Dec 282013

DURBAN: Former South African captain Shaun Pollock termed Jacques Kallis as the “greatest all-rounder of the modern era” and someone who can only be compared to the contemporary legends like Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting and Brian Lara to name a few.

“In the modern era, he will go down as the greatest all-rounder, if not the cricketer. I can’t compare with others that I didn’t see play. I don’t know what (Sir Garfield) Sobers was like. From what I have experienced, Kallis was certainly the greatest all-rounder of my generation,” Pollock said at a press conference today.

“The people you would be comparing him with would be Ricky Ponting, Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and maybe Rahul Dravid as well. Lara for example, was more flamboyant. Sachin, we all know, went in at age 16, having the reputation that he did in India meant that he got a lot of accolades and brought a lot of attention to himself”.

According to Pollock, Kallis was a silent performer who always did his bit for the team.

“Whereas Jacques just got on with his business, continuously getting runs, being the backbone of our batting line-up for a long period of time. Even on his bowling contributions, it was always two or three wickets he used to pick up.

“But there weren’t many performances that brought a lot of attention to him. He was always there doing his part. And I think that’s why in many ways, he slipped underneath the radar.

“We appreciated him here. But maybe we didn’t give him as much attention, didn’t give him as many accolades as Ponting or Sachin got in Australia or India,” said Pollock.

Pollock believes that Kallis was the man who raised the benchmark for the South African batsmen.

“I think Kallis has been a catalyst for many South African batsmen. At that time, we had a lot of batsmen averaging in the 40’s or just over-40. He raised the benchmark. He took it to a new level. Guys have followed suit. Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers all the guys who have come after have set themselves new standards of what is a good average and what is to be achieved.”

Pollock said that Kallis knew how to channelise his anger and emotions with the right kind of performance.

“Often, he used to get motivated from an anger perspective. It was never outright anger. It was always anger with a cause. “I’ll show them” or “give me the ball and I’ll put something right” kind of thing. He used to channel that energy in a good way.

“Like that Sri Lanka game in the World Cup in 1999. He was angry for some reason, I can’t remember why but when we gave him the ball, he charged in and tried to bowl at the speed of light, which he did. That is what made his bowling special. That he had the ability to crank it up. He operated over a 130 during his whole career and also had the ability to go up to 140 at times”.

It was Kallis’ sense of humour during critical phase that helped the team chase 434 in the one day game against Australia.

“When we lost the toss, they batted first. They came in the break having conceded 434 runs and I was sitting with coach Mickey (Arthur) and trying to come up with little targets that they could try and chase down. When they came in there was a bad atmosphere. Everyone was quiet. There was little that was said. It was still. No humour,” Pollock recalled.

“Jacques was the last man to come in. He was fielding at fine-leg. And as he walked in he said something along the lines of “Well guys the bowlers have done the job. They’re 10 runs short of what they should have got. Let’s go and get it.” And everyone burst out laughing because everyone knew that 434 wasn’t really 10 runs short. But it turned out to be that way”.

Pollock said that Kallis was not someone who aspired to lead a side and always focussed on his inherent strength.

“He was always someone who shied away from that kind of stuff. He knew what his strengths were with regards to batting and bowling and doing his job for the side.

“I didn’t think he ever wanted to take that extra responsibility on his shoulders, of having to captain the side. I think he was quite happy doing what he did best and was very good at doing that”.

Pollock also spoke about the contribution that Kallis’ father had and how loyal a friend he had been over the years.

“His (Kallis) mother passed away when he was young, so his dad played a huge role. His dad had made a lot of sacrifices for him and really supported him through his career. I know when he gets 50s or 100s he always acknowledges his dad.

“Jacques always came across, to me, as a very loyal person, whether it was to team-mates, friends or sponsors. He always respected people for the value they added to his life”.

The former South African speedster had an inkling about Kallis’ mindset while watching him during the last series against Pakistan in the UAE.

“I think Jacques would have thought about it a lot. In the UAE, in the last Test match, there were a few moments, when you watched him that you did get the feeling that something was playing on his mind. The time to go is when you’re on top, when people are asking is it the time or is it not. So all credit goes to him”.

Pollock feels that a player of Kallis’ stature could have continued playing for another season or two had he expressed his desire for doing so.

“If he wanted to play, you’d pick him for the next year or two. I’m just happy that he announced it before this Test match because he’s going to get a bit of fuss because that’s what is deserved after the effort he’s put in”.

Finding Kallis’ replacement is next to impossible but Pollock believes that a certain amount of flexibility in the South African set-up might just help them find a better balance instead of trying to find a suitable substitute.

“The key is going to be balance. If you take Jacques out of this line-up, shift all the batsmen up slightly and bring in someone like Ryan McLaren who brings both aspects a bit, and then you have Robin Peterson and Vernon Philander who can also contribute a bit with the bat.

“I think that’s the way going for South Africa as you can’t keep the licking the wounds for the five years to come,” Pollock explained.

