Thursday, 26 April 2012

Over indulgence of T20 leagues are proving toxic

Is cricket’s new dimension, T20 along with its leagues, killing the game of glorious uncertainty?

T20 cricket is being played almost all-round the year. Rather than T20 international games, it’s the leagues which are being played all-round the year.  In these leagues the cricketers are gaining the tag of ''specialist'' T20 players.

The likes of Kireon Pollard go around the world selling his services in cricket. You can find him in Mumbai for one league, then a few months later he might be seen in Taunton, Somerset.
While the West Indies are playing a less financially glamorous Test series vs Australia, Pollard is seen blazing for the Mumbai Indians. Pollard relishes the shorter format more than the longest format no matter how gifted he is to fit for the longest format.

Also his fellow West Indian player Sunil Narine is playing for Kolkata Knight Riders sidelining his national team’s call. Again, an injured Virender Sehwag is found fit to play for the IPL. Sehwag was found absent for the Asia Cup where India failed to reach the finals.

It wasn't all doom and gloom, Michael Clarke the Captain of the Australian side. He had withdrawn his services to T20 cricket; however it seems he's now had his head turned by the so called glamour of the IPL.

Representing own country is being left in the cold. The passion to play for the national side is there no more. The prides of representing one’s own country seems far and cry at present. It’s being mauled by killer trains named IPL, BPL, BBL and so on.

These leagues offer money and glamour which attracts the players across the globe like a magnet. The players fall a prey to such lucrative and mouth watering offers and thus ignores the country’s call where they are extremely needed. They all become the passengers of a crazy money train.

Former Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga recently condemned the ICC and India, for focusing too much attention to T20 cricket at the expense of Test cricket.

“Their interest is to try and get more money to their cricket boards, more money to the country rather than protecting the game. This is the disaster we face,”

I think when people across the world are living in poverty at an all time high we still have these auctions with some players being purchased in millions. The money that is being spent is beyond one’s thinking at a time when the world is going through an economic crisis.

Where the hell all these money comes from?. I am not against innovation in cricket. I am not against the change. I am here also is following IPL but it’s not as important as the Test match going on at Dominica. IPL offers entertainment but it can’t offer twits and thrills which a Test match can. And I want the best men who have sidelined their national call for the sake of such leagues, to contest for their national team on the thrilling canvas of Test cricket.
For a true cricket fan Test cricket matters most.

Where some countries are struggling to field their best sides, then perhaps T20 needs to take a step back for a change.

Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan has called for India to give priority to Test cricket. If they were to continue giving too much emphasis to Twenty20's then India would be reduced to a "walkover team in Test cricket."

"India needs to think seriously... have they put too much emphasis on IPL, T20 cricket. It's great entertainment but how to compare T20 with Test cricket. Test cricket is the ultimate test of the skills of a player."

India’s back to back whitewash against England and Australia had been pathetic for the fans. And while enjoying this year’s IPL I am sure the Indian fans are feeling an unknown pain deep down thinking that their men in blue aren’t at the top in Test cricket anymore.

The format that appears to be in a hypoxic state is Test cricket. Nothing makes the argument more severe than the recent Test series between Sri Lanka and England where the Test series wasn't given the three matches go ahead because the Sri Lankan board wanted their players to participate in the IPL.

IPL was the top most priority over Test cricket. The choice of the players and officials were not country but to earn money.

Now we have Lasith Malinga refusing to sign the central contract offered by the Sri Lankan cricket board. This is the first time a player has refused to give service to his nation. With his agent stating the player isn't happy with the amount that he was offered.

The signs were there for all to see when in 2011, he retired from Test cricket. He was asked to return from the IPL to get ready for the Test series in England. He didn't return giving the excuses of knee problems.

These are not good for the game. Still a game between India and Pakistan is far more interesting than Mumbai vs Chennai clash. The real passion oozes while two national teams with their start studded players clash a battle on the cricket field.

No harm in earning money but yes there is harm in sidelining national team’s call for the sake of money. There is harm in digging cricket’s oldest tradition, Test cricket’s grave for the sake of money and entertainment.

