Roles reversed: Test losers champion in Twenty20 as India beats England

Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2012 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , , ,

England made everyone happy today. They made Indian team and fans happy by preferring to lose, the Test squad by sending them home, the youngsters by giving them a chance. I doubt if anyone watching the match ever felt England would win or even try to win. This isn't anything new. I remember the one-day series during Sri Lanka tour of England 2006, in which England lost gladly. They simply don't care about winning sometimes. Tests have always been the pinnacle. The series which was just concluded was said to be right up there with the Ashes by England captain Alastair Cook, but I doubt if that would be said when England wins the one-day World Cup.

Am I against them on this? Well, not really. I'm myself a fan of Tests and got annoyed by the Twenty20 today. I didn't like that a Twenty20 was held 2 days after the final Test in a 4 Test series. It takes time to get out of the Test mode. The England players didn't really have to switch their mindset though. The only player who played both the Tests and the Twenty20 is Tim Bresnan. Steven Finn and Stuart Broad are still recovering from injuries and the rest and rested. Even Andy Flower is rested. I'm not against their rotation policy but the war between BCCI and the ECB is doing cricket much damage.

The ECB clearly prefers Tests and the BCCI prefers Twenty20s. Where does this leave one-day though? ICC needs to intervene and try to reduce the number of meaningless matches.

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I'm personally with Tests. India focuses far less on Tests than England. One or two years ago, India were playing much were Tests than other teams and the comments from players, both current and former forced the BCCI to increase them. The great players that India speaks of, they aren't going to have more of them. You don't hear of great players smashing boundaries, you hear of great players who bat all day. Even their captain, M S Dhoni captains in Tests just like he does in the shorter formats. He gave all-rounders a chance in Tests, the result of which we have all seen. Tests are a game of pure batsmen and bowlers rather than handy bowlers and batsmen.

Let me talk a little about today's clash before I go. Eoin Morgan looked like a better captain than Stuart Broad. Debutant Meaker was impressive. I don't want to see Dernbach ever playing again for England. Dernbach's behaviour is as disgraceful as his bowling.

India have made a joke of themselves by losing the 'revenge' Test series by 2-1 and celebrating a Twenty20 win against England 2nd XI wildly. For more mockery, tune in on 22 December, Saturday at 19:00 local (13:30 GMT).

England conquer Indian soil after 27 years!

Posted: Monday, December 17, 2012 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Samit Patel, Johny Bairstow, Nick Compton
 and Joe Root celebrating England's win
This was an amazing series. England have registered their first Test series win in India after '85-'86. This one is very special, because India is among the top rivals for England at the moment. The battles between these two teams have been heated and emotional in recent years. England last visited India during the 26/11 attack on Taj hotel in Mumbai. Kevin Pietersen was the captain at that time and some of the England players, like Andrew Flintoff and Stephen Harmisson were reluctant to go back to India to play Tests. It wasn't a tour England would like to remember. The same Jimmy Anderson who bagged the Man of the Match award today, bowled crap on the previous tour. I remember I was expecting better because he had started to learn bowling well in the sub-continent, showing promise in Sri Lanka at the end of '07. Nevertheless, his bowling has come of age and he is no longer the bowler English fans dread seeing in the sub-continent. The opposition batsmen dread him now.

It feels wonderful to not only have beaten India, but to beat them at spin. England has long been known to struggle against spin bowling and as a fast bowling superpower, lacking a quality spinner. But, Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann have changed that. Swann has been performing consistently throughout his career and having Monty gives England an advantage on pitches that favour spin. England have James Anderson, Steven Finn, Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann who are all threatening. Having this kind of variety gives England the potential to be world beaters.

Kevin Pietersen with the signatures of himself,
Cook, Compton, Trott, Bell, Patel, Root, Prior,
Swann, Anderson, Bairstow and Flower
This is the series England players would like to remember when things are hard. These kind of contests keep Test cricket alive and make cricketers desire the England jersey. The changes England have made deserve applauding. Picking Monty after the 1st Test, dropping Broad and picking Joe Root for the final Test have proved to be perfect decisions. I'm happy with all of these. Broad is an asset in the shorter forms of the game, but I've never really liked seeing him in Tests and Monty Panesar is definitely worth a go, every time England tours India. Samit Patel also seems to be fitter for the shorter formats. With the way Joe Root batted, he showed the potential Alastair Cook did when he made his debut in the same country, India, at the same age of 21, though Root is almost 22.

In the final game, I am personally most impressed by Root and Pietersen. This pitch was the reverse of what we usually see. It was toughest on Day 1 and flattened as the game progressed. Both Root and Pietersen scored 73 in the 1st innings. This was KP's slowest innings, with the strike rate of 39 and Root batted with a strike of 32. Root played the most deliveries, 229, followed by KP, 188, followed by Prior, 142 and finally Trott, 133. On a pitch like this, it takes great concentration to bat. I was waiting for an innings of patience from KP. England will be very happy with this series as Bell and Trott, the two batsmen who have been struggling, scored centuries in the end.

I think the main difference this time has been in the approach of England and the credit goes to Captain Cook. To me it seems that the Board makes the captain and the captain makes the players and the team. England reflected what Alastair Cook is made of. Before this series, Kevin Pietersen looked unlikely to play but Cook held meetings with him and persuaded the ECB to take him back. I think he knows how to bring a unit together. His own batting and behaviour show a quiet determination and strength of character, which is what the whole team has showed. He is not loud, but he is anything but soft.

Ponting Happy with Retirement Decision

Posted: Monday, December 10, 2012 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , ,

Australian cricket legend Ricky Ponting insists that he is comfortable with his decision to retire, after missing out on a fairy-tale ending to his test career.

37-year-old Ponting was unable to prevent the Baggy Greens falling to a comprehensive defeat in the final test against South Africa, with the hosts falling 309 runs short of their victory target.

Victory for Australia would have meant a return to the top of the ICC World Test Rankings for the first time in a number of years, but as it was the visitors stepped up their performance in Perth having narrowly missed out on defeat in the first two tests to hold onto their position at the top of international cricket.

On an individual level things also failed to go to plan for Ponting with the former captain again failing to make an impact on the game, hitting only 12 runs overall from his two innings to take his total to just 32 in the entire series.

Such a poor return probably justifies Ponting’s decision to call it a day after a wonderful career, but the Tasmanian admits that he would have loved to have gone out on a high:

It was not the way I wanted to finish with that performance and that result. However, the decision to walk away was a pretty easy one. I have tried to stay away from watching and listening to everything about my retirement this week. It's not unfolded the way I would have liked. I have and cherished every moment, it was always going to end at some stage I guess.
The retirement means that Ponting finishes his career with a staggering 13,378 Test match runs, and his average of just over 50 means that he is the second only to Sachin Tendulkar in that regard as well.

The South African players took it upon themselves to show their appreciation of Ponting’s achievements by forming a guard of honour after he was dismissed for the final time, and the Australian batsman said that he was touched by opposing captain, Graeme Smith’s gesture:
I was a little bit embarrassed and wish it didn't happen that way, but it was an amazing gesture by Graeme and the South African team. There are so many highlights I guess through 168 Tests. Your debuts are always special, Ashes series are always special, any time we've played against South Africa in my time has been a special series.
If you are a huge cricket fan or like to watch whilst playing online, you cannot doubt that he is one of the best the game has ever seen and will be missed.