Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Hots & The Nots of 2009

Its been yet another eventful year of cricket. Thrilling finishes to performance excellences on the field; and awards and honours to controversies off the field. Here's a look at ten of the 'Hot' and the 'Not' events of the year.

No. 1

HOT - Akmal Brothers
The duo from Pakistan combined to put in the rare glimpses of excellence from Pakistan this year. Umar burst on to the scene with a bang, scoring a whirlwind century in Sri Lanka. He also ended as the top run-getter in his debut test series against New Zealand. Kamran also played a pivotal role in Pakistan's triumphant T20 campaign besides putting in consistent performances in the ODI format. The two brothers leased life and energy into the Pakistan team.

NOT - Hussey Brothers
After starting the year strongly with impressive performances, the Hussey brothers faded away. David fell away so much so that it cost him his place in the team while Mr. Cricket aka Michael Hussey's graph kept tailing downwards with pressure ringing on him from the experts calling for fresh blood.

No. 2

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Captain Confused

With the end of yet another happening year drawing close, you can be forgiven for complaining of suffering from migraine. Yes, you read it right - migraine. The most baffling of decisions have happened over the past few weeks, leaving no option but to look for those prized tablets of aspirin.

Mohammed Yousuf, despite his laidback attitude, seems to be in the news all the time, making Pakistan cricket one of the most talked-about topics in Pakistan as well as on the international circuit. The last two weeks have been no different either. First, lets start with the team announcement for Australian tour. Even before the PCB confirmed Yousuf as captain, he made several statements regarding Australian tour and team composition which hinted he had assumed himself as the captain already. But that's a natural thing for a captain - to look forward. So let's not be critical on that front.

But the squad composition for the Australian tour is highly debatable.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

ICC kisses BCCI's feet, once again

The International Cricket Council (ICC), the governing body of cricket, has once again proved its inability in stamping its own authority and instead bowing down to the pressures of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). This latest development surrounds ICC's Future Tours Programme (FTP) post 2012. ICC president David Morgan has suggested that the home-and-way component of the current FTP could be done away with. This would mean teams no longer have to play two minimum bilateral series every six years, once at home and the other on away soil.

The suggestion should ring alarm bells on two counts.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

All's not well that ends well

Pakistan have made an astounding comeback to level the series, after a series of inspiring performances coupled with the string of disappointing ones. But before anyone starts celebrating that everything's perfect since Pakistan won, they better think again.

Firstly, the captain Mohammed Yousuf proved his inability to assert himself as captain yet again with the undue changes. No less than three changes were made, only one of which paid off to an extent. Yousuf took the easy route - dropping the fresh blood. When the case was perfectly ready for Imran Farhat or Shoaib Malik to face the axe, luck ran out for the poor Khurram Manzoor and Fawad Alam. Imran Farhat's technique has been so badly exposed over all these years, no less in the first test either. Yet he continues to stick around, just because his father-in-law is a selector. Khurram Manzooor, although not technically perfect, is still better. Then there's Shoaib Malik. A tendency to take things casually is deep-rooted in his blood. That was extremely evident from the mode of his dismissals in the first test. Yet he managed to stick around as Yousuf decided to take the safe path and avoid criticism by dropping the so-called 'experienced' players. This is what happened before the match started. The quality that was so synonymous of Younis Khan's days - promoting young talent - disappeared in no time. Should the trend continue, we might not see another Mohammed Aamer-like talent in the near future.

Pakistan's fielding did not improve a great deal from the first testLet's now look at what happened during the match. If the fielding was the cause of Pakistan's narrow 32-run defeat in the first test as Yousuf puts it, you would think it was an altogether different side that managed to clinch a 141-run victory. Not really. No less than eight catches were dropped, most of which were easier than what came Pakistan's way in the first test. So that really proves the point I made in the previous post - that Pakistan's fielding has always been inconsistent, it is the exploits in batting and bowling that enable these victories. And Wellington proved that again. It will be interesting to see which department Mohammed Yousuf attributes this win to.