Matches (10)
AFG v IRE (1)
Nepal Tri-Nation (1)
WCL 2 (1)
CWC Play-off (3)
PSL 2024 (1)
BPL 2024 (1)
WPL (1)
Durham in ZIM (1)

Tour Diary

Learning the sounds of Indian cricket in Mohali

ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent gets caught up in the chanting of a rather sparsely populated PCA Stadium on her first time covering Test cricket in India

In a country obsessed with cricket, Mohali is surprisingly mellow when the game comes to their city.
If you didn't know there was a Test match happening at the Punjab Cricket Association, you may not even notice the flag sellers and face painters milling around the ground in the mornings. They're not like other hawkers, they're more hummingbird: quick but delicate, not loud and forceful. They don't have all that many people to sell to anyway.
Test match crowds are generally smaller than limited-overs' masses in many parts of the world, India included, but Mohali's is particularly small. There were rumours that the barely 2,000 people who passed through the PCA Stadium gates on day one was a record for the opening day for a Test at this venue, but what they lacked in quantity, they made up for in quality.
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Grasping the depth of drop-in pitches

In Melbourne, Sidharth Monga tries to understand the science and logistics behind the idea of drop-in pitches, and that they are not as complicated as he expected

When I first heard of drop-in pitches, I thought it involved closing air traffic in the Richmond area of Melbourne to bring it in carried by some 30 aircrafts. I also imagined secret simulated environs, a bit of a green house if you will, where mad scientists bring in the best possible soils to create this mythical creature called the drop-in pitch. I must say I'm a little disappointed it's not all of that. And David Sandurski, head groundsman at MCG, makes it sound even simpler. Important people all do that. VVS Laxman never understood what the fuss around his flicks from well outside off was.
Drop-in pitches are hard work - don't get me wrong - but a simpler, less dramatic, process than I thought. Especially in Australian grounds - where footy and cricket seasons don't clash - the installation and removing has to be done only once each year. I've seen in Christchurch a pitch being brought in a day before a T20 match and then removed minutes after the conclusion. Here in Australia, at MCG for example, they remove the pitches - 10 of them -  in the off season and leave them in an open ground near the G. They keep working on them during the off season - on the foot holes, tending to grass etc. - but they leave it open to the elements. The actual work on the pitches begins when they are installed in the ground.
The pitches are in a steel frame - a cake tin, if you will. They are 24 metres long, three metres wide and 200 millimetres deep. They weight around 30 ton. MCG brought the concept 14 years ago, and is using the same pitches still. That means they are durable. The work on them, the soil in them, the grass on top of them is pretty much similar to actual pitches.
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The ground which gave cricket Kumar Sangakkara

There is one international cricket ground where it is okay to make schoolboy errors. That's because the Asgiriya Stadium in Kandy is home to the teams of Trinity College, who have played at the picturesque location chiseled out of the hillside for almost

Alan Gardner
Alan Gardner
There is one international cricket ground where it is okay to make schoolboy errors. That's because Asgiriya Stadium in Kandy is home to the teams of Trinity College, who have played at the picturesque location chiseled out of the hillside for almost 100 years.
Asgiriya was the venue for Sri Lanka's second home Test, in 1983, and saw Muttiah Muralitharan break Shane Warne's record for the most Test wickets in 2007, but it has not hosted an international match since then. With Trinity's numerous age-group sides all vying to play there, SLC decided that rather than studying the college timetables, they would build a new stadium down the road in Pallekele.
When I arrive, a school match is underway, Trinity's second XI against their equivalents from Maris Stella College in Negombo. The curator, Abhayasena Wijeweera, is happy to chat about the ground and its history, which he knows well despite only being in the job eight months, having moved from the nearby Dharmaraja College. The pitch, he says, is still good for international competition.
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Not a shot you just get on with

Australian cricketers and the public are known for their certainty and clarity when it comes to cricket. That has gone missing as they struggle to come to terms with Phillip Hughes' death

