Oct 232013

Wisden has named four Englishmen in an all-time Test World XI to mark 150 years of the Cricketers’ Almanack.

Openers Jack Hobbs and WG Grace are included, along with wicketkeeper Alan Knott and fast bowler Sydney Barnes.

The team is captained by legendary Australia batsman Don Bradman and features his countryman Shane Warne.

West Indians Viv Richards, Garry Sobers and Malcolm Marshall all make the XI along with India’s Sachin Tendulkar and Wasim Akram of Pakistan.

1) J. B. Hobbs (England, 1908-1930)

61 Tests, 5,410 runs at 56.94

2) W. G. Grace (England, 1880-1899)

22 Tests, 1,098 runs at 32.29

3) *D. G. Bradman (Australia, 1928-1948)

52 Tests, 6,996 runs at 99.94

4) S. R. Tendulkar (India, 1989-2013)

198 Tests, 15,837 runs at 53.86

5) I. V. A. Richards (West Indies, 1974-1991)

121 Tests, 8,540 runs at 50.23

6) G. S. Sobers (West Indies, 1954-1974)

93 Tests, 8,032 runs at 57.78, 235 wickets at 34.03

7) †A. P. E. Knott (England, 1967-1981)

95 Tests, 4,389 runs at 32.75, 250 catches, 19 stumpings

8) Wasim Akram (Pakistan, 1985-2002)

104 Tests, 414 wickets at 23.62

9) S. K. Warne (Australia, 1992-2007)

145 Tests, 708 wickets at 25.41

10) M. D. Marshall (West Indies, 1978-1991)

81 Tests, 376 wickets at 20.94

11) S. F. Barnes (England, 1901-14)

27 Tests, 189 wickets at 16.43

* = captain, † = wicketkeeper

Click for detailed story

Aug 312013
"Sachin should play one more year to groom Virat" says Chris Cairns

Former New Zealand all-rounder Chris Cairns said that Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar should play the test format for one more year as his presence will immensely help the likes of Virat Kohli and other youngsters in the team to get groomed.  Speaking to PTI, Cairns said “Kohli is going to be a great player and the next captain. Tendulkar should keep going for another year. I don’t know, but Kohli needs to get more experience in his company.”   

He added “Tendulkar’s presence in the Indian side is important as there are not enough experienced players in the side, especially after the retirement of Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman.” The Kiwi pointed out saying “When Tendulkar hangs his boots for good, it would be sad for the young Indian players including Cheteshwar Pujara and Kohli to miss his experience in the middle.”

Cairns said that if he were to be the Indian captain he would happily accommodate a “below-par” Tendulkar in the side. He buttressed his point saying “Even if he is operating below his benchmark, he is still better than anybody else. Tendulkar has to be in the team out of respect and contributions he made in his long career, even though he has not been scoring lots of runs in the recent past.”

Cairns lauded the Indian Premier League and said that the cash-rich tournament has done a lot of good for the Indian players. The Kiwi exuded confidence and said that it won’t be a surprise to see India produce a greater number of international quality players in the next 5-10 years. 

He said “There may be some criticizing IPL but it has done a lot of good to Indian players. A lot of players have been interacting with international players, trainers and coaches, which has helped them improve their cricket. And they have been learning faster and in professional way which is good for the game.”

However, Cairns didn’t hold himself back from cautioning India by saying “The next frontier for India is to consistently win abroad. It’s all about mental prowess than technique to play on bouncier tracks abroad. Dravid, Sehwag and Tendulkar had good records abroad. They played well because they had the mental prowess to play in alien conditions.”

Cairns observed that it’s not just about batting in alien conditions but about good bowling as well which will determine whether India is successful abroad or not. He said “India should get their fast bowling department right if they want to be successful abroad. Until India finds the fast bowling combination it will struggle. It needs to find that and that’s one thing I think that Indian cricket is yearning for.”

He was categorical when he said “You cannot have one fast bowler doing all the work. You need a combination of two bowlers. England has Jimmy Anderson and Chris Broad. South Africa has Dale Steyn and Mornie Morkel. The world’s dominating teams are those who had a combination of two good fast bowlers. Even Pakistan had Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram.”

Signing off with hope and a peek into the past, Cairns said “Ishant is somewhere about and it is the consistency. If you had Zaheer Khan and Javagal Srinath bowling together I guarantee that India would have been winning abroad.”



Jul 312013
Anderson is world's best: Akram

Jimmy Anderson

England’s James Anderson is the best bowler going around according to Wasim Akram. Source: Adam Davy / AAP

PAKISTAN great Wasim Akram believes England’s James Anderson is the best bowler currently operating in world cricket.

