29 January 2012

Pakistan's Role In The UAE - Podcast Tip


"The power of the cricket-loving migrants is far greater than the power of the ICC"

UAE flag by Alpak

Listen to this episode of the Reverse Swept Radio podcast, where the hosts discuss the history of cricket in the United Arab Emirates, and Pakistan's role in it. Also, how will the future of cricket shape up in the UAE once Pakistan return home? 

A very interesting podcast, which gives a lot of food for thought, and sheds some light on the unique interdependence of a Test nation and an Associate nation, amongst a few other topics such as a book review, a look back at England's tour of shame in the UAE and the question: 'Cricket without a crowd - cricket without a purpose?' My today's podcast recommendation.

You can follow Reverse Swept Radio on Twitter: @reverseswept.


Cheers,
Wes


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28 January 2012

The Look On Ojha's Face



picture by Sehwagology, who met Pragyan Ojha in Adelaide on 28th Jan 2012, and obviously told him the terrible truth.

With friendly permission.

Oh my slow-left-arm-bowling God

WHAT A CORKER.

You can follow Sehwagology on Twitter and Facebook. and read his blog:







Awestruck,
Wes


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26 January 2012

Pakistan - Make New From Old

Pakistan flag by Alpak

With quiet joy I am observing the proceedings in the Pakistan camp. A lot of things have changed for the Pakistanis in the last year, the heart of their bowling unit got ripped out of the team, followed by loud Cassandra calls regarding Pakistan's future reputation and bowling stocks.

The team has recovered from the blow in a remarkable fashion. Under the quiet and focused leadership of Misbah-ul-Haq, who leads the way he bats the way he looks the way he speaks, Pakistan have put in the hard yards, without any theatrical poses, hysterical screeches or the typical drunken monkey insanity. Misbah himself is thriving as a batsman and leading from the front, accompanied by hilarious because affectionate banter on the social networks. No glitz, no gloss, no disco. Just serious earthy cricket.

There is no such thing as a Posh Gul, Posh Hafeez or Posh Ajmal. The entire bowling section is unfancy and effective. Saeed Ajmal, to some extent, has stolen the hearts of the cricket lovers worldwide with his bubbling personality and wiggly looks; he embodies the image of the good funny chap who you wish to be around just because his mere presence does you a hell lot of good. The odd ten wicket haul raises the question why he was not picked earlier. Mea culpa as well, having been an avid Danish Kaneria supporter I feel guilty and ashamed for my blindness on the other eye.

Misbah's greatest feat however is that in no time he managed to banish the spotfixing aura from the Pakistan team. The trials and convictions have only taken place a few months ago, but when you look at how Pakistan are going about their business, all predictions about how they would carry stains and blemishes for years to come have been proven wrong. The decision to make a clear cut and, thus far, also keep the shady Jacket Boy Wahab Riaz, who for some reason did not get prosecuted, out of the game, must be applauded. His selection would send out a message to all players that if you quietly stay off the radar and keep your head down you can get away with murder.

So for the umpteenth time I am now expressing my hope, and that of many others, for a new age of Pakistan magic. And perhaps a bit of madness. But just a pinch ;)

Cheers,
Wes

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24 January 2012

Clonting, Parke And The Indian Riddle

Good old times. Ponting and Clarke are revelling in their Cardiff memories like an old couple post retirement, enjoying the birds, the warm sunbeams, the neatly mown lawn around them, snacking some chocolates and stretching their old bones out on the garden bench, the awful modern Adelaide architecture posing the backdrop for their romantic reveries. 

It has not been that long since both, and a few other members of the Australian Test side, absolutely dominated their tourists at will. Pakistan, always a worthy opponent, and the West Indies come to my mind. The warhorses in the batting line-up are still the same, in fact, with Watson and Katich unavailable for different reasons, the degree of mightiness has even dropped further. 

It is true that the bowling has lost its surprise factor in the lines of Mitchell Johnson, but apart from that the selection has not changed much: Hilfenhaus, Siddle, Harris are by no means bloody beginners. The major difference lies in the limb adorned by the captain's armband: it is less hairy, less magical, less grumpy and, thank God, not covered in spittle from the fingertips to the elbow. (Subsequently, it makes me wonder if the home humiliation against England, and the suboptimal results in the away series against Pakistan, were but a Ponting-related two-off.)

Should this really be the whole secret behind Australia's turnaround? What about India? When they toured South Africa, they did not roll over either. And nobody would accuse the Saffers, particularly in the pre-Tahir era, of preparing raging Bunsens. So what the freeroaming worshipped udderbearer has been happening in England and Australia? I think the Indians are missing Jaydev Unadkat.

Jaydev Hypnokat, why didst thou not get selected???
Seriously. When India travelled to England I was tremendously looking forward to my two least liked teams hammering each other to hell and back. But by the end of the tour the fates of Abhinav Mukund (clearly overchallenged with the role of an opener in English conditions, but goddammit, give the kid some time), brave steedlet Praveen Kumar, the indefatigable Rahul Dravid and poor Giraffe Boy Ishant had moved me deeply. 

