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How unexpected were West Indies' and Australia's decisions to declare in the Barbados Test? Very.


How tiresome is it to see players like Harbhajan and Munaf argue with umpires over decisions? Very


Is it fair? Is it not? When can KP make the change? Before, between or after the delivery is bowled? So many questions. So many opinions. So few aware of the rules. And the threat of penalty. Exciting times.


Oh no Sunil Narine, did you just leave West Indies in the lurch to play the IPL? Just when they looked like they could beat Australia, who seem to be the new England when it comes to playing spin bowling


The Bangladesh board was hopeful of overturning the result of the Asia Cup final based on Aizaz Cheema's collision with batsman Mahmudullah during the chase. The claim was rejected but it gets points for the most optimistic appeal ever


On day three of the Galle Test Graeme Swann said England were favourites to win their highest ever chase. Shortly after tea on day four, they lost the match. An optimistic prediction but one that only made us laugh

One run

Just one more run and West Indies would have beaten Australia in the third ODI in St Vincent; one run and Bangladesh would have tied the Asia Cup final with Pakistan...

One Twenty20

Say whaa? India are sending a full team to South Africa for a one-off game between now and April 4, when the IPL starts? Who did this? The BCCI? Ah that explains it


Every Bangladesh win is called that, isn't it? And it usually does give a jolt to one's perception of the world order


Is what South Africa will be doing against this New Zealand side that keeps making "dumb mistakes"


Rahul Dravid's retirement announcement was just like his batting - a well-timed stroke that slipped between the gaps with minimum fuss


Cairns rages at Modi, the PCB criticises the FICA, Bangladesh selector rails against the board president - is anyone happy and ulcer-free at all?


Like the ones for the World Twenty20, which give chances to Associate teams. Or the mathematical one in the final league stages of the CB Series, which got people interested in the tournament before the finals


If it's a New Zealand Cricket ban, it must have been handed down to Jesse Ryder for some alcohol-related incident. And this time he's dragged Doug Bracewell down with him into the hall of shame

Small grounds

The thinking batsman's accessory of choice when it comes to blasting humongous scores, leading to interest from the IPL, which then buys said batsman's services for squillions of dollars. Naturally, bowlers will cry.

Big turnarounds

So England have won both limited-overs series against Pakistan in the UAE. Does that mean they'll forget the 0-3 loss in the Tests? Start taking ODIs seriously? Do we even care?

Fast hundreds

Those are exciting, like Richard Levi's record-breaking T20 century

Slow fielders

Who us? Sehwag has no idea Dhoni called the Indian seniors slow on the field


Husky Samit Patel, he of the portly countenance, declared recently at a press conference that he has "too much hunger", comic pause, "for cricket". How jolly.

No appetite

David Warner couldn't be happier he has been passed over for the captaincy in the wake of Michael Clarke's injury, though Warner is the vice-captain.


Wait, how many degrees does Saeed Ajmal's elbow flex again? And does that make him the reincarnation of Plastic Man? Oh wait, it's eight. No, it's 15. No, it's a problem with English not being his first language. His action's legit, it's not, it's hours of fun for everyone.


What do you call it when you pull strings to make sure you're able to get the English allrounder of your dreams for your IPL team by paying over a million and a half dollars, and he plays three matches making not very many runs and taking not very many wickets? Karma?

T20 for T20's sake

The Associate players are participating in the BPL, Scott Styris is playing T20s for his fourth county, and even Murali has signed with Gloucestershire this season - all playing the format for love (and money) of the game.

T20 for nation's sake

Is it at all cool for James Anderson to claim that the reason he has entered his name in the IPL auction list is so he can make a case for his recall to the England Twenty20 side? How hurt will the franchises feel?


It has been the flavour of the season and what has caused the Indians to look so sour through the Test series in Australia


Stop that right now. Haven't you heard watching cricket matches online illegally is the greatest danger facing cricket today?


We love to hate it but we can't do without it. Neither can Ravi Bopara, who opted out last season, insisting he preferred county cricket over the league. But he's back now, like a moth towards this glorious flame.


There's a lot of buzz surrounding the new Bangladesh league, but is it turning out to be as unpopular to play in as the national side? Sammy has opted out and Afridi says he probably won't participate.


