Apr 142014
 
After loss of ODI status, Canada looks to get its administrative house in order.

Canadian cricket is going through a major overhaul following the loss of its ODI status, lack of qualification for the World Cup (after 4 previous appearances) and the increased illusivity of making it to the World T20 stage. Morally down and haggard, Canada is looking at an intense makeover.

The obvious fallout of the loss of ODI status was the exit of the old board and creation of a new board with new people. The goals and future plans are taking shape as Canada reevaluates its strategies. Raza-ur-Rahman, one of the key players, says that the lack of senior players could hurt the Canadian side for two reasons- lack of experience to build a team in a moment of crisis and the increased pressure for the youngsters to prove themselves and enter the team. Rather than build on the goodwill established by the senior player, proving themselves and then making the team could be a while coming.

Former President of the Canadian Cricket board Ravin Moorthy has exited without building Canada as a commercially viable brand. Endorsements were never a big deal and some of the negotiations seriously fell through.  This could have been possible while they were rebuilding their image with the ICC and it would have worked wonders.  Financially too, Canadian cricket was/is  against the wall. Despite these roadblocks, there have been a few successes like the streamlining of the management which ensured better selection and training patterns along with the development of first class cricket. The domestic season was reinstated which culminated into successfully executed and telecast tours against USA and UAE. Cricketers from across Canada made the team which allowed for more diversity. Yet this was hampered by the lack of equal representation of players from all regions. Ontario, which produces a significant amount of players in the national team, remains under-represented while smaller towns like Alberta fare even worse. Toronto which is the hub has its own share of issues. Cricket Canada’s issues with Maple Leaf Cricket Club continues as the spaces are used but payments are not made. Representation also seems a problem here.

This is where the new president Vimal Hardat  has a chance of making an impact. He has a lot of building and rebuilding to do- rejuvenate Cricket Canada, lead from the front for a meaning and respectful stature and role for Canada at the ICC. And most importantly in international cricket. Financially , the board is in need for a boost of funds and initiatives that would give them the funds.

Hardat’s immediate plans are to regain the ODI status and work hard at qualifying for the World T20- which means team building. It is too early to dismiss them as undeserving as Cricket Canada has gotten itself on the road to recovery- at  least on paper. In actuality, their successes remains to be seen

Apr 112014
 
Perry reveals secret to Southern Stars success

Southern Stars’ approach similar to men’s

Quick Single: Southern Stars: champions and pioneers

Allrounder Ellyse Perry has gone some way to revealing the secret of the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars’ World T20 success, labelling their approach to cricket very similar to that of the men.

The WT20 Team of the Tournament member went on to laud her side’s aggression with the bat, singling out captain Meg Lanning as a particular inspiration.

“Take, for example, Meg’s shot for six over mid-off off the player of tournament,” she said, referring to Lanning’s lofted drive off England medium-pacer Anya Shrubsole.

“To see someone do that off a bowler that’s been really dominant in the tournament was fantastic.

“We all love watching her bat and it’s even better when you’re out in the middle watching from the other end.

“Meg’s quite phenomenal in the way that she’s played in the last couple of years and the records she’s set speak for themselves.”

Quick Single: Perry’s quest for three more runs

The Southern Stars struck the most sixes of any side throughout the World T20, their 18 sixes seven more than the second-best West Indies – and it’s from that team that Perry identified a player that could rival her skipper.

“There are certainly a number of other players, not just in our team, but around the world, that are doing similar things (to Lanning),” she said.

“Someone like Deandra Dottin is almost like a female version of Chris Gayle.”

“The strength and power that she hits the ball with is really exciting.”

The Australian dual-sport international went on to praise the aggressive attitude shown by the side across all facets of the game, not just the side’s batting.

“I think it’s been the same in the way that we bowl and field as well,” she said.

“The way we work as a team, and the way our coaches really encourage us to play and approach our cricket, has been along those lines for a couple of years now.

“It has continued to help us improve our game… and play similar to the men in that sense.”