Now, several Australian single and triple tons and ten wicket hauls later, India have ripped my heart out. I'm not willing to put up with it any longer, with the sight of eleven vulnerable pink bellies pointing up to the sky, the helpless high-pitched puppy yelps, the little paws twitching desperately as the nightmare comes to haunt them time and time again, the bubble of cruel godforsakeness, which enwraps each of the Indian players. 

Still this is Adelaide, it has turned into Adelaide after three quick wickets. On paper the Indian batting line-up is capable of occupying Ponting's and Clarke's romantic bench amongst the LEGO buildings from day 3 to day 5. But do they have the willpower to do so, can they be bothered to actually go for it? Please India, try, for Umesh's sake!


Cheers,
Wes


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12 January 2012

'Stupid Stat Nobody Needs' Of The Day

Hi guys, something completely offtopic today.

I was listening to the latest OHOB podcast and they have a new feature called tea time teaser, which is nothing but a stats question asked at the end of the show and answered in the next one. Did you for example know that Mike Hussey has, since January 2008, scored the same amount of Test ducks as Chris Martin - twelve. One has to wonder, is this a defeat for The Muss or a victory for The Phantom? ^^  And the only player who has scored more, fourteen, is Mitchell Johnson. Back then at school I would not have a day expected to come on which I find a number hilarious. Anyway.

This episode's question does not bear quite as much humorous potential as the Muss Martin one, but I love the answer nevertheless:

Which player, who is not a wicket-keeper, has so far taken the most catches in T20 Internationals?

Easypeasy, just go to Cricinfo > Statistics > T20 Internationals > Fielding Records.

I did suspect it would be some Australian/Oceanic thing and lo and behold, the answer is:

LRPL Taylor.


From the start of his T20I career until now 'Lurple' ((C) John Kloppenburg) has taken 39 catches at a satanic average of 0.666 per match. And, even loer and beholder, can you guess the other player in the table with that average?

It is... Mike Hussey.

Now, since we were speaking of Dutchies, weirdly both the Borronator and Pieter Seelaar are sitting together in the table like Siamese twins, with 5 catches each from 9 innings, and thus have a catching average of 0.555. They are obviously trying very hard to grow some horns, hooves and Punter pelt, but while by average they are better fielders than the table topper, the evil factor seems to keep eluding them somehow.

Thanks for joining me for the 'Stupid Stat Nobody Needs' Of The Day.


Cheers,
Wes

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2 January 2012

2011 - My Crappy Cricket Team Review

Disclaimer: This post entirely comprises of my unaltered and un-enhanced memories, the lack of research has been compensated by the inclusion of a lot of shitty English, and only the events my perforated brain deemed worth recalling found entry in this review. Your own memories will most likely be completely different, especially if you have a clue about cricket.

Wes wishes all of her readers a Happy New Year :)

Australia
Madness. Manic laughter. Joy, tears, bipolar insanity. What started out as the longest public funeral in the history of mankind steadied into a slow yet sustainable recovery, with a helpfully unnoticed, successful tour to Sri Lanka, the unforgettable, hysterical South African adventure and a home defeat by New Zealand with a subsequent recovery against the visiting Indians in the last Test of the year. Michael Clarke's men have certainly known to entertain the worldwide audience, who kept their fingers crossed for either signs of rehabilitation or the continuation of the Australian slump. Since bad wishes rarely come true, the revamped Australian administration, also because half of the first string side was hospitalised, unearthed gems like Nathan Lyon, Pat Cummins and James Pattinson, but did not manage to convincingly stuff the holes in the batting department. Much of the re-awoken interest in Test cricket can be attributed to the hot and cold Australian Test performances, people were glued to the screen, punters tore their hair out in desperation, no matter what reason suggested, the Aussies would do the opposite. Underneath this billowed surface a steady cool stream has guided the boat to friendlier shores. May Australia's rise continue; setbacks have to be expected, but Captain Pup holds the steering wheel firmly in his hands.

Bangladesh
My brain is full of holes. I only remember that Shakib Al Hasan has grown beyond his own greatness. The Deshis are going through a horrible phase at the moment. Where is the team that gave New Zealand a drubbing, and England a tough time? The spirits are hanging low again.

County Cricket
Middlesex! Middlesex! Middlesex are now playing in Division 1. We conveniently ignore the fact that Surrey are now doing so, too. But we cannot ignore that the great Tim Linley was Surrey's hero of the year. Neither can we ignore Ollie Rayner. Olixander The Great has turned his back on Sussex for good because, smart as he is, he understood that only in symbiosis with Gareth Berg he can strive for and achieve total domination. Domination of what? Well, of EVERYTHING. And he shall not worry for his army of disciples are lying in the dust before his feet, awaiting his orders, ready to jump up and walk over the bent backs of their rivals for His Blondest Highness. Hampshire got relegated. And thanks to the Champions League T20, my ongoing long-term affair with Somerset has deepened even further. Ahhh Zumerzet. No further memories from this summer.

