Just incase you didn’t think the Australian pool of talent has been stretched to its limit, or that there were not enough breaks in the International schedule, Australia are now conducting 2 tours at the same time.
Whilst Australia’s T20 outfit prepare to take on the world champion West Indies in a solitary T20, Australia’s test touring party are playing in India as ‘The Australians’ against an Indian Board Presidents XI.
It isn’t exactly as if there is an Ashes test going on at the same time as a world cup; that it is given, but the fact is that players are in India preparing for an Indian tour, implies that there is a severely weakened T20 outfit performing in Australia. It isn’t right that a side shouldn’t be able to play their best side because half of them would be in another country on another tour.
As a staunch supporter of test cricket, there is little value in a solitary T20 at the tail end of the longest ever Australian test summer, especially when relative to a tour of India. Nevertheless, it is hard to take in, that this T20 would be scheduled at all, because it could only be done so if one or the other was compromised.
Either, the T20 side is going to be weaker because players are in India, or preparation for the tour of India in tour games will not be as thorough as some players will still be in Australia playing.
This implies that selection was done so with this dilemna in mind. We have of course heard not a peep from selectors.
Although it is just a solitary T20 game, the principle is the issue.
A home and away tour should not conflict, even by just 1 game either way.
The only results that can possibly come of this is either no breaks in the International schedule so greater fatigue and injury, or as stated a compromising in the quality of the sides on either end of home or away tours.
Lets hope this genuinely is a one off scenario and does not happen again for any side.
Once International cricket starts being conflicted by other forms of International cricket, it will require players to start choosing priorities.
This is a review of a glorious but hectic 2012 cricketing year. Forgive me if some things are left un turned or untouched.
This year proved to be a year in which the tables turned on England. England lost 7 matches, The South Africans assumed the number one ranking, and the Australians were constantly chasing both South Africa and England’s heals with a miserly 1 test loss the entire year. India struggled with 5 losses out of 9 and England with just 5 test wins out of 15. New Zealand (2 wins), Sri Lanka (3 wins) and the West Indies (4 wins) also struggled each playing 10 tests.
The only side not to have a lost a test all year, was South Africa and the only sides not to have won a test were Bangladesh (and Zimbabwe).
Throughout 2012 were 89 test centuries, 41 One day centuries and 4 T20 centuries. In tests, six outstanding batsmen can be picked out. For England; Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen, who struck 7 centuries between them. For South Africa, Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis with 8 tons combined and lastly Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey who almost single handedly prevented Australia from losing more than a single game with 9 tons between them (in 11 tests.)
A number of batsmen also deserve mentions, notably Marlon Samuels, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ross Taylor, Che Pujara, Azhar Ali and Graeme Smith who each struck three centuries.
This year of course was infamous for Kevin Pietersen’s saga with the ECB, including various ridiculous comments towards colleagues via text and word of mouth and of course his retirements. Pietersen nevertheless had an outstanding 2012 with three of the most memorable hundreds against Sri Lanka, South Africa and India, all of which turned entire games’ on their heads. Out of these three hundreds, his 183 in India was a special hundred, every other batsmen had struggled, but Pietersen came out and played in a fashion that he seemingly had no right to play on in.
On the bowling 2012 has bee a mixed bag. There has been spin success’ for Saeed Ajmal with 39 wickets in 6 tests, and Rangana Herath who took 60 wickets in 10 tests to top the wickets tally. Graeme Swann also was a significant wicket taker with 59 wickets in 14 games, although being considerably less effective than in his earlier career, he did contribute to a series victory against India, the first such win for 28 years.
Once more England, S. Africa and Australia dominated i the seam department with England’s James Anderson taking 48 wickets, South Africa’s Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander combined to take 82 wickets and it was a breakthrough year for Australia’s attack, successfully fusing experience and youth.
Notable mentions must also go to Kemar Roach who has developed into a genuinely world class and rapid bowler and Monty Panesar who took 33 wickets in 6 tests, including a 10 wicket match haul in India.
The One day form of the game saw England becoming a world class outfit thrashing Australia, equaling South Africa and becoming number one. They lost just 2 matches all year, with the highlight being the 5-0victory over Australia which handed them the top status.
The second and newest form of limited overs cricket, Twenty 20, was dominated by a world cup in Sri Lanka. New champions were crowned, the West Indies. Darren Sammy led his side absolutely brilliantly and they showed they held a number of genuinely world class consistent performers and entertainers. Marlon Samuels who blasted a 56-ball 78 in the final and Chris Gayle who led from the top of the order with disdain and aggression. Shane Watson of Australia also must receive accolades for outstanding all round displays in all disciplines.
