All Round England Outclass India

26 07 2011

What a start to the series that was! Hard, competitive cricket during which England ultimately asserted their superiority – and even allowing the difference that Zaheer or a fully fit Tendulkar might have made – the final margin of 196 runs was telling. It will be a surprise if England cannot press home their advantage at Trent Bridge.

Much has been made of the injuries/illnesses to the Indian players (and this includes Sehwag of course), however the match was really lost when they allowed England to get away from them in their first innings during what what was the best bowling conditions of the entire game. One wonders what England’s attack might have achieved in the same conditions… You only have to look at Broad’s performance in the first innings and the collective England seamers effort in the second to realise what might have been.

As unabashed England supporters here at the Compulsive Hooker, perhaps the most pleasing thing was the way in which almost everyone contributed in some way – Morgan and Cook the exceptions. Trott made a valuable fifty under pressure in the first innings, KP was man of the match, Bell made an important forty odd, Prior was probably unlucky to lose the match award to KP and of course all the bowlers did their bit with Broad and Anderson to the fore. Strauss, too, did his bit captaining which means all in all, in a game that is based around individual battles, this was as complete a team performance as we can remember.

The balance of this England team is nothing short of exceptional and far better than the Indian side – stuffed to the rafters though it is with great batsman. We feel compelled to agree with what those excellent pundits, Michael Vaughan and Phil Tufnell, were saying on TMS; namely that they couldn’t see this Indian side taking 20 English wickets. Something we all know is crucial to winning a test match.

This however is not to write India off. We know they had almost no warm up and were/are depleted. We also know that in the last few years they have made a habit of winning or drawing series having lost the first test – an admirable fighting trait and is why, quite apart from the innate talent, they are now the number one rated side in the world.

Tendulkar, Dravid and Gambir will score runs, Mukund looked useful and Laxman will compete as he always does (incidentally it was Laxman that held the most fear for us on the final day – he has repeated the backs to the wall miracle once too often to enable us to sit comfortably in that situation) and Raina looks like he has a similar spirit. It’s the bowling that would worry us as Harbajan, apart from an incisive spell on the fourth day, bowled one day darts and Zaheer is injured. Ishant obviously bowled a dangerous spell but that was 6 overs out of 54 in the match! Until he can do it regularly he will only be an occasional destroyer and otherwise be fairly innocuous.

It was Dhoni however who mystified us most. Towards the end of the England second innings he appeared to have given up – along with, it has to be said the Indian fielders. The passage of play where England raced from around 170-6 to 269-6 was bizarre. Yes England were approaching a 400 lead and therefore what was probably an impregnable position, yet one wicket would have slowed things down and made it easier in the long term for India to save the match. Fielding well would have done the same job too but during this period India represented, at best, a village 3rd XI so poor was their fielding.

They weren’t helped by Dhoni’s fielding positions though. An example of this was on the fourth day with Prior in the 90’s but Broad on strike and Raina bowling his part time off spin, Dhoni brought up the field so everyone was on the one. What this then allowed Broad to do was hit fours at will. We assume he was trying to prevent Prior getting his hundred – but this was at the cost of allowing England to score at 10 runs an over… Similarly with his decision to bowl himself… Strange!

Dhoni has long been a captain for whom you might ‘run through a brick wall’ if he asked (as Phil Tufnell put it) yet on the basis of this he lacks a little tactical nous.

This is all obviously our opinion and, to look at it from the other side, you can make a strong argument for India bouncing back once the injuries have cleared up. Yet with Zaheer probably out and, in English conditions with a home bowling attack on song, we can’t see anything other than an English series win.

A closely fought and thoroughly engrossing contest for the entire Summer – but ultimately an English win.

 

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Summer’s Here: Our Wishlist For A Summer Of Cricket

11 04 2011

It’s that time of year again where suddenly hope dawns that all is not football swamping the papers, repeated rain deluges and wind – that life is once more about sun, bbq’s and cricket. It is, in short, the county cricket season once more and, as if on cue, the sun has come out although one suspects that the April showers are never too far away.

We are in fact about four days late heralding the start of the English Summer season as the first round of matches is due to finish today and, in some cases, has already finished. Already there have been some notable performances with young and exciting players such as Ben Stokes and Adil Rashid having excellent games.

