The Reverse Sweep

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This week we start by paying homage to Sachin Tendulkar after his latest notable feat. We also suggest that England has finally found a worthy replacement for Marcus Trescothick in the limited overs game, report on a rare victory for Pakistan and ask how good the Australians are after their unbeaten summer. There are also stories on Otis Gibson, JP Duminy’s decline, a new Afghan star and the IPL, before we name our ideal England T20 line-up.

The Reverse Sweep is an irreverent round-up of the week that was in cricket. For further insight into this wonderful game of ours please visit my blog also entitled The Reverse Sweep, or follow me on Twitter @TheReverseSweep.

A few words on Sachin Tendulkar…

Apart from those of you who have been on Mars, everyone will know that Sachin Tendulkar entirely appropriately became the first player to score a double hundred in a ODI (Watch the Sachin Double Century Video here). There have been many words written already on this incredible feat, but here are a few more.

Genius, legend and a real once in a generation cricketer. A throne on the Mount Olympus cricket field amongst the other batting masters like Hammond, Hobbs, Grace, Ranjitsinhji, Trumper and Bradman awaits.

No other words are necessary other than thank God for Sky+, although maybe I need to revise my positioning of the Little Master in my all-time top 20 batsmen. See Part 1 and Part 2 here. What do you think?

Could Kieswetter give England much needed top order impetus?

So common sense prevailed in the end and a late call-up to the England ODI squad for Bangladesh was issued to Craig Kieswetter, who responded with a quickfire 143 in the first warm-up match against a Bangladesh Cricket Board XI earlier this week.

He is now nailed on for a place in the side for the first ODI on Saturday, where he will form an opening partnership of contrasts with stand-in skipper Alastair Cook. England has been searching for a worthy successor to Marcus Trescothick, ever since the Somerset opener bid a sad farewell to England colours. And they could have struck gold with Kieswetter, who has a natural flair for hitting over the top and providing much needed impetus in the crucial initial ten overs.

Elsewhere Ajmal Shahzad did enough in the second T20 international with Pakistan to warrant an opportunity during the matches with Bangladesh, whilst IPL fans must be looking forward to seeing more of Eoin Morgan following his brilliant innings in the first T20 game. It was also good to see Kevin Pietersen coming back to some form and this writer at least expects a big tour of Bangladesh from him.

Pakistan finally tastes victory again

After three tests, five ODIs and two T20s, Pakistan finally tasted the sweet nectar of victory in the second T20 with England in Dubai. Another defeat had looked on the cards as Pakistan slipped to 78/5 chasing 149, before Abdur Razzaq blasted 46 off of only 18 balls.

Incredibly, Razzaq was not selected for the disastrous tour of Australia. So his brutal cameo not only allowed Pakistan to win but he also enabled him to make his point to the selectors in the best way possible.

How good are the unbeaten Australians?

Despite allegedly being a fading force, Australia has just gone through a whole summer unbeaten having won five tests out of six, nine out of nine completed ODIs and three T20Is out of three. Even if some context is required given the quality of the opposition, these are still extremely impressive stats.

Ricky Ponting’s men are shaping up pretty well for the Ashes battle in nine months time with Watson, Hauritz and Bollinger in particular seemingly cementing their places in the side.

How good is this Australian side? Well, they are undoubtedly the number one ODI side in the World and must be hot favourites for the forthcoming World T20 in the Caribbean. In the shorter format of the game, the blend of T20 specialists such as Tait, Nannes and Warner with the multi-faceted Watson, Johnson and Haddin seems to have given Australia a potent mix. Brett Lee, who sadly announced his retirement from test cricket this week, will also come into the equation when fit, which would give Michael Clarke the fastest attack in the business.

Australia now moves onto New Zealand for the first T20I on Friday, where it is hoped that the Black Caps will provide more of a test than the insipid Pakistanis and under-strength West Indies.

Over to you, Otis

England’s loss could be the West Indies’ gain as Otis Gibson takes up the reins in the Caribbean, starting with a one day series against Zimbabwe. Amazingly this series begins on Sunday only five days after West Indies played Australia at the SCG – this is scheduling gone mad.

Despite capitulating in the second leg of their Australian tour, the future could be bright for West Indies cricket. When Gibson gets back injured stars like Chanderpaul, Sarwan, Barath, Edwards, Taylor and Bravo, he should have the basis of a strong side in all forms of the game.

