Feature Cricket

The Need for ‘Broad’ Education

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 31 July, 2019, 4:13 PM IST


One would have expected some hyped up tete-a-tete verbal battles leading into the first Ashes Test. Instead a strange comment by England’s fast bowler, Stuart Broad, has left a large part of the cricket world stumped.

Broad pointed out to the punishment meted out to Australian batsmen, Steve Smith and David Warner, using terms like “hellish year” and “pretty brutal” even as the England and the Australian cricket teams prepped themselves for the first Ashes Test in Birmingham.

Alluding yet again to the sandpaper-gate that overshadowed the Cape Town Test in South Africa a year ago when the leadership was found guilty of colluding with Cameron Bancroft in attempting to tamper with the ball, Broad appeared to sympathize with the two Australian batsmen for the year they had to sit out of international cricket, a punitive measure imposed by Cricket Australia almost as a pre-emptive to action by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

But what raised eyebrows was the fact that the controversial fast bowler claimed that the two ‘world class’ cricketers were at the receiving end of a prolonged punishment for a “silly mistake.” It seems rather shocking coming from someone who hails from a country that is considered the origin of cricket.

That Broad should have such a blaze view of the attempt to bring the game into disrepute by violating the rules of the game has sent shockwaves. The successful fast bowler has had his problems in the past, running into trouble. The son of a match referee and former England cricketer, Chris Broad, Stuart Broad was expected to have a more educated and certainly enlightened view of what would be a silly mistake and what is a grave action amounting to violate the ethics and integrity of the game, not to mention the laws.

Apart from the fact that Broad hails from the heart of England’s cricket, it has to be mentioned that the same ruler would apply to Steve Smith and David Warner, who not only come from England’s arch rival nation on the field for over a century but also, are successful cricketers and captains in their own right to know better than to infringe upon such a common, well known but also, often violated rule.

While Broad is entitled to his opinion about the degree of punishment, even though it came at the initiative of Cricket Australia which has been accused of superseding the ICC and also, by some of being lenient to allow the two players to come back in time for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, what is alarming is that as a bowler and esteemed international cricketer, Broad could be indicative of more cricketers who are expected to know better when it comes to upholding the game’s integrity but hold such a scant view as far as adhering to the rules go.

Broad’s comments, coming as they do on ahead of the Ashes, throw a spotlight not only to the chronic malaise that assaults the fabric of the sport – to the point of some want ball tampering to be made ‘legal’ in a case of a warped solution, but also, of the kind of education expected but absent from the cricketers that make up the game.

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News Cricket

‘Rohit Sharma can help chase down unachievable targets’: Sanjay Bangar

Harshit Anand Updated: 14 September, 2019, 4:57 PM IST


Former Indian batting coach, Sanjay Bangar has made a big prediction about Rohit Sharma in Test cricket. He is of the opinion that Rohit Sharma will help India chase difficult targets in Test cricket if he bats as an opener in his own trademark style.

“At the moment, there is no place in the settled middle order in the Test team. Opening will be a new challenge for him, since he has rarely done it in the longer formats. But the advantage is that he will get to bat against a hard-ball with plenty of gaps in the field. He will also not have to wait for his turn to bat, which will save his mental energy,” Bangar told ESPNcricinfo in an interview.

“If he succeeds, his style of play will be extremely helpful to the team. It might result in being able to successfully chase down targets that we haven’t achieved in the past, like in Cape Town and Edgbaston,” he added.

Rohit Sharma has featured in 27 Tests so far, scoring 1,585 runs at an average of 39.6. The swashbuckling opener has been an underperformer outside home. But, he has been picked as India's no.1 choice opener for the home Test series against South Africa. The first Test against South Africa will take place in Visakhapatnam from October 2

“The key to his success will be if he maintains his individual style of play. He has to maintain his individuality,” Bangar added.

