October 2010

Time to explore strange new worlds

by ben 27. October 2010 15:21

Pakistan looked woeful yesterday underneath the giant Starship Enterprise shaped awning over the Pavillion in Abu Dhabi. Afridi came in and hit more runs off fewer balls than any of the Pakistani batsmen before him and save for a brief scare from Akhtar South Africa cruised to the their target untroubled.

Today I'm taking a leaf out of Nigel the Bear's book and going under the fall of the first wicket for both sides. The line at CricketBetLive is 17.5 for Pakistan and 20.5 for South Africa. His mantra is that a wicket always falls early on as sides look to attack and with some of the better bowling for each side opening up this holds especially true here.

BoomBoom himself was greeted by some crazed fans waving a giant teddy bear in the crowd. Disconcerting though this was it didn't seem to affect the great man and he thrashed three sixes in his brief 27. I like the over for his points line of 36.5 as he looked relaxed and was timing the ball well.

Good luck.

* 1 point per run, 10/catch, 25/stumping, 20/wicket

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Zulqarnain Returns

by ben 26. October 2010 13:52

Rejoice and be glad all fans of cricket for Zulqarnain Haider has returned. The beloved, lanky Pakistan wicketkeep is back in the side as Kamran is laid low after having his appendix out, perhaps appropriate that an the removal of a purposeless organ has resulted in the absence of the butter-fingered, square jawed 'keeper.

There are also other considerable absences well publicised for Pakistan but despite that their bowling doesn't look all that weak, in T20s at least. With one of the toughest bowlers in limited over formats in Gul and Akhtar still able to cause damage in short burts Pakistan have two viable pace options to see them through to the slow bowling threats of Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi. The batting, on the other hand, is a different matter and there are a number of wholes in the line up. I like South Africa's plethora of big hitters to take me higher and higher to more maximums than the Pakistanis and CricketBetLive are giving me 1.80 on this.

Comparing Akhtar and Steyn is almost unfair, especially as things stand now with Akhtars body having all but given up on him and Steyn at the peak of his powers. When you also account for the stronger South African batting that the string haired Shoaib will have to face backing Steyn to take more wickets at 1.80 seems like free money. There is another bowler bet I like and that is Saeed Ajmal over Botha, he's a significantly better bowler than Botha and loves these T20 match ups. That's another 1.8 bet at CricketBetLive.

Favourite bet is on the sixes for South Africa although I will be also be backing Haider when the line comes up.

Good luck.

* 1 point per run, 10/catch, 25/stumping, 20/wicket

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Old Father Time - The passing of the years....

by ralphyt 24. October 2010 18:37

Old age has loomed large in the news in recent weeks. Our continental cousins are kicking off at the mere hint of a modest rise in the retirement age to 62 and the smell of burning Citroens wafts across the Channel. Meanwhile, halfway across the world, The Risen Lord, our Father Sachin of Tendulkar stands on the cusp of his 100th international hundred at the infirm cricketing age of 37, having played for India for over 20 years. Does Suresh Raina give up his seat for the old man on the team coach? Does Sehwag help him across the road? India's finest goes on and on, getting better with age. Take note our Froggy friends.

Age, what's it all about? Liver spots, incontinence and Songs of Praise for Manny; a railing against the passing of the years for Zooby. Did we mention his rather fetching tramp stamp and new piercings? No, thought not. Leonard would be spinning in his grave at the mere thought. Stick to cords and sensible shoes Jonathan.

It does seem that with modern sports science a committed cricketer can play well past their mid-30s sell by date. Hadlee and Gooch showed the cleaning-living way and were ruthlessly effective at 40; Botham, a man of, ahem, enthusiasms, finished as an effective cricketer at 30. Tendulkar has a lot of cricketing miles on the clock but strikes me as a man who looks after himself. It probably helps that his missus is a doctor and he's gone easy on the ghee. Definitely lay off the ghee kids.

Of course, if you're still able to do the job then why not play on. The money's good and you're a long time retired. There's a lot of guff spoken about giving youth its head. Give me Wagner over Cher Lloyd any day; Rahul Dravid is probably peeling himself into a jumpsuit and practising the bongos as I type. The Indian middle order still does it - just - and the young pretenders strike me as front foot bullies, grown soft on dibbly dobbly medium pacers and fatuous IPL games. Meat and drink for Dale Steyn. We see it on the Sofa too. Hendo can still do a job. Admittedly he broadcasts from a commode and thinks we should be still be on the Gold Standard. And our glorious leader Danny is a case in point; the Keef Richards of cricket commentary, a 40-something in the ravaged body of a 60 year old. Just don't go falling out of a coconut tree young Daniel!







Fire in Babylon - BFI London Film Festival

by ralphyt 22. October 2010 22:02

This week I've been fortunate to see an early showing of "Fire in Babylon" at the BFI London Film Festival. From the same director as the acclaimed "Blue Blood" it charts the rise and rise of the Windies side of the mid-70s, from being humbled by that urbane Aussie housewife Lilian Thomson to dishing it out to the "fat Botham" England side of the mid-80s, culminating in the famous "Blackwash" of 1984.

Whilst not wanting to slip into Pretentious Film Journo mode (I'll leave that to the J-Rod, except he actually knows what he's gassing on about), it's an enjoyable if not great film. It does its best to be a "When We Were Kings" for cricket by placing King Viv on a pedestal. The former worked as Ali had the superhuman, unbeatable Forman to rail against; I felt Babylon suffered as Sir Vivian never had a comparable figure to joust. Great craftsman though Lillee became in the late 70s, he was no longer the terror of the early 70s; Thommo burnt out brightly in the mid-70s, injuries taking their inevitable toll on the human trebuchet. Willis? Worthy, mercurial but not a great. Oh, and there's not enough funk. Or the Fugees.

