Sunday, 28 April 2013

Kevin Pietersen to call it quits on international cricket after the Ashes?

Kevin Pietersen to call time on England after the two Ashes series:
For an English cricketer there is nothing that comes close to winning an Ashes series. This was evident with the open top bus parade after winning the 2005 Ashes. If England were to be successful in the back to back series against the old enemy, Kevin Pietersen would claim his fourth and fifth Ashes series win. He and Ian Bell are the only surviving members of the victorious 2005 team, making them two of the most successful English cricketers in recent times.

The first reason I believe he will retire from international cricket is that he would have proved many fans wrong, if he were to win another two Ashes series. Despite being one of England’s most consistent performers over the past eight years he has had a love-hate relationship with many supporters. This could be attributed to two reasons, one could be that many dislike the fact that he is not actually English and the other reason is many people believe he has a big ego. Watching many of his interviews I do not believe that he is egoistic, I also see a player very proud to represent England.  

Another big factor in his decision could be the Indian Premier league. At the age of thirty three he still has plenty of good cricket left in him. Possibly another four-five years at the top level. These years may be spent maximising his earning potential in lucrative short tournaments. In India he is a superstar, and if he were allowed to play the whole of the Indian Premier League he would gain more money. If he were to continue his international career he would not be able to participate in the whole tournament. There are many other competitions that he could pick and choose after if he were to finish with international cricket.

The demands of International cricket mean that players will spend many months away from families for long periods of the year, including most Christmas’s. This is something that Pietersen like many other players have complained about in the past. This added to the fact that after the Australia away series the next fixtures include long trips away to West Indies and India. These are places that he has already made history with England, therefore has not much else to prove.

In the past Kevin Pietersen has tried to stop playing one day internationals, but this forced him to retire from the twenty20 side also. This original retirement has now been retracted after the long and drawn out arguments with the ECB. This included his exile from all international cricket which had been imposed on him. I am in no doubt that currently his sole focus is the Ashes series, but he must be considering calling it a day after. Kevin Pietersen place in the England test team has not only seen them win three Ashes series but also seen them rise to number one in world cricket. If he were to retire he would obviously finish as a player who could have achieved a lot more in terms of records but definitely a very successful player for England. 

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Will Bopara get anymore chances?

Whatever the sport there are always a few players who never seem to fulfil their true potential. One such example of this is could be Ravi Bopara. It seems that he has been around for a long time now despite only being twenty seven years of age. Bopara should just coming to his peak in cricketing terms, but has he played his last international game?

There had been a time when he was the talk of English cricketing as a potential star of the game. The Essex allrounder has played thirteen test matches and eighty three one day internationals. These figures indicate that he was never an established player in the England team.  His three centuries in thirteen tests is not really bad going, many other players would like this conversion rate in test cricket. This should have been the start that established him in the side.

The problems all started when Bopara made his Ashes debut, he failed pretty badly in that series and was subsequently dropped from the test side. It probably was the right decision at the time to axe him from the side, although Eoin Morgan his replacement in the side only did slightly better.  Since this time Ravi Bopara has been in and out of the side. Normally drafted in again after some other player has failed. The only question is if Bopara will get another chance to play test cricket? He had to drop out the squad last summer for personal reasons and saw his name drop down the pecking order. Now Joe Root and Johhny Bairstow are both ahead of him as well as Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler and James Taylor. These same players also have pushed Bopara out of the one day side.

What was surprising is that Bopara had been selected in the squad for the upcoming Champions Trophy. Many people believe that he has had too many chances. Alistair Cook once stated that Bopara had more talent than he did, the difference probably is in mentality.

I personally believe that he is good enough to win back his place but I do not see it happening. So this probably means that Ravi Bopara could be added to the long list of players who did not fulfil their potential, the other names on this list include Mark Ramprakash and Graham Hick. These two players were rated higher than Brian Lara at youth levels, with Ramprakash outscoring the West Indian legend in a youth world cup. 

Thursday, 11 April 2013

It's Michael Clarke's time

The rise of 'Pup' the boy from New South Wales has not been as straight forward as many would assume. Today Michael Clarke has been named Wisdoms cricketer of the year, this names him the most inform player of the last calender year. It comes as no surprise that he has won this award as he had an unbelievable year. 

The now Australia captain made his début as a fresh faced twenty three year old in India, where he scored a century in his first test. Since this time he had been ear marked to be a future skipper of Australia.  A mark of his special abilities is the fact that he broke into the great Australian team at the age of twenty three. Others such as Stuart Law, Michael Hussey and Brad Hodge all had to wait for their chances. At this time Clarke had the world at his feet, he was the poster boy of Australian cricket, the young guy in amongst all legends.