With the World Cup and World T20 trophies locked safely away, the all-conquering Southern Stars will enjoy a few months away from cricket, before reconvening for a June training camp at the National Cricket Centre in Brisbane.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia

First Posted 11 April, 2014 6:03PM AEDT

Apr 082014
 
ICC World T20 2014: Team of the Tournament

The 2014 edition of the ICC World T20 gave a platform to some of the world’s most talented cricketers to strut their stuff. Sixteen teams fought for the title and among the dozens of players that took the field, a few impressed. SportPulse presents an XI made up of the best and most consistent performers from the tournament.

As I looked at the top performers in this year’s World T20, I was amazed by two things – the conspicuous absence of Sri Lankan players from the lists of leading run getters and wicket takers, and the abundance of Dutch players in the aforementioned lists. That Sri Lanka won the title without having any of its players in the leaderboards shows how much of a team performance it was. This was a tournament of spinners, where – in the words of Shane Warne – teams had to “spin it to win it!” This is why I have opted for two spinners (and some back-up options) along with two seamers, five top-order batsmen, a wicketkeeper who bats, and a finisher who can bowl. Now without further ado, let’s look at SportPulse’s All-Star XI of the ICC World T20 2014.

Hashim Amla (SA) Right Hand Batsman

Mtchs- 5, Runs- 185, Ave.- 37.00, SR- 131, 50s- 1, High- 56

The South African batting phenomenon had a very consistent tournament where his lowest score was 22. The stylish right-hander started slowly. In his first two innings, he scored 64 runs in 66 balls. But after that, Amla turned things up three notches, scoring 43 (22) and 56 (37) in the remaining Super 10 games. He was effective, quick, and consistent in equal measure; the ideal man to face the new ball for this outfit.

Stephan Myburgh (Ned) Left Hand Batsman

Mtchs- 7, Runs- 224, Ave.- 32.00, SR- 154, 50s- 3, High- 63

Undoubtedly the find of this tournament, the 30-year old Dutchman destroyed some of the most celebrated bowling attacks on the planet in the tournament. Myburgh scored two half-centuries in the qualifying rounds including that logic-defying 63 off 23 balls against Ireland that carried the Netherlands to the Super 10s. He scored a 28-ball 51 against the mighty South Africans that almost carried his side to victory and rounded up his tournament with a match-winning 39 against England.

Virat Kohli (Ind) Right Hand Batsman

Mtchs- 6, Runs- 319, Ave.- 106.33, SR- 129, 50s- 4, High- 77

The legend of Virat Kohli continues to grow. With his performances in this World T20, he has established himself as one of the best all-format players in the world. Kohli began with an unbeaten 36 against arch-rivals Pakistan before scoring two match-winning half centuries against the West Indies and Bangladesh. It was his destructive 72 off 44 balls that in the semi-finals that pushed South Africa to the ground and he was the top-scorer in the final even though his side lost.

JP Duminy (SA) Left Hand Batsman, Right Arm Offbreak

Mtchs- 5, Runs- 187, Ave.- 62.33, SR- 141, 50s- 1, High- 86*, Wkts- 1, Ave.- 102.00

South Africa’s resident T20-specialist Jean-Paul Duminy returned three impressive innings in the tournament, starting with a 30-ball 39 against Sri Lanka and ending with a 40-ball 45 against India in the semi-finals. Sadly enough, South Africa went on to lose both these games. Sandwiched between these two innings was one of the best innings of the tournament. His counter-attacking 86 against New Zealand gave momentum to a faltering Protea batting and eventually enabled the bowlers to seal the game.

Glenn Maxwell (Aus) Right Hand Batsman, Right Arm Offbreak

Mtchs- 4, Runs- 147, Ave.- 36.75, SR- 210, 50s- 1, High- 74, Wkts- 1, Ave.- 80.00

Glenn Maxwell finally lived up to his ‘million dollar man’ tag on the international circuit. He played some of the most destructive innings of the cup; the best of the lot being the whirlwind 74 against Pakistan, where he played out of his skin and brutalized the experienced Pakistan bowling attack. It is tragic that none of his heroic innings managed to help his side win. Despite Australia’s early exit in the tournament, Maxwell impressed one and all. The Victorian truly put up a ‘big show’ this time around.

