Abhimanyu Mathur

Aug 192014
 

As Mahela Jayawardene bids farewell to Test cricket, the game’s longest format loses the last of a dying breed – the classical Test-match batsman. There have been Sri Lankan batsmen with better records and greater appetite for runs but none has been quite as aesthetically pleasing to watch as the man from Colombo. He is indeed last in a line of batting technicians that can be traced back to the likes of Jack Hobbs and Clem Hill.

Jayawardene’s contribution to Sri Lanka and cricket in general is more than the runs he scored. It was also the way he scored them. In an era when brute force and cheeky innovations have all but overtaken classy strokes, Mahela stuck to his guns. Armed with a classical, copybook stance, an elegant bat lift, and a follow through that was almost artsy, he scored runs against all oppositions, all around the world.

With the retirements of Kallis, Dravid, and Yousuf, Mahela had been the lone flag-bearer of this kind. True, there are other successful batsmen in the world who boast of impressive techniques but none can be called classical in the true sense. AB de Villiers’ game is riddled with 21st century improvisations, Hashim Amla’s wristy elegance is mixed with a limited-overs approach, Sangakkara’s game is more effective than beautiful, and the less we say about Chanderpaul, the better it is for purists. Perhaps, a few batsmen from the next generation can take the mantle forward. The likes of Kane Williamson, Joe Root, and Cheteshwar Pujara have shown limited promise but it remains to be seen if they will still be playing a decade from now.

For now, it is Mahela who exists Test cricket as a titan. Going by sheer numbers, Mahela finishes as one of the game’s greats with over 11,000 runs at an average of just under 50. It might be a statistical tragedy that his career average dipped below 50 in his final game but surely, that takes nothing away from his game. Another great who suffered the same fate in his final Test was Sir Frank Worrell (eventual average 49.48). The only criticism of Mahela’s batting can be his relative lack of success outside the subcontinent. At home and in the familiar conditions of the neighbouring countries, he has been peerless. But outside, he has met little success. Even though, one of his best Test-match performance (61 and 119 at Lord’s in 2006) came in completely alien conditions. Mahela was also adjudged the Man of the Series on the 2002 tour of England when he scored 272 runs in 3 Tests.

Jayawardene’s Batting Around the World

Region

Tests

Runs

Ave.

High

100/50

Sri Lanka

81

7167

59.72

374

23/34

Subcontinent

22

1903

52.86

275

4/8

Overseas

46

2744

33.87

141

7/8

Total

149

11814

49.84

374

34/50

Apart from the volume of his runs, the most remarkable aspect of Jayawardene’s batting has been his ability to churn out those monster innings. He has 16 scores of 150+ in Test cricket, which includes four of over-240. His mammoth 374 against a quality South Africa attack in 2006 remains the highest score by a Sri Lankan in Test cricket and the fourth-highest overall (behind only Brian Lara and Matthew Hayden). In fact, it is the highest individual score in Tests never to have been a world record. But again, all his big hundreds have come in the subcontinent. Outside, his highest score is a (relatively) paltry 141 at Napier.

Highest Individual Scores in Tests by Sri Lankans

Player

Score

Opposition

Venue

Year

Mahela Jayawardene

374

South Africa

Colombo SSC

2006

Sanath Jayasuriya

340

India

Colombo RPS

1997

Kumar Sangakkara

319

Bangladesh

Chittagong

2014

Kumar Sangakkara

287

South Africa

Colombo SSC

2006

Mahela Jayawardene

275

India

Ahmedabad

2009

An additional aspect of Jaywardene’s worth to any team was his slip catching. One of the finest close-in fielders from his country, Mahela finished his career as only the third man to take 200 catches in Test cricket. With 205v catches, he lies only 5 catches behind the leader Rahul Dravid, but having played 15 Tests fewer than the Indian legend. In fact, among all players with at least 100 catches, his rate of 0.759 catches per innings in Tests has been bettered by only three (Bob Simpson -0.940, Stephen Fleming- 0.851, Mark Taylor- 0.796). And then there is his famous partnership with Muralitharan. While everyone talks about the Sangakkara-Mahela combine, few know that with 77 occurrences, ‘c Jayawardene b Muralitharan’ is the most common entry in scorecards in the history of cricket when excluding wicketkeepers.