“We need to come up with a plan as how we can be successful without Jacques, as he has been a massive influence and he has contributed in all facets. We will have to come up with a plan, there’s no doubt about that. He should be missed because of what he has achieved,” Pollock signed off.

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Dec 152013
George Bailey equals Brian Lara record

PERTH (Australia): Australian batsman George Bailey equalled Brian Lara’s Test record for most runs off an over against England in Perth on Monday.West Indian great Lara hit 28 runs off an over from South Africa’s Robin Peterson in Johannesburg in 2003…

Nov 012013
Carry on Abroad

In her latest post from the West Indies, Jenny Gunn blogs on being captain, dreadful karaoke and meeting Brian Lara.

So far there hasn’t been a dull moment since we arrived in the Caribbean – the whole tour has been eventful.

I had the chance to captain for two Twenty20s after Lottie tweaked her hamstring and couldn’t get into third gear while sprinting.

We are unsure if she actually has a third gear but this took her out of the second New Zealand T20 which meant I had to captain. I found it a bit scary to start with but it was actually quite fun.

I did laugh when I was taken into the umpires’ room before the game for a captains’ meeting.

Basically, the game was to be delayed as two of the floodlights weren’t working. It made high catching practice before the game rather dangerous as we had to guess where the ball was coming out of the night sky.

After the game we arrived back at the hotel at 11.45pm just in time to go and watch some baby turtles be put into the ocean. They were born that morning and will return in 25 to 30 years to lay eggs in the exact same spot.

Our last night in Barbados provided some quality entertainment. There was karaoke at the hotel and one of the moments that stood out was a West Indian woman singing The Carpenters. That was a bit different.

It was still going on when I was in bed. At one point I thought I recognised the voices so looked outside to see Danni Wyatt and Tash Farrant singing Backstreet Boys. It’s safe to say they ruined the song and I will never be able to listen to it again.

We then travelled to Trinidad where it seems to be hotter but being the rainy season it isn’t unbearable.

I do feel like I’m in ‘Carry on Abroad’ though. When we arrived we found out the pool has only just been dug out which means we can’t use it. I’m sure it will be nice when it’s finished.

On the morning of the first ODI earlier this week, a man said to me at breakfast: “I hope you’re good at water polo as there’s no chance of playing cricket today.”

Turns out he was right as it didn’t stop raining all day. On a positive note, the rain has filled the pool up.

Last night we were invited to the High Commissioner’s residence for a function. It was nice to get out for the evening and meeting Brian Lara topped it off.

Aug 112013
Cricket: Lara a cut above Tendulkar or Ponting, Misbah a good planner - Shahid Afridi

Pakistan allrounder Shahid Afridi has joined the debate about the greatest batsman of his generation by throwing his lot behind Brian Lara

Afridi, one of the most charismatic allrounders of the game in the past two decades, has had the privilege of bowling to all of them over his long career.

He says “Lara was the best batsman I have seen in my entire career spanning 16 years better. Personally I found him to be a class above the two other greats of this era, Tendulkar and (Ricky) Pointing. He was the most difficult batsmen I have bowled too in every format of the game. He could play and hit boundaries at will. Especially against the spinners he produced boundaries out of the hat, a superb player and I enjoyed watching him bat”. 

Afridi further added, Lara’s ability to attack any bowler at will made the bowlers feel powerless when the West Indian was on song, so much so that at times he could almost judge the length ‘blindfolded’. He however was quick to add that he did not enjoy bowling to an in-form Tendulkar or Ponting either.

Speaking of pacers, he said the Australian great Glenn McGrath and tainted fellow countryman Mohammad Asif were the two he rated the highest. 

They were the only bowlers who I felt knew when they were going to bowl inswing or outswing and that is a big quality in any bowler,” he explained. He also remained hopeful of extending his career by a few more seasons following his most recent comeback, adding that as a senior player and an all-rounder, he now strives to finish every match and analyze his dismissals – something he readily admits he hasn’t done earlier in his career. 

Making a U-turn on his critical stand about skipper Misbah-ul-Haq, he also praised Misbah for being a thorough individual with good plans, who unfortunately can’t execute all of them because of an under-performing unit. He added that Pakistan cricket team members need to stop expecting to be treated like ‘school children’ and support the skipper.

Mar 162013
What to expect from Stuart Broad

We didn't expect him to bomb outside the swimming pool

Expectations are a funny thing. A great film trailer guarantees a disappointing film. Far better to keep expectations low. That’s our philosophy. Promise nothing and then deliver half of something to semi-grateful murmurs of: “Oh, it’s not as bad as I expected.”

After several years of promise and a number of highs and lows, we’re all starting to get to grips with what we should expect from Stuart Broad.

For a while, Broad promised to become a fast bowler. He isn’t a fast bowler. He also promised to become an all-rounder. He isn’t an all-rounder. In fact, he probably isn’t even an opening bowler.