As we have missed the very start of the season and have therefore missed the boat on a county season preview, here is instead a list of things that we would like to see happen throughout what should be an excellent Summer…

To start with, and in no particular order, the first thing on our wish list is to see Adil Rashid appearing regularly for England. Rashid is a highly talented player with both bat and ball and, quite frankly, should have gone to the World Cup. Yardy’s time has come and gone a little like James Dalrymples did a few years ago and Rashid should be there to pick up where Yardy left off. The challenges for the young leg spinning all rounder could not be more imposing considering that the two touring sides this year are Sri Lanka and India – the broad blades of Sangakarra, Jayawardene, Sehwag and Tendulkar to name but a few would be a tough baptism – yet equally you hold him back too long and you might miss the chance to develop a golden talent.

Similarly, there has been a space created by Paul Collingwood’s withdrawal from test cricket (and in all likelihood all forms of international cricket) and for us at the Compulsive Hooker, the man first in line to replace him should be James Hildreth from Somerset. Over the past year or two Hildreth has added consistency to what was always a highly capable talent and at 25 or so the time is right. In the shorter form of the game they are likely to stick with Ravi Bopara as he offers more of the Collingwood style variety with his bowling.

As Kent supporters we would like to see Kent rebound straight back up to the top division and their young guns bounce back after a difficult year last year. Talented batsman, Sam Northeast, is showing signings of this with a hundred in the first match of the season although we are not sure how much that says for division two bowling as opposed to division one bowling or indeed Northeast’s ability himself. Joe Denly is another who after a difficult 18 months needs to find his way again if he is going to justify his undoubted talent.

For honours in the top division we are again backing Somerset who came so close last year. With the addition of Steve Kirby to their ranks they look like they might have recruited the key component to make the difference to their title chase. Hampshire and Durham are our other tips.

Despite ominous signs after limping off with 9 balls bowled in his second innings spell we really hope that Hampshire’s new recruit, Simon Jones, makes it through an entire season this year. Jones looked like he would have been one of the finest bowlers of his generation for a short and wonderful period up to his injury at the end of the 2005 Ashes, but has since had an injury record to rival even Jonny Wilkinson. Fingers crossed for him.

With murmurings against Andrew Strauss and the ODI captaincy growing, we hope to see these quashed as soon as possible. Strauss is a fine ODI player and captain and England’s failings should not be left at his door.

Finally we hope to see Sachin Tendulkar score his 100th international century at Lords (although by then he could easily be on 102 or 103 perhaps) but for England to win the test series and so continue their growth in this format.  If England can beat both India and Sri Lanka in consecutive series it should make everyone in the sub continent who have previously been a little scathing of England’s abilities sit up and take notice that this is a side to be wary of. From where we sit there is no reason why they shouldn’t as, particularly under English conditions, the English bowling attack is substantially better than either of their oppositions.

One other thing – we would like to point you towards an excellent piece by Cricinfo’s George Dobell on the County Championship and the state of domestic cricket. In our opinion it sums things up perfectly. Click here for the piece.





Legends, Comebacks and ‘Resting’ Players

22 12 2010

There has been a fair bit of cricket and cricketing news over the past couple of days that we haven’t had time to comment on, so, in very disjointed but hopefully lucid style, we are going to round up our thoughts on these matters.

  • Where else to start but with Sachin? Much has already been written and will undoubtedly continue to be  written about this great little man but his achievement against South Africa was of such a magnitude that we feel the need to add to the cacophony of voices.

    We remember back in 1996 on the Indian tour of England one of the Indian commentators saying that Sachin would one day be the first man to get to 100 international hundreds. At the time this was such a ridiculous number (and quite frankly still is!) that we ascribed this comment to over enthusiasm. With 50 test hundreds and 46 ODI centuries this forgotten commentator has been proved right as it is surely inevitable now.

    With age forcing the decline of other leading players in the game such as Ponting and Dravid, it is not only Sachin’s amount of runs but also his longevity and fitness which should be praised as the little Indian appears to simply get better with age. We believe there is no reason why he can’t go on for another two or three years, in which time it is conceivable that he might end up with close to 120 international hundreds. Certainly we imagine there would be fairly short odds on him reaching 60 test hundreds.

  • From one all time great to another. Jacques Kallis scored 201 not out in South Africa’s one sided game against the Indians over the weekend. Remarkably it was his 38th test match century, yet only his  first double which is an oddity in itself.

