Tag Archives: India

Let’s stop this race to the bottom

If poor quality cricket is seen as more entertaining then good quality cricket, then all that will happen is the degradation of the sport.

Last week two Tests concluded.

Australia lost to South Africa, after being humiliatingly bowled out for just 85 in 32.5 overs.

England drew with India, after two mammoth totals were unable to separate the teams.

If a martian landed on earth, and had the option of watching cricket for the very first time, I have little doubt which they’d chose.

They chose the calamitous collapse down under, not the hard grind in the sub-continent.

Fortunately, Test cricket’s popularity is not determined by extra-terrestrial beings, but by fans of the sport.

In the concluding day of these two test matches, a martian seems to have written an opinion piece for the Sydney Morning Herald however.

This particular being, known locally as ‘Malcolm Knox’, claims that “While Australia destroy themselves, England destroy the game”.

He writes in his article, “…while Australia are lambasted for playing their own way, a feckless younger generation putting entertainment ahead of survival, Cook cruises like a stately zeppelin towards his fifth Test century in India, more than any other visitor.

As he did so, televisions were switched off across the subcontinent, and left on only in places where the only alternative was to look at the rain”.

His logic, is: ‘Sure Australia were bad, but at least people watched it’. It’s is the kind of lowering of standards, that does long term damage. It’s the kind of attitude that encourages people to say “what’s the point of Test cricket..”

What’s more, India and Australia have fairly similar win records at home. The difference, is Australia lose a lot more, because they are more gung-ho, or perhaps more willing to take risks.

Since 2007, when a number of Australian greats retired and the IPL was set up, India and Australia have fairly similar records for home test wins.

Out of 52 home Tests in Australia since, 33 have produced home wins (63%). India have won 28 out of 45 home Tests (62%).

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India’s home record since January 2007

The difference, is Australia have lost 10 Tests, India have lost four.

Australia think results are key. 82% of home Tests have produced definitive results. Yet, India know how to draw. They have produced 13 of them (28%).

Malcolm Knox may consider a draw to be ‘boring’, but one needs to look at the bigger picture.

Most teams would rather draw in the short term to win in the longer term. You’d rather be 0-0 in a series than 1-0 down. Right?

If a batsman, or a team is capable of holding out, then fair play to them. Right?

England, and indeed Alastair Cook, certainly showed this during his 235* at the Gabba, Malcolm?

This simplistic view that Test cricket must produce results or else it’s boring, is exactly the type of attitude that will kill the game. It’s selling the game’s soul for a cheap illusion that it’s exciting.

The entire point of Test cricket, is that it tests you. It’s supposed to be an endurance race. A long game, and sometimes, an indecisive dead-heat. Indeed, some of the best Tests ever seen have been draws.

Sometimes it can be frustrating to watch Alastair Cook.

But, he did exactly what was required of him, leading a side that just slipped up against Bangladesh.

They served a moral victory in many respects.

Whilst every team wants to win matches, forcing results for the sake of it, and branding it ‘entertainment’, is a lowering of everyone’s standards.

It’s a race to the bottom that Test cricket just doesn’t need.

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Point-to-prove XI for 2014

Reflection of the previous year often aids with informing the expectations of the season to come. As we recover from a year of retirements and the changing the guard, we can look into a crystal ball, and see who will be looking to have a more productive 2014. Not all in this list have had a disappointing 2013, but, all will be looking to have a purposeful year ahead, and really prove something.

*2013 statistics are amalgamated from all formats of International cricket.

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1. Jesse Ryder [New Zealand] – 2013:

Batting: 1 innings – 0 runs. Average 0 |

Jesse Ryder is a special talent, but certainly not a fulfilled one. His staggered career has developed at an uneven rate, which has given rise to the fact that at 29 years old, he has played just 18 Test matches, and only 41 ODIs. He’s better than that, but it needs consistency, and discipline on and off the field. Combining the two could allow Ryder to explode back onto the scene, which may be important with T20 contracts up for grabs. A century on the first day of 2014 is a good sign, but with Ryder, it is never far away from something unexpected.

