Are you still watching India play cricket?

After the Latham-Taylor show in Mumbai, India have drawn level in the ODI cricket series against New Zealand with a clinical performance in Pune. Bhuvaneshwar and Bumrah set the tone up front and batsman knocked off the runs with ease. 1-1 with one to play. Our prediction at the start of the series seems to be coming good at this point.

We, however, have an another (larger) question – do these matches have any context at all? With series flying thick and fast, hardly a weekend goes by without India featuring in a cricket match. Since the Champions Trophy 2017 in June, India have played almost non-stop.

  • Five days after defeat in the Champions Trophy final the Indian team was in the West Indies for five ODIs and a T20I.
  • Two weeks after returning from the Caribbean, they were in Sri Lanka for three tests, five ODIs and a T20I.
  • Ten days after returning triumphant from Sri Lanka, India were playing their old nemesis Australia in five ODIs and three T20Is.
  • A week after Australia, the New Zealand series started.
  • Ten days after the end of the New Zealand series, India plays Sri Lanka again in three tests, three ODIs and one more T20. You might ask why we are playing Sri Lanka again, since we played them earlier in the year? Maybe it has something to with Sri Lanka being the only ones voting with the BCCI in the big ICC revenue re-shuffle?
  • Ten days after the end of the Sri Lanka series, India will be in South Africa for three tests, six ODIs and three T2OIs.

Did you feel tired reading that? Does the world really need more India-Sri Lanka matches? Who is watching these matches? Read More …

Second Innings: The Refugee Cricket Project

A few months ago, while the Indian Premier League was on someone on our fantasy cricket Whatsapp group asked the others to make a guess at Rashid Khan’s age. Estimates varied between 30 and 600. Some Shahid Afridi jokes were thrown in for good measure.

The answer – 20 September 1998, making Rashid Khan 18. The wise one on our Whatsapp Group said – “When you have the Taliban in your backyard, you age faster“.

True that. Read More …

AB: The Amazing AB de Villiers Autobiography

Last Sunday, a friend gifted me a copy of AB de Villier’s autobiography “AB” for my birthday. I have only managed to read three chapters but two things have already blown my mind.

  1. AB has spoken with God. Not once, but twice.
  2. AB has clarified claims about him being the greatest sportsman ever.

Let us take the second mind-blowing revelation first.

Here is a screenshot of the Sky Sports article on AB De Villiers which appeared on 28 February 2015. I have set out below AB’s clarifications from Chapter 3 of his book against each of these claims.

abdv-sky-sports-article

 

“Collaborated with South African singer-songwriter Ampie du Preez on the song Make Your Dreams Come True which has 138,290 hits on YouTube. We’ll let you be the judge.” COULD NOT VERIFY ON YOUTUBE but AB’s rendition of “Yeh Dosti” on YouTube has 843,526 views as of 19 October 2016. Go check it out.

“De Villiers was shortlisted for South African national hockey and football squads.” FALSE. ABdV has never played beyond school level at hockey and has only ever played football (soccer) at cricket warm-ups!

“He was the captain of South Africa junior rugby.” FALSE. ABdV played rugby at school level but not at national level, nor was he captain!

“Is still the holder of six national school swimming records.” FALSE. ABdV claims that broke his school’s under-9 breakstroke record, but no national records. Read More …

1 Tip 1 Hand meets Nasser Hussain!

The Royal London One-Day Cup Final takes place at Lords on Saturday, the 17th of September. Eighteen teams have been jousting since June and the last teams standing are Warwickshire and Surrey. Warwickshire were runners-up in 2014 and Surrey came second in 2015. With this bound to be the last game of cricket for both these teams before winter sets in, the sides (featuring international players Sangakarra and Ian Bell) will be itching to get their hands on the trophy – something we have already done!

The Royal London One-Day Cup

The Royal London One-Day Cup

Allow us to explain. To celebrate the return of the Royal London One-Day Cup final at Lords, we were invited by the ECB to take part in an exclusive event at Lords last Thursday – a brief report follows of a truly special evening!

Read More …

Five cricketers with surprising records

On 14 August 2016, Pakistan piggy-backed on a brilliant Younis Khan double century to climb to the #1 spot in the ICC Test Rankings for the first time in their history – a truly incredible achievement. Exactly 16 days later, against the same England opposition, the famed Pakistan bowling line-up conceded 444 in just 50 overs, allowing England to set a new record for highest ODI score.

