All posts tagged 'sehwag'

Last Gasp India (Superpower) To Snatch ICC T20 Glory.

by daniel 18. September 2012 12:39

The ICC World T20 starts today in Hambantota. As a format for a worldwide tournament it has no superior in either cricket or any other sport. Eighteen days of furious action in which pretty much every game will have something riding on it has the capacity to restore cricket to the front pages of sports sections after a pretty dismal English summer.

Sub-continental fans may argue that cricket never went away, but in the former powerhouses of England, Australia and the West Indies there hasn’t been much to cheer about. That could all change over the next few weeks as a uniquely wide open competition promises to deliver excitement, close finishes, and plenty of staring at the skies in a desperate attempt to keep the regular October monsoon at bay.

The shortest format of the game increases the likelihood of upsets, and with Afghanistan and Ireland seasoned practioners at T20 the opportunity for someone to make a name, and maybe a big franchise contract in the IPL, Big Bash or even some as yet unconfirmed US All Stars World and Universe Series Melee, beckons.

It is a widely held belief that this fourth edition of the ICC World T20 is the most wide open yet. But I’m going to stick my neck out and predict that Zimbabwe, Ireland, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and New Zealand don’t have it in them to make it through to the knock out stages.

The holders England are thought to be in turmoil with problems off the field and a poor record on the sub-continent. But the loss of Kevin Pietersen may well be no more significant than the continued absence of Marcus Trescothick who could genuinely have challenged Chris Gayle as the undisputed king of T20 had his health not kept him out of international cricket for the last six years. In Alex Hales, Johnny Bairstow, Eoin Morgan and Joss Butler they have enough power up the order to set challenging totals. Steven Finn and Jade Dernbach could yet prove the most potent new ball pair around.

The problem for England lies in their approach. It is no coincidence that their ODI and T20 matches over the last year have almost all been walk overs by one side or the other. The batsmen are encouraged to play without fear which sounds fine, but tends to result it either match winning totals or pitiful collapses. They won’t retain their trophy but they have it in them to make the semi-finals.

Australia find themselves vying with Ireland for 9th spot in the rankings, but Hussey and Warner are formidable and experienced players. Who could forget Hussey’s dismantling of Pakistan in the semi-final of the last tournament? In addition, they have excellent potential in the seam bowling department. Mitchell Starc is a T20 star on the verge of enormous riches and Cummins is genuinely rapid. But they have no spin bowlers and unless Warner fires repeatedly they won’t make the semis.

South Africa should challenge but we say that every time. Amla, Kallis and De Villiers may be the modern day answer to the three W’s, while Steyn and Morkel know their own games inside out, but I don’t think they know their best combinations elsewhere in the team and de Villiers may just be a little too inexperienced to captain his side to victory.

For me the winners will come from either West Indies, Sri Lanka, Pakistan or India. Sri Lanka have four star performers in Dilshan, Sangakarra, Malinga and Jayawardene. Mahela had an astounding tournament last time out in the Caribbean. He was the only batsmen to master the slow, tedious surface in Guyana and at home I expect him to play more than one match winning innings. With support from Mathews the Lankans could spring a surprise.

Pakistan possess in Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal the two most effective T20 bowlers around. It pains me to repeat the cliché, but they are the most unpredictable side in world cricket, at least in limited overs formats. As long as they pin none of their hopes on the increasingly pointless Shahid Afridi, however, they could make the final. Or they may crash out in horrendous circumstances way before then.

Which leaves as serious contenders India and the West Indies. A lot of smart money is being put on the Windies. Trinidad & Tobago have impressed hugely at the Champions League and with Pollard, Narine and both Bravos supporting the magnificent Chris Gayle they have the chance to make T20 their own. But counting against them is a recent history of failure. Can they make it over the line? I’d love it if they did, but last ditch heartbreak looks more likely.

