West Indian Madness, IPL Blues and ICC In Seeing Sense Shocker

20 04 2011

An Empire No More

We came across a wonderful documentary the other day called ‘Empire of Cricket: West Indies’. As a history of the West Indian game and a commentary on how the game developed, grew, came to an intimidatingly excellent level in the 1980’s before sliding into it’s present mire, we haven’t seen anything else that does it better.

Interlaced with fantastic old footage of the greats including Learie Constantine, George Headley, Sobers and of course the more modern pantheon of Sir Viv, Lloyd and their fast bowling machines it is well worth a watch. As with many pills and medicines, this reminder of glory days past had a distinctly disappointing side effect though as, inevitably, the final 10 minutes of the documentary focused on the regions current cricketing woes. A state of affairs that as cricket fans depresses us deeply.

The West Indies have been in the news this last week or so once more for two reasons. Firstly the blogging world’s version of Wikileaks, WICBExpose, has come to prominence (thanks to Jrod of Cricketwithballs for highlighting it to the wider community) and then, secondly, the WICB announced their squad for the upcoming ODI and one off 20/20 international series against Pakistan leaving out Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shiv Chanderpaul.

Apparently the board are keen to promote youth and build a team for the next world cup in 2015. A glance at the team they have selected though would probably have caused Learie Constantine to blanch had the great man been around to see it though. With the honourable exception of the Bravo brothers, the rest of them are probably journeyman at best and it is difficult to see them presenting much of a challenge to even the most fractured Pakistani team.

By removing these three experienced players the West Indies board have deprived the team of what little experience and possibly class they have (a look a the batting statistics across all three forms over the last two years backs this up). A team that is looking to recover from the doldrums of the last 10 years can ill afford to rid itself of this sort of ability (even if as the rumblings say the players in question are not perhaps as motivated as they should be) and, to us at least, this is more evidence of mismanagement of cricket in the Caribbean.

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IPL Blues

It can hardly be a good thing when only two weeks into a seven week tournament we are already suffering fatigue at the incessant nature of the event. Readers who have been with us for a while will know that the IPL is not our favourite cricketing event around to start with, yet this year the never ending branding, commercials and sheer razzmatazz is effecting us earlier than usual.

Part of the blame for this it has to be said can be put down to Danny Morrison particularly, although some of his co commentators are blameless either. It is a strongly held view of ours that Morrison should never be allowed near a microphone ever again. Not only is his over hyped and over excited brand of commentary irritating, it is actually managing to detract from the cricket. We understand that the IPL organisers want people to engage with the cricket – and the commentary is a crucial part of that – yet the opposite is actually happening in our case.

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Good News For Associates?

A Cricinfo piece today tells us that the ICC may well be rethinking their decision exclude the associate nation teams from the next cricket world cup in 2015. The ICC are apparently going to reassess in response to strong and widespread criticism of the decision to make it a ten team event. To tell the truth even we at the Compulsive Hooker were surprised by the level of dismay at the ICC’s decision and are pleased that it may yet be rectified.

Ireland will of course be happy but, if as Sharad Pawar suggests, it might be a 12 team tournament instead, our outside bet for the final slot would be Afghanistan…

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Team By Team World Cup Previews

19 02 2011

So the Cricket World Cup, a tournament that doesn’t finish until the improbable date of April 2nd, gets under way today with a match between the favourites India and the nation applauded by many for giving the tournament back it’s soul, Bangladesh, with what was apparently a passionate and moving opening ceremony. In the best traditions of English cricket supporters and ODI cricket, we have been pretty ambivalent up until this point (regular readers may have guessed due to the lack of comment on this website) about it. Now, however – and as it always does eventually, the world cup bug has grabbed us and we are looking forward to two months of regular, meaningful limited overs cricket.

Therefore here are some short previews and predictions of how the various teams will go:

Australia

Have a better chance than many think. It really comes down to whether their all out pace attack can do the same job as it did in the West Indies four years ago. Tait and Lee are older and more broken than they were back then but still remain excellent bowlers. The batting is a concern and they will need Shane Watson in particular to be the star man in much the same way as Hayden was in the previous tournament. However our pick as a star man is David Hussey who will surely seize his chance and perform in his brother’s absence. Quarter Finalists.

Bangladesh

Over the past year or so there have been definite signs of improvement in this Bangledeshi team although it is hard to argue they have left their frailties behind entirely. Have the ability to spring an upset and could easily end the West Indian’s dreams of success before they even start. As always Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan will be key men with the captain being our pick as the star man. Have every right to believe they can progress and we have them down as quarter finalists.

