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.