Monday, 15 February 2016

Where's the justice in sport?

Less than two weeks ago, the West Indies U/19 team made the headlines for what some believe were the wrong reasons. Beating a spirited Zimbabwean team who required two runs for a remarkable victory in the World Cup, through a mankap. Many people have not even heard of the term, which is perhaps why many believe it is unsporting and just not cricket. Perhaps not even in the spirit of the game! Sure enough if a batsman at the bowler's end is trying to gain unfair advantage through a head start - that in itself is not in the spirit of the game, but for a decision to be sent to the television review and for there to be literally millimetres in it.... in my mind, I personally think they overstepped the line.... pardon the punt!

On the weekend however, the same West Indies team made the headlines again, but any cricket fan might be forgiven for sharing their delight and jubilation which was joyfully portrayed through dancing on the pitch moments after Gidron Pope hit the winnings runs; ironically the same player who caused the biggest talking point, being the one responsible for the mankap, of the world cup until then. Some might question, "Where's the justice in sport?" but nobody could deny the West Indies, a nation fighting to keep cricket alive, this moment of success, in particular at U/19 level! Perhaps the game does have a future on the islands after all!

Source: Getty Images

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

No KP in England's T20 World Cup squad

If Kevin Pietersen had any hope of representing England ever again, I suppose it was just dealt the final blow. The England squad for the T20 World Cup was announced today and, perhaps not surprising after captain Eoin Morgan's comments a couple of days ago saying that he won't be considered, but his omission will once again question the ECB's tactics and approach ahead of a world cup.

There is no doubt that KP is not only still one of the world's best batsmen, especially in the shorter format of the game, but also highly respected by many opponents who in mind mind would much rather play against an England side without him than not.

Perhaps it's also surprising that Luke Wright and Stuart Broad haven't been included neither. It prompts the question, "why was Broad even considered for the ODI series in South Africa?" If England are looking at the future, why did they not send someone else out there. Interesting as ever.

England squad for World T20

  • Eoin Morgan (Middlesex) (Capt)
  • Moeen Ali (Worcestershire)
  • Sam Billings (Kent)
  • Jos Buttler (Lancashire)
  • Liam Dawson (Hampshire)
  • Steven Finn (Middlesex)
  • Alex Hales (Nottinghamshire)
  • Chris Jordan (Sussex)
  • Adil Rashid (Yorkshire)
  • Joe Root (Yorkshire)
  • Jason Roy (Surrey)
  • Ben Stokes (Durham)
  • Reece Topley (Hampshire)
  • James Vince (Hampshire)
  • David Willey (Yorkshire)

Monday, 18 January 2016

A dream project, please let's make it happen.....

Please donate by clicking here - your help will go a long way

Ever since making the decision to permanently move abroad seven years ago, I've had a dream of helping others accomplish what I was blessed with shortly after turning nineteen; An opportunity to visit and play cricket in England, the place it's believed to have been practised more than 450 years ago. Leaving the shores of Africa in 2008 wasn't easy, nor was it back in 1996. Although some similarities exist - a new adventure and both on the back of cricket - there were two big differences; Not knowing if we'll ever return and leaving everything behind. It's a sacrifice nobody understands unless you've experienced it yourself.

Many days I ask myself whether or not is was the right thing to do, how life would have been had we not made that decision? Not many days go by without me carrying a heavy load of guilt on my back for making a selfish decision - a decision that I thought would offer us a better opportunity, better career, better education for our children and a safer environment. At the time I didn't think about what I took away from others - grandchildren away from their family, children away from their parents, family and friends and the opportunity that the cricket academy I started seven years prior provided to children from all backgrounds. It's sometimes a bitter pill to swallow.

Things may not have turned out the way I'd hoped and although I may never quite understand why, I will always believe things happen for a reason, albeit not always easy to accept, it can often steer you on a different route with unexpected and perhaps better outcomes. Who'd have thought I'd be in full-time education at the age of thirty nine? Who'd have thought I'd be standing pitch side in front of 32,000 singing fans during kick off at an English Football match and that I'd have fallen in love with Wheelchair Basketball, being a Team Liaison for Italy? Who knows the reason we get knocked off our path sometimes, the important thing is to get up and make the best of what we're able to while we can.

It's for that reason I've decided to focus on the dream I mentioned right at the beginning. Being involved in the Academy back in South Africa not only gave me lifelong memories but it provided something to the community which we could all share, enjoy and benefit from. Sport development has improved vastly over the past decade and many young people from all corners of South Africa are given an opportunity to compete on the world stage nowadays. Cricket has also transformed into a very wealthy sport and can be very financially rewarding for those who make it onto provincial level, especially in the IPL. Kids from all backgrounds, no matter how poor, therefore have an opportunity to set themselves up for life through doing something they love.

The project I'm looking to start however, is aimed at those who probably won't make it that far. It's aimed at young people who just aren't quite good enough to represent their country or even province but who have a passion and love for the game like no other, like what I had when all I wanted to do was come to England and play cricket every day. Although I had the passion, the biggest problem standing in the way of relishing my dream was being able to fund it. I was very lucky though - the help I received from the community and years of savings made it possible. Not everyone is that blessed..... I want to help make that possible for some and offer them something they will never forget.

I'm hoping to raise enough money to be able to offer two cricketers a six week visit to England next year, during which they'll receive coaching, play matches, a visit to Lord's and enjoy some British culture. This might well be the only ever time they get such a chance - who knows, it might even jump-start their career in the sport. Although I'm planning a number of fundraising events, this will not be possible without generous support from businesses and individuals. I must therefore ask if you'd please be so kind to support this campaign by clicking on the link to help make someone accomplish a dream and by making even a tiny donation. 