So, India. India, India superpower. We all know everything there is to know about this side packed with multi-millionaire superstars. What is more sensual than Sehwag playing a front foot cut for six over cover, or Kohli placing his sweetly timed drives and flicks past the agonized outstretched arms of humiliated infielders spitting the unforgiving Sri Lankan dust from their mouths? They have spinners to die for, a wicket keeper batsman who likes nothing better than a perfectly orchestrated last gasp run chase and Zaheer Khan. It was arguably the left armer Ryan Sidebottom who made the most significant bowling contribution in the Caribbean for England. Left armers have been winning T20 matches around the world for their teams, and in the final reckoning I expect a mop topped, snarling Zaheer to snatch victory from the distraught Windians. By one run. Off the last ball.

You can catch every ball of every game (with the exception of Australia v Ireland and South Africa v Zimbabwe) live on www.testmatchsofa.com starting today (September 17th) with Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe at 1445BST.

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FAREWELL TO THE WALL

by maxbenson 9. March 2012 11:06

@sofa_maxb

‘’My approach to cricket has been reasonably simple: it was about giving everything to the team, it was about playing with dignity and it was about upholding the spirit of the game.’’

The retiring words of Rahul Dravid – the living definition of conscientious and a man whose love for Test cricket will forever course through his veins and our minds.

After more than 24,000 runs in Tests and ODIs and a world-beating 210 Test catches, the time has come, at 39 years-of-age, for one of the best batsmen we have ever seen to step aside, grace and dignity predictably intact.

It is testament to the genius of Sachin Tendulkar that a true great like Dravid was often cast coolly in the shadows, and few articles about him pass by without mention of this fact. Dravid deserves far more respect than that. He should be mentioned in his own right.

In excelling at the top of his sport for a decade and a half he became the second most prolific batsman in Test history, just behind Tendulkar, his long-time partner at the crease. It will be a good while before another Indian batsman reaches those heights, if it's even possible, but more worrying for all of cricket is that the appreciation for what took Dravid to the top diminishes in his absence.

For the man from Bangalore is much more than the tens of thousands of runs he compiled over the years. Those oft-forgotten quiet qualities so readily mistaken for fear or awkwardness were among Dravid’s greatest and it only worked because they were no facade or affectation.

Sport needs its mercurial characters and box-office exhibitionists, and there was an increasing clamour throughout Dravid’s career for those swift of blade and sharp of tongue. Shahid Afridi. Kevin Pietersen. A hundred more.

But successful teams need constants. They need men whose resolve, character and discipline can lift the rest up to their level. Dravid had enough of all three for a whole touring party. And he never felt the need to shout from the rooftops about it.

He was the fulcrum around which the flair of Tendulkar, Ganguly, Laxman et al could thrive. It took India to the top of world cricket, to the immense pride of an enthralled nation.

Watching Kapil Dev lift the 1983 World Cup on television switched Dravid on to the possibilities of a career in cricket. 13 years later, he made 95 in his first innings on the same Lord’s turf in what became The Wall’s trademark obdurate manner.

It is somewhat against the grain for such a ruthless compiler of runs to be so mindful of the team’s fortunes rather than his own. He moved up and down the order to suit the needs of those around him and even served as a capable wicketkeeper when the need arose. Here’s hoping his legacy includes a young Indian batsman or two making the grade having been equally enchanted by his prowess, respect and unyielding strength of character.

Rahul Dravid is enduring proof that the good guys can succeed, and then some.

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India Are Sure To Win Unless Sri Lanka Beat Them To It

by daniel 1. April 2011 15:51

It feels like only six months have passed since the opening game in Dhaka, but suddenly, and just as I was getting the hang of it all, this World Cup is about to end. 48 matches have been played, millions of air miles have been accrued by players, journalists and fans alike and Shastri, Morrison, Nicholas and co. are almost out of hyperbolic superlatives.

Yes, we really are on the brink. Only one more match stands between us and the terrifying prospect of having no cricket to watch until the IPL begins next Friday, but what a match it promises to be. The two pre-tournament favourites go head to head in Mumbai in a contest that will once more bring the entire Indian sub continent to a standstill.