Most Catches in Tests by Non-Wicketkeepers

Player

Tests

Catches

Ct/Inn

Rahul Dravid

164

210

0.697

Mahela Jayawardene

149

205

0.759

Jacques Kallis

166

200

0.634

They say a cricketer’s biggest contribution to a team is if he can leave the side in a better state than the one when he came in. This is where Jayawardene has been enormously successful. When he made his debut, Sri Lanka were an enormously talented team but one that failed to deliver the results with consistency. During his stay in the sside, they have registered series wins in England and Pakistan, and drawn one in New Zealand, apart from managing their first Test wins in South Africa and the West Indies. The new Sri Lankan side has the confidence to win and a lot of the credit for instilling it has to go to this quiet unassuming seasoned veteran. Truly, Sri Lanka cricket will miss Mahela Jayawardene!

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Jul 142014
 
Jayawardene Announces Retirement from Test Cricket

Sri Lankan batting giant Mahela Jayawardene has said that he will quit Test cricket after taking part in Sri Lanka’s upcoming series against South Africa and Pakistan, bringing the curtain down on one of the greatest Test match careers in modern cricket.

In a press release, the 37-year old stated, “It was not an easy decision to make given that it has been a great privilege and honour representing my country during the past 18 years, but I believe this is the right time.” However, the final chapter of Jayawardene’s glorious career is yet to be written. The elegant batsman will play in the two-Test series against South Africa that begins on Wednesday, following which he will play his last series for the Lankan lions in August against Pakistan.

Jayawardene’s retirement is limited only to the longest format of the game. The former captain will continue playing in one-day internationals with his eyes set on the World Cup in Australia next year. Jayawardene had already bid adieu to T20 internationals following the ICC World T20 earlier this year.

His Test debut against India back in August 1997 was eventful as he scored 66 but was largely unnoticed as his team piled on a world record 952 aided by Sanath Jayasuriya’s dominant 340. It was quite fitting that several years later it was Jayawardene who broke surpassed Jayasuriya’s total on his way to a new Sri Lanka record 374 against South Africa. This was the same innings where he and long-time friend Kumar Sangakkara put-on 624 run partnership, a world record for any wicket in first-class cricket.

Along with Sangakkara, Mahela became the mainstay of the Sri Lankan batting throughout the first decade of the 21st century. The duo are the joint leading run-scorers for Sri Lanka in Tests with 11,493 runs and sit 7th on the international tally behind some of the most prolific batsmen in cricket history. His 11,493 runs have come at an average of 50.13 from 145 Tests, which includes 33 hundreds and 48 fifties. His appetite for runs can be gauged by the fact that seven of his 33 hundreds are double, including that 374 at Colombo.

However, despite all his exploits in the subcontinent, Jayawardene often came under criticism for not quite living up to his lofty standards outside South Asia. In his 46 Tests outside the subcontinent, he averages only 33.87 with seven hundreds and a high score of 141 at Napier. In comparison, within the subcontinent, his numbers are staggering – 8749 runs at 59.11 with 26 centuries from 99 Tests. But despite that, some of his finest innings have come in foreign conditions, including the 61 and 119 at Lord’s in 2006.

A terrific slip fielder, Jayawardene has pouched 199 catches in Tests and sits behind Rahul Dravid and Jacques Kallis in the all-time list for most Test catches. With four more Tests to play, he is almost certain to go past the 200 catch barrier and maybe even threaten Dravid’s record of 210 catches. But regardless of what records he sets, Jayawardene will go down in history as one of the greatest modern-day batsmen and a stalwart in Sri Lankan cricket.

Jayawardene’s Tests Career

Tests

Runs

Ave.

100s

High

Wkts

Ave

Ctchs

145

11493

50.18

33

374

06

51.66

197

Jul 012014
 
10 Cricketers Who Were Accomplished Footballers

In today’s day and age of absolute dedication in the lives of professional athletes, it is impossible to imagine any of them playing at the top-level in more than one sport. However, there have been as many as 19 male cricketers who have also represented their country in football and scores of others who played the game professionally. In line with the football spirit created by the FIFA World Cup, here are 10 cricketers who were accomplished footballers as well, listed in an increasing order of their footballing skills.

10. Brian Close Represented England in cricket and played football for Arsenal

Brian Close remains one of the most charismatic and influential figures in English cricket. A child prodigy, Close was signed as an amateur by Leeds United in 1948 and went on to play for the England youth team that year. The following year, he made his first-class cricket debut for Yorkshire and soon became the youngest man to play Test cricket for England at the age of 18. Even though he could not solidify his place in the Test team, he became a regular for Yorkshire soon and tried balancing both the sports. In 1951, he was signed by Arsenal but despite good performances, was sacked by the end of the year as he wasn’t able to give enough time to the team. He played for Bradford United in 1952 before a knee injury ended his football career. Football’s loss was cricket’s gain. Close played for Yorkshire till 1977 and ended up with 34,000 runs and 1171 wickets in first-class matches. His England career, though, was largely unfulfilled. He played only 22 Tests from 1949-76 and averaged 25 with the bat and 29 with the ball. Even then, he captained England in seven of his 22 Tests, winning six and never losing.