There were a number of players’ and associates of the game who left us in 2012. Beginning with the greats, we bid farewell and thank both Rahul Dravid and Ricky Ponting. Both had over 13000 test runs and averaged over 50 consistently. They anchored their team at number 3 and spent long periods as captain. Ponting and Dravid were once in a generation batsmen and payers. They have left an indelible legacy of batsmen-ship captaincy, slip fielding, style and professionalism. They are irreplaceable and will be missed by all.
VVS Laxman and Michael Hussey also retired in 2012. Michael Hussey scored 19 test hundreds and over 6000 runs in 78 games (with one more game to go) and 38 year old VVS Laxman accumulated 8781 runs with 17 hundreds. Both were world class lower order test batsmen, experienced with expertise in guiding the lower order yet capable of going up the order too. True professionals and dedicated batsmen for their countries, they rose to big occasions and were utterly team-centric.
One of England’s most successful opening batsmen and captain’s, Andrew Strauss left cricket also. With 21 test centuries to his name and two Ashes victories as captain he will be fondly remembered.
Mark Boucher was tragically hit in the eye by a bail, leading to immediate retirement. It was a horrible way to have gone and Boucher finished with an agonizing 998 international dismissals as a wicket keeper, including 555 in 147 Tests. It is the record for dismissals and a major reason for South African success.
Elite Umpire Simon Taufel, stood in his last game during the T20 world cup final, which ended an 10 career spanning 74 Test matches, 174 One Day Internationals and 34 T20Is.
Two of the greatest one day players of modern times retired; Brett Lee and Sachin Tendulkar. Tendulkar mixed an aggressive batting style, perfect timing and a very heavy bat to revolutionise One day cricket. Tendulkar retired with a colossal 18426 runs and 49 centuries which took him over the 100 international centuries mark. Although Brett Lee was not the bowling Sachin, he contributed to a number of key World cup victories, and was renowned for his ferocious pace duels with Shoaib Akhtar. Lee finished with 380 wickets at a highly respectable average of 23.36. His pace and enthusiasm made him an exciting watch. Both will be sorely missed in colored clothing.
Two cricketers also experienced an untimely death in 2012, Surrey batsman Tom Maynard (23 years Old) life and career ended horribly early after being struck by a train. The death of 66 year old Tony Greig was the second major shock to the cricketing world this year. The South African that captained England, and was loved by Australians for his commentary, was diagnosed with lung cancer early in 2012, and died of a heart attack on December the 29th. The cricket world united in sorrow and memorial for these two figures.
Test batsmen of the year: Michael Clarke has been simply prolific, scoring 1595 runs in 11 tests including a triple century, three double centuries and a regular century, not to mention three fifties. In 18 innings he has averaged 106.33 and he has broken the record for the most runs in a calendar year by an Australian. An historic year.
Test Bowler of the year: 60 wickets in 10 tests with 7 five wicket halls gives Rangana Herath this title. A high class bowler in a relatively pedestrian side, he has kept the Sri Lankans from embarrassing themselves although often hugely under supported.
One day batsmen of the year: is undoubtedly Virat Kohli who hit 5 one day hundreds, with an average of 73.28 in addition to having the most fours in T20is with 54. Kohli was the second highest run getter in 2012 in T20 with 471 runs, one run behind Martin Guptil who is in the lead (13 innings each).
The One day Bowler of the year: is by Saeed Ajmal with 25 T20 wickets at an average of 15 and economy of just 6 an over, which is highly admirable in the T20 format. Lasith Malinga has not come off in T20 disappointingly only taking 10 wickets, and although in 50 over cricket he is the leading wicket taker with 47 wickets, they have been over 32 games, indicating he hasn’t actually been that prolific. Ajmal takes the 50 over title as well, with 31
Test team of the year: Jointly held by Australia and South Africa – Australia lost just a single test this year and South Africa
ODI team of the year: England losing just 2 games this year and obtaining the number one ranking. Led expertly by Alastair Cook in One day cricket, England have had purpose and discipline.
T20 team of the year: The West Indies – Chris Gayle took the T20 world by storm to bash down competition in the T20 world cup, and deliver a unifying West Indian world cup victory.
