30 June 2011

Well Roared, Lyon!

Zimbabwe XI v Australia A
[scorecard]

Nathan Lyon, Big Bash Final 2011
You knew this was coming, so feel free to skip the obvious and spend your time elsewhere ;)

Nathan Lyon took 4-22 on his international debut, was awarded the Man Of The Match Trophy as rightfully as it gets, and outshone SOK.

(long pause)

And, has it sunk it yet? Tehehe. I couldn't believe my eyes. Not that I had ever had any doubts about his potential, but these are the Jack-in-the-box moments a Redbacks fan lives for. It were basically Lyon's wickets (and his catch off John Hasting to remove Elton) that induced the Zimbabwean batting collapse and thus Nathan won the match for Aus. No I'm not discussing this with you ;)

Well I have to say that this Australia A outfit appeals to me so much more than the current first side, watching them win makes me as happy as in the good "old" days. The team is stuffed with young talents, who have all come off tremendous domestic seasons, hungry and eager to hit their claws and teeth into their opponents' flesh. Let me cite Nic Maddinson as another example, who top-scored for Aus with 63; honourable mentions: John Hastings, who ripped out the Zimbabwean middle order with his threefer, Callum Ferguson for his half ton, and I would also like to mention Luke Butterworth for his quick removal of Zim skipper Brendan Taylor.

We need to consider that these guys have partly not really played together yet, but once the cogwheels mesh, I am particularly thinking of the fat underbelly in the form of Mitch Marsh, Steve O'Keefe, T-Paine and Butterworth, something big, baneful and cataclysmic should arise from this line-up and bring doom over their enemies. Okay okay, but you know what I mean. Hopefully they can overcome the Saffas that effortlessly, too.


Zimbies.... ah man.

Bowling-wise you can't really complain, since they restricted Aus to a gettable total and prevented really big scores, at some point I was even afraid Aus wouldn't make it past 200. Chris Mpofu was the standout bowler with 3-31. But the batting... a tragedy, always and forever. Voices arise that want Elton Chigumbura dropped for good. Craig Ervine will surely click in one of the coming matches, but unlike Aus the Zim lower middle order isn't really looking like the big bad monster from the swamp, to put it diplomatically, although I expect that runs will come for Mutizwa.

What positives can Zim take from here? Hamilton Masakadza is back! Yeah baby. Much responsibility rests on his and the openers' shoulders, it is crucial for Zim that these three make 130-150 between them if possible. Mpofu is awesome but the bowlers can only do so much if the batting fails to do their job, even though there is always room for improvement of course, I won't claim yet that they are missing the leggie, but it's imaginable that Cremer is chewing his footnails off in frustration. Furthermore there seems to be no info available concerning the whereabouts of Tatenda Taibu :/ Should we be worried?


Alright, now the Saffas.

Cheers,
Wes

24 June 2011

Finally The Cricket Starts

Triangular Series Zim XI - Aus A - Saffa A

About time!
No, Middlesex losing (and India winning...) one match after another is NOT interesting. I don't care if you disagree :D

Australia A squad for the ODIs: Tim Paine (capt, wk), David Warner, Aaron Finch, Callum Ferguson, Nic Maddinson, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Marsh, Luke Butterworth, Stephen O'Keefe, John Hastings, Trent Copeland, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc

Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Tim Paine captaining is gold enough but just the first morsel of the gooey goodness. Finch = great pick, Fergs = selfpick. Warner has extended his repertoire, and we shall see what he can do up there at the top. Matthew Wade is not the keeper. Mitch Marsh... jawohl! Luke Butterworth (LBW) so deserves a spot in the sun, I'm repeating myself here. But it just keeps getting better:

SOK, 100-fold NSW player of the year and a delight to watch with both devices, should have got a contract ahead of all these secondary and tertiary Australian spin options, but ah well. Show them SOK! Copeland is interesting, nobody can tell if he's a senior player or not, but he's deadly when fit. So they say. And then... lo and behold... Nathan Lyon! I hope and pray he won't go under in this star-studded line-up, but he has what it takes to excel in this environment, at least that's what I'm wishing for. Go Nathan, spin 'em round! Beautiful team. You could include plenty more players, Adam Voges, George Bailey, Kane Richardson, okay I'm getting carried away here tehe.