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The 31-year-old Anderson has taken 13 wickets in the first two Ashes Tests to help England into a 2-0 lead over Australia ahead of the third Test at the Lancashire paceman’s Old Trafford home ground starting today.

Anderson, whose tally of 320 Test wickets places him third on England’s all-time list behind Ian Botham and Bob Willis, is currently only equal fifth with Australia’s Peter Siddle in the International Cricket Council’s Test bowling rankings, which are led by South Africa quick Dale Steyn.

But Akram, arguably cricket’s greatest left-arm fast bowler, who took 414 wickets in 104 Tests at a mean average of 23.62, was in no doubt of Anderson’s standing amongst his peers.

“Jimmy Anderson is leading from the front. For me he is the best bowler of this era,” Akram told BBC Sport. “He does it consistently, with the new ball and the old ball.”

Akram and Pakistan teammate Waqar Younis formed a highly effective fast bowling partnership in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with their command of reverse swing often proving too much for even the world’s best batsmen.

In Anderson, Akram said he recognised an equally skilled exponent.

“Jimmy is up there with me and Waqar because of the control he has,” said Akram, who played for Lancashire between 1988 and 1998.

“He was always good with the new ball, but with the old ball he is intelligent,” Akram explained.

“He bowls five away-swingers, then one inswinger and takes a wicket.”

Although Anderson’s career average of 29.66 is more expensive than Steyn’s 22.65, Wasim said the Englishman had the edge.

And that was despite Steyn having 33 wickets in five Tests at just 12.56 apiece in 2013 compared to Anderson’s haul for the calendar year, which currently stands at 32 in seven at 23.12.

“I have seen Dale Steyn bowling with the old ball and he only bowls one delivery – the inswinger to the right-hander,” added Akram.

“Steyn is one of the best in the world as well, but Jimmy is slightly ahead because he does a lot more with the old ball.”

Jul 232013
Old Filchonians over-40s midweek Twenty20 evening match preview

Bert writes:

Finally I gave in. There is only so much a man can take. First the bait. You used to play a bit, didn’t you Bert? You must have been a decent cricketer in your time, I’ll bet. Then the hook. There’s no real commitment, and you look like the sort of man who has the occasional Wednesday evening free. And finally the reeling in. We’re short this coming Wednesday, can you help? You can, that’s marvellous! Nets on Tuesday six o’clock prompt, don’t be late. You’re down to play the first ten matches, so you’d better get some practice in.

So I’m in, after a gruelling selection process (Can you drive to the away matches?). Old Filchonians O40s midweek 20/20 evening cricket. Now I have no experience of vets’ cricket, but vets’ rugby I do know. That’s a game for ex-players who’ve lost their speed, lost their stamina, lost their sharpness, but who still retain their love of drunkenness and starting fights. I’m assuming that O40s cricket is in much the same vein.

A trip to the loft was the first thing, to see which of my cricket equipment has survived the Stalinist Purges of Things from My Past. Gloves – check. Pads – check. Yellows – check, so clearly a trip to the outfitters needed. Box – check, but its time as a home for the family hamster has taken its toll on the padding, so a new one needed. Collection of old porn mags hidden in the base of the cricket bag where she definitely won’t look – GONE! I guess they must have fallen out at some match once.

Bat – check. Ah, the old DF Attack. A present many years ago from the wife, girlfriend as was back then. 2lb 6oz of finely crafted craftsmanship (owing to a slight misunderstanding when buying it, she’d asked the man for a 26lb bat). Having watched Gower play, I’ve always preferred a lighter bat – much easier to tuck insouciantly under the arm when walking off for 7. But still, a magnificent item, in pristine condition. The middle, I noticed, was particularly well-kept – none of those ugly red stains you see on some bats.

The grip disintegrated while I was taking guard in front of the mirror. I mentioned this at the club. I say mentioned, but the Club President, who keeps all the kit for that sort of thing, was on the other side of the ground. A tip for you all – when trying to communicate to the Club President that you need a new grip putting on your bat handle, sign language is NOT an acceptable method.

And so, here we are, all ready to go. First match tomorrow, away at Posh North Cheshire Poncey Overpaid Footballers Bentleys Everywhere La-di-dah Edge CC. Now this might give some people here a bit of a reminder, for this isn’t the first article to appear on this website concerning North Cheshire O40s cricket. No, it turns out that among the many luminaries of the cricket world who have previously been asked to play in this league is one King Cricket’s Dad. And Neil Fairbrother and Wasim Akram as well. I once played rugby against a team containing a recently retired Kurt Sorensen, and decided early on that the only difference in outcome between trying to tackle him and just letting him score was the level of pain in my face. A guard three feet outside leg stump is my similar, carefully thought-out plan to facing Wasim, should it happen.

