Thursday, November 24, 2005

Possible thoughts in Afridi's head while scruffing up the pitch

- That wasp might sting someone, I should squash it
- Ugh! I hate chewing gum on my shoes. I'll scrape it off with dirt
- Man, I love dancing the twist
- The old man said the magic beans would make me invisible
- Let me practice my bowling action so it's absolutely perfect

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust

Don't mind the title, I'm experimenting with sports journalism cliches. Such as 'Reports of Shoaib Akhtar's demise have been greatly exaggerated', though really, the sight of a guided missile ('inswinging yorkers' are of the measley 90mph variety) blowing away two stumps is a sight unmatched in cricket.
Akhtar was brilliant on the last day, and quite good on the preceding days as well. He even batted well and did not disappear for treatment after every two over spell. And he appears to have 'buried the hatchet' with Inzamam and Bob Woolmer, though the hatchet in Pakistan cricket has always been a confounding item (flashback to Rashid Latif and Wasim Akram hugging each other celebrating a wicket while Rashid Latif's personal website looms in the backdrop, outrightly accusing Wasim Akram of throwing matches).
Back to Akhtar, there are two matches left in the series, so Pakistan fans should keep their fingers crossed on his ability to last. But while he lasts, enjoy his brilliant bowling because, in Pakistan cricket, who needs effectiveness and professionalism when you got entertainment?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Traffic flowing only in one direction

Thats what it was like watching the super series. Even Shoaib Akhtars ball seemed to be travelling backwards, thats how ineffective everything seemed. Sehwag, the glorified Afridi, couldnt really be blamed for his poor performance, after all the only talent that can be put on display is that which is actually possesed by the individual in question. There is no doubt over the class of Kallis or Lara, but unfortunately both hadnt played for a very long time, which is actually no excuse for making a combined total of 27 runs in all three matches. Sangakarra was awesome, as was Gayle. They showed why they would have been better than punters like Afridi or Sehwag. Rahul Dravid was out of sorts at 4-down lobbing catches like his captain courageous has been doing for over a year. I dont think much should be said about Ntini, I really dont understand what he was doing in the team in the first place. Pollock, was there to make sensational claims about dashed prides and high motivation, and in the end thats all he did. Vettori was a pleasant surprise, he usually does well against Australia, unfortunately the Australians gave him enough in the first one day to bother with him again. Ahh what to say of Shahid Khan Afridi (who managed to sink to an all time low of #10 in the batting order for the final one day) he was like the cheap thrills we get at Bambino Cinema in Saddar while watching Pakistani movie trailers, Reema flaunting herself and all while the crowd laughs. Flintoff is still the king, unfortunately a king is only as good as his generals and princes and minions. I dont think anyone in a team which managed to be bowled out in 27 odd overs for 130 odd runs needs to be talked about, I dont know why I even bothered to write this!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

And the award goes to...

Has anyone ever heard of Dinesh Kartik? No, he’s not Murali Kartik, the spinner. He’s supposed to be a wicketkeeper and somehow he’s managed to get himself into the final list of nominees for the best emerging player award.

Well you all must have heard of Ian Bell. Yes, supposedly England’s most promising batsman since Gatting. Or was it Gower? Anyhow, you all must be familiar with his amazing scores in the Ashes. Played really well for his 20 something average. Well, he’s also managed to get himself to that list. Sounds like an emerging player to me. They say that the Ashes wouldn’t count towards deciding these awards. Then it most definitely has to be those special knocks he played against the insuperable Bangladeshis. He definitely has my vote.

Wait. There was this other player who I thought could’ve, well… he had a slim chance, of being named in that category. What was his name? I think it was Salman Butt. If I remember right, he made a test century at Sydney and scored 70 odd at Melbourne against Australia. But who doesn’t score against Australia, especially when it comes to test cricket. I think he also made two One-day centuries against India in India. But that shouldn’t count for much… India isn’t much of a competitor at home. The selection committee has really got it right this time. These stats show nothing of an emerging player to me. It’s after he’s scored a couple of tons against Bangladesh that’ll let him in the reckoning.

I think it would be only fair if Tendulkar gets the award. I know, I know… he’s been playing for quite some time now, but it wouldn’t be a credible list if Tendulkar’s not in it. After all, more than a billion Indians will be watching the awards and it wouldn’t be fair to them if at least half of the nominees weren’t Indian. This is where Sunil Gavaskar has really made the difference. If it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t be assured of fair play and justice in both the ICC awards and the World XI selection.