9. Ian Botham Represented England in cricket and played football for Scunthorpe United

He might be one of the greatest all-rounders to have played the game but Sir Ian Botham could very well have been a footballer. Proficient in both the sports in his early days, Botham chose to focus on cricket and gave up football as a teenager. He began his first-class career with Somerset in 1974 before playing grade cricket for a season in Australia. He made his international debut for England in 1977 and within no time became a darling of the masses. His one tryst with football came in 1980 when he was recovering from a cricket injury. Beefy joined Scunthorpe United as a centre half and made 11 Football League appearances for the side. He also played briefly for a small team called Yeovil Town. Botham resumed his cricket career in 1981, winning the Ashes single-handedly, becoming the England captain the following year and dominating world cricket for years to come. By the time, he was finished in 1992, he had amassed 5200 runs at 33 and 383 wickets at 28 from 102 Tests.

8. Patsy Hendren Represented England in cricket and played football for Brentford

One of the most prolific batsmen in the history of the game, Elias ‘Patsy’ Hendren made his first-class debut for Middlesex in 1907, and played his first top-flight football game at wing forward for Manchester City in the same year. Before the war, Hendren balanced both the sports, establishing his place in the Middlesex cricket team and moving from City to Coventry and then Queens Park Rangers. In 1911, Hendren moved to Brentford, where he spent the remainder of his football career. During the war years, he side-lined cricket and concentrated on his football career. Making a comeback to Middlesex in 1919, the right-hand batsman made rapid strides and made his England debut the following year. He continued playing for Brentford sporadically till 1927 when he retired from the game. He played 51 Tests for England between 1921 and 1935, scoring 3525 runs at 47 with seven hundreds. With 57,000 runs and 170 centuries in first-class cricket, Hendren rivalled the great Jack Hobbs as the foremost player of his generation.

7. Vic Pollard Represented New Zealand in both cricket and football

A gifted athlete, Vic Pollard is one of the few men to represent New Zealand in both cricket and football at the international level. One of the finest all-rounders in New Zealand, Pollard started playing first-class cricket in 1964 and made his Test debut as a 19-year old a year later. During this period, he played club football as a forward. In 1968, he made his top-flight debut for the Rangers. Later that year, he played his first international football game against Fiji. He played seven internationals for the All Whites from 1968-72 part from turning up for Christchurch United. In cricket, he played 32 Tests, scoring 1266 runs at 24 with two hundreds and bagging 40 wickets at 46 with his off-break bowling. He was considered for the role of New Zealand cricket captain in 1972 but opted out due to his belief of not playing on a Sunday. Pollard retired from football in 1972 and cricket in 1975. He was only 29 years old when he quit both the sports.

6. Viv Richards Represented West Indies in cricket and Antigua in football

Before embarking on his career as one of the greatest batsmen ever, Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards was an international footballer. Richards, like most other Caribbean kids, played both the sports as a youngster. He began rising in the ranks of Antiguan footballing circles in the early 1970s. In the meantime, he was also playing for some of the top clubs in the country. In 1973, he played his first international for Antigua and later, also took part in his side’s World Cup qualification matches. His footballing career ended when Richards relocated to England for professional cricketing opportunities and signed on with Somerset. He made his Test debut the same year and ODI debut the following summer in the inaugural cricket World Cup. This makes him, till date, the only man to have played in both the football and cricket world cups. Over the next 17 years, Richards played 124 Tests and 187 ODIs, establishing himself as the most dominant and destructive batsman in the game’s history, scoring over 15,000 international runs with 35 centuries across the two formats.

5. Tip Foster Represented England in both cricket and football

Reginald Foster, affectionately known as ‘Tip’, started his sporting career while attending the Oxford University from 1897-1900. He represented the University in cricket, football, racquetball, and even golf. He also began playing county cricket for Worcestershire while still in college and was named the Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1901. During this time, he also began his football career, playing as a forward for Corinthians. In 1900, he played his first international for England and was elevated to the post of captain in only his fifth game. However, this was his final international for England. He scored two goals in his five appearances. The following year, he was appointed the captain of the England cricket team for the Ashes for his debut series. This makes him the only man to captain England in two different sports. On his debut, Foster scored a masterly 287 – at that time a world record for the highest individual score in Tests. To this day, it remains the highest score by a debutant. Due to failing health, Foster played only seven more Tests, averaging 46 with the bat and taking 13 catches in the slips. He died at the age of 36 in 1914, due to severe diabetes.

