31 May 2010

Grinchie Benaud gripes at Finn

Richie Benaud warned Steven Finn not to get carried away after the latter had taken 4-27 at Lord's against Bangladesh [scorecard]. With regard to Finn's not unlikely nomination for the Ashes squad he said: "Whether he will enjoy the days when the temperature is 90 degrees, the pitch has flattened out and the Australian batsmen are after him is entirely another matter." [source]

Mind you, in the meanwhile Finn has not only expectedly added another five wickets to his total, but he also debuted in Bangladesh, on the flattest, deadest and dustiest wickets on which you can start your Test career, and he did pretty damn well there. One will come to the conclusion that it's the entire package -county performance, Desh, Lord's, personality, consistency- which makes the selectors eye him for Oz. Let's be honest, it could go either way, but leaving him at home would rob us all of a potential cracker, and the Oz supporters will be observing him with narrow eye slots anyway.

I am not saying that Richie sounds worried, he has surely seen a lot of  bowlers who failed to adjust to the Australian conditions, but he can't have been following Finn's recent career too closely either. If Finn receives the ticket for that flight you can be sure that he won't take off mentally:

Watch what he said to Sky Sports on day 4 of the first Test at Chittagong here.
Watch what he said later on to ECBtv after the start of the CC season here.
Watch his latest musings before the Lord's Test at Cricinfo here.

Quite obviously, I'm a fann. Which puts me in two minds....

Leicestershire v Middlesex Day 3

...if there's someone who deserves to get on that plane it's him. And if there's someone whose loss hurts Middlesex more than anything it's him as well. They coped ok when he was injured, he wasn't out of the world. But now he is almost certainly gone for good, with the consequence that Andrew bloody McDonald of all people made 176 not out against MS and Leicestershire declared on 464, as Middlesex could only take three wickets in two days after putting Leics in to bat. Nevermind, after a bit of opening wobble Shah and Dexter steered the boat into safe waters. However:

Finny come back! Your county needs you :(

Unstoppable: Steven Finn  (c) Getty Images



Cheers,
Wes

30 May 2010

Ball-Tampering With Yak Butter: Strictly Illegal


Many of you will probably not have heard about Nepal as an upstriving cricketing nation. Roaming the ICC audio page I came across this utterly heartwarming interview with Nepal captain Paras Khadka, who introduces the listener to the enthusiasm and dedication of the players and fans, but also the problems and future challenges Nepal cricket will have to master. Listen to this wonderful interview to find out more about this fascinating little cricket team:




And now I have a real gem for you, the following music video was created by Cricket Nepal in collaboration with the Nepalese tourism board as a contribution to the ICC's 100th anniversary celebration, the song is performed by the popular Nepalese singer Pramod Kharel:


Mero desh pyaro nepal by Pramod Kharel


If anybody finds a complete version in good quality please let me know!


For more information and updates on Nepal cricket check out these blogs:




More footage! Thanks@Half-Tracker (Hants Blog) for the tip.
A short documentary by Aljazeera. Nice!





27 May 2010

A little video on a big man

Leicestershire v Glamorgan

Glamorgan won by 10 bloody wickets, because the opening pair carried the bat through the innings.

Mark Cosgrove scored 113 off 111 balls and his partner Gareth Rees added 73 off 93.

When was the last time that Australia saw a countryman open and close a first class innings, to lead his team to victory? In the recent Shield it happened not, except for Daniel Harris, but SA couldn't win the match. Phil Jaques did it in the Nobodygivesadamn Cup, so the last memorable occurrence would have been Shane Watson's fireworks against England and New Zealand during last year's Champions Trophy? My brain is old, and the Australian summer is completely off my radar, so please correct me if I'm wrong.

Shane Watson opens for Australia in all formats, for who does Mark Cosgrove open?

But I know a country that puts performance before origin and looks (at least I assume that Kay Pee didn't just bribe the responsibles). So I've made this little video tribute to Cossy in the hope to convince the English selectors that Cos is worth approaching. Lumb isn't the answer to all questions! ;) Enjoy!




Select Cosgrove,
Wes

26 May 2010

► Spot The Player! A Game



The game goes like this: I'll show you a couple of photos, and give you a task each.
Let's see how many riddles you can solve!


1) Spot the English!

Tricky one right at the start, but it gets easier if you rule out anybody that remotely
looks like a gentleman with class and dignity.

(c) Getty Images




2) Spot the leader!

One of these two mopes is the skipper. No lie! It took me a while, too, to discover the hint.
Attention, spoiler: Look for the guy with the "1" on the cap. Logical, isn't it?
(c) Getty Images



3) Spot the Akmals!

Okay that was easy ^^



4) Spot England's next captain in all formats!

Joke! No council in their right minds would make a blatant ball-biter... oh.
(c) AP



5) Spot the... no, don't even look at it.
It is wrong in so many levels.

(c) Getty Images


24 May 2010

Pom Hunters, on your marks!

The long awaited squad announcement for the Australian Euro campaign is out!!!

Twenty20 squad 
Shane Watson, David Warner, Michael Clarke (capt), Cameron White, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Brad Haddin, Daniel Christian, Steven Smith, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Hauritz, Ryan Harris, Dirk Nannes, Shaun Tait
The T20 squad remains unchanged, the Australian selectors always prefer stability over experiments, nothing wrong with that in this case. But it also means that they furthermore pursue the plan to forcefully press Pup into the captain's role in all formats. Well-founded criticism of this strategy can be found here. I would describe the strategy as "putting some bread in your mouth and chewing it until it eventually gets sweet". Well I hope it helps. Pup needs a 'leading edge', a bit of angry barking instead of puppy yelps, some Biffish bellowing, he needs to start loving the fire. In brief: confidence in his game plan, his shots, and the capabilities of his boys. And he won't have much time to develop it.

ODI squad
Shane Watson, Shaun Marsh, Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey, Cameron White, Brad Haddin, Steven Smith, James Hopes, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Hauritz, Ryan Harris, Clint McKay, Doug Bollinger
Blahhh. I knew the day would come, but it arrived too soon. As much as ODIs are fun, there are some people I don't really want to see, but unfortunately they keep getting selected. No big surprises here except for the inclusion of Legsmith; I also hope Klint gets a game. Pity that Adam Voges is missing out. Pup will have the chance to learn from the master how to cover up cluelessness with a thick arm pelt.

Australia A
Four-day squad Ed Cowan, Usman Khawaja, Michael Klinger, George Bailey (capt), Peter Forrest, Andrew McDonald, Tim Paine, Mitchell Marsh, Steve O'Keefe, Ben Hilfenhaus, Josh Hazlewood, Peter George, Mitchell Starc 
One-day squad Tim Paine, Usman Khawaja, Adam Voges, George Bailey (capt), Travis Birt, Aaron Finch, Andrew McDonald, Mitchell Marsh, Xavier Doherty, Brendan Drew, James Pattinson, Jake Haberfield, Josh Hazlewood
Mitch Marsh in both teams it pretty much awesome, I prefer him over his brother. Hilfy is back and carefully dips a toe into the water, but the most interesting thing is, from my personal point of view, the appearance of Klinger and Haberfield!!! Klinger is the man as most of you will confirm, and Haberfield is a great wicket taker and one of SA's most important bowlers, hope he can kick some butt. Peter George is the third Redback playing for his country, I see some positive development here, except, of course, for a massive lack of Cosgrove.

