Apr 142014
Kate Middles-one and the Duke of yorker

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, plays and misses a ball from Prince William, Duke of Cam

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, plays and misses a ball from Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, while batting during a game of cricket during the countdown to the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup. Source: Joseph Johnson / Getty Images

FINALLY, an English pair that can play cricket.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge played a game of cricket in Christchurch on Monday to help publicise next year’s World Cup.

And unlike their compatriots, who were whitewashed 5-0 during this summer’s Ashes series, William and Kate showed an aptitude for the game.

Different strokes. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, plays a Prince William delivery with

Different strokes. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, plays a Prince William delivery with ease. Source: Getty Images

“Be nice,” Prince William told participating school children as he took up the bat.

The royal couple were joined by New Zealand cricket legend Sir Richard Hadlee at the event in Christchurch.

Christchurch will host the opening ceremony of the World Cup on April 14 at Hagley Oval.

“She’s a hockey player,” Hadlee said of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge — the former Kate Middleton. “There was a bit of a hockey grip there.”

And what of William’s technique?

“It’s not a very wide pitch, there was no warm-up, and he bowled with a jacket on,” Hadlee added. “I was impressed.”

Jimmy Anderson, take note.

Duke of yorker. Prince William digs one out.

Duke of yorker. Prince William digs one out. Source: Getty Images

The royal couple will meet Glenn McGrath, Ellyse Perry and Michael Kasprowicz at a World Cup event at the Sydney Opera House.

“Like many other sports, cricket has the ability to bring communities together regardless of a person’s background,” said World Cup chief executive John Harnden. “It is a privilege to have the royal couple helping to celebrate the diversity in cricket and in communities across Australia and New Zealand. At the ICC Cricket World Cup in February and March next year we want the communities of all those teams playing to celebrate their culture and traditions as well as the game of cricket.”

That is out. Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, fails with a Billy Bowden impersonation

That is out. Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, fails with a Billy Bowden impersonation. Source: AFP

Apr 122014
Black Caps have best Cup chance since 1992

Fairfax Media talks to the coach who oversaw New Zealand’s 1992 World Cup campaign and asks if the current Black Caps can achieve what all others have failed to do.

Our current Black Caps team has the best chance of winning a world cup since 1992 – if players can mentally steel themselves and deal with the pressure – so says the coach of the only side to come close.

A New Zealand cricket team has never made a final of a Cricket World Cup and always struggles at the sharp end of a tournament.

The World T20 tournament just gone saw the Black Caps fail to make it out of pool play after losing to South Africa and Sri Lanka.

At the last one-day world cup, hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, New Zealand made it to the semifinals, where they were beaten by Sri Lanka. In 2007, they made it the semifinals, to be beaten by, you guessed it, Sri Lanka. In 2003 they failed to progress past the “super sixes ” (as it was then). You get the picture.

So back to 1992, when we actually had a chance, but instead Pakistan and England went through to the final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground with Pakistan winning.

Warren Lees, who coached the highly fancied 1992 side, said players, and management, succumbed to mental pressure.

“We let the occasion, the opportunity, the once-in-a-lifetime thoughts get to us.” Lees said the team let the loss of batsman Martin Crowe, who did not play because of a torn hamstring, stun them and they could not recover.

“When it came to the semifinal we looked to [Crowe] because he had been a very special player and then of course he got injured. But because we had put him on such a pedestal we were a bit stunned, we were possums in the headlights.” Lees said he thought the current Black Caps team had got past relying on one player and should enjoy a “huge advantage” playing at home.

If the Black Caps play well they should get to play their later stage games at home. The world cup quarterfinal venues will be determined after pool play.

If the Black Caps qualify they will play their quarterfinal at Wellington. Australia will play theirs at Adelaide. Other quarterfinals will be assigned to venues based on the travel times and rest days of the teams involved.

Semifinals work the same. Australia and New Zealand will play at home if they qualify. However, should they face each other (which can’t happen in the quarters because they’re in the same group) the home advantage goes to the side who finishes higher in pool play.