Earn money as much as you can but not by ignoring the country.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Ireland vs Afghanistan - World T20 Qualifiers Final

Ireland would need one more victory to seal their dominance at the associate level. Granted Ireland didn't need to win, they were through. Also with this being their second game of the day. Questions would have been asked could they perform after such a demolition of Namibia. The answer was simply and utterly yes!

They had Afghanistan next, their rivals at the associate level. With Ireland losing the toss, Afghanistan decided to bat first. What a start for Afghanistan, when Karim Sadiq tonked Rankin for a 1st ball six over long-on. Then he dispatched TJ for consecutive boundaries, giving them a the advantage. Rankin would swing the pendulum back towards Ireland when Rankin has Sadiq bowled. The ball striking the helmet ferociously, then onto the stumps.

TJ was then struck for four by Ahmadi, then TJ got his man. Trying to upper cut TJ all the way over third-man but he doesn't get all of it. Where Rankin takes an easy catch to leave Afghanistan on 27/2. Shahzad would continue as Afghanistan do, by going for every shot. This time punishing Sorensen for six over midwicket.
Asraf would get a six from TJ behind square, however O'Brien spoiled the party. The batsman slicing the ball into the hands of a leaping Porterfield.

Ireland would continue to slow the run rate down. This time Mangal lofting it high to Sorensen at long-on, who takes a good diving catch. Although, Shahzad remained at the crease, despite his discomfort. Then Shenwari giving Stirling some treatment, as he lofted him over long-on for six.

Dockrell wouldn't fare too much better, when Shahzad came down the track to loft him for another six. Ireland would pull them back again, Sorensen having Shenwari caught at long-off. Perhaps any other fielder and it would have been six, this however was the very tall figure of Rankin.

Stirling then taking the wicket of Nabi, the big hitter couldn't flex his muscles today. In the 19th over, Ireland got the wicket they wanted, albeit a bit too late. Sorensen has Shahzad trying to pull, which resulted in a top-edge to long-off. Naib would add some vital late runs to Afghanistan's total, with two big six's from TJ.

Leaving Afghanistan on 152/7.

Ireland got off to the worst possible start, when Porterfield was bowled first ball. However a boundary to end the over from Joyce. Followed by three consecutive boundaries from Stirling, quickly brought Ireland back.

Joyce would provide the shot of the day with a glorious cover drive. However he would succumb to pressure from Alam, flicking a full ball all the way to deep square-leg.

Stirling was in no mood to stop with the fall of Joyce. He would smoke Dawlatzai for more boundaries, inclusive of a stupendous six over third man. While giving the same treatment to Alam. Picking the length ball early, and sending it deep over midwicket for six more.

Ireland had been brought back a touch by Afghanistan. With three overs passing without a boundary to their names. Then Nabi got punished, Stirling came down the track and lofted him over long-on for six.

He would eventually fall in the 13th over. A short ball outside off has Stirling pulling it, the fielder times the jump perfectly. With that Stirling 79(38) had to go, another scintillating performance by the young Irish batsman.

Ireland were then rocked when Kevin O'Brien would fall first ball. With Kevin trying to run it down to third man. Resulting in the outside edge to Shahzad, which he takes brilliantly.

Afghanistan were then starting to pile the pressure on. As Wilson and Poynter didn't look too comfortable at the crease. Then out of nowhere, Poynter lofted Zadran over extra-cover for four. Quite an audacious stroke, considering the circumstances.

Ireland looked to regain control, as Wilson runs it for four past third man. Then Poynter added further impetus. Hitting Dawlatzai for six straight down the ground, in a double handed forehand type of stroke.

Victory was in sight for Ireland with 3 needed from the last two overs. However Wilson would try to finish the game first ball. Although he would only find the hands of long-off. Poynter would manage to finish it off, a full ball on leg and he flicked it past midwicket for four.

MOTM - Paul Stirling for his 79(38)...