Sidharth Monga
Sidharth Monga
I have been looking forward to coming back to Australia since the day I left the country in March 2012. Over those 78 days of cricket in that summer, I saw cricket being enjoyed like nowhere else. With humour, passion and ruthlessness. With hard cricket played on hard, sunburnt pitches. Australia is a tough terrain, and Aussies are tough people, befitting that tough terrain. A majority of Australians will agree they have felt what Paul Kelly has written in his song about the anticipation of the Boxing Day Test, "Behind The Bowler's Arm".
Oh it's been a hard, hard year/ Pushing shit uphill/ But shit happens all the time/ And I guess it always will
In the song, he gets on with it, and makes a promise he will always be ten rows back at the MCG, right behind the bowler's arm. That's what Aussies do. They get on with it. They got horrible decisions in the Kolkata Test in 2000-01, becoming part of a result that turned a cricket team's future around. They got on with it. Their legends start losing their powers, they get on with it and start working on new legends. At 30 for 3, if you block an over out, you'll hear someone from the crowd, with a beer too many down his system, shout, "Have a go, you mug. Get on with it."
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Catching practice with South Africa

South Africa train Sri Lankan schoolchildren to raise money for the country's blind team

"Let's try to get 10 catches without anybody dropping the ball," Kyle Abbott said to kick off a little game. He promptly went on to look directly at one of the participants and throw the ball the other way, catching the person he was aiming it at unawares. Ball met floor instead of hand and there was a delicate moment of silence soon broken by a giggle and Abbott's booming voice. "Okay let's try again. I'll do it properly this time."
One, two ... nine, ten.
"Let's see if we can get to 20 now," Greg King, South Africa's fitness coach, said. They managed 15 before letting it slip again and their efforts received warm applause from Abbott and King.
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Old address, new home for Usman Afzaal

Usman Afzaal's new restaurant Slumdog, located bang opposite Trent Bridge, is all set to witness a Test match for the first time

Sidharth Monga
Sidharth Monga
The day Usman Afzaal was selected for England, he phoned Nottinghamshire at 10pm, had the doors unlocked, brought along a posse of bowlers, and practised in the indoor nets until 1am. That wasn't a one-off. Mick Newell, now the Nottinghamshire coach and then the manager of the second XI, had been quoted as saying, by Daily Mail: "He's forever turning up at 10 or 11pm with a crowd of mates willing to bowl to him."
Even then Afzaal owned a flashy sports car, and was, according to his ESPNcricinfo profile, "a cocky, bare-knuckle batsman," who was "at his best against pace and straight-drove like an angel".
Reality struck soon, though, and on his first day of international cricket, Afzaal was bowled through the gate by a Shane Warne legbreak that turned a foot. England, as expected in those days, lost the Ashes, and Afzaal couldn't add to the three Tests he played. He was selected for the New Zealand tour, but according to his profile on ESPNcricinfo, "incurred the wrath of the coach, Duncan Fletcher, when he reported in New Zealand above what was considered to be his best fighting weight and has been out of favour since".
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A background score to idle afternoons

Musings about cricket in England, randomly thought, reread and rewatched on the nine-and-half-hour flight from Mumbai to London

Sidharth Monga
Sidharth Monga
Things about cricket in England, as randomly thought, reread and rewatched on the nine-and-half-hour flight from Mumbai to London.
"I knew one once," says Major Gowen of women. "I must have been keen on her because I took her to see India. At The Oval. Fine match. A marvellous finish. Sunny had to get 33 in about a half an hour." BBC has taken out the racially offensive follow-up joke from the re-runs of Fawlty Towers, but the rest must sum up the place cricket holds in lives of Englishmen.
Its unobtrusiveness. Like the mild gentle applause at its grounds, the cricket coverage hardly ever screamed for attention or commitment. For an Indian kid you didn't have to wake up early (Australia and New Zealand), stay up in the night (the West Indies), worry about exams (South Africa) or miss school (India). During the summer days, it was there, a background score to idle afternoons. A reassurance that all was fine with the world.
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The anthem's call

Do you feel a pull when you hear the song of another nation?

Abhishek Purohit
Abhishek Purohit
There is something about a national anthem playing in a crowded stadium that can move you deeply. If it is your country's national anthem, the major feeling is obviously patriotic. But what if it is that of another country and you can still relate to it for some reason?
Just before Bangladesh's opening World T20 match against West Indies, I went to the top level of the media centre at the Shere Bangla Stadium in Dhaka. I wanted to see how the cricket-crazy crowd reacted to their team walking out and lining up for the national anthem. I also wanted to listen to the anthem along with the rest of the crowd, not from behind the thick glass wall of the press box. As expected, there was a huge roar when the Bangladesh players appeared on the field, even though the stadium was just over half full, with people still making their way in.
Suddenly the roar turned into absolute silence when it was announced that people should stand for the anthems of both sides. It was so sudden, the silence seemed to reverberate louder than the roar. A short burst of cheering followed the end of "Rally Round the West Indies" before the silence returned.
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