Brendan Taylor (Zim) Right Hand Batsman, Wicketkeeper

Mtchs- 3, Runs- 123, Ave.- 41.00, SR- 134, 50s- 1, High- 59, Dismissals- 1

Zimbabwe exited the tournament very early despite Brendan Taylor’s best efforts. The Zimbabwean skipper scored a fluent 59 in the opening game against Ireland, which his side lost. But Taylor revived his side’s chances by scoring 49 in 39 balls and leading his side to victory in a tricky chase against the Netherlands. But despite his heroics with the bat and more than competent keeping, Zimbabwe lost out to the Dutch flair in the final standings. Taylor sneaks into this side ahead of the likes of Ramdin, Dhoni, and Barresi as the resident wicketkeeper-batsman of the team.

Darren Sammy (WI) Right Hand Batsman, Right Arm Fast Medium (Captain)

Mtchs- 5, Runs- 101, Ave.- 101.00, SR- 224, High- 45

Relinquishing his bowling in the World T20, Darren Sammy turned himself into the most lethal finisher in recent memory. Striking with brutal force, Sammy was the author of two splendid death overs innings – 13-ball 34 against Australia and a 20-ball 42 against Pakistan. In all the group games, Sammy helped the Caribbean side notch up big totals giving the bowlers enough room to work their magic spells. Having led the West Indies to the title in the last edition and the semi-finals here, Sammy is also the logical choice to lead this side.

Dale Steyn (SA) Right Arm Fast

Mtchs- 5, Wkts- 9, Ave.- 17.00, Econ- 7.98, 4W- 1, Best- 4/17

The world’s premier fast bowler delivered arguably one of the best bowling performances of the format in this tournament. His 4/17 against New Zealand earned South Africa a vital win and proved to the world why Steyn is the best bowler in the world across all formats. He delivered another measured performance in the next game against Netherlands but his form dipped in the last 2 games where he managed only one wicket. Despite that, Steyn was clearly the best fast bowler in a tournament dominated by spinners, which makes him the leader of our attack.

Ahsan Malik (Ned) Right Arm Fast Medium

Mtchs- 7, Wkts- 12, Ave.- 13.83, Econ- 6.68, 4W- 1, Best- 5/19

Malik Ahsan Ahmad Jamil entered the tournament with a reputation as a T20 specialist on the back of strong performances in the qualifiers last winter, and he did not disappoint here. He began the roadshow with a powerful 3/16 against the UAE and a 2/26 against the Netherlands. In the Super-10s, faced with the big boys, Malik returned the performance of a lifetime – 5/19 against South Africa (including the wickets of Amla, Miller, and Albie Morkel). In the win against England, he gave away only 14 runs in his 3 overs even though he remained wicketless. Malik ended the tournament as the joint leading wicket-taker.

Imran Tahir (SA) Leg Break Bowler

Mtchs- 5, Wkts- 12, Ave.- 10.91, Econ- 6.55, 4W- 1, Best- 4/21

Having worked wonders in the domestic circuit for over a decade and earning a name in the longer format, Imran Tahir has remodelled himself as a limited overs specialist for South Africa. Buoyed by the conditions and pitches, the 35-year old spinner broke loose on all opponents. Remarkably consistent and lethal in equal measures, Tahir was one of the few bowlers to take at least one wicket in every game he played. Additionally, he maintained an accurate line and did not concede more than 30 runs in any of his 5 games.

Samuel Badree (WI) Leg Break Bowler

Mtchs- 5, Wkts- 11, Ave.- 10.27, Econ- 5.65, 4W- 1, Best- 4/15

Samuel Badree has performed the unimaginable task of relegating Sunil Narine as the second spinner in the West Indies T20 side. His cunning leg breaks and wonderful use of pace and variations earned Badree 11 wickets. What is most astonishing about these figures is that Badree came on to bowl in the Powerplay in all of West Indies matches taking the new ball on all occasions. Despite bowling with field restrictions, he returned remarkably accurate figures and troubled all batsmen without exceptions.