Tim Paine
You can hear general moans about Timmy not being included in either of the short format squads and I am naturally moaning along here. He has already proven what valuable asset he is in the limited overs forms and Haddin could really need some .... rest; he will play in the Tests after all and the Ashes are not that far away either. GRRRRR. Ian suspects there is a plan behind Tim's selection into the 4-day A squad but Ian is optimism on two legs, I hope the selectors didn't just 'park' Tim there but are really trying to learn more about his suitability for the long format.

Click to enlarge, then click again to magnify
Steven Smith
Smithy is slowly but steadily working his way up to the top, as a bowler, mind you. Having overtaken Nathan Hauritz as the stock T20 spinner he is now also in the position to cement a spot in the ODI side. In the World T20 he has proven to be an attacking spin option, sharing the second rank in the bowling table with Charl Langeveldt (see table on the left). In other words: the only guy who took more wickets is Dirk Nannes. It also means that he finished ahead of Graeme Swann. Har Har.

There are still people doubting Smith's  potential and speaking of hype. Understandably, but this is not Phil Hughes II ^^ but Steven Smith I and he deserves to get looked at. Consequently, he got selected for the 50-over leg of the tour. I am sure Nathan isn't feeling too comfortable with the fresh light blue breath of his NSW team mate in the neck. Ritz has always suffered from the unlimited expectation people had of him as a successor of Shane Warne, and now that a legspinner is popping his head out, only 20 years young and equipped with evergrowing confidence -a field in which Ritz always needed some additional lessons- I am sure Good King Nate is a little bit worried. On the one hand I think that Nathan will get matches as he needs to run warm for the Ashes, and the two Tests against Pakistan are not enough especially if you consider that he isn't a part of either of the A-squads. But admittedly the English summer is the perfect opportunity for the selectors to check Smithy out on a larger scale. Nevertheless Ritz plays the Ashes, so I think he and Smith will maybe get juggled during the ODIs or maybe even celebrate a joined appearance, how'd be that!!! It would sure be worth a try to see how these guys get along together, I could imagine a double spin attack on several occasions, depending on Smithy's further performances.

Worcestershire, the club that contracted him for the Friends Provident T20 campaign, will probably not be too happy about Smith's selection. Below you can see a juxtaposition of the Australian tour dates and the Friends Provident T20 fixtures, Worcs play either on the same day as the Australian ODI/T20 team, or one day before/after, but Smith could appear in the matches played from the 9th of July onwards, which are still quite a few, I imagine playing at the side of Shakib Al Hasan is quite an adventure. But we are also still waiting for the announcement of the Test squad and as long as the latter isn't out yet I am bearing the hope to see his name there, too.

Other Australians that will hop on or off the train at some point to join or leave their English clubs are Dussey and Nanny for Nottinghamshire, with Dussey skippering Notts through the T20 tournament, mind you these two guys can take something... only real battle hogs survive playing alongside the unholy trinity of Barbie, Sidebottom and Swann. David Warner joins Middlesex (good boy :P) and will fight side by side with Adam Gilchrist there, should be funny; Klint plays for Yorkshire, I hope he gets a couple of games -good luck Klint-; Ryan Harris is listed as a Yorkshire player too, I expect him to be called up for the Tests as well, but this doesn't mean that these replacement players are all obliged to be present, unless Oz need them as drinks carriers/sub fielders. Taitmaster plays for Glamorgan, can't wait to see him team up with Cos, in fact the mere idea makes me sigh in nostalgic reverie. Kato plays for Lancashire but I have no clue if they'll pick him for the FP T20, but he should be joining the Oz Tests against Pakistan; Leicestershire man Andrew McDonald will head home for the Oz A matches against Sri Lanka A, and on a sidenote, Andrew Symonds joins Surrey... just saying.




That's it for now, my head is buzzing so much that I completely forgot the point of all this doodle... oh yes: Pom hunt!!!

Cheers,
Wes

23 May 2010

Pearls before the sheep / The clog strikes midnight!


Pearls before the sheep

Pearls Cup

New Zealand v Sri Lanka at Lauderdale/Florida
Match 1 [scorecard]
Match 2 [scorecard]

I love these low scoring grinders because they demand everything of the batsman and tie the watcher onto the rack, but to everyone who only watches crime shows if the murderer gets blatantly hinted at after five minutes this will have been nothing.

Unfortunately I completely missed the first match -yes this would have been the enjoyable one- due to fussing about the stupid Champions League final between stupid Bayern and stupid Inter, and ended up watching stupid Bayern losing stupidly, and only realised in the night that NZ had already played. Logically, NZ lost today because I was watching it. Grrrrr. What a depressing game of cricket, just look at the scorecard. Awful.

Nevertheless the US audience has been in excellent mood all the way, and it was interesting to get some info about cricket in the United States; 1,000 clubs and 500 cricket grounds as well as 200,000 active players are good foundation for a healthy growth and maybe we will really see the US hosting a World Cup in the future, the approach to the West Indies should definitely help.


The clog strikes midnight!

Clydesdale Bank 40

Netherlands v Middlesex at Amstelveen
[scorecard]

Sounding win for Middlesex!
Technical problems on the Dutch end of things during the first innings could not spoil the fun for the listener. Middlesex decided to bat, except for Newman, who chose to perforate: 122 from 107 balls incl. 14 boundaries and 3 sixes posed the innings of the day. Dexter helped him out at the top with 40, the middle order added some handfuls. Middlesex lost only 5 wickets but a medium-sized choking fit after Dexter's departure took some speed out of the innings, nevertheless the total of 241 was absolutely unchaseable for the Dutchies.

Ex-Tassie Tiger Michael Dighton, imported overseas player for this year's Dutch CB40 campaign, top-scored with an impressive, patient 85 of 102, after the top order had got snipered by Pedro Collins, who grabbed 4 at 3.75. The second Aussie import, Tom Cooper (Redback and ex-Blues), who surfed to the NL on his nannesque passport and is handled as a long-term acquisition, put 30 in the big pot, but apart from that NL couldn't offer a lot of resistance. Happy to see the Aussies score, but even happier that MS wrapped this up quickly.


Cheers,
Wes

22 May 2010

COZPOWER


... does sometimes not suffice.

Clydesdale Bank 40
Glamorgan v Surrey [scorecard]

Glamorgan decided to bat, Cos had whipped himself to 55 when he got dropped by Rory, and that was the moment in which the air went out of the Glamorgan innings. A remarkable number of wickets fell to experimental shots. Allenby chopped a fair bit of wood but got caught on 29, Dalrymple got stumped on 4, obviously a good piece of bowling by Surrey's Schofield. The next casualty had the name Cosgrove printed on his forehead. Coincidentally I had left the room for a few minutes but his wicket must have been awkward as I heard the radio commentator yelling through two doors. Had it still looked like a massive total of 260+ during the breezy opening partnership, Glamorgan eventually managed a meagre 223 in their 40 overs thanks to Maynard's fearless 64 from 59 balls. I would like to add that Cos treated the Dernbeast excellently (econ 9.25), Surrey are a brave little team, not unlike NZ, but I still hold a grudge against Dernbach because of his recent 5-fer. Generally Surrey bowled very well again.

