England, Sangakara, Jayawardene and the end of Yuvraj

ecf80-yuvraj-singh-pictures-2251

The T20 World Cup in Bangladesh was an overwhelming success. For me it was the best international T20 tournament so far. The competition will be remembered for a few things, the first being Kumar Sangakara and Mahela Jayawardene going out of T20 cricket with a bang. The second being England’s total capitulation against The Netherlands and the last being the slow decline of another great Yuvraj Singh.

Although India played well throughout the tournament they were definitely the second best side in the final. Sri Lanka had plenty of experiences in how to lose a major final, but this time they always looked in control of the game. The ending of two of the worlds great players T20 careers was almost the stuff of dreams. Both Sangakara and Jayawardene had been part of great Sri Lankan teams which bravely lost so many finals. It would have been a real shame for them to retire without any silverware to show. They have one more chance in limited overs cricket, the 2015 world cup will be the ending of their ODI careers. Surely they cannot repeat this feat can they?

The two best friends have always been at ease in the international game, breaking many records. It will be fun to see how Sri Lanka will play without their two talismanic figures when they line up against England on the 20th May at the Kia Oval.  It will be a hard few years when they totally call it quits, for Sri Lanka.

England had a very interesting winter, cumulating in the terrible T20 world cup. Not only did they lose all the matches in Australia, they topped it all by embarrassing themselves against The Netherlands. What was very evident for is that Stuart Broad is not a real captain. I read an interesting quote from someone on my twitter feed, (sorry I cant remember who). He said “some people are generals and others are soldiers, Broad is a soldier.” It is not really a secret that Ashley Giles is going to be the next England coach. From the looks of the winter it seems to be the wrong choice, only time will tell.

Finally a real sad sight for Indian cricket was the decline of Yuvraj Singh. He cannot be held solely to blame for India’s loss in the final but he played a major role in it. He has been one of India’s greatest players playing major roles in past glories. The six 6’s against England was what set up India to win the first T20 world cup. He was voted the player of the tournament in the last world cup which India won. Coming back from cancer was a massive battle for him, thankfully he has won. After this he has not been the same player he was.

He is now fit and looking as slim as he has ever been but there seems to be something slightly missing. He is getting in and then getting out. The performance in the final was very unlike him. I do wonder how much more of Yuvraj we will see when players such as Binny, Shikar Dhawan were sitting on the sidelines. This may not be the end as Yuvraj is a fighter he may have one more comeback in him. I wish him well, hopefully he can find form with his new side RCB in the IPL.

What are your best memories of Kumar Sangakara and Mahela Jayawardene? Will Yuvraj make another comeback and who should captain England in T20/limited overs cricket? Please let me know below. 

World T20 – Preview and Predictions

ICC-World-Twenty20-Trophy-2014-Logo1

Tomorrow sees the start of the ICC World Twenty20 competition in Bangladesh. The first matches are to qualify for the main event with the home side Bangladesh starting off proceedings. Afghanistan will be a tough test for their first match. A team that is on the rise and full of confidence. The competition ends on Sunday 6 April with all the big sides thinking they could be in with a chance. This format may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I love the short exciting matches.

The holders West Indies will once again fancy their chances with the likes of Gayle, Pollard, Bravo and Narine in the side they can beat any side. Their problem is concentration, they will either demolish the opposition or crumble. The lower order batting of Darren Sammy may be crucial.

India go into any competition as the favourites, there is huge pressure on the side. The batting line up is one of the best ever assembled in this format. Dhoni, and Yuvraj are back to the side that struggled in the Asia cup. All of the players have played in the IPL and most of them have experience of winning in this format. This will be invaluable for the side coupled with the fact that the tournament is being played in Asia.

The two teams that I feel could win are Australia and South Africa, that 7/7 over match last week displayed the very best of these two sides. Brad Hodge is a player that is very much like Dhoni in the fact that he can pace a run chase. Also watch out for Quinton De Kock who I have said for many years is the South African reincarnation of Adam Gilchrist.

Watch out for former champions Pakistan and England, they are dangerous sides which cannot be ruled out. Sri Lanka depending on their dispute with SLC will fancy their chances. If the problems are not sorted out then they may send a second string side, if they send their strongest side then watch out for them. They are the number one ranked side at the moment.