The T20 World cup should be the spectacle of the year from start to finish, bringing in the crowds, brimming with of noise and Sixes. Unfortunately the cricket’s intensity this year has been notably dreary in the first six games. It has been somewhat of a predictable, and monotonous formality, with a major side playing against a minnow in all six initial games. The empty seats are a testament to the jaded and dry brand of little vs large, one sided cricket on show.
With three teams per group (two major sides and one minnow side), it is set up so the two major sides progress. It is likely this will occur as they are better than the lesser minnow side. If it is likely this is going to be the case regardless of the order the games are played, surely it would be most entertaining to play the match involving the two big sides as the first fixture of the group to wet the appetite? If this was the case, the minnow side would be playing after the big sides have met. One big side would have defeated the other, so the minnow would be playing against a big side which has already lost a game. It would guarantee the game had something riding on it instead of just being a sweeping of the minnow out the way.
Matches between India versus England, and South Africa versus Sri Lanka of group C, will have no bearing on who is going through as both have beaten the third side in the group. They will only determine in who finishes top and second.
A few significant games have to be played which could affect the outcome of who advances to the super eight. With the West Indies and Pakistan yet to kick off their campaigns in group B and D. Should Australia beat the West Indies then the West Indies would have to beat Ireland to go through. As New Zealand beat Bangladesh, a second win would seal an advance to the super eight. Pakistan could slip up on Bangladesh however.
The schedule is such that effectively the real competition starts with the super eight. The tournament is only in this primitive stage, yet is predictable and not catching the public’s imagination.
This was written on the evening of the third day of the second test in Trent Bridge. The West Indies managed to limit England to a misely 428 which was just 58 ahead. By the end of Play the Windies were 61-6 i.e. just 3 ahead but 6 down. A few things can clearly be taken from this and hopefully learnt..
Firstly England should have got about 500 or 600 and if it weren’t for the fifty partnership at the bottom between Bresnan and Broad they wouldn’t have even had a lead. Secondly England have a great new ball partnership with strong and first change bowlers that always seem to perform. No doubt the WI have some good bowlers that can keep the runs down and take wickets against the best team in the world but they are fundamentally a hopeless batting unit. Especially when the 37 year old Shiv fails. They need some batsmen (Sarwan, Gayle, Bravo, Pollard etc..)
Firstly then – We all watched Sammy and Samuels, Strauss and Pitersen belt the ball around a flat wicket and a quick outfield. The question we ask is why have in both tests the top order of the W.Indies order not fired and why didn’t the England middle order fire. It was clearly a batting wicket especially at Trent Bridge. Clearly a placid pitch and incredible sunny warm batting conditions. The likes of Pietersen and Cook could have and should have gone on having got a start. Bell should have not given his wicket away so easily and similarly with Bairstow; Not too mention Prior. There is just a lack of ruthlessness with the bat, almost as if they know the bowlers will do the job. I get the feeling that England should have had a lot more runs on the board, perhaps 550 or 600. We all know how potent and effective England’s seamers are (61-6 proves that..). 600 on the board and skittle them out for peanuts .. surely that is what England tried to do, but the Batsmen didn’t really perform.
It is somewhat hidden away that England’s Batsmen didn’t perform because of the teams overall strong position. The West Indies were effectively six wickets down with a lead of just 3 runs. Arguably if England had got the score they should look for i.e. 550 then the Windies not even ahead because England should still have been batting long into the day and dominating. The new ball bowling partnership of Anderson and Broad is not the quickest or the most experienced but it’s perfectly clear that they are genuinely world class. Anderson in particular i can aliken to Flintoff in the sense he leads an attack, dosn’t have an amazing average or get 5 wicket halls every game but he is Ever reliable and incredibly skilled in his art . The only bowling partnership to challenge Broad and Anderson are of course Steyn and Morkel and they are only possibly better due to the higher pace at which they bowl. England of course have not only got Anderson and Broad but they have Bresnan coming in at the end and being England’s real ‘Goldenarm’. England arguably have a string of 5 or 6 world class seam bowlers (Tremlett, Onions, Finn etc) in addition to Swann who is the best ranked spinner in the world. The Batsmen have world class bowlers to fall back on, but if England want real ruthlessness then the batsmen get the runs. Bigger and quicker and the bowlers have more rest then do their job.
