Month: March 2008 (page 1 of 5)

Joe Denly, Kent

Joe Denly or James Hildreth? Joe Denly or James Hildreth? Joe Denly’s nickname is ‘No Pants’. Decision made.

Plus Joe Denly gets to open the batting with Rob Key. Spend any amount of time in Rob’s vicinity and a little bit of genius is bound to rub off. We managed to do an entire wordsearch once while we were waiting in a car outside his house. Ordinarily we’d never have managed that, but Rob must have left just a faint whiff of genius in his bin and it must have attached itself to us during the rummaging.

Joe Denly’s so lucky. He gets to do ‘talking’ with Rob in between overs. We’ve got a whole shoebox full of questions for Rob for when we get to have a go at ‘talking’.

One time we were watching Rob on telly and we told him to leave the next delivery if he wanted us to buy him some ice cream. He played the next delivery and we could tell that he was telling us he didn’t want ice cream. If we can communicate that well with him USING ONLY OUR MIND, think how well we could communicate with him using ‘talking’.

Joe Denly’s 22 and a handy batsman. We’ll be watching him out of the corner of our eye while the main part of our eye is FIRMLY TRAINED on Rob Key.

More cricketers to watch in 2008.

Rikki Clarke, Derbyshire

Don’t laugh. We’ll admit it is a bit counter-intuitive, but we’re intrigued.

Rikki Clarke was picked for England at a young age and while he didn’t disgrace himself, his bowling clearly wasn’t international standard, so he’s something of a figure of fun. Last year, both his batting and bowling aspired to ‘not quite international standard’ as he wallowed in underachievement at Surrey.

So, the obvious solution was for Rikki Clarke to go and take the Derbyshire captaincy. Is it change just for the sake of it? Who knows? Let’s watch and find out.

And if nothing does happen, let’s quietly edit the website that there’s no mention of Rikki Clarke being One To Watch and pretend that none of this happened.

Other players to watch in 2008.

Cricketers to watch in 2008

It’s pretty much April and there aren’t many fixtures this week, so let’s get on with this season’s Ones To Watch.

As usual, names will appear below as more are added throughout the week. We’ll give a little away by telling you who’s not appearing though.

Mark Davies isn’t appearing, which pains us, as he’s been an ever-present One To Watch and has never really let us down. But with Steve Harmison seemingly out of the England reckoning, first-team opportunities might be limited for everyone’s favourite Viking, so we’ve been brutal.

Stuart Broad‘s out, because he’s ‘made it’. Matt Prior‘s out, because he too made it, before comprehensively dismantling ‘it’ with his buttery fingers.

Tom Smith‘s out, because we’ve done away with all young Lancastrians on the grounds that they never get to play, no matter how good they are and even if they do, they do nothing, which lets us down doubly, being as we’re a Lancashire supporter.

Bilal Shafayat‘s out, because the pressure of being One To Watch clearly gets to him and he forgets how to bat.

James Benning‘s out because he was crap last year. Usually you get a second season to prove yourself, but we’ve picked out too many players, so James misses the cut. We’re sure he’ll be gutted.

Latest news about these nine fine cricketers

Ones To Watch 2006
Ones To Watch 2007

Rahul Dravid: best bridesmaid ever

Rahul Dravid hit his 10,000th Test run today en route to his 25th Test hundred. It’s a little bit overshadowed by Sehwag’s triple hundred, but that’s pretty much the way it goes for Dravid.

Dravid was very much the support act for Sehwag yesterday, hitting 68 in a partnership worth 268. Stunning innings like Sehwag’s can’t happen without a batting partner though and it’s no coincidence that The Wall was protecting the other set of stumps during VVS Laxman’s sublime 281 against Australia as well. In between all the forward defensives he found time to tot up 180, which is some second fiddle – a second fiddle encrusted with rubies, played by a perfectionist, perhaps.

Today’s 111 saw Dravid’s average edge above that of the man who’s overshadowed him most throughout his career. Rahul Dravid averages 55.41 in Test cricket. Sachin Tendulkar now averages 55.31 after registering a duck. With Sehwag only adding 10 to his overnight total, perhaps he and Tendulkar were merely being gracious enough to give Dravid a day of his own.

We move that Dravid’s day becomes a national – no – international holiday, so that he’ll get the respect he deserves for all eternity. There’s nothing like a day off to heighten your appreciation of someone.

Virender Sehwag hits fastest 300

Virender Sehwag has now hit the fastest Test triple hundred. He was always likely to achieve it, which is perhaps the biggest compliment of all. A freak innings like Nathan Astle’s is one thing, but Sehwag does this kind of thing consistently. At the close of play Virender Sehwag was 309 not out and he’d scored those runs off just 292 balls, hitting 41 fours and five sixes.

Sehwag’s hit 309 before, against Pakistan. It took him 375 balls. That shouldn’t be bettered, but it just was. Sehwag can also boast the second and seventh fastest Test double hundreds of all time (assuming this one still counts as the third fastest now that he’s gone past 300).

As we said earlier, no batsman other than Virender Sehwag can sustain this speed of scoring for such long periods. He has a unique ability to strike good balls for boundaries without offering chances. Can anyone else play such outrageous shots without seeming in any danger?

He’s only the third batsman to score two triple hundreds after Don Bradman and Brian Lara. Has he got any adrenaline left for tomorrow? Lara’s 400 will surely come under threat if he has. Ordinarily 91 runs is a long way, but Sehwag has so comprehensively shredded this South African team they’re liable to go foetal when they see him return to the crease. He’s made Rahul Dravid look like a tail-ender.

Virender Sehwag must surely be regarded as one of the greats now. Yes?

