Monday, December 23, 2013

Graeme Swann’s career at a glance

Swann bowling against Sri Lanka at Lord's in t...Nothing lasts forever, no matter how great it is. Graeme Swann’s retirement came as a shock to many, but ever since his recovery from his elbow operation, he hasn't performed at the match winning standard we were once all so familiar with. There has been contrasting reactions to the timing his retirement. Should he have stayed to try to help an England bid to hault further capitulation? Don’t forget that there was no guarantee that he would maintain his place in the side. I’m in agreement with Geoffrey Boycott, labeling Swann’s retirement as ‘honest’ and ‘brave’. I think it’s easy for the armchair viewer to speculate why a player retires. I've heard many calling the news as cowardly, with the view that Swann has lost his bottle against the aggressive Aussie team and media. I think Swann’s retirement is a result of physical reasons, as he mentioned in his press conference, but also a result of complete lack of confidence in the competitive and intense environment of the Ashes, where players are exposed at their most.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Australia's Ashes Improvement must be Applauded

Australia's hugely impressive rout of England in the Ashes series so far has not come by chance and the Baggy Greens deserve huge credit for picking themselves up following their defeat earlier this year and responding in the best possible manner.
Make no mistake, Darren Lehmann's side have battered England in the three Tests so far and, in contrast to the Three Lions' own win on home soil, the 'contests' in Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth are actually barely worthy of that description.
One team has been on top for the whole series and, save for the very first day at The Gabba, Australia have been totally, utterly dominant.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Big Ben Stokes, now is his time

ben stokes, paul collingwood, test, cricket, ashes,Young, talented and full of potential, Ben Stokes is sure to play a prominent part in the future of English cricket. Making his debut in test cricket, he has a real chance to prove himself, maintain his place in the team and establish himself as a permanent feature in this England side in all forms of the game. Despite only bowling 8 overs today, it was enough to get a quick glimpse of him to show that, above all, he has the temperament for international cricket. His first ball was smack on a length outside off stump allowing Watson to let it sail through to Prior. His speeds were consistent and by maintaining tight lines, he gave the Aussie batsmen few scoring opportunities.

Monday, December 2, 2013

England’s Ashes Pacemen Struggling for Form

England’s chances of winning the second Ashes Test in Adelaide this coming week look increasingly slim after their fast bowlers toiled to a forgettable draw against a Cricket Australia XI in Alice Springs. Following a quite humiliating 381-run defeat in the first Test in Brisbane, there was hope among cricket betting fans that England would regain some sort of credibility in their between-Tests fixture.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Mitch: The Fear Factor for the Poms

After winning the first commonwealth bank ashes test at Gabba, player of the match Mitchell Johnson said that the firing of bouncers will continue during the whole ashes series. Mitch warned that there will be no respite from the bombardment of the bouncers inflicted on England at Gabba.

Mitchell Johnson, who missed the Ashes selection earlier in this year, has made a sensational comeback into the Test side. His all-round performance during Gabba test played a key role in the 381 run victory at Gabba, which came after 9 test matches for Australia. The pacer kept the pressure on all the time on the Barmy Army with his speedy bouncers and short balls during both the innings. He picked up 9 wickets in the test (4-46 in the first inning, 5-42 in second inning) which caused England to collapse tamely. Almost all English batsmen found it difficult to handle Mitchell’s pace and bounce. He also contributed with bat 74 runs in the 1st innings and 39* in the second innings and his all-round contribution gave Australia a much needed win. Aussies also continued their record of being unbeaten at Gabba since last 25 years.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Veteran Khan can still do it

Zaheer Khan appears close to full fitness again and he should be included in India's Test squad for the upcoming tour of South Africa.

