An Apathetic Start To The Summer

21 06 2011

Early Summer Wash Out?

There is something about early Summer test matches that fails to excite anyone but the most hardened cricket fan. Here at the Compulsive Hooker we have been excited (you would hope so as we’re taking the time to write a blog about it), but the average cricket fan, certainly the average man and fair weather cricket supporter, seems to be so apathetic that the series may as well not have taken place.

Attendances were pretty poor throughout; the lack of ‘fair weather’ will of course have been a major factor perhaps above all; but there is the sneaking suspicion that unless England are playing Australia no one really cares.

This, we believe, is doing a major disservice to Sri Lanka. You would think that a side ranked 4th in the world would be enough to excite the cricketing public – especially as it comes on the back of a famous Ashes win – yet this hasn’t happened and it worries us.

The alleged reasons for this decline in interest are familiar to most cricket fans with diminishing quality being one of these and with it therefore the inference that Sri Lanka are not a good enough side to hold the cricketing public’s interest.

This Sri Lankan team is full of talent though, particularly in the batting and, barring a collapse of epic proportions at Cardiff, would probably have drawn the series – i.e. they remained reasonably competitive throughout. Yes England were the better side, yes the rain probably prevented a 2-0 scoreline but when in the past did this matter?

We are tempted once more to suggest that it is the scheduling rather than any lack of quality that is causing people to stay away. The argument that test cricket has dropped in standards, whilst maybe true, in our opinion would not be the key reason why the tests were poorly attended.

In the old days (those halcyon days of the ’90’s and early 2000’s) you knew where you were with a Summer. There would be an ODI series of 3-5 matches followed by a 5 or 6 test series spread out over the Summer. You knew that the ODI’s were merely an hors d’oeuvre and as such the simply whetted the appetite for the main event. Even in a Summer of two opponents it was structured in a way to ensure the tests were the main course.

These days  with the test series coming first and usually after the briefest of warm ups for the opposing team, the public simply aren’t ready for it. A friend of the Compulsive Hooker, who we would normally have counted on to know what is going on in the world of cricket, e-mailed us to say that the third test was on before he’d known the series had started. (He actually blamed us as our irregular output but that’s bye the bye.)

Of course the simple reason behind it is that the valuable nature of ODI’s to the coffers have made them the main event (at least in the eyes of the accountants) and so they are played later in the Summer. We’re pretty sure though that if you want to ensure test cricket’s primacy that quite the opposite needs to happen.

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Standards?

Elaborating on this standards argument slightly for a moment, we read a tweet the other day that also struck a chord with us. Essentially it said (and we are paraphrasing as we cannot remember who said it):

‘When, in the entire period of cricket’s history, has there ever been a situation when all the cricketing nations of the world were strong.’

People make reference (and we are guilty of this to an extent too) to Murali’s record minus his wickets against Bangladesh or Zimbabwe or perhaps to Mohammad Yousuf’s record minus his runs against those respective nations.

Yet no one ever argues the line that Wally Hammond’s record is somehow inflated by his 336 not out against New Zealand or his hundreds against India -both of whom were minnows of the game at the time.

 





Thoughts on Broad and Cook

12 06 2011

With the squad announced for the third test and the only noteworthy item being Jimmy Anderson’s inclusion, we were moved to put finger to keyboard, if you will, on the subject of Stuart Broad. Broad has been a key part of England’s attack for some time and recently achieved the milestone of 100 test wickets whilst also scoring some valuable runs including what turned out to be a match winning 169 last year against Pakistan.

However, there have been concerns that Broad, bar certain memorable occasions, has been the weakest member of England’s attack – and certainly the most likely one to mislay his toys some outside his pram. A glance at the England bowlers records over the past twelve months bares this out:

