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February 2009
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The TWC Summit: Monty or Swanny?

February 18th, 2009 by TWC in England, Test cricket

Monty or Swanny? Left or right? Darts or flight? Graeme Swann has repaid the selectors faith in Antigua but does he have a long-term future? Our panel do their worst … Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in England, Test cricket | No Comments »

John Stern: West Indies the real loser in Stanford saga

February 18th, 2009 by John Stern in England, west indies

Forget the ECB. They got what they deserved: shame and embarrassment. Let’s hope Giles Clarke gets what he deserves.

But the real losers out of this whole Stanford mess is the island of Antigua and West Indies cricket as a whole. Stanford preyed on the needs and desires of a tiny, poor Caribbean island. He used cricket as a way of buying influence and power. He worked out pretty quickly that was the way to go. But whatever his motives or his methods, he became a major employer and he had an influence on cricket on the island and the region.

And, as time has passed, that influence has been shown to be not entirely malign. The boot camp that the Stanford Superstars underwent before the Super Series last November not only yielded material success for that group of players, it appeared to inject a self-belief into cricket in the Caribbean that had been absent for years. West Indies’ staggering victory in Jamaica was evidence of that.

But in the space of week, all that has gone. Antiguan and Caribbean cricket has been shamed by the pitch farce at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium and now cut adrift by the alleged nefarious actions of a man who was recently described by World Finance magazine as “the original philanthrocapitalist”.

It would be nice to think otherwise but West Indies cricket may be back at square one, embarrassed and demotivated. The administration has always been shambolic and their alliance with Stanford has exposed this.

But West Indies were desperate – for success and money. What was the ECB’s excuse? The misguided, craven view that raising pots of cash – wherever it comes from – is their sole raison d’etre. Money might not be the root of ALL evil but it’s certainly got plenty to answer for. But not as much as Messrs Stanford and Clarke.

John Stern is editor of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in England, west indies | 3 Comments »

Lawrence Booth: Collingwood the perpetual career-saver

February 18th, 2009 by Lawrence Booth in England, Test cricket

So, Paul Collingwood has just saved his career again, has he? Given that his first-innings 113 in Antigua was his third hundred in six Tests, here’s hoping he does a lot more career-saving in the months and years ahead.

Collingwood may be destined to play second fiddle not just to the bloke at the other end – even if he did outscore Kevin Pietersen on Sunday – but also to his own technique. Some observers in the blogosphere, it seems, are unable to divorce style from substance, as if Steve Waugh and Shivnarine Chanderpaul have always been a joy to watch. Yet when Ian Bell spoke after the Jamaica Test of his need to score more “ugly” runs, there could not have been much doubt which of his colleagues he had in mind.

Let’s get one thing straight: Collingwood hardly ever looks good, with the possible exception of his chips over wide mid-on off the spinners. So when he’s not scoring runs, the vultures – sensing the easiest of targets – hover with extra relish.

At times it’s difficult to disagree with them. When Collingwood was scratching around against New Zealand last summer, he looked like England’s least aesthetically appealing operator since Jack Russell. Yet while other members of top six – notably Alastair Cook, Bell, and Andrew Flintoff – have barely been worthy of the name recently, Collingwood has chiselled and chivvied. When the calls for his head remain, you realize just how unobtrusively he does it. And don’t forget: only one current player has made a Test double-hundred against Australia.

Aw look, it’s probably why Shane Warne sledged him with such glee in 2006-07. The Aussies know a scrapper when they see one and no one scraps for England quite like Collingwood. But there is a lesson here that goes beyond the usual observations. Between making 128 against West Indies in his own Riverside backyard in July 2007 and that, yes, career-saving 135 against South Africa at Edgbaston a year later, Collingwood fell eight times between 40 and 66.Ring any bells? Alastair Cook, there is a man sitting not very far away from you in the dressing room who knows exactly what you’re going through. Have a quiet word, if you haven’t already, and try to bottle some of that bottle. And let there be no more knee-jerk talk about dropping England’s toughest cookie.

Lawrence Booth writes on cricket for the Guardian. His third book, Cricket, Lovely Cricket? An Addict’s Guide to the World’s Most Exasperating Game is out now published by Yellow Jersey

Posted in England, Test cricket | 3 Comments »

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