Ireland had got one over their rivals Afghanistan. With the victory they were now placed in Group B, alongside Australia and the West Indies.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Ireland's Road to Success at the T20 Qualifiers 2012

Ireland's road to T20 Glory.

Ireland opening their campaign with a banana skin fixture. Namibia would choose to bat vs a well fancied Irish side. However things didn't go exactly to plan for the Irish with Nambia posting 160/8. Ireland with their batting strength, would still fancy themselves to chase it down. However losing Stirling to a duck, after he was run out. While Joyce and Cusack used up vital deliveries before they to fell. They showed a good fightback when Gary Wilson and John Mooney got together. However it would prove to be too much as Ireland lost their first game by a measly 4 runs.

''van der Westhuizen Rocks Ireland to Early Setback''

Ireland had Kenya up next.

Despite their recent whitewash of Kenya in a T20 series in Kenya. Much would be expected of the Kenyans to compete with Ireland. Kenya like Namibia won the toss and decided to bat, they also caught Ireland in a dominant mood.
With some aggressive bowling and some extremely tidy spin bowling by Dockrell, Ireland had knocked Kenya over for 71. With all bowlers running through the helpless batting of Kenya. Ireland would hammer home the victory with a crushing 10 wicket victory. With Porterfield blasting his way into the record books with 50(23). That knock being the fastest half century in all forms of the game for Ireland

''Ireland Push Side Feeble Kenya''

Ireland then had the Italians up next. While they pulverised Kenya, this would almost prove to be a very costly game for Ireland. Italy had decided to bat first and things looked good for Ireland, when they had restricted Italy to 100/7. With a bizarre knock from their new boy Di Venuto 23(44).
Ireland looked in relative comfort at 60/2, then a collapse of epic proportions. Would leave Ireland with two wickets in hand going into the last over, while still needing 7 runs. However Wilson was able to dispatch Northcote for four of the 2nd ball, followed by a quickly run two, then another boundary to see Ireland home. Wilson would prove to be a shining light for Ireland throughout the tournament.

''Ireland Survive the Italian Job''

Ireland the Americans up next. Ireland deciding to bat first, while the decision looked a bad one at 32/3. With the bowling of Elmore Hutchinson proving to be difficult to get away. However two of Ireland's most experienced players got together and put on 86 for the 4th wicket. With Ed Joyce eventually falling on 46 and Kevin O'Brien 47. While Wilson once again performing another cameo with 19(10) and Mooney 12(7) to guide Ireland to a decent 160/6.

Ireland had cause to be worried, when Taylor tonked Johnston for two boundaries in the opening over. However a collapse was to happen, with the Americans unable to play the impressive Rankin. By the time Rankin finished his four overs, America had fallen to 52/7. With Rankin ending up the (MOTM) with figures of 4-1-9-4. America got to 96 all out, with Ireland winning by 64 runs.

''America Inept Against Rankin''

Ireland had their most tricky game next, vs a very determined and gritty Scottish side. Ireland got away to their usual losing a wicket in the 1st over. With Stirling getting caught at slip. Then Porterfield getting bowled in the 2nd over. Cusack would respond with four consecutive boundaries, to ease the pressure significantly. Then Joyce would hit an impressive six in the 5th, on his way to a (MOTM) performance. Wilson again performing for Ireland with a well played 26(26). However with Ireland on 142/5, a big final over was needed. Joyce delivered what he was asked to do, tonking Sharif for consecutive six's to bring Ireland to 159/5 and himself 78(58).

The chase for Scotland got away to a bad start, with Berrington being bowled by TJ. Scotland would then lose Mommsen to TJ as Ireland applied the pressure. The runs weren't coming easily until the 9th over, when Sorensen was smoked for consecutive six's. However Porterfield threw the ball to Kevin O'Brien. Despite him being dispatched for boundaries, he came back brilliantly to dismiss Watts. Then in his 3rd over he had Flannigan and Coetzer out, as Ireland won the game by 18 runs.