News Cricket

Pakistan has always supported other countries by touring: Sarfaraz Ahmed

Harshit Anand Updated: 14 September, 2019, 4:36 PM IST


Pakistan Cricket Board and its fans were left disappointed after 10 Sri Lankan cricketers opted out of the tour of Pakistan citing security reasons. The likes of Dimuth Karunaratne (Test and ODI captain), Lasith Malinga (T20I captain) and Angelo Mathews were few of the biggest names to have backed out from the tour.

Lahiru Thirimanne will lead the ODI side while Dasun Shanaka has been named skipper for the T20I side in absence of the regular stalwarts.

Sri Lanka are scheduled to lock horns with Pakistan in ODI and T20I series at the National Stadium in Karachi and Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium. The tour will commence from September 27.

Pakistan captain, Sarfaraz Ahmed, who was retained as Pakistan's skipper for the home series after speculations that he will be removed from captaincy, has said that Pakistan has always been supportive of other teams.

“Pakistan has always supported other countries by touring. Recently, Pakistan sent its junior team to Sri Lanka a couple of weeks after bombings took place,” the 32-year-old Sarfaraz was quoted as saying in Pak Passion.

News Cricket

Gautam Gambhir warns Rishabh Pant, says beware of my favorite Sanju Samson

Harshit Anand Updated: 14 September, 2019, 4:22 PM IST


India and South Africa will take on each other in a three-match T20I series starting from September 15 at Dharamshala. A lot of eyes will be fixated on Rishabh Pant, who had a largely unimpressive tour of West Indies as India's first-choice wicket-keeper batsman across formats. But, T20 format is something that Pant has impressed us the most, especially in IPL.

Former Indian cricketer, Gautam Gambhir has a warning for Rishabh Pant. Gambhir wrote in his column for Times of India that Pant needs to perform better so that he can counter challenges thrown at him by Kerala wicket-keeper batsman, Sanju Samson, who recently awed one and all with a brilliant fifty against South Africa A.

“It is another opportunity for young Indian batsmen to cement their place in the side. Manish Pandey looks much younger than his age of 29. Shreyas Iyer explained enough in the West Indies that he is a great deal more than the ‘South Bombay’ swag. KL Rahul is a force in white-ball format. Rishabh Pant is always exciting but he has to watch his back as my favourite Sanju Samson is throwing some serious challenges at him. It is an exciting series as there are a lot of individual battles going on considering the T20 World Cup next year,” wrote Gambhir.

Gambhir also compared Quinton de Kock with Kumara Sangakkara and Brian Lara.

“In the context of South Africa’s tour of India, the visitors may relate to this as this is their first international engagement after a forgetful World Cup campaign. I like Quinton de Kock. He is one of those gorgeous left-handers which I always aspired to be but could never be. In full flow, he reminds me of Kumara Sangakkara and Brian Lara. Hopefully, he delivers as a captain but not at the cost of curtailing fluidity of his batting,” Gambhir said.

News Cricket

Jasprit Bumrah reveals the "reason" for lethality in swing

Harshit Anand Updated: 14 September, 2019, 4:17 PM IST


There has been never any doubt regarding Jasprit Bumrah's ability in limited-overs cricket. In fact, he made a name for himself with his yorkers and great death bowling in T20 cricket. But, he made a great transition to ODIs and now Tests as well.

More than skills, it has always been Bumrah's sharp cricketing brain and strong temperament that has helped him do well in cricket. Using these virtues, he impressed one and all with his displays even in the longer version of the game, a format, where people had question marks about him.

The Indian pacer recently had a brilliant tour of West Indies, where he ended up with 13 wickets in two Tests which included two five-wicket-hauls and a maiden hat-trick. The right-armer also rose to no.3 spot in ICC Test rankings, which is simply amazing given he has hardly played 12 Tests. His ability to move the ball was one of the best sights in West Indies.

Bumrah revealed that it was the England tour, which helped him gain lethality in swing bowling. “I always used to have out-swingers. I have not used it a lot but playing in England did give me a lot of confidence. The Duke ball does swing for a longer period of time. So, because I got more and more confident as I played the Test matches, I could execute it well,” he said at a promotional event here.