So you leave the cinema with a slight longing for more. There are a few too many talking heads with too little to say. A Jamaican groundsman a George Plimpton doth not make, amusing though their asides are. There isn't enough focus on the sheer terror batsmen must have felt tackling hour after hour of express pace with little more than a toothpick for a bat and a felt cap for the noggin. South Africa is quickly brushed aside and the decline of the Windies empire from the mid-90s not mentioned. An outsider might leave the cinema thinking that Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana and Trinidad still ruled the world. Sadly they do not and we're poorer for it.

But here's hoping for a general release. There's plenty of great, great bowling - a feast given the drought in the world game over the last few years. You can enjoy the sight of Robin Marlar being given enough rope to hang himself - oh, sweet, sweet bliss. There's Viv of course, magisterial as ever, Clive, Colin, Andy R and Derryk Murray. And plenty of Michael Holding's syrupy tones.  It's funny how things change. The man once famous for drop kicking a set of stumps to Auckland and back is now the conscience of the Caribbean game. Poacher, gamekeeper.

Leaving the theatre I was struck by the demographic of the audience. The vast majority of the audience were men of a certain age and overwhelmingly white. Admittedly it was midweek and late afternoon, not the usual cinema crowd. But here they were, as the credits rolled, on their feet, saluting the heroes of the last 80 mins. You wouldn't have bet on that happening 30 years ago, now would you? God, don't you wish those times were on us again?








Have the Aussies Caught the Alex Wharf Bug?

by daniel 21. October 2010 16:55

I'm confused. Maybe I've lost all my critical faculties. Not hard to do in the company of Jarrod and Hendo, I grant you. But I actually enjoyed yesterday's 2nd (but really 1st) ODI between India and Australia. It was the same buzz I got from watching the English amateur clubs T20 finals day.

Both India and Australia have "rested" most of their test players for what is an inconsequential series of games. Basically two development squads with individuals fighting for a place at the World Cup next February. But lots emerged and at the very real risk of looking like an idiot in 5 months time here are my 10 lessons learnt.

Sourabh Tiwary is.....is.....is.....garbage. There, I said it. He fields like a mid-operative male to female transexual before the breasts have fully developed. He may be OK for 21 balls in an IPL match but he's hopelessly out of his depth in an international. No amount winning smiles and lustrous hair can help him. He must go. Now.

If Australia has such a wondrous array of reserve batting talent why does it open with Sean Marsh and Tim Paine? Paine looks a decent bat. Very decent at number 7 in a test side. As an ODI opener he is as out of place as Lalit Modi on a "fit and proper person" test. And Marsh holds his bat more limply than Quentin Crisp with a fever. It's wrong I tell you.

Aussies know how to bat the middle overs. But they don't know when the middle overs stop. At 153-2 after 35 overs they should have gone berserk. With White and Smith waiting in the hutch they should have targetted 310 but instead kept pushing singles. Clarke will take the blame, which is tough on a guy with a century, but look at Kohli. So tough, pup.

Australia should have taken the power play much earlier. But no one knows how to take the power play. Paralysed with fear of losing wickets, batting sides delay it until they think it can't harm them. This is ridiculous. And if bringing the field in is what causes batting sides to implode, isn't it time captains set power play fields outside of power play overs?

Virat Kohli is the ODI real deal. He paced his innings contemptuously, as if the bowlers would never trouble him. He's composed, assured, and the Sofa's very own Aatif was seduced by his eyes. No idea how he'd fare against proper quick bowling to test match fields but he should be in the World Cup starting XI.

Yuvraj Singh is terminally grumpy. Surrounded by young, fitter and more stylish batsmen in Vijay, Kohli and Raina he resembles a menopausal mother taking her three early 20s daughters to a coming out ball. And everything wrong is someone else's fault. Well news for you pal; it's your fault. One last crack at a high fibre diet and if that doesn't work it's adios humungous.

Billy Bowden can get away with being a myopic poppinjay in ODIs. No one really notices the LBWs he fails to give because we move swiftly to the next ball. I want the UDRS in ODIs as a means of purging the rotten core of the ICC elite panel. Otherwise they will lurk forever waiting to screw up big time off the last ball of the World Cup final. Mark my words.

Hopes, Hastings and Hauritz will only be known as "the three Aitches" to a dribbling suicidal mentalist on an island prison. They are desperate. Beautifully desperate. It used to be like this for England. Lewis, Austin, Capel, Ian Greig, Watkinson, Alex Wharf. Alex Wharf? The Aussies have an inexhaustible supply of Alex Wharfs (whom I liked incidentally, but in the manner of a man liking Forrest Gump 'cos he thinks he might become president one day). Isn't it great?

Mitchell Starc might be rather good. Not scary yet, but good action, fine composure, control of length and a reasonable haircut. All things missing from that other black aired Aussie pace left armer called Mitchell.

Barring a challenging minefield of a pitch, the final game of Australia's so far winless tour will yield a lot of runs. Neither side has any bowlers. Chuck a fortune on 280+ in the 1st innings.

But don't blame me if things go wrong. I'm deluded enough to think there any lessons to be learnt from a meaningless ODI between two 2nd XIs.




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