It got us thinking: How can such a great test team (Rank #1) be so poor at ODIs (Rank #9), especially when more than half the Pakistani players play both the formats?

In the spirit of differences, this post looks at 5 players whose records in different formats may surprise you.

#1 Virender Sehwag

Most recently famous for his sass on Twitter, Sehwag’s career ended with him known as a maverick cricketer. His ‘see ball hit ball’ philosophy got him into the ODI Team in 1999 and he only made his test debut three years later.

Yet, despite being known for his quick scoring, he retired from the game as something of a test match legend more than an ODI great.

– Test batting average of 49.34, up there with the greats, compared to an ODI average of 35.05. He has the 4th best Test average for an Indian with 20 tests or more (behind Sachin, Gavaskar and Dravid who are all clearly legends of the game), but is not even in the top 10 for ODIs

– Career test strike rate of 82.23; the highest ever among batsman playing 40 tests or more. His ODI career strike rate of 104.33 is impressive, but only 15th on the all-time list.

#2 Ajinkya Rahane

On paper, Rahane is a test match batsman with a technique few can match. He is often lauded for his temperament, seen as the next Dravid, and thus criticized for inclusion in T20 sides.

And yet, the statistics paint a different picture, showing that he deserves his T20 spot:

– T20 Batting Average of 30.68 – behind only Kohli, Dhoni and Raina among Indian batsmen, all of whom are renowned as T20 experts.

– T20 Half Centuries – Rahane has 30 career T20 fifties in 137 innings. It may not be the highest of all time, but his conversion rate is stellar; he scores a 50 every 4.5 innings, the 2nd best of any Indian player (behind only Kohli who scores a 50 every 4.2 innings) and ahead of T20 stalwarts such as Gambhir (4.7), Dhawan (4.9), Rohit (5.2) and Raina (6.3).

#3 David Warner

Not dissimilar to Sehwag, Warner burst on the ODI and T20 scene for his big hitting and fast scoring in 2009, and didn’t make his Test debut till 2011.

And yet, in just 5 years, his test record is truly noteworthy; he has a stellar ODI record too, but that was expected, the test stats may surprise you:

– Test batting average of 48.63 – The 2nd best test average among current playing Australians, only Steve Smith outshines him on this metric, while his ODI average of 37.53 is not even in the Top 5

– Centuries per Innings – Warner may have only racked up 16 centuries, but, he does so at a rate of 0.16, nearly 1 century in every 6 innings. This is 11th of all time, but 3rd among current players, behind only Younis Khan and Steve Smith. It is a faster rate of century scoring than legends like Gavaskar, Sachin, Lara, Ponting, Mahela… you get the point

#4 Hashim Amla

Amla was handpicked to the South African 5-day side for his Test match potential; thus not making his ODI debut for nearly 4 years after his Test debut! His image as a calm, classy, composed batsman made selectors believe he was the perfect Test batsman.

And yet, though his test batting is outstanding, he has proven to be a class apart as an ODI Batsman:

– ODI batting average of 51.97 – The 3rd highest ODI average of all time among batsmen from test playing nations; he trails only Bevan and de Villiers for this incredible feat.

– Centuries per innings – Nobody even comes close to Amla when it comes to his rate of piling up runs in ODIs. The best by far, Amla scores a century every 5.82 innings. Even Kohli only does so every 6.52 innings, and a legend like Sachin scored a century only every 9.2 innings

– Amla became the fastest to 2,000, 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 and 6,000 runs in ODI Cricket. He is well to break the record to 7,000 as well, with only age limiting his potential given he made his ODI Debut at age 25.

#5 Ravi Ashwin

The only bowler to make this list, Ashwin shot to fame through the IPL, which brought him into the Indian side as a limited overs specialist. He only made his test debut 18 months later.

And yet, after 100 ODIs his limited overs record is nothing to write home about, but he has established himself as a standout in the test arena:

– His bowling strike rate of 51.8 is the best among all Indian bowlers; it is also 5th best among all current players with 20 tests or more. Reminder: Bowling strike rate is number of balls bowled per wicket taken.

– Ashwin takes a 5-wicket haul every 3.67 innings; a truly astounding statistic. Among players who played after 1940, this record is second only to Muralitharan, and 40% better than Herath who is next on the list among active players.

– His figures are not without impact; in his 13 test series till date, he has captured 6 Man of the Series awards. 6 is not only an Indian record, but the rate is by far the fastest too. One award every 2.16 series, this is 62% faster than the next best, Imran Khan, who is undoubtedly a legend of the game.

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