Ray Price and Elton Chigumbura share a happy
moment during the World T20 2010
Zimbabwe XI squad for the ODIs: Brendan Taylor (capt), Regis Chakabva, Tendai Chatara, Elton Chigumbura, Craig Ervine, Hamilton Masakadza, Keegan Meth, Christopher Mpofu, Forster Mutizwa, Raymond Price, Vusimuzi Sibanda, Tatenda Taibu, Prosper Utseya, Brian Vitori, Malcolm Waller

A squad that fulfils all wishes of the Zim connoisseur except for the injury-induced absence of Graeme Cremer, which could prove really costly. In the back of my head I'm still seeing him becoming a Zimbabweish Gareth Berg or maybe it's his cat-like sweep shot, I don't know. Or maybe his sweep shot isn't even cat-like and my mind is playing tricks on me. Anyway get well soon Graeme. The good news is that quite obviously Keegan Meth has recovered in time for the one-dayers. Love the "capt" behind Brendan Taylor's name, hopefully the captaincy is going to fire him up and helps him out of his slump. The main thing is Elton can concentrate on his cricket now. No Greg Lamb, no Charles Coventry. Pretty sucky from my personal standpoint but yeah. No complaints about the rest. Wait a minute... where is Shingi?? GRRRRR. Malcolm Waller shall be under scrutiny since I haven't microscopied him yet.



South Africa A squad for the ODIs: Jacques Rudolph (capt), Craig Alexander, Farhaan Behardien, Loots Bosman, Rilee Rossouw, Rory Kleinveldt, Heino Kuhn, Ethy Mbhalati, Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Vernon Philander, Rusty Theron, Roelof van der Merwe, Jonathan Vandiar, Morne van Wyk

Names I like: Theron (duh!), Vandiar, Kuhn, Miller, van Wyk and of course Rilee Rossouw. McLaren is currently playing for Middlesex in the T20 and not doing the worst of jobs there, by that I mean he doesn't suck more than any of the other players, even though it's not enough to help them out of their misery. Too bad no Friedel de Wet or Rob Frylinck. Jacques Rudolph is a former Yorkshire Pudding and as such used to be a pain in the backside. That's all from me on the Saffas.



Soooo... I hope Zim will make good use of their home advantage and get some decent crowds in, and in terms of Australia the tour should become a cracker anyway. The Saffa squad does not feature a lot of the players that hammered Zim on their last ODI tour to SA, in fact I think only Rusty and David Miller were a part of this apocalypse (unless I am confusing Miller with Colin Ingram again) and Zim would probably like to take their chances here.


Cheers,
Wes

16 June 2011

A Matter Of Fat

(c) Getty Images
From a recent conversation with a cricwitty friend:

Him (out of the blue): Mark Cosgrove is a good batsman, but he is too fat.

Me: o.O

Me: Can you say that again?

Him: I said Mark Cosgrove is a good cricketer, but he is fat.

Me: No, no, just the first bit!

Him: Mark Cosgrove is a fat cricketer...

Me: -.-


Cheers,
Wes

12 June 2011

Blogging Outside The Box

OK so I reminded myself that there are also white blokes involved in the cricket and today I'm gonna show you two of them:

Tim Holt - Cricket Through The Eyes Of An Irishman

Tim Holt's blog is one of the latest additions to my blogroll, I was amazed to see the broad range of topics he covers (including stuff like "the top ten most beautiful Indian women" etc). As an Irishman residing in Melbourne he has travelled a lot, in the course of which he gathered a remarkable amount of knowledge about many countries and cultures. Additionally Tim knows his cricket inside out and often gives you an interesting new angle on the subjects he picks for his posts. As an appetiser I would like to recommend you one of his recent articles, "William Shakespeare on Shahid Afridi", and needless to say that his today's post on Mark Cosgrove is a must-read for all friends of the big master.

You can follow Tim on Facebook, he welcomes anyone who would like to join a good discussion.


Michael Wagener - Cricketgeek

Michael is a phenomenon, I can't think of any blogger producing content similar to his. A maths teacher by profession, he specialises in analysing cricket statistics in his very own "Mykuhl" style, off the beaten track, in ways that reveal a lot more about the players and their capabilities than the common statistics, and you can't help the feeling that a lot of teams could benefit from Michael's analysis, if their coaches and selectors read his blog. Furthermore he also offers solutions for present problems in cricket. I can't recommend a specific post right now, because all of them ooze with awesomeness, so please just click the link above and check him out!

