Murali’s Magic, Afridi’s Leadership and Bell’s Tolling

7 07 2010

Murali Retires

Muttiah Muralitharan, a cricketing legend and undoubtedly one of the finest spinners to play the game, has announced his retirement from cricket after the first test match of the Sri Lanka India series later this July. Whilst it is fair to say that Murali has not been in top form over the past year, his bowling average has ballooned during this time, both Sri Lankan and world cricket will be poorer for his absence.

A look at the stats (792 test wickets at 22.71, 515 ODI wickets at 23.07) mean that Sri Lankan cricket in particular will find it difficult to replace him and it really brings an era to a close. When Murali started Sri Lankan cricketers were still regarded in much the same way as Bangladesh or perhaps the West Indies are today and it is partially down to him that they are now regarded as one of the major players in the world cricket.

From a world perspective, we will miss seeing his smile and the evident enjoyment he gets from the game, although we will not miss him running through English batting line ups time and time again. His 16 wickets at the Oval remain writ large in our memory and ensured that he inspired the same level of fear as Ambrose, Walsh, McGrath and Warne to name a few others.

So thank you Murali – you will be missed!

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Afridi: Pakistan’s Saviour?

A good result again for Pakistan in the second of the 20/20 games against Australia which will undoubtedly give them some confidence moving into the test and one day series.

Shahid Afridi is rightly being given a good deal of credit for this win and, whilst it is obviously far too early to see what difference he will make in the long term, it does appear he has got what was previously a disparate and unhappy group of players going in the same direction.

Who would have thought it – Afridi could be the saviour of Pakistani cricket!

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The Majesty of Bell

We would bet that sentence hasn’t been written too often before! Any spectators at the New Road ground in Worcester would have been treated to quite some match yesterday between India A and England Lions, ending as it did in that rare cricketing thing, a tie.  Throw in 686 runs and 16 wickets, plus an apparently magnificent 158 from Ian Bell, we are genuinely sorry we missed it as matches like this come along very rarely.

Bell had suggested that he had been working on his technique with regard to big hitting by copying Luke Wright (perhaps not the role model we would have chosen), yet yesterdays innings was apparently an orthodox one with only one six, showing that you don’t have to bat like Eoin Morgan to score runs in the 50 over format. With Ravi Bopara also scoring a 150 plus innings a couple of days ago England look like they are finally creating some depth in the limited overs department. There will always be doubts over the temperaments of these two but they have proved that they remain highly talented batsman and will undoubtedly get another shot at the big time before too long.

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