Posts filed under ‘Cricket’

A National Headache

The international backlash to the Australian cricket team’s behaviour following their world cup victory has not been a surprise but has been embarrassing. Add to that Shane Warne’s attempted interviews post match and the tournament has ended on a very sour note for most Australian sports fans who applaud their cricketing feats but not their decorum.

This is sadly not the first time the Australian cricket team have behaved in a way that does not befit men who are representing the country. One Australian official in a diplomatic role told this writer that following a tour of India his staff spent a month going around the country mending bridges and apologising for the behaviour of the players.

What compounds the issue is at the celebration the next day in Federation Square,Melbourne the players publicly seemed to revel in the fact that they had been drinking all night. Captain Michael Clarke appeared on stage from the rooftop bar with the ICC Cricket World Cup trophy, and when asked to describe his overriding emotion answered saying, “A little hungover, I think I speak for everybody in that sense. I guarantee you the boys will continue to celebrate today. It’s the Australian way.”

Brad Haddin has since apologised for going on Triple M Breakfast radio in Sydney having been introduced by team mate Steve Smith as the most drunk of players. Haddin on website Cricket.com.au has said that he wished he hadn’t agreed to go on air. “We were celebrating a World Cup win and enjoying ourselves after a long tournament, in hindsight, we should have stayed off the radio. If I offended anyone, it was never my intention.”  The damage has been done as his comments have been spread across the world’s cricket media.

Comments about his team mates which went like this “I’ll paint a picture for you now. I’ve got a coach who’s spooning the World Cup who can’t speak,” Haddin said. “I’ve got James Faulkner who’s got his clothes off but don’t tell everyone. And I’ve got the Marsh boys, and you know I can’t even talk about the Marsh boys because you know what trouble they have. I’ve got Josh Hazlewood … he’s never been drunk in 30 years. It’s a problem. We just can’t get him drunk. He’s an absolute nightmare to drink with.” Totally irresponsible by a man who has been Vice Captain of the national team and therefore was tipped as a leader.

One has say that everyone expects a team to celebrate after winning a World title, as such titles do not come easily. However players must remember that they are held up – whether they like it or not – as ambassadors of this country a country where Cricket is the national sport a sport permuted to reflect gentlemanly behaviour and fair play; although Australia may well debate this quite vociferously. Representing your country, or club comes with responsibilities and sadly for a while now the Australian cricket team have failed to live up to those responsibilities off the field.

The question has to be asked what is CEO James Sutherland done to arrest this? Why have Cricket Australia been so quite in the past few days, while their reputation is being damaged around the globe, or as in India are they expecting others to clean up the mess. Cricket Australia should have had the players in a controlled environment post match and taken the mobile phones off the players while they were drinking, to protect both the players and the image of Cricket Australia.

Now they face a global backlash.  A strong leader would have fined those players such as Haddin, Clarke and others who wore their hangovers with pride and promoted them, they would have then given the money collected to Alcohol abuse related charities and made the players carry out some form of community service, to try and restore the damaged image.

The other thing that would be nice to see is a public apology to the nation by the team. They made many proud with their victory but have embarrassed just as many post match.

All of these things are unlikely to happen, but one thing is for sure Cricket Australia need to take control and ensure that off field behaviour improves and that others do not have to go around cleaning up after these men behaving like teenage boys.

 

 

 

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April 2, 2015 at 9:12 am Leave a comment

Remembering The Past

While much media attention has been given to the tributes being paid by the Australian cricketers to the unfortunate premature passing of their team mate Philip Hughes this year, we should not forget that the New Zealanders had a stalwart of the game close to death for whom they were no doubt playing, former captain Martin Crowe.

The World Cup final was expected to be the last game of cricket Crowe will watch. Crowe had written on ESPN Cricinfo website that he was very close to death due to a terminal blood disease.

“My precarious life ahead may not afford me the luxury of many more games to watch and enjoy,” said Crowe.”This is likely to be it. I can happily live with that.”

Crowe, was a wonderfully gifted and elegant batsman who is the second highest Test run-scorer in New Zealand history with 5,444 runs at an average of 45.36. He captained the Kiwis in the 1992 World Cup. Sir Richard Hadlee once said that Crowe was the only man whose wash bag was bigger than his kitbag!