Rory galumphed onto the field convinced his team would chase 223 with ease and he could repeat the Cosgrove/Allenby innings with Walters. The problem is always that most batsmen, as soon as they get a couple of big shots, think they are in the zone, while they actually only got a couple of big shots. And then they start going after every ball as if they had the rabies. And then they get out. Doesn't matter a lot as Surrey are in possession of the R-Man. But it wasn't the milestone night for the Ramps. He added an important 40, out by Owen, who had already killed Ramps' partner Afzaal. Surrey had been keeping up with the Glamorgan figures nicely but now they slumped down massively, the asking rate kept climbing. Spriegel (stumped off a wide on 14) and Wilson did not even take part in the chase. Surrey enjoyed the role of the drama queen enormously: Batty suddenly cramped really badly and needed a runner, with the positive side effect that he felt safer going for the big shots, which bascially lifted their run rate back into regions of hope. His mate Schofield hit his teeth into the Glamorgan bowlers, and despite a couple of last minute antics by his partners he saw Surrey home with a killer innings of 64 off 55 balls.

Why Glamorgan deserved to win this match:
Cossy, Maynard and good bowling... minus Brown

Why Surrey deserved to win: Schofield. Batted and bowled like a champion. Batty bowled great too and thanks to him staying at the crease Surrey (probably) had only just enough wickets left to win the match.

That was draining,
Wes

20 May 2010

Straussy don't get it - me neither

Surrey v Middlesex Day 4 [scorecard]

They expect me to.. what? 326? I can't even count that far?!?!?
Straussy on day 4  (c) Getty Images

At around 5 pm the captains decided to call it quits. After Ramps had got another ton in Surrey declared and a nice little collapse could have even bestowed victory upon them, but the MS top order just stuck in and batted towards a draw. I am too lazy to summarise the highlights of the match, here is the respective quote from the Cricinfo bulletin:

"Ramprakash converted his overnight 86 into an unbeaten 103, before Surrey declared at 207 for 3, becoming in the process the first player to score two hundreds in a championship match on seven occasions - three times for Surrey and four times for Middlesex, his previous club.

It was the first time, having hit 223 in Surrey's first innings, that he had scored a century and a double-century in the same match and only Ricky Ponting and Zaheer Abbas, who have hit two hundreds in a first-class match on eight occasions, now better Wally Hammond and Ramprakash's seven. Ramprakash's first-class record against Middlesex, the county he left in controversial fashion in 2000, now stands at 1384 runs from 15 innings, at an average of 125."


Now off to the land where bowlers run in with clogs on their feet, bowl cheese chunks and batsmen bat with tulip stalks!
No seriously. They play pretty normal cricket in the Netherlands. I think ^^



Cheers,
Wes

Words Words Words

Let me guide your attention to a handful of noteworthy interviews and blog posts:

Shane Bond elaborates on how his all-or-nothing attitude has affected his body over the years and led him to stepping down from all forms of cricket. Suhas (Paint it, Black) takes a bow. I have not witnessed many of Bond's heroic deeds, in fact I only learnt about them from the tales of the Elders. And Youtube, of course. The more I am sad about not having experienced his most explosive moments. You will be missed, mate.

Saeed Ajmal grants us detailed insight into his emotional situation in the aftermath of 'that last over', explains why Afridi picked him for the job, what went wrong during the execution, and how he is going to attack the demons of discouragement now. It is a very upsetting interview, be sure the box of tissues is in reach!

Michael Clarke is determined to retain the captaincy of the T20 team and is going to try and unearth some long-forgotten strokes from his youth to improve his strike rate. Jrod takes the opposite stance at The Wisden Cricketer, in his opinion Clarke is Australia's biggest problem, and Achettup (Short Of A Length) angrily dissects Australia's generally wrong approach to the subject of captaincy, and the leadership of Ponting and Clarke in particular. Must-read.

Craig Kieswetter got interrogated by Andrew Miller; the result is a rousing, bubbling tale of epic proportions that perfectly reflects the energetic and straightforward personality of England's latest rising star. Keepwetter admits that staying on the ground after his rocket-like take-off is hard work, he sheds light onto England's strategy in the T20 Final, looks back at his breakthrough in Bangladesh and, of course, targets the spot of Matt Prior on the upcoming trip to Australia.
Warning, young man: Kindergarten cricket is one thing, but I won't be in two minds again during the Ashes!

Steven Finn gave ECBtv an interview (4:43 mins) last week; he expresses his views about Middlesex' performance this season, about the fields in which he would like to improve and why he is focusing on county cricket first and foremost. Typical Finnish humbleness!


Enjoy,
Wes

19 May 2010

*bangs head against desk* / Stumps

Surrey v Middlesex Day 3 [scorecard]

Surrey 490
Middlesex 237/5 (67.0 ov)

1-163 Newman (91) - triggered the collapse
2-177 Shah (3) - hmmm :/
3-220 Strauss (92) - no century for Strauss either
4-230 Dexter (9) - pity
5-236 Simpson (2) - death by a RHB ripper

Malan (24*),  Berg (1*)

Lunch.

Middlesex have squirmed free of the certain draw and are forcing a decision now. Whoohoo.



Update Stumps:

Surrey 490 & 165/2 (42.0 ov)
Middlesex 324

Surrey bowled well, Dernbach grabbed 5, Middlesex all out by tea, Gareth Berg (45*) fought grittily against the windmills, but aided he was not, except by Finny (18); the partnership of these two last man standing nearly allowed Middlesex to escape the follow-on.

Surrey did not enforce the latter and are batting again, with Ramps (86*... I smell another ton) and Rory (5*) at the crease. Finny took the consolation wicket of opener LJ Evans (7) but Evans' partner Harinath (63) ganged up with Ramps and could only be removed by Owais.

Hopes for a draw,
Wes

18 May 2010

Bagging helps


Should have remembered that :/

Surrey v Middlesex Day 2 [scorecard]

Comparing Ramps to Sachin in a negative fashion (can you compare someone to Sachin in a negative fashion?) fired him up so much that he ended the innings on 223, carrying Surrey to 490. Not bad, brother. Dawid Malan had managed to pull the emergency brake and also cleaned up Surrey keeper Wilson. Shaun Udal finished the day with figures of 5 for 128, Berg took Spriegel and Collins bagged one, too. Only Finny the tireless workhorse remained wicketless in the first innings. Not fair!

And, yes, bagging helps! Sometimes a single negative remark is enough to get the player back in the runs (Newman, 79 at stumps) and sometimes it needs a masterfully composed and virtuously executed sledging campaign to make the guy move his butt anywhere else but the dressing room (Strauss, on 54 over night).

Strauss is clearly enjoying the company of Gary Wilson and Rory Hamilton-Brown on day 2  (c) Getty Images

Now I am worried that Strauss will keep scoring, this is not what I had intended! The ODIs are ante portas (not to speak of the Ashes) and a scoring Strauss is a bad Strauss, so maybe I should apply reverse psychology and start talking him up?


