Feature Cricket

Headingley was the perfect advertisement for Test cricket

Partab Ramchand Updated: 26 August, 2019, 11:25 AM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

Ian Botham, Headingley, 1981. Ben Stokes, Headingley, 2019. These two entries will forever be indissolubly linked in Test cricket history from now on. And fittingly enough for Stokes is England’s finest all-rounder since Botham with due apologies to Freddie Flintoff.

What cricket’s followers saw was something straight out of fiction books. Stokes’ feat and the unbelievable denouement had people rubbing their eyes in disbelief. They just couldn’t believe what they were seeing. It was that kind of finish.

More matches like the one we just saw and there will be no talk about Test cricket being boring, that it has lost its relevance and that it is no longer in keeping with the times. Headingley in fact was the perfect advertisement for Test cricket. Indeed if at all the riveting events over the four days proved anything it is that T-20 provides artificial excitement while the sport’s traditional format is all about real pulsating fare. The best of Test cricket is like a long, well directed suspense film. Like an unputdownable whodunit one cannot really guess the ending. Could anyone for example have predicted the fascinating denouement of Sunday?

There were so many twists and turns, so many improbables during the four days that it is virtually impossible to pinpoint the most astonishing happening of the match. But I suppose the most incredible would be the fact that the team winning the match were shot out for 67 in the first innings. That there are only three instances of sides scoring fewer runs in an innings and ending up winning the match and these were all in the 1880s underlines the rarity of the feat.

The best thing about the result is that the series is very much open. An Aussie victory would have sealed the fate of the Ashes and the two remaining Tests would have been damp squibs. Now with the series 1-1 the two sides have everything to play for. As events have proved the teams are pretty evenly matched and two more thrilling games cannot be ruled out. Interest in the series already high will go up many times and this can only be good for Test cricket. Already there is much talk about this series matching the memorable 2005 Ashes contest in quality and content and for once this may not be way off the mark.

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News Cricket

MS Dhoni to lead CSK next year – CSK Owner

Staff Writer Updated: 16 September, 2019, 3:55 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

MS Dhoni has been exceptional for his IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings. He is one of the main reasons behind the success of Chennai based team.

However, things have changed for the former Indian skipper. The 38-year old is currently on a break and his future with Team India looks bleak.

Dhoni failed to lead CSK to another title in the last edition of the cash rich league, losing the all-important finale against arch rivals Mumbai Indians.

N Srinivasan, the owner of Chennai Super King, has given a verdict over Dhoni's future with the IPL franchise.

“I can say only one thing. Mahendra Singh Dhoni will only be the captain for the next IPL season,” said the former BCCI President as quoted by Times Now.

Super Kings are the only team to feature in the most number of IPL finals with eight appearances in the last 12 seasons.

Feature Cricket

Ashes 2019: Closer Than Australia Think

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 16 September, 2019, 3:33 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The Ashes series of 2019 in England ended the way it should have: with the stakes even at the end of the five Test series contest. Yet while Australia would like to believe that they were the better of the two teams, the truth of the matter is that they have a lot to recover from themselves, revealing chinks in their own armour that caused them to slip up often enough.

Australia believe they had the upper hand in the series and this was their series to lose. In a sense, by retaining the urn with the win in the fourth Test at Old Trafford, Australia did manage to do keep their Ashes intact. But it was not the true reflection of how many odds Australia themselves were beating, sometimes to stay alive and sometimes to get even and ahead. Remove Steve Smith from the equation and the inference becomes more obvious. At the start of the Ashes, there were, also, worried conjecture that Australia had to rotate their bowlers in order to keep them at full tilt, this while England ran through their frontline bowlers.

The reason the Australians were not able to overpower England was because they kept falling short when backing up Steve Smith’s performances with all-round effort consistency enough. They must ask themselves some questions with the likes of Justin Langer, Ricky Ponting and Steven Waugh around in the support staff, all members of the once dominant Australian team.