    In our eyes he is undoubtedly South Africa’s finest cricketer ever and, perhaps extraordinarily, deserves genuine comparison to the great Sir Garry Sobers. Sobers is consistently called the finest all round cricketer ever to have played the game yet Kallis has achieved figures directly comparable to the great man, undoubtedly without the flair but certainly at a similar level of effectiveness. Well played Sir!

  • New Zealand’s Dan Vettori  has been removed from his all singing and dancing role in New Zealand cricket and been allowed to concentrate on his own game and captaining the side.

    In the turmoil and angst that is New Zealand cricket, Vettori has been a consistently world class operator and effective with ball and bat. If the Black Caps are to remain competitive on the world stage they need him to be firing and so this reduced work load can only be a good thing.

  • A brief Ashes thought now as we are pleased to see that Andy Flower has committed to keeping four bowlers for the Boxing Day test match. There is talk of ‘resting’ Finn and playing either Bresnan or Shahzad in a similar way to which Greg Chappell apparently said Mitchell Johnson was ‘rested for the Adelaide test’. Pure rubbish as anyone can see – if you are removed from the side you are dropped – there is no two ways about it.

    For all his woes at Perth Finn still picked up some crucial wickets and is the leading wicket taker in the series on either side. Leave him in, give him some confidence and he will grow in stature as a test match bowler. We personally don’t mind him leaking a few runs if he is taking wickets.

    If a change is required though, please let it be Shahzad who comes in rather than Bresnan…

  • We feel a little dirty for mentioning this competition – being as it is not one of our favourite developments in world cricket – but the IPL announced their rosters from which sides could pick. The top reserve price is $400,000 and is the level in which such luminaries as KP, Yuvraj Singh, Adam Gilchrist, Dan Vettori and Chris Gayle sit.

    Included in any IPL list for the first time and sitting pretty in this top bracket at the age of 41 and after four years of no cricket was Brian Lara. When his possible signing for Surrey was mooted earlier this year we wrote then that we thought it was a bad idea and we haven’t changed our mind now.

    The problem when legends make come backs is that they rarely enhance their previous reputations. We remember Lara as the mercurial flashing blade that won numerous test matches for the West Indies single handedly. We don’t want to remember him scratching around for 20 off 20 balls in an over hyped domestic competition.

Thoughts on the above?





Bradman/Tendulkar: How Do You Rate The Greatest Ever?

20 10 2010

Sir Don Bradman

The Compulsive Hooker read an article in yesterday’s Times* sports section written by that excellent and usually cogent journalist, Simon Barnes, on the subject of ‘greatest ever’ players and the difficulties of comparing across the eras. It is a rare sport after all that has not changed dramatically in certain ways and, in some, almost completely so that the form of  the game is unrecognisable from its humble beginnings.

The main example used in Barnes’ article is the very topical comparison of the highest international run scorer of all time, Sachin Tendulkar, to the the batsman most would consider to be the unparalleled example of this craft, Sir Donald Bradman. Before we get any further we would like to say that this article is not supposed to be a piece looking at the two players relative merits in any great depth; but to question the arguments used in the Times piece in question.

Comparing players across the ages is of course something that any sports fan will have indulged in at some stage – usually in a bar and often quite vociferously. Indeed we at the Compulsive Hooker are eminently guilty of this having only recently taken the time (and not an inconsiderable amount of it either) to pick our Test Cricket All Time World XI. On a website in which our average article garners only three or four comments and responses currently, the fact that this piece has so far gained twenty seven responses says it all. These are frequently thorny subjects as not a small amount of partisanship inevitably comes into it; along with the fact that there are relatively few eye witnesses around today who, in this instance, would have seen both Bradman and Tendulkar at their peaks (and most importantly perhaps, been able to judge).

Sachin Tendulkar

The conclusion of the article is eminently sensible and one with which we heartily agree; Barnes deciding that ‘we must at least entertain the possibility that in different eras, Bradman, [George] Best and [Jim] Clark would have been lesser figures.” (For those who might not know the other two names George Best was a footballer from Northern Ireland and Manchester United, whilst Jim Clark was the dominant Formula 1 Racing driver from the ’60’s).

What Barnes is not saying is that Tendulkar is better than Bradman – rather that we must consider the possibility of this being the case. It is also not this possibility (which we agree could be so) that has got us thinking but, instead, it is the methods with which people compare these greats from across the ages that has prompted us to write this article.