And as we are talking about Strauss and the ODIs, there is a heaps interesting post by Sam Collins at The Wisden Cricketer about Strauss' ODI captaincy now that Colly won the T20 World Cup with a new, aggressive approach, and Strauss has been absent from the team for a long time and not scored a lot of runs either.  Has our favourite urn stealer become dispensable? Oh please no, it would break my heart. I need him like Jrod needs Hauritz, like IND needs PAK, like Poms need Krauts...

Please Straussy, don't leave, just walk...

Cheers,
Wes

Stupid Ramps.

Old man, shows off his tricks, won't fricken walk, reaches another milestone...
...  and all that while he's playing against the team I support. Sachin alarm!


Surrey v Middlesex Day 1 [scorecard]

The good Murtagh struck early, but after that Middlesex were stuck in the swamp. Even Rory made a half century, thus far they had let it come! Strauss, goat that he is, must have spilled a big one in the slips. None of the bowlers heaped any shame upon himself but Surrey's feet were cemented in the ground. Finny, Berg, Udal and Murtagh bowled like the champions but only Udal could take further wickets, snacked Harinath before he could turn dangerous and removed Rory, albeit a little late, and Afzaal, who awkwardly went out to the last ball of the day. The contest is still on and the babblesacks proclaimed chances for either team but given that Middlesex are the worst tailkillers in the world it will probably, under the current conditions, cost them another full day or so to remove Surrey entirely. Unfortunately Malan and Owais got knocked around.


It's a pity because they looked pretty good in the one dayer against the Netherlands [scorecard], but the match had to be called off as it was raining cats and dogs.

Of course Strauss disgraced himself once again to his usual extent, and Newman must be somewhere else mentally, but Owy was on 74 and Berg on 53 (SR 126) when the match got interrupted. What a pity. I am especially glad to see Owy firing. Finn, O'Brien and Murtagh were absent with niggles, which could have turned out to be a bit of a worry.

Well, play is to resume in a short while. Let's hope they've got the big mop with them today.


Cheers,
Wes

16 May 2010

It could be worse...


Kool Kies waited for the perfect moment to shine  (c) AFP
...the Unspeakable  could have won the Man Of The Match award *phewwww*. No, we are obviously not discussing the Player Of The Tournament (POTT) here ^^  but the MOTM.

Well, well. [scorecard]
Catastrophic top order batting cost Oz the match, I think they were aware of the challenge and had trouble handling the pressure, nerves were surfacing and went pinggg in rapid succession, plus Watto's bowling put the last nail in the coffin. The fantastic effort of the middle order, Legsmith snipering the K-Pie and Taito's general greatness weren't enough to save the match this time. These individual efforts might suffice against Pakistan and Bangladesh, but not against an English side that is stuffed with goodness and evil, and tensed like a bowstring.

Once again their bowling was outstanding, and except for Yardy getting a few smacks they did really well, repeated their strategy from the previous matches and successfully strangled the opposition. With a below par target the chase was child's play for their batsmen and they comfortably strolled to victory. Just like against SL it felt like the opponent wasn't quite up to their level. Hats off to England, for once in my life my gut feeling didn't betray me. Utterly strong side, strong performance throughout the entire tournament, absolute dedication and great teamwork. They played as tight as a, well, very tight thing. On a sidenote, I should have kept my mouth shut about Luke Wright probably taking two wickets *ouch*


I am glad the madness is over, would have wished for a happier ending but hope everybody who has popped in here occasionally has enjoyed it as much as I did.


What's coming up next:
Australia are sailing to new, hopefully more peaceful shores now, starting their European tour in mid-June in Dublin for a handful of ODIs against an assortment of island teams. With Punter back at the helm a different wind will be blowing and Straussy can slowly start to look for his butt pads cause there's gonna be some serious spanking taking place in these five ODIs! Six, if he plays that one for Middlesex! Unfortunately we will have to say goodbye to Warner, Smitho, Taito, Nanny, Dussey and all those other T20 noses that have entertained us so well in the past weeks. Admittedly, I am not ready yet to get my enthusiasm bogged down by the likes of Yawn Marsh, Harris and Hopesy *sigh* But I am sure after the 4-week break everybody will be craving to see some more Oz cricket. But for now it's time to rest our aching heads from the madness and take a fresh breath of English county air :P

A sad goodbye from captain Pup  (c) AFP


Cheers,
Wes

Today is the day

 

Hooray hooray today is the day. I am utterly happy that both of the teams I had rated highest in my preview have indeed made it to the final! Everybody hopes this clash will be a treat to watch and people are pondering the things that might await us. Thus I have to issue my own clueless expectations as well:

I would rate the English and Australian batting depth about equally. The rampaging English top order has to be taken out quickly, because if England can establish a carefree KP/Eoin partnership the duct to the tail will be plugged. Oz look stronger on paper, there is nothing they can not pull off, and that includes a shocking implosion as well, against England Oz must pull a composed effort out of the hat.

The more interesting aspect will be the bowling. England have shaped a strong versatile bowling side, which even includes coughcoughbarbiecoughcough. Sidebottom (thinks he) is striding from strength to strength and Bresnan bagged a MOTM recently. I think Yardy might be the man, the Aussies haven't played against him yet. The Oz batsmen will need 100% attention and concentration.

Swann is strangely flying under the radar, would have to look up his stats to actually be able to say something about his achievements so far (alright, a quick glimpse yields that he has a wicket less than Steven Smith *wooot*). So generally I am not so much worried about any spin from the English side. Oz have some of the best spin handlers in the world in their team, and on all three occasions on which they played spinning teams on the bouncy Barbados pitch they won (BAN, IND, SL), batting first, the good old Punter method. The subcontinental teams found it hard to chase down the total against the Oz pace attack. Against Pakistan in the semi final Oz decided to bowl first and thus had to taste a bit of their own medicine, which made them look accordingly vulnerable, and their bags had already been packed until the Muss put his foot down. So naturally I am not so sure about whether they should bowl first or not.

England on the other hand like a bit of pace though, but of course I am dying to see the Holy Trinity slice through the Pommish line-up as well.  Even if that means that they'll have to kill Kies and Sir Eoin. And what about a couple of watchable overs, Herr Watson? He's due for a good spell. And of course I want Smithy to take a wicket, or maybe even two.

We shall see, it can really go either way, but Australia have no choice but winning this of course.

Blah blah blah blah blah,

Wes

Edit, nobody is talking about Luke Wright as a bowler, so he'll probably grab a couple ^^

Hmmmph

Clydesdale Bank 40

Middlesex v Gloucestershire

Middlesex suck by 77 runs [scorecard]

This is stupid. After two convincing wins Middlesex are back to zero.

Top order fails, Strauss(14) sucks eternally - granted.
But the entire middle order batting cluster imploded as well; Dexter, Berg, Simpson, Udal. Dawid Malan was the only light in the darkness, once again; he also added a wicket to his merits. I am uninformed as to why Finn wasn't playing or didn't get selected, the problem may have lain there, morally, but whatever.

