Apr 152014
 

JAIPUR: Rajasthan Royals’ captain for IPL 7, Shane Watson tells TOI that not playing in Jaipur is extremely disappointing. Excerpts:

A lot has been said about Rajasthan Royals’ team spirit. How would you describe that?

We feel like we are one big family, and that’s as simple as it is. From our owners, management, all the way down to our players as well, everyone feels like we are there to look after everyone just like we are a family and that is how it is. It means we are doing everything we can to try and create a successful environment for one another.

How crucial is Rahul Dravid’s presence as mentor?

He’s certainly going to help us. Rahul is one of the best batsmen to have played any format of the game in last 15 years. He’s one of the most incredible people I have met in my life. Take his cricket abilities and his cricket expertise, it’s going to help every single person in our group, and he will certainly release the pressure off me.

How do you rate the Royals team this time?

We’re certainly going to be extremely competitive. We’ve got, in my thoughts, the strongest squad we’ve ever had for the Rajasthan Royals. We’ve got really hard quality options and back-up for every position in our team which we haven’t exactly had every year in the past. But that doesn’t certainly guarantee success or more success than we’ve had previously because the opposition has got the same thing. One less team this year means that there are more hard quality players that are around in every list. I think it’s going to be the most evenly fought IPL so far.

Would captaincy be an added pressure on you?

Not at all, in fact it will certainly motivate me more. Every year that I’ve played for the RR in the last six years has been a privilege, and now after six seasons to be captain is a true honour. I’m really lucky to be captaining the Rajasthan Royals. Being captain can put pressure on you, but it will also take the focus off my individual performance which is only a great thing.

Bowling looks more balanced. Will it take some pressure off?

Yeah, I think it will take pressure off me as a bowler. There’s no question. I know my role was predominantly to reinforce the team with the ball because the make-up of our side meant that we didn’t necessarily have an overseas fast bowler, playing for us consistently. So, it will take a little bit of pressure off me, but I also know that I’m going to have very specific roles when I bowl, and I’m going to have to mix-n-match with the quality of bowlers that we have.

Are you disappointed that Jaipur will not be hosting matches this time?

It is extremely disappointing that we are not playing games there. Jaipur to me, feels like my second home. For me personally, I have got incredible memories playing in Jaipur. The fans and the crowds in Jaipur are so supportive for the Royals.

How important is Paddy Upton for the Royals, given the trouble the side had last year.

If it wasn’t for Paddy, we wouldn’t have turned it around like we did and as quickly as we did, over that week when there was a lot going on. Paddy’s just got this incredible ability to be able to know how to turn things into a positive and get everybody moving into the same direction.

Click for detailed story

Dec 312013
 
Video - Kallis Says Records Unimportant
Tuesday 31 December 2013 

by John Pennington

Watch as retired South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis says that breaking records during his distringuished career was ‘unimportant’ to him.

He ended his career as the Proteas beat India by 10 wickets to seal a 1-0 series win after Kallis passed Rahul Dravid to become the third highest run-scorer in Test cricket.

The only man to score more than 10,000 runs and take over 250 wickets, he says records were not part of his motivation while playing the game.

“I have never played the game for records and stats and all that kind of stuff,” he said.

“I have always played the game to try and make the best calls and play the situation of the game. Records have never been important to me.

“Maybe one day, now I have finished, I can look back with pride at what I have achieved but it was certainly never at the front of my thinking to try and beat certain records.”

Video content supplied by SNTV and will remain available until 13th January 2014, after which time the latest available content will display above.

© Cricket World 2013

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Dec 292013
 
Silent warrior is one up on Rahul Dravid
DURBAN: The climb towards the peak was steep, but Jacques Kallis battled on, the way he always did — like a silent warrior.

Most runs in Tests

A 45th century in the final Test meant a lot to the ‘greatest cricketer of the modern era.’ It would mean an entry into a 32-member club — cricketers who have scored centuries in their last Test — but there was more to it.

A recent slump in batting form had motivated a ‘remove Kallis’ campaign in South Africa. Kallis never made it public but deep down he must have been hurt. He wanted this century to show the entire world that he was going to leave Test cricket on his own terms. But it’s easier said than done.

The emotional factor often takes over, thereby you get an Eric Hollies dismissing Don Bradman or Narsingh Deonarine getting Sachin Tendulkar a few steps ahead of their preferred destination. Bradman couldn’t get those four runs which would have taken his average to 100 and Sachin stopped 26 short of a century that a nation was praying for.

But Kallis was in a different zone on a murky Sunday morning. There were not more than a 1,000 people in the ground, but one could feel the tension. An early departure of Kallis would mean India taking charge of the Test match — and they were desperate to strangle him for every run.

One small error can bring about the downfall and Kallis looked to negate that. “I don’t think Kallis was looking too far ahead…It has to be one ball at a time,” Sunil Gavaskar, who scored 96 in his final Test, said.