No matter how small, your contribution will go a long way towards making this dream a reality. The biggest challenge is getting every single person reading this to donate something. Too often we think, "Nah, I can't be bothered", "my tiny contribution won't help" or even worse, "I'll do it another time" - then we don't. Please, act now. What is one less £3 spent on something this month or even week? 

By donating something and sharing this with your friends via email, Facebook, Twitter or whichever way you can, could eventually help offer these guys the best six weeks of their lives.

Let's make this possible, together, please. Your help will be gratefully appreciated, thank you.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

A Batsman's Game

As we're approaching the conclusion of the group stages in the ICC World Cup, one thing has stood out for me. 260-280 doesn't seem to be a par score in most matches anymore. I can remember when 200 was a decent score, then it became 240-250 before the bar got lifted even more. Now 330 isn't even safe anymore!

Who'd want to be a bowler? You're not allowed to do this, you're not allowed to do that! It doesn't seem a fair contest to me! Yes, we all like to see runs being piled up but just look at the game between the two host nations. A low scoring affair which produced great excitement finished by a six!

Is the game becoming a bit one dimensional? Better pitches, smaller grounds, bigger bats, better hitting. With all of these pointing in favour of a batsman, is there any need to restrict bowlers and fielders?

I think it's time the ICC consider relaxing these restrictions. I'd like a bowler to come on and bowl a bouncer if he wants to. Sure enough, if it's too high call a wide, but why restrict him to only two short ones an over. If AB de Villiers or Chris Gayle smash it out of the park effortlessly, why restrict the bowler to have to have 5 fielders closer than 30 yards to the bat?

A batsman can reverse sweep, scoop, innovate and do whatever he wants, but a bowler has to say which side of the wicket he wants to bowl from. What's the next restriction going to be? The bowler has to say whether he's about to bowl an outswinger or a googly or a yorker? Maybe it's time for the the one-day game to become more of a fair test and leave the batting circus to 20/20 cricket. In times where test cricket is in decline and fears for the future of it exists, let's not do the same to the 50 over format, please.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

West Indies Triumphant in Port Elizabeth

An explosive 64 not out off 40 balls by Andre Russell secured the West Indies' first win of the series against South Africa earlier today. The visitors looked dead and buried at 73/5 after 22 overs in pursuit of the Protea's 262 and when the 9th wicket fell with another 24 runs required, very few pundits would have given them a chance.

Russell, however, doesn't lack any confidence and showed the public just why he's known as superman in some circles, finishing the game in style by dispatching Kyle Abbott over long on for 6, ending a losing streak of 16 consecutive matches to South Africa. He was given good support by Marlon Samuels (68) and Darren Sammy (51) before the lower order helped steering the ship over the line with nine balls to spare.

Earlier in the day the festive St George's Park crowd, spurred on by the famous band, were entertained by David Miller hitting his maiden century for South Africa, having been in a spot of bother themselves on 76/4. Miller who finished on 130 not out will be delighted in the way he managed to build and construct an innings of this stature as he's trying to cement his place in the South African starting line-up ahead of the World Cup. His destructive ability to score runs very quickly at the end of an innings is known by many a bowler across the globe and on several occasions the strong South African top order hasn't left him much time to build an innings, but today it was needed and no doubt managed to install much needed faith days before South Africa cross the Indian Ocean and head to Australasia.

It was the innings of Andre Russell the people of PE will remember for a long time though as the tour heads to Centurion for the final ODI, South Africa having already won, leading 3-1.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

England get whitewashed - who would have thought?

One would have gotten good odds on Australia winning the series 5-0 a couple of months ago. I have no idea what they were, never bothered looking! Australia to win, yes, but not a whitewash! Just goes to show how unpredictable sport can be.

Before this series started, Australia lost 7 out of its previous 8 test. Now they're starting to look like the best team in the world, but perhaps a little premature thought if anyone think they are.

Clarke certainly believes his team has the best bowling attack in the world. Not sure the boys on the other side of the Indian Ocean agrees with that and we're certainly in for a treat in a month's time when the two teams go face to face in a three match series.

England were humiliated earlier on being dismissed in their second innings within a mere 33 overs! They looked like a heavy weight boxer getting knocked out in the 12th round having lost every round and just couldn't absorb any further punches. A team who just had no fighting spirit left! I feel sorry for those players who have to stay on for the one day series.

So how good is this Australian team now? Well, their big test begins on the 12th of February at Centurion!

I can't wait!

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Two Unsung Heroes

All the focus at the moment is on the dismal performance of England and now it's just a matter of a few sessions before they'll find themselves whitewashed, unless a miracle comes their way over the next 3 days. Take nothing away from Australia of course as they've made a remarkable turnaround from where they were 3 months ago.

But as I'm sure everyone is tired of having witnessed the same pattern for 5 consecutive test matches now, let's talk about two unsung heroes other than Haddin and Johnson for a change. The two umpires out in the middle at the moment, Alleem Dar and Marais Erasmus has had an outstanding game thus far. They've already had to make numerous tough decisions and I'm struggling to think of either of them getting any wrong.

It's good to see that in an era where more and more decisions are being taken out of the hands of the men in charge out in the middle, that we can still see outstanding performances. Let's hope this carries on.

So, to say England are up against it, is an understatement and with them already needing more runs than what's ever been successfully chased down in a test at the SCG, I'm afraid I guess they'll do well to take play into day 4.


Aus 326 all out  &  140/4
Eng 155 all out