On Sunday they will take on the Netherlands. Arghhhh! Maybe Strauss needs that bit of internationality to fire. I can't follow it over the whole distance due to Oz slaughtering England in the WT20 final. But nevertheless my thoughts will be with the Pink Panthers.

Alright, it's not like Gloucs are weaklings, they crushed MS in the CC match by 103 runs and have a couple of sounding names in their ranks, but getting all out after 31.3 overs is embarrassing. Buck up guys. Germany will be collectively pressing their thumbs for you tomorrow.

BTW. Congrats @Tim Murtagh on his 150th ListA wicket.

Cheers,
Wes

15 May 2010

Australia: alive! Supporters: dead!

World T20 Day 14

AUS - PAK [scorecard]

In my short career as a cricket fan I have seen many awesome T20 matches already but today that was the absolute hammer, I am currently trying to get my heart rate down to regions around 250. This format is nothing for me.

GAWWWWWWWWD Aussies!!!!

It had rained before the match, Pup boldly declared he wants to bowl.

The Taitman's body language sums up the first innings  (c) AFP
The bowlers got totally slain, the bros Pakmal took off aided by Salman, and at the end Pak stood at 191 - onehundredfrickinninetyone.
Taito is such a gem but couldn't do the work alone, Smithy took a key wicket but got taken up the backside as everybody had expected, the Nanny had a bit of a shocker day compared to his usual control that is, Watto can't bowl T20 as simple as that, and Dussey only had 4 overs. No penetration possible, the Pak batters got the silliest shots through and the spinach green mountain kept growing and growing. The field was off track, a totally unaustralian display of fumbles and stumblings, except for Dave Warner, who is simply one of the best fielders on the planet. The rest was utterly suboptimal but this also has to be accredited to Clarke's unfortunate decision at the toss. BUGGER. Seriously you couldn't watch it. Pak kept racing away, that was the most impressive batting performance I have ever seen of them. They wanted it, for everyone to see. Taito got a good last over in and there was hope this would give Oz a bit of momentum for the start of the run chase. Not an impossible task but boy, an average team can't chase that down, especially against three or four spinners and that walking blade Aamer!

Sorry for the bad English, that grey mass in my head is still wobbling uncontrolled.

Well, then. The Yellow Gladiators entered the arena, one eye on the ball and one on the scoreboard they started to attempt the impossible.

0.2 Aamer kills Warner. It does hardly get any buggerer. All hopes were resting on the wide shoulders of the opening pair and they would have needed to get Oz off to a great start.

2.3 Watto had been looking frickin good, gave Razzaq and Aamer some bat to taste, but Mo Smartypants had learnt his lesson in Oz. Keep cool and slay the blond beast. Stabbing pain in the heart of all Oz supporters.

Haddin and Clarke at the crease, looking quite good, even Pup. The spin comes on, the dreaded Ajmal and Afridi immediately tighten the screws.

7.2 Rehman, who had been included in the squad for the injured Gul, benefits from the pressure and strikes: Hads has to go. The hope keeps fading, 3 down with an asking rate of nearly 11, and no air to breathe.

8.2 Clarke out! Skipper takes skipper. Pup swings it into the nothing, already half under way. Kamran shows the reflexes of a cat and takes the bails off. The end of Clarke's gutsy day when a captain's innings would have been needed. Torn out clumps of Australian hair are sailing to the ground.

Mo Aamer, the walking blade. He comes, he sees, he slices.  (c) AFP
Cam, the saviour of mankind, and bear(er) of all hopes, strides out. The man knows his duties. He takes merciless revenge on Afridi and also hits Hafeez and Rehman on the fly-by.

12.3 More blood. Rehman claims his second victim, the power hitter Dussey marches back. Australia lies on the ground twitching in cramps. Secret speculations about the fashion in which England will slay Pak in the final.

Mussey and White, the dream couple of T20 batting, united at the crease. Ajmal and Rehman to continue, more suffocation, Rehman gets hit once. As soon as Afridi comes back the pressure is released, Muss shoves the bat down Afridi's throat (Shahid's an omnivore after all). The Pak skipper is enraged, he throws Aamer back in. Asking rate 14.

16.3 Aamer the hunter knows no mercy, he drills the spear into Bear's butt, pulls the skin off, digs his hands into the warm guts and plays with them. Blood is dripping from the eyes, ears and mouths of all Oz supporters.

Mussey, the teamgramps, at the crease with the Smithkid. Open speculations about the fashion in which Pak will get slain by England. Asking rate 16. Smitho gets a fine boundary.

17.1 Ajmal gets the kid. It becomes absolutely unwatchable. I am largely petrified, starting to punch myself without realising it. Mitch comes on. Respiratory paralysis.

Mitch strikes Ajmal for four! Keeping going like that, Mitch! Two balls later: Mussey connects! Take that! At least Oz won't go down without a fight! But it looks dark. Black. Pitch-black. As un-White as it gets. Horrid figures. Asking rate 17.

Afridi wants it all, he wants to humiliate Oz, he and his men want to take revenge for the entire summer within just 3 minutes.
Aamer back on. Two overs left.
4-2-2-2-2-4 off Aamer, Mitch survives a runout chance, still, that's just 16. Now the last over must yield 18. And Ajmal, bloody Ajmal, will bowl it. Oz can't afford a wicket and need 3 sixes. Off Ajmal!!! Vegetative state. Dead eyes staring. Mitch on strike.

19.1 Mitch gets a single! Christ how will this help????? But Muss is on strike now. 17 off 5 needed.

19.2 SIX!!!! Huss peppers it beyond the boundary! That must have been a punch into the bowler's stomach. If Ajmal starts to lose his nerves here Oz might have a chance!

19.3 SIX! &#$@%!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Goddammit Hussey you are taking me to my grave!!! Just 5 more to win, and 3 balls left! Doable, absolutely doable!!! No one, really no one wants to be in Saeed Ajmal's skin here.

19.4 FOUR! Almost caught but hits the rope! Ear deafening yells from the stands and the dug out. Pakistan are shattered, just 1 run needed with 2 balls to spare. Only a wicket can take them into the super over now.

19.5 SIX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OVER, OUT, Oz are in the final!!! Supermuss has saved the world, the storm breaks loose, the yellow army floods the field, unbelievable noise, Mussey has taken Oz to the Mini Ashes!!! After all seemed lost, and Oz were already buried 50 feet deep, Huss swung his shovel and started to dig like a champion and undug the entire Australian continent with his bare hands and brought it back to the light!



(c) Getty Images



Wes

14 May 2010

Pommy Power!!!

World T20 Day 13
ENG - SL [scorecard]

England took a stroll through the parks of Gros Islet and upon returning from their happy trundle they found themselves arriving at the final of the World T20. Most people would have expected Sri Lanka to give them a rough treatment, but in fact it were the Poms who showed SL the door; England virtually danced through both of the innings, bowled and batted weightlessly, with so much elegance, precision and determination that over here we would call their playing style "beautiful football". I found it especially amazing how much control the disciplined English pace attack managed to exert on a team supposed to excel with both bat and ball on a friendly pitch, only to hit said Subcontinentals for contumelious boundaries during the second innings.