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2. Murali Vijay [India] – 2013:

Batting: 14 innings – 704 runs – Average – 48.82 | Bowling: Overs 1 – Wickets: 0 – Average: 0

After having made his debut in 2008, Vijay’s chance for Test cricket has been stifled by the likes of Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag at the top. They have since been put to one side, and Vijay’s chance has finally emerged. 647 Test runs at an average of 46.76 in 2013 was a good grounded response to continued selection. But, with the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara for company in the batting order, he must stay relevant, and not be a passenger. In order to not be buried in the drama of Indian cricket, and the high octane performances of others, he must push the boundaries, and really build a reputation.

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3. Azhar Ali [Pakistan] – 2013:

Batting: 15 innings – 272 runs – Average: 31.77 | Bowling: Overs: 7 – Wickets: 0 – Average: 0

Pakistan are about to go through a turbulent period, with Misbah Ul Haq at the ripe age of 39, and Younis Khan at 36, spare parts are desperately needed. Azhar Ali was steady for a number of years for Pakistan at number three, but severely fell away in 2013, with just two fifties, and averaging under 20 in Tests. 270 runs in 14 Test innings is not good enough, when in the previous year, he scored more than double that in less matches. There is lots to work on, and lots to like about Ali, but he really must show he has a future for Pakistan, post Misbah and Younis, by seizing number three by the horns, and not letting go. Pakistan cricket is a roller coaster ride sometimes, and a solid, steady number three is what is needed. Step up Azhar.

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4. Joe Root [England] – 2013:

Batting: 48 innings – 1579 runs – average: 38.51 | Bowling: Overs: 118.0 – Wickets: 8 – Average: 69. 87

The golden boy of English cricket is finding out the hard way that top level cricket is very difficult. Averaging 34.48 in Tests last year, he has been moved up and down the order perpetually, not being allowed to settle. He has been worked over by Australia’s quicks, exposed horribly, and although having played the short ball well, he has not been the defensive rock that England had hoped for at the top of the order. Whereas some will attribute this to him being unsettled due to constant change, it must also be recognised that he has not made any of the positions his own. He is only young of course, but the sooner he consolidates a position, the better, and that is the task for the year in all formats.

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5. JP Duminy [South Africa] – 2013:

Batting: 32 innings – 948 runs – average 35.11 | Bowling: Overs: 177.4 – Wickets: 20 – Average: 36.90

The left hander has gained a reputation as a One Day specialist, which is something he will be keen to repute. He has only played 21 Tests in his career, and has always been placed in the lower middle order, coming in to bat after a flurry of world class batsmen such as Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, Hashim Amla and AB De Villiers. Nobody doubts his One Day credentials, but his First Class average of nearly 50, simply does not translate in Test cricket, where he averages a meager 32.88. He will be looking to assert himself, and prove he is not just a One Day specialist.

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6. Angelo Mathews [Sri Lanka] – 2013:

Batting: 34 innings – 935 runs – average: 34.62 | Bowling: Overs: 200.4- Wickets: 23- Average: 40.34

As a player, and as a captain, Angelo Mathews has struggled to form a cohesive Test side. He played in 28 limited overs games, whilst having only three full Tests in 2013, which outlines the difficulty of long term planning. A general depression in form in Tests, has been contrasted by a strong-ish year in coloured kits. In Tests, scoring under a hundred runs in the year, and taking not a single wicket showed his ineptitude, yet in ODIs, his 585 runs and 19 wickets helped build his character as a leader. 2014 needs to be the year in which the Sri Lankan captain strengthens his place as the leader, and transfers limited overs contributions to Tests, because if he doesn’t Sri Lanka will be far too heavily reliant on the old guard.

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7. Quinton De Kock [South Africa] – 2013:

Batting: 23 innings – 928 runs – average: 42.18 | Wicketkeeping: Catches: 33 Stumpings: 4

With the retirement of Jacques Kallis, a position in the batting order has opened up. Quinton De Kock has had a fantastic year in limited overs cricket for South Africa, the only format he was afforded selection with 928 runs, including four centuries. He is the obvious player to come into the Test side, and as a wicketkeeper, he has an added string to his bow. Some will say at 21 he is too young to fill Kallis’s enormous hole, but  someone has to, and in spite of his inexperience, De Kock has shown considerable ticker in his performances so far.

