Category: Associates (page 1 of 2)

Sick of winning hearts, Afghanistan win a match

With West Indies needing 10 to win off four balls, Carlos Brathwaite whopped one high into the legside outfield. Najibullah Zadran sprinted, dived, took the catch, broke his neck or something when landing, but never let go of the ball.

Of course he didn’t let go. Why would he let go? His team-mates seemed largely unconcerned about his wellbeing because the main thing – the catching of the ball – had gone okay. They knew Zadran would be happy when he regained consciousness because Afghanistan were a sizeable step closer to beating one of the top sides in the World T20. That was the main thing. They all understood that compared to that a broken neck or a snapped arm or a lost knee was trivial.

Afghanistan are pretty talented – some of the spin bowling, in particular – but at heart there’s a lot to be said for simply enjoying the game of cricket and just really, really wanting to win.

If Afghanistan have a superpower, it’s that losing matches appears to give them strength. Bigger teams get downhearted when beaten. Afghanistan are still on the rise, so they sort of expect to lose and shrug it off in an instant, but then at the same time assume the defeat will make them better come their next match. At that point, they give it everything.

They look casual and the physiques of some of the players have that distinctive part-time cricketer look often seen in players from the less-established nations, but their commitment to their cause is at a level you can only attain when you’re grasping for every advantage you can get.

At one point, Mohammad Shahzad and one of his team-mates celebrated a wicket with some sort of airborne arse-bump. At another point, he threw down the stumps as if they’d assaulted his daughter.

Afghanistan really, really want it and they really, really enjoy it. They’re really, really fun to watch.

After the match, Mohammad Nabi said: “I think so we have had enough of winning the hearts of cricket fans so this time we won the match.”

Afghanistan are pillaging England’s tile improvements

England appear to have sold you a dummy. Just when you thought they might be transforming into some sort of competent modern T20 side, they conspire to lose three wickets in an over against Afghanistan. Masterful stuff.

The bowler was Mohammad Nabi, one of our ten World Cup players to watch. Different World Cup, but come on, we do this for free you know. If we came up with ten players for each and every World Cup, we wouldn’t have time to drink coffee and play Civilization.

Next time around, we’re going to play that game as the Afghanistan civilisation. Mohammad Nabi will be their leader. We will seek out the English and pillage their tile improvements. That is what is happening today.

Just a reminder that Afghanistan are playing in this World T20

Regardless of how they’re performing, it’s worth taking a moment to ponder that anew. Afghanistan are playing cricket. Afghanistan.

And indeed cricket. The sport hasn’t exactly gone viral. Most of the time it seems hell-bent on playing out behind some sort of paywall, yet somehow Afghanistan has barged its way into the private party and is busying itself having a fine old time. Perhaps it’s the only country to have built up the sheer endurance needed to jump through the ICC’s endless line of hoops.

There is of course no optimal time to take to cricket. The sport became established at a time in British history when loads of toffs were dicking about playing all sorts of different games because they had sod all better to do. Afghanistan came to the game much more recently. They paused, took a look around, thought: “Well, everything seems to be going pretty much swimmingly here now. Seems about the right time to take up the gentlemen’s game of cricket.”

Or not. In actual fact, it’s previously been claimed that cricket might be a means of helping Afghanistan rebuild society.

For a bit more background about cricket in Afghanistan, you could do a lot worse than watching Out of the Ashes. We’re going to watch it again ourself at some point in the next few days.

Somehow Afghanistan have qualified for the World T20

The ICC are calling this ‘the group stage’ of the World T20. Everyone else is correctly referring to it as the qualifiers.

Afghanistan have qualified.

Despite the best efforts of the organisers, someone had to.

Afghanistan did of course have the good fortune to be in Group B. It’s not that it’s an easier group; it’s that Group B matches are actually being played. The teams in that group are playing in Nagpur, where it isn’t raining. Group A matches are failing to take place in Dharamsala where it’s been slatting it down.

Due to the rain, there’s actually a very real possibility that Oman could play one match, win it, and fail to qualify. Someone at the ICC will doubtless be able to claim that they failed to take the opportunity presented to them. We’re not quite sure how they’ll do this, but we’re excited to find out.

Will Porterfield has been annoyed

Our latest column for the Mumbai Mirror is about the unextinguishable rage of Ireland captain, Will Porterfield. You may notice that the column is titled ‘Bowzzzat!’ and they used the same line when flagging our piece on yesterday’s front page.