Kies wetters the Lankans  (c) Getty Images
Graeme Smith must be melancholically watching the ways of these carefree fellow countrymen in the English top order, who play with a free mind, with this certain effortlessness that carries them from success to success, with spontaneity, flexibility, lustiness and inspiration, exactly those trades the South African game was so dearly missing. Here's a video of Colly speaking about the positive energy that buzzes around the team.

My personal Pom of the Tournament (POT) is Craig Kieswetter. Eoin Morgan might be the amazing cat-like superbatsman, KP the cheeky and skilful darling of the Indians, and Lumb the utmost helpful hand at 2, but the guy I find myself rooting for in every match is Kool Kies. Yesterday I egged him on to carry the bat, it didn't quite work but neverthless throughout the whole tournament his opening quickfire has been the prerequisite for the K-Pie to drop down in his comfy chair and flick some light ones into the stands. What also has to be taken into consideration is that Kies wears the gloves. We have not really seen too many wicketkeepers in this tournament that also batted at 1 and clicked in almost every match!

Should Australia win today's semi against Pakistan two teams will clash that have a remarkable number of things in common. People will love to compare the opening cannoneers Lumb/Kies and Warner/Watto. The fielding standards are equally high, the batting line-ups are full of goodness and I don't even want to start getting into this matter here. But the most interesting aspect is the similarity between the two captains, Paul Collingwood and Michael Clarke. Both were born to nurdle, both can bring an innings to a deadly halt. But while Colly solves the issue by removing himself quickly, pragmatic Clarke has found a much more elegant approach to circumventing the problem: he shuffles the batting line-up according to the individual match situation. Whether he slides down the order and hence doesn't play a single ball, or is needed further up to stabilise the innings in a moment of wobble, the Pup is a smart one.

Just two more matches left!

Needs a break,
Wes

13 May 2010

Iceberg sinks Derbyshire / Operation Tasgrove



Iceberg sinks Derbyshire

Middlesex buried Derbyshire [scorecard] under an innings, 35 runs and a mountain of awesomeness. A Berg, to be precise. An Iceberg.

It happens rarely that a player's match figures, his overall performance and general value to the side make me have a bit of weewee in my eyes, but this time I just couldn't hold it back. After the Middlesex top order spectacularly crumbled to dust and the average follower smelled another humiliating defeat just around the corner, Gareth Berg (125) stood up for his team mates once again and with the help from his Saffa country mate Neil Dexter (112, 1 for 3) he laid the foundation for a massive Middlesex victory, in a partnership worth 202 runs at a fantastic runrate of 5.26. Needless to say that he also took 3 wickets. Only last week he contributed 60, 49 and 3 wickets as well. Coming in at 7 he has evolved into an anchor in the middle order with a bunch of potentially great partners around, and as long as the top order keeps failing the reliability of Berg and his respective partners is invaluable. Apart from that he also bowls a large amount of overs with the old ball of course [2010 stats].

Dawid Malan missed out on a big one this time but 37 is still more than the scores of Strauss, Owais Shah and Newman combined. Owy has just returned from the IPL and deserves a bit of time to get adjusted. But Strauss is a bloody obstacle, which the side has to overcome time and time again. They have found a way to manage this now but I think his rest might not have been long enough. Don't get me wrong, a crap Strauss is good for Test cricket, especially for the Australian one. But his bad form is becoming embarrassing and a nuisance to his team.

But let's return to the wickets, on the third day the well-recovered Steven Finn massacred the Derbyshire top order in a brutal opening spell of 3 for 7 within 7 overs (4 maidens). Christ! In the first innings he took 3 as well.
Iain O'Brien and Tim Murtagh took 4 each and shared the wickets of the Derby dangermen amongst themselves. Undeservedly, the return of skipper Shaun Udal went almost unnoticed; in the afternoon of day 3 he and Murtagh dramatically finished the stubborn Derbyshire tail off when the rain was already pelting down behind the pavilion. Perfect finish to a perfect match.

This commanding victory puts Middlesex in the position to eye one of the top spots of the table. Who would have thought. If they keep marching like this they can even afford to drag Strauss along with them for the sake of charity.


Operation Tasgrove

Mark Cosgrove is back!

My desperate appeal has been heard, unbelievably not by WA or QLD, but the precious and wonderful Tassie Tigers have opened their door (wide) and let my favourite ex-Redback in! This is so awesome I don't know where to start. Cossy had a good season with the Redbacks and is now also increasingly starting to turn into Glamorgan's glam organ; in the current match against Northamptonshire he has so far contributed a flaming 85 (11x4, 2x6, SR 73.27) to Glamorgan's impressive first innings total of 450, as well as a wicket and two catches [scorecard]. Not bad for an opener who just got dropped from his state side, especially compared to the recent achievements of a certain English Test captain.

I am still mad at Cricket SA for kicking his arse because he does not fit into their new smooth and slick corporate image, but thank god Tasmania know that a good cricketer must get valued independently of his height/mass ratio. I hope Cossy will settle into his new home quickly and show SA what huge mistake they have made. At 25 his talent can still take him far!

My only concern is now that he will have to put up with the anti-Hauritz, the Satan of Australian offspin, the K, the unspeakable one. But Cossy is sure geared up and well-padded for that marginal little challenge. Or does anyone remember the K's actual name?

Select Cosgrove
-and Berg, for that matter-,

Wes

12 May 2010

Mini-Ashes In The Making!

World T20 Day 12

IND - SL [scorecard]
WI - AUS [scorecard]

Ashish Nehra, the leak on legs  (c) AFP
India finally tried to show teeth, but waiting for an Indian pitch to put themselves into the contention was maybe not the right strategy and they are rightfully going home now. Batting first, their total wasn't quite high enough to tie the Lankans down, the SL batters played boldly, belted especially poor Ashish Nehra, whose pitch it not quite was I claim, and didn't have a problem getting to 143 to kick India out of the tournament. Eventually they also surpassed the Indian total of 163 with a cracker of a six and basically also kicked the hosts out of the cup. Sri Lanka looked fairly muscular and the English will have to get prepared for a hard fight. Jayawardene and Jayasuryia were useless again but Dilshan, up at 3, and the middle order showed no major extent of respect for the Indian bowlers and took their team to the next round.

I was actually looking forward to seeing Dinesh Karthik; fielding several wicket keepers at the same time is the shit, and I think he also took a great catch to get rid of Jayasuryia; also I seem to have the faintest of memories that he scores well at the domestic level, but he couldn't chip in with the bat, pitifully. Overall my thumbs were pressed for India, because they are my favourite opponent, but they are just too weak at the moment to deserve advancement. Scheduling 500 home series against themselves will not help to improve the quality of their overseas cricket, but it satisfies the milestone hunger of the Indian crowd and will thus be the primary goal of the Indian cricket administration.

