Sunday, June 19, 2016

Pakistan vs England: What does 2016 have in store for Pakistan?

Since I have been watching cricket, every single time Pakistan tours England, something goes wrong. Irrespective of what happens on the field, off the field the Pakistanis get embroiled in controversy after controversy.

In 1992, ball tampering took center stage as clueless England batsmen resorted to calling the lethal Wasim and Waqar cheats and accused them of tampering with the ball. Only because their batsmen were not good enough to face them and their bowlers were not good enough to bowl them.

Besides this, there was also an ugly incident between Aquib Javed and umpire Roy Palmer (or was it Ken Palmer?) in one of the tests where the umpire felt Aaquib was intimidating number XI Devon Malcolm with repeated bouncers; which was clearly not what was happening.

In 1996, the ball tampering allegations continued as England's batsmen remained clueless against Wasim and Waqar. A court case regarding ball tampering involving Ian Botham and Imran Khan was ongoing during this series.


Thankfully the World Cup in 1999 and the tour in 2001 did not involve any cheating claims; however the tabloids carried numerous stories on the night life that Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar, Shahid Afridi, Saqlain Mushtaq, Ijaz Ahmed and others enjoyed during their visits to the UK. Nightclubs, bars, casinos - the stories made Pakistan's cricketers sound like rockstars!

In 2006, ball tampering returned once again! But this time it wasn't the players who accused the Pakistanis. It was Darrell Hair. He gave 5 penalty runs to England (or docked Pakistan of 5 runs) because he believed that the Pakistanis were tampering with the balls. In protest, Inzamam did not lead his team out to the field after the Tea break.

Pakistan refused to continue the test match and for the first time in the history of test cricket, a match had been forfeited.

In 2010, Pakistan sent quite a young team to England following the after math of the disastrous tour to Australia that resulted in almost all of Pakistan's senior players banned  by the PCB. The result was yet another disastrous tour as three of Pakistan's cricketers had been caught red handed spotfixing through a newspaper's sting operation.

Pakistan cricket was never the same again.

6 years on, Pakistan will play its first test of 2016 at Lord's, the same ground where the 3 cricketers got their hands (or should I say feet?) dirty!

One of the banned cricketers has returned to international cricket and he will play his first test since the ban, his first test in 6 years, at the same scene as his crime!

If that isn't Tabloid headline worthy, I don't know what is.

I can already see it.

Aamer returns to the scene of his crime.
Once Upon a Time at Lord's.
Aamer at Lord's again. No Ball?

It is going to happen sooner or later. The English media will leave no stone unturned to pile on the pressure on the Pakistanis.

For Misbah's men in white, the tour will be a stern test. Having beaten all opposition in their fortress known as the UAE, this is Pakistan's chance to truly stamp their authority in tests, a format that they have been very successful in since that ill fated tour to England in 2010.

It has been 20 years since Pakistan won a test series in England, with their last win (2-0) coming in 1996. Even though Pakistan has beaten England in 5 tests of the 6 they have played in the past 4 years, all those wins have come in the UAE. In England, it will be quite different.

However, this is also probably their best chance to shine. It will be interesting to see the odds the bookmakers will provide for the series given that Pakistan is ranked higher than England, however the latter seem to be favorites at home. Take a look at My Betting Sites Interactive Tool.

In Younis, Misbah, Azhar, Asad, and Sarfraz Pakistan have one of the strongest batting line ups they have ever had in tests. In Aamer and Yasir they have two genuine match winning bowlers. On their day, they can run through entire batting line ups single handedly.

In 1992 and 1996 it was the magic of the 2 Ws combined with the guile of Mushtaq Ahmed that led Pakistan to series wins. This time, Pakistan have a similar bowling combination.

Pakistan are currently ranked number 3 in tests. A series win can make them very serious challengers for the number 1 spot!

We don't know what 2016 has in store for Pakistan, but one would be a fool to expect a tour without any controversy.

Having said that, one would also be a fool to expect an easy win for England!

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Mustafizur Rahman - A Rare Exceptional Talent

Barring the final last night, I did not watch a single match of the IPL. I did follow the news and read up on the match results, which was enough evidence for me to realize that Mustafizur Rahman has been absolutely exceptional in the IPL.

With 17 wickets he ended the IPL as the 5th highest wicket taker; but what was most remarkable was his economy rate of 6.9, which was the best among all fast bowlers that bowled at least 10 overs in the tournament. The only bowler that bettered that economy rate was Adam Zampa with 6.76.