This surely has been a fascinating and astonishing year. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t get ruined by giving the best player award to Inzamam.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

More cricket off the field

And Inzi is on his way to Australia for a solitary Super Test (yeah right!) and against his will, might I add. The idea behind the Super Series was that since the Aussies were boringly dominant over the rest of the world, maybe a team of super stars (Daniel Vettori?!?!?) could combine to beat them. Now that the god-like Aussies are viewed across the globe as aged has-beens, the Super Series is completely useless. I'm not for calling the whole thing off, I just don't want Inzammam to play in it. His principled stand of opting out should have been respected, he deserved that much. Instead, the PCB has coerced him to eat his words as well as waste precious time that would be better spent preparing for England's visit. I hope there's some mention of a spine in the new PCB constitution.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Cricket off the field

I'm not going to go too deep into statistics, you can find them all at cricinfo, but I'll tell you one thing: Ganguly hasnt looked like he can bat for as long as I can remember. I've seen him score quickfire hundreds against mediocre bowling attacks, and 4-an-over hundreds against decent attacks when 7-an-over hundreds were required. All good for keeping the batting average healthy though never enough...but then, I could be wrong. So while it was only a matter of time before something was done about it, Mr Chappell has steamed in like an army man sent in to manage a team with the single minded purpose of shaping things up (where's Tauqeer Zia nowadays?) Greg has used Sarfraz Nawaz-like tact and blown a simple situation into a complete train wreck. I don't see how you can only just join a team and during your first tour, not before or after, tell your captain that he should start up the order because the middle order batsmen are better than him. "Ganguly yaar, you're game is suited for opening the innings", or maybe "Hey Saurav! The boys would be pumped up if you led from the front and came up the order!" Was that so hard?

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Super Series?


Six useless South Africans in the Test and One Day World XI teams whereas Inzamam couldn’t find a spot in either of the squads. Unbelievable! Boucher was not even selected for South Africa last year, Ntini has absolutely no variation, and Gibbs is no where near quality. He’s not even in the top 15 of the ICC Player ratings (something that the selectors should’ve at least considered as a yard stick for selection). Kallis is probably the only class player, while Pollock has been a good performer for a while. It is worth noting that South Africa lost around 10 consecutive matches last year and were forced to sack their coach. And then you have 6 of their 11 players playing for the World XI. What is more unbelievable is that two of these players will be leading the two squads. I won’t even go into the other absurd selections, even thinking about them makes me sick.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Dearly Beloved!

We are gathered here to mark the end of Jason Gillespie as a bowler. He was a vicious bowler during his time and haunted many batsman of his era. But now, I’m afraid, he’s as useless as a hairbrush would be to Homer Simpson. (Just as I was writing that I thought up of a number of ways Homer could’ve used that hairbrush). Anyhow, it is time for the selectors to look elsewhere and save Gillespie (and the Australian team) the agony of bowling hopeless and futile overs of crap. May his soul rest in peace. Amen!

Sunday, July 31, 2005

The revised list

After some more thinking Ive decided that Chris Gayle shouldn't have been in the squad. I don't exactly know what I was thinking when I put him in there in the first place. I think that Graeme Smith deserves to be in the team, since there is a spot open for an opener. I don't see anyone else who deserves to be there in his place. What can I say, there aren't many quality openers around these days. I thought about Fleming, Trescothick, Strauss and Jayasuriya, but they don't seem to be up there anymore. Plus, Smith has a very good record and he seems to be a more complete player. Fleming, Trescothick and Strauss haven't been able to play the Australians at all lately, and that has been a major factor in me not going for them. Fleming especially can't seem to be able to play Bret Lee at all, particularly his outswingers. I'll take out Pietersen from the one-day side aswell and keep a single team for both one dayers and tests. I think its too early to have Pietersen in a world XI, can't really judge him so early on in his career. Anyway, here's the team,

Abdullah's World XI

Virendar Sehwag
Graeme Smith
Sachin Tendulkar
Brian Lara
Inzamam ul Haq
Rahul Dravid
Jaques Kallis
Kumar Sangakkara
Freddy Flintoff
Shoaib Akhtar
Harmisson
Muralitharan

If you don't agree with it, I don't really give a rat's ass. There's a reason why its called "Abdullah's World XI". However if anyone would like to give their opinion and concerns I would certainly entertain their comments.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Sunday afternoon picnic

From the BBC:
John Carr, the ECB’s Director of Cricket Operations said that they had no safety concerns about Multan, but were concerned about a shortage of quality hotels.

What a ludicrous thing to say! When the West Indies are scheduled to play in Manchester, they don’t whine about there not being enough beaches and sun in the city. When Pakistan are set to play in Nottingham, they don’t complain about there not being enough kebab houses near the venue and when India are ordered to play in Leeds, they don’t bitch about there not being any theatres showing the latest Bollywood flicks. The English are apparently still in imperial mode and believe that they are masters of the world. They are treating this fall’s tour like a Sunday afternoon picnic. They want to pick the location, they want their own food served and if it’s not too much trouble, they want their hosts to tweeze the unwanted hair from their butt cracks.

