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    Hat-trick in the first over

    Saturday, January 28, 2006
    Pathan has just completed bowling one of the most amazing first-overs in test cricket. He picked up wickets off the 4th (Butt - caught at first slip), 5th (Younis - plumb before wicket) and 6th (Yousuf - bowled through the gate) deliveries. What a way to start the deciding test match? I'm too excited to type anything more..

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    Cricket over Squash

    Friday, January 20, 2006
    They call him Mr. Cricket. He calls himself Mr. Dull. But this 30 year old qualified science and maths secondary school teacher could so easily have become Mr. Squash. Hussey reveals why he chose cricket over squash.

    Courtesy: Fox Sports
    "I played at state junior level but I made a decision between cricket and squash when I was about 15 or 16 as to which one I wanted to follow."

    "I loved both the sports, but it was the team element of cricket that appealed to me. The whole notion of winning together, losing together, celebrating together, commiserating together.

    "On the squash court there is just you, and I battled with putting too much pressure on myself at times.

    "With the team, if I don't perform, then there's 10 other blokes that can win a game for us."

    It took him about 15 years after making that decision to play cricket at the top level. He probably might not have needed so many years to get to play at top-level squash. (He could have been retired by now). But it has been worth the wait. He is having a great first year at the international level.

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    "Never give a sucker an even break"

    Courtesy: Fox Sports
    Through no fault of his own, Simon Katich did a similar thing yesterday after a minor groin strain sustained at training forced him to surrender his spot.

    Enter the replacement left-hander Phil Jaques. And just on a month after making an inauspicious Test debut at the MCG when he made scores of two and 28, Jaques seized his chance with the flair and gusto of a man intent on answering promptly after opportunity came knocking.

    His 94 - the highest score by an Australian on one-day international debut - was as scintillating as it was essential given the otherwise ordinary Australia batting effort.

    Poor Katich. Jaques (his batting style looks similar to that of Stephen Fleming) is in great form and if he establishes himself at the top of the order, Katich might find himself sitting out more often than not.

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    Steyn's stained over.

    It is not always that a bowler gets changed immediately after picking up the wicket of someone like Andrew Symonds. But it is also not always that something like this happens in an over - 4,4,4,4,N,N1,Wide,Wicket,4. Dale Steyn conceded 24 runs in his 5th over, picked up the wicket of Symonds and never got to bowl after that. Understandably.

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    .. and something for the bowler

    Wednesday, January 18, 2006

    How about this (made with 2704 diamonds and 18 carat gold stitch) for every bowler who concedes more than 200 off his bowling in a Test match innings? A profligate gift for a profligate deed.

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    The Gold Diamond Duck

    From Harold Cox and Sons

    This should be gifted to every batsman who makes a king's pair. That would be some consolation.

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    At 42, will he make a comeback?

    According to this article in the Indian Express, Sehwag wants Manoj Prabhakar to stage a comeback and play for Delhi in the Ranji limited overs games this season.

    Manoj Prabhakar's Quotes
    ‘‘Yes, Sehwag spoke to me and asked me if I could help the team. He said, ‘We would want you for the ODIs later’ but, most importantly, asked me to get ready for next season.’’

    ‘‘Fitness is not a problem. I am in good shape and can give support from experience and help the youngsters to groom.’’

    ‘‘I think I can contribute, otherwise, I wouldn’t have agreed. Obviously, I can’t be as quick as I used to be, but I can still bowl hard and bat well. If they want, I can report to nets and prove myself.’’

    Given the way Delhi has been faring this season, they sure can use some experience. Even if the once-banned, once-a-politician 42 year old can not be an active member of the playing eleven, he sure can be a good assistant coach to Madan Lal.

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    "Behaving like small children"

    After having a go at Graeme Smith last week, Bobby Simpson now turns his attention to the Aussies and their behavior.

    Courtesy: The Courier Mail
    "While present-day cricketers promote the need for the spirit of cricket to be adhered to, many of them do not propose to follow in action this norm, which they publicly endorse in words," Simpson said.

    "This, of course, includes not only sledging but excessive appealing, disrespecting the umpiring decisions and using their well-paid, generally ghost-written columns to bait opposition teams and players.

    "I find all of this rather distasteful and not in the better interests of the game.

    "In fact, public criticism of the opposition now seems to be part of the team tactics.

    "All this reminds me of the behaviour of small children and the bravado they use to disguise their own fallibilities."

