27 September 2011

Champions League T20 - The Redbacks Strike Back!

Kolkata Knight Riders v South Australia Redbacks at Hyderabad
[scorecard]

Callum Ferguson... Australia's most extravagant omission

Since I have little time today let me just hammer some figures around your ears:

Callum Ferguson 70* off 40, Dan Christian 41 off 27

Dr. Daniel Harris due to another three wickets is currently second in the bowling table with Rusty Theron et al... lulz? And this ranking includes the wickets taken by bowlers in the qualification tournament as well!

The Redbacks have pulled this back magnificently here, of course you can't tell if dropping Tait and unfortunately also Rashid, and drafting Gary Putland and Kane Richardson in, effected the change of fortune or not, but the change worked insofar that they have won today. We have to take into consideration that South Australia could bat first and were thus, thanks to sensible batting all the way, in the position to confront KKR with the big total, which of course helps any bowler. But on the other hand Putland and Richo shared five wickets amongst them and bowled well in the given circumstances.

However, a win is a win. The team is now heading to Bangalore, hope they can take the momentum with them.

Onward and upward from here!!!


Cheers,
Wes

PS. Aaron O'Brien did not just bowl well (best econ), but he also took another ripper, just saying. If you are nice I will undig the GIF I made of stunner he took in the Big Bash^^

25 September 2011

Champions League T20 - Redbacks Under Siege

Warriors v South Australia at Hyderabad
[scorecard]

Well to make a long story short, after losing the toss and thus bowling first, the Redbacks' new ball bowling basically gave away all the runs that made the total unchaseable. While the two Dans, Redbacks Player Of The Year Dan Christian and Dr Daniel Harris, bowled wonderfully at max 6/ov and took four of the five wickets, Shaun Tait leaked a shocking 13.25 per over, and opening with the spinners was perhaps not the smartest move (although in the Big Bash it worked at times). I am not blaming Taito for the large Saffa total but he's had one of his mitchy lowlights today. Hats off to JJ Smuts for his 88 off 65; Saffa greats Mark Boucher and Colin Ingram made the best of their stays at the crease as well.

Having to chase 172 the Redbacks batsmen crumbled in the face of the classy South African bowling attack, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Rusty Theron, Johan Botha, Wayne Parnell, Nicky Boje are all experienced campaigners and past or present fixtures in the South African national side and I must admit that their experience made the difference here. It felt a bit like two different worlds clashing and the side with plenty of internationals in it came out on top.

Generally the competition is a lot tougher this year and due to the qualification round all of the weak teams got eliminated prior to the group stage, unlike last year when there were still a few punching balls around, on whose defeats you could coast to the semis. I guess the Champions League really deserves its name this time.

The Redbacks will now have to look how to plan for the next match, whether to stick with the three-pronged spin crown, or to throw another seamer into the mix. Gary Putland has done a good job for the Redbacks over the last years, and Big Bash final protagonist Kane Richardson is surely keen to get a shot as well. I'm having the feeling that perhaps Ben Edmondson could have added value to the attack... :(


Cheers,
Wes

This post also appeared on DieHard Cricket Fans

23 September 2011

The Champions League T20 Starts With A Cracker

Champions League T20
Royal Challengers Bangalore v Warriors at Bangalore
[scorecard]

The death at the death ^^
What a wonderful opening match, energetic, closely fought, with great performances by both teams, and won by good running off the last ball. You really couldn't have asked for anything better, except perhaps for an audience more appreciative of good, exciting cricket.

For the third time in a row I find myself tremendously enjoying this tournament, no matter how many Indian teams are taking part in order to improve attendances, TV ratings, or to make an Indian winner more likely.

I think the point of the Champions League lies somewhere else. You still get to see the deserving domestic teams from all bigger cricketing nations, and being able to enjoy the Warriors again, this wonderful organic combination of many of my all-time Saffa faves, captain Johan Botha, the eternal Nicky Boje, the ginger dominator Rusty Theron, the good old Lonwabo Tsotsobe aka Tsobie ((C) PFCNFS), and the legend that is Mark Boucher, as if they had not been away from the screen for one year, felt as pleasant, refreshing and inspiring as in 2010. 

I am actually wiping a tear over Botha's stunning knock and the way Rusty turned up in his second and final spell. Like warm apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream: comfy food for the cricket connoisseur. Plus, somebody said Nicky Boje was 38 - I deem this a blatant lie :D

And on top of that, due to the lopsidedness towards the IPL participants, a whole bunch of other favourite players of mine appear in the competition as well. With delight I watched Daniel Vettori putting in a fighting performance with the ball as the captain of "the opposition", Anil Kumble was jumping around, AB de Villiers played his part, and the Messrs Kohli and Gayle do at least command my respect.

So I will keep enjoying this tournament as in the years before, even the matches in which none of my favoured teams are playing; in fact the CL is one of the highlights of my personal cricket year, and of course it would be nice if the Redbacks or NSW or Somerset or some Saffas made it to the final, but even if not, there's always a bunch of guys playing for who you can keep your fingers crossed. Thanks for that, Lalit.


Cheers,
Wes

This post also appeared on DieHard Cricket Fans

17 September 2011

Shahid Afridi Will NOT Play For The Redbacks In The Champions League T20!!!


Because, why the blooming heck would he?! The last (and only) time he played for them was two seasons ago in 2009/10, and he did not follow this up with an appearance in the Champions League 2010 either! So why would he suddenly pop up now and play for them in the CL, after getting replaced by Adil Rashid in the last Big Bash?