If we thought Wednesday’s semi-final between India and Pakistan was the biggest match of the century we must now re-calibrate our hysteria monitors as the winners of the Mumbai showdown will have their exploits witnessed by, if the broadcasters are to be believed, the best part of 1.5 billion people worldwide.

All of India expects only one outcome; a fairytale victory for their boys with His Most Graceful Holiness, Sachin Tendulkar scoring a century and probably the winning runs into the bargain. It’s hard to argue with a nation of a billion people, but in a spirit of unbiased and genuinely thrilled neutrality, here are the ten key deciding factors which will determine the ultimate resting place of the 2011 World Cup trophy.

India have the best top seven in ODI history. Sehwag and Tendulkar are without doubt the finest opening partnership ever to have graced the game, and Viru in particular can win a match in half an hour of frantic mayhem. Yuvraj, despite his golden duck on Wednesday is in tremendous form and as long as he can lay off the extra helpings at dinner for one more night he should be in good shape for the final. With Raina coming in at 7 and even Harbhajan able to fling the bat, it will require a mammoth effort from the Lankans to restrict India to a gettable total. Therefore India must surely win.

Sri Lanka, however, possess in Dilshan, Tharanga, Sangakarra and Jayawardene the most in-form top four in the tournament. They have all scored hundreds in this World Cup and show no signs of slowing down. Unless Zaheer picks up a few early wickets it’s hard to see how India’s innocuous support bowlers can restrict Sri Lanka to a sufficiently modest total. Therefore Sri Lanka will most definitely win.

But India are playing at home in front of a wildly partisan and supportive crowd. Gone are the days when the home players had to dodge a volley of bottles and rotten fruit whenever a catch was dropped. Instead, thousands of hysterical fans will surely provide the motivation and impetus to take India across the finishing line.

However, with the match being played in Mumbai in a feverish atmosphere of expectation, the pressure on the home side will be enormous. Even the notoriously composed Sehwag and divine Tendulkar are, if rumour is to be believed, carbon based human life forms who will surely wilt under the pressure. Imagine Ashish Nehra or Munaf Patel being called upon to defend 12 runs in the last over with a full house of desperate home supporters demanding success. Even Buddha would wilt under the strain, so I can only see one outcome; a Sri Lankan win.

But India come into this match with two massively morale boosting wins under their belt against four times champions Australia, and the hitherto most consistent side in the tournament, Pakistan. They are conditioned for tough matches, have been tested to the maximum and have passed with flying colours. Nothing can stand in the way of an Indian win.

Sri Lanka, though, have breezed past England and New Zealand with overs to spare. They have handled the pressure of playing at home and waltzed to victory without alarm. They’re in great form, have momentum behind them and have had an extra day to prepare. Sri Lanka will therefore win at a canter.

In MS Dhoni India possess a wicket-keeper captain who knows with meticulous certainty his team’s strengths in the field. His brilliant use of Zaheer Khan, the premier seam bowler of the World Cup, has seen matches turned on their heads at crucial moments. Remember his first over in the batting power play against England who were cruising to a remarkable win before Bell was undone and Strauss bamboozled by a reverse swinging Yorker. Despite a curious unwillingness to pick Ashwin, Dhoni’s decisions have proved spot on with Nehra and Patel both impressing against Pakistan. His calm intelligent authority will keep his players grounded and propel his country to the ultimate glory.

However in Kumar Sangakarra Sri Lanka have a matchless wicket-keeper skipper who wears his genius humbly. A profound thinker whose wisdom stretches way beyond the parochial confines of the cricket field, he knows his team’s strengths and ruthlessly exploits them. Witness his inventive use of Malinga for only one or two overs at the top of the innings followed by his giddying rotation of his spinners that never allows the opposing batsmen to settle. His brilliant field placements in the knock out games suffocated his opponents and kept the pressure off what is a threadbare lower bating order by restricting the target to easily manageable proportions. He is the nearest thing the modern day game has to Mike Brearley and will inevitably walk away with the Cup.