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8. Darren Sammy [The West Indies] – 2013:

Batting: 35 innings – 709 runs – average 26.25 | Bowling: Overs: 260.1 – Wickets: 21 – Average: 50.04 | Fielding: Catches: 30

The West Indies beleaguered captain is chronically unable to lead from the front, and must show some more substance. His toothless bowling produced eight Test wickets in nine innings in 2013, and his Test batting average of just 21 is not exactly electric dynamite. He is economical and steady, but he is clearly picked as a and captain in Tests. After having been relinquished of the role in 50 over cricket, it’s surely only a matter of time before a new captain of any degree of competence emerges, which could render Sammy obsolete. He continues to be a solid limited overs performers, but especially for Test cricket, he needs to start showing his worth. 2014 must be the year of Sammy, where he shows his value to the team not just as a captain.

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9. Ravichandran Ashwin [India] – 2013:

Batting: 24 innings – 359 runs – average: 17.95 | Bowling: Overs: 617.1 – Wickets: 81 – Average: 28.60

Disposed of for the second Test in South Africa, India’s spinner seems to be inept outside of the sub continent. 95 of his 104 Test wickets have been in Asia, which does not take away from his achievements, but it suggest he is a one dimensional and inexperienced performer outside of India. When his side plays England in five Tests in 2014, he will be desperate to be in that side ahead of Pragyan Ojha, the genuine spinner, or Ravi Jadeja, the genuine allrounder. He must break out of his Sub-continental mould, and really secure his spot in the side by developing a stock ball, and learning to use variations more intelligently. Until he does that, he will never have success where there is less spin to be had.

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10. Steven Finn [England] – 2013:

Batting: 15 innings – 142 runs – average: 10.92 | Bowling: Overs: 324.5 – Wickets: 44 – Average: 32.63

In 2011, Steven Finn became England’s youngest bowler to 50 wickets, at the age 22 years and 63 days. The tall seamer was set to be ‘the next big thing’, but failed. Struggling with control, even when he got wickets, they were expensive, and he has spluttered and coughed his way through his career since being dropped in 2011. 2014 simply must be the year for Finn to settle his action, and lead. Whatever format, ‘If’ he has a serious future, and ‘If’ he wants to carry the legacy on that was laid out in 2011, this year has got to be the turning point. He is clearly a good bowler, and has performed spectacularly well especially in limited overs cricket, but without consistency, he will always simply be remembered as the bowler that occasionally performed well. Getting a consistent reliable action is his task for the year. If he does, success will come his way.

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11. Ishant Sharma [India] –

Batting: 17 innings – 34 runs – average: 3.77 | Bowling: Overs: 367.2 – Wickets: 47 – Average: 34.53

How do you solve a problem like Ishant Sharma? A tall, gangly fast bowler, that is robotic. His bowling lacks the emotion that a fast bowler should have, sometimes more stiff and unimaginative than a bowling machine. 12 Test wickets at an average of 48.16 in 2013 has reinforced his dire 2012 performance which produced just seven Test wickets at an average of 75.57. He is only 25 years old, despite having been around since 2008; but time is running out regardless of his age. Only for so long can India continuously pick this uninspiring and ineffective bag of unfulfilled potential. 2014 might be Sharma’s last chance to prove everyone wrong before he is dumped on the scrapheap once and for all.

Other contenders: Steve Smith, Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Lyon.

Quality compromised as Australia play in 2 places at once

Just incase you didn’t think the Australian pool of talent has been  stretched to its limit, or that there were not enough breaks in the International schedule, Australia are now conducting 2 tours at the same time.

Whilst Australia’s T20 outfit prepare to take on the world champion West Indies in a solitary T20, Australia’s test touring party are playing in India as ‘The Australians’ against an Indian Board Presidents XI.

It isn’t exactly as if there is an Ashes test going on at the same time as a world cup; that it is given,  but the fact is that players are in India preparing for an Indian tour, implies that there is a severely weakened T20 outfit performing in Australia. It isn’t right that a side shouldn’t be able to play their best side because half of them would be in another country on another tour.

As a staunch supporter of test cricket, there is little value in a solitary T20 at the tail end of the longest ever Australian test summer, especially when relative to a tour of India. Nevertheless, it is hard to take in, that this T20 would be scheduled at all, because it could only be done so if one or the other was compromised.

Either, the T20 side is going to be weaker because players are in India, or preparation for the tour of India in tour games will not be as thorough as some players will still be in Australia playing.

This implies that selection was done so with this dilemna in mind. We have of course heard not a peep from selectors.