But that's just my own take, others know more:
Interesting analysis of the Indian misery, by Sidharth Monga/Cricinfo

~~~

WI v AUS - Groundhog Day, anyone? I felt catapulted back into the Australian summer.

The Windies had already lost their berth in the semi finals due to Sri Lanka's solid performance against India, Chris Gayle didn't see the ghost of a chance to overcome Oz by fred knows how many runs, and played accordingly. After his suicide in the first over, when he asked Nannes for the noose, WI scampered to 105. The low score did not only result from the broken West Indian will, but underlined impressively that Oz are the hottest fielding side on the planet.

After Gay-Lo's departure Chanderpaul tried to annoy the bowlers a little but Chucky the killer doll Mitch got fed up with him pretty quickly; Dussey, equipped with the agility and reflexes of a cat-of-prey, held on to the bullet. Chucky is always on the hunt for crazy new ways to kill the batsman, and so he also accounted for Dwayne Bravo's wicket, when he bowled at Sarwan, who hammered the ball straight back at the stumps of the non-striker's end, with the ball clipping Mitch's fingertips and Bravo already under way. When it rains it pours, especially in the Caribbean, as England will confirm.

Steven Peter Devereux TFOASB* Smith  (c) AFP
At this stage of the match Sir Lord Awesome aka TFOASB* entered the arena and a minute later Deonarine left the latter. Chucky never disappears for good and after Smithy's wicket he found it was the right time to end the life of Ramdin. The Legsmith turned green with jealousy, put another log on the fire and grilled two in one go. As if this wasn't murderous enough he also held on to the mother of all return-catches and that was when I fell off the chair and lay on the floor twitching.

I clawed my way back to sanity just in time to witness Dussey's merciless double strike; quite obviously it was time to step on the Windie tail and the ever-so-reliable Duss took just one over to get them down to 9. The cake was eaten but a resistant, big black angry spinner wanted to claim his minute in the limelight and lofted Watson for six. But Benn's awkward looking cameo ended abruptly when Watto rediscovered his ability to clean up a tail on a slow wicket. The Australian chase was a bit cheap, a lot of nurdlery and play-it-safe patchy-scratchy, but Braddin had some fun with the bat and the initially mentioned Caribbean diva closed the innings by peppering the ball to the boundary for five wides.

Now I feel like a fat cat in the sun, grinning all around the head and looking forward to meeting Pakistan. Will Oz get wiggled and screeched to death or are we going to see just another sequel of the endless Australian summer? Tomorrow England will need the help of a priest to battle down the Lankan demons. Good luck Poms on your way to the Ashes prelude!

* The Future Of Australian Spin Bowling

Cheers,
Wes

11 May 2010

The Herdables Depart :(

World T20 Day 11

PAK - SA [scorecard]
NZ - ENG [scorecard]

The Saffas are deservedly mooing homewards, as much as it hurts me to say that, but Graeme Smith obviously never planned to win this match, given his decision to drop Morne and thus go in with just one speedblitz, namely Dale Steynveldt. I cannot publicly repeat the thoughts in my head when the bifflinger's toss statement appeared on the screen.

Pakistan surprisingly included Khalid Latif, who did exactly what I expected from him *hrr hrr* But the performance of the others was more than enough for the Spinach Boys to bag two points, they played the spin well (and Smitho if you claim you didn't know that then you should get liposuction in the brain).

The Saffa bowlers did a good job, no doubt, especially the outstanding Charl Langeveldt with 4 for 19 would for fred's sake have deserved to go through to the semis. The injured Steynveldt, Kallis and Botha did reasonably well, even Albie bowled okay, sort of, although I was near asphyxiation when he strode in to open.

Smithy departs for good  (c) Getty Images
But the atrocious van der Merwe, who played instead of Morne, undid all the good work as the Pakistani batters clubbed him for 33 runs in just two overs. Bifflich you cannot tell me that Morne would have leaked more. I would not even blame vdM for this, I think any other average spinner would have got whacked around in the same way.

Pakistan played like the horned one was behind them. I have never seen them throw themselves across the park like that, there was not a single bloody misfield to moan about, in fact they looked tight and compact in the field and Ukmal and Misbah took great catches, as the spinners inflicted their damage in regular intervals, especially Saeed Ajmal sticks out once again with 4 for 26, what a bowler.

The early removal of dangerman Butt and the departure of the useless Latif and Hafeez didn't hamper them a great deal, the Pakmals stood up for their team and even Afridi started to score, which shows what special day it was for the Greenwhites.

Pakistan's progression depends on the English success against the Kiwis, and pitifully I can't see much of a problem here for the Pommerals unless they can't even wipe their backsides without KP.

~~~

Alright, New Zealand have played, and my heart lies shattered as it is time to sing the song...

... bye bye black sheep

New Zealand put up a much better fight than the Saffas and it was a really beautiful game to watch, but England are just too bloody strong, happy and confident that you can't overcome them, you have to acknowledge that, KP or not, this is an excellent side that definitely deserves to be where they are.

New Zealand's bowlers sure gave their all but England's batsmen made a wonderful comprehensive effort and chased down the target with ease.

Tim Bresnan indicates the route of march for his team  (c) AFP
New Zealand decided to bat first, got a reasonable start and batted in a really relaxing manner, it was good to look at and felt a bit like being on holiday. But they choked a little during the end overs and I think 20 runs were missing to make the chase a bit more demanding for the English.

It is ironic that the Kiwis batted so well but still lost the match. BcCullum clicked, Scotty Styris, the walking gut, served up a really entertaining innings and finally also LRPL had his go at the bowlers and delivered what had been expected from him a lot earlier. Vettori, though fighting with his stiff back, came in too late, I would have loved to see him instead of Gareth Mehkins, of who I still can make neither head nor tail.

England weren't planning to take any prisoners, 150 looked a good target to them. Kies couldn't quite fire today, Boppy (who replaced KP) and Colly nurdled themselves to death, but Lumb took off and bashed Bond and The Man; Wright and Bresnan both added several utterly cordial strikes to the collection, while Morgan had the Kiwis eat from his hand. This humble little ginger boy makes me just gawk in amazement, he actually deserves a whole team just for himself, as a sign of England's gratefulness.

Scotty Styris ruled with the ball, took 2 for 16, and also Vettori tried his best, but the other bowlers were torn to shreds. Bond should be mentioned of course with his 2 for 29, but he received quite some treatment, and Nathan McCullum, who has had a great tournament up to this point, was greeted with utter disrespect. Millsy bowled at 10 per over, Butler's short cameo went for 10 as well. England just didn't give a damn and slapped the runs off happily.

So this means that we have to say good bye to all of the farm animals, I am very sad about this. Pakistan ride into the semis, we shall see how they cope with the big boys, I haven't looked at the grouping yet but sure they will have to fight a couple of challenging battles. Tomorrow / today we will know more about the goners from Group F; AUS and WI will be fun to watch with the Australian summer still fresh in their minds, Chris Gayle is gonna make sure that he fires all cannons, and IND and SL will probably try to strangle each other to death with bare hands, I'm curious to find out who of them is still breathing at the end.


Sad,
Wes

10 May 2010

The Yolk Of Doom and the One-Man-Army

World T20 Day 10

AUS - SL [scorecard]
WI - IND [scorecard]

Theoretically I could just post another yolk-yellow scorecard, this time the result is even more crushing, but maybe it is time for some words of praise now. Alongside India, Sri Lanka is the team I respect most in this tournament, simply because they are so annoying to play against. They squeeze the air out of you and you have to scamper and nurdle your way to 120 somehow, if you are lucky. Australia got to feel that tight grip right away, the complete top order -5 batsmen- got snipered for a total of 39 runs. Compare this to the B'desh match, where they managed at least 50+, which was shocking enough.

