Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Spain vs France for Zidane Jr.

Real Madrid sporting director Jorge Valdano recently said that "there will be a duel" between France and Spain over Zidane's 15-year-old son Enzo. Like two of his younger brothers, Enzo has been drooled over ever since he entered Real's youth system. A clip of him destroying kids on the pitch in 2007 has almost4.5 million views on YouTube. And Valdano is disturbingly eager to compare Enzo, an attacking midfielder who, at times, wears the number 10 (he wears 11 in the video above), to his legendary father.  

While France has naturally expressed interest in having Enzo continue to dazzle in his father's shadow in their national team setup, Spain U-16 coach Gines Melendez just announced his intention to call up Enzo in October.
Keeping with Valdano's duel analogy, Spain has a machine gun while France has a potato gun. The only thing working in France's favor here is that Enzo's father played for Les Bleus. Their federation is a mess and embarrassments of the last few months are hardly attractive to anyone, let alone a 15-year-old kid with a short memory. Meanwhile, Enzo lives in Spain, plays for one of Spain's biggest clubs (which also employs his father) and experienced the country winning both Euro 08 and the 2010 World Cup.
Of course, the kid is still just 15 years old. So all this dueling and drooling could only lead to disappointment. Or he could be the next Zidane. Well, he is the next Zidane, but you know what I mean. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Champions League 2010 Live - Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Highveld Lions

 Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Highveld Lions

Looking back - 1986 Tied Test

The 1986 tied Test, it has been argued more than once, is one of the great forgotten Test Matches of all time. The short video in this post is about Umpire Vikram Raju's final decision, which brought the result about. It remains controversial to this day, but I tend to see this the Umpire's way. I think the Umpire was probably right in this instance, even though Maninder seemed to be absolutely sure about the inside edge and Allan Border at silly point suspected it. The grainy pictures are hard to decipher, but it seems to me that Greg Mathews bowled the quicker one and Maninder Singh was trapped plumb in front, his bat came down late on the ball. Whether it came down late enough to miss the ball, or whether it came down just fast enough for the ball to kiss the edge, we will never know. The only disinterested observer thought it missed the ball, and that is the best evidence that we have. While Allan Border suspected the inside edge, the other players around the bat didn't. Their appeal was as spontaneous as Maninder's show of the bat.

Close LBW decisions have a way of playing a part in close India-Australia Tests. With the series level and India chasing 155 for victory, Glenn McGrath bowled to Sameer Dighe with India at 7/147. Cricinfo has recorded that delivery as follows

37.5 McGrath to Dighe, no run, thrusts his pads in front, brushes the pads on its way to the keeper, loud appeal, turned down, looked very close.

It was very close indeed. I remember it like it was yesterday. Dighe was caught on the crease to one that McGrath got to swing in late from a fullish length. It may have hit Dighe a shave outside off stump, but I don't think there would have been too many complaints had that been given out. It made all the difference in my view.

The 1986 game was a rare Test Match where a side made two declarations, neither of which could be consider quixotic, and still came within one run of losing the game. I have a hard time accepting Kapil Dev's spouting of the conventional wisdom about the turning track. It was not a spiteful 5th day wicket, India made 347 runs on the last day there! Sunil Gavaskar, as usual, makes the telling point - that it was a game that India should have won easily, given that they were 251/3 and then 331/6 in the run chase, chasing 347. India used to bat deep in those days. But India's run chases in the 1980s, especially the ones which were reasonably close, were, almost without exception marked by bad judgment, usually including a terrible shot by Kapil Dev.

If you think about the tied Test of 1986, it becomes clear just how much time there is in a Test Match. Australia's first innings continued into the third day, while India scored at over 4 runs per over in that game. It's a stretch to argue that this tied Test was better than the 1960 tied Test. That game saw 40 wickets falling, and fortunes fluctuating over all five days. The West Indies were ascendant early with Gary Sobers' blistering century - he made 132 in less than 3 hours, an almost Sehwagian pace, only to be bested by Australia through Norman O'Neill's 181. Australia did their best to drive home the advantage, reducing the West Indies to 4/127 (effectively 4/54), before Frank Worrell and Joe Solomon steadied things and the lower order extended the lead to 232. Wes Hall then set about the Australians in their 4th innings run chase, reducing them to 5/57, which soon became 6/92 when Sonny Ramadhin dismissed Ken 'Slasher' Mackay. This was to be Ramadhin's penultimate Test wicket, he would breach Mackay's defense again at Melbourne.