Although it is just a solitary T20 game, the principle is the issue.

A home and away tour should not conflict, even by just 1 game either way.

The only results that can possibly come of this is either no breaks in the International schedule so greater fatigue and injury, or as stated a compromising in the quality of the sides on either end of home or away tours.

Lets hope this genuinely is a one off scenario and does not happen again for any side.

Once International cricket starts being conflicted by other forms of International cricket, it will require players to start choosing priorities.

Gilo, we need to talk about Jade

By Paul Norris 

It’s Friday afternoon. I’m at work, tired, because I stayed up late for no particular reason, and my boss has gone home. Any kind of distraction is very welcome, but England against India tomorrow seems to be dominating my thoughts.

Jay Dernbach letting fly a fast ball

Jay Dernbach

We’re almost halfway through a fairly meaningless, but nonetheless, interesting series & I’ve chosen to focus my attention on two men I’ve played against: Jade Dernbach and Ashley Giles. Now, that last sentence might make it sound like I’ve played at a very high standard, but it’s worth remembering that Dernbach was a very late starter to the game. He was possibly in his first ever senior season, aged about 15 or 16 at the time.

Predictably, he was nowhere near as good as he is now, and didn’t even stand out in a side who we considered our weaker local rivals. In Gilo’s case, it was football, not cricket, which took us to the same playing field.

For any coach of any team, an ODI & T20 series away in India is a seriously tough first assignment. Given England’s recent ODI history in the country, anything better than defeat in both series could be seen as a credible coaching debut. Add to that mix the fact that the world is watching with keen interest how the split coaching setup will work, and that he doesn’t have arguably his three best bowlers at his disposal, a baptism of fire does not seem like an exaggeration.

Bearing in mind all of the above, the fact that this series is still level at 1-1 should probably be seen as an achievement from England’s point of view. The T20 series result of 1-1 was a decent one as well. It does not, however, paint over certain weaknesses, most notably, with the bowling. James Tredwell has deputised very competently for Graeme Swann, but overall, the weakened pace attack looks exactly that. It could easily have been Tim Bresnan, who has not really looked threatening at any point during his stays in India, but to me, a bigger concern is the Surrey paceman Jade Dernbach.

It’s easy to see why England would want him in the side, especially on the sub-continent: He might not be lightning quick, but has the capacity to touch 90 MPH in between using variations. He might not be a big conventional swinger, but his slingy action does create a hint of reverse. His variations are well-renowned, and he has a more than useful Yorker. What more could you want from a death-bowler?! He has all the tools to be effective, but arguably he doesn’t utilize his skills well.

Well, here’s where the problems lie: Firstly, ‘the Yorker’ has seemingly been banished. Dernbach burst on to the scene with a brutal and effective yorker, especially at the death, yet it seems to have been let go. This is where Giles and Saker should be stepping in and encouraging the likes of Dernbach to attack stumps more. The same could also be said for any of England’s other pace men, so arguably it would be unfair to single out Dernbach alone for this, but he is seen as a specialist. Secondly, he may be a death bowler, but he has been leaking runs both with the new and old ball. It dosn’t seem as if he is an effective new-ball bowler; although Bresnan is not really either, so somebody has to do it, and he was very expensive and innefective at the death in the second ODI.

His control of it has been pretty ordinary and he has neither looked like keeping the runs down, or taking wickets with it. If England had a genuine new-ball bowler to partner Steven Finn this series, it may even be a legitimate tactic not to hand Dernbach the ball until the 30th over & let him do what he does best.

The problem with that is that he’s not been keeping the runs down at the death either. Any death-bowler can go for plenty on a bad day, even without bowling badly, and a certain MS Dhoni is probably the best ODI finisher in the world. This could, however, easily be used as an excuse for the 110-odd runs England leaked in the last 10 overs of the last ODI. I’ve read various comments saying that Dernbach has absolutely hundreds of variations. Arguably he has one, perhaps two, he just uses them far more regularly than most genuinely quick bowlers use theirs. Why would you want to bowl so many variations when you can bowl at 90 MPH regularly ?