4. CB Fry Represented England in both cricket and football

Arguably the greatest all-round sportsperson the world has seen, CB Fry excelled in cricket, football, rugby, gymnastics, shot put, golf, ice skating, hammer throw, hurdles, sprint races, and also set the world record for long jump in 1893. Fry started his sporting career at Oxford University in 1892 where he played both football and cricket (among other sports). He first played in the County Championship for Sussex in 1894 and made his amateur football debut as a defender for Corinthians in 1892. He made his Test debut in 1896 and played 26 Tests over 16 years, averaging 32 with the bat and scoring two hundreds. Fry turned a professional footballer in 1900, debuting for Southampton, with whom he won the Southern League that season and played in the FA Cup Final in 1902. He won his only international cap in 1901 against Ireland. After relinquishing football, he continued to play cricket, switching from Sussex to Hampshire in 1909. He captained the England cricket team in the 1912 Triangular Tournament and was the first batsman to average 50 with the bat in first-class cricket over the course of his career. For good measure, Fry’s genius went beyond sport as well. He was a renowned politician, diplomat, academic, teacher, and journalist as well.

3. Billy Gunn Represented England in both cricket and football

William Gunn influenced cricket and football in more ways than many greats have. He made his first-class debut for Nottinghamshire and top-flight football debut for Nottingham Forest around 1880. A tall, strong man with a very powerful shoulder, Gunn played two internationals for England and was called “one of the most brilliant forwards in the country” but he sacrificed his football career due to his cricket commitments. His only international goal was scored in the 1884 British Home Championship. Gunn had the ability to throw the ball into the opponent’s penalty box from his own half, which prompted FA to amend throw-in rules. He made his Test debut for England in 1886, playing 11 Tests in all and averaging 22 with the bat, a creditable average on the uncovered pitches of that time. He was known as the best outfielder of his time, known for a powerful throwing arm. Gunn’s most lasting legacy to cricket was in the form of Gun and Moore (GM), the sports equipment company he founded in 1885, which is one of the leading makers of cricket equipment in the world today.

2. Denis Compton Represented England in cricket and played football for Arsenal

One of the best double internationals of all-time, Denis Compton is largely remembered as one of the best batsmen England have produced but he also had a very successful career with Arsenal and the England football team. Compton started playing football for Nunhead club in 1934, the same year when he joined MCC as a staff member. He made his first-class cricket debut for Middlesex in 1936 and first played for MCC in the same season. Later that year, he was signed by one of the biggest clubs of the time Arsenal, with whom he won the league title in 1937-38. In 1937, Compton made his Test debut and scored his first Test hundred while still a teenager the following year. The war intervened and put his cricket career on a hold. During the war, Compton continued to play for Arsenal as a winger and also made 12 appearances for England, but none of those were classified as official internationals. After the war, he won the league with Arsenal again in 19448 and the FA Cup two seasons later. In all, he scored 16 goals for Arsenal in 60 appearances. In the 1950s, he focussed mostly on cricket, establishing himself as one of the best batsmen in the world and ending his career with 5807 Test runs at 50 from 78 Tests with 17 centuries. He also scored over a hundred centuries in all first-class cricket.

1. Willie Watson Represented England in both cricket and football

A dashing left-hand batsman and a cultured wing-half, Willie Watson an England double international, representing the team in both cricket and football. He made his first-class debut for Yorkshire in 1939 and played the first league game for Sunderland soon after that. He spent seven seasons at Sunderland, playing 211 league games in all and earning his first England cap in 1949. In all, he played only four football internationals and was a part of the 1950 World Cup squad, even though he did not appear in any game in the tournament. In 1951, Watson made his Test debut against South Africa. Due to the abundance of batting talent in England, he only played 23 Tests over eight years, where he scored 879 runs at 25 with two hundreds. He quit football after 1953 to focus on cricket but managed teams like Halifax and Bradford City later. Watson joined Leicestershire as captain in 1958 and stayed with the club till his retirement in 1964. His biggest success in cricket was being adjudged one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 1954.

Image: (The Mirror)

Jun 242014
 
Srinivasan Set to be Appointed ICC Chairman

Former BCCI chief N Srinivasan is all set to be appointed the new ICC Chairman at this week’s annual conference in Melbourne despite the fact that the 69-year old has been suspended by India’s Supreme Court as the country’s cricket chief over corruption allegations.

Often hailed as the most powerful man in world cricket, Srinivasan was among the 13 people named in a report on corruption and spot-fixing allegations in the lucrative Indian Premier League, following which he had been ordered to step down by the Supreme Court. However, now, the Board of Control for Cricket in Indian has confirmed that Srinivasan will indeed stand as chairman of the International Cricket Council in next week’s conference. Ironically, the main agenda of the conference is to address growing concerns about corruption in cricket.

