Posts tagged ‘West Indies’

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.

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

Another Innings Declared too Soon.

There is no doubt that the passing of Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes at a time when he looked certain to return to the Test match arena has rocked this sports mad country. The way in which he lost his life seems unbelievable.

There have been shouts for helmets to be revised, as on this occasion the ball evaded the helmet when it struck the fatal blow. There has been talk of no longer bowling bouncers, or short rising balls aimed at the batsman’s body. These are all natural reactions, but over reactions.

One thing that cricket should remember is that this was a very rare occurrence. If it wants to act responsibly it should ensure that all playing the game learn to play as those of yesteryear learned, by keeping your eye on the ball at all times. Too many young players turn their head away when a short ball is bowled at them and expect a chest pad or helmet to protect them. The best way to protect yourself is to learn the basics properly, and that includes evading rising balls; the plethora of padding available these days and T20 style cricket, where technique is often left in the pavilion has meant the basic rules have been forgotten.

In fact the past few days have highlighted the fact that other cricketers too have lost their lives playing the game in recent years.

Just last year South African Darryn Randall aged 32 who played for Border was hit on the side of the head when attempting a pull shot in a South African domestic match. The wicketkeeper-batsman collapsed and was rushed to hospital, but he died from the blow.

Also in 2013  up and coming player Pakistani player Zulfiqar Bhatti aged 22 was struck in the chest by the ball while batting during a domestic game and fell to the ground. He was too was sadly pronounced dead on arrival at hospital.

Former Indian one day international Raman Lamba in 1998 was hit on the head while fielding during a club match in Dhaka. He went into a coma three days later, before being pronounced dead.

Former England opening bat Wilf Slack also passed away while playing, but of a heart problem.  Slack collapsed and died during a domestic match in Banjul, Gambia. It was later revealed he had suffered four blackouts in previous matches, but despite carrying out tests, doctors were unable to diagnose the cause of his death.

Then there have been players who have been lost to the game too soon off of the field of play and Ben Hollioake’s name is one that jumps out. Another that many cricket fans in Australia will recall is the name Archie Jackson, who passed away during the “Bodyline Tour” of 1933 aged just 23. He wrote for the Brisbane Mail and insisted that Bodyline was legitimate, held no threat to the game, and that it could be combated which was a minority view in Australia at that time.

Jackson was destined for great things and he left the world far too young aged just 23 and having played 8 test matches and having scored 474 runs at an average of 47.40. He suffered a severe pulmonary haemorrhage. Members of the English and Australian teams visited him in hospital during his last days. On 16 February 1933, Jackson became the youngest Test cricketer to die until Bangladeshi Manjural Rana in 2007; who died in a motorcycle accident in the West Indies. The nation mourned his passing as one.

Philip Hughes is another who has left us far too young and his passing will witness a similar outpouring of emotion in Australia, to a level not seen since probably the passing of Jackson.

The Test Match continued in 1933 and one feels that if the players feel they can play that the Test Match next week should also go ahead. It has been suggested that as Hughes was about to make his return to the side he should be named twelfth man in tribute. This would be a wonderful and fitting gesture, although he would obviously much rather have been playing.

 

November 28, 2014 at 12:21 pm Leave a comment

Bouncers on Menu at ICC Meeting

The ICC meeting that is about to start in India is likely to be one of the most heated for many years.

The proposal by the Boards of India, Australia and England to take over the complete functioning of the ICC, as opposed to just the allocation of revenue as was reported in September of last year, has not gone down well. South Africa, the current world number one test team would be one such nation on the outside. So far most of the Board members in India have been extremely tight-lipped about what is to transpire when the meeting commences on the 28th.

The word is that the ICC is considering a comprehensive structural overhaul and the proposal is that those important decisions be left to the BCCI(India) CA (Australia) and ECB ( England & Wales). Currently the ICC distributes 75% of its revenues to its 10 full member boards and the remaining funds are distributed amongst the Associate and affiliate members.

The Pakistan Cricket Board has understandably been the first to voice their opposition to such a move as it could be the death knell for them as a cricketing nation. Already having to play all their series outside of their home country, any cut in revenues would be extremely harmful. They fear that  the plan is to divide world cricket into two divisions, and that it may be their fate to be placed in the second tier. With no way of raising monies with home series, that may seal their future fate in the overall scheme of things, until political stability returns to Pakistan.

New Zealand Cricket has interestingly backed such a move. NZC Board member and former Test Cricketer Martin Snedden has been quoted as saying that he does not see New Zealand being “disadvantaged or “downgraded” by such a move. Although if the two-tier system does come into play New Zealand could find itself in the second tier or relegated to that level in due course.

