Wednesday, May 29, 2019

World Beyond the Cup - Tete-a-Tete with Brian Mantle, CEO, Cricket Germany

Image result for german cricket teamThis interview is our second one with Brian. The first one was 6 years back.
We wanted to do a follow up interview go gauge the progress made by German Cricket in these years.

DHCF : What is the difference you see in German Cricket since the time of our last conversation back in 2013? How much has changed in terms of both numbers and structure?

BM: German cricket is completely different to 2013. The numbers have gone through the roof and we now have about 6000 people playing competitive hard ball cricket in Germany. We have an established women's structure with more and more teams and the amount of refugees from cricket playing countries, particularly Afghanistan, has seem men's cricket teams sprouting up all over the country. We have established performance pathways and are currently in the middle of the fifth season of the DCB Super Series which is our performance competition. This didn't exist way back in 2013 and it has seen an improvement in high level cricket.

DHCF: It is so refreshing to see Germany playing against Belgium/Italy not in a football match but a cricket match. What do you think has been the impact of T20I status been given to Associate nations? With official international matches on the horizon, what does it translate into in terms of support and growth?

BM: It intensifies everything we do. These games being T20Is adds meaning to all the games. There is also a clear and simple structure to ICC T20 tournaments and every country now knows what they have to do in order to reach the next stage of World Cup qualification and even to get to the biggest stage of all. In T20 cricket at least the glass ceilings have been taken out.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The World of Cricket World Cups - Part 4 - 1992

The 5th edition of the World Cup was hosted by Australia and New Zealand, officially known as ‘Benson & Hedges World Cup’. It was a ‘first’ in many respects:

  • Coloured clothing and day-night matches in floodlights with white balls and black sight-screens.
  • The format of the tournament was ‘round-robin’, which meant that each team would play the rest 8 teams once and the top four teams would proceed to semi-final stage.
  • The World Cup was being held in the Southern Hemisphere for the first time
  • There was also a logo commemorating the World Cup for the first time.

The teams were the same from previous edition, with the addition of South Africa, making it 9 teams in total. South Africa was included as a full member nation for the first time, after ending their ban of 22 years due to ‘apartheid’ – a system of institutionalised racial segmentation in South Africa which oppressed the Black, coloured and Asian South Africans.
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India started off poorly, losing the opening  match against England, game against Sri Lanka getting
washed out and losing to Australia (incidentally again by the margin of 1 run, as in World Cup 1987). Indian team returned to winning ways in the high voltage match against arch-rivals Pakistan. This was the first time these 2 teams were meeting at a World Cup and the match had its moments of skill and emotions on the field. The most noteworthy effort was of a young Sachin Tendulkar, scoring 54 not out and then taking the crucial wicket of Aamer Sohail, who was playing well and looking set to take Pakistan across India’s total of 216. Sachin was adjudged ‘Man of the Match’ for the 5th time in his career. Little did anyone know at the time that he would go on to win the award for a record 62 times in ODIs! The match is also remembered for the Javed Miandad - Kiran More verbal spat, which resulted in Javed hilariously jumping up and down, visibly irritated by the constant enthusiastic appealing by Kiran More. This match started India’s domination and winning streak over Pakistan in the World Cups, which continues till date. It can only be guessed how India managed to upstage Pakistan in these pressure matches in World Cups, especially during 90’s, when the Pakistan team used to dominate the Indian team comprehensively.
India continued its winning habit by defeating Zimbabwe in next game but crashed out of the contention of a semi final berth by losing its remaining matches to West Indies, New Zealand and South Africa. India finally finished at 7th spot, only above Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.
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Pakistan, on the other hand, had exactly opposite journey. After 5 matches, they were almost out of the tournament with just one win and a match washed out against England (which they would have mostly lost being bowled out for a paltry  score of 74). West Indies had already defeated them by 10 wickets in their first match chasing 221. Pakistan had just lost 2 wickets in 50 overs and still just scored 220 and their bowlers didn’t take a single wicket. The situation was completely hopeless. That is when Imran Khan stepped up in his role of leading from the front and motivated his team. He came out for the toss wearing a t-shirt sporting a tiger and gave his now famous ‘cornered tigers’ speech. His motivation bore fruits and Pakistan won their last three matches, including defeating the undefeated New Zealand. Pakistan were helped when Australia defeated West Indies in the last match before knock-out stages, which made Pakistan finish at number four and make a place in semi-final.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The World of Cricket World Cups - Part 3 - 1987

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Description automatically generatedIndia’s win in 1983 created a huge market for the game in the Indian subcontinent, resulting in the showpiece event coming to India and Pakistan, sponsored by Reliance. The teams and format were same, but the number of overs were reduced to 50 per innings from 60 overs, as the daylight in Indian subcontinent doesn’t last as long as it does in England. India was drawn in Group A with Australia, New Zealand and Zimbabwe. India lost its opening match to Australia by an agonising margin of 1 run but won all the remaining 5 matches after that to top the Group. India unearthed a new hero in Navjot Singh Sidhu, who became famous as ‘sixer Sidhu’  for hitting sixes at will. Pakistan were the toppers in Group B. This resulted in the following semi-final line up- India facing England in Mumbai and Pakistan facing Australia in Lahore. The stage was set for a mouth-watering Indo-Pak clash in a World Cup final in Kolkata.

