics, including swagger, bluff, the right time to retire, Alex Ferguson, apartheid, Tony Greig, and more.

South Africa -- for no fault of the cricketers themselves --was a big issue. Any serious thinking person, anyone who is passionate about his colour, his race, would certainly have turned his back on South Africa. It's nice to hear about my great innings but the greatest innings that Vivian Richards played was not going to South Africa.
'

MARCH 07, 2013

Australian cricket

Hayden relives the 2001 tour to India

Matthew Hayden, in an interview with the BCCI, reflects on the historic 2001 series against India, and how integral the tour was to him and his Test career with Australia.

In 1995-96 a small unit of Australian batsmen were selected to practice at the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai. During the same time, there was also a small spin-bowling camp that was going on under Bishen Singh Bedi and S Venkatraghavan. I wasn't picked for that. I rang the chairman of selectors and said, 'Look, if there's any way I can go on this tour, please consider me for selection.' As it turned out, Greg Blewett pulled out of the tour and I was called up.

That trip wasn't about batting in India. I don't even remember picking up my bat and having a net. I was more a witness to the subtleties of the strategy of spin - where those two gentlemen would set fields, what their bowling plans would be, how that will impact me as a batsman and how I can manipulate the field to score runs. It was more about understanding the captaincy moves and the mind of a spin bowler. It was then for me to take that information away and start to generate some scoring options, form an attacking game plan against spin and develop the ability to bat for a long period of time and sustain the pressure of spin bowling. It was an incredibly valuable experience, one that I really cherish and will never forget.

MARCH 05, 2013

England

Bairstow in the spotlight

Jonny Bairstow can't find a way into the England side at the moment, not least because of the emergence of his fellow Yorkshireman Joe Root, but the memories of his early exploits, including 95 against South Africa at Lord's last summer, still burn bright. While he bides his time on the sidelines in New Zealand, he has spoken to Vithushan Ehantharajah in All Out Cricket about adjusting to the attention after hitting a ballistic 41 off 21 balls on ODI debut to secure victory over India in 2011:

"I was thrilled to win the game but the next couple of days were pretty special; people were suddenly taking an interest in me and asking me for interviews. It was a nice feeling. The flipside was that my profile rose and people who didn't know too much about me started to pay a bit more attention to how I was playing for Yorkshire. That in turn brought more comment on what I was doing for the Lions as well. It's more noticeable when you make the step up to play internationally; I mean, this was all from one knock. In any instance you can suddenly be shunted into the spotlight."

MARCH 03, 2013

Interviews

'The captain is always the boss'

Greg Chappell, the former Australia captain and India coach, talks to the Telegraph's Lokendra Pratap Sahi about his relationships with Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, and his philosophies in cricket.

The role [of a coach] is highly misunderstood [in India] and the expectations are very high... When I took over, the expectations were such that nobody could have achieved what was expected. One must realise that, at times, you need to risk losing in order to set things up for the future.

Dravid showed courage because, for everyone else, it was we can't do this, for if we get beaten, the media would tear us apart... Dravid did a magnificent job, because he bought into the philosophy of taking risks, making changes and looking ahead. As I've said, you don't stand still in sport... We wanted to take risks because we wanted to get better as a team.

JANUARY 29, 2013

Indian cricket

'IPL came in because of the ICL' - Badani

Hemang Badani, the former India batsman, talks to Subash Jayaraman on the Cricket Couch about how Tamil Nadu players tend to go a "bit soft" after debuting for India, his belief that the ICL spawned the IPL, and how he played a part in the legendary Laxman-Dravid stand in the Kolkata Test.

We had India and Australia at Eden Gardens, in the series India won 2-1, and Laxman scored 281. It was the 4th day where Laxman and Dravid played for the whole day. You can go back to the video evidence, there was only one man who took them drinks and water and gloves the entire day. That was me. Laxman and Dravid insisted that only I come in every time. I would bring in water, gloves or banana or whatever they wanted. I was the only one to bring it, they asked no one else to come inside. The entire day. I was the only man to help them out. I actually felt a part of the partnership that day.

I was told by Dravid, more than Laxman, "Tu hi aana, aur kisi ko bhejna mat", which means 'only you come, don't send in anybody else". I kept running in, it didn't matter to me, there was no hard work in it. It was just one of the things cricketers do. It feels nice to be the someone that they wanted to be there and find some comfort levels that they were okay with.

SEPTEMBER 08, 2012

Indian cricket

'I’ve beaten cancer' - Yuvraj

On the eve of his comeback to international cricket, Yuvraj Singh, in a chat with the Telegraph's Lokendra Pratap Sahi, talks about facing up to cancer and how he coped during his treatment.

What kept you going?

The doctors’ message — that once I’d finished the chemotherapy, I’d walk out of the hospital as a man who never had cancer... Of course, there were more bad days than good, but I’d try and keep myself in a nice frame of mind ... I had to go through it all to be alive.

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