Michael also appears on Poshin's latest Verbal Slogs podcast, you can't afford to miss this one, he dissects contemporary batsmen under the aspect of how quickly they actually score by running. Absolutely shattering stuff, which also sheds some light on the reasons for certain teams' current slump and, respectively, success. I am delighted to hear that he will make another appearance on the next podcast.

To engage Michael in statistical and other debates you can follow him on Twitter: @Mykuhl

Poshin can be contacted via Twitter (@poshin_david) and Facebook, and here's his blog.


Happy reading and listening!

Cheers,
Wes

1 June 2011

Satya Srinivas - An Interview With The German Wicket-Keeper

Satya Srinivas  (c) DCB
This is the most special moment for a cricket writer: an interview with a player of the team you love. Srinivas Satyanarayana aka Satya has been keeping wicket for Germany for three years now and I was absolutely delighted that he agreed to have this little chat with me. Born in India in the city of Calcutta and brought up in Hyderabad he came to Germany as a young bloke, and with a lot of determination and (he will disagree) talent he battled his way into the national side. Get yourself a good cup of tea or coffee and enjoy a look into his fascinating world. The interview was conducted like a chat, hence the casual style, enjoy!

Hey Satya how are you today? Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, is this the first interview you give as a cricketer?

Hey Wes I am good. My pleasure!! Yeah this is definitely my first interview as a cricketer and probably my last as well :)

Oh never say never. Alright, could you perhaps introduce yourself to our readers a bit i.e. you give us a short summary of your cricket career, from your first backfoot defence to your present situation?

Ha ha ha... I am no great cricketer in this regard. But have been always passionate about the game. Learnt my cricket in the streets of Secunderabad. Have been playing cricket since the age of 6 if I remember it right. Feel lucky to be playing cricket even in a country like Germany where cricket is almost an unknown sport.

Six is a nice age to start playing cricket, did you always want to become a wicket-keeper?

No not really, started of as an off-spinner, played my school cricket as a batsman who can bowl a bit of off-spin. When I realized it was hard getting into my University cricket team in Madras (now Chennai) I decided to take up wicket-keeping at the age of 20 realizing that I could actually do a better job than the keeper at our University at that point in time, that's how it all started. Having a couple of sessions with MSK Prasad at the St. Johns Cricket Academy in Secunderabad motivated me to take the job seriously. My childhood friend Ashley was a great inspiration as well. By the way MSK Prasad is an ex-Indian wicket-keeper :)

Wow do you think you could still take a couple of wickets if your captain needs you to?

Sure... you should ask Brian Mantle [Pres. of NRWCU / Nordrhein-Westfalen state team]. I have actually opened the bowling playing for Bochum CC and also have about 3 five wicket hauls if I remember it right. Those were the times when I was a lot fitter and easily did all 4 departments for my team (batting, bowling, fielding and wicket-keeping) ;) Isn't it funny!!! Lots of people seeing me now will not dare to believe it... anyways that's how life is :) I still do come up and bowl a few overs for my team Köln A whenever needed.

Dear me. I think I have unearthed a gem here! Let me just quickly pick myself up from floor.

Ha ha ha....no no not at all. My intention was never to boast about myself... please don't get me wrong. I just meant of course I can come up and bowl a few good overs whenever needed.

Satya batting against Guernsey in Jersey in 2008
You have addressed fitness, as an amateur cricketer who also plays for the national side you need to maintain certain fitness standards, how do you manage to keep fit amongst all your worldly duties?

I used to maintain my fitness by playing badminton and table tennis here in Essen in the Kreisliga [district league]. Those were my winter sports. But in the last 15-18 months my fitness has taken a beating with all the job related travel I do.

Also until 2009 I was playing most of my club cricket in Holland as well as in Germany. Playing in Holland was a great motivator as I played in the Eerste Klasse there and hence got to play against and with several first-class cricketers from various cricket playing nations across the world. I will definitely now work on my fitness as I still have a feeling that I have still a lot to contribute to German Cricket :)

Impressive stuff... so this is how you've made it into the national side... BTW you've mentioned Bochum, did you play with Kashif Haider [German legspinner] there?

No unfortunately not. I have only played with Kashif in the NRW squad and the German national side. I guess he joined Bochum in the year 2005, by which time I had already parted company with Bochum CC to play for Cricket Club of Rheinland (CCR).

The German captain Asif Khan described in an interview how difficult it is to always take a week off from work in order to travel to the international tournaments, how do you personally tackle this problem, is your boss cooperative?