India's selectors have much to ponder and plenty of options as they assess who to take to South Africa as the two top-ranked Test nations get set to go head-to-head next month.
While all the attention has been fixed on Sachin Tendulkar's retirement, India must move on and eventually begin to focus on the tough task that is taking on South Africa on their own patch.
In addition, including pace bowler Khan will give them a better chance of coming away from the two-Test series with a victory as they look to overcome the cricket betting odds, as the home side are likely to be favourites to prevail.
There are doubts over whether the 35-year-old can still deliver on the biggest stages but, according to reports, he has been working very hard on his fitness in France and looks in good shape ahead of a possible inclusion in the squad.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

England should be confident heading into the Ashes

As months have turned into weeks, and the weeks have turned into hours the tension, nerves and excitement have only become more intense in the lead up to the ashes. Despite Australia showing some signs that they have the ability to challenge England in the summer, overall the series win was relatively comfortable for the home side, winning 3-0 to ensure they retained the ashes yet again. As an England fan, any England victory, particularly in an ashes series, is something to savour, but I couldn’t help get the feeling after the five matches we hadn’t seen the best of what England had to offer. Moments of brilliance were book ended with relatively average cricket, from both teams. Players out of form, combined with slow pitches, resulted in ordinary test cricket. The five tests didn’t ignite the passion of the previous ashes series. The rivalry was still present but because the English were clear favourites, Australia just couldn’t keep up. The simple answer to why England didn’t play there best cricket is because they didn’t have to. This time against Australia however, they will need to perform.
Alistair Cook
(Photo credit: nic_r)
England’s batting looks promising. Cook and Trott piled on the runs in the last ashes series down under and there’s no reason why they can’t repeat their staggering performances again. The quicker, bouncier tracks should complement their batting styles and I think this is also true for the whole England batting line up. On the back of his recent performance, it’s likely that Michael Carberry will open the batting alongside Cook. Although relatively inexperienced at international level, he’s been around the domestic circuit enough times to form a wise head on his massive

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Does England have players to call upon if injury strikes?

Injury concerns involving England skipper Alastair Cook and seamer Stuart Broad, although unlikely to keep them both out of the series, have raised the question of the quality of the back up players in the England side. With the series being the second half of two consecutive Ashes series, it is likely that injuries and rotation will play a considerable role which could have an impact on the end result. It is therefore more important than ever to have strength and depth in the squad.

England’s bowling unit is strong, the stand out performers of Broad and Anderson being well supported by Finn, Rankin and Tremlett. All tall, all fast and I have no issues with any of them making the starting eleven. Tremlett has proven himself before, having a successful tour of Australia in the 2011 series. It’s always a worry when a fast bowler has a career threatening injury, but Tremlett looks to have come back fitter and stronger, ready to play. Steven Finn, still young and learning his game, is a threatening fast bowler, even though he

Friday, October 18, 2013

ODI Series Finely Poised after India's Stunning Chase

India's brilliant run-chase in the second one-day international against Australia has lit the blue touch paper for the seven-match series that is now level at 1-1.  And, if the first two games are anything to go by, it is set to be a very entertaining few weeks between the two sides. Australia had won the first ODI in Pune by 72 runs after smashing 304 and they looked odds-on to make it 2-0 overall when they set India the daunting target of 360 to win the second clash in Jaipur.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The most expensive over ever !

Alauddin Babu of Bangladesh is now the unfortunate owner of the record for the most runs conceded in a single over in List A cricket. Playing for Abahani Limited against Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Limited in the Dhaka Premier League, he conceded 39 runs in a single over, thus shattering Daan Van Bunge's record of 36 runs (which still is the record for ODIs).

Sequence of events, as follows
Ball 1 - No Ball, Boundary [Total - 5 runs, 0 Balls]
Ball 2 - Wide [Total - 6 runs, 0 Balls]
Ball 3 - Six [Total - 12 runs, 1 Ball]
Ball 4 - Boundary [Total - 16 runs, 2 Balls]
Ball 5 - Six [Total - 22 runs, 3 Balls]
Ball 6 - Boundary [Total - 26 runs, 4 Balls]
Ball 7 - Six [Total - 32 runs, 5 Balls]
Ball 8 - Wide [Total - 33 runs, 5 Balls]
Ball 9 - Six [Total - 39 runs, Over Complete]
And the batsman who was at the receiving end of these pleasantries - Elton Chigumbura, the former Zimbabwean captain.

Enough information for any trivia contest.

Nishant Kumar for DieHard Cricket Fans
Follow Nishant on Twitter @NishantSKumar

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Australia in India Betting Tips

Australia in India too Close to Call

Fresh off the back of 2-1 ODI series victory against England the Australia one-day side are gearing up for a seven-game tour of India to kick start their summer.

Captain Michael Clarke has been named subject to fitness by coach Darren Lehmann, while Brad Haddin is back in the side and Mitchell Johnson get the nod after fruitful performances against the English this September. Clarke is suffering from chronic back pain, however, and with the next Ashes series just a few months away is expected to miss most of the tour.