Perhaps it is David Saker who needs more attention as to why the coaches have not managed to channel Dernbach’s variations to maximise their effectiveness. It’s well-documented that he specialises in the mental rather than the technical side of bowling, so I’d like to know what he’s been advising Jade to do:

Has Saker not been asking him (and in fact, the other pacemen) to bowl Yorkers? or have the bowlers themselves not got the skill, nerve or intelligence to pull it off at will? Clearly at the death the hardest ball to hit is one of full and straight length. Has England’s bowling coach not considered encouraging Dernbach to bowl more within himself in order to regain some control and confidence? To pick a stock ball and variate around that, or perhaps ultimately could it be the case that Dernbach is actually not International standard yet. Dernbach has shown he cannot use his slower ball to best effect, even though it is one of the best slower balls in the world arguably.

So what could Ashley Giles do to improve the situation? As a short-term measure, Dernbach should be replaced, with Meaker in the squad, despite having looked unimpressive in his T20 outings, Meaker is pacey and has more control. Another option is Danny Briggs, who could offer another spin option, and of course some new blood and a potential future replacement for Graeme Swann.

James Tredwell has arguably been the pick of England’s bowlers this series which is encouraging, and both Samit Patel and Joe Root have kept bowled both economically and bowled intelligent and controlled spells. If the part-timers can do it, why not bring a full-timer in to see if he can do it even more so. This doesn’t necessarily solve the death, or the new-ball problem (unless you give Briggs the new ball?). It would put pressure on Woakes or Bresnan to deliver during the happy-hour, that is the last 10 overs. Both have looked impotent and pedestrian when they have lost their lines or if the ball doesn’t swing (conventionally or reverse)

If the extra spinner is not considered a viable option, Giles and Saker need to promote Dernbach’s consistency and control with stock balls and when to use variation. Currently he is strong at the beginning but falls away nearing the end of an innings.

It’s also possible that people will say I’m being too harsh on Dernbach here: He does, after all, bowl at a time when bowlers expect to go for runs. None of the other quicks have crowned themselves in glory either. He also produced an absolute beauty to remove Gambhir in the last game, and did give even Dhoni the occasional problem.

It’s an interesting conundrum for Giles: One could argue that this is the first big test of his coaching and decision-making skills at this level. England will surely need all of their bowlers to stand up if they are to come away from India with a historic series victory.

Follow Paul Norris on Twitter @noz3112

2012 Review

This is a review of a glorious but hectic 2012 cricketing year. Forgive me if some things are left un turned or untouched.

This year proved to be a year in which the tables turned on England. England lost 7 matches, The South Africans assumed the number one ranking, and the Australians were constantly chasing both South Africa and England’s heals with a miserly 1 test loss the entire year. India struggled with 5 losses out of 9 and England with just 5 test wins out of 15. New Zealand (2 wins), Sri Lanka (3 wins) and the West Indies (4 wins) also struggled each playing 10 tests.

The only side not to have a lost a test all year, was South Africa and the only sides not to have won a test were Bangladesh (and Zimbabwe).

Graeme Smith with the Test mace

Graeme Smith with the Test mace

Throughout 2012 were 89 test centuries, 41 One day centuries and 4 T20 centuries. In tests, six outstanding batsmen can be picked out. For England; Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen, who struck 7 centuries between them. For South Africa, Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis with 8 tons combined and lastly Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey who almost single handedly prevented Australia from losing more than a single game with 9 tons between them (in 11 tests.)

A number of batsmen also deserve mentions, notably Marlon Samuels, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ross Taylor, Che Pujara, Azhar Ali and Graeme Smith who each struck three centuries.

This year of course was infamous for Kevin Pietersen’s saga with the ECB, including various ridiculous comments towards colleagues via text and word of mouth and of course his retirements. Pietersen nevertheless had an outstanding 2012 with three of the most memorable hundreds against Sri Lanka, South Africa and India, all of which turned entire games’ on their heads. Out of these three hundreds, his 183 in India was a special hundred, every other batsmen had struggled, but Pietersen came out and played in a fashion that he seemingly had no right to play on in.

On the bowling 2012 has bee a mixed bag. There has been spin success’ for Saeed Ajmal with 39 wickets in 6 tests, and Rangana Herath who took 60 wickets in 10 tests to top the wickets tally. Graeme Swann also was a significant wicket taker with 59 wickets in 14 games, although being considerably less effective than in his earlier career, he did contribute to a series victory against India, the first such win for 28 years.