    I can't agree more. More of this and the small children will take offense at the comparison.

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    Cricketers in the bizarro world

    Mike Haysman lists some of the cricketers with an interesting second profession. Interesting read. The list includes everyone from Boycott, the electrician to the latest Dorey, the bodyguard. Holding, the computer programmer is my favourite. But I have to agree with Mike that Bracewell is way up at the top of the bizarre list.
    John Bracewell heads the unusual list. He was a gravedigger. Talk about a dead end job! The burly Zimbabwean, Eddo Brandes thrived on his reputation as a chicken farmer whilst collecting opposition ducks during the 1992 World Cup. Geoff Boycott certainly would not have flashed too many smiles whilst clocking in for the Yorkshire Electricity Board. The fearsome West Indies fast bowler Andy Roberts would have cut a far more serene figure as a fisherman than trying to knock blocks off. His fellow assassin, Colin Croft, was an air traffic controller and a pilot. Joel Garner sent the odd message to batsmen in his heyday but would have been less venomous in his intent as a telegraph operator.

    It will be no surprise to anyone to hear that the eccentric Colin Miller was a barman or perhaps that Fred Trueman was a coal miner. Former New Zealand captain Geoff Howarth used to pump out the runs for his country and also the petrol for his company. Michael Holding was a garage owner as well as a computer programmer and many a batsman wished he had continued that way.

    John Bracewell however has a rival as the most bizarre employment. Australia's latest addition to the national one-day squad is a bloke named Brett Dorey who happens to stand 6'7". He boasts an intriguing past. Three years ago he was involved in a severe snowboarding accident in Austria that left him unable to run and thinking a sporting career was burned. But the real story even started before that. After an initial crack at cricket as a fast bowler, he ditched the game due to lack of interest and success and opted to travel around Europe.

    He is about to make his debut for his country, which I think you will all agree is a far cry from being a menacing dark sunglasses clad two metre tall bodyguard for a Russian businessman!

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    Monty or Minotaur

    England is yet to pick the last man of their squad to tour India. The contenders for the final slot are the turban-clad Mudhsuden Singh (Monty) Panesar, the portly Ian Blackwell and the can-bowl-doosra Alex (Minotaur) Loudon. BBC has a piece on the strengths and weaknesses of each of these bowlers.

    The Indian batsmen will surely scar Blackwell to death if he gets picked. He is really at best a containing ODI bowler - someone who 'll find it real hard to run through the Indian batting lineup even on a square turner. That leaves us with either Monty or Minotaur. The former can't bat or field and the latter is more of a batsman than a bowler. I haven't seen either of them in action, but on paper Monty seems to be the best bet. Given the problems that inexperienced-bowlers-who-bowl-the-doosra (Johan Botha for example) have in the sub-continent, Monty is a safe option for an important tour like this.

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    154 more to get

    Monday, January 16, 2006
    If he can get to bat another 50 overs today, Viru should be able to reach that magical 401 in a canter. The weather forecast doesn't really look promising. Hope it holds up just enough to have some more records broken.

    Update: Too bad, the weather came in the way...


    He scored 73 - His average slipped from 159.5 to 142.19

    Sunday, January 15, 2006
    Garnett Kruger did something on his debut in yesterday's game at the Gabba that only 3 others had done before. He became only the fourth bowler (after Harmison, Flintoff and Vettori) in one-day internationals to pick up the wicket of Michael Hussey. In 23 games so far (played against Ind, NZ, BD, Eng, ICC, SL and SA), Hussey has been dismissed by only four bowlers (Harmison got him twice) and has managed to score 711 runs at an average of 142.19. Mark Taylor calls him the new Bevan of Australian Cricket. He is bound to lose form at some point but I'm rooting for him to end the year with atleast 100 in either form of the game.

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    824 runs off 171.3 overs for the loss of just 7 wickets

    When you read a scorecard like that, I guess it is easy to blame the curator. Agha Zahid, the PCB's head curator doesn't seem to want to take the blame.
    "The criticism is always there and it was even throughout the England series although there were results and batsmen made runs, fast bowlers took wickets and leggies did too. So many experts start bemoaning a pitch straight from the first hour of play so that is always there. Pitches change over the course of a match and the weather plays a big part in that, which people don't take account of. The weather is one thing we can't help and this time the cold and damp really hasn't helped at all."

    He does have a point. The point being - don't blame me, blame the weather.