Having won nine of their last 12 completed games this Aussie team don’t exactly require Clarke, although he could be useful against a rampant India ODI outfit.

Both teams are on form; separating India and Australia in the cricket betting odds will be difficult for many punters. A developing Virat Kohli-led team has just breezed past Zimbabwe and the team have lost just five ODIs all year.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mitch Is Back With a Bang !!!

A much needed series win for the Aussies on Monday brought respite to both the team and their fans. After winning the Natwest one day series 2-1, the Australian team jumped to 2nd position in the ICC ODI Rankings. This ODI series was the “battle for Pride” for Australian Skipper Michael Clarke and his team, after the painful Ashes defeat. Mitchell Johnson, 31 years left handed pacer has made remarkable impact with his bowling in this series.

Johnson, who missed ashes selection earlier in this year, played a key role in Australia’s victory in this series. He took 2 wickets in his 10 Overs for 21 runs in the final ODI game, which included his 200th ODI wicket. With his remarkable efforts, Mitchell became 5th Australian bowler to reach 200 ODI wickets after Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Craig McDermott and Brett Lee.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Finch Flusters England

It’s not often that at the half way point of a limited overs game, you know who the winning team will be. Australia scored an intimidating 248 and it was all down to Aaron Finch. We expect batsmen to clear the boundary, but what Finch did was simply unbelievable. The highest ever T20 score – 156 from just 63 balls. He beat the previous best which was 123, held by Brendon McCullum which looks insignificant in comparison. More records tumbled as he hit the most sixes in an innings. He was unlucky not to achieve the fastest T20 hundred, slowing down through the nineties, unaware of the record.

Aaron Finch didn’t feature in the test side, he’s a T20 specialist. He demonstrates the impact the game of T20 has had on batsmen. There weren’t any elegant cover drives that are threaded through the infield but a different way of batting. A wide stance, a huge bat, massive shoulders and when the bat makes contact with the ball the only result is six. He also showed that T20 isn’t about slogging. He could play spin bowling, fast bowling and medium pace bowling with a range of shots. It was the complete innings.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Ashes Story - From A Punch to Piss

The oldest cricketing rivalry for probably the smallest sporting trophy. England & Australia lined up to contest the first of the two Ashes contests this season. A short summary of what an Indian fan saw in passing of the Ashes. 
It all began with a punch. As is rightly said - "Nothing good happens after two in the night". David Warner threw a punch at Joe Root in a bar during the Champions Trophy . No one got hurt. But the impact was felt later. Warner was dispatched to SA - a very appropriate punishment, steeped in tradition and reminiscent of the colonial times. The coach got fired. New fellows were added to the touring party as replacements. In short, an Australian camp in total disarray just days before the start of the series. On the other hand England became the runners-up Champions of the Champions Trophy.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The England Method

England’s test team have an uncanny ability to not lose. Currently they have gone 12 matches without a loss and against this Australian team they look like they are set to continue the trend. You would think that to go unbeaten in so many matches,  they would have played a high standard of cricket, but in my opinion they have been below their best since losing the number one ranked spot in test cricket. So, how have England maintained their unbeaten record?

To win a test match, a team must take 20 opposition wickets. England makes this incredibly difficult. Their top order is resilient and will happily bat all day. Cook and Trott are two of the best in the world at just occupying the crease. Trott’s consistency is remarkable and Cook rarely gives his wicket away after getting a start. Despite this they have struggled in the current ashes series with Trott being horribly out of form and the pressure of captaincy is finally having an impact on Cook’s batting performances. I’m sure this is a rare blip and they’ll be back to their best soon.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Should Pro's Get Reprimanded For Abuse Like Amateurs Do?

After watching Surrey Vs Somerset in the Friends Life T20 competition last night it made me think that professional players get away with murder when it comes to abusing umpires and fellow players or showing descent  in comparison to their amateur counterparts.