Australia would argue they had the better bowlers, Pat Cummins climbing up the charts, and that with Smith in the ascendancy, that they could have challenged matters at Lord’s or had England eating out of their hand in Headingley in the third Test. While Australia were a wicket away from a win, the truth of the matter is that their fielding was, also, not top notch. It explains why even when they think they could have had the better of Ben Stokes, they did not because like England, who let Australia’s fragile middle order off the hook, Australia too lost their chances in the field.

The result of the series, drawn at 2-2, is a fair reflection of the engaging battle both teams have had, partly because of the outstanding performances of one or two of their key players when the chips were down and also, because both teams struggled to yield top class performances from a majority of their players. Where England were exposed for fiddling around with the opening slot, Australia could not find the prolific David Warner of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.

While Australia would rue missed opportunities through their own lack of consistency, England will equally reflect on the fact that the Ashes series began in Birmingham with Australia tottering on day one and England holding sway for much of the match until push came to shove. The Ashes result could though serve as the perfect catalyst, laying seeds for both teams to go back to the drawing board for the next contest in this historic battle.

News Cricket

Players will have to prove themselves in four to five games - Virat Kohli

Staff Writer Updated: 16 September, 2019, 3:27 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

India skipper Virat Kohli has demanded performance from his players before the ICC World Cup in 2020. According to him, players will have to prove themselves in a short span of time as the management is looking to figure out the best possible combination.

Team India will play around 30 T20I matches before the World Cup.

"We are very clear. It is not that anyone will get 30 chances. Even when I came in the team, I didn't think I will get 15-20 games and I knew I will mostly get chances in three to five games and I have to prove myself. One will get suppose five chances and he will have to prove himself. That is the level we are playing at. As the team management has that mindset, the individual should also have the same," Kohli said in an interaction on bcci.tv.

"It is a delicate balance to strike but as we have 30 games before it (World Cup), so we have to figure out how much time each individual gets," he added.

News Cricket

Ravi Shastri warns Rishabh Pant, says he is letting team down

Staff Writer Updated: 16 September, 2019, 2:38 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Team India's head coach Ravi Shastri is not happy with Rishabh Pant's habit of getting out in a similar fashion. He blasted the young Indian wicket-keeper for his poor shot selection and even warned him of consequences.

"When you see a shot like the one in Trinidad, off the first ball, (it's disappointing)," Shastri said while referring to the dismissal of Pant on the bowling of Fabian Allen during the third ODI between West Indies and India.

"He tries to repeat it a couple of times and gets out, he will be told," Shastri added.

"There will be a rap on the knuckles there - talent or no talent - because you are letting the team down, forget letting yourself down. You are letting the team down in a situation where you have the captain at the other end. You have a target to chase where the need of the hour is some sensible cricket."

Pant's performance in the T20 series was criticized by many who accused him of wasting opportunities.

"No one will change his style but match awareness becomes crucial, shot selection becomes crucial in particular situations," he said.

"If he can fathom that out, he could be unstoppable. You mentioned how many games, it could be one game, it could be four games. I don't see more than that. He will learn. He has played enough IPL cricket. So it's time now for him to step on to the stage and just show the world how devastating he is."

News Cricket

Ben Stokes crosses line again, calls David Warner a f***ing prick

Staff Writer Updated: 16 September, 2019, 2:36 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

All was not well between players during the recently concluded Ashes. When the world thought that Ben Stokes has moved on from his controversial avatar, he touched another low.

The English all-rounder used colorful language to target David Warner. He was overheard calling the left-hand batsman a “f***ing prick” when the teams were heading for lunch.

UK journalist Isabelle Westbury has revealed the entire episode. Stump microphones later picked up one of the Australians saying “yeah, Bristol!”

Meanwhile, both teams had something to celebrate as Australia was later presented with the Ashes urn. Australia had already retained the urn as holder but was thwarted in its goal of a first outright series win in England in 18 years after being dismissed for 263 in its second innings deep into the evening session on Day 4.

It's the first time an Ashes series has ended in a draw since 1972.