Rahul Dravid has messed up his furniture eight times in his last ten innings. India may be abysmal right now, but that is some consistency


Mervyn Westfield not only took money to underperform, he even told his team-mate what he did. Not smart

Fighting talk

Treat the series against England like war, Ramiz Raja has advised Pakistan, political correctness be damned, in a modern retelling of Imran Khan's famous "cornered tigers" speech. Or something

Rolling over

Down under, having been thrashed to within an inch of their lives, India are being told this will help them build character. We're all for character, but is there a less painful way of acquiring it, please?


You only really love things when you don't get enough of 'em. Like Jacques Kallis getting his first pair in Tests in 16 years.


The SCG is hosting its 100th Test. Peter Siddle has got to 100 Test wickets. Sangakkara got his first in South Africa. Everybody's getting them, except...


Five-fors for Nathan Lyon, R Ashwin, Vernon Philander, Marchant de Lange, Pat Cummins, a half-century for Ed Cowan, all in their first Tests. The batch of 2011 is a pretty successful one, isn't it?


So many new players are coming in but who's going out? India's big three show no signs of leaving, Warne, Hayden and MacGill have returned. Cricket's roster is getting as crowded as its itinerary

Coaching the coaches

Rod Marsh will be in charge of the coaching system in Australia. Now that's a novel idea. Someone to mind the coaches and teach them how to stare into the laptop and look in control when the team's collapsing out on the field. What will Warne say to the use coaches for coaches? And has John Buchanan applied for the post yet?

Sledging the opposition

The players are behaving themselves so the media outlets of India and Australia have taken the responsibility of mental disintegration, with reports about India wanting to leave Canberra because of the rain and researchers claiming Tendulkar is statistically better than Bradman. Boring and old


Move over Hobart Test, there's a new thriller in town. Was Sunny G promised a fee of Rs 5 crore by the BCCI, which was then not paid? Yes, says Mr G. Yes, chirps Lalit Modi in assent. No, says the board's Rajiv Shukla. We're on the edge of our seats.

Sri Lanka

So their players haven't been paid for yonks, but instead of getting all militant and downing tools, they're placidly playing on - though even a promised partial payment hasn't materialised - saying they have cricket on their minds, not cash. Yawn.

Sticking to their guns

Angry young men Simon Katich and Graeme Swann have asserted their right to be inflammatory about their team-mates by standing by their kerfuffle-inducing statements about Michael Clarke and Kevin Pietersen respectively. That's the spirit, lads - no retreat, baby, no surrender.

Voting for change

Cricket Australia has in its hands a report that tells it to not just get its house in order but to turn it upside down first. And what do the fine gents at the board do? Assent meekly. "Everyone knows it's the right way forward for the next 100 years," chairman Wally Edwards said spinelessly.

Nehra's back

You want commitment? Here. Fresh off weeks in training and bowling in the nets, gangly Indian colossus Ashish Nehra is back playing domestic cricket - his first first-class match in three years to boot.

Mickey's back

Welcome back, Mr Arthur. Coaching an international side again, we see. But then again, a South African leading Oz? How ignoble. What a blot on the noble Ozzie tradition of homegrown coaches. Fie.


Number of years Sachin Tendulkar has played international cricket. Not quite WG Grace yet, but impressive endurance. If only he had an equally impressive beard to match.


Number of Tests played by South Africa and Australia in this series. After all the fun in Cape Town, it's like being shown a preview of a thriller but not the movie itself

Captain's knock

He's not got steel, Clarke doesn't, they said. Well, he showed them, didn't he, with a gritty and attacking hundred against Steyn and Co on a juicy Newlands pitch, scoring half of his side's runs on day one. That's a brave Pup.

Ex-captain's talk

After his momentuous comeback, Shahid Afridi has informed the world that it is "time to play cricket", that he missed playing for Pakistan, and that he has no problems playing under Misbah. Thanks for the info, Shahid.

Returning at 42

Life begins at 40? You're damn tootin'. Among the reasons offered for Shane Warne's likely signing to play for Melbourne in the Big Bash this summer: his kids are now old enough to watch him play. Beat that, Sanath Jayasuriya.