Crowe had worked with some of the Black Caps players contesting the final, including batsmen Ross Taylor and Martin Guptill. It was the form of these two batting lynchpins that boosted Crowe’s spirits in the final days of his battle with illness.

“To see the two sons I never had, Ross Taylor and Marty Guptill, run out in black, in sync with their close comrades, drawing on all their resolve and resilience, will be mesmerically satisfying,” he told Cricinfo.

It is a shame that sport has to have one winner in contests such as we witnessed on Sunday as both Philip Hughes and Martin Crowe deserved to be remembered by their respective teams. Crowe may still be with us for the time being but those who saw him bat will never forget his elegance. May his legacy live on and his suffering be painless.

March 31, 2015 at 11:31 am Leave a comment

Refusing to Step Out of the Limelight

What a shame that Australia’s triumph in the Cricket World Cup has been overshadowed by the performance of Shane Warne and his post match interviews, but honestly is it really a surprise to anyone.

As insightful as Shane Warne may be as a commentator when he actually focusses on the game he has struggled to come to terms with the fact that he is no longer a member of the Australian Cricket team. This has been evidenced in his continually throwing parties for the team and attending parties with them. There is nothing worse than a player who cannot accept that his time has come to an end and Warne appears to have struggled with that fact.

Channel Nine has to take some of the blame for the focus moving away from the team and onto one of their commentary team, as they should have briefed him to stick to talking about the game. It is all very well having ex players in the commentary box, but they must possess the skills to do the job. Many of the current ‘ex players club’ sadly do not. Most fans assume that the players will go and have a few drinks after the game, and therefore do not need an interviewer to ask such an obvious question, similarly we do not need to hear questions such as “you must be happy with the win?” Most want to be given an insight as to how the player felt during the game, how the game shifted, key points within the game that led to victory.

Back in February Geoff Lemon of the Guardian wrote a brilliant piece on the decline of Channel Nine’s cricket coverage entitled Just Not Cricket. This was written on the eve of the World Cup, but has been justified by the end result.

Either arrogance has seen Mr Lemon’s comments ignored, or quite simply those with contracts at Channel Nine at the present time could not give a damn what the viewer wants. Luckily there was excellent commentary on the radio, with Kevin Peterson being a revelation.

It comes down to be professionalism and sadly Shane Warne has shown a lack of that by being unable to distance himself from the team. His constantly referring to players by their nicknames is another example of his failure to move on. During the World Cup with an international audience, not just one in Australia many viewers would not have had a clue which player was being discussed when only a nickname was used.

It is a shame that such a solid performance by Australia to win their fifth World Cup has been overshadowed by a man desperate to stay in the limelight.

The Word Cup still in this writer’s opinion dragged on way too long. However the best teams ended up contesting the semi finals. The South Africans showed their class in terms of the way they handled the defeat and showed that there are still gentlemen who play cricket. New Zealand found the big occasion just too much but also played the tournament in a spirit that won them many friends. India’s defence of its title was valiant, but as was evident in many games struggled chasing a total, a total that was larger than it should have been due to their not having a truly world class bowler. Australia were almost Germanic in their consistency. There were signs that this team has a new breed of cricketers who are prepared to take responsibility when those around them fail, and that is ominous for other teams around the world, especially England and the upcoming Ashes series.

 

March 30, 2015 at 9:30 am 1 comment

Memories that Last, Will the Cricket World Cup 2015 Deliver?

They say that age catches up with us all, and watching the Cricket World Cup labour its way through the group stage this writer realises that he yearns for yesteryear.

I am old enough to remember the first Cricket World Cup, although back then it was named The Prudential Cup, that was 40 years ago. I can remember India’s Madan Lal bowling the first ball and England’s Dennis Amiss scoring the first century, 137 runs off of 147 balls, a respectable strike rate even by today’s standards. It was one game that Sunil Gavaskar would have loved to forget in that opening match, he batted the full 60 overs for India for a score of 36 not out!