For clarity, our name is Bowden as in ‘bow tie’ and not as in ‘bow down’ so that title doesn’t really work. It’s too late now though. It’s out there.

For anyone skipping these pieces in the assumption that they’re ‘proper journalism’ – don’t worry, they’re not. They’re pretty much the same stuff we’d write here, only longer.

Samiullah Shenwari really was worth watching

Afghanistan have won their first World Cup match. It was only the fifth one wicket win in the history of the tournament. With Ireland beating the UAE by two wickets yesterday, it doesn’t need saying that the Associates have provided more than their fair share of entertainment. But we’ll say it anyway. The Associates have provided more than their fair share of entertainment.

Afghanistan were at one point 97-7 in reply to Scotland’s 210. That isn’t so much sniffing defeat as gnawing at it, covering it in spit. At this point, Samiullah Shenwari from our bizarre list of World Cup players to watch raised his hand and requested permission to attend the party. After making 96, he exited the party and left numbers 10 and 11, Hamid Hassan and Shapoor Zadran, to do all the clearing up.

This match alone would make a wonderful extra chapter to Out of The Ashes. The sequel – Back To The Ashes With You – would then see them sitting at home watching India repeatedly playing Australia in the 2019 World Cup.

Who is Andy McBrine?

He’s kind of like a McBride, but saltier. With all of one first-class match and three one-day internationals to his name before today, he delivered the stupid figures of 0-26 off 10 overs against the West Indies – this in a match in which Ireland chased down 305 inside 46 overs.

We’d recently been thinking that the main problem with the Cricket World Cup is that there are always eight teams with a much better chance of progressing to the quarter finals than any others. No matter how you organise what precedes that stage of the competition, there will always be something of a tension shortfall.

But then there’s Ireland. You need 300 chasing in a World Cup and they’re your guys.

Oh for complacency to be an option

Stuart Broad cited batting complacency as the main reason for England losing to the Netherlands. Ashley Giles agreed, saying that was the only possible reason for the defeat.

“They’re not playing well enough to be complacent,” pointed out Mike Atherton.

We’re not as downbeat as you might think about this result. There’s been a lot of instant ire from England fans, but this was just getting splashed by a passing car after being run over by a 4×4 – a final indignity before the ambulance arrives.

Cricketers think momentum’s a positive thing, but England have had negative momentum all winter and so a dead Twenty20 match against an associate nation was always likely to be the perfect way to round things off. The will to win will always triumph when pitted against a fear of failure and this was a match where England had nothing to gain. They’re not a particularly good Twenty20 side at the best of times, but downbeat and struggling for motivation, they’re absolutely toss.

Winter over.

That Tom Cooper thing’s turning out to be a good move

Nefariousness can be a virtue, it seems. Tim Gruijters and his bad-but-by-no-means-debilitating back probably wouldn’t have hit 45 off 15 balls, vaulting the Netherlands from third place in their group into the Super 10 stage of the World T20. However, his replacement, Tom Cooper, managed it – just like that.

Needing to chase 190 in 13.5 overs against Ireland in order to finish top of their group on net run-rate, the Netherlands only went and did it. Schuberb schtuff. The moral of the story is that if you have a choice between someone who’s a bit rubbish and someone who’s pretty good, you should tell the former that he’s injured in order to get the latter into your side. Maybe even deliberately injure the first guy, if need be.

Tim Gruijters’s back…

Is better than it’s been in a while. Apparently. You may not know much about Tim Gruijters. In fact, you may not know much about Tim Gruijters at all.

Gruijters plays for the Netherlands. Or at least he would do if he hadn’t been sent home from the World T20 with a bad back. He has been replaced by a conspicuously superior player, Tom Cooper, who just happens to have become available with South Australia not making it to the Sheffield Shield final in Australia.

Gruijters says he isn’t really injured and feels wronged enough about what’s happened to have put a video up on YouTube about it. It’s worth a watch, if only because he sounds so immensely and pleasingly Dutch. You can sympathise, but at the same time we’re talking about the Netherlands here for whom good players aren’t exactly ten a euro cent. This is Tom Cooper’s record and now try and work out whether Gruijters is a batsman or a bowler.

He’s only 22 and this is a somewhat self-defeating thing to do at that age, but perhaps the scarcity of Dutch players will work in his favour one day. They should give him a second chance, because his hurt is understandable. He wanted to play in the World Cup. Remember when your fragile dreams met the oncoming train of real life pragmatism for the first time?

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