Virender Sehwag hits tenth successive hundred in excess of 150

Virender Sehwag says THWOCK!That’s not a particularly arresting statistic on first glance, but think about it. When Virender Sehwag passes 100 he almost always hits in excess of 150. That’s something.

A running theme of this site of late has been the importance of imposing yourself on the opposition. We alluded to it in our retirement posts about Marcus Trescothick and Adam Gilchrist. Virender Sehwag is a batsman who really can affect the way his opponents think and act. He can change a game beyond his own contribution.

Scoring a common-or-garden hundred is worthy. It’s not something to be sniffed at, but a hundred rarely decides a match in its own right. Bowlers decide matches really. However, if you can score 150 plus, 200 plus or 300 plus, you can win with a significantly poorer set of bowlers.

The great thing about Virender Sehwag is that he scores huge numbers of runs at a ridiculous speed. Concede 540 as India did in this match and you should really be hoping for a draw at best. Not with Sehwag at the crease. He’s probably the only batsman in the world who can score at a run a ball for such an extended period of time that you can overhaul a score like that and set a target with time left in the game.

Dropping Virender Sehwag was mental. You don’t average 50 after 50-odd Tests without being a decidedly gifted batsman.

Virender Sehwag hits the fastest Test 300 of all time against South Africa

Hampshire lose Warne while Sussex keep Mushtaq

The greatest number 23 to ever captain Hampshire for half a seasonWell that’s made the County Championship a damn sight easier to predict.

Mushtaq Ahmed has played more of a part in deciding the competition than any other single player in recent years. He’s being allowed to play for Sussex despite competing in the naughty Twenty20 league, the ICL. He’ll be available for the whole season and will doubtless take heaps of wickets like usual.

Shane Warne‘s competing in the perfectly acceptable Twenty20 league which despite its official status clashes with a good chunk of the English domestic season. He wouldn’t be turning out for Hampshire much because of that and his ‘poker commitments’ so he’s decided to retire instead.

So Hampshire are further weakened. Their new captain will be Dimitri Mascarenhas who is himself missing a load of matches because he’s appearing in the IPL. We’re glad that we’re not Paul Terry, Hampshire’s team manager. He might have to get his pads down from the loft at this rate.

Hashim Amla beards a hundred

The verb ‘to beard’ means to carry out any action whatsoever whilst sporting a smashing beard.

India have been on a bit of a high after winning the interminable CB Series in Australia. They’re returning to earth at great speed now, after South Africa scored 540 in the first Test. Perhaps in light of India’s newfound fast-bowling strength, they should prepare green pitches and foresake their traditional low, slow turners.

That would be sad though. We’re against the homogenisation of pitches. A tour to a far-off land should be as different as different can be. Diversity is what makes cricket so intriguing.

Hashim Amla bearded a great many of South Africa’s runs. He was run out for 159 having bearded 20 fours.

He’ll be bearding well tonight.

Malinda Warnapura counters Marvan Atapattu comparisons

Malinda Warnapura competes in the sport of jumpingMalinda Warnapura was out first ball on his debut against Bangladesh, but he’s avoided following in Marvan Atapattu’s footsteps since then.

Atapattu benefitted from a good deal of generosity from the Sri Lankan selectors at the start of his career. His first few innings read as follows: 0, 0, 0, 1, 0 and 0. Even then he hardly set the world alight, continuing with: 25, 22, 0, 25, 14, 4, 7, 10, 26, 19 and 29, before finally breaking 30 in an innings of 108 against India in his 18th Test knock.

Malinda Warnapura shrugged off his ignominious debut to hit 82 in his second Test, thus avoiding the nickname ‘Atapatthree’ that we’ve just thought of and will have to file away until someone actually does make a dreadful start to their Test batting career. This week, against the West Indies, Warnapura continued with the run-scoring, hitting 120 and 62.

He seems like he’s all right against pace and he can’t be too bad against spin being as he scored successive hundreds when Sri Lanka A participated in the Duleep trophy – in much the same way as the England Lions batsmen didn’t, earlier this year. He managed to slip in 243 against Bangladesh A as well, not long after. Add to that a few years playing for Mirfield in the Central Yorkshire Cricket League and you’ve got quite a rounded batsman – and not in a Jesse Ryder way.

Sri Lanka won the Test. Chaminda Vaas took five wickets. Good (increasingly) old Chaminda Vaas.

Monty Panesar’s celebration

There it is. We haven’t seen much of it this winter, but the grin, run and airborne five got a welcome airing as England won the final Test to take a 2-1 win.

Is there a dedicated recipient of the airborne five? It seems to be choreographed well enough that there’s always someone available with an uncluttered run-up ahead of them. Is it always the same person? If it is the same person, is there a deputy five recipient who fills in if Monty takes a wicket while the official five recipient’s off the field?

In the hierarchy of minor on-field tasks, is Monty’s five recipient above or below the ball-shiner? Does he rank above the player who ‘keeps things lively’? Can you combine these roles to become a fielding all-rounder?

Monty’s figures of 6-126 would have been a damn sight better if Tim Southee hadn’t ruined them by carting 40-odd off two of his later overs. But that’s the way it is. Sometimes batsmen cart you into the stands. You’ve still got to do something about it, even if you’ve already done all the hard work.

New Zealand v England, third Test at Napier – day five
England 253 (Kevin Pietersen 129, Tim Southee 5-55)
New Zealand 168 (Stephen Fleming 59, Ryan Sidebottom 7-47, Stuart Broad 3-54)
England 467-7 declared (Andrew Strauss 177 not out, Ian Bell 110, Daniel Vettori 4-158)
New Zealand 431 (Tim Southee 77 not out, Ross Taylor 74, Matthew Bell 69, Stephen Fleming 66, Monty Panesar 6-126)
England win and take the series 2-1

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