It is quite rare for a fast bowler from Bangladesh to be considered a global threat. There have been a number of spinners from Bangladesh that have shone in international cricket, but rarely a fast bowler.

Mustafizur Rahman however is a rare case. The boys is extremely good and arguably the best left arm pacer in the world today.

His international career is its nascent stages having played only 2 tests, 9 ODIs, and 13 T20Is. The numbers though that he has stacked up in his short career are commendable to say the least.

In 9 ODIs he has 26 wickets at an average of 12.34, a strike rate of 17.3 and an economy of 4.26.

In 13 T20Is he has 22 wickets at an average of 13.95, a strike rate of 14.0, and an economy of 5.98.

Boys his age dream of playing international cricket, let alone about achieving such a start to their international careers.

Mustafizur has been exceptional.

Those numbers suggest that if he can manage to remain fit, he will break a number of bowling records.

This is what those numbers mean right now:

Best Average ever in ODIs
Mustafizur has bowled 452 deliveries in ODIs and has picked up 26 wickets. For anyone who has bowled that many deliveries and picked up that many wickets, he has the BEST Average ever. No one even comes close to his 12.3. The next best averages among all bowlers that have bowled at least 450 deliveries or taken at least 25 wickets are 17.8, 18.2, and 18.3 - Geoff Arnold, Richard Hadlee, and Otis Gibson respectively.

Incredible beyond words!

Best Strike Rate ever in ODIs
Mustafizur has bowled 452 deliveries in ODIs and has picked up 26 wickets. For anyone who has bowled that many deliveries and picked up that many wickets, he has the BEST Strike Rate ever. No one even comes close to his 17.3. The next best strike rates among all bowlers that have bowled at least 450 deliveries or taken at least 25 wickets are 21.7, 23.4, and 24.2 - Otis Gibson, Ryan Harris, Corey Anderson and Mitchell Starc respectively.

To put it in layman terms, Mustafizur picks up an ODI wicket in every 3rd over he bowls. That is beyond SUPER!

Best Average ever in T20Is
No one, absolutely no one has a better average than Mustafizur's in T20Is. That 13.95 average is the best in the world for anyone who has taken at least 10 wickets in T20Is.

Mustafizur has bowled over 50 overs and taken over 20 wickets in T20Is. Among all bowlers who have done at least one of those in T20Is, the next best averages are 14.4 (Ajantha Mendis), 14.7 (Samuel Badree), and 15.2 (Al Amin Hossain).

*                    *                   * 

Mustafizur is an exceptional and rare talent. The world has not seen any like him. While the world has been raving about another 20 odd year old fast bowler, Mohammad Aamer, Mustafizur has been working wonders with the ball and wowing everyone.

He has impressed in the IPL, he has impressed in international cricket, and he has a long long way to go.

Sure the career has been a short one. But his ability has demonstrated that batsmen will not find him to be easy picking any time soon.

This 20 year old boy deserves all the applause he has been getting and more.

Expect him to go a long way and break many records.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Azhar fools the public... AGAIN!!!

Besides being a huge cricket fan, I am also a big Bollywood buff. I absolutely love Bollywood and enjoy the masala entertainers dished out every Friday. Unlike cricket, Bollywood rarely disappoints me. I don't mind the protagonist walking around in a crisply ironed white shirt after a long action sequence or that the main stars break out into an impromptu dance routine, along with the rest of city, to proclaim their love for each other.

I find all this thoroughly entertaining.

When a movie like Azhar hits the screens, it is a double whammy for a person like me. Cricket and Bollywood in one! Its like having the perfect combo meal - KFC with McDonalds' fries and a biscuit from Popeye's!

Azhar's life - an arranged marriage, an affair with a Bollywood actress, a dream cricket debut, rise to the Indian captaincy, and the match fixing scandal - had it all to muster up a true blue bollywood masala entertainer.

Yet it was such a major disappointment!

My biggest problem with Azhar (the movie) is that it goes out of its way to show Azharuddin's innocence that it leaves a bad taste. A real bad taste.

In fact it attempts to fool the viewers and glorifies Azharuddin as an innocent man. One should have expected this considering Azharuddin was involved in training Emraan Hashmi and heavily involved in helping with the storyline.

Here's how Azhar fooled the public, AGAIN!