Returning at, er, 31

Is anyone keeping track of Shahid Afridi's multiple-asterisked retirements and flouncings out? This latest comeback to ODI cricket is being sold as a return from a "wild period". More details of wildness please, or we'll be tuning out.

"Can't get worse"

Graeme Swann showed a glimmer of optimism about the Twenty20 in which he leads England against India, after suffering a 5-0 loss in the ODIs.

"Next time is the last time"

It's something addicts say. And something Shahid Afridi says every time he returns to cricket from yet another retirement. See the connection?


England haven't come to India to play social cricket games, Jonathan Trott informs us. So it's all about glares and snarls and spitting and cussing. Right you are, JT, none of us want to watch a three-year-old's tea party.


God, West Indies, what's wrong with you? Bowled out for 61 by Bangladesh? And Zimbabwe disappointing after a cracking comeback. Depressing to watch these two not threaten the higher-ranked teams one bit.

The Swann revelations

Ooh, trouble in the camp at No. 1 Test Side HQ wot? Tell us more Mr Champion Offspinner Cheeky Chappie Fellow, tell us about how KP is no cop as captain. What's that? You "wouldn't say he was a useless captain, but he wasn't my sort of captain"? Excellent, that says enough, thanks very much.

The Shoaib shockers

So Pakistan are scandal-ridden, controversy-prone, saga-driven? Who woulda ever thunk it, had dear old Shoaib not produced a book with the sordid details, eh? Thank the lord you had the material handed to you on a plate and move on to Bollywood, will you? There's a nice lad.


Who can be unhappy to know the Pakistan board chairman has lived to see another day? Maybe those sour-faced English people who he accused of some hanky-panky and maybe those players he keeps banning, but everybody else is excitedly gearing up for non-stop entertainment, at least till Shahid Afridi returns.


It won't do for batsmen to try to nudge bowlers or fielders out of their way in the pretext of getting back to the crease after taking a run, because the ICC has now given fielding teams the power to appeal against a batsman obstructing the field. So batsmen, henceforth, run like gazelles, not bulls.

Proposing Interpol step in

Conscious of the flak cricket gets for being a slow game played by doddering fatties in sweaters, the ICC has gone all CSI and got in talks with Interpol to co-operate with them in fighting corruption in the game. That'll drive up the ratings.

Opposing legalising tampering

That's three participles in three consecutive words. Hideous and wrong, as any grammar nazi would tell you. Not to mention: talking about legalising tampering in this day and age? Or talking about tampering at all? Yawnsome. Wake us when he's finished.


How's this for a nostalgia trip: Kolkata Knight Riders have been taking us back to... the early years of the IPL, when they sucked so hard we thought they were sponsored by a vacuum cleaner company. One match won out of four played in the Champions League so far. Now that's a blast from the past.

New Harbhajan

This is the man responsible for Monkeygate? We spluttered on our tea when we read Mr Singh, stand-in captain of the Mumbai Indians, declare with devastating honesty that his team didn't deserve to win against Trinidad and Tobago. Think of the image, Bhajj.

Saying no to Twenty20

It's usually the other way round, but Tendulkar did it, Ponting did it, Dravid didn't think he'd have, but did, and now Brad Haddin's the latest cricketer to quit international T20 to concentrate on the other formats. Smart to push off before you're pushed off.

Saying no to Tendulkar

Is that even possible? Sachin Tendulkar wrote a letter to the ICC suggesting changing the ODI format from two 50-over innings to four 25-over ones. And the ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said no! Shock and horror.


He was gracious when recalled to the one-day side after two years. And just as gracious when he retired from the format at the end of the series in England.


It's rare for Warnie to feature on this side of the column but what else can we say for a comeback at 42 for yet another Twenty20 league?


N Srinivasan can finally stop calling himself President-Elect now that India's Supreme Court has allowed him to assume cricket's most powerful role while the judges decide if his owning an IPL team is a conflict of interest.


A useless bunch of clowns who possibly pick teams using the darts-on-a-board technique. Or maybe roll bowls at a line of prospective newbies to see which one is agile enough to avoid them?