Does Kallis ever get the respect he should?

Jaques Kallis

There is no doubt that Jacques Kallis is the greatest South African to play cricket, but does he get the same respect worldwide? When asking someone for an instant answer as to who is the best cricketer of the last ten/twenty years, the normal answers that flow off the tongue are Tendulkar, Warne, Ponting and Murlitharan. His name is not always the first you think of. This is a wrong way of thinking, as he is up there as the greatest ever allrounder.

It seems that outside of South Africa Kallis is regarded as a great player but never mentioned in the same breathe as people such as Lara, Tenulkar or Warne. Also the send off that Kallis received was not not very highly publicised, especially comparing this with other great players to have retired.

For consistency with the bat, ball and field he has to be up there with the above listed players. He has sixty two international centuries to his name,  aswell as a massive five hundred and seventy seven wickets also holding the record for most catches in in test cricket. He may not lead the charts for either wickets or centuries but he is up there in both lists. I hate to compare players from different era’s but his stats rack up better than of Viv Richards, from what I have heard the greatest allrounder ever. The only negative that can be labelled against Kallis is that in his later years as an international player he seemed to play a little bit more of a selfish game. For example on a few occasions the team needed quick runs but he played a slow innings.

If someone was to ask me now who is the greatest cricketer over the last decade, my answer would be:

-The greatest batsman is Sachin Tendulkar

-The greatest bowler is Shane Warne

-The greatest allrounder is Jacques Kallis

Jacques Kallis greatest moments:

Poll: Who will win the ICC World T20 2014?

ICC-World-Twenty20-Trophy-2014-Logo1

Under 19 World Cup Review and the potential future stars

SA-u19wc

We have just seen the climax of a very fascinating U19 world cup held in the UAE. A tournament that any of the teams could have won, was eventually claimed by South Africa. This was the countries top honour in their cricketing history. We saw the next crop of future international stars going head to head to produce some fascinating cricket. South Africa the champions went a bit under the radar beating one of the favourites Pakistan in the final. other teams were more fancied over South Africa, this being teams such as England, Australia and India. Although this competition is about winning it also is a good opportunity to see the talent that is coming through.

The majority of the teams performed as their senior counter parts do. For example India have a classy batting line up but lack the one class bowler who could rip through the opposition. The batting and fielding bailed out India up until the quarter final. England showed spells good batting and bowling but were undone twice by sub-continent sides in pressure situations. Pakistan had a few lower order collapses just like the senior side have suffered so much. The only exception to this were South Africa, they overcame their nemesis in Australia. That to in a semi final, they went on to win a major ICC trophy, something that no South African side has done before.

Many players stood out, here’s a list of the players to look out for in the future:

Inam-Ul-Huq/Sami Aslam: These two players have big futures in the side. The two openers will be buoyed on by Pakistan’s record of blooding young players. In many games these two carried the batting line up. Sami being the captain showed good leadership throughout the competition. Inam has the talent to be a player in the mould of his uncle the great Inzamam.

Aiden Markram: He will be fondly remembered in South Africa is the man who guided the side to their first ICC trophy. His leadership and calm play under pressure was a reason why South Africa did so well. He will find it hard to immediately break into the senior side but has a good chance if he develops his game.

Nicolas Pooran: If you had to back one player to hit a six at any time, you would pick him. His clean striking and composure under pressure will in no doubt attract many IPL sides in the future. He is also a good wicketkeeper. Definitely a player to watch and possibly the next cab off the block after Gayle and Pollard.

Ben Duckett: Like Bairstow and Butler England have another player who is multi talented. He is the sides best batsman, a good wicket keeper and can also field anywhere. Unfortunately England do not have the best record of blooding young players but Duckett should push his way through in the next five years. Often compared to Eoin Morgan for his ability to handle spinners.

Sarfaraz Khan: An allrounder, he did a similar role to what Yuvraj Singh used to do for India. He has a similar personality aswell, being the life of the Indian side. On the face of it he doesn’t look the greatest player, but when the pressure is on he seems to play better. Also a good fielder, like many of his under 19 team mates. He now faces the challenge of forcing his way into an IPL side and keeping up these performances.