On 99, there was an inside-edge off Jadeja that could have rolled onto the stumps, but Kallis kept it out. And then, a glance towards fine-leg and Kallis ran for that single.

There were not too many in the ground to cheer him, but those who mattered were out there on the balcony. Shaun Pollock, Rahul Dravid, Mike Haysman, Robin Jackman — whoever was not commentating at that time — joined the fans in appreciation of the effort.

Kallis got 15 more, displaced Rahul Dravid from the third position on the list of highest run-getters in Tests, and then top-edged an attempted sweep off Jadeja to get caught by Dhoni. Everyone stood up, Graeme Smith came down the stairs and kissed Kallis on his head and the clapping continued. The cricket world seemed to say — ‘Thank you Kallis for the entertainment!’

Dec 292013
 
Silent warrior is one up on Rahul Dravid
DURBAN: The climb towards the peak was steep, but Jacques Kallis battled on, the way he always did — like a silent warrior.

Most runs in Tests

A 45th century in the final Test meant a lot to the ‘greatest cricketer of the modern era.’ It would mean an entry into a 32-member club — cricketers who have scored centuries in their last Test — but there was more to it.

A recent slump in batting form had motivated a ‘remove Kallis’ campaign in South Africa. Kallis never made it public but deep down he must have been hurt. He wanted this century to show the entire world that he was going to leave Test cricket on his own terms. But it’s easier said than done.

The emotional factor often takes over, thereby you get an Eric Hollies dismissing Don Bradman or Narsingh Deonarine getting Sachin Tendulkar a few steps ahead of their preferred destination. Bradman couldn’t get those four runs which would have taken his average to 100 and Sachin stopped 26 short of a century that a nation was praying for.

But Kallis was in a different zone on a murky Sunday morning. There were not more than a 1,000 people in the ground, but one could feel the tension. An early departure of Kallis would mean India taking charge of the Test match — and they were desperate to strangle him for every run.

One small error can bring about the downfall and Kallis looked to negate that. “I don’t think Kallis was looking too far ahead…It has to be one ball at a time,” Sunil Gavaskar, who scored 96 in his final Test, said.

On 99, there was an inside-edge off Jadeja that could have rolled onto the stumps, but Kallis kept it out. And then, a glance towards fine-leg and Kallis ran for that single.

There were not too many in the ground to cheer him, but those who mattered were out there on the balcony. Shaun Pollock, Rahul Dravid, Mike Haysman, Robin Jackman — whoever was not commentating at that time — joined the fans in appreciation of the effort.

Kallis got 15 more, displaced Rahul Dravid from the third position on the list of highest run-getters in Tests, and then top-edged an attempted sweep off Jadeja to get caught by Dhoni. Everyone stood up, Graeme Smith came down the stairs and kissed Kallis on his head and the clapping continued. The cricket world seemed to say — ‘Thank you Kallis for the entertainment!’

Dec 292013
 
Kallis goes past Dravid, becomes third highest Test run-getter

Kallis’ 115 on day 4 of the second Test helped him overtake Rahul Dravid as the third leading run-scorer in Test matches

Kallis goes past Dravid, becomes third highest Test run-getter (© AFP)

AFP

Durban: South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis surpassed Rahul Dravid as the third highest run-getter in Test cricket after a 115-run knock against India in his farewell match on Sunday.

Kallis, who would be retiring from Tests at the end of the ongoing second and final game against India, now has 13,289 runs in the longest format.

That tally is one run more than Dravid, who retired last year after playing 164 Tests. Kallis, who is playing in his 166th Test, is now third behind Sachin Tendulkar (15,921) and Ricky Ponting (13,378) in the all-time list.

The South African, considered the best all-rounder in modern cricket, struck a fluent 115-run knock, which came off 316 balls and included nine fours, in his final Test.

“Hail King Kallis!Even his worst critic wudn’t begrudge JK farewell ton-truly fantastic feat V normally relate 2 dreams!!” tweeted former Indian captain Bishan Singh Bedi, paying tribute to the 38-year-old.

“Handsome is that handsome does!Is thr any1 more handsome than Kallis in his final test?No 1 took so much workload as JK in last 3/4 decades!” he added.

Besides the mountain of runs he sits on, Kallis also has 292 wickets in Tests at an impressive average of 32.53, besides having 200 catches to his credit.

“100 for #Kallis in his last test. One of the greats,” wrote New Zealand captain Ross Taylor.

“LEGEND … #Kallis #GreatestEverAllrounder. #SAvInd,” tweeted former England captain Michael Vaughan.

Dec 222013
 
Analysis: Oh, he tore them apart

By Matthew Sherry

Ever since his retirement, Derek Underwood has been the benchmark for any England spinner that enjoys a modicum of success.