I cannot obviously involve my boss in all this. I am allowed a certain number of holidays in a calendar year and I need to accommodate the cricket tournaments for Germany in this schedule. The people at my company are really appreciative of the fact that I represent a national team. But my first responsibility is obviously towards my job.

But there are people in our team who work as taxi-drivers or work in restaurants, who basically take time off without getting paid during such kind of cricket tournaments for Germany. Everyone basically plays for the passion of the game.

Satya batting against Vanuatu, World Cricket League Div 8 2010. Also in the pic Trevor Langa of Vanuatu  (c) ICC

Have you ever had to miss out on an international match or tournament due to work commitments?

I have been playing for the German national team since 2008 and the WCL Division 5 tournament in Jersey was my first outing in German colours. Luckily I haven't missed a single cricket tournament for Germany yet.

I hope it's gonna stay that way :) A different question, did or do you have any role models as a cricketer?

Several in fact, I get inspired by several things that happen on a cricket field. This great game teaches you a lot of things. Role models when it comes to wicket-keeping "Nayan Mongia". A lot of people would laugh at this answer of mine... but one should watch the purity in glove work of this man. He was a great wicket-keeper, who had lovely soft hands, which is essential for a keeper. Ajay Jadeja and Sachin Tendulkar are also my favorite cricketers. Rishi Pillai [German allrounder] is a great mate of mine too !!! :) How can I forget his name!

I think I have a lot of reading up to do after this interview, and thank you for answering in advance what you would regard as an important skill in wicket-keeping. OK let's have a closer look at your batting. What's your highest one day score so far?

Satya keeping against Guernsey in Jersey in 2008
My highest score in one day cricket is 150 batting at no.3 for my club side in Holland in the year 2006.

Do you have a signature shot, a stroke that is characteristic for you?

Phew... a tough one to answer, you should be asking my team mates or co-players this question.

Will try and do that, if the occasion arises. Which bowler did you find the most difficult to face so far?

No one in particular here in Germany. But quite a few in Holland and India. To be frank I cannot motivate myself to play league cricket in Germany. I am not saying this to talk highly about myself. I just get motivated when I play a higher level of cricket. It's not at all a good thing for any youngster to follow. I am changing myself in this regard and trying to focus during any cricket game that I play in. Everyone needs to be learning everyday in his / her life and I am no different in this regard... hence will change myself... :)

Alright... and internationally?

Mohd. Murad [Kuwaiti fast bowler] perhaps is the quickest that I have faced in quite some time, maybe the last 3-4 years... But other than that I cannot think of any. There have been good spells of bowling along the way for sure but I cannot remember the bowlers' names... Sorry for this!

Ha. I was thinking of Murad as well! Which takes us to another interesting topic. You've travelled a lot with the national side and have seen many places all around the world. Can you tell us something about your adventures on the road, where did you like it best?

Every place had its charm. Cannot pick on any one place. Every single tour has been enjoyable. Made some wonderful friends along the line, met some great people, shared some lovely memories with my team mates... Sorry cannot pick on any one special occasion. It's been a great ride until now with the German cricket team and am thankful for the opportunity given to me. Will like to think that I have given it my all in every single game that I have played for Germany till date.

Most recently the team travelled to Botswana for the WCL Div 7 and took the opportunity to go on a Safari, is that correct? Did you see any dangerous animals? Who was more afraid of the other, you or the lion?

Ha ha ha... Good one... Will definitely like to think that the lion was afraid of me as it never made an effort to appear in front us, in spite of we ending up specially paying a few bucks to pay them a visit... :)

What do you think was the main reason why Germany missed out on promotion to Div. 6?

It's a pity that we missed out on promotion. Because with regards to the effort of every single player in the team there was absolutely no lack of it, as you can see in the way we came back especially after losing the second and third games against Nigeria and Botswana respectively. We were literally down in the dumps and depressed after the third game against Botswana.

Nothing against my mates here, but I would like to add a frank opinion here... The third game against Botswana we had it in our kitty especially posting a total of 229 on the board and having them at 90 odd for the loss of 7 wickets. We lost this game mainly due to some indisciplined effort from all of us on the field. German Cricket has got a lot of individual talent with both the bat and the ball but we as a team have to learn to be disciplined and have to make a conscious effort on the field for making a nice picture for people looking from the outside :) That´s the only criticism from my side... SORRY FOR THIS GUYS... But I like to talk honest and straight and could not hold this back...