Every cricket lover will wish Gibson well as the sport needs a strong West Indies team.

The sudden and continuing decline of JP Duminy

Last week I wrote a post asking ‘What has happened to JP Duminy?‘. Further damning evidence of his rapid fall was provided at Gwalior as the forlorn Duminy was out leg before for a golden duck yet again to a spinner after playing down the wrong line. Yusuf Pathan now joins Harbhajan and Graeme Swann as tormentors of the supposed next, great batsman.

Like many others I’ve been scratching my head wondering how someone who looked so serene at Perth on debut, so dominant in his next test at Melbourne and so devastating during the opening match of the IPL Champions League can have plunged to such depths. Maybe it is a crisis of confidence that will be cured over time. Or maybe he has simply been ‘found out’ by the video analysers so prevalent now in the game.

There could of course be a much simply answer. Has JP Duminy turned into a left handed Ravi Bopara? Anyone remember him?

An Afghan star?

Another week and another good news story from the Afghanistan cricket team. Following qualification for the ICC World T20 in the Caribbean, Afghanistan this week successfully chased down 494 in their Intercontinental Cup match with Canada.

The hero was 18 year old wicketkeeper Mohammad Shahzad, who hit an unbeaten 214 in the chase and now has a first class average, albeit after only four matches, of 82.83. That is positively Bradmanesque. What price Shahzad becoming the first Afghan to play in the IPL?

This week’s IPL story…

…is Modi versus the terrorists, as security concerns for the forthcoming IPL3 were highlighted. Rightly, Modi has refused to countenance a move for this year’s competition, which has very much been billed as the IPL coming back to its rightful home. There have been some nervous noises coming particularly from some of the Australian players, but surely there is no more danger from terrorists then there would be from playing at Lord’s or the Sydney Cricket Ground?

As the eloquent Dileep Premachandran puts it in the Guardian, the IPL must stay in India to demonstrate that we won’t dance to terror’s tune.

The Reverse Sweep XI – An England side for the World T20?

The loss to the Lions and the two T20s with Pakistan should have shed some light for England as to their line-up for the World T20 in the Caribbean. For what it’s worth, here is the Reverse Sweep’s line-up.

1. Craig Kieswetter – Has made a name for himself already and has the ideal style for T20. A worthy successor to Tresco and for me he should take the gloves from Prior as well.

2. Michael Lumb – After Trott’s bizarre 39 from 51 balls in the second match against Pakistan, surely the selectors will follow Shane Warne and the Rajasthan Royals by picking Lumb, who is continuing to impress for the Lions.

3. Kevin Pietersen – Seems to have recovered his mojo, which England will need if they are to make any sort of impression in the Caribbean.

4. Paul Collingwood (Captain) – The captain has all the ingredients to be a fearsome T20 player: six hitting ability, a brilliant fielder and also a useful back-up bowler.

5. Eoin Morgan – Unorthodox but brilliant, Morgan really adds something to the England 50 and 20 over sides.

6. Ravi Bopara – Anyone remember Ravi? Well he is a good T20 player, who did well in the World T20 last year and is just about to embark on his second IPL season with the Kings Xi Punjab.

7. Andrew Flintoff – If fit Flintoff has to be in the side, if not Luke Wright is the likely but unsatisfactory replacement.

8. Stuart Broad – Broad is a shoo-in, but please no repeat of that last ball against the Netherlands.

9. Graeme Swann – Should do well in the Caribbean to delight his Twitter followers.

10. Adil Rashid – Two spinners will likely be required on the slow pitches of the Caribbean and England would do well to remember the success of Saeed Ajmal and Ajantha Mendis in last year’s tournament.

11. James Anderson – England’s fastest bowler is not as quick as the Aussie trio of Nannes, Tait and Johnson, but he is quick enough.

That’s all for this week folks.

Read previous editions of The Reverse Sweep:

The Reverse Sweep – Issue 10

The Reverse Sweep – Issue 9

The Reverse Sweep – Issue 8

The Reverse Sweep – Issue 7

The Reverse Sweep – Issue 6

The Reverse Sweep – Issue 5

The Reverse Sweep – Issue 4

The Reverse Sweep – Issue 3

The Reverse Sweep – Issue 2

The Reverse Sweep – Issue 1

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