Or the startling transformation of Shane Warne from a pudgy leggie to a leggy pudding. His girlfriend, Liz Hurley, says it's the use of her beauty products that have made him look this way. Have the producers of Jersey Shore called him yet?


It calls for yet another fringe player to replace an injured member of India's squad on their Light Brigade-like tour of England. Manoj Tiwary is the latest to fly to England, to replace Rohit Sharma, who lasted two games in the series.

Getting a degree

In what may be the ultimate sledge, MS Dhoni was awarded an honorary doctorate by De Montfort University in Leicester, seemingly to mark the occasion of India winning a couple of games on the England series.

Handing out the third degree

Reviews of sloppy performances? Everybody wants 'em. Bangladesh have announced they intend to conduct an assessment "in management terms" and then "complete evaluation" of the loss to Zimbabwe.

Skipping the IPL

England captain Andrew Strauss said that his players' lack of involvement with the IPL may have been a factor in them winning emphatically against India. So can we expect Stuart Broad to continue staying away from the league?

Slamming the IPL

Everyone with an opinion to air has been bashing the league for its effects on the techniques, temperaments and bank balances of Indian players. But by next April they'll be hankering after it to increase their own bank balances. Shame.

Play for money

Yeah, we know we call them mercenaries when they play for the IPL, but surely that's better than playing for a cricket board that gives you a rotten schedule, and uses you as a cash cow, while pretending it's there for the good of the game.

Play for pride

It's what India and Bangladesh will be doing on their tours of England and Zimbabwe respectively. Considering they have been humiliated, where does the pride come from? And does anyone care if you win dead rubbers?

Talking down your chances

So you're playing Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka, facing stodgy pitches and asphyxiation by spin. What do you do? If you're Michael Clarke you talk about how you're playing Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka, facing asphyxiation etc. Then you go out and thrash 'em in the first ODI.

Shooting your mouth off

So your side's three wickets down for 100-odd, chasing 375, at the end of day four. What do you do? If you're Tamim Iqbal, you say: we should win. Before proceeding to dismiss the opposition's bowlers as "ordinary". And losing by 130 runs.

Old dogs

Jayasuriya who? All hail Matty Hayden, who is back on the gravy train, having signed up to play for Brisbane Heat (in which his company, The Hayden Way, holds a stake) in the BBL next season - at the sprightly age of 40.

Young captains

We need youth, the clarion call has gone out from Waqar Younis, who wants to blood a fresh captain for Pakistan. Whatever for, Wick? The old ones are so entertaining, and there are so many of them too.


Are formidable when they wrap their saris tighly around them and sail into battle for their boys. Take Avtar Kaur, who has sent a legal notice to Vijay Mallya's UB group, having taken offence at an advert that spoofs her son, one Harbhajan Singh.


So Somerset kicked themselves some Indian ass in the tour game, did they? They really put the visitors under the pump, had them buckling beneath the cosh, all of that good stuff. Thanks boys, now back you go to the thrilling world of county cricket.

Saying no the BBL

Not playing in the IPL is one thing, but not playing in your own country's brand new Twenty20 league? well, you must be a Test-cricket-loving purist throwback. Take a bow, Mitchell Johnson

Saying no to 2-0

So you've got about 90 runs to get at the end of day five and 15 overs to get them in. What do you do, Jack? If you're MS Dhoni, you close shop so hurriedly, your fingers get sliced off by the shutter.


Stuart Broad isn't the only one with a father who'll come through when the going gets tough. Srikkanth Anirudha, aka Cheeka Jr, was recently picked for an Emerging Players tour of Australia, and the whispers are, daddy dearest, who happens to be a selector, had a finger, if not a whole hand, in it.

Going slow

Making the paying audience squirm in their seats for minutes on end when they could have been heading home to catch reruns on TV? That's just not on. "The cricketing gods may look at that in a bit of disgust," said Alastair Cook of how Dinesh Chandimal crawled to his hundred at Lord's. That's telling him, Cookie.


These days it's Charlie Sheen's catchphrase but everyone loves it, right? Which is why the ICC and BCCI are both claiming victories over the DRS issue. And the Associates are celebrating the ICC's U-turn on cutting down on the number of teams for the 2015 World Cup. Everyone's happy, no one's sulking, the world's a better place etc.