The German squad and staff in Guernsey 2010  (c) DCB

Thank you for this very straightforward view, I had the feeling as well that Germany are a very strong bowling side and especially the Botswana match could have been won. Right, among the people you met were there also some players from the other sides; is Hisham Mirza as funny as he appears to be?

I cannot comment a lot on Hisham Mirza, as I haven't had a lot of conversations with him. But as a cricketer I think he has got a level head on him and carries the Kuwaiti team pretty well on the field.

Speaking of captaincy, have you ever skippered a side?

To be frank not much. Just twice, both times when the captains appointed for the game could not make it for some reason. First game as a skipper was for NRW in 2005/2006 against the British Army, where I happened to score 143 opening the batting :) The second game as skipper was for the German National team during a practice game in Husum against the Denmark A side just before the tour to Botswana, which we lost. Though I personally think that I have a good cricketing brain on me:) Would never choose myself as the captain cause I generally feel I do not have the patience to do this job... which is the key for any captain irrespective of the type of sport being played. But my record as a captain is not bad with a win percentage of 50 :)

Satya honestly you are a man of thousand talents. Change of topic, do you also follow other international teams, like for instance India?

Yes as I told, cricket is my passion, I do follow a lot of cricket around the world.

Do you think India won the World Cup because Sachin didn't make a ton in the final?

No not at all. It was a great team effort. Sachin did play a role during the entire tournament... and it was time others stepped upto the party, like Dhoni did in an awesome fashion.

Oh you appear not be as superstitious about that as some other Indians! Did you also follow the IPL? The Deccan Chargers didn't look too great this year, or are you more the whistle podu type of person?

Ha ha ha....I switch sides according to my comfort zone :) Basically Deccan, CSK AND KKR are the sides I can root for in any IPL.

Okay this IPL question has now lead us to the silly and final part of the interview, I wanna play a little game with you. Out of two things I would like you to pick the one you prefer or would choose, if you had to.

Reverse Sweep or Dilscoop?

Never did any of this before... because I already manage to find some stupid ways to throw my wicket away :)

Tomato or cucumber?

None as of now :)

Warne or Murali?

Both, Warne for his guile with an orthodox leg-spinning action, Murali to have had such an outstanding career in spite of all the controversies surrounding his bowling action.

Box or helmet?

Box (1st place - as it is a question of balls) and helmet (2nd place)

Coffee or tea?

Coffee or tea based on my mood, prefer both.

DCB [German Cricket Federation] or BCCI?

Ha ha ha...I have nothing to do with the BCCI. Of course DCB as it has provided me with an opportunity to represent Germany.

Is there actually anything from India which you are missing in Germany?

The happiness... it's an age old thing that, the people who have everything crave for even more and hence their headache increases everyday :) The best thing about India is even the poorest of poor manage to put up a smile on their face at the toughest of times. I love my country of origin. Thankful for the opportunities that Germany has presented to me.

Alright last but not least.... would you wear a shirt with this print?

No I will not, as I know who Adam Gilchrist is. I respect him as he has single-handedly revolutionized the role of a wicket-keeper batsman in the modern day game.

Thank you for this awesome, incredibly enlightening interview Satya, my head is buzzing with all the new info. Hope you've enjoyed it as much as I did. Whatever happens in the future, I wish you all the best. Any last words to the readers?

I thoroughly enjoyed this experience. Thanks for taking the time to do this bit for an unknown cricketer... really appreciate your efforts in this regard. I wish you all the very best in all your endeavors as well Wes.... Keep playing cricket for the enjoyment and fun of it. At the end of it all it is after all a game....HAVE FUN GUYS!! Keep supporting and rooting for cricketers outside the test playing nations as well, as they play an important role in promoting the game across the globe to an extent.

You've heard the man, from my side there is nothing more to add except for a big thank you.



Extra special thanks goes to @Cricket_Germany for their great support, encouragement and general sociability ;) Follow them on Twitter and love your Associates!

Super kudos goes to Aditya (@forwardshortleg) from the Forward Short Leg blog, who was so kind to help me out with the Telugu translation. Follow this good man on Twitter and read his blog!

So that's it, sorry for the below par questions, thank god Satya compensated my lack of wit with his detailed answers. Hope you still found it enjoyable of sorts, thanks for reading,


Cheers,
Wes

This post also appeared on DieHard Cricket Fans