The final will probably be the last World Cup match played by the finest batsman of his generation and most prolific international run gatherer of all time. Sachin Tendulkar will open the batting for India in front of a home crowd willing him to his 100th international hundred. With an average in excess of 55 in World Cups he is the player for the big occasion (contrary to eccentric and popular misconception) and it is surely written in the stars that Tendulkar will sign off in style hurling his nation into a dizzying fit of self-congratulatory boastfulness and sparking a party that will last until the next Ice Age.

But Muttiah Muralitharan, the most prolific wicket taker in international cricket history will be playing his last ever match at this level. After 19 years of spell binding mastery over a succession of bamboozled victims he has finally decided to call it a day. The undisputed master of off-spin bowling he has the tools to make a mess of India’s top order before coming back to finish off the tail. It is surely written in the stars that after taking a wicket with his final ball in Test Cricket and his final delivery in Sri Lanka, he will rip through the limply prodding defences of Munaf Patel to snatch the Cup from the hosts at the very last minute.

So there you have it. India are nailed on certainties to land their second World Cup in front of an adoring home crowd while Sri Lanka will inevitably make their way triumphantly back to Colombo with the title of champions for the second time. You see, sometimes everyone’s a winner.

 

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I Only Have Eyes For Sehwag And 9 Other Magic "Moments" From The World Cup So Far

by daniel 21. March 2011 16:36

Well thank heavens for that. The Sado-Masochists in the ICC World Cup Planning Committee devised a format to guarantee the top eight teams would contest the quarter finals and, despite a few scary moments almost entirely generated by England’s exhausted, frequently inept and fractious squad, they have been rewarded.

Whether it was strictly necessary to spend 29 days confirming what we already knew would happen is another matter. And indeed next time the ICC are dispensing with the tiresome lesser nations altogether, but in spite of the ridiculously attenuated format and regular diet of one sided matches, this World Cup has been by far the most enjoyable since 1996.

Paradoxically the fascination has been caused by a succession of unpredictable games between the top sides. Of the eight quarter finalists only England remain undefeated in matches between the survivors. Australia’s irksome unbeaten record has now been consigned to history leading Ian Chappell to fume about Shahid Afridi’s wicket taking celebration. I suppose raising one’s hands aloft in triumph must constitute some awfully disrespectful faux pas in Australia, just as Brett Lee’s fist pumps and mock Irish heel clicking is regarded as the very essence of naffness everywhere else in the world. But we forgive Brett because he’s universally acknowledged to be a likeable Australian and thus falls under the protective custody of the Endangered Species Act 1973 along with Germaine Greer, Guy Pearce, and Rolf Harris. Ian Chappell, sadly, does not.

It is with some difficulty, therefore, that I have identified my top ten favourite moments so far in a World Cup that has yielded shocks, hat tricks, collapses and controversies but here goes:

• Virender Sehwag. Is he strictly speaking a moment? Well, every moment spent watching him merges into an extended moment of almost illegal pleasure. Perhaps he deserves a top ten to himself starting with the first ball of each of his five innings to date, all of which have been dispatched for four. That in itself is ludicrous, as if he is toying with us, suggesting he could in fact hit every ball for four but decides against it for the good of cricket. As the tournament has progressed he has become steadily slower between the wickets (on the rare occasions when he doesn’t rely on a runner), and when he deigns to field it is either at slip or short mid wicket where he can safely watch the ball sail past him to the boundary where lesser mortals such as Kohli or Tendulkar can engage in the tiresome business of retrieving it and throwing it in. He began with a genius century against Bangladesh including a new shot unplayable by anyone else, the back foot aerial straight drive. Thereafter he has simply flayed the bowling until he thinks even his ridiculously flaky middle order team mates can’t fail to reach 300 and contrives his own downfall. I used only to have eyes for Victor Trumper but have filed the divorce papers in expectation of an early autumn wedding to Viru.