Maybe it was because I was younger then, but cricket back then was not just about a batsman smashing a ball into row “z.”. One of the most memorable moments was West Indian Roy Fredricks hooking the fearsome Dennis Lillee into the mound stand at Lords for six, something that was almost unheard of then, only to find he had trodden on his wicket.

The players seemed more real back then. They were not all clean shaven or sporting designer stubble. They were more earthy, more gritty more real. They showed emotions, frustration, as well as joy. they also intimidated, boy did they intimidate.

In 1975 the format was simple. There were 8 teams in two groups, the top two teams crossed over and met in the semi finals. The tournament back then lasted 14 days, and 18 matches were played. In 2015 there are 14 teams playing 49 matches and the tournament is lasting 43 days. It is almost impossible to keep people’s interest for such a long period of time. In 1975 teams had 3 days off between games. In 2015, Australia and Sri Lanka have had 7 days off from their first to second game. Why is there such a gap? Even in football 32 teams play at the World Cup yet the whole tournament is finished in a month.

In 1975 there were no restrictions on field placing, and there were no cricket helmets. Thigh pads were in fact a relatively new invention, replacing the folded towel tucked inside the jockstrap. The bowlers in 1975 were genuinely quick and menacing, and knew how to bowl, varying pace, bounce and the angle of attack. Maybe that was why I yearn for yesteryear. Just look at some of the names: Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson, John Snow, Richard Hadlee, Imran Khan, Andy Roberts, Keith Boyce and Bernard Julien, nearly all legends of the game.

There were batsman who could adapt to any form of cricket, not just specialists at smashing the ball when it doesn’t move on a dead track. The likes of Greg and Ian Chappell, Doug Walters, Sunil Gavaskar, Gundappa Viswanath, Glenn Turner, Majid Khan, Javed Miandad, Zaheer Abbas, Duleep Mendis, Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd, Roy Fredricks and Gordon Greenidge.

1975 was pre-Packer and World Series Cricket, and the players wore white, there were no numbers on their backs and no games were played under lights. The reason the World Cup was hosted by England was that daylight saving meant they could get 120 overs in one day. There is no doubt the coloured clothing and floodlights changed the game and that they have brought a bit of pizzaz to one day cricket, but something is missing in the World Cup; the same thing that to be honest has been missing in the last two World Cups.

Is it the calibre of the players? How many of today’s players will we remember in 40 years times as greats of the game? Is it the format, a long drawn out affair that needs to be trimmed back and finished a fortnight earlier? Or is it the lack of a contest between bat an ball? If we look at the games that have piqued the interest in 2015, they have been in the main the games played in New Zealand, where the ball has moved and the bowlers have had a chance of picking up wickets. The games in Australia have followed the modern day trend, teams wins the toss, bats first hits a big total, team batting second fails to reach it. ODI’s in the last ten years have more games with this scenario that the authorities wish to admit.

If the Cricket World Cup is to keep people interested, do away with the power play, do away with the field restrictions, and do away with the limit on the number of overs a bowler can bowl; Why should they be restricted when a batsman does not have to retire at 50? Let’s make this more about cricket, rather than a slogfest. Everyone who watched the New Zealand and Australia game will remember that for a very long time. It was a close affair as it was a game in which the bowlers were able to put the batsman under pressure, and the batsmen in both teams showed they were not up to the task. I hazard a guess that this game will this be remembered by more people than a David Warner 100 of 86 balls. Of course it will. People will remember the game as a whole, rather than just one batsman thumping the ball into the stands ball after ball.

In 1975 I remember those moments mentioned, as well as Gary Gilmour’s 6 for 14 at Headingley to bowl out England for 93, Glenn Turner ending up top run scorer after scoring two centuries in three games. (Believe it or not no New Zealander scored 100 in a World Cup after that until 1992 when Martin Crowe did!). Alvin Kallicharan taking on Dennis Lillee in full flight without a helmet; he hit 35 runs off the last ten balls he faced from Lillee. Lillee and Thomson batting and continuing to run as the crowd invaded the pitch thinking the game was all over. Then of course there was Viv Richards’ three run outs in the final. Special memories.