The big plus for this system is the Associate members may be able to push for a spot at the  Test Match table.

One other matter on the agenda is the Future Tours Programme. Interestingly just over a week ago cricket luminaries such as Rahul Dravid, Steve Waugh, Anil Kumble, Shaun Pollock, and Mike Brearley who are all members of the MCC’s World Cricket Committee met and stated that the Future Tours Programme must be binding. Lately several tour schedules have been changed. India curtailed their series with South Africa to accommodate a series against the West Indies. Several other nations have altered the schedule dropping Test matches in favour of extra one day internationals or T20 matches. So it will be interesting to see the views of the ICC on this particular issue, and whether they take heed of the MCC’s committee.

The same committee stated what may seem obvious to many fans, that T20 competitions were the most likely to be open to corruption. They received a presentation from the IPL’s Sundar Raman on the anti corruption measures that have been put in place to minimise such eventualities. The committee has suggested that the ICC implement a system whereby it becomes a requirement for any global T20 competition to sign up to a minimum set of anti-corruption standards. These to be provided by the ICC’s anti Corruption and Security unit. Only then should the ICC sanction the tournament.

The MCC Committee also backed a World Test Championship which has been on the table for a number of years. They believe this is essential to safeguard the future of Test cricket. However it is the cricket broadcasters, the people who pay to air these games, who are loathe to support such a concept. The ICC was looking to have this commence in 2017 and the word is that this date may be pushed back. The MCC Committee believe that the ICC should commit to at least the top two ranked test teams in the world contesting a final in 2017.

As if these issues were not enough to be discussing, also on the table is the proposed move of the ICC’s head office from Dubai to either Singapore, Cardiff or Colombo. There is no chance of the ICC will leave the jurisdiction of the United Arab Emirates in the immediate future, – a location where it has been based since leaving Lord’s back in 2005, – however in a working paper, the ICC’s financial and commercial affairs committee states: “Under UAE laws it is not necessary for the management to be located in the same jurisdiction. The question is which location will suit the power brokers from India, England and Australia? Singapore may well get the nod being almost a mid point between them.

Interesting times ahead for cricket. Will the various boards listen to the MCC’s committee? Unlikely as a power struggle is in the offing, if not, expect plenty to be said post meeting

January 22, 2014 at 8:00 pm 1 comment

Australian Sport Lived the Dream, Now Facing Reality.

It has not been a good year for Australian sport, the cricketers, the wallabies, the socceroos have all struggled to win, and with these struggles coming on the back of a disappointing Olympic Games in London there has been plenty of navel gazing

The news last week that Australian Rugby Union is going broke stunned many, but not those in the know. Added to this is the worrying state of the Super rugby franchises. Rugby Union is having to take a good hard look at itself and try and unravel some of the player contracts that they negotiated to keep players in Australia, and it has to act fast.

What is incredible is how football and rugby are facing many of the same problems at the moment, although football is loathe to admit it has any, as it is desperate to appear as if it is finally fulfilling its potential. Crowds attending A-league games are bound to agree that the code is heading in the right direction.

The ARU has stated that it is struggling to fund the game at development level, football too is struggling to meet those needs, with parents being asked to dip into their pockets for more and more money. This is one area the AFL does a great job, making sure funds from the highest level filter down to the youth level; but then again they do not have to fund international teams playing overseas in worldwide tournaments at a variety of ages!

Like the Socceroos, the Wallabies are not currently playing well and there have been complaints from former players that there is no longer a pride in wearing the jersey, or shirt. We doubt that this is true. Sure some players may not hurt as much as others following a defeat, but any player who wears the national colours, has to be proud to wear them, don’t they?

One thing that is clear, is as in football, rugby can no longer rely solely on home-based talent. They have to widen the selection circle and invite those players who have opted to head to Europe or Japan to earn bigger salaries, back into the international fold. George Smith proved against the British and Irish Lions that he was still up to the task, and the Wallabies benefitted.

Unlike their football counterparts Australian rugby union faces a major dilemma. It’s teams play in the toughest club rugby competition, Super Rugby, and then the best players from that competition play in the Rugby Championship against the perennially best two sides in the world, New Zealand and South Africa. So when they are going through a transitional period, – like now – results look a great deal worse, and as a result their world ranking is affected. Losses also result in fans starting to stay at home and revenues begin to dip.

The Socceroos and A-League players are lucky they do not play in similar competitions each year! However sadly the current success of the A-league in terms of excitement is papering over the international capability and player development cracks.