CBI and all available public reports state that Azharuddin was investigated for fixing the following three ODIs:

1. India vs South Africa, first match of the Titan Cup, 1996
2. India vs Sri Lanka, Pepsi Asia Cup, 1997
3. India vs Pakistan, Pepsi Cup, 1999

CBI also claimed that Azharuddin confessed to fixing these 3 ODIs; however Azharuddin has denied this in an interview.

The movie starts well by stating that Azharuddin is being investigated for these 3 matches.

But then, in a sour attempt to fool the public, the movie ignores these actual ODIs and uses results of different ODIs to portray Azhar's innocence.

Did Tony and Azhar actually think they would get away with shit like this!!?

India vs South Africa
In the actual match, India lost by 47 runs. Azhar scored 32 off 55 balls and was caught by Cullinan of Crookes.

The movie shows that Azhar was out LBW to a wrong decision (off the inside edge) and the crowd caused disruption because of this, with Azhar's lawyer arguing how could he have fixed the game if he was wrongly given out.

In reality, this occurred in the India vs Australia match of the Titan Cup where Azharuddin was wrongly given out LBW to Jason Gillespie and crowd disruption stopped play for 20 minutes.

Please don't miss the "Match Notes" at the end of that scorecard:

How sad and pathetic is it that the movie chooses an event that took place in an ODI between India and Australia, and makes it look like that it occurred in the India vs South Africa match that was allegedly fixed by Azhar.

I am disgusted!

India vs Sri Lanka
In the Pepsi Asia Cup in 1997, India played Sri Lanka twice: a group game that Sri Lanka won by 6 wickets and then the Final that Sri Lanka won by 8 wickets. In both games, Azhar scored 80 odd runs with the rest of India's batting failing. Another key fact of this tournament is that India's captain was Sachin Tendulkar and not Azharuddin.

The movie, however, ignores these matches and the Pepsi Asia Cup altogether and instead shows an India vs Sri Lanka ODI played in London in 1998. This fictional match was a Final of a Jubilee Cup, Azhar was captain, and Azhar single handedly won India a match they looked like losing while chasing a target of 280 odd as the bookie and the underworld Don looked on in disbelief from the stands.


Firstly, neither India nor Sri Lanka toured England in 1998. Secondly, the Jubilee Cup that was played in 1998 involved India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh; there was no Sri Lanka.

Thirdly, the match showed in the movie picks up events that took place in an India vs Sri Lanka ODI played in the Champions Trophy in Sharjah in 1998, where Sachin and Ganguly got out early and Azharuddin's 94 helped successfully chase a target of 245.

Again the movie showcases events from another ODI and attempts to mislead the public into believing that they are from the allegedly fixed ODI.

Come on, seriously!?

If it wasn't enough that Azhar screwed India in the 90s that he has come out to do it once again!

Did they think cricket fans will not be able to tell the difference between the matches?

What Bullshit.

Oh and that India vs Pakistan match was completely ignored by the way.

Can't even say that Tony Dsouza took liberties as a director and re-created ODIs considering that the events were blatantly copied from other ODIs. To top it all the ODI vs West Indies that Manoj Prabhakar allegedly fixed was shown in the movie exactly how it played out in reality!

So while one ODI is replicated to show that Prabhakar was a fixer, other matches were recreated with events from other different ODIs to show that Azharuddin was innocent.


Seems like Azharuddin ne chay banane ka thaika liya hua hai. Pehle cricket se, ab Bollywood se.

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Which Online Betting Portal to Choose?

The online gambling market is diverse in the promotions that are on offer. With virtually every gambling site trying to reel you in with a generous signup bonus, it is difficult to find the right one for you amongst the crowd. This is where Betachance can help! On their site you can find the best promo codes from the most prestigious betting companies, categorised into sportscasino and bingo for your convenience. With some great international cricket just around the corner and only a few months till the UEFA Euros why not take a browse at Betachance today.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Kane Williamson has time to develop leadership skills

Kane Williamson was appointed New Zealand’s captain in all formats of the game following the retirement of Brendon McCullum. 

McCullum ended his career following the Black Caps’ defeat to Australia in February, bringing an end to a successful 14-year tenure in the game.

The 34-year-old was named New Zealand’s captain in 2012 after Ross Taylor opted to stand down as he struggled to cope with the duties.

McCullum took to captaincy like a duck to water, although his side lost two of their opening three series under his leadership against South Africa and England.