12th Man- Shakib al Hasan (Ban) Right Hand Batsman, Slow Left Arm

Mtchs- 7, Runs- 186, Ave.- 37.20, SR- 129, 50s- 1, High- 66, Wkts- 8, Ave.- 17.87, Econ.- 5.68, Best- 3/8

Largely overlooked in this star-studded tournament, the Shakib was the only player who performed consistently with both bat and ball. The 26-year old Bangladesh all-rounder began the campaign with a spell of 3/8 against Bangladesh and almost replicated it with a 3/9 against Hong Kong. In between, he found time to bludgeon 37 off 18 balls against Nepal, making it a very productive qualifying round for him. In the main draw, he stumbled but soon found his feet, delivering a sound all-round performance against Pakistan (4/21 and 38) before bidding adieu to the tournament in style with a counter-attacking 66 against Australia in a lost cause.

So here it is- the team. Amla and Myburgh will face the new ball, a partnership that will be interesting to watch and effective as well. A middle-order comprising of Kohli, Duminy, and Maxwell gives just the right balance of skill, power, and consistency. Brendan Taylor is like the cherry on top of this amazing chocolate cake. He keeps very well and is easily the best batsman in the world outside the top 8 teams. The top-order can negotiate spinners and fast bowlers with equal ease. They can be relied upon to build a score and go crazy in the end too, with some help from Darren Sammy of course. The new-ball pairing of Steyn and Malik is a mix of class and skill. I believe as a senior pro and one of the best bowlers of all-time, Steyn can bring the best out of the Dutchman. The leg-spin twins – Tahir and Badree – might not be Grimmett and O’Reilly but can surely turn a game on its head in a single spell. Add to that the additional bowling options of Sammy, Maxwell, and Duminy along with a 12th man who can win matches with both bat and ball, this is a very intimidating T20 outfit.

Apr 062014
 
Sri Lanka claims World T20 title

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SRI LANKA has broken an 18-year drought in major international tournaments, claiming its maiden World T20 title with a six-wicket win over India in the final in Dhaka.

Kumar Sangakkara hit a memorable half-century to help Sri Lanka to victory, the veteran left-hander knocking a 35-ball 52 not out in his last Twenty20 match to guide the Sri Lankan chase of a modest 131-run target in 17.5 overs at a packed Shere Bangla stadium.

Thisara Perera hit Ravichandran Ashwin for a winning boundary to seal the win, finishing with 21 not out.

But it was Sangakkara who anchored the chase with six boundaries and a six in his unbeaten knock.

MATCH CENTRE: LIVE COMMENTARY, FULL SCOREBOARD, ALL THE KEY STATS

Sri Lanka celebrated in style after wrapping up the victory.

Sri Lanka celebrated in style after wrapping up the victory. Source: Getty Images

The victory gave Sri Lanka its first world title since winning the 50-over World Cup crown in 1996 and gave the World Twenty20 a fifth champion in as many editions.

It also broke Sri Lanka’s jinx of losing the final of major world level events as they had lost two one-day World Cup finals (2007 and 2011) besides being runners-up in as many World Twenty20 events in 2009 and 2012.

The victory also gave a memorable swansong to veteran Mahela Jayawardene and Sangakkara who announced they will quit Twenty20 cricket after this tournament.

In contrast India was denied a chance to become the first team ever to hold three major cricketing titles at one time, after clinching the 2011 World Cup title and the Champions Trophy last year.

Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara bowed out of T20 internatoinals on a high.

Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara bowed out of T20 internatoinals on a high. Source: AP

Sri Lanka lost wickets at regular intervals as the Indian spinners applied pressure, but Sangakkara held one end intact.

Openers Kusal Perera went for five and Tillakaratne Dilshan for 18 before Sangakkara added 34 for the third wicket with Jayawardne (24) and another 54 for the unfinished fifth wicket with Thisara.

India was reduced to 4-130 by some tight Sri Lankan bowling despite a brilliant half-century by Virat Kohli.