Currently Wallabies are paid $14,000 a test match. The Socceroos for the World Cup Qualifiers were paid $20,000 each. The similarities are clear.

The FFA would be wise to cast a glance in rugby’s direction over the next two years and watch carefully what they do to right the ship, because football could find itself in a similar position in tow or four years.

Football’s sudden clarion call for a home-grown national coach, has nothing to do with the successful A-League coaches being ready to take the reins, it comes down to the final realisation that those charged with developing players have under-performed and Australia faces the very real prospect of not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and losing the $10-12million windfall that comes from qualifying. The truth is, as Ange Postecoglou stated ‘it should be the best man for the job,’ however that will have to be tempered with the clause, based on the funds on offer.

Why does Australian sport suddenly find itself in this position? Let’s face it cricket is not in a much better position either. Have Australia’s sports administrators made the same mistakes that many European top flight football clubs have made, ‘lived the dream,’ and spent beyond their means to remain at the top?

They have paid the top players well, but they have failed to bring through the second wave of players. With World Cups in each sport regeneration should take place after every world cup finals; but worldwide it rarely does. In football only Brazil have won back to back World Cups, and that was back in 1958 and 1962. In cricket the West Indies won two in a row, while Australia achieved a hat-trick of successes from 1999-2007*, in rugby no team has defended their World Cup crown successfully.

To compete consistently hard decisions need to be made as to when to drop players and bring in new talent, but just as important is while you are successful the money that success generates must be invested at the bottom of the sport, and not chewed up by those at the top. It is crucial that this happens across many sports in the next few years if Australia is to once again compete at the levels many expect.

* From their 1999 World Cup victory to the 2003 one, only five players remained in the Australian side: Gilchrist, Ponting, Lehmann, Bevan and McGrath. From 2003 to their 2007 success there were six: Gilchrist, Hayden, Ponting, Symonds, Hogg and McGrath. On both occasions they defended their title close to half the team was rejuvenated. Only three players played in all three winning finals, Gilchrist, Ponting and McGrath.

October 22, 2013 at 8:12 am Leave a comment

How Great Was It For You?

There is no doubting West Indian Chris Gayle’s record-breaking 175 for Royal Challengers of Bangalore will be an innings that is talked about for many years to come. A century in 20 balls is a truly remarkable feat. His 175 coming in just 66 balls and including 17 sixes and 13 fours, statistics that beggar belief.

This innings may also increase the divide between cricket fans of differing generations.

His incredible innings was compiled in a T20 match in the Indian Premier League, an officially recognised first class fixture, but a form of the game that many traditional fans of the game frown upon. A game in which it is frequently a case of hit and miss – as Gayle is testament to – and a form of the game where brute strength is a substitute for solid technique.

So where should this innings stand? Is it the greatest ever played? Or is that determined by the context of the game and not the number of runs scored and how quickly. There is no doubt Chris Gayle probably doesn’t care.

Chris Gayle opted to make himself a ‘gun for hire’ after he fell out with the West Indies Cricket Board, just as T20 was becoming popular. He knew he was talented, and he also realised if he was to make a living from cricket he better focus on T20 where the opportunities were far greater. Immense credit must go to Gayle who has adapted his technique to suit this form of the game. He uses minimum footwork which is complimented by his ability to transfer his weight by leaning back or forwards. He then lets his long arms from his 6-foot 4-inch frame swing freely through the arc to great effect. Another aspect he has tinkered with and which works exceptionally well in this form of the game  is staying deep in his crease, which enables him to get under the ball and combined with his huge strength lift it over the boundary. This innings being a perfect example of that ploy.

There have been many great innings in the game of cricket, in the one day version as well as the Test arena, so where does Gayle’s latest effort rate amongst them.

Some wonderful innings that spring to mind to start the debate, are Viv Richards 189 not out in a One day International in 1984 at Old Trafford against England.  Who can forget Herschelle Gibbs 175 off 111 balls against Australia at the Wanderers in 2006. Many forget too that the ‘little master’ India’s Sachin Tendulkar did what many believed impossible scoring 200 in a one-day international against South Africa at Gwalior in 2010.

There have been many outstanding innings in the test arena as well, who can forget VVS Laxman’s 281 against Australia in Kolkata in 2001, or Ian Botham’s 149 not out at Headingley in 1981, also against Australia. Then there is Gordon Greenidge’s 214 not out against England at Lords in 1984, and Steve Waugh’s 108 at Manchester in 1997.