Canada

This is likely to be a painful tournament for the men from North America. From a cricketing minnow’s point of view they are probably the weakest team but will be hopeful that they can at least beat the Kenyans. Showed in the warm up game against England that they can compete and have a player of good ability in Rizwan Cheema – our star man for the Canadians. Unfortunately we don’t think they will win a game and will go out prior to the knock out stages.

England

Have the potential to be winners although form and injury worries give the feeling that perhaps this might be a tournament too far for them. Morgan’s absence is a massive blow but at least they have the returning (and on form) Stuart Broad to lead the way with the ball. Much will depend on the captain, Andrew Strauss, and a rejuvenated Paul Collingwood, although our pick as star man after a move to the top of the order is Kevin Pietersen. We have argued before that this might not be a bad plan and if he has a good tournament you simply don’t know how far England could go… Semi Finalists*

India

Hardly an unoriginal choice as winners of this tournament, yet this this where the smart money lies. Devastating batting, bowling suited to their home conditions, one feels that if they play to their potential they are likely to be too much for the others. However they are not so far and away the favourites that it is a given and their bowlers in particular need to fire. Tendulkar is our (obvious) pick as star man in what would likely be his last tournament. Winners.

Ireland

Will be desperate to  to show that the decision to exclude associate teams from the next world cup is very short sighted by creating an upset or two. Buoyed by the returning Ed Joyce (the CH’s star man), they will believe they can beat Bangladesh, West Indies and the Netherlands with possibly even England also in their sights. It is unlikely that they would qualify for the latter stages yet like all Irish sporting teams they are combative and should not be discounted. We think they have one upset in them although this will probably not be enough so it is simply the group stages for them.

Kenya

Once seen as the next associate side most likely to be given test status, they have regressed in recent years. They do however possess some talented players with exposure to success at World Cups and will believe at any rate that they could beat both Canada and Zimbabwe. Having transformed himself from the leg spinning hero that took Kenya to the semi finals back in 2003 but who then developed the yips, Colins Obuya has turned himself into a good middle order batsmen and is our star man. Group stages is as far as they will go however.

Netherlands

The eternal ‘almost team’ but still one who opponents take lightly at their cost – just ask England. Have one or two talented players with the stand out being Essex’s excellent Ryan Ten Doeschate who has the potential to be quite brilliant. Like Ireland, will be eyeing up wins against Bangladesh and the West Indies as potential upsets – something that would be quite exceptional – but in all likelihood it is the men from the Emerald Isle who will be their most likely win.  Group stages.

New Zealand

We don’t know what has happened to the Kiwi’s over the past year. They appear to have imploded and, whilst you would be unwise to write them off, it is lucky for them that they are not in Bangladesh’s group. Even Zimbabwe on current form will be a test. Much as always depends on Taylor, Vettori and McCullum (our star man) although it is time for the support acts, Southee, Guptill and Ryder to step up to the plate. Unfortunately we do not see them going past the group stages as we believe Zimbabwe may cause an upset.

Pakistan

Anything could happen quite honestly and it probably will! Led by Afridi and with a bowling attack that can run through anyone on their day (even despite the bans to Amir and Asif) it is the batting that will be crucial to Pakistan. In recent times it has been this aspect of their game that has let them down badly. Star man for us will be the veteran Abdul Razzaq, whose batting is crucial in the late order and can snatch games from the jaws of defeat. Quarter finalists.

South Africa

The team who if only for themselves may well have won two world cups, will believe that with the demise of Australia, this may be their year. Studded with talent in both departments including the interesting choice of Imran Tahir as their attacking spinner, they will be a handful for anyone. Despite the claims of Amla we have plumped for Steyn to shine. Again in this most open of world cups it is far from a given that they will progress past the quarters even as their previous habits of folding under pressure show, yet we believe they will be losing finalists.

Sri Lanka

Possible winners, the Sri Lankans are bound to benefit from home support, familiar pitches and a wealth of talent and it would be a fool who would write them off. We have picked the upcoming Angelo Matthews to be our star man, a player of immense ability, although the old stagers of Sangakarra, Murali, Jayawardene  – not to mention Dilshan et al – will push our choice all the way. We believe they will be Semi Finalists.