Redbacks squad for the CL: Cameron Borgas, Daniel Christian, Tom Cooper, Callum Ferguson, Daniel Harris, Michael Klinger, Nathan Lyon, Tim Ludeman, Aaron O'Brien, Gary Putland, Adil Rashid, Kane Richardson, Chadd Sayers, James Smith, Shaun Tait

Hope this helps,

Cheers
Wes

That pic would actually make for a great blog logo :D

16 September 2011

How Selecting Pragyan Ojha Will Save Cricket

One of the great moans of the summer, not just uttered by me, but by a lot of Indian fans as well, was how Ojha continuously managed to fly under the radar of the selectors. By now he has brought this art to perfection, spectacularly bowling his county side Surrey CCC back to Division One by taking 24 wickets at 12.96 in the four must-win Championship matches for which he was signed when Surrey's promotion looked in danger (please scroll down for the match list), but I dare doubt once more that the gospel has reached Indian shores.

Pragyan Ojha (r.) with Aditya (@forwardshortleg)
Surrey cricket manager Chris Adams joins the chorus:

"It's not for me to comment on India's selections but I'm amazed he's not playing Test cricket," Adams said. "I strongly believe he will play 100 Tests for India, from what I've seen. I may be hitting high, but he's a wonderful bowler with wonderful skills. I expect him in the next six months to break into the India team and be a permanent fixture."

Which takes us to my obvious yet probably initially incomprehensible wish for a strong Indian Test side. Wait, what? Yup. Let me explain it to you.

Why it is in everybody's interest that India take a leading position in the longer formats:

In Germany we have a saying: "Viel Feind, viel Ehr'!" ('many foes, much honour'); whenever in my short career as a cricket fan Australia managed to beat India, it was a great reason to celebrate, a triumph eliciting joy and happiness. Compare this to the hollow dissatisfaction felt by most of the hopeful curious onlookers during India's English summer, and you will know what I mean.

Secondly, India is undoubtedly the largest cricket market in the world. If India are doing well at Test cricket and ODIs, the market will stay interested in the Indian Test and One Day side, and thus Test cricket and ODIs will keep enjoying a somewhat high priority not just within the ICC but in general; a necessary counterweight to the dominance of T20, which is sprawling rapidly throughout all levels of national, international and regional cricket and taking possession of the virgin, susceptible minds of young players. No, I have not given up the hope yet that somehow we can get our European 50-over league back, fool that I am :)

Thirdly, happy Indian cricket fans are friendly Indian cricket fans. It is very good for everybody's nerves.
Of course you might argue that deflated Indian cricket fans are silent Indian cricket fans, which is even better...
I think that's a matter of personal preference; as a hippie I would pick the jolly ones over the suiciders.

Therefore, select Ojha.

Quod erat demonstrandum ;)

Cheers,
Wes

Pragyan Ojha's Championship matches for Surrey in 2011:
2/19, 2/29 v Leicestershire
1/40, 6/8 v Northampstonshire
1/83, 2/42 v Essex
4/48, 6/42 v Derbyshire

This post also appeared on DieHard Cricket Fans

14 September 2011

This only looks like an India post but it is not

India's English summer disaster is slowly and quietly coming to an end, the players are looking forward to finally going home, hiding under their blankets, silently crying into their pillows hoping the pain will subside rather quickly, and therefore abstaining from any participation in the ICC's annual award ceremony.

Naturally the ICC finds they need to drag the Indians and their luckless Euro campaign back into the spotlight and humiliate poor MS some more by declaring him the winner of this year's ICC Spirit Of Cricket award for starring in England's cricket nadir of the summer.

In case my opinion on this incident has gone unnoticed: Bell deserved to stay out for the rest of his life, for his hubris to umpire his own match, and not calling himself an arrogant funkwit afterwards. Dhoni being awarded for the circumstances that bullied him into retracting his decision - a stadium full of angry English drunks (potential vandals and looters as we know!) and the Pom staff embarrassingly doing a Henry IV in the Indian dressing room - is frankly said absolutely ridiculous. He rightfully refused to react to this farce.

I'm not saying this because Dhoni is sacrosanct thus I assume a foetal position and freeze in religious paralysis each time he opens the mouth. Honest.

Tim Southee won the ICC Pigeonhole Of The Year Award for some admittedly impressive bowling figures against Pakistan approx.  25 years back, which I don't even remember. The same applies to the performance of the second most serious contender for the award, Tim Bresnan *mwaha Paks*

Devendra Bishoo, Emerging Player Of The Year, beat PFCNFS-pet Azhar Ali in the respective category, and subsequently walked straight onto the smack list.

Some more farcical rubbish: Afridi not making the ODI team, Malinga being its carrier of drinks, New Zealand not winning the annual New Zealand Award, and Steven Finn not becoming ICC 12th Man Of The Year (thanks Finny for pointing this out!).

Ai haz a finished.


Cheers,
Wes

1 September 2011

Thank You, Nathan

Redbacks and Adelaide Strikers spinner Nathan Lyon took 5 for 34 on his Test debut against Sri Lanka

.... for preventing me from writing two India posts in a row. Keep going boy, and don't ever think of leaving SA.
BTW here's Greyblazer's preview of the Australian bowling attack, he'd have picked Lyon over Beer as well, but suspected Aus would pick Beer ^^

So, yeah, as you can see, I'm still alive, kind of :)
Cheers,
Wes