Sunday, 27 March 2011

Adil Rashid gets a phone call from Geoff Miller and Andy Flower

Hello Adil - Geoff Miller and Andy Flower here.  How are you...?

What's that?  You just bowled the Lions to a win?  That's lovely.  Forgot that's why you're over in the Caribbean.  Have you had a nice winter...?

Played a bit of T20 for South Australia in the Big Bash, did you?  Very nice.  Get on okay...?

Won the tournament?  Smashing.  Suppose you picked up a few wickets here and there...?

Lots? That's good to hear....

No, we didn't realise you'd started bowling an off-break as another variation to go with your googly and your slider...

No, we didn't know you'd gotten comfortable with taking the new ball...

No, to be honest we were just pretty busy winning the Ashes.  Sorry about that.

So here's a proposition for you, Adil.  How would you like to fly 9000 miles to join us in Sri Lanka...?

No, not to play in the quarter-final exactly.  We were thinking more that you could sit in the dressing room like you did on all your previous tours.  You remember, don't you?  If we make it to the semi then maybe we'd ask you to carry some drinks, but even if we don't you'd be able to join the team for the flight back to England, which will be a laugh.

What do you say, Adil...?

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Quarter final team previews

West Indies
Roach, Sammy, Benn, Russell, Rampaul and Bishoo have produced a number of good bowling performances.  A Gayle or Pollard onslaught is just the sort of thing that could cause the wheels could come off for Pakistan in the field, but my guess is that Afridi, Gul and co will stop that happening.

Anyone else noticed that Shahid Afridi often stands with his arms crossed when being interviewed at post-match ceremonies?  Is this in a vain attempt to look serious?  That said, while his batting is crazy, his bowling really is pretty serious, and Pakistan are pretty serious contenders.  They've cruised quietly  to the top of their group and now have a very winnable quarter ahead of them. I don't know why people didn't take more note of them earlier.  Be Afridi.  Be very Afridi.

Batting-wise, the top order's in top nick, but the middle order men can't middle it.  Here's what Zaheer Khan had to say yesterday about the bowling: "As a bowling unit, I think I am doing well."  You have to say that's a pretty entertaining Freudian slap in the face for Harbhajan, Sreesanth and co.

Likely to be presented with a juicy greentop in Ahmedabad, tailor-made for their speedsters.  Not.  Crumbled against Indian spinners in a warm-up game in Bangalore.  If Harbhajan remembers how to take wickets, I'd expect a repeat.  But beware Mike Hussey.  I repeat: beware Mike Hussey.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Sachin, Sri Lanka, Sambit, painkillers and the choke'o'meter

The World Cup is in full swing and I have to say I'm loving it.  Arguments about the format and the involvement of associate nations will rage on and on, but for me, this is still the most important tournament in the cricketing calendar and the current edition has already produced plenty of drama and excitement.

In addition to the on-field action, I've also enjoyed the accompanying feast of cricket writing.  Here are some snippets of my favourite pieces from the last week or so, along with links to the full articles.

Mike Marqusee - The "symbolical" cricketer: Sachin Tendulkar

99 down, one to go.  It seems only a matter of time before Sachin Tendulkar becomes the first man to score a ton of international tons, and it would be fitting if he reached the milestone in a World Cup match on home soil.  The tribute pieces will come flooding in, but few will be as thought-provoking as Mike Marqusee's recent take on Sachin's unique status as a "symbolical" cricketer.
"Tendulkar’s personal achievements were represented as a triumph for India as a whole, a sign of the country advancing on the world stage – like Indian corporations opening plants in Europe or the USA. Unwittingly and unwillingly, he found himself at the epicentre of a popular culture shaped by the intertwined growth of a consumerist middle class and an assertive, sometimes aggressive form of national identity. National aspirations and national frustrations were poured into his every performance, and this during a period in which the nation passed through some very dark moments (Kashmir since 1989, Ayodhya in 1992, Mumbai in 1993, Gujarat in 2002, Mumbai in 2009). How he’s not been crushed by it all remains at least in part a mystery."
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