The IPL has been in the middle of a huge scandal about match-fixing and misappropriation involving the Chennai Superkings franchise, owned by India Cements where Srinivasan is the top man. Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan is in the centre of the entire controversy and the beleaguered industrialist has been trying hard to distance himself from the controversy ever since it broke out last year.  “By the month end, India will take a leading role in the ICC. Mr Srinivasan is going,” BCCI Secretary Sanjay Patel was quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald as saying.

There is no Supreme Court bar on him. Both of us are going to Melbourne. In the last four months we have settled [the issue] with all the full members of the ICC and convinced them about the new structure and the new financial model of the ICC which would be followed in the coming years.” Patel added.

May 282014
 
Indian Squads for Bangladesh, England Announced; Zaheer Overlooked; Gambhir, Uthappa Return

The Indian selection panel headed by Sandeep Patil announced the squads for the ODI tour to Bangladesh later this month as well as for the 5-Test series in England that begins in a month’s time. Amidst several surprising calls, the one that stood out was the selection of Suresh Raina as the captain of the squad for Bangladesh. Additionally, the Kolkata Knight Riders’ opening duo of Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir made comebacks to the ODI and Tests sides respectively.

The much anticipated team selection for the two upcoming tours of India came with its fair share of surprises but none bigger than the recall (and simultaneous promotion to captaincy) of left-hand batsman Suresh Raina for the Bangladesh series. Raina did not even feature in the squad the last time India played ODIs. In a series that captain MS Dhoni and star batsman Virat Kohli had chosen to skip, the selectors also chose to rest several other senior players, giving chance to the regular benchwarmers, fringe players, and some new faces.

Riding on a strong IPL season, Robin Uthappa makes an unsurprising comeback to the Indian side, as do Manoj Tiwary and Ambati Rayudu. Cheteshwar Pujara, who has proved himself in Tests and has an exemplary domestic one-day record, seems to have finally tickled the selectors’ fancy and he gets a place in the squad too. Joining him is his Test team-mate Ajinkya Rahane, who himself has a lot to prove in the 50-over format for India. A brilliant domestic season in both the Ranji Trophy and the IPL sees attacking Maharshtra batsman Kedar Jadhav earn his first call-up to the national side. The 29-year old was the leading scorer in India’s premier first-class tournament this season and is known for scoring runs at a quick pace. Wriddhiman Saha, India’s first-choice reserve keeper over the last few seasons, will don the gloves in Dhoni’s absence.

All-rounder Stuart Binny retains his place in the side while spinner Amit Mishra gets another shot at cementing his place in the side. Mishra has, in the past, performed admirably when given a chance in the Indian colours. Both Mohit Sharma and Parveez Rasool manage to retain their places in the side after decent outings in the recent past, while Umesh Yadav makes a mini-comeback. Vinay Kumar, who was the leading wicket-taker in India’s domestic one-day season, also finds a place in the side. Apart from Jadhav, the other new face in the side is 20-year old left-arm spinner Akshar Patel, who has enjoyed a brilliant IPL 2014 with the King’s XI Punjab.

The bigger story, however, is the team for the much-awaited tour to England, India’s first 5-Test series against England in nearly half a century. While the core of the team that toured South Africa and New Zealand this winter, has been retained, there have been some minor changes. Based on his decent outing with Essex in the County Championship earlier this year, Gautam Gambhir makes a comeback to the Test side. Gambhir, a veteran of 54 Tests, last played Test cricket in December 2012. However, whether Gambhir will even get a game or not remains to be seen as he will be the understudy to Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan, India’s (somewhat) established opening pair.

The young promising middle-order has not been tinkered with. Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and Ajinkya Rahane, all retain their spots in the side. The surprise call-up is Stuart Binny, who has been drafted into the side as a batting all-rounder. Although the 29-year old has played ODIs for India, he does not have a very remarkable first-class record, but the selectors seem to hope that his military medium swing will help in English conditions, quite like it helped his father Roger in the 1983 World Cup. However, if the selectors were looking for an all-rounder to fill the rank, Himachal Pradesh’s Rishi Dhawan might have some reason to feel disgruntled. The 24-year old was the leading wicket-taker in the Ranji Trophy this year and averaged close to 40 with the bat.