So there it is. I could be skipping out to bat (I always do this to unsettle the bowlers) while unknowingly under the watchful match-report-writing sloe-berry-seeking eye of King Cricket’s Mum, maybe even King Cricket himself, maybe (if he succumbed to the pressure to play) to face King Cricket’s Dad’s devastatingly gentle non-spinning off-breaks, known by all to be the most successful wicket-taking delivery in all of club cricket (any ball from Wasim Akram excepted). Who knows? However, so as to keep a low profile and maintain my anonymity, I’ve decided to play all the matches wearing a Darth Vader novelty helmet. That should work.

A full match report will follow…

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Jul 072013
Cricket Pakistan: Wasim Akram the Cricket great to marry Melbourne woman


 Legendary Pakistani bowler, Wasim Akram, 47 decided to hitch again and has reportedly proposed Ms Shaniera Thompson, 30, on bended knee.

Australian news agency reported that Wasm Akram proposed to Shaniera Thompson and she has converted to Islam to get married.

Ms.Thompson said, “It was the romantic moment of my life because it was so genuine.”

Wasim Akram proposed Shaniera in their lounge room, several Australian news agencies reported. Ms Thompson is a former public relations consultant from Brighton, she has reportedly also converted to Islam and will call Pakistan as her home. She said Akram was bit nervous while proposing her.

“He was really sweet about it. He asked me what my dream proposal would be, and I said that I wasn’t the type of woman to like big scenes. I said I would want it to be at home or somewhere private. He then came into the lounge, on his knee and asked me if I would marry him,” she said.

Ms Thompson tol Akram worriedly that, “If we are doing this the traditional way, then you have to ask my father.”

Ms.Thompson’s father also approved the proposal and gave his blessings to the couple when Wasim called him.

The couple met in Melbourne back in 2011 and decided to get married recently.

Wasim Akram responding to the news said ,“I never thought that I would marry again, but I am lucky and very happy to find love once again.”

“It just goes to show that life can give you a second chance.”

Wasim Akram’s first wife, Huma, died in 2009. They had two boys, now aged 15 and 12. The kids are also happy for their father. 


Apr 112013
Hunt for “King of Speed” launched in Pakistan

Pakistan once known for its world-class fast bowlers have been short of quality pacers for quite a long time. Chief selector Iqbal Qasim last month speak out his fears that Pakistan might not get quality stuff in the pace department unless strenuous efforts were made. To overcome the dearth of quality pacers, Pakistan launched a hunt for “King of Speed” on Wednesday.

Pakistan Cricket Board target is to seek out bowlers who can hit 145 kph (90 mph) in a special training camp arranged under the title of “King of Speed” program with legendary left-arm pacer Wasim Akram.

Two “W’s” Wasim and Waqar made a deadly pace duo in International cricket of 80’s and 90’s. They promote the art mastered by their illustrious mentor and captain Imran Khan in the 1970s and 80s.

Shoaib Akhtar was the real Speed King of 1990’s and 2000’s. He attained the speed of over 100 mph in international matches and made world record.

 “The King of Speed” camps will be set up in ten cities across Pakistan from 13 to 21st April and the trials will be held in two phases,” a PCB release said.

Last week, Wasim Akram agreed for any sort of help to PCB to unearth talented fast bowlers and also urged to help the current bowlers in the national team ahead of the upcoming ICC Champions Trophy to be held in England from June 6-23.

The PCB along with their sponsors will give away a grand prize of one million rupees ($10,000) to the bowler who achieves the fastest speed above 145 kph.

Feb 282013
Top Five Cricketers for any All-time World XI

A look at five players from the rich treasure trove of nearly 135 years of test cricket who would walk into any All-Time XI list

The great game has had players of all shades and colors, and greatness defined in various hues. Some, like Bradman and Murali have unbelievable stats which brook no further argument. Others like Tendulkar or Walsh astound as much with their longevity as with high peaks they have scaled. Some were born to lead like Imran (who led from front with immense talent) or Brearley (whose leadership skills overshadowed modest talent). One Richards(Viv) pummelled you to submission like a heavyweight boxer, the other Richards(Barry) cut you open with surgical precision and timing. Then there are men like Kallis or Botham who could do anything on the cricket field. It can neither be easy nor fair exercise to pick just five names who transcend all such boundaries of statistics, national loyalty, skills and match-winning ability. A modest attempt at outlining five cricketers who deserve their spot in any World XI in the history of cricket, ever!