Following their series loss in England, the Black Caps went on a seven-series unbeaten run, claiming wins over the West Indies, India and Sri Lanka. His decision-making in the field was outstanding, which on numerous occasions would produce wickets out of nowhere.

McCullum led by example with the bat, raising the level of his game by scoring six of his 12 hundreds with the captaincy, including a remarkable triple-century against India.

He made the decision to retire following his side’s defeat at the hands of Australia on home soil, although he was to sign off in style in his final match by scoring the fastest Test century in history.

He will now have to find a new hobby to display his dominance to fill the void and, as one of the stars of the sport he will have a range of options. Punditry, coaching or life away from the game are all options. But he could still get his cricket fill with console games or online games, such as Cricket Stars and other Kiwi pokies.

His shoes have been filled by one of the stars of the modern game in Williamson. The 25-year-old has the unenviable task of replacing a hugely successful player and captain.

Williamson has become one of the leading batsmen in world cricket and was named Wisden almanack's leading cricketer of the year in 2015, matching the promise he displayed on debut against India when he made a century.

Since 2010 he has scored 13 Test centuries and 19 fifties, leaving him just four hundreds behind Martin Crowe, who holds the New Zealand’s record for most centuries.

He has all the credentials in the longest form of the game to be a solid leader for his country, and has already shown a great deal of promise in limited overs cricket.

Williamson made several good decisions throughout his side’s campaign in the ICC World Twenty20, guiding the team into the semi-finals following their four-straight wins in the group stage.

His bowling changes always appear to work with great success and his use of spinners Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi choked their opposition leading to wickets for the impressive duo.

Their campaign ended in disappointment with their loss to England, but the Black Caps will have been pleased with how they coped for the first time without McCullum’s presence.

Williamson now has four months to hone his skills before his first Test match as captain against South Africa.

As England proved in their win over South Africa, AB de Villiers’s men have vulnerabilities and could be exposed by New Zealand’s potent attack.

However, they still have plenty of talent in their squad so it will be a good chance for Williamson to cut his teeth as he begins his leadership journey.

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Mark Wood to Miss Most of the Season

Despite hopes that bowler Mark Wood would return to his previous form following ankle surgery last November, the 26 year old is reported to now miss out on the greater part of this season following yet more surgery. 

Back in the summer of 2015, although the injury was known, it didn’t appear to be in a state that warranted an operation. Wood himself even commented on the fact that, while the heavy impact of the sport didn’t help the issue, no fast bowler was ever playing at 100 percent and that medication had been helping. Unfortunately though, by the time November began, it was evident that the repetitive injury was becoming too big a problem to ignore, and that a specialist was needed to determine what was going on. 

Although a blow for the England team, surgery and rehabilitation seemed the best way to ensure that Wood would return ready for next season, however that hasn’t been the case. Even though he initially responded well to treatment after the surgery, pain soon returned and created all sorts of pre-season problems, which in turn led to Wood visiting another specialist, this time in the Netherlands. Upon his arrival it soon became clear that a second procedure was needed to remove a piece of floating bone that was irritating the joint. 

The unexpected news has not only set the player back further, but has also called into question the treatment he initially received. While it was understood at the time that two operations one after the other wouldn’t be possible, the prolonged gap between the two has resulted in even more time out of playing, a factor that heavily impacts on both Wood’s morale and the team’s.

 With so much uncertain, especially that of his expected recovery period which hasn’t been revealed by the club, news is affecting all the tips currently circulating big name bookmakers. Betway’sodds are constantly getting updated as to how England will fare in the Sri Lanka Tour, starting May, and also whether Wood will be able to return in time for the beginning of the Pakistan Tour in July. The England team have been on good form lately, even despite the continued loss of Mark Wood, so it may be possible that the club will succeed perfectly fine without him. Nonetheless, with the bowler eager to get back to playing, the back-to-bowling regimes he must endure prior to his return to competitive matches can’t come soon enough.