Wriddhiman Saha is again the reserve wicketkeeper despite some sections of the media and former players calling for the inclusion of Kerala’s young sensation Sanju Samson. The 20-year old has had two good IPL seasons and a wonderful domestic first-class season as well but the fact that he does not keep regularly in Ranji Trophy and that Saha has greater pedigree as a keeper worked things in the latter’s favour. Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin comprise the spin department of the team, while the selcectors have opted for six fast bowlers in order to keep their options open for such a big series.

Zaheer Khan’s age and injuries seem to have caught up with him and India’s most successful left-arm seamer is not a part of the squad. The fact that he has been overlooked for such a crucial tour might signify that the selectors are looking at the future now, which might sound the death knell for the 35-year old’s international career. Compensating for Zaheer’s absence in the swing department are two of India’s newest swinging sensations- Mohammad Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Both these bowlers generate good pace and swing, and are expected to use the English conditions to their advantage.

Madhya Pardesh’s Ishwar andey has managed to hold on to his spot in the side despite never featuring in the playing XI in all his time with squad. Despite not-so decent showings in Tests recently, Varun aron and Ishant Sharma feature in the squad as well. Their presence seems to be the selectors’ way of balncing the pace attack as their pace and bounce will complement the swing bowlers. One name who might consider himself unlucky to miss out here is Umesh Yadav, who not only boasts of a decent Test record, but has been in sharp form of late. The surprise inclusion in the side, however, is Pankaj Singh. The 29-year old seamer played one ODI four years ago but has since been off the selectors’ radar. A strong 2013-14 domestic season where he bagged 45 wickets at 22 seems to have brought back into the national reckoning.

The 18-member squad for England is to leave in about four weeks’ time but the BCCI has named it well in advance in order to avoid any problems that can arise from a delay in granting visas to the players. UK visas have been known to take time and hence the board and the selectors are playing it safe, keeping in mind the stature of the tour.

India ODI Squad for Bangladesh

Suresh Raina, (c), Robin Uthappa, Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ambati Rayudu, Manoj Tiwary, Kedar Jadhav, Wriddhiman Saha, Stuart Binny, Parveez Rasool, Amit Mishra, Akshar Patel, Umesh Yadav, Mohit Sharma, Vinay Kumar

India Test Squad for England

MS Dhoni (c), Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Gautam Gambhir, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha, Stuart Binny, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami, Ishant Sharma, Varun Aaron, Pankaj Singh, Ishwar Pandey

May 272014
 
Former England Spinner David Allen Dies at 78

Former off-spinner David Allen, who played for England and Gloucestershire in the 1950s and 60s, has died at the age of 78. Allen played 39 Tests for England and made his mark as a competent off-spinner and useful lower-order batsman.

Despite being a champion at the County-level, Allen failed to cement his place as England’s lead spinner due to the presence of more accomplished spinners like Fred Titmus, Ray Illingworth and John Mortimore in the England set-up. He was limited to just 39 Tests from 1960 to 1966. But despite such a brief career, Allen did leave his mark on the international circuit. Even in such a short time, he managed to tour all the six Test-playing nations at the time, averaging below 30 with the ball in India, New Zealand, Pakistan, and South Africa and taking one five-wicket haul in each of these countries. Allen played 10 Ashes Tests during his career where he took 28 wickets at an average of 31 with best figures of 4/47.

A handy lower-order right hand batsman, Allen scored 918 Test runs at an average of 25 with five half-centuries, the best of which was a stylish 88 at Christchurch in 1966. He also scored half-centuries against Pakistan, West Indies and Australia. But despite scoring close to a thousand runs in Test cricket, the all-rounder’s best-known batting feat was playing out the final over from a fiery Wes Hall to help a Colin Cowdrey-inspired England draw a memorable Test at Lord’s in 1963.

Many feel that the presence of Illingworth and Titmus meant that Allen was under-used in Tests and was more talented than his numbers show. But for all his England disappointment, he was a stalwart at the County level, playing nearly 400 Championship matches for Gloucestershire between 1953 and 1972. In all first-class cricket, he scored over 9000 runs with one century and took 1209 wickets with a best of 8/34. He also played in 28 Gillette Cup one-day matches for Gloucestershire.

Following his retirement, Allen became devoted to his local cricket club at Thornbury, where he served as chairman and president, apart from helping develop young players. Allen became the chairman of Gloucestershire’s committee in 1989 and served as the club president between 2011 and 2013. “Gloucestershire County Cricket Club is saddened to announce the death of former player and club president David Allen at the age of 78,” the county said in a statement. “Our sincere sympathy goes out to his family and friends.”

Allen’s Career

Format

Mtchs

Runs

Ave.