The hardest thing is to work out where such an innings sits, especially in a format of the game where caution is thrown to the wind. There is no doubt it was impressive, destructive, powerful and a sight to behold, but as great innings go in the context of affecting a game or a series, it fails to register. But then again the modern followers of the game who are much younger than this writer may well disagree.

(Please note the memorable innings mentioned were all ones that the writer was fortunate to witness on television or live. There are undoubtedly many others he has not witnessed).

April 29, 2013 at 3:43 pm 2 comments

The Best of Six

Australia’s women’s cricket team won their sixth one day World Title overnight. In doing so they posted the biggest wining margin in the final in the history of the competition, winning by 114runs.

Australia were the favourites going into the final against the West Indies and winning the toss elected to bat first. Opener Rachael Haynes scored 52, but Jess Cameron gave the team crucial momentum with 75 including 19 off one over from Tremayne Smart. Her innings won her player of the match as it came from just 76 balls and swung the game back into Australia’s favour. Australia made 7/259 and  many felt this would not be enough but it was vital that the West Indies run chase started well.

Double International Ellyse Perry soon put paid to that with an inspired spell of bowling as she took three wickets for two runs in three overs. Her control, her line her length and her variation of pace were superb and constantly left the West Indies batters second guessing.

What made this performance all the more incredible was Perry had missed the last two games due to an ankle injury and was in serious doubt going into the final. A decision was made to pick the experienced Perry, although still only 22years old,ahead of promising fast bowler 17 year old Holly Ferling. It was a gamble that paid dividends.

A partnership between Deandra Dottin the scorer of the fastest century and fifty in T20 Internationals, and  skipper Merissa Aguilleira caused a few hearts to flutter but then Lisa Sthalekar struck dismissing Aguillera. The same bowler then bowled Dottin and took a spectacular one handed catch to win the match.

The West Indies were dismissed for 145 and victory meant Australia’s women’s team are now the ODI World Champions as well as T20 World Champions and currently hold the Ashes. A superb effort by all concerned. The bar has definitely been set very high.

 

February 18, 2013 at 10:38 am Leave a comment

Vale: Tony Grieg

Former England cricket captain Tony Grieg has passed away aged 66 as a result of lung cancer.

Grieg who was known to a generation of Australian cricket fans as a Channel Nine commentator known for sticking his car keys into the wicket to reveal how tough it was and for his spats with fellow commentator Australian captain Bill Lawry, was also a handy cricketer in his day. Grieg who was regarded by many as one of the great All Rounders in English County Cricket was also handy in the test match arena.

He was born in Cape Province South Africa to a Scottish immigrant father and a South African-born mother. He was  and educated at Queens College in Queenstown where many former Sussex players had been recruited to coach the cricket team. Greig’s talents were noticed and after a first-class debut for Border Province in the Currie Cup he was asked to a trial at Sussex when he was 19.

Grieg’s father has been credited as helping him decide between university or a possible career playing the game he loved. Grieg was quoted as saying, “He used to slam into me for not reading enough, for being generally immature. He would look at me sometimes and say ‘Boy, when I was your age I was fighting a war’, but in the end he grinned and said: ‘Go over to England for one year, one year mind, and see what you can do'”

Grieg took over the England captaincy from Mike Denness after a three test series against India and a further three against Pakistan that saw him average 41.5 with the bat and take 14 wickets.

After an Ashes  series at home with no tour planned he headed to Australia for the 1975-76 season to play grade cricket in Sydney, where he established contacts that he would benefit from in the future. It was then that he started commentating.

Back in England he was soon in the headlines when in the lead up to the series with the West Indies he caused more controversy by saying he would make them “grovel.” a quote now immortalised in the documentary “Fire In Babylon.”

In 1977 he captained England at the MCG in the Centenary Test but he is best remembered that year for assisting in the recruitment of top players from around the world for Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket, a role that cost him the England Captaincy, and for which he was only forgiven this year when he delivered the MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture.

Many say his reward for helping Packer set up World Series cricket was a job for live with Channel Nine, the television network he worked for up until he was diagnosed with Cancer in October.

Whether you loved him or loathed him he contributed a great deal to the World of Cricket and will be sadly missed.

One little known fact is that on his test debut against Australia in 1972 Tony Grieg took 4 wickets for 53 runs in the second innings. On his debut against Pakistan in 1982 his brother Ian took 4 wickets for 53 in the first innings. It is believed to be the only time two brothers on debut have recorded the same bowling figures. Another reason to remember him.

 

 

December 29, 2012 at 1:16 pm 1 comment

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