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Inzamam Ul Haq & the PCB - Some Historical Perspective

2006: Inzamam takes team off the field at the Oval and ends up forfieting the test. Then PCB Chairman, Shaharyar Khan resigns citing failure to control drama at Oval.
2007: Pakistan exit embarassingly from World Cup. Inzamam resigns from captaincy and retires from ODI cricket.
2007: PCB, as always, sets up an investigation into the WC disaster and a committees report squarely lays all blame on Inzamam Ul Haq. Report calls him a dictator and admonishes his tableeghi influence on the team. PCB pushes Inzamam into test retirement also.
2013: Shaharyar Khan's book Cricket Cauldron includes details on the Oval fiasco and Inzamam. Shaharyar Khan criticizes Inzamams influence and also mentions how he kept many deserving batsmen out of the team.
2014: Shaharyar Khan becomes the first elected Chairman of the PCB.
2015: after Pakistan's loss in World Cup quarterfinal, coach Waqar Younis submits a report to PCB. Out of his many recommendations, one is to appoint Inzamam as a chief selector. Report is ignored by PCB and Shaharyar Khan.
2016: Pakistan have another disastrous campaign. This time the World T20. Coach Waqar Younis submits another report mentioning the same recommendations as in 2015 and also complaining that the PCB did not listen to his suggestions in the past.
2016: a day after the report is leaked to the media, Shaharyar Khan asks Waqar Younis to resign. Waqar submits his resignation.
2016: a week after Waqars resignation, Shaharyar Khan decides to implement one of Waqars recommendations. He meets with Inzamam and offers him the post of chief selector. Inzamam in return asks for full control of selection committee, the authority to appoint the members of the selection committee, and no influence from board members on selection matters. Shaharyar Khan agrees to all terms.
Interestingly the same sort of terms that resulted in a PCB report and a Shaharyar Khan book that labelled Inzamam a dictator and blamed him and his influence on the team as the reason for Pakistan crickets downfall.
The amazing and mysterious ways the PCB functions.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Pakistan Cup & how it demonstrates PCB's ineptness once again!

The PCB launched the Pakistan Cup recently, a domestic one-day competition that replaces the Pentangular Cup, with all the right buzz words like "improved product", "tougher competition", "attracting investors" and so on.

The Pakistan Cup will be contested by 5 regions - Punjab, Sindh, KPK, Balochistan, and Federal, which will be captained by Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed, Younis Khan, Azhar Ali, and Misbah Ul Haq respectively.

Yesterday, the PCB conducted a draft for the selection of the 15-man squads for each of the teams. We have heard of player auctions for domestic T20 leagues, and we even witnessed a first ever player draft on the lines of the NBA two months ago for the Pakistan Super League. However, for a one-day competition, this was a first.

Full marks for being innovative!

The draft began with a list of around 170 cricketers that the regions could select from. Besides selecting one U-19 player from their own region, there was no other criteria for selection.

Here's a list of the players that the regions had to select from.

And here are the selected squads.

All well and good?

Not at all.

So here are my issues with all of this.

1. The Captains

So it makes sense to make Azhar Ali the captain of one of the teams considering he is Pakistan's ODI captain. Makes sense to make Sarfraz captain as well considering he has just been announced captain of Pakistan's T20 team and is also the Vice Captain of the ODI team.

But the other three captains do not make sense at all.

Misbah and Younis have long retired from ODIs, while Shoaib Malik is in the final few years of his career.

The PCB missed a golden opportunity of providing captaincy experience to future prospective leaders. At a time when the national team has a dearth of leaders this was the perfect chance to test the captaincy skills of some players and even groom some of them.

I can understand the presence of Misbah and Younis in the squads despite their ODI retirements. They are senior players and will bring in plenty of wisdom to the dressing room that other players can draw upon and learn from. However, having them captain the teams serves no purpose. Another player with the reigns, coupled with the opportunity to bank on advice from senior pros, would have provided for a great learning opportunity.

Imad Wasim, a former U19 captain and Asad Shafiq are just two examples of players who could have benefited from such an approach.

But then again, we know that the PCB has no vision for the future!

2. The U19 Selections


Anyone who watched the U19 World Cup earlier this year (each one of the PCB members and selectors should have been watching it) must have seen Hasan Mohsin. The way the kid batted must have put some of the senior players to shame!

He was Pakistan's leading run scorer and leading wicket taker in the U19 World Cup.


There has been a lot of hoopla regarding the selection of Arsal Shaikh by the Federal region and the consequent disappointment of Misbah. For those who are unaware, Arsal is the son of Shakeel Shaikh who is a member of the Governing Board of the PCB. He is also the head of PCB's cricket committee and was the head of the recent committee formed to investigate the humiliation at the World T20.

So that is the only claim to fame for Arsal Shaikh as his performance is shit. What was the basis of his selection? We all know the answer don't we.

3. The Other Selections

I have no idea what the criteria was for the pool of 170 odd cricketers or for the 15 selected by each region. It does not seem like performance was given any due weightage. Rather the captains / regions just selected players they were comfortable with.