  • Anderson 50 wickets @ 20.14
  • Swann 47 wickets @ 22.97
  • Finn 31 wickets @ 29.06
  • Tremlett 25 wickets @ 25.36
  • Broad 22 wickets @ 35.27
  • Bresnan 11 wickets @ 19.54
Admirable and key to England’s fortunes over the past few years has been the loyalty shown by selectors and managers to the players and Broad is someone who has benefited from this. Other beneficiaries of this have included Flintoff, Bell and maybe even KP but, unlike the others, Broad has yet really to pay this investment back (bar one or two, albeit highly important, performances).
So far in the Sri Lanka series he has looked the least dangerous and as such is not getting the returns he needs. Perhaps he is a victim of trying too hard and shortly it will all click into place, but he must certainly be looking at Finn’s golden arm with something akin to jealousy. To bowl badly or inconsistently and still pick up wickets is an admirable trait to have and as such Broad knows that if he doesn’t take wickets over the next couple of games, the calls for a replacement might become too loud to ignore.
For our money he is worth persisting with although with Onions, Bresnan, Shahzad and Finn – not to mention Dernbach and one or two others – there is more competition for spots than we have ever seen in the England squad.
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Now here is a topic that even 9 months ago the average cricket fan would not have been contemplating in the slightest. Is Alistair Cook a great batsman in the true sense of the word or, perhaps more likely, is he destined for greatness?
What seems certain is that at the age of 26, and with 18 test match centuries already under his belt, Cook is likely to end up England’s all time top run scorer (despite what KP might have said recently about his own claims recently) with a century tally at or around 40 test hundreds – barring of course a catastrophic lack of form at some point.
If he can achieve even close to this, then they will be the figures of a great batsman. One man who these days is considered as undoubtedly great is Steve Waugh yet his career took along time to get going and it was 80 tests before his average hit the heights that Cook’s has recently achieved. And all that whilst scoring only ten hundreds.
Perhaps it is true that the bowling was probably better 20 years ago than now but even so – given that Cook achieves what he looks likely to  – it would seem churlish to deprive him of this tag.
Some players achieve greatness earlier through huge success coupled with an aesthetic pleasure (i.e. Lara or Tendulkar) but some too do it through graft, grind and frequent pokes through third man. It simply takes longer to become apparent the second way and for Roebuck to write Cook off seems possibly a little premature!




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. 
Read the rest of this entry »





Aussies Expectations and In Support of Draws

30 11 2010

Aussies Shifting Expectations

As English cricket supporters, it makes highly entertaining reading to dip into the Australian sports papers this morning. The levels of bitterness, disappointment and sheer confusion as to what went wrong is highly amusing and reminds us of what we could expect picking up any of the similar English offerings in the 1990’s.

There are people suggesting that Australia have reached a nadir similar to the one they experienced in the mid 1980’s; there are articles castigating at least half of their players; there is even faint praise for the English players – something that is very uncharacteristic of the Australian press being as it is usually so scathing of opposition teams. The Australian even feels the need to remind the Australian cricketing public that winning is, despite what the propaganda machine may have suggested over the past 15 years, not a birthright of the Baggy Greens – shock horror.

Australia are a side in the midst of what could easily turn into being one of their least successful periods for quite some time. This includes their drawn series against Pakistan in the English Summer, as well as the two test white wash in India a month or so ago. Couple that with their losses in the ODI series against Sri Lanka at home only a matter of weeks ago and you have a side that has rapidly lost the confidence of the Australian public and press.

In our eyes, however, this is a bit silly and demonstrates the lack of clarity and realism as to where the Australian team were going over the past year or two. A year ago, Australia appeared to be back to somewhere near their ruthless best as they dispatched a poor West Indies side and, subsequently, a Pakistan team in a series that has since had questions asked about its validity. In truth, however, any reasonable side that couldn’t dispatch these two teams from whence they came whilst playing at home – well, that would truly be a poor side. This fact though was either conveniently forgotten or perhaps not even realised and the public carried on in the assumption that Australia were still the best.

Bearing in mind that, before last years Summer of glory so reminiscent of an earlier era, England had reclaimed the Ashes meaning that the only times Australia had played a top five side in the last 18 months (India and England) – they had lost. It is a bit of a surprise to us that articles such as Malcolm Conn’s in the Australian are only now being written – in our opinion, Aussie cricket fell off its perch probably two years ago with the home defeat to the South Africans.

The reality of the world of test cricket is that there are now five sides around the world who you would back against any of the other top five when playing at home but would have real concerns about their ability to win overseas . Even India, who are currently the only side looking like they could possibly dominate, have distinct weaknesses and can’t really quibble with that verdict.