News Cricket

Big relief for Dinesh Karthik as BCCI accepts his apology

Staff Writer Updated: 16 September, 2019, 2:34 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The governing body of Indian cricket has accepted Dinesh Karthik's unconditional apology after he was found to have breached a clause of his central contract. He went to the West Indies to attend one of the matches of the ongoing Caribbean Premier League and was seen in the dressing room of the defending Champions, Trinbago Knight Riders.

According to one of the BCCI officials, the matter has been closed.

“The BCCI has accepted Dinesh Karthik’s apology and the matter is now a closed chapter,” the official was quoted as saying in The Hindu.

The central contract bars any Indian player to get associated with any T20 league across the globe.

After seeing his presence, the BCCI sent him a show-cause notice asking to explain why his central contract shouldn't be terminated.

Thereafter, he tender an apology, stating that he went to the dressing room of one of the franchises on the invitation of Brendon McCullum, who was recently appointed as the head coach of the Kolkata Knight Riders.

News Cricket

End of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal as Virat Kohli opts for all-rounders in T20Is

Staff Writer Updated: 16 September, 2019, 2:32 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have been confined to ODIs after their ordinary display in the World Cup. There were not selected for the T20 series against South Africa and now Virat Kohli has opened up on their axing.

“The increased depth in batting was one of the reasons why Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal were excluded. Also, we wanted to give opportunities to the guys who have done well over the last couple of years in domestic cricket and in IPL. It is about finding the best balance in the combination and not just sticking to only one combination,” he said.

“If all teams in the world are batting till 9 and 10, then why can’t we. So, you need to take those calls at some stage. Bringing both those guys together was also not taken by people at one stage. All the decisions are made to ensure that the team has the strongest balance that we can have,” he added.

News Cricket

Afridi to be next PM of Pak? A hug between former skipper & Army spokesman leaves fans wondering

Staff Writer Updated: 16 September, 2019, 1:42 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Shahid is one of the most personalities in Pakistan. He recently met Pakistan Army spokesman Asif Ghafoor and their hug has left the fans wondering over the prospects of Afridi becoming the next Prime Minister of Pakistan.

One of the fans posted the picture of the two and wrote, "Next PM in the making?"

Responding to this, another fan said that if Afridi becomes the next Prime Mister of Pakistan, he would surely hand over the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir to India.

Afridi has been vocal on the Kashmir issue in the recent times and even demanded in UN intervention on the issue after the abrogation of Article 370 by the government of India.

He is backing Imran Khan on the issue of Jammu & Kashmir and his close proximity with Pakistan army could elevate him to the topmost post once Imran Khan decides to move away from politics.

News Cricket

I saw Jofra Archer last year at the IPL and realized he is a very special talent - Steve Smith

Staff Writer Updated: 16 September, 2019, 12:21 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Jofra Archer has become a nightmare for the rivals since making his international debut. He was on song in the recently concluded Ashes where he regularly hit batsmen with nasty bouncers. Steve Smith was ruled out of one Test match after he was hit on his neck by a brutal delivery from the Englishman.

Smith was full of praise for Jofra Archer.

"I saw Jofra last year at the IPL and realized he is a very special talent. He has got a very bright future," Smith said after being awarded Australia's Player of the Series.

Jofra Archer picked up 22 wickets in the Ashes series and was elated with his performance.

"It has just been exciting cricket since I have worn the English jersey. Being able to draw the series is really special," Archer said after England beat Australia by 135 runs to level the Ashes 2-2.

"Test cricket can be perfect for you one day and it won't be the next day. There would be good days and bad days. I just need to keep going," Man of the Match Archer added.

Feature Cricket

A shared Ashes series after 47 years

Partab Ramchand Updated: 16 September, 2019, 11:41 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

A shared Ashes series is extremely rare. The fact that the current one is the first to end in a drawn series since 1972 emphasizes this point. Contests between England and Australia are generally close and well fought out but one side emerges the victor like the memorable series in 2005. They can also be woefully one sided like when England thrashed Australia 5-1 in 1978-79 and the Aussies completed a clean sweep of the five-match series both in 2006-07 and 2013-14.