He added, “In white-ball cricket, the ball doesn’t swing for a long period so you have to assess what kind of delivery works every time. I was working on it (the out-swinger) for a long period. I used it in England as well when we were playing against county teams. You can’t use everything in one match. You just try to assess the conditions on the given day and see what could work.”

Feature Cricket

What’s next for Faf du Plessis and South Africa?

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 14 September, 2019, 2:11 PM IST


Even as South Africa undertake the important tour of India beginning with a three match Twenty20 internationals, questions remain about the future of the most prominent member of the squad missing from the lineup.

Quinton de Kock might be reasonably excited about the possibility of captaining South Africa in India, albeit for only the Twenty20 internationals part of the tour. Under normal circumstances, it would have been reasonable enough to raise expectations under a new leadership. Yet given the kind of change that Cricket South Africa (CSA) have embarked upon since the debacle that was their campaign in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England, there is some skepticism as well as a great deal of uncertainty about how South Africa move forward.

The end of South Africa’s ICC Cricket World Cup did not anticipate the idea of the cricket board doing away with the coaching position and instead bringing on a team manager a la football. Furthermore, while it was expected that questions would be raised about the practicality of continuing the journey with Faf du Plessis at the helm given his age and also, the fact that the next major fifty overs World Cup is four years away, there was little doubt with so many retirements and changes on the anvil, Faf could be the perfect foil as a catalyst to lead a new team and leadership in the transition.

Yet, it would appear South Africa have arrived in India without having taken people into confidence and with another round of shooting-in-the-dark strategies that could make or break them. If that became apparent as Cricket South Africa made the announcements, those doubts would have been exacerbated after the comments that have come forth from the team management after the team landed in India.

CSA acting director of cricket, Corrie van Zyl insisted Faf du Plessis was very much in the mix even as the team for the tour of India was announced with Faf named only as South Africa’s Test captain and not even included in South Africa’s Twenty20 squad. On his part, Faf, who led the latter half of South Africa’s campaign with a century and near century, albeit after the ship had sailed, insisted that he would still be South Africa’s Twenty20 captain for the 2020 ICC World Twenty20 event in Australia next year and that South Africa were merely using the time as opportunity to experiment in order to find a worthy successor.

But while Faf flits from one Twenty20 tournament that got scuttled to another before coming to India to take charge of the Test team, the words of the team management would not have given him any comfort either with regard to his future as South Africa’s limited overs captain or his place purely as a batsman.

Enoch Nkwe, the team director, upon landing in India, almost put the nail in the coffin, particularly as far as Faf’s career as South Africa’s limited overs captaincy is concerned by stating that the team was intent on looking forward while acknowledging his past contributions, the emphasis being on past.

With the likes of AB de Villiers having retired of their own volition, with South Africa losing players to Kolpak deals and the such, can South Africa afford to lose not only an experienced captain but also, a valuable mentor and member of the dressing room this close to another World Cup challenge, albeit in a different format?

While Faf du Plessis may have little choice but to build up a string of performances in the opportunities outside South Africa’s cricket and prepare to take on South Africa’s Test challenge that kicks off their ICC World Test Championship, it will be interesting how this experiment with a new management and a new captaincy trial works out and whether Faf du Plessis then becomes the one holding the key should South Africa’s experiments fail to yield the desired results close to the ICC World Twenty20 2020. Anxious times for Faf du Plessis and South Africa.

News Cricket

Ashes god Steve Smith defends team-mates for lack of scores

Harshit Anand Updated: 14 September, 2019, 2:00 PM IST


Steve Smith is having a record-breaking 2019 Ashes series. Due to his exceptional batting and Australia's excellent bowling, the Kangaroos have already retained the Ashes. If Australia manage to win this Test or draw the game, they will win the Ashes series in England for the first time since 2001.

But Australia got bundled-out on 225 runs after England made 294 runs in the first innings. Barring Smith, who made 80, no other batsman could even touch the fifty-run mark. Smith has a total of 751 runs in the series. Apart from Smith and Labuschagne, who has 339 runs at an average of 56.5, no other Australian batsmen has averaged even 30. On the second day as well, it was only Smith (80) and Labuschagne (48), doing well for the visitors.