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    "You owe me a beer"

    Friday, January 13, 2006
    Courtesy: Cricinfo
    Symonds (66 off 61) fell to a freak dismissal when his straight drive hammered into Michael Clarke's boot and lobbed to Dilshan. It mattered little by then, and as Symonds departed he grinned at a smiling Clarke and indicated he was owed a post-match pint.

    I didn't get to see the game, but that sure sounds like a very bizarre dismissal. I realize that I'm tending to get nostalgic a bit too often in my posts lately. But I have to recount this one similar incident in a different game, at a different time. It was years ago, can't remember which year. It was during one of those tense street game run-chases where everyone (including people who have never smiled at you before or never knew you existed in the locality) in the neighborhood is cheering for you. I was batting at the non-striker's end and the best batsman in our team was at the other end. We were running for every cheeky run that we could manage. I was tending to back up too far before the bowler delivered and he rightly warned me about mankading me out. So the next delivery, I was so preoccupied in looking for the bowler to complete his delivery that I was slow in reacting to the uppish straight drive that was coming my way. I took my eyes off the ball and ducked, the ball bounced off my back and landed straight into the mid-on fielders hands. By the time I recovered from the painful blow, I had become an instant villain in the eyes of the neighborhood. We lost the game and it took a long time for everyone to forgive me.

    Nay, I didn't buy that batsman a beer. I don't think I would have been forgiven even if I had bought beers for the whole neighborhood. They seemed intent on cutting me up right there and drinking my blood.

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    A nice leather jacket with a message saying 'All is forgiven'

    Thursday, January 12, 2006
    Dan Nicholls is back - Graeme Smith's Australian Tour Diary.


    Kyunki Sourav Bhi Kabhi Captain Tha

    Wednesday, January 11, 2006
    Inzamam enlightens us all on why the Indian team has internal squabbles while the Pakistan team has no such thing.

    Courtesy: Mumbai Mirror

    Captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, writing a column in a national daily here, has taken pot-shots at the Indian team.

    “Cricket is extremely popular in India too. Family soaps shown on the various television channels in that country are also very popular,” wrote Inzamam in The News.

    “I have been given to understand that these TV series basically depict family squabbles. A cricket team is also like a family but in our TV-plays, family disputes are not the staple fare. Similarly, there are no disputes within our team either. I must assure you that the team is united,” wrote Inzamam.

    Are the Pakistan TV-plays that boring?

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    What did the dark lungi guy do?

    Pix Credit: Roland Parton

    This beautiful pic was captured in Wellington, New Zealand. Roland's description - "View from the cable-car-station in the Botanical Gardens down to Lambton Harbour. The green plain to the right are the cricket grounds of Kelburn Park."

    This pic reminds me of the umpteen times that I have gone past cricket fields while sitting in a train, seen just the bowler running in to bowl and wondered immediately after losing the view what the batsman would have done to that delivery. Most of those cricket fields were in villages in interior Andhra and the players would more often than not be wearing colorful lungis. So my thought process would go something like - "Would that dark lungi guy (batsman) have gone on the front foot? - That short white lungi guy (bowler) seemed like the full-length type bowler. Did he drive straight past him? May be it was a full-toss. May be he cross-batted it straight down the throat of the fielder at cow corner". Well, It usually was one of those fields where the cow corner did have real cows grazing.

    How many of you have wondered the same?

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    When your top-scorer is not "real", you definitely have a problem..

    The Victoria Bushrangers skittled Sri Lanka for 120 in 33.1 overs before making 3-121 with 15.4 overs to spare. What made this even more humiliating for the tourists from the Emerald Isle is that their top-scorer Kumara Sangakkara wasn't really their top-scorer. That distinction went to that strange anonymous invisible character who sits at the bottom of the scorecard, usually referred to as Mr. Sundries for lack of a better name. [extras 34 to Sanga's 33]

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    Ranji Round-up Elite Group : Tamil Nadu vs Bengal

    Friday, January 06, 2006
    Scorecard: Tamil Nadu 218 and 423 for 7 decl beat Bengal 145 and 274 (Ganguly 88, Jesuraj 6-76) by 222 runs.

    There is a story in Express India that Ganguly was instrumental in having a green top wicket for this game as it would give him some good practice for the tour across the border. I don't know how much of truth there is to it, but even otherwise I wouldn't really blame him for asking. Bengal does have a pretty good opening attack in Bose and Paul, Sourav is more than handy on seamer-friendly wickets and there is no L.Balaji in the TN lineup. Those factors should have been enough for Bengal to have come out of the game with the upper hand. Instead they lost by a huge margin. Their batsmen had a pretty ordinary game and their bowlers failed to deliver in the second innings.