The old arguments regarding the speed and quality of modern day bowling; how Bradman would have fared with a helmet; how the improved standards of fielding would have affected his ability to score; the higher stakes nature of modern cricket and many more reasons have been trotted out like a faithful old hound. Yet, equally, this can be reversed by asking whether Tendulkar would have fared as well in Bradman’s time – an era of difficult and uncovered pitches making batting tricky; batting without a helmet against the fast bowlers of the day (and there were some to rank up with anything around in the modern game – think Larwood, Lindwall et al); using a bat that weighed closed to two pounds rather than his modern day monster which cause even defensive shots go for four – the list goes on.

In our opinion, whilst obviously a method which has its own flaws, the best way – and really the only way – is to compare how a player rates against their contemporaries and from that compare the all time greats.

We must acknowledge of course that one thing modern science and training techniques have given sport is a narrowing at the top – something that can be seen most emphatically in something as easily quantifiable as athletics. There are more people operating in that top three or four per cent than there used to be but it still remains very rare that a Beamon-esque (or perhaps Usain Bolt like) moment occurs.

Beamon and Bolt have at different moments over the last 50 years annihilated (for that is the only word) the previous records by such a distance that they could undoubtedly be considered amongst the greatest, if not perhaps, the greatest ever. Beamon’s 1968 long jump record has of course since been broken but the point remains – perhaps given modern training methods and techniques, Beamon could have even improved further on that mark and could therefore conceivably have been the greatest long jumper in history.

What is certain is that Bradman was so far ahead of his contemporaries and indeed, so far ahead of anyone in the game ever statistically, that it seems reasonable to us to call him the best ever. Tendulkar, for all his brilliance (and don’t take us the wrong way on this) is not even reckoned by some to have been the best player of his era. Brian Lara, for example, is someone who could reasonably challenge for this honour. For the record our money is on Tendulkar, but, if he is not unanimously rated as the best of his era, it is unlikely he is the best of all time – that is of course unless Lara is also challenging for the very same honour…

Therefore suggesting Bradman would not have been as good as Tendulkar in the modern era for the reasons given by Barnes (not that he himself is actually suggesting this is the case) assumes that automatically Tendulkar would have been as fine a player then as he is now – something that in our opinion is simply not a given. It is a different argument as to whether Bradman could have survived in the modern game or Tendulkar in the cricket of the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s.

The Compulsive Hooker’s view is that we would back both Tendulkar and Bradman to adjust their games to the demands of either era; or put differently, had they been born in reverse order still to be up there with similar records that you see today. It is conceivable, as Barnes rightly suggests, that Bradman might have found the physical demands tougher which could perhaps have affected his record downwards slightly and, likewise, potentially Tendulkar’s may have gone up – but the difference is so big to start with that, for us at least, it is still Bradman.

Ultimately, we would like to say that we are not suggesting that people stop having these discussions – that would obviously be highly hypocritical – but to realise that the argument; ‘he wouldn’t have fared so well in todays game’ is moot when talking about best ever elevens.

Fun – but still moot!

*Due to the Times incredibly annoying habit of  making you pay to view their articles, we cannot find the article itself to link to so you’re going to have to trust us that we have been fair to the piece in question!





Some Thoughts On What India’s 2-0 Win Means…

14 10 2010

Firstly we are going to start off with an apology to India.

Before the series started we had Australia as slight favourites – something that admittedly looks quite silly now and has seriously made us think about making any predictions in print again! Either we didn’t give India enough credit for being a genuinely number one rated side or, being English supporters with an understandable complex about Australian cricketers, we rated the Aussies as considerably better than they actually are. If truth be told it was probably a mixture of both these schools of thought although, having pondered this matter overnight, we are going to err on the side of India being comfortably the better team. Lets have a look at what this means for each side and finally England:

India

Whilst it is obvious to most people that India were a comfortably superior team in this series, particularly in the second test, the question has to be asked – does this mean they are definitely the number one side in the world? In a word – probably! However the undisputed nature of this premier status will not be settled until they start winning the big series overseas i.e. South Africa and Australia away. Over the next 12  months they have the opportunity to do this as well as coming up against a good (and potentially Ashes holding) England side next Summer. What this series has done is proved to us, the previously unconverted, that the necessary grit – much more than the talent – is there and that in theory India are able to do this.