At this point Australia were out of it, they needed 141 more to win with 4 wickets in hand. Richie Benaud and Alan Davidson added 134 of those in a 7th wicket stand. When Davidson was dismissed at 226, Australia needed 7 runs to win, with their last three wickets standing. Amazingly enough, Australia managed to lose those three wickets before they scored those 7 runs.

The two tied Tests were very different games. In the Chennai Test, the bat was dominant for the most part, and until India collapsed from 251/3 to 347/10, losing 7/94, the Test had seen 27 wickets falling for 1392 runs. It was a Test made by an aggressive declaration by Allan Border. It was aggressive because India had scored very quickly in their first innings, but it was justified because it was the last day, and India's first innings pace had been on account of Kapil Dev's whirlwind century (119 in 138 balls, this is still slower than Sehwag's usual effort these days). The Indian response was equally aggressive. The early pace was set by Sunil Gavaskar (92) and Krishnamachari Srikanth (39) and the later batsmen kept scoring reasonably quickly.

The Brisbane Test was a more even contest between bat and ball. There were periods when the bat was absolutely dominant, such as during the innings played by Sobers and O'Neill, and there were also periods when the ball was ascendant, through Davidson and Hall. Fittingly, that game ended with Joe Solomon scoring a direct hit from square leg, with just one stump to aim at.

I don't think greatness of Tests is marked by what happens at the fag ends of a Test Match. It is marked in my view by the way in which the viewers perception about the conditions is changed by the participants, often aided by an actual change in the playing conditions. Thus, when Sri Lanka are dismissed for 393 early on the second day of a Test, only to find themselves 50 runs behind 80 overs later, thats an astonishing Test Match. When two bowlers add close to 80 runs in a run chase and take their side within 5 runs of victory, thats a tremendous Test, because there again, the contest between bat and ball is defying the odds. For this to happen, sides need to first possess enough quality to actually take advantage of favorable conditions and find themselves in a position of strength. In great Test Match contests, this happens regularly. It makes individual greatness possible.

Tests can be tied or be won by a very small margin, and still be ordinary contests between bat and ball. I suggest that the tied Test of 1986, despite the controversy and despite the aggressive play from both camps, does not find itself in the ranks of the great Test Match contests because it was a fairly ordinary contest between bat and ball. As a contest between bat and bat, and bat and the clock, and man against man, and team against team, and man against the conditions, it was phenomenal. While these are important to cricket, there are not sufficient in my view. The only essential contest is the one between bat and ball. Close decisions may change the result in the end, but they account for only one decision out of 40, and their significance has been established even before they occur. It has been established through a spellbinding, fluctuating contest between bat and ball.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Stars to shine at Dubai Super Sixes