100s

High

Wkts

Ave

5W

Best

Ctchs

Tests

39

918

25.50

0

88

122

30.97

4

5/30

10

First-Class

456

9291

18.80

1

121*

1209

23.64

56

8/34

252

May 092014
 
West Indies to Support Development of Cricket in United States

The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has entered into a ‘long-term joint partnership’ with the United States of America Cricket Association (USACA) with the aim of helping the development of the game in the US.

The move will involve having the best performing players from across all leagues and clubs under the USACA introduced to the WICB development programmes, apart from giving the West Indies board some say in the administration of USACA. According to a joint statement released by the two boards, the focus in this initiative will be on improving the performances of the players as well as the administration, apart from working for the betterment of the financial aspect of the game in US. It is for the facilitation of the final point that a board member from the WICB will sit on the American board to oversee and help improve the cricket administration in the country.

WICB President Whycliffe Cameron was positive about this move. “We are going to be engaged on a day-to-day basis on the three core pillars for development,” he said. “We will rapidly build plans and open up infrastructure for bringing top US players into the West Indian development system, and we are supporting the finalisation of the current USACA governance changes.” His American counterpart Gladstone Dainty also welcomed the move, stating that “Having the opportunity to work closely with another Full Member country offers exciting opportunities for US players looking to sharpen skills and experiences with world-class cricketers. The WICB will also, via their board member on the USACA board, support the governance change programme that the USACA board is currently managing. This is a long-term strategy to help build the three foundations for a highly successful US cricketing market: high performance development, models for economic growth and modern-day governance.”

The move couldn’t have come at a better time for United States cricket with the USACA under serious threat of being suspended by the ICC. Earlier this year, several local clubs and leagues in the country had left the USACA to join a rival organisation named the American Cricket Federation. This would mean that the USACA is not the sole governing body of the game in the country, in which case, the board can be suspended by the ICC under the ICC Associate Membership rules. Switzerland had been suspended under similar circumstances a few years ago. On top of this, USACA have also been plagued by a spate of resignations of late, with their chief executive Darren Beazley and the national side’s high performance manager Andy Pick quitting in the last few weeks.

In addition to the resignations and the departures, there is also the fact that USACA has a standing debt of around $3m, which the association will struggle to pay-off if it is suspended by the ICC as it will then lose the $400,000 annual funding it receives from the world body. So this help from the WICB has literally come as a divine blessing for the struggling board. To add to the good news, New Zealand Cricket have also signalled their intention to help promote cricket in the country by staging games there. New Zealand played two T20Is each against Sri Lanka and West Indies in 2010 and 2012 respectively in Florida. Now, the board is looking to stage more games in America and possibly, also help launch a professional T20 league in the country.

Image: (Brooks LaTouche)

May 062014
 
US Cricket Association in Danger of Being Suspended by ICC

The United States of America Cricket Association (USACA), the body governing cricket in the US, faces a possible suspension from the International Cricket Council after seeing several local clubs and leagues in the country joining a rival organization.

The USACA is the official cricket board in the United States and an Associate member of the ICC but under ICC rules, Associate membership of any board is conditional on the board’s ability to prove that it is the “sole recognised governing body for cricket in the country.” For USACA, that has become an increasingly difficult thing to do as close to one-third of United States’ senior cricket leagues and clubs have sided with a rival association known as the American Cricket Federation (ACF). If the ICC feels that the USACA is no longer the sole governing body in the country, it can suspend the association’s membership, just like it had done in case of the Swiss cricket association in 2012.

This latest development has come as another bad news in a series of setbacks for American cricket. Only recently, USACA chief executive Darren Beazley had quit citing the board’s refusal to accept the governance reforms he had proposed. Beazley, who had taken up the job with a reputation of being a reformer, had produced that the association accept independent board members, make appointments based on competency alone, and give players representation in the governance. However, with the board stalling most of his reform proposals, a frustrated Beasley quit after only 14 months into the job. To make matters worse, the national team’s high performance manager Andy Pick also quit recently after he alleged political interference in his work. Neither of the positions have been filled till now.

In addition to the resignations and the departures, there is also the fact that USACA has a standing debt of around $3m, which the association will struggle to pay-off if it is suspended by the ICC as it will then lose the $400,000 annual funding it receives from the world body. It is not an exaggeration to say that in such circumstances, USACA might find it hard to sustain itself. The USACA has been suspended twice before by the ICC – in 2005 and 2007, both the times due to governance issues and both the times, under the leadership of the current President Gladstone Dainty, who has held the post since 2003 despite overwhelming criticism from within the American cricketing circles.