This is why I think so:

Usman Salahuddin
He was part of the pool of 170 but not selected by any region.
Anyone know why?

In the National One-Day Cup that was played in December 2015 he was the 4th highest run scorer with 469 runs in 7 innings at an average of 93.80 and a strike rate of 84.5. He knocked 2 centuries and 2 fifties in those 7 innings.

Sadaf Hussain
He was also part of the pool of 170 but not selected by any region.

In the National One-Day Cup he was the highest wicket taker with 20 wickets at an ave of 16.55 and an economy of 4.58. In the Quaid-e-Azam trophy he took 36 wickets at an average of 19.55.

His domestic record is for everyone to see and why he has never got a chance to play for Pakistan or in the premier domestic tournaments, I will never understand.

Saeed Anwar
He was also part of the pool of 170 but not selected by any region.

In the National One-Day Cup he was the 5th highest run scorer with 404 runs in 8 innings at an average of 57.71 and a strike rate of 90.38. He scored 1 century and 3 fifties!

Abdul Rehman Muzammil
He was also part of the pool of 170 but not selected by any region.

In the National One-Day Cup he scored 337 runs in 5 innings at an average of 67.40 and a strike rate of 100.89. He scored 2 centuries in those 5 innings including a 159!

Raza Ali Dar
He was also part of the pool of 170 but not selected by any region.

In the National One-Day Cup he scored 293 runs in 6 innings at an average of 97.66 and a strike rate of 88.25. He scored 1 century and 2 fifties. On top of that, he also picked up 11 wickets in the competition at an average of 27.18 and had an economy of 6.1!

Faisal Iqbal
He was also part of the pool of 170 but not selected by any region.

In the National One-Day Cup he scored 265 runs in 7 innings at an average of 53.00 and a strike rate of 88.92. He scored 3 fifties in those 7 innings. Additionally, he had a fruitful Quaid-e-Azam trophy as well scoring 490 runs at an average of 49.00 including 2 centuries and 2 fifties.

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These are just a few names of the cricketers that were ignored by the 5 regions taking part in the Pakistan Cup. As always no justification or explanation was given for the players selected or for the players that were omitted.

As always, nepotism and favoritism played a role in selecting squads. The usual suspects like the Akmal brothers, Salman Butt, Khurram Manzoor, Nasir Jamshed and many others all made it to different squads. Players who have been tried and tested and failed repeatedly are continuing to get chances to display their mediocre talents, yet other emerging and deserving cricketers sit at home and wonder what they need to do.

As always, the PCB missed a good opportunity to test some emerging players, to provide promising talent with an opportunity to play alongside and learn from more experienced international cricketers, to test leadership qualities with the aim of identifying potential future captains.

Waqar Younis' scathing report following the humiliating World T20 was there for everyone to see. The PCB made it public to embarrass Waqar. Instead all it ended up doing was, as always, embarrass itself!

The call for improving domestic cricket, the call for working with a vision for the future, the call for disciplining some of the players and providing opportunities to other emerging talent were all ignored by the PCB in its first plan, the Pakistan Cup, following the report.

Pathetic as always.

How can Pakistan cricket ever improve?

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Jos Buttler to continue rise in IPL

Jos Buttler enhanced his ever-growing reputation in limited-overs cricket with a series of fine displays for England during the ICC World Twenty20.

The wicketkeeper-batsman entered the tournament under the weight of expectation as the Three Lions’ power player in the middle order following his strong displays against South Africa over the winter.

Buttler struggled in the early stages of the competition with low scores against the West Indies and South Africa along with a paltry six runs against minnows Afghanistan. However, when England needed a performance, the 25-year-old rose to the occasion with an impressive 66 not out against Sri Lanka, which proved to be decisive in securing a 10-run victory over Angelo Mathews’ men to keep his side in the tournament.

Buttler was in imperious form against New Zealand, firing three sixes in quick succession to get the Three Lions over the line and into the World Cup final.

His power was on full display again in Kolkata against the West Indies in the final as he dispatched the bowling of Sulieman Benn over the boundary three times in England's counterattack. However, he made 36 before he was caught going for one big shot too many off the bowling of Carlos Brathwaite, ending his innings when he was just beginning to hit his stride at the crease, while he was powerless to watch as Brathwaite powered the Windies to victory.