Rampaull and Roach are potentially a great outfit of opening bowlers in addition to the likes of Edwards and Taylor who could make a lethal four pronged pace attack. The obvious glaring problem with this otherwise decent international attack is the depth. Where is their first change ? Sammy ?? Really ??? That is like bringing Collingwood or Andrew Symonds on as a first change. It’s just not worthy of an international first change. If Sammy plays he should be at 6 or 7 not 8 especially as he has shown he can score a hundred under pressure. He is a decent batsmen and should take some responsibility. The Windies need Dwayne Bravo to bolster both the bat and ball department and another quality seamers such as .. .. maybe Jerome Taylor, Tino Best, Gavin Tonge.. or spinners like Bishoo or Benn. These bowlers are absolutely quality but the 1st change spot is totally wasted by a part time medium pacer. (Hope the WI Board read this!). With an attack that is led by two good bowlers but not much else after; there is little problems for quality batsmen like Strauss, Cook, Trott, Pietersen.. If they can just survive the opening spell they can cash in which is why i think England should have got a hell of a lot more.
Lastly i think it is perfectly clear that the West Indies are team reliant on a few players. Roach and Rampaull with the Ball to take wickets which they do, and arguably Sammy to keep it tight; which he really dosn’t. It goes without saying that Shiv and Samuels with the bat take most of the flack. It must be seen that Samuels only has 2 or 3 hundreds and Shiv is now 37 and nearly 38. What is going on !? Where are their players that can actually win them games. It’s often said that Batsmen get the runs and the bowlers win the game; well the bowlers did okay limiting England to less than a hundred lead.. but it is the W.Indies top four that yet again failed. Shiv of course had to go up the order on this occasion but Edwards still failed.Barath, Powell and Edwards, look completely out of their depth. Bravo looks good but just hasn’t performed yet. It’s all resting on Shiv and Samuels and it just isn’t going to happen every time. When is someone going to stand up and do the job they are paid to do i.e. hit the bloody ball without it going to a fielder or back on to the stumps. Sort it out !!!!!!
The West Indies without Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Pollard, Rampaull, Taylor or a spinner took England at Lords, in dark cold mid may conditions to a thrilling 5 day test match. Whilst it is fantastic as an achievement baring in mind the state of the game after Strauss’s ton; it dosn’t fail to cover up three fundamental problems.
Firstly They should have a much better side and they are wasting people’s careers by being stubborn. Also They have no idea how to wrap up the game and win it and lastly they are too overly reliant on a few key players.
Firstly their side was pretty average. Top three all largely failed. Bravo is unlucky at four, Chanderpaul is the rock and Samuels is some kind of experienced but very mediocre ‘aid’ to chanderpaul. The keeper averages in the 20’s with the skipper low down in the batting.. last change in the bowling and generally a bit confused why he is even in the team let alone the skipper.
The actual team should have Gayle, SARWAN (ludicrous why he isnt in the squad), Dwayne Bravo, Pollard, Jerome Taylor, and i like the look of Bishoo, Benn or Shillingford. They needed a spinner. The fact is they say players have contractual issues.. well they really need to sort them out obviously because they are heavily suffering and gradually turning their own players off Cricket.
Secondly they are suffering from a severe lack of winning; as silly as that sounds. They have not had a consistent period where they are able to successfully win games and be really ruthless. Of course we see glimpses with Roach’s pace and Chanderpaul’s doggedness.. but i think we all know that if that side had Gayle and Pollard, Taylor and Bravo with a proper top order including Sarwan they would have a good chance of posting a 1st innings score and could actually stand a chance. Their bowlers are their strenght which is not the way to go for test match cricket. If you are going to be heavy in a department it should be in the batting like with India, not with Bowling like my sunday team who pick a team of wobbly mediums to fill in the overs then get bowled out for 70.
They need to impose themselves. Hit BIG hundreds, dominate the other team. You feel when watching them they are constantly behind and always chasing the other team. When you win the toss and bat 1st at Lords you should attack and try to win. Not.. not try to lose or try not to lose by a big margin.
Thirdly its obvious they cannot negotiate with their last remaining genuine experienced player to move up the order. Chanderpaul is a No.5 that comes in and salvages the innings when they have pathetically slumped to 35-4. Chanderpaul and Samuels did well obviously but without Shiv (who is nearly 38 and won’t always be in form, or play for ever..) what an earth are the W.Indies going to actually do!? Surely they have to get their players back from the IPL like England did with KP.
As an England fan i am obviously happy for them to win, but i would have loved to have seen Chris Gayle and Jerome taylor play like i did a few years ago.
The standard would be raised, the entertainment would be more intense and all cricket would benefit.