Steve Smith, however, has defended his teammates despite their poor show. The former Aussie skipper said, “We haven’t seen any huge totals really throughout the whole series so it’s not been easy. There’s always been something there, I felt. If you bowl in good areas for long enough then I think we’ve seen you’ll get rewards. Playing in England is completely different from playing back home and you’ve got to find ways to play away from home.

“Sometimes you need to change certain little things that can help you play in certain conditions and adapt accordingly but I think it will be a good learning curve for all of our batters,” added Smith.

News Cricket

Ashes GOD Steve Smith leaves Don Bradman behind

Harshit Anand Updated: 14 September, 2019, 1:51 PM IST


Steve Smith is batting like a dream for Australia in the ongoing Ashes series. He was out of action for more than a year. But right in the first Test series since his comeback to the format, he snatched back his no.1 position in ICC Test rankings. But his exploits against England knows no bounds. Smith is turning out to be an Ashes god. Don't believe me? Read this stat.

Smith has 1,251 runs in last ten Ashes innings. In last ten innings, his scores read 239, 76, 102*, 83, 144, 142, 92, 211, 82, 80. His lowest score has been 80, which he made in the first innings of the Oval Test. The right-hander has five centuries and fifties each with two double-centuries. Now, he has even bettered Sir Don Bradman's record of most runs in 10 successive Ashes innings.

Between 1937 and 1946, Bradman had made 1,236 runs in ten successive Ashes innings with scores of 212, 169, 51, 144*, 18, 102*, 103, 16, 187, 234.

Smith is batting like a beast in the ongoing Ashes series. He now has 751 runs in the series at an average of 125.17. And this is Smith's comeback to Test cricket after a long lay-off that too in high-pressure situations but he doesn't feel pressure, he is an Ashes god, after all. Smith now has 2,777 runs in Ashes cricket after 47 innings that with 11 centuries.

Feature Cricket

T-20 Series: South Africa’s best chance to win in India

Partab Ramchand Updated: 14 September, 2019, 12:08 PM IST


The South Africans start their short tour of India with the first of three T-20 internationals at Dharamsala on Sunday and this format gives them their best opportunity to win in India. There is very little chance of the visitors winning the three-match Test series that follows going by their past record in this country. In the first place it is the one format in which they are above India in the ICC rankings being third to India’s fourth. Secondly it does appear that they have the team personnel to challenge India.

In skipper Quinton de Kock they have one of the leading players in the world in the shortest formats of the game. He loves to strike the ball hard and high and is equally proficient in ODIs. He has a particularly good record against India and who can forget his three hundreds in successive ODI’s six years ago. He followed this up with two more hundreds in India a couple of years later.

David Miller is another player the Indian bowlers will be wary of. The 30-year -old has class, skill and experience and his career strike rate of 140 in T20 internationals is among the best in the format. Both de Kock and Miller have been regulars in the IPL for years. Miller has been one of the stalwarts for King’s XI Punjab while the skipper has turned out for Mumbai Indians, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Daredevils. Little wonder then there have been reports that other team members have been picking the brains of the duo to find out more about Indian players and conditions.

Pace bowling has a major role to play in T-20 cricket and here the visitors are well served. Kagiso Rabada heads the department and he has the likes of Andile Phehlukwayo, Beuran Hendricks, Dwaine Pretorious and Anrich Nortje for company and South Africa will be hoping that the bowling can cover up for any weaknesses in the batting which to be candid lacks depth.

In fact with India either resting their main pace bowlers or not considering them for the shortest format South Africa are better served in the department. In the absence of the regulars it will be up to the likes of Deepak Chahar, Khaleel Ahmed, Navdeep Saini and all-rounder Hardik Pandya to come up with something special. Of course India has the better spin attack with Ravindra Jadeja and Krunal Pandya so things sort of level out in the bowling department. But where India should have the decisive edge is in the batting. In Virat Kohli they have the best batsman in limited overs cricket and the support cast too is of the top drawer – Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Shikhar Dhawan, Manish Pandey and KL Rahul.

