Friday, 24 February 2012

Cricket In Shorts

Here are some bits and pieces which may have escaped your cricket radar in a week dominated by the Ricky Ponting sacking and subsequent farcical press conference. Starting first with thoughts on Ricky's week from the ABC New England North West Cricket Tragics Show ... click here to listen

New Zealand v South Africa
South Africa's tour of The Shakey Isles got underway last week with three T20 games. The Kiwis won the first game at Wellington thanks to Tim Southee and Martin Guptil. The Sarth Efrikans squared up at on the small Seddon Park in Hamilton when Richard Levi made a the fastest hundred in T20 history (45 balls) and then sacred New Zealand out of a win in the third when the Kiwis collapsed needing only 20 to win in five overs. A three match ODI series starts at Wellington tomorrow to be follow by three Tests.

Pakistan v England
No Andrew Strauss at the helm and England won 3-0 in the ODI series which followed the Tests. One day skipper Alastair Cook scored hundreds in the first two games and Kevin Pietersen blasted one in the third. Some face saving for England but it was the Test series which will have ramifications.

Chris Gayle
The Prime Minister of Jamaica, Portia Simpson Miller, has weighed into the ongoing debate over Chris Gayle. The former West Indies captain hasn't played at a national level since the 2011 World Cup and Test representation goes further back, following his public criticism of the West Indies Cricket Board in a radio interview. He is currently seeking a unconditional clearance to play cricket where ever he wants but the Board is denying it, saying the only way to have such a clearance is for him to make himself unavailable for the West Indies. Simpson Miller claims that Gayle has been denied justice. It would appear more likely he has been denied humility.

Sri Lanka
A major bank in Sri Lanka has announced that it will fund the Sri Lankan Cricket Board in paying its players, most of whom have received less than 20% of the playing fees in the past eighteen months. Mahela's shout. Meanwhile, in the light of the lack result of the Test team away from home, Sri Lankan cricket clubs which host first class cricket have been instructed to prepare bouncier, grassier wickets.

Whilst the focus for likely corruption has long been on the sub-continent, in England, Essex fast bowler Mervyn Westfied has been sent to prison for four months for spot fixing in a County game. Clearly, the shift for managed betting plunges has gone back to the home of the game, something Andrew Straus has expressed great concern over. "It's a hard thing to eradicate completely; policing is very, very tough. But there have been some consequences to what went on at Lords in 2010 so I think there's more awareness about it, which is a good thing." Meanwhile, Danish Kaneria, the former Pakistan leg spinner, is to be interviewed by the ECB Ethics Committeee and out his role in the Westfield affair. Westfield's legal team alleged in the trial that Kaneria was the go between with the bookies.

There Was Movement At The Station
Still unhappy about his dumping twelve months ago and subsequent disciplinary action for speaking out, Simon Katich is looking to be putting the issue behind him and as much distance bwteen he and Michael Clarke as he can. He's currently entering into negotiations with WA cricket about a move back home to the West for next season. Wicketkeeper/batsmen Peter Nevil is one of several Blues players apparently looking to follow him.

Andrew Symonds Retires
One of the most naturally gifted athletes to play cricket in the past fifty years, Andrew Symonds has announced his retirement from all forms of the game. With the birth of his first child soon to happen and with "several new and exciting opportunities" coming his way, Symonds will not be fulfilling the third and final year of his contract with the Mumbai Indians. Symonds averaged 40 in his 26 Tests for Australia, the highest of his two centuries being 162 not out in the acrimonious Sydney Test against India in 2008. He made his name in 198 ODI matches for Australia where he scored more than 5000 runs at close to his Test average. He was an average medium pacer turned off spinner, good enough to take a ODI pheifer against Bangladesh in 2005. He will mostly be remembered for his outstanding athleticism in the field and a strong, accurate throwing arm. Moody, troublesome and misunderstood, his talent was wasted through captaincy which was quick to use his talents but slow to realise his needs. Cricket Australia bears greater responsibility in failing to assist him exorcise his demons. He and Shaun Tait have been victims of a system unresponsive to difference. thecricketragics is genuine in literally wishing him well.