It remains unclear as to how the future of cricket in the US will shape up if the USACA is suspended. The ICC might not willingly lend support to the ACF in fear of setting a dangerous precedent of supporting a rival group. It would ideally want the two organisations to iron out their differences and merge in order to govern more effectively. But with large sums of money and the control of cricket over a large country at stake, such a merger seems to be unlikely.

May 022014
 
IPL 2014: Chennai Steamroll Kolkata in Rain-Curtailed Encounter

The IPL extravaganza returned to India in style as the Chennai Superkings put on a dominant display against the Kolkata Knightriders, beating them by 34 runs after rain and lightning at the start had reduced the game to 17 overs per side.

Match Review: Indian Premier League – Chennai Superkings v Kolkata Knightriders. May 2, 2014 – Ranchi

The Chennai side took on the Knightriders in their captain MS Dhoni’s hometown of Ranchi. Not surprisingly, Dhoni and his men received tremendous support from the crowd throughout. The toss was won by Dhoni who decided to bat first after having a look at the track. However, drizzle and lightning in Ranchi meant that the start of the play was delayed by over an hour and a half. The match was reduced to 17-overs per side, with 5-over Powerplay blocks for each team.

Kolkata skipper put the Chennai openers in a test of spin giving the new ball to Shakib al Hasan and Sunil Narine. Smith and McCullum however, were unfazed and began on a positive note, scoring boundaries and sixes at will. Smith fell to Shakib in third over, having just hit the left-arm spinner for a six on the previous delivery. His dismissal meant that McCullum took charge of keeping the run rate moving. After getting his eye in, Raina – the most successful batsman in IPL history – also joined the party hitting Piyush Chawla for a six and a four in the same over.

Just when the match seemed to be getting away from the Kolkata side, Shakib struck again; removing the dangerous-looking Raina for a well-made 31. Captain Dhoni delighted the Ranchi crowd by promoting himself to no. 4 and walking in with over 6 overs to spare. From the other end, McCullum completed his 2nd fifty of the tournament off just 33 deliveries. Kolkata managed to rein in the scoring courtesy two good overs from Vinay Kumar and Sunil Narine. This prompted McCullum to take charge against Russell in the following over, only to find Yusuf Pathan at deep point.

To the fans’ surprise, Ravindra Jadeja walked in at no. 5 instead of the more experienced Faf du Plessis. But the all-rounder laid rest to all doubts on his abilities as a finisher by hitting the first ball he faced for a six over deep midwicket. Even though Narine bowled another measured over in the death, the other bowlers failed to rein in the aggressive pairing of Dhoni and Jadeja and the duo added 29 runs in 15 deliveries, taking their side to a challenging 148 from their allotted 17 overs.

The Kolkata innings began with a rather absurd run-out that saw skipper Gautam Gambhir trying to sneak in an impossible single and losing his wicket in the process. The experienced Jacques Kallis followed his captain back to the pavilion soon enough as his sweep shot off Ravichandran Ashwin’s bowling carried to the fielder on the leg side boundary. But the real body blow to Kolkata was delivered by Dhoni’s lucky charm Ravindra Jadeja. The all-rounder came on to bowl in the 6th over and accounted for Manish Pandey and Shakib al Hasan off successive deliveries. The Knightriders were now in deep waters with the scorecard reading 38/4 in the 6th over. The only ray of hope for them was the opener Robin Uthappa, who was promoted to the top of the order and was batting beautifully despite a clear lack of support from the other end.

Uthappa negotiated the seamers deftly, taking a special liking to Ishwar Pandey, whom he struck for 3 boundaries. However, receiving no support from the other end, he slowed down once Dhoni put the spinners on. Jadeja was clearly the most successful bowler of the night. Having already accounted for Pandey and Shakib in his first over, he then dismissed Suryakumar Yadav before rounding up a perfect spell by claiming Uthappa three runs short of a half century. Jadeja finished with remarkable figures of 4/12 from his 4 overs. Yusuf Pathan tried to make a late charge towards the target, hitting three sixes in the penultimate over bowled by Ben Hilfenhaus. But it was too little, too late for Kolkata by that point.

Mohit Sharma took a couple of wickets in the final over taking his tally for the tournament to 11 and making him the holder of the Purple Cap for the IPL’s leading wicket taker. Ravindra Jadeja was adjudged the Man of the Match for his all-round performance.

Scorecard

Chennai Superkings 148/3 (McCullum 56, Raina 31, Shakib 2/25)

Kolkata Knightriders 114/9 (Uthappa 47, Pathan 41, Jadeja 4/12, Mohit 3/22)

Player of the Day – Ravindra Jadeja

Disappointment of the Day – Jacques Kallis

Umpires Nigel Llong (Eng), AK Chaudhary (India)

Image: (BCCI)

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