Lees, who was interim coach of the White Ferns this summer, said the public would be the biggest asset to the Black Caps. His players rode a wave of public optimism.

“Wherever we went, if we went into a dairy, walking down the street, we could feel the whole country was behind us,” he said.

“New Zealanders are very quick to get behind winning teams, they are also very quick to turn on losing teams, so the current guys will have a huge advantage if they start well.

“This team, they are as close as they can get to being the right team to win the tournament.”

– © Fairfax NZ News

Apr 112014
Comment - What India Must Do Before 2015 World Cup
Irfan Pathan appeals for a wicket

Could Irfan Pathan play a key role for India at the 2015 World Cup?

© REUTERS / Action Images

I never thought India would reach even the knockout stages of the recently concluded ICC World T20. After the disappointing tour of South Africa and New Zealand, team India even failed to make the final of Asia Cup which of course reduced my expectations further.

But this time I was pleasantly surprised by Team India, making it to the final without being beaten once is a huge achievement. Even though they lost the final, even they and real fans like me will agree that they have exceeded expectations.

As T20 fever is over now let’s switch our focus to the 2015 World Cup. What do you think of India’s chances of defending the title or what are the areas of concern they have?

The answer is quite straightforward: Team India is struggling in ODIs and there are lots of problems to think about.

The series against New Zealand was a wake-up call for the team about what to expect during the 2015 World Cup. During that five-match One-Day International series the openers failed to provide a decent start as they crossed the 50-run mark only once (64 runs in the third ODI).

The middle order looked vulnerable as both Ajinkya Rahane and Suresh Raina were completely out of sorts. Raina was eventually dropped for the last two ODIs due to poor performances and was replaced by Ambati Rayudu who looked okay with scores of 37 and 20.

Stuart Binny played only one match in which he bowled only one over for eight runs and didn’t have a chance to bat. The selection of Binny for that tour was an indication that team was looking for an all-rounder who can bowl medium fast and can bat down the order; it was a smart choice keeping conditions into consideration.

Yet, with only one match, Binny could not prove anything and so we will never know how good or bad Binny would have been for Team India in those conditions.

Speaking of bowling, India conceded in excess of 270 runs in every match. The spin combination of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja didn’t looked threatening at all as the pitches were not conducive for spinners which India should take of note of.

India’s pacers (Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Varun Aaron and Ishant Sharma) were too expensive especially Shami, Aaron and Sharma who never conceded less than six runs per over in a match throughout the series.

These statistics are alarming and definitely a matter of concern.

There was a feelling that only one match could have changed the course of the series but that match never came.  

So what should the team management do now? A whole lot of changes is not ideal but there are definitely some spots up for grabs. In my view this Indian side needs a batsman with solid defence who can cope with bounce and swing and a fast bowling all-rounder.

What do you think of India’s chances of defending the title or what are the areas of concern they have?

The answer is quite straightforward: Team India is struggling in ODIs and there are lots of problems to think about.

The series against New Zealand was a wake-up call for the team about what to expect during the 2015 World Cup.

The two names which pop into my mind straightaway are Cheteshwar Pujara and Irfan Pathan. Pujara, who has played only two ODIs for India is a must for the World Cup as he will bring much-needed stability to the side. He has the capability to hold up one end while the others can play their game around him.

The Indian batting line-up is full of strokemakers and even if Pujara takes some time to settle down, India can very well cover for it at the end. This coming IPL is going to be very important for him and good performances there will catch the eyes of the selectors.

Irfan Pathan on the other hand has enough experience of playing international cricket in Australia and New Zealand, so the only thing India needs is a fit and in-form Pathan (I hope I am not demanding too much or being overly-optimistic here).

Pathan, like many Indian fast bowlers, lost his way in the middle of his career and constant injuries never helped him. Nevertheless, there is no doubt about his ability and India need his services badly.

He can come on at first change to control the flow of runs and take crucial wickets during the middle overs. With the bat he can provide India with crucial balance and will give MS Dhoni an option to play an extra bowler (spinner or fast bowler).