Monday, May 20, 2019

The World of Cricket World Cups - Part 2 - 1983

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Description automatically generatedThe third edition of the World Cup was again sponsored by Prudential, known as ‘Prudential Cup ‘83’. India was drawn in Group B with West Indies, Australia and Zimbabwe, the newest entrant at World Cup. The team was being led by Kapil Dev, who would go on to be declared the ‘Indian player of the century’ by Wisden in 2002. There was a change in the format this year, with each team playing other teams twice in the group. The top 2 teams from each group would then advance to the semi-final. Given the dismal performance of team India in previous two editions, no one really gave them any chance.
India started off unbelievably well this time, defeating West Indies in their first match and handing the two-time world champions their first ever loss at the tournament. They followed it up with a win against Zimbabwe. Just when things seemed to be going on track, India suffered back-to-back defeats against Australia and West Indies. With 2 wins in 4 matches, India could not afford to lose another match as other teams were also in the hunt for the semi final berth. Then came the match against Zimbabwe at Turnbridge Wells on June 18. India were in all sorts of trouble at 17/5. In came Kapil Dev, who not only played a captain’s innings, but one that is still considered as one of the best ODI innings ever. He scored 175 not out in just 138 balls, hitting 16 fours and 6 towering sixes, to take India to 266/8.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The World of Cricket World Cups - Part 1

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Description automatically generated“It’s that time of the year again, when all of India will be glued to the TV sets for more than a month.” No, this is not a delayed post, I am not referring to IPL. Maybe I should correct myself – “So it’s that time of ‘once in 4 years’ again, when all of India and millions around the world will be glued to the TV sets for more than a month.” Yes, you guessed it right! It’s Cricket World Cup 2019!!! With less than 2 weeks remaining till the start of the tournament, the excitement should be reaching high levels. But the usual frenzy, the mania doesn’t seem to be the same as seen in earlier editions. Maybe the people are still recovering from the nail-biter of an IPL final few days ago.
However, it provides me an opportunity to express my love for the game and rewind and relive the rich history of the World Cup Cricket. Who would have guessed that the very first One Day International match played on 5th January 1971 to compensate for the three days of a test match being washed away, will become one of the most popular formats of the game? Even with the advent of 20-20 cricket in the last decade or so, the charm and the significance of the 50 over World Cup is paramount.

In the first part of this journey of reliving the World Cups, I will share some of the important and historical facts and events, some interesting anecdotes and trivia for the uninitiated from the World Cups of 1975 and 1979.

World Cup 1975
Officially known as ‘Prudential Cup ‘75’, this was the first of the showcase events of cricket. It had only 8 teams – the test playing nations England, Australia, India, Pakistan, West Indies and New Zealand as well as 2 associate nations in Sri Lanka and East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania & Zambia). India was drawn in Group A with England, New Zealand and East Africa. The interesting fact was – each innings was 60 overs, which continued till 1987, when the 50 over format was introduced.

Friday, May 17, 2019

World Beyond the Cup - Tete-a-Tete with Cricket Uganda

Image result for cricket ugandaThe Uganda national cricket team is nicknamed the Cricket Cranes - What does it stand for?

CU - Our national bird is the crested cranes so we borrow from that to have the Cricket Cranes!

Uganda has been shuttling between Division 2 and Division 3 for a while. How does it plan to conquer it?

CU - We are improving our cricket from amateur to semi pro and we know a more professional set up will help us improve. 

The Cricket Cranes are coached by arguably the greatest Kenyan cricketer, Steve Tikolo. 

Not many people know but Uganda has participated in World Cup under the East African team in the earliest edition. With Kenya no more a regional dominant team, is there a possibility of such a coalition, similar to West Indies?

CU - We came out of the East and Central African alliance over 20 years ago, we got associate membership in 1998 and since then each member has developed on their own. Maybe the thought crosses peoples' minds some times but for now we each compete on our own. 

What is the domestic cricket structure like in Uganda?

CU- Our structure is completely amateur, we have 3 divisions separated in 8/8/6 a total of 24 clubs for men and 2 divisions for women with 12 clubs. These clubs compete in a league with the men playing on Sunday and women on Saturday.

The league can be followed on