Despite England's defeat, Buttler's 191 runs earned him a place in the ICC team of the tournament for his exploits in the middle.

Buttler made a strong impression on the crowds in India with the noise level elevating every time he entered the pitch, bat in hand, which will stand him in good stead when he begins his career with the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League.

The franchise bought the services of the wicketkeeper for £385,000 after the England and Wales Cricket Board allowed him to play for the duration of the competition, as a result of him losing his Test place to Jonny Bairstow.

Mumbai will be aiming to follow up their efforts from their triumphant 2015 campaign, when the club secured their second title, with another success. Their Indian Premier League cricket odds to win the crown stand at 5/1.

Adding Buttler will add power to their batting lineup, with stars such as Keiron Pollard, Lendl Simmons and skipper Rohit Sharma already amongst their ranks.

The 25-year-old will be desperate to make a lasting impact as one of only three English players plying their trade at the tournament along with Kevin Pietersen and Sam Billings.

Buttler demonstrated that he has all the shots in his repertoire to be one of the dominant players in the IPL after notching 12 sixes in the World T20, the second highest in the competition.

He will also get the chance to further develop his skills against high-quality spin bowling on the turning tracks of the Sub-continent, which can only benefit England and his county side Lancashire in the future.

The challenge will be great for the 25-year-old as England players have struggled to hit the heights of their foreign counterparts, but if any player can buck the trend it will be Buttler.

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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Women’s World Twenty20: What Happened England?

The England Women Cricket team was destined for greatness in the inaugural Twenty20 tournament that took place in 2009. In the final match, they faced a consistent New Zealand team who were the host nation but, through Katherine Brunt, who had an opening spell of 3 for 6 bowled out New Zealand for 85. England was too strong for New Zealand, especially with Claire Taylor, who was in inspired form, led them to a comfortable six-wicket victory. But this marked their only Women’s World Twenty20 victory. In the 2010 event, England was bundled out at the group stage: the next two Women’s World Twenty20 events were agonising as they finished runners-up in the 2012 and 2014 games beaten by their arch rivals, Australia. In this year’s event, for the third time in a row, England’s race for the World T20s was cut short by Australia at the semi-final stage: this is a hurting defeat.

This was not a strong versus the weak type of encounter. Both Australia and England were regularly found wanting, especially in the initial ten overs in the field. England showed the first signs of complacency when they bowled a touch that was too wide for the incredible Lanning, who had a classy half-century as a result of her high-quality shots played through the off side. Australia too was complacent with the ball, but Megan Schutt was in the form of her life with incredible inswingers.

The key players for Australia came in the shape of Megan Schutt, Alyssa Healy and captain, Meg Lanning. It is the captain who hit a composed 55, while Alyssa Healy recorded a rapid 25 as Australia accumulated 132-6. For the England team, Tammy Beaumont and Edwards had a perfect start of 133 off to continue their excellent partnership that went to new heights in this year’s Women’s World Twenty20. They played well together to add 67 for the first wicket inside ten overs.

England came into the Women’s World Twenty20 semi-final against New Zealand after winning four of their group matches, but the signs of fragility had been showing especially with the bat. Against India, England lost their nerve and showed poor decision making by dropping from 42-1 to 92-8, it was Anya Shrubsole, the number 10 who dropped the ball before she lashed with the winning runs through backward point. England’s lack of concentration was also evident when they faced West Indies and collapsed from a 59-0 to 109-9, in this game, Merissa Aguilleira was the most culpable when she lost her cool and ran for the stumps with ball in hand allowing Rebecca Grundy to come in and steal the last ball of the innings.

In the semi-final against New Zealand, England failed to pick up on the momentum started by Beaumont and Edwards. With only seven overs remaining, they just needed 45 with nine wickets in hand, but panic got the better of them leading to their ultimate defeat. It all started when Beaumont was caught over after playing an unnecessary slog, Natalie Sciver bowled an overambitious scoop and bowled third ball and then Erin Osborne was smacked by Heather Knight for a long on. England laid their hopes on Sarah Taylor who was badly out of form: she played a dismal reverse sweep that was caught to sum up their shallow thinking and ultimately, sealed their fate.

The one area that England should improve is to learn to build on their early momentum. If they managed another five runs, they would have had a super over but they failed to capitalise. They also need to learn how to hold their nerve, avoid fumbles and play tactical and smart cricket. With this record, would you
bet on England for the next Twenty20? Let us know in the comments below.

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