A second aspect of India’s performance that was pleasing to anyone worried about the potential retirement of any of their batting greats was the runs scored by both Murali Vijay and the young Pujara on debut. Vijay, it is true, has been around for a while and will be especially pleased with what could be his breakthrough innings. As with all Indian batsman who have not really been tested overseas on hard and bouncy tracks, slight doubts will persist until he has scored runs in South Africa in January but, for us at the Compulsive Hooker, he looks the part.

Cheteshwar Pujara

The future of Indian batting though is almost certainly Pujara. Outdone by the pitch and a near unplayable delivery in the first innings, what struck us when he was promoted to number 3 in the second innings was partly his extraordinary confidence, but mostly his incredible shot making – particularly through the off side. Anyone who averages 60 in first class cricket and has scored three triple hundreds already is clearly a good player and we felt we were watching the future of Indian batting. Symbolically coming out at number 3 in the fourth innings ahead of the great Rahul Dravid, perhaps this was truly a passing of the baton.

It was not all roses however as India will need to find a second and third wicket taking pace bowler to assist Zaheer Khan on overseas pitches where spin plays less of a part. Sharma was useful with the bat but flattered to deceive with the ball prior to his injury in the first test, whereas the 80’s throwback, Sreesanth, whilst improving throughout the second test, was still decidedly average on the whole.

Finally there is no praise high enough for the great Sachin Tendulkar who, in the absence of any runs from Sehwag and Dravid, carried the Indian batting in both games (with a duly deferential nod to Laxman in the first test and Vijay in the second) and has proved why he was labelled ICC Cricketer of the Year. Like a fine wine he keeps getting better and better and long may this continue.

Australia

Three test losses on the bounce, a blunt bowling attack and a batting line up that collapsed twice at crucial points in either game – things are looking dicey for the Australians. It is true that they are not a bad side overnight and should possibly have won the first test but they will be glad that it is only a two test series all the same. The beauty of test cricket is that there is nowhere to hide. The longer you play the more likely you are to be found out and so it was.

Prior to this series the Compulsive Hooker was still slightly fearful of this Australian side – simply because of their nationality more than anything else (years of England being crushed take their toll you know…) Now it is a different story and our eyes have been well and truly opened to the vulnerabilities of this team.

The bowling was mediocre with even the admirable Hilfenhaus being reduced to an unpenetrative trier. Johnson, whilst still able to bowl the odd ‘jaffa’ is always likely to spray it around too much to ever build up much pressure and as for Hauritz… Well suffice to say – ordinary is not the word. It is true that Indian batsman have a history of taking apart Australian spinners (and bowlers far finer than the honest Hauritz), yet on this performance we don’t even think he would be a threat to the average Englishman. Peter George looked raw, slightly ridiculous and not particularly threatening (it is his first test so we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for the moment) whilst Bollinger, prior to injury in the first test, was all ‘huff but no puff’. It is true that at home on bouncy Australian tracks the Aussie line up will be more threatening, however this series has served to reinforce the fact that to England, in the upcoming Ashes, there is no reason at all to be overly worried about this bowling line up.

The batting was again frail and a couple of players including Hussey and, perhaps, still North will be under pressure to deliver. Ponting provided a couple of workmanlike efforts although the fluency and certainty appear to have gone the same way as Dravid’s.

All in all it was a far from satisfactory performance and one that England can only take heart from.

England

Truly this is England’s finest opportunity for 20 years to win an overseas Ashes series. We and many other pundits have said this several times already but this series has only served to reinforce this feeling. With many Australians expressing doubt that England’s bowlers have what it takes to make an impact down under, we feel that on this front we are at least on a par with the Aussies – if not slightly above them with the addition of Graeme Swann. Home advantage obviously counts for a lot but where we feel the Ashes will be won and lost is in the batting. Whoever can perform more consistently and score bigger runs will win the series – something that right now we feel is too close to call.

Either way we are already highly excited and cannot wait for it all to begin.





Sachin’s Progress and the Deep Point Fielder

12 10 2010

Sachin’s Brilliance and How The Match Stands

It is with some surprise that we have turned on the cricket this morning to see that Sachin Tendulkar is not batting anymore. As we (sort of) predicted yesterday, Tendulkar went on to score his  49th test hundred in a manner that must have been reminiscent of Sir Donald Bradman batting. There was such an air of sheer inevitability about it that you got the feeling, no matter what the Australians tried, Tendulkar was going to get there.  That he passed 200 before being dismissed is almost by the by because of course he did – its Sachin Tendulkar!