In a way however the result of the 2019 series is not surprising. On the eve of the contest a keenly fought duel was predicted what with one team at No 4 and the other at No 5 in the ICC rankings. And even when pitted against each other the teams seemed to have the personnel to match each other in every department. So in the ultimate analysis 2-2 seems to be a fair result though it is another matter that Australia being the holders retained the Ashes.

Both sides had strengths and weaknesses the batting being the main casualty. On pitches that gave the bowlers some help batsmen quite often had to struggle and this is borne out by the stats. Of course it was neither the surfaces nor the bowling that saw David Warner plumb new depths. For an experienced player like him with a proven record 95 runs from ten innings is probably the worst tally for a specialist batsmen playing throughout an Ashes series. Most of the other batsmen too found the going tough and it was only Steve Smith’s unrivaled genius that covered up for the batting lapses though he did receive some help from Matthew Wade and Magnus Labuschage.

England too had batting problems and they did not have a towering figure like Smith to paper over these failures. But the line-up was a bit more consistent with six batsmen topping the 200-run mark for the series compared to three for the Aussies. Three hundreds and 13 half centuries for England as against five hundreds and eight half centuries for the Aussies also tells a tale.

In the ultimate analysis even though Smith’s batting was the biggest influence it was the bowling of both sides that came off with flying colours. Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon for Australia and Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer and Jack Leach proved once again that it was bowlers who win matches. There were certain spells of bowling during the series by both pacemen and spinners that will stay in memory for long.

Opinion Cricket

How can David Warner emerge from his failure in Test cricket?

CT Contributor Updated: 16 September, 2019, 11:34 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

When Australian star batsman David Warner returned from his 12-month ban for a ball-tampering scandal, the runs followed him everywhere. The senior Australian batsman won the prestigious Orange Cap in the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). He transferred that form in the ICC World Cup 2019. Warner finished the 2019 World Cup with the second-most runs behind Rohit Sharma. Australia bowed out of the semi-finals, but the southpaw truly won everyone’s hearts.

Since then a lot of quality was expected from the veteran opener in the Ashes 2019 series. He was the man in form, he was scoring runs at will, and there was absolute consistency in his play. But we often see a great difference between white-ball and red-ball cricket.

The transition is somehow difficult given the longevity and the hostility surrounding the Tests. In ten Test innings in Ashes 2019, Warner scored just 95 runs at an average of 9.50. Warner has managed just one fifty, besides scoring three ducks and a plethora of other single digit scores. Warner’s collective issues are numerous.

From being rooted to the crease, playing shots away from the body and chasing wide balls have undone him. The spark of the white ball turned into a nightmarish scene in red. For Warner, veteran England fast bowler Stuart Broad had different ideas. Broad came into the Ashes in a fresh state – both mentally and physically.

The Test great who is England’s second most successful bowler in the format was waiting to unleash his magic on to the southpaw. Five Tests and 10 innings later, Stuart Broad dismissed Warner seven times. In the fifth Test, he was once again dismissed early for five. His scores in the Ashes series read as 2, 8, 3, 5, 61, 0, 0, 0, 5 and 11.

Warner will need to move on from this new low run in his Ashes career. He needs to get back to the drawing room as quickly as possible and get started. Australia has never got those starts with Warner and his opening partner faltering.

The highest partnership atop for Australia has been 13 across five Tests. So there is a lot to do for Warner, the team and the openers in general. His struggles in Tests on English soil is also an issue. Warner has never made a century on an Ashes tour. That sums it all.

News Cricket

We were not always at our best, but we've fought really hard - Joe Root

AP Updated: 16 September, 2019, 10:34 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

England resumed its second innings on 313-8 and was all out for 329 with Lyon taking 4-69. After being put into bat, England scored 294 in its first innings and Australia replied with 225.

Australia won the first test at Edgbaston by 251 runs, the next test at Lord's was drawn before England drew level with a one-wicket win in a thrilling third test at Headingley, which Smith missed. Australia won the fourth test at Old Trafford by 185 runs.

