The Reverse Sweep

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paul_collingwoodThe Reverse Sweep is a (semi) regular column that looks at some of the talking points, highlights and humorous stories in the Cricket World over the past week.

Nothing gets past Monsieur Green as he’s as innovative as the ‘Dilscoop’ and the KP ‘cross swat’ put together.

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Welcome to the second issue of The Reverse Sweep – an irreverent look at the week that was in Cricket.

England enjoy the joy of six

England bounced back from their T20 humiliation at Centurion a week earlier by deservedly going 1-0 up in the ODI series yesterday – amazingly England’s sixth successive triumph over South Africa in completed ODIs.

Paul Collingwood marked his feat of becoming the most capped England ODI player of all time (see also below) with an unbeaten century, two wickets and a customary stunning catch at backward point to dismiss AB De Villiers. He was ably supported by Jonathan Trott (87) as England coasted to their target with four overs to spare. This was after Andrew Strauss won an important toss and South Africa were restricted to 250/9.

With Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann and Graham Onions all to come back into the side once fit (presumably for Tim Bresnan – who bowled surprisingly well yesterday, Adil Rashid and Sajid Mahmood), England’s one day side is starting to have a promising look about it. The challenge for Strauss and his men now is to win two of the three remaining matches to secure the series and thus display the consistency that has for so long eluded them.

You never know next time they play Australia, they may not lose 6-1!

Time to laud record breaker Collingwood

As an unashamed fan of Paul Collingwood I was delighted to see him surpass Alec Stewart as England’s most capped one day international player yesterday and to celebrate it with such a fantastic all-round performance.

Colly has had his knockers, but his record speaks for itself. In Test cricket he averages well over 40 and he has made centuries on the sub-continent, in Australia, the Caribbean and at home to South Africa. In ODI he averages 36 with the bat despite spending most of his career batting at five or six (where he has proved an able finisher). He has also taken close to 100 ODI wickets with his useful medium pace, whilst throughout his international career he has been England’s best fielder.

Keep up the good work Colly. You may not be the most naturally talented player to wear the England cap, but mein gott you are one of the grittiest and mentally toughest.

Aussies ready to sink their claws into West Indies

After being away from home since May, Australia plays its first home Test of the summer at the Gabba on Thursday against what looks like a severely undercooked West Indies side.

Despite losing the Ashes (even as a Pom I have to admit that England were a tad fortunate), Ricky Ponting’s men repaired some of the damage with their subsequent successes in the Champions Trophy and in marathon seven match series’ in England and India. It will be interesting to see if they can continue the momentum into the Australian summer.

There are still a number of questions about the Test line-up. The opening partnership of Shane Watson and Simon Katich still has a makeshift look about it – one would expect Phillip Hughes to come back in soon. Furthermore, Mike Hussey will be under pressure to transfer his impressive performances in India into the Test environment. The other questions surround the bowling. Is Nathan Hauritz good enough to be a success in the five day game? How will the pace attack shape up for the Ashes in a year’s time?

Even if Australia still have some uncertainties as to what is their optimum line-up, they shouldn’t have any trouble beating the West Indies. After all the opprobrium from the dispute between the WICB and WIPA, an opportunity to appoint a unifying skipper in Daren Ganga has been missed. With their spearhead Fidel Edwards injured and others such as Lendl Simmons inexplicably left out, the touring party is not as strong as it could have been. The fact that they have only had one warm-up match and that skipper Chris Gayle had to return to Jamaica to visit his Mum in hospital means that the West Indies are likely to be caught cold in Brisbane.

Watch out for opener Adrian Barath though who is likely to make his debut for the West Indies – he could be the next great batsman to emerge from the Caribbean in the footsteps of Headley, the three W’s, Sobers, Richards and Lara.

Tendulkar hyperbole goes overboard…again

Don’t get me wrong Sachin Tendulkar is a great player and it is a phenomenal achievement to play Test cricket for 20 years. However, this anniversary has spewed forth a lot of hyperbole including ridiculous assertions that Tendulkar is the best batsman in the history of the game. What better than Donald Bradman? That is preposterous.

Firstly, it is arguable whether Tendulkar is even the best player of his generation with both Ricky Ponting and Brian Lara rivaling him as modern day geniuses. Secondly, Bradman is so far ahead of any other batsman that ever played the game – the never to be beaten average of 99.94, the 29 centuries in 52 Tests. Need I go on?

Even when one takes into account how much the game has changed (covered wickets, helmets, the leg before laws etc) it seems unarguable that the debate should really be centered as to who is the second best Test batsman ever behind the immortal Don.

Incidentally, in my humble opinion, Tendulkar ranks 11th in the all-time batting pantheon – read more in Part 1 (20-11) and Part 2 (10-1).

Indian line-up lacks balance

Having seen some of the Ahmedabad Test, it seems that India’s line-up lacks balance with only two seamers joining spinners Harbhajan and Amit Mishra in the team that eventually drew with Sri Lanka.

Surely, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni is good enough to bat at six (his brilliant century would suggest so)? This would allow an all-rounder (whatever happened to Irfan Pathan?) to come in at seven. I know that means either Very Very Special Laxman or Yuvraj would have to miss out, but I bet that this improved balance would enable India to win more Test matches as a result. They could always revert to the six batsmen option when only one spinner was required.

It will be interesting to see if the Indian attack shows more bite in the second Test starting on Tuesday or whether the Sri Lankans batsmen will make hay again.

Mahela and Kumar – criminally underrated

It was a monumental effort by Mahela Jayawardene to score 275 against India last week. Does anyone else agree with me that Jayawardene (and Kumar Sangaakara for that matter) are criminally underrated?

Both Jayawardene and Sangaakara average in the mid 50s, have a penchant for scoring big tons, have been articulate and forward-thinking captains and have both proved themselves over a long period of time. However, it seems that perhaps because they play for one of the smaller Test playing sides they are destined to receive fewer plaudits then many less talented batsmen from ‘bigger’ sides.

A clash of styles in Dunedin

The first Test between workmanlike New Zealand and mercurial Pakistan starts tonight in Dunedin with the strong likelihood being that the less talented Kiwis will prevail over their flamboyant visitors.

Shorn of the services of skipper Younis Khan who inexplicably asked to be ‘rested’ for this tour following rumours of unrest within the camp, Pakistan have a tough challenge ahead of them in the three match series. Due to security concerns at home they haven’t played much Test cricket recently and despite their abundance of talent this could be the decisive factor in what is likely to be a tight series against the tough Kiwis.

That said it will be fascinating to see if teenagers Mohammad Aamer and Umar Akmal can transfer the extreme promise they have shown in recent T20 and one day internationals into the five day game.

…and finally a bit of hilarity about one of Pakistan’s missing stars!

Shoaib Akhtar soap opera reaches new heights of ridicule

After the Pakistan speedster was forced to miss the ICC T20 World Cup earlier in the year due to genital warts (well that’s what a Pakistan Cricket Board press release said), it now appears that Shoaib will miss the tour of Australia due to a recent liposuction procedure.

Yes, you read it correctly – liposuction. Once the preserve of actors, pop stars and z-list celebrities it is now apparently all the rage for portly aging fast bowlers too. If you don’t believe me, read about it in the Sydney Morning Herald.

I laughed so much when I read this that I split my sides. Thanks Shoaib I can cancel that liposuction operation now!

That’s all for this week folks.


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