Tag Archives: pakistan

Younis Khan: The most underrated great

Younis Khan’s retirement will see one of the last true greats of the last 20-years leave the game, and perhaps the most undervalued and underrated.

Pakistan’s leading Test run-scorer is rarely mentioned in the company of other legends, unfairly.

He’s not got the flair of Brian Lara, so he doesn’t get bums on seats.

He doesn’t have the signature shots of Ricky Ponting, that make you watch hours of footage.

Nor does he have the technique of Rahul Dravid, that coaches study to pass on to the next generation.

Younis is scrappy, hap-hazard, and unorthodox. But what got him through so many innings has been his mind.

His feet might not have been moving.

Maybe he played a missed a few times.

Maybe he nearly ran three of his partners out in a twenty minute period.

It didn’t matter. Push through, and if there’s a landmark to reach, it’s all the more frustrating for a fielding side when he gets there, having given chances.

In some respects, Younis’s game-plan was to lure oppositions into a false sense of security.

He made them think that they could get him out because of the holes in his technique.

It was a clever ploy, and allowed him to be the perfect decoy to other Pakistani greats who were more flamboyant, or perhaps technically sound.

At one end, you had Younis jumping around and flapping outside off stump, and the other end, such greats like Mohammed Yousuf, caressing the ball effortlessly, or Inzamam Ul Haq, and in more recent times, Misbah, crashing the ball to the boundary.

He is the scrappy supplement to aesthetically pleasing batting, but this isn’t meant to be patronising. Nor, is it meant to imply he only had success because of others.

Ahead of the West Indies series, he averages 53 in over 115 Tests, which is phenomenal. Indeed it’s ’s a higher average than Inzamam (50) and Yousuf (52).

Currently, he stands on 9977 Test runs, which means bar a rotten series’, he should become the first Pakistani to reach the historic 10,000 mark.

Younis will also go down as having an exceptional conversion rate and therefore reliability. He scored 34 centuries and 32 fifties. Not many batsmen retire with more hundreds than fifties. Sachin had 51 tons to 68 fifties, Kallis 45 to 58, 41 to 62, and so on. But not only that, on 19 occasions his tons have been in a wining cause.

He scores important runs, and no more so was this apparent in the U.A.E, away from home. In 27 Tests in the U.A.E. Younis cracked 11 centuries and seven fifties.

Oh, and he scored a ton in 11 countries, which is an incredible feat.

All-in-all, Pakistan are going to lose a character.

They are going to lose their leading run scorer, possibly their best ever and most reliable performer.

He, alongside Misbah, will leave a gaping hole in the side, and for international cricket, one of the last true modern greats of a generation will depart.

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Pakistan’s method can’t last in the modern game

Going against the grain of popular opinion is quite a Pakistani cricket ‘thing’, but this current side is actually opposed to having a recipe for success in modern Test cricket.

They’re one-nil up in a series against England but after one-and-a-half Tests, they look shot already. 

This is because the structure of their XI is a little backwards, inflexible and anti-modern.  

In the bowling department they lack options, in the field they lack dynamism, and with the bat, are too heavily reliant on an ageing creaking 42-year old captain and his 38-year old right hand man.

Their side is plagued by rigidity and a lack of options.

They have no allrounders, with Mohamed Hafeez unable to bowl.

Their side is strictly precipitated into bowlers and batsmen, with Wahab Riaz coming in at number eight, giving Pakistan possibly the longest tail in the world.

For some, this isn’t a problem.

Their dysfunction is a crystallisation of Pakistan cricket. And, given their consistent success and production of quality, who can argue in many respects? And, after all, they won at Lord’s. 

But, in truth, their current structure only works if everything clicks, which isn’t every time.

In modern Test cricket, there are higher run rates, lower over rates, flatter pitches and more cricket on the schedule. 

Bowlers are bowling so much more than they were even 10-years ago.

Fatigue and injury has never been more of a factor, and taking catches and fielding in a dynamic fashion to limit run scoring has never been more important. 

This is especially true, because Pakistan are only playing a four man attack. If everyone performs, like at Lord’s, then it it’s not a concern. But more often than not, at least one person won’t perform. Their spinner, Yasir Shah, who took ten wickets in the first Test bowled 54 pedestrian overs at Old Trafford, taking 1-213.

There was not just no plan B, but it didn’t really feel like he had a plan A. England played him very well, because they learned from their mistakes. 

In that respect, whilst it’s true that Pakistan have a lot of quality in their side, and it’s no surprise they won the first Test; it’s also no surprise to now see them faltering.

They are showing signs of tiredness and a lack of enthusiasm. They are running out of ideas, and aren’t able to innovate when things go wrong. 