Once more England, S. Africa and Australia dominated i the seam department with England’s James Anderson taking 48 wickets, South Africa’s Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander combined to take 82 wickets and it was a breakthrough year for Australia’s attack, successfully fusing experience and youth.

Notable mentions must also go to Kemar Roach who has developed into a genuinely world class and rapid bowler and Monty Panesar who took 33 wickets in 6 tests, including a 10 wicket match haul in India.

The One day form of the game saw England becoming a world class outfit thrashing Australia, equaling South Africa and becoming number one. They lost just 2 matches all year, with the highlight being the 5-0 victory over Australia which handed them the top status.

The second and newest form of limited overs cricket, Twenty 20, was dominated by a world cup in Sri Lanka. New champions were crowned, the West Indies. Darren Sammy led his side absolutely brilliantly and they showed they held a number of genuinely world class consistent performers and entertainers. Marlon Samuels who blasted a 56-ball 78 in the final and Chris Gayle who led from the top of the order with disdain and aggression. Shane Watson of Australia also must receive accolades for outstanding all round displays in all disciplines.

There were a number of players’ and associates of the game who left us in 2012. Beginning with the greats, we bid farewell and thank both Rahul Dravid and Ricky Ponting. Both had over 13000 test runs and averaged over 50 consistently. They anchored their team at number 3 and spent long periods as captain. Ponting and Dravid were once in a generation batsmen and payers. They have left an indelible legacy of batsmen-ship  captaincy, slip fielding, style and professionalism. They are irreplaceable and will be missed by all.

VVS Laxman and Michael Hussey also retired in 2012. Michael Hussey scored 19 test hundreds and over 6000 runs in 78 games (with one more game to go) and 38 year old VVS Laxman accumulated 8781 runs with 17 hundreds. Both were world class lower order test batsmen, experienced with expertise in guiding the lower order yet capable of going up the order too. True professionals and dedicated batsmen for their countries, they rose to big occasions and were utterly team-centric.

Michael Hussey retires

Michael Hussey retires

One of England’s most successful opening batsmen and captain’s, Andrew Strauss left cricket also. With 21 test centuries to his name and two Ashes victories as captain he will be fondly remembered.

Mark Boucher was tragically hit in the eye by a bail, leading to immediate retirement. It was a horrible way to have gone and Boucher finished with an agonizing 998 international dismissals as a wicket keeper, including 555 in 147 Tests. It is the record for dismissals and a major reason for South African success.

Elite Umpire Simon Taufel, stood in his last game during the T20 world cup final, which ended an 10 career spanning 74 Test matches, 174 One Day Internationals and 34 T20Is.

Two of the greatest one day players of modern times retired; Brett Lee and Sachin Tendulkar. Tendulkar mixed an aggressive batting style, perfect timing and a very heavy bat to revolutionise One day cricket. Tendulkar retired with a colossal 18426 runs and 49 centuries which took him over the 100 international centuries mark. Although Brett Lee was not the bowling Sachin, he contributed to a number of key World cup victories, and was renowned for his ferocious pace duels with Shoaib Akhtar. Lee finished with 380 wickets at a highly respectable average of 23.36. His pace and enthusiasm made him an exciting watch. Both will be sorely missed in colored clothing.

Two cricketers also experienced an untimely death in 2012, Surrey batsman Tom Maynard (23 years Old) life and career ended horribly early after being struck by a train. The death of 66 year old Tony Greig was the second major shock to the cricketing world this year. The South African that captained England, and was loved by Australians for his commentary, was diagnosed with lung cancer early in 2012, and died of a heart attack on December the 29th. The cricket world united in sorrow and memorial for these two figures.

Awards :

Test batsmen of the year: Michael Clarke has been simply prolific, scoring 1595 runs in 11 tests including a triple century, three double centuries and a regular century, not to mention three fifties. In 18 innings he has averaged 106.33 and he has broken the record for the most runs in a calendar year by an Australian. An historic year.

Test Bowler of the year: 60 wickets in 10 tests with 7 five wicket halls gives Rangana Herath this title. A high class bowler in a relatively pedestrian side, he has kept the Sri Lankans from embarrassing themselves although often hugely under supported.

One day batsmen of the year: is undoubtedly Virat Kohli who hit 5 one day hundreds, with an average of 73.28 in addition to having the most fours in T20is with 54. Kohli was the second highest run getter in 2012 in T20 with 471 runs, one run behind Martin Guptil who is in the lead (13 innings each).