West Indies

Of all the teams in the world cup we will be hoping that the West Indies do well. As we all know cricket is struggling in that part of the world and a successful world cup would do wonders for the teams confidence. Anything from semi finals onwards would represent real achievement – something that would mean Chris Gayle has had an excellent world cup. Darren Bravo is our pick as star man although in all honesty Quarter finals is likely to be as much as they can achieve.

Zimbabwe

The men from Southern Africa have been on an upward spiral of late and should not be taken lightly by anyone. We have already called a possible upset against New Zealand and providing they can win the other games they are expected to, this should be enough to put them in the quarter finals. Something that would represent a major achievement. As star man we are going to go for Brendan Taylor although players like Chigurumba or Taibu will push him all the way. 
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Thoughts On The Pakistani Spot Fixing Sentences

8 02 2011

First of all, let us start by saying that cricket is a game that we love. We love the fact it is a game more complex than most others; we love the simplicity of the contest between batsman and bowler – an individual contest in amongst a team game; we love all the cultural differences that come to the fore when fans from different nations come together in celebration and support of the game; and most of all, we love believing that the contests we are watching are genuine encounters with opposing teams doing their utmost to win.

With the scandal involving the three Pakistani cricketers, Amir, Asif and Butt, it is this last reason and covenant with the paying public that has been broken. For many, including us at the Compulsive Hooker, the subsequent lack of trust engendered by the actions of these players had caused a fairly deep rift between us and the game itself – something that even pulsating series in South Africa and Australia since then have not been entirely able to heal.

In some ways we are relieved that some of the wilder claims of Mazhar Majeed involving other players have not been found to have happened, yet, the suspicion still lurks that perhaps this is for a lack of evidence (or possibly even lack of will) as much as anything else. Unfortunately, and this is the crux of what we believe with regard to the sentences imposed on the three players, the deterrent to spot fix, match fix, call it what you will, is simply not there – even now and, as sure as eggs are eggs, it will happen again.

It is that most human of failings, greed, which of course lead to the situation cricket finds itself in today. Butt, Amir and Asif found the lure of the lucre too hard to resist and so they find themselves in trouble today. It is possible to sympathise with these players on some level – they are relatively poorly paid and can see their neighbours in India earning astronomical sums and this is surely something the Pakistani board have to address moving forward. After all, one of the reasons why you can believe in the Indian, Australian or English teams honesty is that, simply put, they have much more to lose than gain.

However, even despite these mitigating factors, we do believe that these players needed to be held up as an example to the rest of the cricketing world so that we do not get a rerun of this situation in five years time. The argument that it is ‘only a few no balls’ holds no water. It was a matter of principle that needed addressing but sadly has not been completely so. Five year sentences are simply not enough in our eyes and the prospect of Salman Butt, for example, playing test cricket again is not one that we will savour.

 





A Day For Test Cricket Lovers and Chris Gayle

16 11 2010

Yesterday was one of those brilliant days that test cricket lovers enjoy so much. With three separate games going on – one in Sri Lanka, one in India and one in Dubai – it was a joy to switch between the three. Sometimes watching McCullum score what could yet be a match winning century against India; sometimes watching Amla and Kallis setting South Africa up for what will surely be a final day win; and on other occasions watching the coolest cricketer in the world, Chris Gayle, scoring a remarkable 219 not out.

Slightly inevitably, given the fact that Gayle was batting and taking into our account soft spot for the West Indians anyway, we spent most of the time marveling at the power shown by the big Jamaican. In an innings described as ‘mature’ by both the commentators and Cricinfo’s ball by ball coverage several times, he still managed to score at more or less a run a ball and, remarkably, has so far hit eight sixes.

There was a time when a test match innings containing even two or three sixes was worthy of special mention, yet, in this mornings press there wasn’t even much mention of it. It seems that in this modern day and age Gayle was simply doing what is expected – or certainly at any rate, what is expected of him!

What was also notable was the precise yet still infinitely casual manner of his batting. When he hit a six it wasn’t the bludgeoning carve so often seen from him in the shorter forms, but a studied cricket shot that somehow, despite the apparent lack of effort, still went an extraordinary long way.

Having been relieved of the captaincy for this tour we had wondered how he would respond, and, if this is the way he intends to play, the rest of the world better look out. Gayle has long been someone who probably hasn’t done justice to his enormous talent – something that will be an enormous boon to the West Indies should he now push on.

