The Reverse Sweep

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This week we start by looking at England’s 1st test victory over Bangladesh, before reporting on the start of the IPL. We also look at the silly celebrity circus involving Michael Clarke, more nonsense match-fixing accusations by Pakistani senators, the one day series between West Indies and Zimbabwe and name Nasser Hussain’s successor as Mr Poppadom. This week’s XI celebrates the start of the IPL and lists my Indian test XI of the last 30 years.

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.

England stumble past Bangladesh thanks to Swann’s ten for

After some stubborn resistance from Junaid Siddique and Mushfiqur Rahim, England finally managed to down Bangladesh in the penultimate session of the 1st test at Chittagong. Alastair Cook and his men were nearly punished for an unadventurous team selection, which saw only four bowlers picked. Luckily Graeme Swann, the solitary spinner, bowled magnificently to record the first ten for by an English spinner since Jim Laker’s infamous 19 against Australia in 1956. Playing six batsmen against Bangladesh’s powder-puff attack was conservatism gone mad and James Tredwell should have played instead of Michael Carberry or Jonathan Trott. Previous great England fast bowlers would also have been turning in their graves at the sight of Tim Bresnan, wonderful trier that he is, opening the bowling in a test match.

On the plus side it was good to see Kevin Pietersen coming back into form and make some of his numerous critics eat humble pie. Cook and Collingwood both batted well for their centuries and Bell also looked in good touch, but the Bangladesh bowling was below county standard and the pitch was flat. The 2nd test begins in Dhaka on Saturday and hopefully England will adopt a more attacking outlook by bringing in Tredwell for Trott.

Bangladesh still look someway behind the other test playing countries and even though they have a handful of good players in Shakib, Rahim, Tamim Iqbal and Mahmudullah they seriously lack decent fast bowlers in the absence of Mortaza.

The IPL starts with a whimper but improves thereafter

I hadn’t watched the IPL before, but partly due to the Champions League and partly because of the coverage on You Tube, I’ve decided to give it a go this year. Firstly, I had to decide who to support with the Delhi Daredevils emerging as my choice; the combination of Sehwag, Collingwood and the tag of perennial underachievers proving irresistible in the end.

Then it was time to tune into the cricket with the inevitable time delays on You Tube. I was disappointed with the opening ceremony and match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Deccan Chargers.

But since then, I am surprised to say that I have enjoyed what I have seen. I’m still worried the damage that the IPL could cause to international cricket particularly that of West Indies, New Zealand and Sri Lanka. And I still believe a proper window should be found in the schedule so that all the top players can play in the whole tournament. But who could fail to have enjoyed:

Maybe the IPL is a force for good, after all?

Pakistan senators make match-fixing allegations. Again.

I spent last week looking at property in the Kent countryside, so as such there wasn’t the usual weekly column. Obviously, the story on the punishments meted out by the PCB to its players following the Australia tour broke during this time, which I commented on in my blog.

This week some Pakistani senators have alleged that “one or more” players in the national side are involved in deliberately under-performing for money. There seems to be more conspiracies in Pakistan cricket than in a whole series of the X Files. Pakistan were beaten by a better team. End of story. They were poorly led, plagued by infighting and inconsistent selection, and had to contend with the idiot that is Ijaz Butt. But cheating? Not from what I saw. It is time for Pakistan cricket to pull together and let the new chief selector Mohsin Khan select the best team and captain available. The talent is certainly there.

Cricket becomes like football

I’ve been watching with increasing incredulity the build-up to the Australia -New Zealand test series, which has been dominated by Michael Clarke splitting with his fiancée. Even Cricinfo has focussed on this rather than the cricket. Since when has cricket become football? For Ashley and Cheryl Cole’s marital problems now read Clarke and Lara Bingle. Frankly, I don’t give a shit.

As far as the actual cricket goes, New Zealand at least gave Australia a bit of a fight in the ODIs. I fear that this will not be the case in the test series though especially as Shane Bond and Scott Styris are retired from tests and the Black Caps test squad is pretty inexperienced.

Normal service is resumed for the West Indies

Despite the fright of losing the T20 and first ODI to Zimbabwe, West Indies recovered to win the ODI series 4-1. New coach Otis Gibson has an abundance of talent to play with and if can get his best XI on the field and instil a better work ethic from his players, then the future could be bright for West Indian cricket. Zimbabwe seem to be more competitive and with the World’s focus being away from Robert Mugabe, they could re-enter the test match fray when the ICC next debates the issue.

Welcome to the new Mr Poppadom

Tough cricketer that he was, Nasser Hussain’s fingers didn’t quite live up to that tag and he endured a number of broken digits and the fitting sobriquet of Mr Poppadom. Another cricketer with a tough reputation has surely now inherited that name though. Step forward Graeme Smith who has now been ruled out of the IPL after fracturing yet another finger in the match with Delhi Daredevils. How many broken digits is that in the last 18 months.

The Reverse Sweep list – An Indian XI of the last 30 years

To celebrate the start of the IPL, here is my Indian test XI from the 30 years I have spent watching cricket.

1. Sunil Gavaskar – India’s pre-eminent batsman before Tendulkar who faced down the legendary West Indian pace attack in the 70s and 80s and took 13 centuries from them at a superlative 65.45.

2. Virender Sehwag – The most devastating test batsmen ever along with Viv Richards. Sehwag is not a mere mortal, he is a God.

3. Rahul Dravid – The Wall tends to get runs when India needs them most and his technique is impeccable.

4. Sachin Tendulkar – Approaching 100 international test centuries and the leading run scorer in tests and ODI. No other words are necessary.

5. V.V.S Laxman – I could have gone for Vengsarker, Azharuddin or Ganguly, but seeing Laxman bat is like watching poetry in motion.

6. Mahendra Singh Dhoni – A good wicketkeeper and an excellent batsman who already averages around 40 in tests.

7. Kapil Dev (Captain) – The man who led India to victory in the 1983 World Cup and one of the four great all-rounders of the 80s along with Imran, Botham and Hadlee.

8. Anil Kumble – Over 600 test wickets and a man that performed in all countries and upon all surfaces. India’s leading matchwinner with the ball.

9. Javagal Srinath – Where Kapil trod, Srinath followed and he was a wonderful leader of the Indian attack

10. Zaheer Khan – Other than the incomparable Wasim Akram, Zaheer has to be the best left arm quick I have seen in 30 years of test cricket.

11. Bishan Bedi – I could have gone for Harbhajan but as a small boy I remember being transfixed by the wily Bedi.

That’s all for this week folks.

Read previous editions of The Reverse Sweep:

The Reverse Sweep – Issue 12

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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