Compared to England, who have a young top order, bat right down to number 10, with four seam options and a spinner, Pakistan look ominously lagging in depth.

They struck the first blow at Lord’s’, but it seems that in doing so, they used all their gas up. 

England can now overtake them.

ON THIS DAY: Drop it likes it hot – Kamran Akmal is gifted to the world

On this day in 1982, Pakistan’s favourite, wicketkeeper, batsman, Akmal brother… comedian?.. was born.

Famed for his comical and ever deteriorating keeping standards, Kamran Akmal has contributed to making Pakistan one of the most entertaining teams to watch.

Perhaps most controversially, In 2009-10 he  was suspected of match fixing against Australia.

Akmal dropped four straightforward catches in the Australian innings, three of those coming from Michael Hussey, who scored 134*. Hussey was a central player in a 9th wicket partnership stand of 133, which allowed for Australia to eventually win the game after bowling Pakistan out for just 139, winning the match by 36 runs.

Although having always denied it, and since having been barred and recalled to the squad, a cloud of suspicion remains, which will be hard to remove until conclusive evidence is provided.

Other than the catches he drops in matches which are allegedly fixed, sometimes, he dropped catches because he is a generous man.

Bowlers really don’t like it.

All that said, Akmal does sometimes do stuff right.

As a wicket-keeper, he has participated in 206, 169 and 52 dismissals in Tests, ODIs and T20Is (so far). Here is a rare clip of him catching the ball.

When not flapping behind the stumps, he is pretty handy with the bat. His aggressive counter-attacking and often untechnical style has paid off, with a number of former Pakistan players arguing for his reinstating in the side in the top three, especially in limited overs cricket. 

Strong recent domestic form. This has pushed his name into the hat for a spot in the Pakistan side, more-so as a batsman than a keeper.

“I don’t want to comment on our chances in the World Cup until I am selected. But honestly speaking, I myself still don’t know why they discarded me all of a sudden after the T20 WC. I was not even considered good enough to the make the pool of 40 players, which was very disappointing,” Kamran said according to Cricbuzz.

He scored this fabulous ton against arch rivals India in a Test, which was one of four impressive centuries against them, between 2005-7.

In ODI cricket, he is an especially strong cutter, puller and driver, which can be very effective during the power play, and has delivered him success especially in the top four

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.

England’s Superiority Complex

England have some outstanding cricketers, but they have a superiority complex. They blot out their failings with the record of excellence and are beginning to take the process of winning for granted.

Since the 8th July 2009 (1st day of the Ashes in 2009) until the last Ashes series 2013, England have played in 54 Tests and have won 28, with 11 series wins out of 16 [excluding the Ashes 2013/14].

They have a strong overall record under the reigns of Andy Flower, but of late, this dominance has smothered their failings. As their success has tailed off since the series against Pakistan in 2012, the failure has been amalgamated into this period of dominance. It has blended into one when, it is two very distinct periods of success and failure. They need to get over themselves. England proudly present their excellence, but as they do, fans and opponents are realising that is a a mechanism to hide a more sinister insecurity and chronic lack of substance. 

There is little doubt that performances have been disappointing in the last year and a half to two years, particularly due to frailties with the bat. Within a more concise time frame, we can see that it has not been as simple as 11 series victories out of 16, but it has in fact been a curve of success, and a dramatic fall from grace. It has given a deceptive and undeserving confidence to England.

Splitting Flower’s England into two periods highlights this curve of success, with England versus Pakistan in the U.A.E. as the mid-way point.

Between the Ashes of 2009 until the India series in England in 2011, almost exclusively, England experienced victory and dominance. After that four-nil drubbing of India, came the series of Pakistan in the U.A.E. in 2012, which England lost 3-0, up until the Ashes in England in 2013, England looked insecure and struggled. Yet when talking about England in recent years, the situation is presented as a monolithic block of success. 

The record is 15/17 series won or drawn. All hail Andy Flower. 

In the first half of this period eight series’ were contested, with seven victories and one draw. It was an exceptional time to be an England fan, and indeed a cricket fan, as some very high quality cricket was offered. England were victorious in 19 out of 29 Tests (a win percentage of 61.51%), and it took them to the dreamy heights of number one ranked Test nation, including two magical Ashes victories in 2009, and 2010/11, and whitewashing then number one Indian side.

Conversely, and rather worryingly, the next eight series (between Pakistan in the U.A.E. in 2012 and the previous Ashes in 2013), have been much less fruitful.

England have won three of these last eight series’, with just 10 Test victories out of 25 Tests (a win percentage of just 40%). There have been seven lost Tests, compared to just four in the previous block (despite the previous period having four more Tests), and England lost their number one ranking. 