I am not a prude or self-righteous in any way and actually enjoy a bit of sledging while I am batting, and as long as it’s funny, when i’m fielding too.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Ashes 3rd Test Review

After a heavy defeat at Lords and finding themselves 2 – 0 down in the series, Australia needed to bounce back in the 3rd test at Old Trafford and bounce back they did. Winning the toss and electing to bat first, their batsmen dug deep and fully applied themselves. Chris Rogers proved himself for the first time in the series, making a well constructed 84, falling agonizingly short of what would have been his maiden test century. Steve Smith also applied himself well and like Rogers, his dismissal came before he reached his hundred. Although these two innings were good they were dwarfed by a certain Michael Clarke. Struggling early on, Clarke got off to a slow start but only grew in confidence. He gave a lesson on how to play Graeme Swann during a fascinating battle between the two. Down the pitch and over mid off, then on the back foot cutting through backward point. True class. The Australian captain made 187 before chopping the ball onto his stumps from a short ball by Stuart Broad to give him his 200th wicket. Then came Haddin and Starc. Their enterprising partnership put runs on the board quickly to take the score up to 527.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Letter from the DRS: Its Not My Fault

Dear readers, I can understand your hatred.

After a century-long tradition of on field umpires dictating play, you the cricket audience have been up in arms about my introduction to the game.  I am the Decision Review System, and I am here to pledge my case.

I have been tasked to improve on the human eye, I understand you make mistakes so I am available to you to make sure horrid umpiring decisions do not dictate our great game.  But instead I have been the subject of condemnation and torrents of abuse.

The simple fact is, I am merely misunderstood. My situation is analogous to building a house whose floor fell through and then blaming the hammer.

So who's fault is it really?

For your "overwhelming" support. Thanks.

Your Idiotic Rules
Who came up with the bright idea of limited referrals? If you are going to impose a limit, at least be realistic and give three or more.  I hear you argue that you don't want the players to waste them on 50/50 calls, but now we've landed the ludicrous situation where everyone including me knows its out except the poor sod on field who muffed it. But is it his fault? Alas no, its mine somehow.

Your Idiotic Captains
A smart captain, Mr Cook, uses me sparingly because of the aforementioned silly referral limits. He removes the howlers and the howlers only, anything that's iffy he goes with the on-field call. And voila, I hand him reviews for the rainy days.

A silly captain, Mr Clarke, uses me any which way he pleases and burns all his team reviews. When the real howler comes along I am no help.  And who's fault is that? Alas, mine somehow.

Shane Watson
The bane of my existence! Stop this blonde idiot from abusing me!

"Blasphemous... review it" © Getty
That goes for you too Mr. Sehwag, I haven't forgotten the World Cup 2011.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Tete-a-Tete with the Stani Army

First of all we would like to thank the members of Stani Army for taking time out of their schedule and talking to us.

Stani Army with Chacha cricket out in Sri Lanka at the 2012 T20 World Cup
It is impossible to miss them if you watch any Pakistan match. They turn the match atmosphere into that of a carnival and ensure that there are no dull moments in the matches for the fans present at the ground and the ones viewing on TV. 

DieHard Cricket Fans spoke to them about their inception, activities, planning and much more.  

Saturday, July 13, 2013

MS Dhoni: The Golden Calf

In two weeks, this is my second article on him. And I just can’t help writing. If someone keeps you stuck like a barnacle to your television set even after the bewitching hours and makes you transfer his videos to the cell, recurrently, till you have reached a phase where you can just pull your hair, I don’t think you can help much.

After Sachin’s retirement, One Day cricket had nearly kicked the bucket for many of us. It didn’t tantalize the cricket fan in us anymore. It was humdrum. 15 were needed of the last six. We went to sleep.

And then India won with one wicket left!

“I think I am blessed with a good cricketing sense.” The skipper could not have been more on-the-nose in his self assessment.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Ashes Begin: With A Bang

Its probably the littlest trophy in the whole sporting world. Certainly one of the oldest. More have been written about the Ashes than any other sporting contest. And why not? After all it carries a little poem too.

When Ivo goes back with the urn, the urn;
Studds, Steel, Read and Tylecote return, return;
The welkin will ring loud,
The great crowd will feel proud,
Seeing Barlow and Bates with the urn, the urn;
And the rest coming home with the urn.

Its been a long buildup to the double headed Ashes that are going to be played over the next 8 months. 10 Tests between the oldest rivals. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Yumm Yuss Dee Effect!!

They were right when they said, “you never know when it happens.” And what I’ve lately cryptanalyzed is that this saying holds true in case of admiration too.