News Cricket

Bloody thing, faked it. He got me: Steve Smith on Jonny Bairstow's fake run-out attempt

AP Updated: 14 September, 2019, 11:57 AM IST


England pacer Jofra Archer took 6-62 as Australia was dismissed for 225 on Day 2 of the fifth Ashes test, with star batter Steve Smith out for 80 in his lowest score of the series.

England had a first-innings lead of 69 — after scoring 294 when it was put into bat in a gamble by Australia captain Tim Paine — and reached stumps Friday on 9-0 in its second innings to lead by 78 runs overall.

Smith was trapped leg before wicket by a straight delivery from Chris Woakes and has now made 751 runs from his six innings this series. Marnus Labuschagne hit 48 before he was out lbw to Archer, who took the first three wickets of the innings. Sam Curran also proved a significant threat with 3-46 in his first appearance of the series.

Smith took his sequence of 50-plus scores against England to 10 in a row, but this time he was unable to fully make up for the mediocrity of his teammates.

Smith was only really troubled when Jonny Bairstow's arrival at the stumps led to him diving awkwardly to beat a throw that was instead collected at the non-striker's end.

Smiles were exchanged with the seemingly mischievous England wicketkeeper, Smith dusted himself down and passed 50 by carving Leach for six.

"He got me there, didn't he? Dirtied my clothes. He didn't say anything, I don't think, but he got me. I didn't know where the ball was. Bloody thing, faked it. He got me. I don't know what else to say," Smith said during the press conference after stumps.

News Cricket

He literally cannot get out: Jofra Archer on Steve Smith

Harshit Anand Updated: 14 September, 2019, 11:52 AM IST


Jofra Archer has been making the right noises that too in his first Test series. The English paceman has taken 22 wickets so far. He scalped a six-fer in the first innings of the ongoing Oval Test as well. But, England's leading pace bowler is finding it extremely difficult to get the world's no.1 Test batsman, Steve Smith out.

Smith continued his insane run of form as he made 80 in Australia's first innings despite suffering from flu. "Steve Smith didn't look himself today, he didn't look as nailed on, he didn't seem the same way,” Archer asserted.

“It’s weird, you know. Every time he bats, I don’t know what it is. He literally cannot get out. If he plays a bad shot, the ball lands in no man’s and. For the whole series. Obviously he’s a good batter, he’s got a good temperament, but I don’t know what it is: the ball never ever goes to hand,” the pacer said.

“We know he’s going to miss one, though, and today just proves it. Funnily enough, the last person he missed one-off was Woakes [at Lord’s],” he added.

News Cricket

David Warner creates unwanted record in Ashes 2019

Harshit Anand Updated: 14 September, 2019, 10:52 AM IST


Australian opener David Warner had a sensational 2019 IPL followed by an equally good Cricket World Cup campaign. But, he has failed to make a smooth transition to Test cricket and has continued his poor track record on the English soil.

He added an unwanted record to his name during Australia's first innings in the ongoing Oval Test when he got out for 5 runs off 8 balls to become Jofra Archer's first of six scalps on the second day of the final Test.

Notably, this was Warner's eighth single-digit score in the ongoing Ashes series. With this, he has become the first batsman to achieve this unwanted feat (most single-digit-scores) in Ashes cricket.

Warner has scored 84 runs in nine innings at an average of 9.33 and if it was not for 61 in the Headingley Test, his numbers would have been even poorer. Interestingly, Steve Smith has hit more fours (88) than Warner's run-tally in the series.

News Cricket

Pakistan captain Sarfaraz still counting on Sri Lanka coming

AP Updated: 13 September, 2019, 9:23 PM IST


Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed is still counting on Sri Lanka turning up for a limited-overs tour this month despite alleged terrorist threats.

Sri Lanka Cricket said it was warned of a possible terrorist threat during the scheduled tour of Pakistan, and sought a reassessment of the security situation before the first of three one-day internationals on Sept. 27 in Karachi. There's also three Twenty20s scheduled in Lahore from Oct. 5-9.

"Inshallah (God willing) they will come, we should hope for the best," Sarfaraz said on Friday in Karachi.