A quick mention for Darren Bravo too. Dwayne’s younger brother, Darren looked calm and collected on his test debut scoring a fine 58 at number 3. Watching him cover drive for four one was strongly reminded of Brian Lara – an unwanted comparison for any young cricketer – yet from a style perspective at least it was uncanny. If Bravo can score even half the number of runs Bravo did – the West Indies will be happy.

In India Brendon McCullum showed further evidence that perhaps finally he is turning into a top class test match player. With the Indian’s achieving a 127 run lead in the first innings it was crucial to New Zealand that someone stood up to ensure that, at the very least, they did not lose the match.

With the final day having got under way at Hyderabad, McCullum is currently 168 not out and the Black Caps lead stands at just over 200 runs. It is unlikely that there will be enough time to go for the win or that they would have enough fire power to get through the superstar Indian line up – yet this match marks another success story for the Kiwis. With their chances written off in all quarters after their heavy defeat to the Bangladeshi’s last month, this tour (providing they don’t lose today) has already been a victory of sorts. With a draw here you never know what might happen in the third and final test…

Finally in Dubai for Pakistan’s ‘home’ test series against the South Africans, the class of the visitors appears to have told. With the pitch in the new Dubai cricket stadium holding up – a triumph for the Dubai authorities – Amla and Kallis both scored hundreds whilst setting Pakistan 451 to win. Pakistan have started reasonably well but with two men out for 109 and the Pakistani psyche hardly set up to play for draws, we suspect that Steyn and co will roll them today.

Please click on the country names for links to the live scoreboards of the Pakistan match, the West Indies match and the Kiwi game – should you be interested.

 





Confused Australian’s and Brilliant Razzaq

1 11 2010

Two excellent results for both English and general cricketing enthusiasts yesterday. Firstly Sri Lanka disposed of a confused Australia team in a clinical and entirely satisfactory fashion – that is if you aren’t an Aussie yourself – and then Pakistan came back from the dead to beat South Africa in the opening ODI of their series in the UAE.

Firstly the match down under. The opening game of any Summer is always an opportunity to get off on the right foot – to set your stall out for the long days of cricket ahead. Judging by yesterdays game the stall Australia set out was a confused and generally not very well stocked affair – an added bonus for an Englishman coming as it does with an Ashes series looming. Of course it would be wrong to read too much into this game, it was only a 20/20 after all, yet there is some evidence of confused thinking in the Australian camp which possibly suggests that they are not exactly where they want to be.

Before we follow this line of thought any further let us just give due credit to the Sri Lankans who performed clinically and on occasions brilliantly in this, the sole 20/20. Fernando and Malinga were excellent with their changes of pace and general accuracy; Randiv, the off spinner, showed that there might be life after Murali and the fielding was good throughout. The sole blemish being perhaps that they failed to take advantage of any run out opportunities by hitting the stumps directly. As you would expect Dilshan and Sangakarra then ensured there would be no risk of an Aussie comeback.

And so back to the Australians and their strange decisions. By far the most peculiar of these was Clarke’s choice to push himself up the order to open the batting. 20/20 cricket is really a very simple thing. During the first 6 overs you want openers who can clear the infield and take advantage of the fielding restrictions, then you need batsman to follow who can continue this good work but who are perhaps adept at hitting gaps and ensuring that the scoreboard keeps moving (but importantly who can still hit boundaries if the second power play is called) and then the blasters at the end. Clarke does not fulfill any of these roles and should immediately be dropped from the 20/20 side giving Cameron White the reigns. In 50 over cricket there is still room for the batsman who can score 80 from 100 balls or so which makes him a valuable player in that format yet not in this shortened version of the game.

This confused thinking is encouraging from an English point of view as it shows a lack of clarity in the selectors minds. In the past with an all conquering side and numerous excellent replacements ready to be picked at any time being an Australian selector was easy. Now with the lesser talents on show and numerous who are good but not obviously better than anyone else, it is a difficult job suddenly and one that, in this particular case certainly, they are getting wrong. Other indications are the decisions to stick with players like Hussey and North when in our opinion it is clear that there are other options out there.

With the Ashes coming up we can only applaud this state of affairs, hoping that it continues at least to the end of the Summer…. It was also encouraging to see that Australia have picked their own version of Tim Bresnan – too late of course to get him in to the test side, but Hastings appears to be almost a carbon copy. Ineffective but hard working bowling and bits and pieces with the bat.

In the other game, Pakistan, or more accurately Abdul Razzaq, pulled off one of the most thrilling wins we have ever seen. Pakistan are a much beleaguered cricketing nation at the moment and from a neutrals perspective it was good to see them win. With the bowling attack they possess there is no reason why they should not be dining regularly at the top table – sadly however the batting regularly lets them down.