People ask me “Why do you love Dhoni?” “Why are you always going so gaga about him?”
I have my reasons. Some absolutely logical, and some other, equally illogical, dillogical!

But if you ask me, “When did you begin liking Dhoni?”
I will be tongue tied, for I don’t have an answer.

Maybe when he along with his long locks obliterated the Sri Lankan attack, that awestrucking 183*. Maybe when he gave the ball to Uthappa in the India-Pak ball out. Or maybe when he took of his jersey after winning the WC of the shortest format.

Whatever the reason maybe, it ensured that I was enslaved. And enslaved for keeps.

Yes I follow Mahendra Singh Dhoni. I follow him not to strike a note about his stats and records or to call him “lucky.”  I do not follow him to debate about he being the best Indian Captain, for I know that he incontrovertibly is. But I follow him, ‘cause for me he’s a synagaogue of idealness. A perfect cricketer, and more than that, a perfect human being.

Calm, ice-cool, composed. Planning scrupulously, wangling insidiously and striddling the opposition like an edacious beast of prey. Bogusing a brine of phlegm amidst tempestuous storms. An wellspring of sagacity, amidst the gore. The calming dominion in Indian Cricket.

That’s what he is to me.

I wonder what my cardiograph looks like when he’s taking strike. Those who get a chance to watch him with me being in the same room, can figure out three different forms of me in the post-hitting moments 1) a girl admiring and being awed by the alacritous runner between the wickets; 2) a wacko caterwauling “Oh, boy!” at the top of her lungs with both hands up in the air, if the ball crosses the ropes; 3) and, a leaviathan springing, throwing expletives at the air if the ball takes one beautiful flight and kisses the sky.

You might be charmed to see a MJ moonwalk, or a Madhuri Dixit dance straight from  the 90s. I will be beguiled to see a MS Dhoni sideways dive. Or for that matter, even a flash of his pearly whites.
Having talked of MSD’s antics, I am so cajoled and can’t stonewall the fire in belly to talk about Champions Trophy as well.

Putting the dumb in a dumbfounding decision, when it was dreaded that in the battle of common sense vs. ICC, common sense might just retire hurt, fortunately, cricket overshadowed the stupidity.

Yes, Shikhar Dhawan played well, Virat Kohli batted elegantly, Jadeja came a long way, from internet jokes to the golden ball, and Ashwin bowled as if he never really left home; but among all these spine-tingling performances, MS Dhoni’s was heart-stirring like none other’s. How tiring it should be to scrunch balls, keep wickets and simultaneously, make strategies for eleven people? But Mahendra Singh Dhoni, like a warrior, never halts in the battle.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Champions Trophy: A Clinical Victory for the Mustache !

 25 June 2013, is the right day to write about 23 June 2013 because it was 30 years ago on this day that Cricket became a religion for me and we subsequently found a God. We have discussed million times about 25 June 1983 and 2 April 2011 and about the T-20 World cup win. Today, it is about what was it about the Champions Trophy win !

It was a clinical performance by Team India and that was established by the uniform they wore during the victory celebrations.
Performance with Clinical Efficiency !

Here is a list of people and attributes that contributed towards Indian win in the Champions Trophy.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

It Ain’t Over…

William and Kate at Wimbledon
“One does not move during overs…”
I know what you’re thinking. It must have taken something deeply significant for my column to spring back into life after nearly a year with seemingly nothing to say for myself, right? Well, no – not quite. For six of you who read this, it might seem like a pretty small issue. For the remaining three of you, it may strike a chord – a C# Minor in fact – and we may be in agreement. Who knows! I certainly don’t… that’s quite evident!

BCCI's "Operation Clean-Up"

After a scandal-hit IPL, which brought terms like "spot-fixing", "conflict of interest", "step aside", "betting" et al to the limelight, BCCI has finally woken up from its slumber. The Board which currently is more involved in internal politics and self-preservation than the functioning of the game has come up with a 12-point "Operation Clean-up" to clear IPL's image. And maybe hope to get the game's credibility also back up.

Following are the 12 points announced by the interim management (Source: Times of India). My thoughts on each are appended

1. Removal of sleaze; no cheerleaders, no after-match parties for players and support staff.Seriously, this is the first point they come up with. As a cricket fan, I do not really care if they remove cheerleaders and ban after-match parties, but shows the messed up priorities. Good step though.