Having said that, he has been out of the side for quite some time and he needs to perform well in this year’s IPL. Hopefully he can learn some tricks of the trade from his Sunrisers bowling partner Dale Steyn, coach Tom Moody and bowling coach Waqar Younis.

India will play only five more ODIs (against England in England) before they start their defence of the World Cup and there is not much time left for India to experiment which means players have less time to prove themselves.

That makes the IPL even more important for players like Pujara and Pathan; hope both of them grab their chances with both hands.

Before I conclude, one more player I would like to see in the 2015 World Cup is Gautam Gambhir. I will never forget the innings he played in the 2011 World Cup final against Sri Lanka or the innings against Pakistan in the ICC World Twenty20 2007 final.

He is definitely a big match player and I just hope that he plays well in this IPL and confirms his ticket for Australia and New Zealand.

© Cricket World 2014

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Apr 062014
Sri Lanka finally taste World Cup success

Kumar Sangakkara struck an unbeaten 52 as Sri Lanka defeated a disappointing India by six wickets Sunday to finally win the World Twenty20 title.

Sri Lanka reached 134-4 in 17.5 overs to complete the long-awaited win in an ICC world tournament after restricting India to an unimpressive 130-4.

Former captain Sangakkara ensured there was no heartbreak this time after Sri Lanka had lost in four ICC world finals over the past seven years, including the World Cups in 2007 and 2011.

Sri Lanka was making its third World Twenty20 final appearance. It lost to Pakistan in the 2009 final and to the West Indies in 2012.

Sangakkara had struggled in this tournament, scoring only 19 runs before this match, but struck form when it mattered most. 

He was quickly in the groove and took control despite a slight slow-down in the middle when the score was 78-4 in the 13th over.

Sangakkara and veteran teammate Mahela Jayawardene had announced that they would not take part in international T20s after this tournament.

Sangakkara proceeded to make it a memorable final outing for both with a fluent 35-ball knock in which he hit six fours and one six.

The left-hander saw the team through in the company of Thisara Perera (23 not out), who completed the victory with a huge six off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and punched the air as the Sri Lanka team ran onto the pitch.

Sangakkara raised his hands with helmet and bat to celebrate the win and was hugged by fellow players and even opponent Virat Kohli.

Sri Lanka then celebrated its first world title since the 1996 World Cup triumph with a victory lap.

Sangakkara and Jayawardene were carried on teammates’ shoulders even as smoke from an elaborate fireworks display enveloped the ground.

”We have waited five finals for this victory,” Sangakkara said. ”I’m happy to have done something for the team. Everyone was looking forward to this win. India is a very good side but we were quite confident of pulling it off today.”

Earlier, the Indian innings could never get the impetus it needed and defending a total less than 150 was always going to be difficult.

Kohli struck 77 off 58 balls with five fours and four sixes but some tight bowling from Sri Lanka restricted the free flow of runs expected from the Indian batting lineup.

The departure of a well-set Rohit Sharma for 29 and a slow 11 off 21 by Yuvraj Singh saw the Sri Lankan bowlers seize the moment.

But India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni defended the decision to send in Yuvraj at No.4 ahead of Suresh Raina and himself.

”He’s a great player but it was just one of those days when he did not click,” Dhoni said. ”I think the credit should go to the Sri Lankan bowlers to have contained us the way they did. They really executed their plans very well, especially in the end overs.”

Kohli, who survived two chances on 11 and 65, completed his fourth half-century of the tournament to finish as the highest scorer of this World Twenty20 with 319 runs.

He was also named player of the tournament. India could score only 19 runs in the last four overs as Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara bowled out beautifully, going for yorkers and full-length deliveries outside the off stump.

India, World Twenty20 champion in 2007, was in line to hold all three ICC tournaments at the same time since it won the 2011 World Cup and the 2013 Champions Trophy.

India had defeated Sri Lanka in the final of the 2011 World Cup.

– AP

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