No, we're not talking about Ishant Sharma's hair - which could do with some - but Sri Lanka Cricket's budget for their home series against Australia, which has been slashed from US$2.6 million to $900,000. Bankruptcy is such a bore. Aussies, carry baked beans and pasta pots, please.

Return of Samit Patel

We love cricketers who flaunt their love handles instead of burning them off in the gym. So hooray to the news that the all-round Samit Patel is back in the England squad.

Return of ICL

We feel bad that the BCCI killed them so ruthlessly, but the thought of the resurrection of the Twenty20 league, when there are already so many around, makes our hearts quake.

Sanath Jayasuriya

The Grand Old Man of cricket. Even though he is nearly 42, an age when most cricketers have hung up their boots and turned to the more comfortable environs of commentary, Jayasuriya is still plying his trade on the pitch.

Shahid Afridi and Chris Gayle

Tsk tsk. Both marauders, both game-changers a la Jayasuriya. And even though both are only 31 years old their international future looks in jeopardy. No cricket, but lots of fines, notices, and hearings. Never pays to get on the wrong side of your national board.


They're getting everyone in a tizzy: Katich slammed Cricket Australia for not offering him a central contract, while Afridi went to court after the PCB suspended his on the grounds that they like to do that from time to time.


Where are they, these days? Chennai had no trouble winning their second IPL title, India's second-string side is walking all over West Indies, and Sri Lanka haven't looked for victory in England.


Like the BCCI has; to be able to exterminate a rival cricket league, bully the world organising body, swim in pots of gold, and never have to invite Bangladesh for a series. We want that.


Like the ones in Cardiff; so frequent and persistent that many people gave up hope of a result on the final day and didn't tune in or turn up, including the Sri Lankan players. We feel cheated.


The English county is the hot-ticket destination for cricketers. If someone's willing to doctor a photocopy of his passport to fudge his age so he can play for you, you must be doing something right, no?

West Indies

They're lining up in droves to get out of playing in the Caribbean. And if all the injured and rested Indians are not an impressive enough list for you, consider it also features one CH Gayle, Man of the IPL.


The sort indulged in by Mr Warne and Ms Hurley at the end of every Rajasthan match. So much nicer to see them kiss than watch hugs, chest bumps and bum pats between players.


Haroon Lorgat wants it legalised in the subcontinent because he thinks then cricket can work alongside the betting industry. But that's not going to end fixing, is it?


Despite hefty fines and bans, the streaker lives on (in naked splendour) in cricket, keeping the tradition of disrupting the game through a full-frontal assault alive.


The mean-spirited ICC has threatened the reign of batsmen who want runners when they get owies by recommending a ban on this sort of support.

Toughest moment

According to Sourav Ganguly, who made a century on debut, the toughest moment of his career was playing his first match of the IPL's fourth season. Please note, IPL is not slap-giggle etc.

Sweetest moment

You know how those cricketers prattle on about their maiden centuries or five-fors or winning the World Cup or getting the wicket of Sachin Tendulkar? Nauseating stuff.

Australia v South Africa

You can't accuse Oz and SA of over-egging it, now that they've cut their next series to two Tests because of a busy schedule. Obviously the real reason is that having played thrilling back-to-back series in 2008-09, they are wary of overkill.

India v Sri Lanka

Have these clowns heard of killing the golden goose? These two teams are so shameless, and so convinced their contest is the new Ashes, that they even got together for the World Cup final. They have no more matches for 2011, but obviously that's just a lie.


Except from the WI cricketers, we don't see much striking in cricket. So it thrilled us to hear Alastair Cook threaten a players' strike - and then water down his remarks - if their playing schedule wasn't improved. Imagine the world's cricket boards paralysed by players refusing to turn out for them. La revolución está aquí.


Players are always whining about it. Even the World Cup-winning Indian squad, which was promised 10 million rupees, reportedly wanted more compensation for their efforts. Are the players greedy? Or are the boards stingy? Who cares? They are all richer than we could ever hope to be. Sucks.


Everyone wants one so they can earn the quick and big bucks of the IPL. And without a dedicated IPL window in the FTP the national boards can expect more players to pick club over country.