The Australian public it seems are only now waking up to the fact that the Australian cricket team do not automatically win; that they can’t bully sides anymore and that they aren’t as good as they used to be.

But, and this is an important but, they are still not that bad! Australia could still win this Ashes series and beat any of the top five sides at home – and even possibly away given some luck! (The first test of the recent India series would have been won by Australia nine times out of ten for example giving a drawn series – not a win but equally not a defeat).

Essentially Aussie supporters, who are apparently leaving Australian cricket in droves, need to deal with their frustration and come to terms with Australia’s newly acquired status in the game otherwise, the view that many of them are simply ‘fair weather supporters’ has some distinct validity. After all, a side losing several once in a generation players along with a couple of ‘all time greatest’ are going to struggle by comparison to that all conquering team. They are amongst the ranks of mere mortals – very good mere mortals – but fallible none the less.

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In Support of Draws

It is not often you get someone speaking up in support of draws in cricket but we feel that we have to speak up. There has been a lot in the press recently about the recent number of high scoring ‘bore draws’, much of which has been very valid. We have also spoken up time and again on this blog about the docile nature of modern pitches and the frequency of high scoring matches draws – particularly on the sub continent.

However, to criticise the test at the Gabba as Peter Roebuck did this morning is missing the point of test cricket somewhat. Perhaps from an Australian point of view it was in the end a boring and irritating draw, but (and all coins have two sides), for England it was an exhilarating, positive result to be celebrated by their many supporters.

Undoubtedly it was a flat pitch and was hard work for the bowlers but Australia still managed to spill five chances! If even two or three of these had been taken things could have been very different and, rather than celebrating/bemoaning a draw, either team could have been one nil up in the series.

Guaranteed then there would be no moaning at the pitch. Given the problems the groundsman (or curator if you will) had with rain in the lead up to the test it is probable there would have been much praise for his ability to get a result wicket that lasted the distance!

 





Dingo’s Rant: An Aussie’s Ashes Predictions

24 11 2010

More from our increasingly nervous resident Aussie:

“The aim of English cricket is, in fact, mainly to beat Australia.” Jim Laker.

So here we go again.

A confident, conquering English cricket team struts into town to pour misery on an already sorrowful Aussie cricket team.

Hang on… I’m pretty sure that’s not how it’s meant to read! How did it come to this? We all knew Australian cricket was on the slide – but being the underdogs against the pommies on home soil? It’s all too much to bear.

The Australian selectors have decided to stick with generally the same team that’s been continually losing for the past couple of years – some close games mind you – but losses none the less.

One small change to be noted; the left arm slow bowler, Xavier Doherty, comes in for Hauritz – assumedly, perhaps, because Kevin Pietersen has a knack of getting out to bowlers of this type. Besides, Hauritz was neither taking wickets, nor holding up an end or even getting runs with the bat. Other than that, of course, he was not doing a whole lot wrong.

Hussey has retained his spot. In days of old, senior players were retained during bad form; doing so to enable them to retire gracefully or with a bang, but, with world class players liberally dotted about the team – this was easy to do. A team of Waughs, Haydens and Gilchrists could be counted on to carry an out of form player. Hussey has never really done enough for the baggy green to deserve this favour and there’s simply not enough in form players around him to cover.

Luckily for him, his understudies have also not done enough to state unequivocally their cause. With both Ferguson and  Khawaja failing quite miserably in the Australia A versus England warm up match. So Hussey stays and North also gets another shot – much to the chagrin of most supporters.

Ponting gets older and so his inability to play the short ball, or anything aimed at the stumps, leaves him looking a little fragile. The openers at least look settled and should provide a few runs before the ball becomes worn and all batsmen become clueless against the guile and skill of England’s trump card, Graeme Swann.

This is where we’re hoping Clarke, crook back and all, will hopefully dance his way around the crease and gather a few crucial runs. He may not be well liked by the Australian public with his carefully manicured image grating on most people’s nerves, but If he wins us back the urn through his batting – we’ll let it slide!