• Kevin O’Brien’s hundred against England. This qualifies as a moment by dint of being completed in the time in takes to prepare a decent sized omelette. He was in some ways assisted by England’s bowlers, but still managed to record the biggest six of the World Cup and take his side from certain defeat to certain victory. Furthermore, when he lay awake at night imagining his day in the sun I bet he didn’t see himself finally attaining unsurpassable glory while sporting pink hair. The removal of the lesser nations from the next tournament will deprive us of singular and extraordinary moments such as these and will render the WC that much the poorer.


• New Zealand’s demolition of the Pakistan attack to the tune of 114 runs off their last six overs. Again the bowling was beyond diabolical (or “not the greatest” as Iain O’Brien so understatedly said on Test Match Sofa) but you try hitting thigh high 90 mph balls 100 metres. It isn’t easy. Taylor’s partnership with Oram put on 85 in 21 balls at just over 4 runs per ball. No one will see its like again in an international match now that Shoaib Akhtar has retired.

England’s run chase against India. 338 is way too much to get in any match but against the hosts in Bangalore it was simply unattainable. Then, with 10 overs to go, 60 odd to get and 8 wickets in hand it was impossible to lose. Zaheer Khan came on to bowl and the match was lost to England within an over, but last ditch sixes just in time by Bresnan, Swann and most extraordinarily of all Shahzad in the last over brought a tie that neither side was happy with. Who says ODI cricket was designed to ensure a result? Beautiful.


• Ricky Ponting’s protracted mental breakdown. No one should take pleasure in that, and in fact I don’t, but it is undeniably curious. Witness his infuriation with Steve Smith for not getting out of his way when taking that catch. Recall Brad Haddin weighing in on his behalf after he smacked the cover off the ball and didn’t walk against Pakistan. Observe the continuing lack of runs, shrinking eyes, and bizarre schoolboy haircut. Something is happening. For what it’s worth my theory is that his body has been taken over by the brain of a 12 year old who has devised the best possible way to avoid a tricky Maths exam in the morning by escaping into the form of an international cricketer and is now regretting it.


• India’s collapse against South Africa. We are constantly being told India has the best batting line up in the world. They probably do, but losing 9 wickets for 29 runs is not great evidence for that hypothesis. Watching Dhoni grow increasingly but silently furious whilst his team mates disappeared in a hail of idiocy was an object listen in how to communicate profound displeasure without raising your voice. By the way, since I’m on the subject of Indian batting can I make a very obvious point? If your side contains the best batsmen but your bowlers, with the exception of Zaheer Khan, are by some way the wrong side of mediocre, it makes little sense to prepare good batting wickets. Trust your superior batsmen to score the runs whatever the surface and give the useless bowlers a helping hand by producing a raging turner on which even Bhaji and Pathan could be effective.


• Jonathan Trott’s “catch” against the West Indies that went for six. This was a true moment and had all the makings of being an English classic, albeit provided by a South African. With England desperate for a breakthrough and facing a humiliating early exit, Trott caught a ball on the boundary from the hitherto unfancied Andre Russell. He fell. He avoided the boundary rope. He claimed the catch. But TV replays couldn’t be sure that his sleeve hadn’t brushed the raised advertising sponge that sits on top of the rope owing to a shadow caused by the floodlights. It seemed that at last the English had a moment of injustice and desperately poor luck that they could use as a soothing comfort blanket of despair to explain yet another failure at a World Cup. Unfortunately for them the West Indies imploded immediately, losing 4 wickets for 3 runs thus prolonging their agony into the quarter finals (where a stray dog will undoubtedly prevent the ball from going for a winning boundary resulting in last ball heartache).


• Balaji Rao doing anything. Yes. Balaji Rao. What’s not to love about Balaji Rao?