“He’s the best we’ve had since Underwood”. It was a line uttered every time there was a new kid on the block.

And it is easy to see why too.

After all, after the wizard-like left-arm tweaker had called it a day, England cricket fans spent years pining for another great spin artist.

Of course, we had our solid performers, from Emburey to Tufnell to Giles. And they played a role, particularly the latter in proving the perfect foil for an all-conquering pace attack in the mid-2000s.

But they lacked the fantasy, that ability to bamboozle opposition. When you’re routinely being rolled by Shane Warne, it’s easy to look at the ‘normal’ spinner with angry eyes.

Monty Panesar offered the first flicker of hope and, at the age of 31, should now be aiming to significantly add to his 166 Test wickets – a record that illustrates the quality of the man who would ultimately usurp him as England’s first-choice spinner.

The Swann Years started on December 11 2008. As would become his modus operandi, he introduced himself immediately.

Gautam Gambhir was first to fall into the trap, padding up expecting lavish turn. Fatal mistake. And then the maestro departed too, Rahul Dravid lured outside off stump by what would become signature drift, only for the sharp spin to come this time. Two lbws in six balls.

Oh, how the cheeky chappy transformed attitudes from that point on. In he would skip, broad smile on his face – don’t be fooled; he tea-potted with the best of them if you slipped up in the field – ready to craft some magic.

There was no mystery to it, no doosra; Swanny was all about the outdated ‘arm ball’.

And then he would get you, usually in his first over. The deliveries would all be on the same spot, only one would turn and another would not. It was the latter that usually did the trick.

That, ultimately, is where the mastery is. Do not be fooled, that is the craft of a spinner.

It is not about who has the greatest variety of deliveries, or even who turns it the most. It’s about who can control the ball, put it in the same spot six times an over, over after over. Of course, you have to get some turn; that is a prerequisite but without control, you’re nothing.

That’s what Swanny did. From that aforementioned double-wicket start, he embarked upon a one-man campaign to prove orthodox spinners can thrive in the doosra, teesra and kneesra (it’ll be next) world of modern cricket.

As I write, the words to that oft-sung song are reverberating around my head. “Swann, Swann will tear you apart again.” And how he tore them apart, from Edgbaston to Kolkata, Adelaide to Durban.

The roll of honour tells its own story: three Ashes victories, a World Twenty20 triumph, a victory in India where he claimed 20 wickets at an average of 24.75 – yes, that’s right, an England spinner got the better of those fleet-of-foot artists from the sub-continent in their own backyard.

I could go on all day but perhaps the biggest compliment will come in the years to follow. You know, when the latest young spinner shows signs of guile and the commentator declares: “He’s the best we have had since Swann.”

Dec 222013
 
Swann reflects on fine chapter

Graeme Swann looked back upon a “great adventure” after bringing his distinguished career to a surprise end.

The off-spinner did not make his Test debut until the age of 29, yet ends with a stunning record having claimed 255 format wickets in just 60 games.

He has also been a fine limited-overs performer, having topped the 20- and 50-over bowling rankings, and was a key part of England’s World Twenty20-winning side.

Swann, who famously ousted Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid in his first Test over, retires as one of the great England spinners – something he hardly thought possible when making his bow.

He told ecb.co.uk: “If someone had told me I would achieve half of what I have in Test cricket, I would not have believed them.

“I feel truly privileged with the amount I have played for England and the personal records I have set; nobody can ever take those away from me.

“It has been a great adventure and I just hope the next person enjoys it as much as I have. There have been some real highs, winning the Ashes three times and the World Twenty20.”

Ultimately, it was fitness that proved the decisive factor in Swann’s decision.

He missed playing time earlier this year due to the need for an elbow operation, after which he came back and led England to a third successive Ashes triumph.

However, Swann concedes that he has not felt right since coming back into the fold – something that ultimately contributed to last night’s announcement.

He added: “It has not been an easy decision but I think it’s the right one. It’s been at the back of my mind for the last 12 months now.

“Since my last elbow operation, I have just never quite felt 100% how I wanted to. I didn’t have the control I wanted so I just think it’s time for someone else to come in and buckle up and enjoy the ride.

“I knew in the first innings at Perth, mulled it over and talked to my wife a lot but nothing changed. My arm is not going to get any better and 50 overs is a lot for a 35-year-old with a dodgy elbow.

“It was a decision that was inevitable really. I wish I could be around for the summer because I think that five-match series against India is going to be huge.”

While Swann can reflect on a series of lofty achievements, he concedes that not being around his long-time team-mates regularly will be a big adjustment.

He admitted: “I will definitely miss the dressing room and camaraderie. It’s been my family for the best part of a decade.

“I know a lot of people miss that but hopefully I will stay in touch with the core group.”

See the best tributes to the retiring spinner by clicking here.

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