''Ireland Remain Cool in Victory Over the Scots''

Ireland were to face Uganda next. With Ireland being sent in to bat, it looked a very unwise move with Ireland posting 179/5. With most batsmen scoring heavy volumes of runs. While the bowling would prove to be as dominant. With Uganda showing no resistance to the Irish attack. Much of their scorecard resembled a telephone number, as they were all out for 97. The significant win of 82 runs, boosted Ireland's already impressive net run rate.

''Ireland Cruise to Victory''

Ireland had Oman next up, which Ireland were expected to defeat easily. Ireland decided to bat and with Gary Wilson's 52(38) and Kevin O'Briens 32(16), giving Ireland the boost to reach 160/5. Ireland had managed to dismiss most of their batsmen except one with ease. Jatinder Singh hung on for a gritty 56*(55), however Ireland strolled home in 2nd gear by 44 runs.

''Ireland Pound Further Misery Upon Oman''

Ireland were to face a tricky set of games because of their 1st game loss to Namibia. This time it was the Dutch, with Porterfield sending them in to bat. While Kervezee produced a fine 56(48) and Cooper 26(24). However 114/7 was the fruits of all their hard work, as Ireland controlled the innings. Porterfield got away with consecutive boundaries, before he would fall in the 5th over, with 17(18). Joyce would anchor the innings with Stirling and Wilson both falling in consecutive balls to Swart. If the Dutch felt they had a foot back in the game, Kevin O'Brien would dismiss all thoughts of a collapse. With his 30*(22) seeing Ireland comfortably home by 7 wickets.

''Ireland Show Who's Boss''

Next up was the Canadians.

Canada had decided to bat first, with TJ removing Patel inside the first over. Then Gunasekera would send Rankin to the ropes twice. While Kumar would dish out the same treatment to Sorensen, before he would fall to TJ in the 7th. Hansra would follow him the next over, when Dockrell had him bowled.

Wickets were falling quick, this time Dockrell got Gunasekera out. He tried to sweep and got a top edge, which was brilliantly taken by Stirling. Then Cheema and Baidwan would also depart, with virtually no damage done to the bowlers figures. Bhatti would hit Sorensen for a boundary, however he to would fall the very next ball. A brief cameo by Gordon added some runs, although it wasn't going to be enough. As Canada posted a dismal 106/8.

Ireland start with 15 from the 1st over, as Stirling sent Osinde around the park. Then he could continue his onslaught against Osinde in the 3rd. With two more fours and a glorious six over deep midwicket.
Porterfield wouldn't be held back either, hitting Cheema for four boundaries in the 5th over. Ireland were cruising to another victory. Stirling hit Siddiqui for four over extra-cover to bring his half-century up. As the young Irish batsman breaks the fastest Irish fifty again.

Stirling would finish the game for Ireland inside the 10th over. When he chipped Hussain for four over midwicket, as Ireland gained another impressive victory.

''The Irish March to Another Simple Victory''

''Ireland Find their Dutch Courage''

Ireland had a chance to get revenge against Namibia next. It would prove to a demolition job, as Namibia decided to bat first. With the runs not coming freely the pressure was on, TJ getting the tournament flyer of van Schoor out for 1(5). While van der Westhuizen crashed TJ for six over extra cover, he would respond by getting him out next ball. Trying to pull the shot, he just pulled it feebly to midwicket. Then Porterfield took the catch of the tournament when Williams was next to fall. Despite some late hitting from Opperman 26*(15), Namiba could only post an awful 94/6.

Ireland responded in style, with Porterfield sending consecutive opening balls to the ropes for four. He would continue on his way, before falling in the 5th over to Klazinga. Stirling wouldn't stop with the fall of Portefield, as he sent Klazinga for consecutive boundaries. Then Joyce showing his top class with a glorious cover drive. Stirling would bring his half century up from only 26 balls. Then Stirling would end the match in style when he reverse swept Opperman for four, between backward point and short third man.

Sealing Ireland's place in the 2012 T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka.

''Ireland take Revenge on Poor Shell Shocked Namibia''