• Billy Bowden refusing to give Ian Bell out against India when the ball was clearly shown to be hitting middle stump by Hawkeye. So determined was Bowden not to be undermined by the DRS having turned down an appeal which was subsequently and immediately reviewed that despite incontrovertible evidence that a slow, low non turning delivery was going to hit middle and off stumps, he invoked a little known sub clause in the DRS that states “if a batsman is over 2.5 metres down the track the ball must be shown to be hitting a very specific spot in the middle of the middle stump in order to be given out”. A man who puts his own DRS stats above common sense is a man we should cherish. See also Asoka da Silva.


• Hiral Patel’s back foot cut over extra cover for six off Shaun Tait for Canada against Australia. It is quite simply the greatest shot I have ever seen.

And I haven’t even started on Imran Tahir…..

 

 

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I Only Have Eyes For Sehwag And 9 Other Magic "Moments" From The World Cup So Far

by daniel 21. March 2011 16:36

Well thank heavens for that. The Sado-Masochists in the ICC World Cup Planning Committee devised a format to guarantee the top eight teams would contest the quarter finals and, despite a few scary moments almost entirely generated by England’s exhausted, frequently inept and fractious squad, they have been rewarded.

Whether it was strictly necessary to spend 29 days confirming what we already knew would happen is another matter. And indeed next time the ICC are dispensing with the tiresome lesser nations altogether, but in spite of the ridiculously attenuated format and regular diet of one sided matches, this World Cup has been by far the most enjoyable since 1996.

Paradoxically the fascination has been caused by a succession of unpredictable games between the top sides. Of the eight quarter finalists only England remain undefeated in matches between the survivors. Australia’s irksome unbeaten record has now been consigned to history leading Ian Chappell to fume about Shahid Afridi’s wicket taking celebration. I suppose raising one’s hands aloft in triumph must constitute some awfully disrespectful faux pas in Australia, just as Brett Lee’s fist pumps and mock Irish heel clicking is regarded as the very essence of naffness everywhere else in the world. But we forgive Brett because he’s universally acknowledged to be a likeable Australian and thus falls under the protective custody of the Endangered Species Act 1973 along with Germaine Greer, Guy Pearce, and Rolf Harris. Ian Chappell, sadly, does not.

It is with some difficulty, therefore, that I have identified my top ten favourite moments so far in a World Cup that has yielded shocks, hat tricks, collapses and controversies but here goes:

• Virender Sehwag. Is he strictly speaking a moment? Well, every moment spent watching him merges into an extended moment of almost illegal pleasure. Perhaps he deserves a top ten to himself starting with the first ball of each of his five innings to date, all of which have been dispatched for four. That in itself is ludicrous, as if he is toying with us, suggesting he could in fact hit every ball for four but decides against it for the good of cricket. As the tournament has progressed he has become steadily slower between the wickets (on the rare occasions when he doesn’t rely on a runner), and when he deigns to field it is either at slip or short mid wicket where he can safely watch the ball sail past him to the boundary where lesser mortals such as Kohli or Tendulkar can engage in the tiresome business of retrieving it and throwing it in. He began with a genius century against Bangladesh including a new shot unplayable by anyone else, the back foot aerial straight drive. Thereafter he has simply flayed the bowling until he thinks even his ridiculously flaky middle order team mates can’t fail to reach 300 and contrives his own downfall. I used only to have eyes for Victor Trumper but have filed the divorce papers in expectation of an early autumn wedding to Viru.


• Kevin O’Brien’s hundred against England. This qualifies as a moment by dint of being completed in the time in takes to prepare a decent sized omelette. He was in some ways assisted by England’s bowlers, but still managed to record the biggest six of the World Cup and take his side from certain defeat to certain victory. Furthermore, when he lay awake at night imagining his day in the sun I bet he didn’t see himself finally attaining unsurpassable glory while sporting pink hair. The removal of the lesser nations from the next tournament will deprive us of singular and extraordinary moments such as these and will render the WC that much the poorer.