He was catapulted into a new lifestyle, one which can be hard for a young sports star. Everyone knew who he was, celebrity girlfriends also were part of his new life. This was something that would later play a big part of his cricket future. In 2010 a split with model fiancée Lara Bingle meant that Clarke went home from a tour of New Zealand stating personal problems. This is something that the tough Australian public did not like. 

On his return to New Zealand he put all issues aside and made one of his most focused centuries. Leaving the team suddenly had a lasting affect on Clarkes perception. He was roundly booed by the home crowd when he once temporarily took over from Ponting. He had also been publicly criticised by many former players also. 

There had also been a public spat with team mate and Australian darling Simon Katich as well as the accusation of Clarke hiding away lower down the order at number five. This accusation is something that still is labelled with Clarke, only recently moving up higher in the India series.  

The Aussie public is a tough crowd at the best of times, but 'Pup' seemed to have made enemies of most of them. This was a sharp contrast from his start to international cricket where he was unanimously praised. He also had been treated for some cancerous spots on his face. At the same time Clarke had a little dip in form, with many people stating that some other person should be considered as the future captain. The signs were not looking good for Australia, him being in a team that lost three ashes series, many people called for radical change. This in many ways sums up the life of a sportsman, it is how you overcome these adversities which defines you.  Michael Clarke is definitely a fighter, he has once again changed these perceptions of him, leading from the front. 

Unfortunately for him his peak has coincided a downturn in Australian cricket. This was always going to happen when some of the all time greats retired all together. What is more unfortunate for Clarke is that captains get defined by their team, he is battling hard to change this. As a captain his record will be compared to former captains. This is unfair because him having a weaker team does not make for a fair comparison. In many ways this is a greater test of captaincy than past captains Ponting and Waugh, these guys had great players in their side so very few decisions had to be made. Clarke on the other hand does not have this luxury to fall back onto. 

Michael Hussey is the latest player to retire, leaving the bating very dependant on Clarke just ahead of the ashes. Since being named captain 'Pup' has definitely been one of the worlds best players, he has always had natural timing and stroke play, but a new focus has been added. He scored four double centuries in the last calender year, a feat that no other player has ever achieved.  

The 'Old Enemy' are looking very very strong and any bad loss could bring calls for wholesale change in Australian cricket. 

The challenge ahead for Clarke and his boys should be one they see as an exciting opportunity to win against the odds. Contrary to most English media's opinion the Aussies have a good team, they are young and untested but are packed with potential. You do not have to go back that far when an Australian team touring England arrived with mostly young and in experienced players shocked England. This had been Steve Waugh's first Ashes tour as a captain. 

Being written off pre ashes should work in the favour of Australia, as they have no pressure. They will need a bit of luck as well as fighting spirit, this is something that Clarke will instil for sure. It will be a defining summer for this Aussie side and a defining moment for the new captain. If he is to be successful in the summer it will only add to his story, the full circle of being liked. 

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Would England cricketers make an impression on the IPL?

So today another story has re-emerged about English players wanting to be a part of the money spinner that is the IPL. Apparently the ECB are in talks with IPL chiefs after pressure from players to negotiate a way for England's cricketers to enter into next years competition. 

This story seems to be true and there is a suggestion that the BCCI could move the competition a few weeks earlier and the first test series in England could be pushed back a bit. This would allow England's top players to be a part of the competition for a longer period, thus making them more attractive to the teams. For this reason I have looked at the players who would have a chance in the IPL and if English cricketers would make an impact on the competition. 

In theory looking at Englands past performances and the domestic T20 competition they will make a big impact in India. Over the course of international T20 competition England have been near to the top of the rankings. There are however a few signs that these players will not have as much impact on the competition.

A few England stars who have made been selected in the Indian Premier League, these have had mixed success. At the top of the list has to be Kevin Pietersen, he has established himself as one of the biggest names in the competition. In contrast to Kevin Pietersen there is Luke Wright, a player who has been in a poor Pune Warriors squad for two seasons and is yet to play. 

The players who have been selected in the past are, Pietersen, Morgan, Flintoff, Broad, Shah, Bopara, Wright, Collingwood, Lumb, Napier. Three of the players on the list have not played for their franchise, a few of them have not been re-selected and a few of are bench warmers who bring on the drinks. It is a real shame actually because England do have some good players who can make a big impression.

If you look closely at IPL teams then it is very noticeable that most teams have young relatively unknown Australians and South Africans in their squads.  The problem lies with the fact that there are many South African and Australian coaches in the IPL. This is the reason why their younger players are bought up. If England players are given a chance it is likely that they will be used in the same way as these young players from the above named countries. 