Landmark Group unveiled eight star players for Dubai Super Sixes 2010 in Dubai on Wednesday. The corporate tournament is going to be staged at Dubai Sports City cricket ground from October 1 to 15.
Dubai is a happening place which attracts best in the world in every sphere of life. This corporate tournament comprising 48 teams will provide a chance to Dubai residents to experience a mixture of cricket and fun at one of the most modern venues in the world.
The team of legends, mostly from subcontinent include Wasim Akram, Moin Khan (Pakistan), Rohan Gavaskar, Venkatesh Prasad and Vinod Kambli (India), Lance Klusener (South Africa) and Aravinda de Silva and Roshan Mahanama (Sri Lanka). While announcing the players Atul Hedge, CEO of Ignite, a sports promotion company in India, said: “We are privileged to announce that fans and players in Dubai can rub shoulders with some of the top names in world of cricket.
“Every player wants to play with stars like Wasim and De Silva and the event provides an opportunity to the cricket lovers here to join the cricket gala at Dubai Sports City.”
Hedge added: “It might not touch the high standards of professionalism but we are focusing on passion and spirit of the game.
“It is going to be an annual affair in Dubai and the tournament will be expanded to Qatar and Malaysia in near future.” The event will be held under the auspices of the Dubai Cricket Council. The brand ambassador for the inaugural Dubai Super Sixes 2010 tournament is former Pakistan captain and all-rounder Wasim Akram.
Vipen Sethi, CEO, Landmark Group, said: “We are delighted to present the ‘Landmark Group team of Legends’ and provide the teams that clear the preliminary rounds, an opportunity to play alongside renowned cricketing legends. We are confident the presence of high-profile international players on our domestic turf will add to the tournament’s appeal and we are privileged to sponsor this event.
“The Dubai Super Sixes corporate cricketing tournament is in line with the Landmark Group’s initiatives to promote a healthy work-life balance and takes forward our objective to connect with Dubai’s wider corporate community.”
With prizes worth Dh100,000 to be given away, Dubai Super Sixes will see 48 corporate teams locked in a fierce contest for the top honours.
The last eight corporate teams to reach the quarter-finals will be assigned a cricket star from “The Landmark Group Team of Legends”, who will assist the team as mentor and player.
“We are excited that such an impressive line-up of cricketing legends have joined this six-a-side tournament in our first-ever attempt itself,” said Arshad Zaheer, Managing Director of Crayons Communications, organisers of the event. “The presence of these important personalities will make this tournament one of the most notable sports initiatives not only in the UAE but in all cricket-playing nations.”
As per the rules of this fast-paced game, each participating team should comprise of six players along with two substitutes. They will also be provided with five neutral fielders from a large pool of players. Playing under the supervision of neutral umpires, the format requires each side to play a limited five overs, which they have to complete in 30 minutes.

Dubai Super Sixes cricket 2010 gathers momentum

The much-awaited Dubai Super Sixes is expected to witness a fierce competition with the UAE’s corporate world preparing to field their most experienced players in the region’s first-ever six-a-side tournament.
Event organizers Crayon Communications this week announced more than Dhs100,000 in prize money to be handed over to the winning teams, along with other prizes to be given to spectators. To be held at the 25,000-seat Dubai International Cricket Stadium, the three-week tournament begins on October 1st and ends on October 15th and will see some of the biggest corporate names involved in a keen contest for the top honours.

Dubai Super Sixes 2010 will be played under the auspices of the Dubai Cricket Council and will also feature some of the biggest names in international cricket from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and South Africa playing alongside 48 corporate cricket teams from the region. The event is organized by Crayons Communications and supported by Gulf Oil in association with the Landmark Group.

Already some of the biggest corporate names have announced the participation of their teams in the tournament. These include Lloyds TSB Bank, ABB, and Serco Ltd.

Wasim Akram, former Pakistan captain and Brand Ambassador of Dubai Super Sixes 2010, said that the fast-paced tournament builds on cricket’s enduring popularity among the expatriates. “The response to this inaugural tournament has been absolutely fantastic and I am confident that we will witness some closely fought matches when it takes place,” he added.

Arshad Zaheer, Managing Director of Crayons Communications, said: “Dubai Super Sixes promises to set the benchmark in providing world-class entertainment to everyone. This is an excellent concept aimed at further spreading the game’s popularity in this region and encouraging new talent.”

As per the rules of this fast-paced game, each participating team should comprise 6 players, along with two substitutes, and with the opportunity to choose five neutral fielders from a large pool of players. Playing under the supervision of neutral umpires, the format requires each side to play a limited 5 overs, which they have to complete in 30 minutes.

The eight teams that reach the semi-final stage will each be assigned a top cricket player who will play alongside them.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dubai Super Sixes to feature 48 teams

The inaugural Dubai Super Sixes is expecting 48 teams to participate in West Asia's first-ever six-a-side tournament.

The two-week tournament will be held from 1-15 October at the 25,000-seat Dubai International Cricket Stadium. The prize money for the winning teams will be 100,000 Dirhams.

Dubai Super Sixes 2010 will be played under the auspices of the Dubai Cricket Council and will also feature cricketers from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and South Africa playing alongside 48 corporate cricket teams from the region. Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram is the brand ambassador of the tournament.

Arshad Zaheer, MD of Crayons Communications, which is organising the event, said, "Dubai Super Sixes promises to set the benchmark in providing world-class entertainment to everyone. This is an excellent concept aimed at further spreading the game's popularity in this region and encouraging new talent."

