Saturday, June 23, 2012

Rotation; Why Not?

When I was a lad, plying my trade in the Jersey Under 15's football league, I was a reliable left back for my home Parish, Grouville. In the spring of 1995, we went on a cup run that took us to a prestigious final at Jersey's answer to Wembley; Springfield Stadium.
I was as excited as an England fast bowler, marking out his run up against a West Indies middle order batsman, but my cup final dream was to turn into a nightmare. Martin Roberts, a nippy left winger, nippier than me anyway, had forced his way into the reckoning and Robbo, our coach, looking for more attacking flare in the final, delivered the news I dreaded just an hour before kick-off:
"Marty' starts, sorry Tom!"
This of course was before terms like "rotation" and "managing your resources" we're part of sporting vernacular, this was simply a question of who was the best player, and I lost out. Boo Hoo!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Every Bunny Has Its Day

The normal distribution is something that's scarily applicable to a host of real world scenarios, and our humble sport of cricket is not exempt from it. Take batting averages for example, there are a few great batsmen, many who sit somewhere in the middle, and those that belong firmly at the bottom of the scrap heap. But every now and then lightning does strike twice, rivers are parted, the book of logic is tossed out the window.

These are the days dear reader, when a bunny rises above the rest.

Tino Best - The Bunny No More
The inspiration of this article, the enigmatic Best was aptly described as a 'Ferrari without a steering wheel'. Andrew Flintoff many years ago told him to "mind the windows" during his turn at the crease and poor old Tino took the bait and went looking to smash the ball into the Indian Ocean. Needless to say he missed it completely and that's all she wrote.

However fast forward a few years and Best returned with a vengeance, he just recently completed the highest Test score by a #11 batsman, ever. His 95 came against the supposed best Test team in the world, in conditions that typically favour bowling, and with surprisingly crisp stroke play with all the charming exuberance of a tail ender. A pleasure to watch, and the West Indians might finally be mustering a comeback.

Also a part time relay runner. © Getty

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Who can replace KP?

Kevin Pietersen announced his retirement from limited overs cricket on Thursday and inevitably England fans and observers alike went into meltdown, with a divide between those who felt KP had been mugged off by the ECB for failing to accommodate his wishes to remain in the T20 setup on one side, others claiming he was in breach of his contract sitting on the other. KP always did divide opinion, didn’t he?

KP has been an artist with the bat as much as anything else over the years – an innovator, making strokes such as the Switch Hit and the Flamingo shot his own, not to mention scoring with a strike rate that had opposing bowlers quaking in his boots before a ball was even bowled. KP will be missed, whether you love him or despise him to your very core.

Pietersen, the best T20 batsman in the world, will now miss the World Cup later this year. England selectors and captain Stuart Broad therefore have the unenviable task of having to replace their match winner with only months to go before the tournament begins.

MS Dhoni vs the World

Don’t give up at half time. Concentrate on winning the second half. -Paul “Bear” Bryant
I wonder what is going on in the mind of the usually inscrutable MS Dhoni these days. The last 12 months have been disastrous for the Indian skipper – whitewashed on the England and Australia tours, losing ODI series to both those teams  abroad, failing to qualify for the Asia Cup final, and even domestically, a loss in the final of the recently concluded IPL. As someone pointed out on Twitter recently, the last year has seen Dhoni conceding the number 1 ranking in Tests and failing to retain the CB series, Asia Cup, IPL and the Champions League trophy. In an age where memory spans are getting shorter, it is easy to forget that this was the same man who led India to their first ODI World Cup win in 28 years with a majestic innings in Mumbai, not too long ago.
For a while now, there has been scattered talk of replacing Dhoni as skipper with someone else; but in the absence of a viable alternative, those arguments quickly died down. Suddenly, with the triumph of Gautam Gambhir’s KKR against the Dhoni-led CSK in the IPL-5 final, the momentum to replace Dhoni has gathered steam again. Former skipper Saurav Ganguly has been one of the more prominent voices who has called for Gambhir to be appointed Test skipper, with Gambhir himself proclaiming that he is ready for the responsibility. To make it interesting, Dhoni has publicly stated that his choice for skipper would still be himself. This is hardly the ideal run-up to some important series which are coming up, including the T20 World Cup.