England
Samit Patel. Craig Kieswetter. Flipside: Ian Bell undisputedly and undisputably inhabits positions 1-100 on my smack list. Otherwise uninteresting.... But here's something else Pom-related: England have now disappointed us with two shitty summers in a row! In 2010 the visits by Australia and Pakistan took place, with both teams struggling in the unfamiliar conditions - Pakistan were shaken by the match-fixing scandal and Australia by Steven Smith - and in 2011 [see India]. Since all things come in threes, we can already brace ourselves for another forgettable European season.

Germany
The 'Germs' defended their spot in World Cricket League Division 7 in a series of nervewrecking, thrilling and hard-fought battles against old foes in Botswana *dankeschön* and experimented with a few new guys in the European T20. I hope some useful insights could be gained from that. My Player Of The Year: Javed Iqbal. For 2012 no ICC events are scheduled for Germany, since the European 50-over league got scrapped, for which the responsibles must get birched until they can't walk any more.

India
Got beaten at home by the Windies [long pause.... no gloating, I swear^^]. Now this has been a crazy year in the relationship between me and the team I like least. A lot of things have happened and unhappened again. In stark contrast to their unstoppable march to the World Cup title, India's titanicesque complete and total drowning in England has, dare I say it, shifted them a tiny wee closer to my heart. The giant lying on the ground moaning and bleeding from numerous wounds can soften the hardest rock. I shall of course leave unmentioned my more intensely than ever rekindled affection for Praveen Kumar, Pragyan Ojha and The Dhoni, and will not confess that I have very secretly started to follow Tamil Nadu's Ranji Trophy campaign GO TN GO from the corner of my eye a fair while back. A woman has to have her secrets, no? ;)

New Zealand
From what I remember 2011 was actually a tremendously successful year for NZ cricket. Crushed Pakistan and South Africa in the World Cup, had a good away series in Zimbabwe and put the cherry on top of the whipped cream on top of the 16-layer kiwi Pavlova with a Test victory against Australia in Hobart. Ross Taylor's first campaigns as a captain were certainly shone upon by a bright star. You go LRPL!!! Add to that some tender sprouting in the batting department and, from the viewpoint of an outsider, the exciting discovery of Doug Bracewell, and you'll feel strong and refreshed enough to bear another year of Chris Martin.

Pakistan
[insert big chin scratch] Pakistan played away from nearly any public attention, which weirdly coincides with Misbah's unflamboyant batting and leading style. In the quiet of the night they went about their business with focus and application, found structure and strength. The grapevine murmurs of team unity even, despite the return of show pony and supreme butt exposeur Shahid Afridi. However, the jail sentences for the spot-fixers have shocked me, and a part of my heart wishes they had not been necessary. Out of the three I miss Mo Asif most, since he is not to return to international cricket; not that I can imagine.

Redbacks
The Redbacks won the Big Bash 2010-11 and I swear it was glorious and furious win, with the specialty of a triple spin crown in the form of Adil Rashid, Aaron O'Brien and YES Nathan Lyon, who got picked from the lawnmower and thrown into the cold water , where he swam like a fish as if he had never done anything else. The rest is history: after a stunning Big Bash campaign and just a handful of First Class matches he got selected for Australia A and subsequently earned his Test Cap. There he is now, successfully defending his position as Australia's current No. Test spinner. We shall pull the veil of silence over the remaining Redbacks and Adelaide Strikers adventures of 2011.

South Africa
Vernon Philander. Is there anybody speaking about anything else?

Sri Lanka
World Cup final. Kumar Sangakkara's Cowdry lecture. After which the world stopped caring about Sri Lanka as a cricketing nation. The series against Pakistan, had it not been for a few unremittingly cheering Pak fans, would have been drowned out by the noise caused by the clash of the bigger teams, and the series against England went entirely unnoticed. Had they not pulled the landslide victory against South Africa in the Saffish Boxing Day Test out of the hat, we would by now be wondering what this Sanga dude is about. Sri Lanka have a mountain of work to shovel away, best wishes from the Old World.

West Indies
Beat India in India. Now if that isn't a clear indicator of the New Wave Of West Indies Cricket Domination (NWOWICD) you can call me Klaus-Peter. I'm expecting a lot more of this blazing hot stuff from them in 2012.

Zimbabwe
Back to Test cricket. Everybody immediately thinks of Brendan Taylor's heroics and Keegan Meth's lack of teeth. I seem to recall that even Elton was back in the runs. People will also not forget how Zimbabwe beat Bangladesh. Nobody remembers the defeats that came thereafter. Because we want Zimbabwe to enjoy a place in the sun. The perception of this team has always been a weird one, people are cheering on the victories and ignoring the defeats. This is how much we wish Zimbabwe to be successful. With Graeme Cremer back in the fold -hurrah!!!-, the Zimbies will hopefully be able to take the next step on their return to old glory :)


I wish you all love, peace and apple pies,

Cheers,
Wes

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