The IPL fairly keeps a quota system on foreign players, this being that only four can play at one time. This unfortunately would effect English players, the reason I say this is that most teams already have their four top players. So either they go to one of these teams and sit on the bench or go to a lower ranked team.  

Looking through England's players I believe that Bairstow, Butler, Samit Patel, James Anderson, Graham Swann, Bopara and Steven Finn could all have a positive impact on the competition. It would also develop these players further, facing top players and training with other players from different backgrounds. 

I can take Eoin Morgan as an example, he is currently back into the KKR team but this is only because the worlds best allrounder Shakib Al Hasan is injured. If Shakib was fit, I can guess that Morgan would be back onto the bench. If a player like Morgan struggles to get into a team it does not bode well for the other English players. Luke Wright in my opinion is the fifth or sixth choice foreign player in PWI, I do not really rate their captain Matthews who is somehow keeping Steve Smith out their squad, but that is a totally different issue. 

In short I believe that England players could have a massive impact on the IPL, but the reality of it is that they will not. I do not think teams will give the players a chance, they will just stock pile the good players into their squad to fill in when others get injured. English cricket will still benefit because the players will be training with world class players, but they will not get game exposure in Indian conditions. This valuable experience is being taken up by average Australians and South Africans like Aaron Finch and Ben Hilfenhouse.  

Friday, 5 April 2013

Why does cricket allow for players to play for more than one country?

There have been many players over through the history of cricket to have represented more than one International team. The latest of these players seems to be likely to be Luke Ronchi. The wicketkeeper has represented Australia in the past, although not many times. He has now been selected for the tour of England for New Zealand, the country of his birth. 

I find it very odd that players can still change from one country to another, this is something that cannot happen in football. The rule in football (as it should be) is that if you have played senior international games for one country then you cannot play for another. Does Luke Ronchi feel anything for New Zealand? He did pick Australia over them before so why now does he want to go back? The answer is that he cant get in the Australia squad any more  therefore to play international cricket he has chosen a new country. This shows no real pride in playing for his country. 

There have been a few players who have switched countries in the past, but for most of them there has been good reasons for this. There are three players who have represented India and Pakistan. These being Amir Elahi, Gul Mohammed and Abdul Hafeez Kardar. All of these played for India before independance and later went on to represent Pakistan after partition of the countries. Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi played for England and India. This was in the early 20th century and should not really be considered as India were part of the empire at the time and there were no real cricket rules on this issue. 

There are many others who have played for minor cricket nations and then switched to bigger cricket nations. The latest two would be Eoin Morgan and Ed Joyce who went the other way. Others on this list would be Kepler Wessels who was captain of Australia during South Africa's ban from sport. He later went back to his birth country when they were re-instated. In my opinion these type of moves seem to be acceptable, but to move between two established cricket nations solely because you cant get into the team is not. 

I understand that countries may take players from other countries and naturalise them, for example there are alot of South Africans in England and Australians in New Zealand. But once a player has been played for the national side there should be no switching. If this rule is not changed it could technically allow a player like Kevin Pietersen to go play for South Africa one day. If England didn't accept him back into the squad after they dropped him he could have done this if South Africa agreed. 

I have nothing against Luke Ronchi but I don't believe he really should be allowed to change his country this easily. 

RCB v MI what a special match

Like the IPL or hate it, yesterdays game between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians produced something special. There were several talking points produced by this match. Firstly I would like to state that Chris Gayle stole the show with 92 runs not out whilst injured. This was a special innings just confirming that he is the most destructive batsman in the Indian Premier League. 

A mention also has to go out to Jasprit Bumrah who is yet to play any first class matches but made his debut yesterday. What a feeling it must be to play your first match with Sachin Tendulkar and Rikky Ponting in the dressing room. His first wicket was that of Virat Kohli, what a feeling this must have been. 

The real point of interest for me was to see two of the greatest batsmen in cricket history bat together. This is something special that only competitions like the IPL could produce. At one stage both Ponting and Sachin were batting whilst Murali was bowling. This was the scene that all cricket fans dream of. 

The partnership looked pretty good, the only way that RCB looked like getting either of them out was through a run out. Eventually that is what happened  Sachin fell first, Ponting soon after being stumped. The partnership looked good but there has to be much more to come from these two. 

In my opinion they should be opening together, although many of the pundits on the TV disagreed. Dinesh Karthik did perform yesterday but I believe that he is the number five batsman in the team. I would have put Rohit Sharma up at number three, Ryudu at number four then Karthink and Pollard swapping depending on the game situation. Yesterday I am in no doubt that if Pollard was promoted up the order MI would have won the game. He faced two balls only, this is something they need to look at. 

The first match between KKR and Delhi was not competitive at all, this was the game to start the tournament off. 

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