Each participating team comprises 6 players, along with two substitutes, and with the opportunity to choose five neutral fielders from a large pool of players. Playing under the supervision of neutral umpires, the format requires each side to play a limited 5 overs, which they have to complete in 30 minutes. The four teams that reach the semi-final stage will each be assigned a top cricket player who will play alongside them.

Gulf Oil is the main sponsor and Landmark Group the associate sponsor. The event is also supported by Kingfisher Airlines & Media partners Khaleej Times, City 101.6FM, Star Plus & Star One while Dubai Sports City are the venue partners. Media Rotana are the Hospitality partners, and Edward Steven & Associates are the public relations partners.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pakis bet again???!!!

CRICKET chiefs launched an investigation during England's one-day match against Pakistan yesterday amid fears it was fixed by an illegal betting syndicate.

The International Cricket Council acted after a Sun probe exposed evidence apparently showing that bookies knew details of Pakistan's innings BEFORE the match even began.
Incredibly, it comes after three Pakistani stars had already been sent home in disgrace amid claims of match-fixing.
The new investigation will centre on suspicious scoring patterns in Pakistan's innings and on two suspect overs during yesterday's match at The Oval.
Illegal bookies in India and Dubai apparently knew in advance what would happen so they could launch a betting coup.
But The Sun's undercover team was able to pass details to ICC inspectors before the match began.
Cricket chiefs then watched as Pakistan's score mirrored the target that bookies had been told in advance by a fixer.
It is not thought that the overall result was fixed, only scoring rates in parts of Pakistan's innings. Pakistan eventually won by 23 runs.
The scandal centres on whether the match was manipulated by underground bookies to cash in on a popular bet among punters in India, where betting is illegal.
Gamblers like to bet on how many runs will be scored in each ten-over session of an innings.
Bookies cash in by knowing in advance what will happen, then offering odds that tempt punters to back the wrong result - or by placing bets with other bookies backing what they know will happen.

The dramatic probe began after The Sun received details of calls between a notorious Dubai-based match fixer and a Delhi bookie.
We alerted ICC corruption busters led by ex-police chief Sir Ronnie Flanagan. After a frantic round of calls the ICC decided to issue a general warning to Pakistan's players, but by then the game had started.
The Sun is withholding details of the alleged fix while the investigation continues - but we can reveal that horrified ICC chiefs launched their investigation before the Pakistan innings had even finished. The probe centres on an individual within the team camp who is believed to be the ringleader, taking money from bookies and ensuring their orders are carried out.
ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat last night thanked The Sun for its investigation and pledged tough action on any players found guilty.
The Sun can reveal the ICC is also investigating whether the same cartel rigged a Test between Pakistan and Australia in July after allegedly paying players £700,000.
Pakistan's Test captain Salman Butt, 25, and bowlers Mohammad Asif, 27, and Mohammad Amir, 18, flew home after the News of the World revealed no-balls were deliberately sent down in the Lord's Test. Wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal is also under investigation. All deny any wrongdoing.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Test league moves closer

The International Cricket Council have moved a step closer to creating a Test league and play-off series after a two-day meeting in Cape Town.
The governing body have laid out plans for a four-year-long Test championship, with the winners of the competition being decided by a four-team play-off series.
An inaugural play-off series has been provisionally scheduled for 2013, with England being mooted as possible hosts for the event.
The proposal, which has been recommended by the CEC, will have to be reviewed by the ICC board for consideration before it is given the green light to go ahead.
"I am really excited by what the CEC has proposed," ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said.
"Restructuring international cricket is a significant strategic challenge and one that must be dealt with.


"I am grateful to the CEC and its working group for making such far-reaching proposals to tackle this important issue.
"Achieving balance and unanimous agreement is not easy but it is a very important piece of work that requires a strategic response.
"The holistic set of proposals, especially introducing more meaningful context, means we now have the potential to follow international cricket that is even more exciting.
"Protecting and promoting all three formats at international level is viable and I believe the CEC has shown itself to be forward thinking in tackling the challenges.
"I am now encouraged to engage with the ICC Executive Board to consider these proposals as soon as possible."
Several other ideas were put forward by the CEC, including a new one-day international league that would run from April 2011 to April 2014.
Proposals to reduce the number of teams in the 50-over World Cup, increase the participants in the World Twenty20 to 16 and create a rankings table for the 20-over game were also made.

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