May 2009
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The TWC Summit: Would England bat Stuart Broad at No.7 against Australia?

May 6th, 2009 by TWC in England, The Ashes and tagged


In picking Stuart Broad to bat at No.7 against the West Indies at Lord’s in the absence of Andrew Flintoff, England may have released the first draft of their contingency plans for another Flintoff injury pre-Ashes. By moving Matt Prior up to No.6, they have given themselves the best chance of taking 20 wickets and ending a run of six drawn matches at Lord’s. But it’s one thing doing it against the Windies, what about Australia? Would they? Should they? We asked our panel…

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Posted in England, The Ashes | 4 Comments »

June edition of The Wisden Cricketer – In shops on Friday

May 6th, 2009 by TWC in Miscellaneous


As the international summer in England gets off to its earliest ever start at Lord’s, the June edition of The Wisden Cricketer is hitting the shelves at the same time it normally does to provide the perfect reading companion.

With a Twenty20 World Cup and plenty of ODIs alongside the Test series against West Indies and Australia, our June cover-star Paul Collingwood’s warning for the future of Test cricket is a timely reminder of the pressures now facing the top players.

“My generation saw Test cricket and playing in the Ashes as the ultimate,” he says. “That was my dream. I gave up the one-day captaincy because it was affecting my Test game and I wanted to keep my Test place. Maybe in the future today’s young players will prioritise one-day and Twenty20. We have to be careful. If you can get 10 times the money for playing a few weeks of Twenty20 than for months of mental torture in the Ashes, then I’m afraid to say some people would take the first option.

“We have to make sure the pay and bonuses for Test cricket and Twenty20 are closer, otherwise players will concentrate on Twenty20 from an early age. If that’s the way we want to go as a world sport, then fine, keep it as it is. If Test cricket is the ultimate, then we are going to have to do something about remuneration.”

Also in the June issue, a look inside Lawrence Booth’s two week IPL diary as he chases KP and Fred around the coastal cities of South Africa.

Tuesday April 21

God gets his own back as the IPL’s luck with the weather finally runs out and an apocalyptic shower washes out any hope of play between Rajasthan and Mumbai. A colleague and I bump into Trevor Penney, the former Warwickshire batsman now helping out with Punjab, in a hotel bar, where crowds have gathered to watch Liverpool’s 4-4 draw with Arsenal, and word spreads of a party on the first floor laid on by Shah Rukh. Scruffy British hacks are not top of the guest list (or indeed anywhere near the bottom) but it’s amazing where a confident gait will get you. Inside, a flavour of the après-cricket that keeps these players happy: endless grog, top-class curry and a dance floor briefly appropriated by Chris Gayle, break-dancing like there’s no tomorrow.

There’s more, as Bob Willis rewrites history – “I was a stunning allrounder” – while Steve James thinks England have the right man in Andy Flower. To those who actually play the game, South Africa’s new star JP Duminy tells you how to improve your scoring rate.

Plus, a focus on the amazing story of how Afghanistan joined the cricketing elite.

And, all the latest news from the counties as the County Championship gets underway.

In shops on Friday. Buy it, you might like it. Or subscribe here.

Posted in Miscellaneous | 1 Comment »

Lawrence Booth: IPL a triumphant sporting spectacle

May 6th, 2009 by Lawrence Booth in IPL, Twenty20


Your intrepid blogger arrived home yesterday from the Indian Premier League wondering how Rajasthan Royals had fared against Kings XI Punjab in Durban. This is not a curiosity I should really be admitting to on the opening day of the English Test season, not least because the many view the IPL as a load of old cobblers watchable only on a satellite channel owned by the few. But the instinct was there all the same. And thus: Rajasthan 211 for 4 (the highest score yet this year by a mile), Kings XI Punjab 133 for 8. A thrashing.

It takes a good deal of intellectual filtering to enjoy the IPL. You have to make a conscious decision to ignore the absurd hype; to put the blaring, non-stop music to the back of your mind; to view the off-field bully tactics employed by high-ranking league officials as a fact of corporate life; to turn down the volume when the commentators start bleating on about “DLF maximums” and “Citi moments of success”; and to avoid retching when it becomes clear that Ravi Shastri has become India’s answer to the super-smooth Mark Nicholas.

Once you’ve done all that – and wondered why on earth you have arrived home in possession of a Mumbai Indians-branded carriage clock – you can actually get on and enjoy the cricket. And you really can, you know, especially because the effect of a concertinaed fixture list means the tournament narrative develops at a beguiling pace. Subplots are rewritten daily. And no cricket league does subplots like the IPL.

Take your pick from: the trials and tribulations of KP; Fred’s lack of a slower ball; the Kolkata soap opera with Sourav, Brendon, Shah Rukh and Buch; the rehab of Herschelle Gibbs; the blows for maturity struck by Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist; the unreadability of Lasith Malinga; the transition of Jacques Kallis; the suspicion that Shane Warne might be doing it again with Rajasthan Royals; the hat-trick, half-century and subsequent defeat for Yuvraj Singh; the unlikely tale of Yusuf Abdulla. We could go on…

The biggest concern when the IPL started was that it was vacuum-packed sport, existing in its own context but not beyond. No one would care, possibly not even the players. But the thrill of a quick-fire eight-team league in which rivalries develop over the space of a few weeks is that the competitive juices of those involved soon override everything else. This IPL is working because the players care, and when the players care, the fans do too.

There is lots not to like about the way the tournament has swaggered into South Africa and made its demands. The idea that two countries have been brought closer together does not stand up to scrutiny at every level. But as a sporting spectacle it has been a triumph. If the P20 is even half as good when it squeezes into the domestic schedules next summer, England will be on to a winner. You just wonder, though. You really do…

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 IPL, Twenty20 | 2 Comments »

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