Month: January 2012 (page 1 of 3)

Mohsin Khan’s dad qualities

Pakistan had a job to do, but most of the players were just dicking about. Umar Gul was ragging round on his BMX, Mohammad Hafeez was telling naughty jokes and Kamran Akmal was skulking in the shrubbery, encouraging his brothers to smoke cigarettes.

Misbah-ul-Haq was trying to get everybody to concentrate, but they were all ignoring him because he was boring.

Then Mohsin Khan turned up.

Mohsin was carrying a tape measure and a tool kit. More importantly, everyone could instantly tell that he was as sensible as brown bread.

You don’t dick about when there’s a dad there because he’ll bollock you, so everyone got organised, just like he told them to. Secretly, the players were all glad of this. They didn’t really like the chaos; it was just that there had been no-one to stop it.

Pakistan’s coach is to chaos what a fat person is to a slice of cheesecake. He devours it so completely, there’s no sign it was ever there. However, unlike a cheesecake-eating fat person, he has very good reasons for doing what he does. Everything is done for a reason. Everything makes perfect sense.

Mohsin Khan is blessed with the wisdom of the dads.


Australia’s Twenty20 selection policy

It's George Bailey - looking slightly like a woman in our opinionSam writes:

Greetings, King Cricket readers. I would like to share some facts with you. Everyone loves a good fact. Here they come.

  • George Bailey is the new captain of Australia’s Twenty20 team
  • He is the first player since Dave Gregory in 1877 to be named captain in his first international match in any format
  • Dave Gregory was captain in the first ever Test Match
  • George Bailey’s career domestic Twenty20 average is 27.6, with a highest score of 60
  • George Bailey has scored one Twenty20 half century in the last three seasons
  • In his last domestic Twenty20 match Bailey was bowled by Brad Hogg for 4
  • On February 6 Brad Hogg will be 41 years old
  • Brad Hogg has been recalled to the Australian Twenty20 squad
  • Brad Hogg retired from international cricket in 2008

England’s batsmen and spin in the fourth innings

England’s second innings batting card looks a bit binary code, but the truth is they weren’t qualified for this job.

The batsman v bowler duel generally favours the batsman, but the balance can shift towards the bowler due to the pitch, the weather and the match situation. In Abu Dhabi, it seemed to reach a tipping point.

Most of us would agree that it reached that tipping point a little too soon, but it’s not that England had a bad innings; it’s that a fourth innings trial by spin is as alien to their batsmen as Alf.

A major deficiency

There are many different ways of winning Test matches, but setting up a fourth innings spin assault is one of the classic tactics. If your batsmen can’t counter that situation, that’s not so much a chink in your armour as a missing breastplate.

Many people will want to replace one or two of England’s batsmen. That may or may not help, but it won’t resolve the problem. England simply don’t have anyone who can deal with fourth innings spin at the minute – that’s the truth of the matter.

Good spin bowling

England’s best batsmen haven’t deteriorated, they just haven’t encountered good spin bowling in relatively favourable conditions for quite some time.

Pakistan’s spin bowlers aren’t so good that they can rip through sides regardless of the conditions; they’re more like England’s pace attack. They’re disciplined and they make the most of anything that’s in their favour.

England were bowled out for 72 in Abu Dhabi and there were all sorts of decisions which could have gone the opposite way. But it wouldn’t have made a difference and that’s very much the point.

A couple of dismissals might have been given not out on another day, while a couple of not out decisions could easily have been given. The point is that the appeals were coming thick and fast and even allowing for the excitability of Adnan Akmal (who appeals even when there’s a successful forward defensive), they were frequent enough that it was only ever a matter of time.

It was exceptional, remorseless spin bowling against batsmen who had stolen and memorised the answers to a completely different exam. Pakistan were by far the better side.


Monty Panesar has played one Test X times

Monty Panesar doing summat - not sure what

This statement was made my Shane Warne. He famously said that Monty Panesar hadn’t played X Tests but one Test X number of times. This is accepted as great insight all too readily.

It’s a nice catchy soundbite and it’s from Shane Warne, but does it really have much merit? It seems to rely on this notion that spin bowlers have to be wily and full of mystery, but as far as we can tell Monty was winning England a lot of matches doing things his way. There’s no harm in looking to improve, but Monty is sometimes ridiculed and belittled despite a Test record that would be the envy of most spin bowlers.

Imran Khan never said that Glenn McGrath hadn’t played 124 Tests, but one Test 124 times. Dennis Lillee never said that Shaun Pollock hadn’t played 108 Tests, but one Test 108 times. There’s more than one way to take wickets, no matter what your style of bowling.

Ian Salisbury played several different Tests.

Today’s image was taken by Sarah Ansell and indeed most of the images we will be using from now on will have been taken by Sarah Ansell. She and her photos can be found at www.sarahcanterbury.com. Get in touch with her if you wish to republish one.