• New Zealand’s demolition of the Pakistan attack to the tune of 114 runs off their last six overs. Again the bowling was beyond diabolical (or “not the greatest” as Iain O’Brien so understatedly said on Test Match Sofa) but you try hitting thigh high 90 mph balls 100 metres. It isn’t easy. Taylor’s partnership with Oram put on 85 in 21 balls at just over 4 runs per ball. No one will see its like again in an international match now that Shoaib Akhtar has retired.

England’s run chase against India. 338 is way too much to get in any match but against the hosts in Bangalore it was simply unattainable. Then, with 10 overs to go, 60 odd to get and 8 wickets in hand it was impossible to lose. Zaheer Khan came on to bowl and the match was lost to England within an over, but last ditch sixes just in time by Bresnan, Swann and most extraordinarily of all Shahzad in the last over brought a tie that neither side was happy with. Who says ODI cricket was designed to ensure a result? Beautiful.


• Ricky Ponting’s protracted mental breakdown. No one should take pleasure in that, and in fact I don’t, but it is undeniably curious. Witness his infuriation with Steve Smith for not getting out of his way when taking that catch. Recall Brad Haddin weighing in on his behalf after he smacked the cover off the ball and didn’t walk against Pakistan. Observe the continuing lack of runs, shrinking eyes, and bizarre schoolboy haircut. Something is happening. For what it’s worth my theory is that his body has been taken over by the brain of a 12 year old who has devised the best possible way to avoid a tricky Maths exam in the morning by escaping into the form of an international cricketer and is now regretting it.


• India’s collapse against South Africa. We are constantly being told India has the best batting line up in the world. They probably do, but losing 9 wickets for 29 runs is not great evidence for that hypothesis. Watching Dhoni grow increasingly but silently furious whilst his team mates disappeared in a hail of idiocy was an object listen in how to communicate profound displeasure without raising your voice. By the way, since I’m on the subject of Indian batting can I make a very obvious point? If your side contains the best batsmen but your bowlers, with the exception of Zaheer Khan, are by some way the wrong side of mediocre, it makes little sense to prepare good batting wickets. Trust your superior batsmen to score the runs whatever the surface and give the useless bowlers a helping hand by producing a raging turner on which even Bhaji and Pathan could be effective.


• Jonathan Trott’s “catch” against the West Indies that went for six. This was a true moment and had all the makings of being an English classic, albeit provided by a South African. With England desperate for a breakthrough and facing a humiliating early exit, Trott caught a ball on the boundary from the hitherto unfancied Andre Russell. He fell. He avoided the boundary rope. He claimed the catch. But TV replays couldn’t be sure that his sleeve hadn’t brushed the raised advertising sponge that sits on top of the rope owing to a shadow caused by the floodlights. It seemed that at last the English had a moment of injustice and desperately poor luck that they could use as a soothing comfort blanket of despair to explain yet another failure at a World Cup. Unfortunately for them the West Indies imploded immediately, losing 4 wickets for 3 runs thus prolonging their agony into the quarter finals (where a stray dog will undoubtedly prevent the ball from going for a winning boundary resulting in last ball heartache).


• Balaji Rao doing anything. Yes. Balaji Rao. What’s not to love about Balaji Rao?


• Billy Bowden refusing to give Ian Bell out against India when the ball was clearly shown to be hitting middle stump by Hawkeye. So determined was Bowden not to be undermined by the DRS having turned down an appeal which was subsequently and immediately reviewed that despite incontrovertible evidence that a slow, low non turning delivery was going to hit middle and off stumps, he invoked a little known sub clause in the DRS that states “if a batsman is over 2.5 metres down the track the ball must be shown to be hitting a very specific spot in the middle of the middle stump in order to be given out”. A man who puts his own DRS stats above common sense is a man we should cherish. See also Asoka da Silva.


• Hiral Patel’s back foot cut over extra cover for six off Shaun Tait for Canada against Australia. It is quite simply the greatest shot I have ever seen.

And I haven’t even started on Imran Tahir…..

 

 

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