So far Trent Boult’s five wickets v Australia along with Mitchell Starc’s six wickets in the same match stand out, as well as Tim Southee’s seven against England. AB de Villiers 162 v the West Indies was memorable, as was Chris Gayle’s 215. However in an era where bat dominates ball so often one feels that memories of these two innings will fade with time.

The game has changed and not more so than in the rewards, in 1975 the prize money for the winning team was GBP4,000 and the West Indies players received GBP100 each for the whole tournament! This year the winning team will take home $4.3million!

Prize money GBP4,000

March 4, 2015 at 4:18 pm Leave a comment

Playing The World Cup By Numbers

Cricket is a game that loves statistics, so with the World Cup starting today in Australia and New Zealand we thought we would share some on the tournament.

As most fans will know there will be 49 matches over 44 days between 14 teams played at 14 venues, seven in New Zealand and seven in Australia. It will be interesting to see if after 44 days everyone’s interest is still as high as at the start. The one criticism of this tournament in recent times has been that it has dragged on too long. The target is a billion expected viewers on television around the world, that too will be tested if it does start to drag.

The total prize money up for grabs is $11.5million with the winner taking home $4.3million. There is an additional $4.6million if a team goes through the tournament unbeaten. The losing finalist will go home with $2million. The losing semi finalists will each receive $692,000 while the losing quarter finalists receive $346,000. For winning your group and remember there are only two groups these teams will pick up $52,000 each. The six teams eliminated from the tournament at the group stage will receive $40,000 each. Should just cover the airfares and accommodation!

Looking at some of the history Sachin Tendulkar is the greatest run scorer in World Cup history having played 45 matches he accumulated 2,278 runs at an average of 56.9. Ricky Ponting is second with 1743 in 46 matches at an average of 45.8 and West Indian Brian Lara third with 1225 in 34 matches at an average of 42.2.

The highest individual score record goes to South African Gary Kirsten who scored 188 against the UAE in 1996.

The leading wicket taker in World Cup history is Australia’s Glenn McGrath with 71 wickets in 39 games. Second is Sri Lanka’s Muralitharan with 68 wickets in 40 matches, while Pakistan’s Wasim Akram is third with 55 wickets in 38 matches. It is worth noting that Glenn McGrath is the only player in the top five to have taken a five wicket haul twice.

Adam Gilchrist is the number one wicket-keeper with 52 dismissals in 31 matches 45 caught and seven stumped. Sangakarra is second with 46 dismissals 36 caught and 10 stumped. South African Mark Boucher comes in at four with 31 dismissals all caught, the only one in the top five with no stumpings.

There are some records in One Day International cricket that are unlikely to be broken during the world cup but should be looked out for: Rohit Sharma’s highest ODI score for India v Sri Lanka of 264 in 2014. In that innings he hit a record 33 fours.

South African Herschelle Gibbs hit six sixes of Dan van Bunge’s fourth over during the 2007 World Cup in St Kitts. All of the legitimate deliveries in the over went for six!

Chaminda Vaas took eight wickets for Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe in Colombo in 2001, the only eight wicket haul in ODI’s. HIs figures were 8 overs, 3 maidens 8 wickets for 19 runs.

The highest ODI score by a team is 443 by Sri Lanka against the Netherlands in Amstelveen in 2006. While the record stand in ODI history was between Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar against New Zealand in Hyderabad in 1999 when the put on 331 for the second wicket.

Will any of these records tumble in the next 44 days? It will be a display to remember if they are.

February 14, 2015 at 4:41 pm Leave a comment

No To Big Boy’s Toys. Is There Another Option?

” A big boy needs a big bat” says West Indies opener Chris Gayle in response to the International Cricket Council’s proposed crackdown on the size of bats ahead of the World Cup.

He has received strong support from former Australian fast bowler Brett Lee, “I think that if players like Gayle and Warner are strong enough to lift a bat that heavy at that speed, then good for them, it makes the game a hell of a lot more exciting.” He is quoted as saying.

However not everyone agrees. After all the modern game of cricket, especially in Australia has become a game totally dominated by batsman as the wickets already give the bowlers little help. Many remember how tennis has changed dramatically and become all about power rather than finesse since wooden racquets became a thing of the past. Has the power really made Tennis a better game to watch?