  1. Sir Donald Bradman (AUS)6996 runs @ 99.94, 29 centuries – Statistically speaking, the Don is so far ahead of the pack that ‘Bradman-esque’ is usually thought of as an unfair comparison. He took an unconventional, but effective technique and fused it with immense ambition to produce results that transcended the boundaries of the game. Even as the blatantly ruthless ‘Bodyline’ was devised purely to hinder him, he averaged 56, a mark only twelve men have bettered in their entire cricketing career. You can argue about pitch, quality of bowlers, conditions and host of other factors but this is sheer awesomeness! The first name on any World XI team-sheet. No debate!
  2. Sir Garfied Sobers (WI)8035 runs @ 57.78, 235 wickets @ 34.03 – The Alpha-male of cricket, enough said! For twenty years, Garry Sobers did what schoolboys dream of. His batting average is well clear of some of the modern day batting ‘greats’ like Tendulkar, Ponting, Lara, Kallis and Sangakkara, despite an uncompromisingly attacking playing style which was much more Sehwag or Gilchrist. His record of highest individual test score stood for 35 years. He could open the bowling with his fast-medium, wreck the middle order with his wrist spin or even left-arm orthodox. And then there was the fielder! Equally brilliant whether defining sharp reflexes at gully, short leg, covering ground with feline grace in cover or point, or rocketing throws from deep he could do it all, and boss it. The first man to hit six sixes in an over at top level cricket, so brilliant was his 254 against the Australia playing for Rest of the World that Bradman crowned it the ‘best innings ever played in Australia’. 
  3. Adam Gilchrist (AUS)5570 runs @47.60, 416 dismissals (2.178/match) – There are keeper-batsmen, and then was Gilchrist. He came into a powerful Australian side with the legacy of Marsh and Healy weighing heavy in popular memory. His response was steamroll allcomers with a test match batting strike-rate of 82, at various points holding the record for most sixes hit in test cricket, most dismissals by a keeper (his dismissals/ match ratio is still the highest in the history!) and becoming the most dreaded number seven in the history of the game. Despite a sensational ODI century in World Cup final (2007) it was his test batting average coupled with his keeping credentials which heralded an era where wicketkeepers were expected to perform on either side of the stumps. His presence turned Australia into an overpowering outfit which twice racked up sixteen consecutive test victories. Forever the selfless deputy, when chances came he captained Australia with distinction too, winning them the ‘Final Frontier’ which Waugh, Taylor and Ponting could not conquer. Most of all he played it ‘fair’, always willing to ‘walk’ whether it was a club match or a World cup semifinal.
  4. Wasim Akram (PAK)2898 runs @ 22.64, 414 wickets @ 23.62 – Akram’s cricketing achievements read like a comic strip superhero tale. If cricket had a God, Akram would undoubtedly be his left arm. The ball could be red or white, Kookaburra or SG; the pitch could be a seaming Headingley or parched Faisalabad; a windy overcast morning in Wellington or a sunny afternoon in Kingston, Akram would always have a script for the occasion. Master of swing (conventional or reverse), seam, cut, yorker, bouncer and all these at high pace – no bowler quite made it sing like him. He created angles, late movement and expanded the possibilities of what a cricket ball could do. Only Malcolm Marshall among the right-armers would come close to his . His career reads like a highlights package: two match-turning yorkers in a World Cup final, four international hattricks, four wickets in five balls once, first man to breach 500 ODI wickets, playing elite cricket with diabetes … and then he could belt it with the bat like every ball deserved to land beyond the ropes. A magician!
  5. Muttiah Muralitharan (SL) – 800 wickets @ 22.72 – To understand the genius of Murali, is to understand his infinite ability to carry the burden. As if being the sole representative of ethnic minority of Tamils in Sri Lankan team, their chief strike bowler home and away and perennially answering doubts over legitimacy of his action wasn’t enough there was also a shoulder which rotated at a speed matching most fast bowlers at the time of delivery. His greatness lay in managing to shoulder all of those manfully, with poise and cheer. He allowed his detractors to let him bowl with his arm in a cast, biomechanic experts to monitor every delivery of his (before deeming everything as legal!), got umpires like Darrell Hair (who once called him for chucking) to gel. Above all, he was a fierce competitor, a master of his craft but forever a student of the game; his wide-eyed glee and impish enthusiasm never far from the surface. Sitting atop the list of career tally of wickets in both Tests and ODIs, astonishing 67 five wicket hauls in tests (30 more than the next best, Warne) and turning a ‘minnow’ into a powerhouse are just few things he did. Rahul Dravid once spoke of him, sitting in a Dubai hotel with glass floors ‘he can spin it on this .. and he can spin it on the deserts outside!

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