"We were excellent this week. Having lost the toss, to play as we did was fantastic. We drove the game all the time and got there in the end," Root said. "Collectively we've shown a lot of character throughout the whole series. We were not always at our best, but we've fought really hard."

Wade and Jofra Archer had repeated stand-offs and staring contests on Sunday as England attempted to wrap up victory before stumps with a day to spare. Archer, who took 6-62 in the first innings and was player of the match, also struck Wade high up on the arm during a relentless spell of pace bowling.

Paine made his first successful review of the series when the wicketkeeper-captain caught England tailender Archer off Pat Cummins and, after the umpire initially gave not out, Paine's decision to challenge was vindicated when replays showed the ball brushed Archer's glove.

Smith was Australia's player of the series, Stokes took the honors for England.

News Cricket

Runs are bigger than Sandpaper: Steve Smith gets standing ovation from English fans

AP Updated: 16 September, 2019, 10:31 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Steve Smith proved a formidable presence at No. 4 for Australia throughout the series but was caught by Ben Stokes at leg gully off pacer Stuart Broad for 23, by far his lowest score of the series.

Smith finished with 774 runs in the series in only seven innings at an average of 110. The star batter received a standing ovation from England and Australia fans as he left the field on Sunday, a strong sign Smith has been forgiven after a ban for his role in a ball-tampering scandal. The 30-year-old Smith posted the highest number of runs in a five-match series since Brian Lara managed 798 against England in 1993-94. In contrast, Australian opener David Warner finished with just 95 runs from 10 innings

Matthew Wade was Australia's top scorer with 117 after beginning to worry England as the visitors chased an unlikely winning target of 399. Wade was stumped off a delivery from England captain Joe Root (2-26).

Broad took 4-62 and spinner Jack Leach 4-49 for England. Broad became the first England bowler to take 20-plus wickets in four Ashes series — 2013, 2013-14, 2015 and 2019. Leach ended the game at 6:10 p.m. local time with two wickets — Nathan Lyon (1) and Josh Hazlewood (0) — in two balls.

News Cricket

Retaining Ashes is a great deal – Tim Paine

AP Updated: 16 September, 2019, 10:29 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

England beat Australia by 135 runs in the fifth and final Ashes test at the Oval on Sunday to draw the series 2-2.

It's the first time an Ashes series has ended in a draw since 1972.

Both teams had something to celebrate as Australia was later presented with the Ashes urn. Australia had already retained the urn as holder but was thwarted in its goal of a first outright series win in England in 18 years after being dismissed for 263 in its second innings deep into the evening session on Day 4.

"We've got to bat, bowl better than we did in this test match," Australia captain Tim Paine said. "No doubt today puts a dampener on it, but from where this group's come from, to retain the Ashes is still a big deal."

News Cricket

Skipper Rashid Khan praises players after Afghanistan beat Bangladesh

AP Updated: 16 September, 2019, 10:21 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Mohammad Nabi's 54-ball 84 not out was complemented by off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman's career-best 4-15 as Afghanistan beat Bangladesh by 25 runs to go top in the Twenty20 tri-series on Sunday.

Nabi's fireworks saw Afghanistan recover from 40-4 to compile a respectable 164-6 after which Rahman's bowling helped to dismiss Bangladesh for 139 in 19.5 overs.

Nabi struck three fours and seven sixes, and he shared a fifth-wicket stand of 79 runs in around 10 overs with Asghar Afghan to rescue the innings.

"It's always tough to get out of such tough situations and post such a good score," Afghanistan skipper Rashid Khan said. "I think the senior players took the responsibility. That's how we recovered from four down to 160-plus."

Afghan, who survived on 31 after a no ball from spinner Taijul Islam, scored 40 off 37.

"I think that no ball cost us big time, that over went for 17 runs and that changed the momentum," Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan said.

Pace bowler Mohammad Saifuddin produced his career-best 4-33 for Bangladesh.

Gulbadin Naib took 2-27 and Rashid Khan 2-23 for Afghanistan.

It was Afghanistan's second straight victory after beating Zimbabwe by 28 runs on Saturday.