Kohli scored a 58-ball 77 for his eighth Twenty20 half-century — his fourth in this tournament — after India were sent into bat in a match reduced by 40 minutes due to rain.

India's Rohit Sharma prepares puts his body on the line in the field.

India’s Rohit Sharma prepares puts his body on the line in the field. Source: AP

The rain spiced up the pitch for bowlers but Kohli was at his best when he came to the crease after India lost Ajinkya Rahane (three) in Angelo Mathews’s second over of the innings.

Let off by Lasith Malinga at mid-wicket off left-arm spinner Rangana Herath’s first delivery when 11, Kohli took full advantage of the laspe by hitting five boundaries and four sixes before he was run out off the final delivery.

Kohli added 60 for the second wicket with Rohit Sharma (29) and another 55 for the third with Yuvraj Singh who slowed down the tempo with a snail-paced 11 off 21 balls.

So facile were India’s last four overs that there was no boundary and a well-set Kohli got just seven balls to play, restricting their total badly.

With the win Sri Lanka also capped a long two-and-a-half month tour of Bangladesh during which they won all matches in a bilateral series against the home team and five-nation Asia Cup.

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Apr 062014
 
No one will be as disappointed as Yuvraj himself - Dhoni
Yuvraj Singh struggled to find his touch, India v Sri Lanka, final, World T20, Mirpur, April 6, 2014

MS Dhoni: ‘Yuvi tried his best, it was an off day for him’ © ICC
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It was to be expected that MS Dhoni would be asked mostly about Yuvraj Singh after India’s defeat in the World T20 final. Yuvraj made 11 off 21 as India never built any momentum in the middle overs to manage a below-par 130 for 4, which Sri Lanka chased down with 2.1 overs and six wickets to spare.

Did Dhoni send out any instruction to Yuvraj seeing him scratch around in the middle? “The thing is he was trying. That is the most you can do,” Dhoni replied. Did Yuvraj’s knock rob India of the impetus they so desperately needed at that stage? “It’s a team thing, let’s not talk about individuals.”

When asked how disappointing it was for fans that a player of the calibre and experience of Yuvraj was not able to click, Dhoni said no one would be more gutted than the man himself tonight. “I can tell you one thing, you talk about the anger of the fans and all, you know it’s always the individual who is more disappointed than the fans,” Dhoni said. “As a player you go through more because you have your expectations and everything else. So I think that’s not the statement you should talk about. Yes, fans get angry but you should also think about the individual.

“Nobody wants to really play bad cricket. In front of 40,000 people you don’t really want to drop a catch or misfield. It’s part and parcel of the game. And we have seen it happen to some of the international athletes, not just cricketers. Let’s get rid of it. Yuvi tried his best, it was an off day for him, at the same time it is not easy for a batsman to go out there and start slogging.”

Dhoni said that because Yuvraj, like most India batsman, was one who took some time to get going. They had batted him at No. 4 ahead of Suresh Raina and Dhoni himself. “We only have one – somebody like Suresh Raina who can go in and really start hitting from the very first ball. Most of the other batsmen like to spend a bit of time and then play the big shots. That’s the reason why we want Yuvi at 4 and then Suresh Raina at 5. And also this game what happened is, two right-handers were batting at that point of time [Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli]. So you wanted a left-right combination to make it difficult for the bowlers to execute their plans. And that was the reason why we had Yuvi at 4. After that we wanted to keep a left-right combination. But the last two overs, I said let me go [ahead of Raina] and try something.”

Yuvraj has lost his place in the India Test and ODI sides. In the World T20, he made 100 runs in five innings at a strike-rate of 98.03. Sixty of those 100 came in a largely inconsequential group game against Australia, when India had already qualified for the semi-finals following three successive wins. When questioned how long India would be able to retain Yuvraj in the shortest format, Dhoni said now was the not the time to speak about selection-related matters.

“Today is a big day, so let’s not talk about selection because, effectively our season ends today. Now we go into the domestic cricket with the IPL. So let’s not talk about selection as of now, we’ll see when it comes.”

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