Virat Kohli hits first Test hundred

As well as being from a different generation, Tendulkar, Dravid and them are also significantly older than the likes of Virat Kohli. What we mean by this is that people change over time. They grow up.

We say this not because we’re competing in a hotly-contested online state-the-obvious competition, but because people seem to think that India will basically just abandon Test cricket when these old duffers finally retire. It may well be that Kohli, Raina and Sharma aren’t Test-loving elder statesmen of the game right now, but nor were the big names once upon a time.

Early days for Virat Kohli

Kohli’s been around for years and he’s judged as such, but he’s actually only 23. Rahul Dravid didn’t make his Test debut until he was that age. Pretty much everything we know about Dravid took place when he was older than Kohli is now. That’s how we judge him.

If you want to compare attitudes more fairly, you’ll have to speak to Kohli in 16 years’ time.

Twenty20 generation

There are definite signs that many younger players feel they can get more from cricket. Just as a seasoned cricket watcher might enjoy a Twenty20 match or two but tire of the format over time, so those on the pitch seem to follow a similar path.

When Kohli made his first Test hundred against Australia in Adelaide, he was, to put it mildly, emotional. His adrenal gland frequently goes into overdrive, but even by his standards he was fist-pumpingly screamy when he reached three figures. He’d earned it.

It was tough for him to get into the Test team, it was tough for him to stay there and, in Australia, he’s been up against it on and off the field. It wasn’t a celebration borne of just this one innings. Virat Kohli had a point to prove. In Test cricket.


India’s nuts need tightening

Their wheel nuts. Don’t be crude.

It’s not so much that India keep losing Test matches that’s depressing, it’s the way that they lose them: the wheels keep coming off.

In England and Australia, India have collectively averaged 24.5 with the bat and 56.97 with the ball. To put that in perspective, they’d be better off fielding 10 Ajit Agarkar’s and a wicketkeeper. Criticism doesn’t come much more damning.

They sometimes start well – as they did in Adelaide (84-3) – but once it starts to get away from them, that’s it; they get pounded like unresponsive dough (604-7). It saddens us a lot and we’re not even Indian.

Meanwhile…

Australia take the positives like deprived addicts

Which is essentially what they are. They LOVE being super-positive for no real reason, yet they haven’t had much reason to feel confident until recently. Cue a self-aggrandisement binge.

Australians feel like world-beaters if they manage to put their socks on without falling over, so comprehensive Test victories basically psyche them up to laughably cartoonish levels.

Annoyingly, it doesn’t much matter whether the confidence is justified or not. It’s still real and it still helps them play well in the next match.


Monty Panesar’s back

As in ‘returned’. He hasn’t got ankylosing spondylitis or anything.

It may not be the first time we’ve made that joke – it may not be the first time we’ve made that joke about Monty Panesar – but come on. Some events warrant special attention.

So what are the pros and cons of Monty Panesar being in England’s XI for the second Test in Abu Dhabi?

Pros

Monty Panesar is playing.

Cons

None.

So there you go, it’s a 100 per cent brilliant decision with no downside.


Eight counties in the first division of the County Championship?

Eight counties, 14 matches, home and away against everyone else in the division.

Yeah, we’d be okay with that. Our official stance is that the second division doesn’t count, so it would seem a bit odd to get all het up about them having some mix-and-match half-arsed fixture list of indecipherability down there.

The first division is what counts. The first division is about establishing which is the best county (Lancashire). The second division is really only there so that you can get a vague idea who might have half a chance of being able to compete in the first division next year (Yorkshire).

It’s not ideal, but other than ‘a cup of tea right now this second’, what is?


Gautam Gambhir wants rank turners in India

Some people seem to think there’s a bit of “yeah, well, see how you like it,” about this. That’s understandable. Gambhir’s had a couple of bad tours, so you can’t really blame him. However, he’d do well to remember that home success doesn’t negate failure away from home. It only highlights it.

However, even if ‘wanting to get your own back’ isn’t the best reason for requesting rank turners for Tests in India, we still agree with what he’s saying. The home team should always be favourites in a Test series. That’s half the point.

Test tours are meant to be hard. That way, if a touring team has any success, everyone knows they’ve done something special. India’s win in England in 2007 relied on brilliant swing bowling, not spin, and was all the more admirable for that fact. England’s win in Australia last winter was built on ‘not being utterly outplayed’ and ‘not crying in a corner’ in sharp contrast to their usual approach to away Ashes series.

Rank turners in India will generally favour the home side, but such pitches would also make anything achieved by tourists more impressive than an accident claims lawyer overlooking a technicality in favour of common sense and conventional morality.


“I find this series depressing, yet very engaging”

How’s that for a recommendation? That’s a Cricinfo comment about the fifth and final part of our short story set in the not-so-distant future.

If you can’t remember what’s happened already, here’s a full set of links.


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