Stuart Broad bowls at 80-odd miles an hour and he does a decent job. Every now and again, he’ll find the right length on a pitch which suits him reasonably well and he’ll take a five-for. Sometimes you’ll get some lower order runs from him. Sometimes his heel will flare up and he’ll miss a couple of matches.

That sounds a bit dismissive of his ability, but is that offering really so bad? A tall, reliable fast-medium bowler is something every team hankers for. If we don’t expect the bastard offspring of Michael Holding and Brian Lara we can be quite happy with that.

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Feb 022013
Cricket On This Day - 2nd February - Cricket World TV

A cricket video for Cricket World TV about cricket news today in cricket history and a look back at cricket history being made on this day, from international cricketers born on this day to those scoring centuries and taking five-wicket hauls.

Included in today’s show are cricketers such as Brian Lara, Kevin Pietersen, Upul Tharanga and William Porterfield.

Cricket World is the website to visit for the latest breaking sports news from all around the world of cricket including Tests, ODIs and Twenty20s and major tournaments such as the World Cup 2011 and the Indian Premier League. Also offering free live scores, live streaming, betting, photos and cricket videos, cricket tv and scorecards.

Cricket World has covered all the main events in world cricket including World Cup finals, milestones achieved by the likes of Muttiah Muralitharan, Brian Lara, Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar, the spot fixing trial, the Ashes as well as producing videos about cricket at all levels.

© Cricket World 2013

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Jan 182013
T20 Cricket Boom Will Not Harm Test Cricket - Brian Lara

Brian Lara came out in support of T20 cricket in Dhaka on Thursday. He is of the opinion that growing popularity of T20 cricket will not harm Test cricket because both can thrive together.

Speaking as a brand ambassador of Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), he said, “I believe now with T20 cricket a lot more people are watching the game. Just remember, we are all entertainers. And if this kind of cricket brings interest to the people, cricketers will be happy to indulge in it. Test cricket is still important, so are ODIs (one-day internationals) but T20 should be there too because of the crowd factor.”

Lara even stated the fact that how T20 cricket has regenerated the game in West Indies. He stated, “In the Caribbean we found it difficult to encourage teenagers to take up the game,” said Lara. “We are now launching our own domestic T20 competition. We will try to seek more youngsters play the game in the Caribbean.”

Lara even pointed out to the fact that how it was only because of T20 cricket that Test cricket has been able to prosper with the run rate attached. He even pointed out to the fact that it was a wrong judgement from people thinking bowlers have started losing interest in the Test format. He said, “”What I think is that the bowlers are pulling away from test cricket probably due to the amount of work. The money on offer in T20 cricket is an attractive proposition for players.”

Speaking on BPL, Lara added, “This kind of competition (BPL) will make cricket more exciting I believe. Both can go on simultaneously.”

Jan 172013
Lara unveiled as BPL ambassador
Brian Lara poses with a Mahmudullah Chittagong Kings shirt, January 17, 2012

Brian Lara: “If this kind of cricket brings interest to the people, cricketers will be happy to indulge in it” © Chittagong Kings

Brian Lara has been unveiled as the brand ambassador of Chittagong Kings for the second season of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) and the former West Indies batsman believes the franchise system will widen the net to find talented cricketers across the world.

He will accompany the Kings’ ownership in commercial and promotional activities, but is not likely to have a coaching role. But he will be sought out by the young players in the squad for batting tips, especially the local ones who are extremely eager to have a player who scored 11,953 Test runs and 10,405 in ODIs at such close proximity.

“I love the invention of the franchise teams,” Lara said. “I think it takes away a lot of control that the individual boards have. It brings about a lot of income for the players and also for the owners, and you see a lot more people coming to watch the T20 game. That in itself has a lot of benefit and goes down to the grassroots level.

“In the West Indies we found it very difficult to get teenage cricketers playing. We are now launching our own T20 franchise cricket and hopefully that will see a lot more youngsters get the opportunity to advance.”

Lara has supported the similar concept in Zimbabwe, where he played a few games two years ago. He cited the example of Viv Richards, who was in Australia’s Big Bash League, as a means for legends to spread the word. “As a former cricketer you want to give something back,” he said. “I was in Zimbabwe a few years back and supported them in their game at the Test level and at the one-day level, I actually even played in their T20 competition.

“But it’s just a matter of wanting to get back. You saw Viv Richards in Australia recently. There have been a couple of other players in the world. I am quite happy to do something like this. The younger players who are not up to their highest standards, I think I get a lot more benefit or satisfaction to helping a team that needs someone like myself.”

The game will be popular, he believed, but not at the cost of other formats. “I believe now with T20 cricket, a lot more people are watching the game. Just remember, we are all entertainers,” he said. “If this kind of cricket brings interest to the people, cricketers will be happy to indulge in it. Test cricket is still important, so are ODIs, but T20 should be there too because of the crowd factor.”

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