The One day Bowler of the year: is by Saeed Ajmal with 25 T20 wickets at an average of 15 and economy of just 6 an over, which is highly admirable in the T20 format. Lasith Malinga has not come off in T20 disappointingly only taking 10 wickets, and although in 50 over cricket he is the leading wicket taker with 47 wickets, they have been over 32 games, indicating he hasn’t actually been that prolific. Ajmal takes the 50 over title as well, with 31

Test team of the year: Jointly held by Australia and South Africa – Australia lost just a single test this year and South Africa

ODI team of the year: England losing just 2 games this year and obtaining the number one ranking. Led expertly by Alastair Cook in One day cricket, England have had purpose and discipline.

T20 team of the year: The West Indies – Chris Gayle took the T20 world by storm to bash down competition in the T20 world cup, and deliver a unifying West Indian world cup victory.

*All stats correct as of 29th December 2012

Most prolific T20 players – Batsmen

The  current World rankings are very preliminary  for T20 and i don’t think are reliable. They only take into account the international fixtures and not enough T20 Internationals are played to accurately reflect who the best in the world really is for T20. For the batting i have looked at a few sources including statistics and records, The IPL, Domestic tornaments and of course international T20 competitions. The current top 10 for international batting is as follows: Guptill, Morgan, Mccullum, Raina, Jayawardene, Dilshan, Sangakarra, Warner, Duminy.  ( http://www.google.co.uk/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=2020+batting+rankings)

I want to quickly look at why they are there and if they deserve it before saying what i think it should really be.

1. MJ Guptill – Does not get picked for the IPL due to existing contracting commitments with Derbyshire.  I do not doubt Martin Guptill’sability in the format and he deserves his place in the rankings for sure, but he is just not the most prolific batsmen in the world. I would argue he isn’t the most prolific even in New Zealand with Ross Taylor and Brendan McCullum both ahead of him. That just shows how strong NZ are with 3 in the top 10 in my books.
2. E. Morgan -Plays limited amounts in the IPL. Not as effective as when he first burst onto the side. His unorthodox technique means crouching at the crease he has been consistently found out against the short ball. Morgan only averages 27 in T20, Only has seven fifties and no tons. Totally out of his depth in a statistical sense.
3. B McCullum – Fair enough but if he is there so too should Ross Taylor
4. SK Raina – Fair. Both Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli have been brilliant in the T20 format. What about Dhoni though ? Surely Dhoni is a renowned hitter ?
5. DPMD Jayawardene –  Arguably more a longer format specialist. Averages under 30 with only 70 odd sixes. A bit out of his depth one thinks. Then again he brings the innings some stability amongst all the chaos.
6. TM Dilshan – A little overrated averaging 27 with only 50 odd sixes. He did however invent the ‘Dilscoop..’ and help to transform inovation in the game.
7. SR Watson – Under achiever. Doesn’t get enough runs or tons. Good average and SR but no tons.
8. KC Sangakkara – fair enough but averages under 30 with no tons. He brings experience of Test and ODI cricket and for that reason is ever reliable. He does have the ability to hit out, but like Jayawardene he is more a settled steady middle order player that the likes of Pollard or Gayle would anchor around.
9. DA Warner – Should be higher one feels. More to follow..
10. JP Duminy – Not always a permanent fixture of the side. Good average, stady strike rate, no tons.
When compiling what i think are the most prolific, the records and stats show a few names that keep popping up and it is largely not the names above. Guptill is certainly no where to be seen, having not put himself up for auction in the IPL. He has a decent record but one feels he dosn’t play enough t20 to have had an impact oon T20 as a whole and not just the International format.
The name that appears a lot is D.Hussey . Hussey has an astonishing record with 187 matches but 4666 runs. He has only ever got 1 hundred but is a solid middle order batsmen. He has 27 fifties and just under 200 sixes. He has been playing from the start and outscores even the mighty Chris Gayle.  Not just statistically but Hussey is a prolific batsmen technically. Not able to play tests, he regularly plays international too in the T20 format and is one of the best in the world. He hasn’t been as prolific as Gayle and co in the IPL so perhaps he isn’t as dominant as he once was.
Chris Gayle has  the most unbelievable records. He was the top scorer for the last two IPL’s and the first scorer of an international T20 hundred.  Having only played 107 games he has taken T20 by storm and bulldozed records down to size: Gayle has accumilated 3970 T20 runs, including 8 hundreds which is the most. He has-281 Sixes, also the most. This year in the IPL he averaged around 60 which is incomparable to the next best run scorer, Gambir with 39  . He is utterly prolific. Utterly dominant and utterly incomparable and done it all at an astonishing rate. He is my Number 1 batsmen