As shown to Chris Gayle and as exited by Lasith Malinga after their boards created a stink over their decision to choose IPL over countries. Get with the programme already, people.

The return of Haider

Zulqy's back y'all. Having been reasurred by a meeting with Pakistan interior minister Rehman Malik, our Zulqy has magnanimously announced he will be withdrawing his application for asylum in the UK and gracing Pakistan with his presence again. Glory be.

The silence of Shoaib

What, a full month since he announced his retirement and no withdrawal of said announcement has been forthcoming? How dare Mr Akhtar besmirch the fair name of Pakistan cricket so? Doesn't he know it's his bounden duty to return for the good of the team?

Three sleepless nights

Or what Wahab Riaz endured in the lead-up to the World Cup semi-final against India. As reward, he took 5 for 46 (so what if he finished on the losing side).

Twelve sleepless nights

Or what you know who had to bear before the match against Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup. Yes, yes, we know, it's been drummed into our skulls for eight years.

Delays in bowling actions

Apparently the weapon du jour for spinners is a pause in the action just before delivery, so you can get a load of what the batsman is shaping up to do and make adjustments. The commentators have been throwing themselves all over Suresh Raina for being thusly crafty.

Delays in games

Rain holding up play? So last month. Not a single Duckworth-Lewis result have we had in the last fortnight, and only three in all. Does that mean Mr Modi in his wisdom was right to pick South Africa over England after all? Damn.

The trumpet

The few bars from the rugby World Cup theme tune that ring out periodically at the grounds. Never fail to get the crowds going.

The drums

The incessant racket that Sivamani keeps up at all of Chennai's games. Never fails to give the crowds a headache.

Sreesanth the fan mentor

He delighted his team-mates in the first half of the tournament by sitting on the sidelines in a series of absurd sunglasses: Kings XI Punjab won four of the seven matches in which Sreesanth spent game time writing letters to God, auditioning for cheerleading squads, romancing South Indian starlets and looking for industrial strength hair-straightening lotions.

Sreesanth the bowler

He delighted the opposition with no-balls and long hops, reserving the yorker-length deliveries for the post-match whingeing. "I should be allowed to do what I am comfortable with," he reportedly pitched to coach Tom Moody. Punjab lost three of the five games he featured in, and Matthew Hayden, after taking Sreesanth for 35 runs over three overs pronounced him "an overrated bowler". Aye say us.

Breaking vows

In his defense, young Jesse Ryder was not really playing when he cracked open a bottle or 10, having sat out three straight games for Bangalore. What's a fella to do to keep his spirits up? His manager said Ryder had stayed off all alcohol for over 100 days. We know how hard it is to keep going after reaching a century.

Breaking records

For most ducks in a Twenty20 career - 11, by Herschelle Gibbs; most innings before a duck - Brad Hodge, 61; worst bowling average - 83, by Jacques Kallis. All very bad advertisements for Twenty20 and the IPL. Mr Modi is not amused, gentlemen.


He's loquacious, he's insane, and he'll climb up people's noses with a microphone in hand in quest of a filler sidelight if you give him half the chance. Harassing everyone from scoreboard operators to war veterans, New Zealand's finest commentary export charges bravely in where mortals fear to tread, and has worn a demented look on his face all the while.


He's big, he's strapping, hits the deck hard, and doesn't have too much to show for it. Last year's revelation has been yesterday's news in season two, having taken four wickets from five games at the unflattering economy-rate of 10.76. And did we mention he's been dropping catches as well?

Left-arm spinners from Goa

In the three games he has played for Chennai Super Kings, Shadab Jakati, this year's spin revelation, has eight wickets at the average and economy-rate of 5.75 each.

Right-hand batsmen from Goa

In his five games for the Rajasthan Royals, Swapnil Asnodkar, last year's big-hitting sensation, has 24 runs at under 5, and two ducks.

Witch doctors

Jeremy Coney brought a local tribal-warrior friend along for the pitch report at a recent match. Dressed in full regalia, the chieftain - or so he seemed - was armed with a spear and shield, ready to attack anyone hoping to remove the mike from the voluble commentator's hands. He also dished out some advice, which Coney helpfully translated to "It will turn a bit", and brought some culture to the show with a tribal dance of sorts.