It is adequately clear that the current England side is a long shot from that England side between 2009-2011, yet the myth that is perpetuated is that it is the same. The reliance on this fabulous record or having only two lost series in the last 16 is deceptive, because it glosses over their failings. This myth gives England a certain security, and a certain feeling of superiority, as they basque in their own glory, and draw upon that for inspiration.

This side confident, compact and strong unit, or so we think. It’s built on a record of proven success after all, isn’t it? Yet, when they are skittled out for 136 and 179 in the first Ashes Test of 2013/14 people are surprised, as if England should be doing better based on their talent. This is the side that was number one. Why is this happening?

If one is to go on record, the performances given in Brisbane are a mere continuation of lacklustre and dismal form. Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell have all averaged between 39-42, with just 17 centuries in 178 innings. The top four are scoring a century in only 9.5% of England innings. The simple facts are that England need more centuries, partnerships and scores of over 400, 500, 600 and beyond. It isn’t happening.

Overall figures – 17th Jan 2012- Ashes 2013
Player   Matches Innings N.O. Runs HS Ave   100 50      
AN Cook   25 48 3 1933 190 42.95     6 6      
IJL Trott 25 47 2 1779 143 39.53     3 11      
KP Pietersen 21 38 1 1526 186 41.24   4 8      
IR Bell 24 44 7 1460 116* 39.45     4 9      
MJ Prior 25 40 7 1264 110* 38.30     1 8      
JE Root 11 21 2 763 180 40.15     2 3      

The continued struggle to replace the runs of both Paul Collingwood and Andrew Strauss has really hit England hard in creating a base for the innings, and consolidating that base later on. This is shown very clearly with relative high scores in the two periods outlined.

Between the Ashes 2009 and Pakistan 2012, England had one score of 700 plus, two of 600 plus, seven scores of 500 plus, and eight scores of 400 plus. Between Pakistan in the U.A.E. 2012 and the Ashes in 2013, England passed 400 in Test cricket seven times, with only one score of 500, and none of 600 or 700. The runs dried up. Runs win matches against high quality opposition. With the last recorded score of 400 plus all the way back in March 2013 versus the West Indies, England defeated Australia in the Ashes, despite not once going past 400.

They were able to win the Ashes in what Andy Zaltzman accurately called a ‘narrow thrashing’, which is essentially an emphasis on winning despite not actually playing particularly well. They were not exposed for their frailties, so the myth of being this compact and successful team, stuck. Their superiority complex covered up their insecurities. 

Who can criticise a team that won the Ashes, when so many grew up in an era in which England were battered time and time again. To reduce success to the opposition being poor, would seem unfair. Nevertheless, it is apparent that England scraped their way past Australia, because they were not called out for their failings, as they were against the South Africans.

It is about time they stopped pretending they are a side that they are not. They are not a superior outfit. They need to begin to look at their performances independent of the previous record of Flower up until 2011.

This is not a winning England side. This side has a mentality that it can overcome others without necessarily playing well, because this side is special, with Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook, Jimmy Anderson and Graeme Swann. All we need to do is turn up. This side was the number one, this side held the Ashes, this side is now losing. 

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

Hampshire Sign Ajmal To Cover Bailey

Hampshire have agreed for Saeed Ajmal to sign for them in the latter stages of the 2013 season. For the majority of the season, Australian T20 captain George Bailey will be Hamshire’s overseas batsmen, and for most of August and September, Ajmal will fill in for Bailey whilst he is fulfilling International commitments.

Saeed Ajmal in his delivery stride

Saeed Ajmal in his delivery stride

Saeed Ajmal is certainly one of best spinners if not the best spinner in the world and is currently ranked third in the ICC rankings for bowling. He is surely a world class performer, and is about to play division two county cricket. It is a great grab.

 For Pakistan he has been an utter revelation, with 122 wickets in 23 Tests at an average of 27.09, including 6 five wicket halls. Ajmal flawed England with 24 wickets in three Tests  in the UAE earlier in the year.

English batsmen are infamous for their ineptitude against regular spin, let alone mystery spin, so should Ajmal find a liking to division two county cricket, he could be the difference between winning or losing games, and essentially promotion or staying in the lower tier.

This is Ajmal’s second short stint in county cricket after first division experience at Worcestershire in 2011, where he bagged 17 wickets in three first-class matches. Hampshire is a fertile ground for spin. High quality spinners have graced the club in the past, most notably Shane Warne who captained Hampshire for some time, but also Imran Tahir, Shaun Udal and more recently Danny Briggs have all gained International attention from spin success at Hampshire.

This is certainly a very good signing for Hampshire, and should he do well, it would certainly bolster Hampshire’s late season charge for promotion.