Another huge Gayle hit

Warner is too low down on the International rankings in my view. Despite being a little on the side he is a big hitter. He has adopted the sweep and reverse sweep as trademark shots and boy does he know how to hit it.  In 127 games he has produced 3682 runs with 5 tons. He is a prolific batsmen from down under where the grounds are absolutely enormous.  Like Gayle he has a high strike rate, Gayle’s being over 150, Warner being 143. This is not to shabby. Having only played 8 games in this IPL in 2012 one could see why he wasn’t the top run scorer, but even in that time he hit a scintillating ton.
Ross Taylor records are up there with the best arguably . He has 3200 runs at an average of 31 and  has a 145 strike rate. Very solid.  He is 4th on the list of 6’s behind Gayle, Pollard and D. Hussey with 186. He is ahead of Brendan Mccullum, his fellow countryman who has a few less with 177. He is even ahead of Warner.  Taylor however had a shockingly bad IPL scoring 1 fifty in 12 matches.  A record could be ruined if he carries on like that
Kieron Pollard is a player on my list in spite of his slighlty shaky stats. He can literally destroy a bowling side. He is an even more prolific hitter than Gayle arguably as he is a right hander so can really smash the off spinners with the Spin. He has 199 sixes which is unbelievable baring in mind he only has 2817 runs (near;y 1200 in sixes alone ). He has an extremely high strike rate of 160 however. He is obviously a player that to an extent under achieves with few tons and not enough runs, but his raw ability to hit gets him on the list.
AB De villiers and  Kevin Pietersen most notably are arguably up there with Gayle and Warner. Pietersen made a name for himself early on in his career as a hitter, smashing Warne all across England, Reverse sweeping Murali with distain and most brilliantly hitting McGrath over his head on to the Pavillion. KP and De villiers of course should be on the list but not only due to hitting. They are both seen as class players not just smashers.

De villiers launches it

 Pietersen has some what toned himself down and now uses his brilliant technical ability and fast hands to score big runs. De Villiers arguably the most improved player on the planet also one that can use deft touches and paddles whilst also possesing an ability to smash the ball out the ground. I personally think as good as Morgan is, for Pietersen to not be in the top ten yet be Englands player of the tornament in the world cup for T20 is a crime. He is awsome.

Pietersen hits out in whites

 There are a few others that are simply raw talent and are consistent performers. Sehwag has a decent record. Not incredible but steady, yet we all know from other forms how utterly unrelentingly destructive he can be. Then there is Dhoni, Yuvraj, Afridi and Tamim Iqbal. These four players deserve a mention due to reputation not records and stats. We all know that Dhoni can really hurt a bowling side with his trademark unorthodox yet effective style. Yuvraj famously hitting 6 sixes, Afridi nicknamed ‘Boom Boom’ yet a professional under achiever in an under achieving side, and surprisingly both Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Ul-Hasan have really good techniques and reputations. Tamim in particular was really ruthless and powerful against England a number of years ago.  One last name that simply must have a mention is Dwayne bravo. regularly picked in the IPL and a big big hitter. Not sure he is the best but he is up there.
It is unfortunate Pakistani players are not allowed in the IPL because he likes of Umar Akmal and Afridi would be on the list if they had better records i think. Its too unsubstantial to include them and they are also often very inconsisten despite being champions of the last world cup.
To finish this, i will pick my top 10.  I cannot include every big hitter or international batsmen, so just bare with it 🙂
1. Chris Gayle WI
2. Dave Warner AUS
3. Kevin Pietersen ENG
4. AB De villiers SA
5. Ross Taylor NZ
6. David Hussey AUS
7. Martin Guptill NZ
8.  Brendan Mccullum NZ
9. Suresh Raina IND
10. Kieron Pollard WI
(few that missed out are DuminySA , Yuvraj IND , Dhoni IN)