This week we start by asking if England are as lucky as they are resilient. We also report with some relief that someone (i.e. New Zealand) is finally giving Australia a run for their money Also featured is the worst game in cricket history, John Howard, Eoin Morgan and the IPL, with this week’s list comprising my personal ten cricket heroes.
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.
Have England developed a lucky streak?
Since Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss took the helm, most observers would agree that England have become a more resilient side as evidenced by the nine wickets down draws at Cardiff, Centurion and Cape Town. But have they also turned into a lucky side?
They’ve certainly needed some luck to win the first two ODIs with Bangladesh. In the first game none of the other Bangladesh batsmen had the nous to hang around whilst Tamim Iqbal was blasting away at the other end. And in the second game it took a wonderful hundred from Eoin Morgan and a poor decision by Shakib to bowl a seamer in the 49th over.
Let’s be honest, England were also extremely fortunate to emerge with a draw in the test series with South Africa where they could have easily lost 3-1. Two washouts in the ODI series that preceded the tests also helped England win that series 2-1. And then of course there was the Ashes last summer. As Strauss put it himself “When we were bad, we were very bad. When we were good we were just good enough.” Strauss’ habit of winning important tosses (Lord’s, The Oval…) also helped as did England getting the better of the umpiring decisions.
So, it seems that England have developed resilience and luck in equal measure. All good sides need both, but can it continue all the way to the end of the Ashes return in Australia next winter?
Hooray for the Black Caps as finally someone gives the Aussies a run for their money?
Last week we prayed that New Zealand would finally give Australia some sort of a contest this winter after the pitiful attempts of Pakistan and the West Indies. Well we certainly got our wish in spades as the Black Caps won the second T20I and then followed that up by winning the first of five ODIs.
Brendon McCullum played one of his all too infrequent brilliant innings to register the second T20I century as New Zealand set the Aussies 215 for victory. Of course, the Australians refused to lie down and actually managed to equal the Kiwis total with Michael Clarke scoring uncharacteristically quickly and Cameron White going bananas. But in cricket’s equivalent of the penalty shootout it was Australia that emulated the England footballers by first scoring only six runs of their over and then Shaun Tait bowled two wides when it was the Black Caps turn to bat.
In the ODI, Scott Styris was the hero in another photo finish as the Black Caps chased down 276. So maybe Australia aren’t as good as I feared and not such a dead-cert for the World T20 in the Caribbean? I certainly hope so.
Was this the worst game ever of international cricket?
I had the misfortune of tuning in to the West Indies-Zimbabwe T20I last weekend. It has to be the worst game of cricket I’ve ever seen. For those that don’t know, Zimbabwe was all out for 105 after recovering from 0/3 after 16 balls. The West Indies then made 79/7 in reply with Dinesh Ramdin playing one of the strangest T20 innings you could ever expect to see (23 not out off 36 balls). If Pakistan had performed like the West Indies, their politicians would have been clamouring to announce the latest match-fixing allegation.
The only highlight of the game was the returning Sulieman Benn taking 4/6 from his four overs. Other than that the only point of note was that it was a good cure for insomniacs. I can hardly wait for the ODI series, which begins today.
John Howard – El Presidente
I don’t know quite what to make of the news that former Australian Prime Minister John Howard will be the next President of the ICC. It does seem a peculiar appointment as other than being a self-confessed cricket tragic, he has no actual experience within the sport. Sri Lankans particularly will be aghast following Howard’s previous accusations of Murali as a chucker. Afghanistan too will be concerned that Howard will block any attempts for their future entry to test cricket on security grounds.
Apparently Howard has been preparing hard for his new role, which is likely to involve some tough negotiations with the likes of Lalit Modi. Though by the looks of this his flipper needs a bit more work.
A big thank you to Eoin Morgan
Speaking to the esteemed Laurence Booth in the Daily Mail after his matchwinning century against Bangladesh, Eoin Morgan spoke of his love for The Reverse Sweep.
Now we’ve been banging the drum for a while now that the Irishman’s special talent merits an opportunity in the test side, so it is great to hear that the admiration is reciprocated. I can assure everyone that this mutual respect has not been consummated in the biblical sense and obviously is just a case of a good cricket writer (he says with a straight face) recognising the burgeoning talent of a player and vice versa.
Keep up the good work, Eoin and thank you for the shout. Rest assured that we will continue to keep the bandwagon rolling for your elevation to the test side. I bet fans of the Bangalore Royal Challengers are salivating at the prospect of Morgan playing in the IPL.
This week’s IPL update…
We’re only a week or so away from the start of IPL3 and the hype has been building as the big kick off nears. Security concerns are still at the fore, although it would seem that most of the Australians, South Africans and English players due to play are either there or on their way. Elsewhere, Lalit Modi has announced on Twitter that “we have signed IPL to be shown on ITV the biggest and best TV platform in the UK”, although I’m not sure that applies to ITV4.
Modi has also been pontificating on test cricket arguing for day-night tests because people no longer have the time to watch five day matches. He has a point, particularly when we look at India. Floodlit tests may not be required in England or Australia where crowds are good, but it warrants serious consideration on the sub-continent and even South Africa, where tests are frequently played out in eerie silence.
The Reverse Sweep list – A list of my cricketing heroes
Anyway, the first issue is due out on 1 April and I contributed a piece on Douglas Jardine, my all-time cricketing hero. So in order to promote the magazine and subsequently therefore ensure that my Jardine piece makes the cut, here is a list of my all-time cricketing heroes.
Douglas Jardine – You’ll have to read Cricket Sadist to find out why Jardine is at number one, if my article makes the cut that is….
Hedley Verity – England’s greatest ever spinner who tragically died prematurely as a hero in World War II. He took 7 wickets for 9 runs in what proved to be his last match for Yorkshire.
Donald Bradman – He may have been the scourge of England, but 99.94 mean no other words are necessary.
David Gower – My favourite player as a schoolboy. I even tried but failed to change my natural right handed style to be a left hander like him. And like me, also a David G.
Keith Miller – Not only a brilliant cricketer, but also a raconteur and notorious cad. What’s not to like?
Harold Larwood – Jardine’s main weapon in Australia in 1932/33 refused to apologise for Bodyline and never played for England again. I like people with strong principles.
Ian Botham – Great cricketer, crap commentator. But always a hero of mine simply because of 1981 when as a wide eyed nine year old I watched his historic feats at Headingley, Edgbaston and Old Trafford…
Viv Richards – The coolest cricketer ever? He even makes Chris Gayle look positively uncool.
W.G.Grace – Of all the many reasons to like Grace this is my favourite. When he was bowled once, first ball, he promptly picked up the bails and replaced them, repositioning himself to take the next ball. The umpire, not unnaturally, objected. “Don’t be silly,” said WG, and pointed to the crowd. “They’ve come to see me bat, not you umpire.” Magical.
Paul Collingwood – I know. But here I’ve picked the cricketer that reminds me most of my own batting ‘style’. Well the Brigadier Block version anyway.
That’s all for this week folks.
Read previous editions of The Reverse Sweep:
The Reverse Sweep – Issue 11
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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