Abdul Razzaq yesterday rescued them from yet another collapse scoring a sensational 109* from 72 balls. Why the South Africans kept bowling it in his areas (i.e. full and straight) we don’t know but either way it was amazing stuff. We have rarely, if ever, seen a batsman turning down singles with a run rate needed of over two a ball and only a dozen deliveries remaining – yet it happened yesterday and was a testament to Razzaq’s ability to hit boundaries when needed.

Breathtaking, brilliant, unexpected and above all much needed for a Pakistan team who have ensured that this series is now alive. On a day in which Mohamed Amir and Salman Butt’s appeals were rejected, it was a something positive that should give much needed encouragement to the rest of the team.





ICC Awards 2010: Swann Loses Out To Sachin

7 10 2010

Sachin Triumphs

The winners of the ICC awards were announced last night and whilst they were on the whole more or less as expected, we did feel that Graeme Swann was pretty hard done by not to pick up a single gong. Cricket is, as ever, a batsman’s game – something that hasn’t changed since the early days of cricket 200 years ago when the batsmans totals were counted whilst ignoring the bowling figures – and this was represented in last nights awards ceremony yet again.

Tendulkar won the ICC Cricketer of the Year award for the first time in his illustrious career and arguably deservedly so. Scoring over 1000 runs with six centuries in only ten test matches he has had as good a year as he has had before – combine this with the first double century in a one day international and you have a potent mix. Equally, Sehwag, scorer of over 1200 runs at an average of 85 with his own collection of six tons is also arguably a deserved winner of the test player of the year award.

Sadly for Graeme Swann this left him without a category in which he could could triumph. Originally left out of the shortlist for the Cricketer of the Year award by the ICC’s selection panel, he was only added later when the ECB rightly created a furore and demanded his inclusion. That he couldn’t even make this original sixteen was a mistake so elementary and so entirely characteristic of the ICC that you really worry for the future of the game in their hands. Once on the list he rightly made it to the final four although we always felt that this was as far as he would go – had he been selected for the prize it would have highlighted the original failure to include him – quite apart from the other players own merits.

The second selection mistake – although one not acknowledged – was his lack of inclusion in Sehwag’s category of Test Player of the Year. Comfortably the worlds leading wicket taker in this time with an astonishing seven five wicket hauls and one ‘ten for’ (list here), Swann also managed almost 500 runs and three fifties. A brilliant all round record and one that in our opinion could and perhaps should have knocked Sehwag off the top of the list – to not even get a nomination is appalling quite frankly. Factor in his performances in ODI and 20/20 cricket and you have a mix that could have easily been justified in winning the top award.

Possibly in the end the quality of the opposition Swann faced in this period (i.e. 4 tests each against Bangladesh and Pakistan and only 6 against top ranked sides – Australia and South Africa) told in the final decision going against him. Summing up therefore – whilst it is difficult to have any real issues with the two players selected – Swann has arguably been hard done by throughout process as a whole and will have to be content with the knowledge that most sober judges reckon him to be the best spinner in the world right now. As fervent England fans we would like to thank the great man for a sterling years work and say please keep this vein of form up long enough for the Ashes to stay firmly in England’s grasp – you’re going to be key Swanny!

For the record – here are his figures over the year:

Other Awards:

ODI Player of the Year: Shane Watson can feel justifiably gutted not to have won this award – more wickets than anyone else and the second highest run scorer over the same period – not even AB De Villiers, the eventual winner, with his 855 runs in 16 games could quibble too much with this. An exceptional year for both players but Watson should have sneaked it with his all round performance.

20/20 Performance of the Year: A strange category this knowing that there is no test or ODI equivalent – added to the fact that realistically it is something that only a batsman could win – was won by Brendon McCullum for his 116 not out against the Aussies. Fine innings though it is, cricket is all about context and therefore in our humble opinion it would be very difficult to argue against Hussey’s 70 odd against Pakistan in the World Cup semi final at St.Lucia. Under immense pressure and with near impossible odds Hussey took Australia through to the final which given the World Cup situation should have been more than enough to win the award.

Other than that it was all pretty straight forward. What are your thoughts – do you agree?