It is true that the pitch is flat, that the Australian attack is quite raw and that Hauritz is hardly a scary prospect – yet this was still an innings under pressure and crucial to the Indian cause. Without forgetting Vijay’s contribution it is fair to say that had Tendulkar failed then the Australians would in all likelihood be on top in this match giving this innings added significance. Eventually out this morning to a full swinging delivery from the gangly Peter George, inside edging it onto his stumps, Tendulkar walked off safe in the knowledge that India’s position in this match is probably safe. With Australia’s bowling so nullified in this first innings; the only way we can see a positive result is if the Aussies collapse in their up coming second innings leaving India to chase a small target tomorrow.

Being  neutral spectators, the Compulsive Hooker has been ever so slightly torn with regard to who we would like to see winning these test matches. A surprising state of affairs you might think given the traditional rivalry between Australia and England – but finally, 8 days in to the series, we have seen sense (some people might say) and come down in support of the Indians. Being English we are always natural fans of the underdog – in this series the Australians – but this has been forgetting the upcoming Ashes series which is now only a little over a month away. Essentially we would rather face an Australian side who are on a losing streak rather than a confident and bombastic outfit akin to the Aussie side of 2006/7 so, with that in mind, we hope Zaheer takes six wickets and the Indians have won by tea tomorrow.

That we have been engrossed in this series to the extent we have temporarily forgotten the Ashes is a huge compliment to the teams involved and yet again demonstrates the ridiculousness of two test series. From an Australian point of view however, the longer this series goes on the more apparent are the limitations of this Australian team, and so perhaps, they will only be too pleased to move onto the three one dayers planned to follow this – a format in which they are a deservingly number one ranked side.

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Deep Point Fielders

Something that is really beginning to get to us here at the Compulsive Hooker is the use of deep point fielders throughout the innings. For those of you less ‘au fait’ with the names given to fielding positions the term ‘deep point’ denotes a man standing on the boundary square of the wicket on the off side. Whilst this is obviously not a new position, the way this position is used is relatively so. These days it is a common sight, no matter what type of conditions, to see the man out there from ball one and hardly move for the rest of the game whereas, in the past, it would have been more commonly used as a run saving measure when a batsman is particularly well set.

Purely a defensive position designed to stop batsman scoring quickly on the square drive or square cut shots it provides a handy release valve for a batsman tied down by a particular bowler. By placing the man on the fence you inevitably concede a single or more every time the ball is hit square of the wicket – something that usually happens at least once an over.

Now we appreciate that the level of personal cricketing experience we have is little more than garden cricket but it strikes us as setting a field for a bad ball – something we have always been taught is an anathema to cricket captaincy. Perhaps there is a whole host of research that shows by using deep point in this way you actually save more boundaries than runs conceded in singles but we haven’t heard of it or seen it.

Call us old fashioned perhaps, but we would like to see that man brought in to a more standard backward point position which, as well as giving the fielding team a chance of a catch, prevents these singles and enables the build up of pressure. As we write Australia are 44-0 in 8.3 overs with the majority of these runs having come to that man on the boundary. Seriously – it all seems too easy. Test cricket is an attacking game by definition where taking 20 wickets more cheaply than the opposition  is key to winning the game – by putting the man out there (and in India’s case in this innings only bowling with one wide slip as well) you are forgetting the central tenets of the game.

We know we’re not alone in this as it is something that the Test Match Special commentators in particular frequently get irritated over – yet somehow it persists. Does anyone know of any particular research that backs the use of this fielder up or is it simply yet another cricketing fashion that will die out in years to come?

 





All Hail Sachin (Again)

11 10 2010

All hail Sachin!

 

Nothing original here… We just wanted to mark his extraordinary achievement of passing 14,000 test runs. With Sachin also being the scorer of 48 hundreds (with the likelihood that it will be 49 today) and all at an average of 56 – he should now go on to set marks that will in all likelihood be unchallenged for many years to come.

We just hope he retires at the top of his game and doesn’t tarnish his reputation by playing on a la Ian Botham and Viv Richards – certainly before the next India vs England series anyway!








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