    Sourav, to his credit did pretty well. Scores of 59 and 88 on a not-so-easy wicket and wickets in either innings should be enough to make him board that flight to Lahore in a positive frame of mind. He did have some problems with running on to the danger areas in his bowling follow-through, but he wouldn't really be asked to bowl a lot in the upcoming series - so no real worries there. (He hasn't been selected as an all-rounder this time, remember). Apart from Sourav's performance, there wasn't really much that went Bengal's way. Abhishek Jhunjhunwala made 30+ in both innings but failed to convert them into anything substantial. Deep Dasgupta made a fighting 47 and Sourashish Lahiri (the pinch-hitter) made a quick 39 in the second innings but that wasn't really enough.

    For Tamil Nadu, there were 2 stand-out performances. Hemang Badani relinquished the captaincy just before the game and celebrated his "lesser-burden status" with scores of 67 and an unbeaten 157. He is 29 and he probably realizes that this season could well be his last season to make a comeback into the ODI side. A few consistent scores in the next few months could well put him in the running for a place in the world cup squad.

    The other crucial performance came from Rajamani Jesuraj, the 23 year old opening bowler who picked up 11 wickets. He ended up with impressive figures of 5-40 and 6-76 and is my MVP for the game. With Balaji on the sidelines, his team looked up to him and he stood up and delivered in style.

    Notable failure: Dinesh Karthik made 21 and 0. The selectors no longer view him as the second best keeper in the country and every failure of his with the bat would only end up strengthening that view.

    Points: Tamil Nadu 4, Bengal 0

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    "Lahore Ki Butukh Ki Ande" - Rs. 0

    The following extract is from Sehwag's new website.
    The end of 2005 saw a new beginning for the Vice Captain of the Indian cricket team Virender Sehwag. He launched his signature restaurant Sehwag Favourites in Delhi's Fun Republic cineplex to reach out to his fans by catering his favourite dishes.

    Most of the dishes on the menu are named after his memorable matches like "Multan ke Sultan Ki Tikdi" (dish for three persons), "Unbeaten Century Partnership " (dish for two persons), "Half Century Partnership" (dish for single person), etc.

    In fact even the prices of some of the dishes are fixed in remembrance of some of Sehwag's scoring matches. The price of the dish "Multan Ki Sultan Ki Tikdi" is Rs.309 to remember the innings at Multan where he scored 309 runs.

    Nice. If he now bags a king's pair in the first test in Lahore, they might just serve a dish called "Lahore ki Butukh ki Ande" and serve it for free (Rs. 0). Oh wait! one problem. It is a vegetarian restaurant.

    Update: He just made a sparkling unbeaten 96. So even if his restaurant starts serving non-vegeterian food, there would be no free egg dish.

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    Can I have a scoop of Freddie's glory and a scoop of Ashes 2005 with lots of chocolate candy dust on the top?

    You want some too? Visit SilverDell.

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    HBD Kapil Dev Nikhanj

    My B'day is tomorrow. When I was a kid I used to think how cool it would have been to be born a day earlier and share my B'day with Kapil. I'm a bit more mature now. I'll settle with sharing mine with Nicolas Cage and Katie Couric (Travis Friend is the only cricketer of some note who happens to share his B'day with me).

    Kapil Dev turns 47 today and I wish him well. Hope he plays more golf and gives less meaningless sound bytes to the journalists this year.

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    Christchurch is no Kolkata...

    Wednesday, January 04, 2006
    Nathan Astle scored a match winning unbeaten 90 on Tuesday, only to find himself dropped for the next couple of games (to make room for Stephen Fleming, who missed the last two games).
    Coach John Bracewell said a top-order player had to be sacrificed to make room for Stephen Fleming. That decision was made shortly after Astle steered New Zealand to victory with an unbeaten 90 in Christchurch on Tuesday.

    "They are always tough decisions but I want to continue with the long-term planning toward the World Cup, which is developing a competitive squad in all positions," Bracewell said.

    "We know that Nathan has the experience and we know that he has the skills, but we need to develop the depth to be competitive internationally."

    Now why do those statements sound familiar? Too bad, Christchurch is no Kolkata and there is no Soumitra Chatterjee in Canterbury. Poor Astle would have to live with not having people go on a hunger strike outside his house.

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