England Win and Ridiculous Conspiracies

23 09 2010

It is with some relief that we write these words: the England Pakistani series is over. What was an intriguing series to begin with has gone through the gamut of emotions  and remarkably ended in a tense, exciting and winner takes all scenario. What has not been so pleasant, quite apart from the claims of spot fixing, has been the increasingly aggressive stance from Pakistani supporters as they begin to subscribe to the ‘worlds against us’ conspiracy theory.

Yesterdays game was, for the most part, a very close affair until Swann turned the screw in the 28th over of the Pakistani innings. The Pakistani bowling attack again served notice of how dangerous it could be, the old man of the side, Shoaib Akhtar, showing immense bravery to continue bowling with a side injury and pick up 3-40. For a large part of the innings England were only one or two wickets away from collapsing almost entirely.

The English saviour, once again, was Eoin Morgan – a man who has done more for the England ODI team in turning them into a consistent and dangerous unit than arguably any other. Without the sheer class and calmness of Morgan; without his ability to work the strike and hit the gaps; without his talent to shift in gears and hit boundaries almost at will late in the innings – England would have in all likelihood, here and on increasingly numerous other occasions since his debut, folded – whether chasing or setting a target. Up until now Morgan has mostly produced these outstanding innings batting second – an easier task simply because you know exactly what you have to do – but yesterday, batting first, it was up to him to set the pace and judge what a reasonable score was. Once again he performed brilliantly and it was almost solely down to him that what turned out to be a very testing target was set.

In the Pakistani reply Akmal and Hafeez once again set off like a rocket, something that has been a feature of this series, before getting bogged down in the middle overs. Two wickets in an over, one a brilliant catch by Paul Collingwood, from Broad slowed the Pakistanis although it was the introduction of Swann that really set the cat among the pigeons. The ball in his first over to defeat Fawad Alam was breathtaking and we suspect would have got far finer players than the Pakistani number five out. The death knell of the Pakistani innings however was in the 28th over when Swann removed Yousuf and Afridi in consecutive balls – Yousuf’s in particular being another exceptionally fine bit of bowling. Rameez Raja on the Test Match Special commentary summed Swann up perfectly; “I never thought that watching off spin could be so interesting”. There are few finer sights in cricket than watching a fast bowler steaming in and causing havoc – i.e. Allan Donald at Edgaston 1998, Curtly Ambrose at Trinidad in 1994 to name but a couple – but one of them is definitely a top class spinner weaving his web. Edge of your seat stuff as you wonder whether this one will be caught at slip, beat the bat or simply castle the hapless batsman.

One regrettable aspect of this series was the lack of UDRS technology as there were on a three or four occasions fairly glaring errors made by the on field umpires. Whilst this is part and parcel of cricket, sadly these all went one way and have only served to fan the conspiracy theories surrounding Pakistani cricket as put forward by an increasing number of their supporters and the administration. The Compulsive Hooker has always been a little suspicious of technology as in our view we believe it is important not to devalue the umpires on the pitch – something that is already happening unfortunately with players increasingly showing small amounts of dissent and questioning decisions. However with the glaring and obviously wrong decision against Kamran Akmal last night we feel that perhaps it should be made a global standard by the ICC for all games.

Fortunately the particular decision against Akmal,whilst obvious in its incorrect nature, would have been unlikely to have altered the end result of the game. When he was dismissed Akmal had already become very bogged down and was struggling to push the scoring along after what had been a flying start and, considering the deficit at the end was 121 runs, it is unlikely that he would have made that much of a difference. In the end the class of Swann and Morgan told and England, rightly, were victors in the series.

For anyone who hasn’t seen the scoreboard of yesterdays game; please click here.

What is imperative now upon conclusion of the series is that the PCB and the ICC conduct a full, thorough and above all totally honest search into these allegations as well as fixing in general. Sadly up until now the PCB, and Ijaz Butt in particular, have appeared to be, if not dishonest, certainly disingenuous and more likely to try and save face by going on the attack than apparently willing to try and clean up the game. It seems obvious to most (and by most we mean pundits and experts within the game rather than the armchair supporters such as ourselves) that something is going on. For any Pakistani’s reading this we also realise that these issues are unlikely to be concentrated solely with your national team and so the ICC needs to take charge and bring any wrong doers to justice, whatever their nationality.

We have fallen out of love with cricket a little bit in these last few weeks and we know that we are not the only ones. It will be with some relief that the Ashes will arrive as with that series at least we can be reasonably sure that nothing untoward will be going on. The tour squad is announced today at 1:30pm and we are already feeling the first tingles of excitement at what is likely to be a closely fought and brilliant series.








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