Pitch doctors

All the rage (in more ways than one) a few years ago: "Doctor" Michael Slater reported from the middle before matches in an ODI series in the subcontinent, ably assisted by "Nurse" Maria Goretti, fetchingly armed with a stethoscope, and possibly even a syringe. Spectators who thought "Professor" Dean Jones and his blackboard were bad found they had another think coming.

Australians put out to pasture

Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden haven't done half badly for a couple of washed-out old has-beens. Gilchrist has a strike-rate of 171, the highest among all batsmen who have scored 50 runs or more, and an average of 40; Hayden a mere 215 runs from four games, which puts him on top of the run-scorers' table.

Englishmen in their prime

The words "white" and "elephants" come to mind. Flintoff has left for home with 62 runs from three innings, one wicket at 52, and will soon have a surgeon's bill to show for his efforts. Kevin Pietersen has managed 80 runs in five games, three wickets, and about as many stirring post-match speeches.


If you're going to do fan accessories, might as well go over the top. The Rajasthan Royals supporters' oversize taches are just the ticket: they have a sense of humour, look good in pictures, and make use of a motif from the team's home state.

Black and gold

The Kolkata Knight Riders uniforms are perfect - if you're Bappi Lahiri. Shamelessly blingy, they make you want to shield your eyes with a pair of oversize sunglasses. Have as much to do with Bengal as... Shah Rukh Khan?


Man of no known name, who writes an eponymous, five-day old blog that's less than loved by John Buchanan. It has been questioned whether or not fakeiplplayer is a player. His work has had an influence on an eastern Indian team's thinking, levels of paranoia and attitudes towards laptop use. A must read for anyone looking for a laugh, it features such posts as "The Lord Returns" and "The Hunter Has Become the Hunted".

Sun Tzu

Man of many names, who wrote a now 2000-year-old treatise that's much loved by John Buchanan. It has been questioned whether or not Sun Tzu was an authentic historical figure. His work has had an influence on Eastern military thinking, business tactics, and beyond. A must-read for coaches given to theorising, it features such chapters as "The Use of Spies" and "Tactical Dispositions".

The South African president

Not only did Kgalema Motlanthe ensure that the red carpet was rolled out for the IPL, he even turned up on day one, endured having Lalit Modi volubly explain every little detail of the transplant to him, and then made a gracious speech. Of course, you don't look a multi-million-rand gift horse in the mouth, but still…

The Indian home minister

P Chidambaram made it clear he didn't care much if the IPL, which he described as a "shrewd combination" of business and sport, went out of the country. After the move, he said the tournament could have been staged in two parts, and pointed out how 98% of viewers only watched on TV anyway.

Freakish Rajasthan Royals left-armer from Azamgarh

Eighteen-year-old pint-sized slinger Kamran Khan has precisely zero first-class matches under his belt, and a $24,000 contract with Rajasthan Royals in the bag. His captain, Shane Warne, thinks highly enough of him to hide him from general view after he bowled one over in a warm-up match.

Freakish Rajasthan Royals left-armer from Rawalpindi

Twenty-four-year-old lanky seamer Sohail Tanvir, famous for apparently bowling off the wrong foot, was the pick of the IPL crop last year, and owner of the best bowling figures in all Twenty20, but now finds himself out of the side. His captain, Shane Warne, thinks highly enough of him to say he will be sorely missed.

Leadership groups

A team to lead a team? Sounds good. It's the democratic way, after all. And think of the extra minutes available to advertisers, as the leadership group has prolonged meetings on the field to decide which of them gets to argue with the umpire over a contentious call.


A single captain? How Stalinesque, old boy. Whatever next? A return to the days of single-engine aircraft? Unicycles? Oh no, you don't. One captain may work on a ship, but as a wise man once said, cricket is not a ship.

East London

City of about a quarter of a million located in the Eastern Cape; home to Mark Boucher, and a hub for the South African motor industry. And it's situated on the Indian Ocean - how's that for a tenuous link?


Oh to be in England, now that spring is here - i.e. in cold that is merely bone-chilling rather than life-threatening, and rain that drips down only every other hour. The IPL's panjadrums thought not, too, and passed, realising they risked having a majority of the games washed out.

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