"The Pakistan Cricket Board is trying its best and we should all pray that international cricket should come back to Pakistan."

Sarfaraz added the International Cricket Council and other national boards should come forward and support Pakistan more in its bid to revive international cricket.

"The way PCB has worked over the last 10 years, it's a tremendous effort," he said.

He also noted how quick Pakistan supported Sri Lanka after the Easter Sunday bombings there by sending a junior team to tour.

Major teams have avoided Pakistan since the Sri Lanka team bus was attacked by terrorists in 2009. Over the past three years, Pakistan has successfully hosted Zimbabwe, the West Indies, Sri Lanka, and a World XI in limited-overs matches amid intense security.

Sarfaraz was confirmed as captain on Friday for both limited-overs series. Babar Azam was named as vice-captain and PCB chairman Ehsan Mani hinted the middle-order batsman could be Pakistan's future captain in the shorter formats.

"This is part of Babar's gradual development as a future captain and in line with our strategy of introducing a succession plan across the board so that there are no gaps," Mani said in a statement.

News Cricket

Virat Kohli likes to hear Punjabi songs - Shikhar Dhawan

Staff Writer Updated: 13 September, 2019, 5:12 PM IST


A stand at Feroz Shah Kotla ground was named after Indian captain Virat Kohli on September 12. The stadium was renamed after former DDCA President, Arun Jaitley. Team India along with the family of Virat Kohli attended the ceremony.

Virat took to social media to thank the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA).

"Thank you @delhi_cricket and @BCCI for bestowing this honour upon me. The pavilion will remind me of my journey in life and in cricket but most importantly I hope it will serve as an inspiration for the next generation of young cricketers of our nation," Virat wrote on Twitter.

Earlier, Virat Kohli’s teammates were asked questions related to him.

Shikhar Dhawan, the left hand batsman, was asked to reveal the type of songs Kohli likes to listen.

“Before marriage or after marriage?” was Dhawan's response.

He went on to add that Kohli likes to hear Punjabi songs.

News Cricket

Virat Kohli is not superstitious - Hardik Pandya

Staff Writer Updated: 13 September, 2019, 4:59 PM IST


Men in Blue were present at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in the national capital to attend an event where a pavilion at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground was named after Virat Kohli.

The Indian skipper was honored by the Delhi and District Cricket Association and the governing body of Indian cricket for his contribution towards cricket in India. Virat's teammates were asked questions related to their skipper.

Hardik Pandya, the all-rounder, who was recently selected for the upcoming T20 series South Africa, was asked about Kohli's superstition. According to him, Virat Kohli is not superstitious.

Hardik was rested from the tour of West Indies considering his workload. He will play a key role in the home season where India have couple of important assignments lined-up.

News Cricket

Shubman Gill acknowledges Yuvraj Singh's contribution in his career

Staff Writer Updated: 13 September, 2019, 4:50 PM IST


Shubman Gill was finally selected in Inia's Test team after being overlooked from all formats for the tour of West Indies. He replaced KL Rahul for the three-match Test series against South Africa. He has been selected as a back-up opener with Rohit Sharma likely to open the batting with Mayank Agarwal.

The 20 years old has acknowledged the contribution of Yuvraj Singh in his growth as a cricketer so far and had words of praise for him. "Yuvi paji keeps telling me what needs to be done. A few years back, he told me I shouldn't sign any company, I should just go and play. I didn't sign anyone. He keeps guiding me, keeps tells me what to do what not to do," he said. "There are a lot of people who keep guiding me. In our team (Punjab), we have Yuvraj Singh, Gurkeerat Mann, my father. I'm very close to my father. He keeps telling me, guiding me."

Shubman also told how his father has helped him in his career. He said, "I've learnt (to be patient) from my father - he had the patience and calmness to keep throwing 200-300 balls at the nets when I was a kid. From my early days my mindset was such that if I am set, batting on a hundred, I have to go on to a big one. I should not lose my concentration and should not play any loose shots. This is one habit I have adopted when I was young and it has helped me."