In case English cricketers have forgotten, cricket is a profession. They are paid to do their job. Part of their job includes touring places they may not be too fond of. Administrative assistants and such generally hate filing, but they have to do it sometimes- they are paid to do it.

England, of course, have also refused to play a test in Karachi citing security reasons. Despite being given Presidential assurances that “Al Qaeeeeeeda” will be deterred from blowing up Andrew Flintoff and his buddies to smithereens, they are still sceptical. They are willing to travel around freely and on their own in London, where their own people have caused havoc by blowing up trains and buses, but they are not willing to do so in Karachi despite being assured that a sizeable portion of the regional Police force will be at their call and beck. What more can Pakistan do to accommodate the English and ensure the tour goes ahead?

Friday, July 29, 2005

Bring on the Aussies!

Sunil Gavasker and his team must have their hands full picking a team that can beat the World Champions. Well it wasn’t that hard for me. These are my squads for the test and one day matches.

Test

Virendar Sehwag
Chris Gayle
Sachin Tendulkar
Brian Lara
Inzamam ul Haq
Rahul Dravid
Jaques Kallis
Kumar Sangakara
Freddy Flintoff
Shoaib Akhtar
Harmisson
Muralitharan

That’s the squad with Sehwag and Gayle contending for the 12th man position. The One-Day squad wouldn’t be much different with Kevin Pietersen coming in for Gayle. Tendulkar would probably open the batting with Sehwag in that case.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Test Cricket will live...but only for awhile

For someone like myself who does not reside in that tiny little island they call (and perhaps sarcastically so) Great Britain, it seems that the Ashes have brought English life to a standstill. The coverage of the series has been comprehensive. From quoting what English Batsman’s body organ Brett Lee will try and destroy to talking about the precise length of the blade of grass that the Lord’s groundsman should prepare in order to extract 45 degrees of ball movement for Steve Harmison, it appears as if the Brits have set aside absolutely everything in life from family to work to try and figure out these acutely more important things in life. Apparently, it is not only the tea and biscuit eating, tuxedo wearing, balding and boring retired World War II veterans that are in the stands at Lord’s but you get the impression that a tiny fraction of the youth is also present. It may be that the Ashes have rekindled public interest in Test Cricket, be it just in the media, but the question to ask is whether this sort of interest can be maintained?

The answer to that is a resounding ‘no’. This is an era of commercialism. It’s about instant results, of colour and flamboyancy, of smashing the ball out of the ground and of course, cheerleaders. This explains the success of One Day cricket in the last two decades (although the continuing absence of cheerleaders is truly regrettable).

Don’t get me wrong. I love Test Cricket. It’s the true sect of the game and proves a team’s real mettle. But then again, I’m a little crazy and I occasionally make the time to watch 30 hours of play over 5 days. But in retrospect, most people and particularly this generation or even my Dad’s, don’t have that sort of time or even patience to get through an entire Test match and actually enjoy it. Test Cricket lives through the Ashes but what will its fate be after those World War II veterans pass away?

Since all the Test playing nations, more or less, are former British colonies, one way to gain more public interest would be for Britain to invade and colonize a few countries and instil a passion for cricket in them. Yes, Iraq’s cricket team will be making an appearance in the international arena soon. At present, I cannot think of a more peaceful way to improve the appeal of Test Cricket.

The wrong debate

I seriously don't understand why there is such a big debate on who is to be picked between Pietersen and Thorpe. England have definitely missed a trick here. Just because both of them play at the same batting position doesn't mean that they have to make a choice between the two. Thorpe has always been England's best Test match batsman. His batting average against the Aussies is above his career average and that too says a lot. He should have definitely been picked, he's an automatic selection. Pietersen has been unbelievable ever since his international debut. Why he wasn't picked for the tests against Bangladesh is still a mystery. With his one-day innings gainst Australia, there shouldn't have been much doubt in his ability to bat against world class bowlers and opposition.

What I cannot really comprehend is Ian Bell's place in the side. Anyone can score against Bangladesh, and like Geoffery Boycott would say, even my mum could score against them! Not that I'm saying that Ian Bell isn't a decent batsman, he probably CAN bat, but without being tested against quality bowlers, the selectors have taken a very big gamble by having him in the squad, instead of keeping Thorpe in the side.

With Pietersen eventually given the nod over Thorpe, England's batting line up does look a tad shaky. Also, Thorpe has announced his retirement which I think was a wrong move, as the selectors would probably have seen the light after the batting performance of the first test and would have opted for his presence in the side. We would definitely miss Graham Thorpe's presence in world cricket as he has been England's best batsman by far and a treat to watch. Lets just hope that Kevin Pietersen becomes the new thorn in Australia's flesh as England fights to regain the Ashes.