Other players to look for are Matthew Fisher, a good English swing bowler, put many teams under pressure. Rabada from South Africa who showed good pace on grounds that didn’t really suit him, Zafar Gohar who didnt have a great tournament but showed on occasions why he will be the next big spinner. Also Vijay Zol the Indian captain and Sunju Sampson also from India both have good careers in front of them.

India v West Indies my thoughts

Today I made my way to the Oval to watch a match between tournament favourites India and many peoples dark horses to win the competition the West Indies. These are two teams who I have tipped for the tournament. 

Going to the ground there were serious questions asked over the weather. The majority of the crowd seemed to be Indian, resulting in a very good atmosphere. The tone of the match was set early on by the very impressive Bhuvneshwar Kumar. He bowled a fantastic spell taking the wicket of Chris Gayle as well as giving away very few runs. What was better for India was that Kumar was being backed up from the other end by all the other bowlers. Yadav and Sharma bowled quick, Ashwin and Jadeja frustrated the batsmen. 

Apart from a few flashes from Gayle, Pollard and Sammy at the end the West Indies did not show much with the bat. India also demonstrated why many people have dubbed them the best fielding side in the competition, stifling many chances for the West Indians. Credit has to Raina who as usual seems to give it his all for the side, often sprinting from one of the pitch to the other at the end of each over.

India’s batting started off very different to the West Indies, Rohit Sharma and Shikar Dhawan once again showing they are the partnership for the long term. Sharma can count himself to be given out on review and Dhawan was given a lifeline by Roach, who we all cheered on for the rest of the match. The moustached opener went on to score a century after a rain delay. 

The only issue I had with DK and Dhawan batting was that they could have gone a little quicker in the chase. They could have finished the match off before the rain delay, but they did the job so I shouldn’t complain to much. 

Below I have included a few pictures which I have taken today:



Win or Lose the New Zealand series England have been rubbish!

As I write this England are currently sitting at lunch on day three of the final test match at 92-5, this is after New Zealand scored 443 in their first innings. This means they have made it hard for themselves to win the match and therefore the series. After the historic win in India and previous highs this is very much a low. 

Before the series had started I heard a former England captain confidently state this was the best England team in history and that they should wipe the floor with this poor New Zealand team. I do not totally disagree with that statement but it hasn’t quite worked out as planned. This smacks of an over arrogant team who are very under prepared or just not bothered. They seemed up for the games against South Africa and India, so why have they not turned up in New Zealand?

In my opinion England have gone back to the old English mentality, this is to forget about the current series and concentrate on the next series which they believe is more important. The media do not help in this, the amount of times I have read that this is a build up for the Ashes. The bad form started before a ball had been bowled in the test series, I have to agree with Geoff Boycott that England spent to much time doing other activities such as bungee jumping instead of practising.  Did they believe that New Zealand were so poor that they could just turn up and beat them?

Rain saved England in the first test, otherwise they could have actually lost that game. They were better in the second game but are back onto the form of the first game again. What is interesting is that the players who had to prove a point have performed, and the people who were on form before this series are on poor form. Have these people just not turned up because they are sure of their place in the summer? People like Cook, Trott and Bell should be ripping into this bowling attack. The only batsman to do something of note is Compton, this is probably because he had something to prove. 


Ian Bell has done what he usually does, as in he plays well if the team play well. I have never seen the guy dig England out of a hole, he goes missing when the pressure is on. Alistair Cook has been really poor also not looking a shadow of the player he was in India. Same could be said for Jonathan Trott and even Kevin Pietersen, who has been dismissed by a left arm spinner again in the series. I can guarantee one thing, that these guys mentioned will be much better when it comes to the Ashes, I wonder why.

Another disturbing thing is that the England top order has struggled with a swinging ball today, this is very odd. Compton had the right idea with his hundred and eighteen ball, thirteen, the rest were impatient.  He and Matt Prior can stand up at the end of the series and state they have batted well, oh and I should mention Steven Finn. In terms of bowling Broad did his usual, a similar thing to Bell. He only plays well one game in ten. This is usually the game were people are questioning his place in the team. I still think England will win the Ashes, only because Australia are going through a tough period. Not too much should be read into of the poor Aussie tour of India, considering it is the first tour of India for most of the players. They will have slightly more common conditions to play in when they arrive in England.