Bollinger will take wickets as long as his toupee stays secure. Hilfenhaus will bowl. A lot. And Johnson will try to aim the ball somewhere near the batsmen and, once every 4 overs, will bowl that unplayable delivery that will either take a wicket or knock someone’s teeth out. He, along with Siddle, have said they feel Strauss is the key wicket and will target getting his wicket with a barrage short deliveries.

Two things here: First; why are we targeting just one player? Perhaps targeting all 11 would seem a better plan… Second; with the short balls being feasted on recently by the visiting Sri Lankans, maybe bowling stump to stump would be a little more productive? Especially at tail-enders against whom we have struggled recently.

So, getting down to it, here’s how I see it:

Most Wickets

With the abundance of rain recently England will feel a little more at home; the ball will probably even swing a bit so Broad will be a definite handful. However, Swann be the man and will continue to bamboozle the Australians and most probably take about 89 wickets. For Australia, Johnson will knock out most of the top order (retired hurt counts as a wicket in my eyes) so we’ll go with him.

Most runs

According to the great Shane Warne, unless England stroke KP’s ego, he’ll sulk his way into mediocrity. Alistair Cook is still rubbish and Strauss apparently will be the only player Australia targets, but, I think It’ll be Bell who finally steps up and nurdles his way to be England’s top run gatherer. For Australia – boy that’s tough…  I’m going to go with Clarke as long as his back holds up – he does have the temperament to get things done in tough conditions.

Who will get the Urn?

As for the outcome…  Well England have powered through their warm up matches. Everyone looks in good nick and the camp is full of confidence.

But – it’s not going to be their year. I’ll back Australia to come through. Their build up has been lackluster; their recent record abysmal; and every second man is carrying a niggle – but they’re at home; their backs are against the wall and we love a good fight. (I predict also it’ll be a wonderful fight!)

Australia 2-1.





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.

 





Collingwood In The Runs & Sri Lankan Disrespect

11 11 2010

England 288-8d, South Australia 26-0 Stumps.

A middling day for England once again down under although, unlike at Perth last week, there were a couple of bright points. Collingwood struck 94 and Bell 61 enabling England to scramble to something like respectability. Failures for Strauss and Trott will not worry England unduly and although Cook will remain under the microscope having got to 30 odd before being dismissed.

Running up to this series there has been a great deal of talk given over to England’s bowlers as to whether they will be potent enough to take wickets in Australia. To us however that is not really the crux of the matter. We have said it before and in all likelihood (as is our wont) will keep repeating it to series end but – it will be the batsman that win or lose this series.

Both sides have middling to good attacks and average to good batting line ups. Crucially though, neither sides first choice top six have been in the best of form and it is fair to say that you wouldn’t back either to score 550 and declare at the moment. Therefore the side that does do this, in our opinion, will win the Ashes.

Andy Flower’s avowed policy before this game was to give the test eleven as much practice time in these games as possible by essentially ignoring the substitute fielders. An understandable policy but one which needs to be changed for the next match against Australia A. Eoin Morgan in particular needs some exposure to the bouncy wickets and game situations as, should Cook lose form or one of the other top six become injured, he will immediately be required to slot in -something that in our view should be taken into consideration when picking the side for the next match.

England’s bowlers will now have to bowl well again to maintain their positive start to the tour. The last thing they need is for South Australia to bat for a day and a half and score 400 plus themselves – something that they will be only too keen to do.

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West Indies in Sri Lanka

If anything else was needed to show just how far the West Indies have fallen in the eyes of the cricketing world; it is the fact Sri Lanka have left out their premier fast bowler, Lasith Malinga, from the squad for the upcoming series.

Long gone are the days when the West Indians coming to town evoked a mix of fear, fascination and awed respect – but even so, to not select your best team to play them is bordering on the downright rude. We know and understand the arguments about Malinga’s importance to the world cup challenge in February; that he has in the past suffered from injury so a certain amount of wrapping in cotton wool is expected – but to rest him for a test series seems extraordinary.

The commitment to test cricket’s primacy is belied by this move; as well as displaying a not inconsiderable amount of disrespect to the West Indies themselves. Malinga is a wonderful bowler and we for one are disappointed that we won’t see him bowl at Gayle, Bravo and Chanderpaul in this series.

 








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