But what happened then surprised even the most optimistic Oz supporters: the ever-reliable Muss and, hear hear, everybody's favourite Victorian bear boy Cam White stepped up like the total step-uppers. I didn't believe my eyes. Especially Cam, who hadn't really had the most successful of all tournaments so far, fired from all tubes and bludgeoned the Lankan attack for 85 from 49. Hussey made sure that the duct to the tail remained plugged and heaved a handful of mighty ones as well. After the last ball of this innings had been bowled, SL groaned in pain realising that in order to win they had to climb a yellow mountain of 169.

The Australian bowlers put some weighty arguments against this plan onto the table. First they caused some frown of worry as they failed to apply early cuts within the first two overs, but when Nannes began to read the tale of "Knuppel uit de zak" with sonorous voice a spectacular Sri Lankan collapse followed and ended only when SL had been clubbed into the dressing room for 87 in the 17th over. Nannes started his killing spree by removing the utterly dangerous Jayawardene, Taito took skipper Sangakkara and handed the whip back to Nannes who continued by spanking the butt of Jayasuriya. SL had collected 16 runs by then.

Dilshan attempted to re-vitalise his career, but got hammered back into his hole by a searing Mitch and the mother of all rippers executed by Cameron White, who by taking this stunner put the cherry on top of his creamy batting performance. Mitch had tasted blood, Mathews burnt his fingers on the flaming spearhead of the Australian attack. Hilariously skipper Clarke couldn't leave his hands off the ball again (naughty pup will not drop, loves ball too much), bowled an over for 2 (!) and took the scalp  of the accursed Malinga! And so they kept falling one after another, until Mitch finished Dirk's  tale with the words "and they walked happily ever after".

Steven Smith: 4 overs, 12 runs/econ 3.00, 1 maiden, 2 wickets, 2 catches
I cannot, and don't want to, stop harping on how much of a prospect this guy is. His talent is brizzling around him like electric charge, you can touch it with your hands and go brzzzzt ouch. No matter whether with the ball, in the field or with the bat (check his first class stats again), the boy delivers. Australia needs to watch carefully over these precious, omnipotent fingers; they will pay the faith back twice and thrice.

But there is something about Oz I still find worrying: on the one hand it is positive that any batter will chip in with a rescuing performance on his day, on the other hand Oz don't have these reliable constants such as Kies, Morgan or KP in the English team. Hussey the old fox is the only one who can be relied on. I know it depends on the circumstances such as wicket, toss, opposing attack and the extent to which the single players are suited to handle these. But I would really like a bit more consistency here.

However, Oz have been the "Ohhhh and ahhhhhh" team at this stage of the tournament and will stride onward so God loves the good ones ^^

~~~

In the first match of the day India were read the sermon by hosting skipper Chris Gayle, who dramatically fell short of a century when he got run out on 98, home by miles but with the tip of his bat bobbing up into the air. Bugger! Nevertheless the effort of the Windian one-man-army, who also accounted for the key wicket of Suresh Raina, was enough to compensate the 17 extras produced by the Windie bowlers -in particular Kemar Roach, who seemed totally off track at one stage of the match- and the Windies surfed to victory on a cool nice wave.

Group F looks utterly interesting, all of the teams could still make it depending on the outcome of tomorrow's matches and the net run rates. [points table]


Cheers,
Wes

9 May 2010

Ian Gutler and Dr. Tinybiff

World T20 Day 9

NZ v PAK [scorecard]
ENG v SA [scorecard]

Madness reigns supreme. To claim I was "on the edge of my seat" would be plain understatement. I was standing behind it, shouting, yelling and flailing, as well as wielding all grabbables in reach. Holy sheep, please guys, not again!

Let's calm down a bit and look at the match.

Both teams started with different line-ups, and in both cases the changes made me rage. No Southee for NZ, no Funky Fawad for PAK. But it worked.

Good old Millsy is back  (c) AFP
Millsy is back with a bang, after such a long time it felt like he had never been away. Slaying brutally, sledging his arse off and leaking runs galore. You have been missed, mate. Ian Butler bowled like the ruler of the galaxy. My eyes were popping out. This guy can handle some pressure, and what a brilliant technician he is! I had to reattach my jaw numerous times.

But (there is always one)! Southee would have killed Salman, I insist. He is the man to get the big ones, to charm them into death. Salman must be named among the best batsmen of this tournament. He has clicked on every occasion, as far as I remember. Admirable performance and I think the guy deserves a pay rise.

While the might(il)y overrated Nom Nom is having an abysmal tournament with the bat, Salman is the guy to get showered with lauds. It can only take years until the Pakistani supporters will understand that, but I am confident. It's amazing to see how he fought his way out of his shell after his disastrous Australian summer campaign. There is hope in the Pakistan batting camp. I am not sure though if Razzaq, who looks a bit out of form batting-wise, rather contributed important runs, or stupid shots. I think either applies.

However, Pakistan made the right decision and included a third spinner, the concept worked, they strangled the Kiwis successfully, who limped to 133 on one leg thanks to the 13 extras they got given by the commiserative Pakistani bowlers. I don't think they could have defended 120.

But in the end it all came down to the last two deliveries. Three off two needed, Salman goes for the single, now Rehman is on strike and needs to get at least one run from the last ball to make it into the super over. But Rehman, the poor Rehman, skies it to deep square leg, and Salman, the poor Salman, implodes internally. What a tragic end to a heroic innings. Pakistan still have a narrow chance to go through to the semis, and the Sheepies are facing the bullish Poms next...

~~~

... speaking of the devil. Pietersen, who is happily proliferating these days -a furore Pietersorum libera nos domine-, bullied the fearful little Biffaloes into the corner; South Africa had already lost the match after the first catches were dropped, not taken or otherwise messed up. What a terrible day in the field. Just like in the last match the K-Pie's confidence grew all the time and he slayed the moocoos single-handedly... with a little big help from the awesome Kies, that its. Kieswetter needs to get more attention; fantastic, reliable opener.

Graeme Smith looked unusually deflated
A few others performed well enough to set the Saffas a target of 169, and the intimidated little calves never attempted to chase it down. Twitchily and shakily they got out one by one, Smithy's forgettable opening appearance posed the beginning of a hopeless struggle for life. And as we are looking at the nude facts, South Africa also had an absolutely atrocious day with the ball. Steyner and Morne were just shocking, the precise and accurate Johan Botha must have wanted to punch them in the gob all the time. England's bowling looked a lot better (not to be taken literally... *goes and vomits*), Swann and Headbottom took the merits here, but Yardy is becoming increasingly irreplaceable.

The Poms have started to trample their path through this tournament, and if they keep devastating the opposition like that only Australia can, and will, stop them from grabbing the cup. Especially Sidebottom needs to get his maw stuffed now, I have seen enough. Interestingly they defeated the Irish with an Irishman, and the Saffas with their Saffas. Meeting the Aussies should be fun.


Worried about the Kiwis,
Wes