Former Australian Test Captain Ian Chappell is one man who backs the ICC in this move. He has said that the increase in the thickness of the willow put the umpires and bowlers at risk of injuries. Not a reason many expected. Chappell however saved his main criticism of the ICC claiming that they had woken up too late and being behind on so many issues affecting the game, including the size of bats.

“At long last the ICC has decided there’s a problem with the bats. They are being hailed as too good and disturbing the balance between bat and ball. This combined with the fact that the ICC also recently decreed that shorter boundaries are contributing to the problem, is a classic case of being way behind the game.” He said.

One has to agree, and if the ICC does not soon start monitoring the state of the wickets prepared and ensuring that there is something in them for the bowlers we are likely to see the standard of bowling dip even further than it already has at international level in the past ten years. What incentive is there for a bowler to toil so hard when the odds are stacked so heavily against them.

Another change we have discussed on the show on many occasions is that the ICC should take away the restriction on the number of overs bowled. Batsmen do not have to retire at 50, so why should a bowler have to stop after 10 overs. People want to see a battle between bat and ball, and if a team has a bowler like Glenn McGrath who is hard to get away, or a Shane Warne pinning down one end why should they be prevented from using them? If the game is going to become more of an even contest then something has to start going in favour of the bowler.

As for the size of the bat, it has impacted the game. Has it had a positive impact? Some will say yes, as has been shown, but for everyone who says yes, there will be another who says no.

February 10, 2015 at 1:38 am Leave a comment

Winning Needs Some Perspective

For the past fortnight in India every newspaper is full of speculation on the Cricket World Cup, and whether the current World Champions can retain their trophy. Turn on the television and there are replays of previous tournaments, interviews with former World Champions, it has been wall to wall cricket as the country works itself up into a frenzy.

There are however some who feel that Australia may well have exposed fans to simply too much cricket prior to the World Cup, with the Test Series with India, The Big Bash League and then the Tri-nation series. Some believe that despite losing to Australia, India should have taken a break from playing ‘down under,’ and the players should have returned home for a couple of weeks break with their families before looking to defend their title.

This brings into question what is the perfect preparation for a tournament such as this. It has now become the norm that all the competing nations have warm up games against each other, games attended usually in the main by those unable to get tickets to the actual world cup games. Games in which neither side wants to reveal too much, saving their best for the tournament itself.

If India is under pressure how must South Africa feel having been warned by their Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula that they better not fail, and forbidding them to ‘become a bunch of losers.’ This comment was made during their official send off.

“we don’t want you in the World Cup to add numbers and just become a bunch of losers.” he was quoted as saying. He went on to say “You are not going to be playing with robots. You are playing with people. You are the special ones. You are the chosen ones. It does not mean you are irreplaceable but all of you are capable of doing the duty for us.”

Not happy with these inspiring words he continued by reminding the team of previous losses at previous World Cups. Proving that he is no Nelson Mandela when it comes to stirring inspirational oratory.

Having already labelled the national football team a bunch of losers a year ago, no doubt his words were water off a duck’s back to the players, but they can hardly have helped their preparation.

One team not expected to win a game is Afghanistan, competing in their first World Cup. Cricket has miraculously skyrocketed in popularity since the Taliban permitted the game to be played in 2000. A year later the ICC welcomed them to international cricket as an affiliate member.

Their preparation has faced a different set of problems as coach Andy Moles, who played for Warwickshire explained. ” I spoke to one of the players who was late to our late camp. I asked him the reason why he and he turned around and told me that he had to go to the funeral of his cousin who was shot dead by a drone.”

It would appear that many teams this time around are having their own set of problems when it comes to preparation for the World Cup, but for the sake of the players and everyone back in war-torn Afghanistan it would be great if sport can show just who wonderful it can be, and they could record a famous and unlikely victory to help the game grow and lift the spirits of the people back home. If they can that will be the equivalent of them winning the cup itself, and will hopefully give the tournament and certain politicians some perspective.

 

February 9, 2015 at 8:53 pm Leave a comment

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