Pakistan v Afghanistan at Sharjah, Only ODI

Pakistan.

Let’s talk about Pakistan.

I was planning on making this one, long post. But writing about the entire cricketing history of a test playing nation is a fool’s errand. So much would have to be omitted that the flavor of the country’s history would be diluted; the poetry and the magic would be gone. So I am going to split this up into multiple posts. Their test history, their ground history, their one day history…etc.

Today we go back to where it all started: Independence, and the first Test series against India, in India.

The country itself was conceived in the 1930s by the Muslim League, who wanted to create a Muslim state within India. This led to the Lahore Resolution in 1940, which called for a more active role for Muslims in British India.

In 1947, the British left. And an agreement between the Sikhs in the South and the Muslims in the left created what is now known as Pakistan: the country was officially established on August the 14, 1947.

Millions of Muslims streamed North. Millions of Sikhs streamed South.

War broke out in 1948 over Kashmir. Over 5,000 Indians and Pakistanis were killed in the conflict.  It was the first of four short wars between the two nations over the region.

Four years later, the two nations faced each other not on the rocky foothills of the Pir Panjal mountain range, but on a cricket field: specifically, a Test match in Delhi at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground.

Cricket has been played at the ground since 1883, and it hosted its first Test match in 1948, and continues to host them to this day, despite an ODI in 2009 being abandoned due to a dangerous pitch.

It seats 48,000, is home to the IPL’s Delhi Daredevils, and is famously known as the preferred haunt of leg spinner, Anil Kumble, who took 63 wickets there in 11 matches, including a 10-fer there in a test match in 1999 – one of only two bowlers in the history of test cricket to take all 10 wickets in an innings.

But I digress.

The first Test match between India and Pakistan ended disappointingly for the visitors, as India won by an innings and 70 runs. The match lasted only three days after India won the toss and put Pakistan in the field. The hosts went on on to score 372, and then scuttled Pakistan for 150 all out and 152 all out.

The highest score in that match for Pakistan was a 52 from Hanif Mohammad. He also famously played the longest Test innings in history in 1957 in Bridgetown against the West Indies: 970 minutes. 16 hours at the crease.

(In case you have failed to notice, my jaw still drops when I think about long stints of batting.)

Pakistan, however, won the second match of the series at the University Ground in Lucknow.

India were bowled out in the first innings for 106 thanks to five wickets from Fazal Mahmood, while Nazar Mohammad scored Pakistan’s first test cricket century: 124 not out. He carried his bat too and was out there batting for almost nine hours: leading his team to a respectable total of 331.

In India’s second innings, Mahmood took another seven wickets, and the hosts were all out for 182.

Pakistan won the match by an innings and 43 runs.

India won the third test by 10 wickets, and the final two matches ended in draws, so India won the series 2-1. But the match in Lucknow will long surely be remembered by Pakistani cricket fans the world over.

Interesting side note: the match at Lucknow’s University Ground in October of 1952 was the only international match ever played there.

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Back on the pitch:

Last night Australia defeated Sri Lanka by five runs at the WACA in Perth; while in Sharjah Pakistan (hey!) are chasing Afghanistan’s respectable total of 198 in their only One Day International.

I am off to follow the chase.

Until next time.

Australia v Sri Lanka at Perth, Commonwealth Bank Series

There is one match worth watching in world Cricket today (or tomorrow, depending on where you are): the only ODI between Pakistan and Afghanistan at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in the United Arab Emirates.

Both countries’ cricket teams are great stories, for different reasons. Pakistan for their recent resurgence after the attacks on the Sri Lankan team and the spot fixing in England; Afghanistan because, well, they have been brutalized by the Soviets, the Taliban, Al Queda, and the United Nations for generations.

They are neighbors, of course, but neither plays their home matches in their home country. Further, the game came to Afghanistan from refugees who fled to Pakistan during the 1990s.  And Afghanistan’s national team was invited to playing Pakistan’s domestic league in 2001 (a rather ominous year for Afghanis, of course).

Afghani cricketers have traveled the world over the last 12 years: England, Nepal, Buenos Aires, the Netherlands…and they have a great at qualifying for the World Twenty20s.

Both teams are two of world cricket’s best stories, and both countries share a sad history. I look forward to following the match tomorrow morning.

Another half hearted post, sorry, there is just a bit of a lull in  the sport right now.

And I am tired.

I am tired because last night I was up late celebrating my new job.

As of February 27th, I will be working for MinnPost.com.  A non-profit online news source that focuses primarily on local politics and policy here in Minnesota. I am pretty excited.

The downside? Less time to write about cricket, at least at first. I plan on writing a lot over the next couple of weeks however.

Also, I wanted to welcome to the cricket blogging fold another fellow local: American Armchair Cricket. He’s just down the road in Indiana, and the story of how he found the sport is very similar to mine. Welcome! See you on Twitter.

Finally tonight, I wanted to thank Deep Backward Point for the kind words on his blog yesterday.  It made my day, week, month. Yesterday I accepted the offer at MinnPost, and on the drive home, saw his blog post. It was  a really great couple of hours. So: thanks: your support of Limited Overs has been invaluable.

Until next time.

Tasmania v New South Wales at Hobart, Sheffield Shield

Now that we have entered a bit of a Test cricket lull, and now that I have finished up my post on the 199 Club, I think I might be experiencing a touch of writer’s block.

Sure, I could write about the IPL auction, or the Commonwealth Bank Series, but that’s just not doing it for me.

I am researching for a longer post on Pakistani cricket, and I am trying to find something else to write multiple posts on, like the 199s, and I am already writing a proper preview of the three Test series between New Zealand and South Africa, but I am just not ready to throw any of those up on the blog right now.

So I am going to take 48 hours off, refresh, reflect, research, and be back with new material on Thursday.

Until next time.

Sri Lanka A v England Lions at Colombo (RPS), 5th unofficial ODI

I was planning on writing a post on the Woolf report. Summing up the main points, giving my own thoughts…etc.

But then I read this post over on Idle Summers and realized that it said everything that needed to be said. I highly recommend it.

Back on the pitch:

Pakistan finished off the 3-0 white wash of England. There will be commentary galore over the next few weeks from every corner of the Internet: what went wrong for England? What went right for Pakistan? Are the ICC ratings a sham? Should the ECB sack Flower and Strauss?

All good questions, surely, but I  as I have mentioned several times a strong Pakistan is great for world cricket.  I am really excited about the result.  I am going to enjoy it for a bit before deconstructing it.

Also, if South Africa can do the job down in New Zealand in March, their test series in England this summer will decide who is number one in the world, just like last year’s England v India tests.  Now that is something to look forward to.

But: watch out South Africa. New Zealand are not pushovers. They look a very strong side. Lest we forget they just recently defeated Australia at Hobart; the same Australian side that dismantled India.

And what’s next for Pakistan? They host Bangladesh for three tests in April, and then head to Sri Lanka in August for three more.

Down the road a bit, in February of 2013, they travel to South Africa for three tests: another series that could very well decide the world test number one.

Lots and lots to look forward to.

Until next time.

North West v Border at Potchefstroom, CSA Provincial One-Day Challenge

Okay, hey, let’s talk about Bangladesh Premiere League for a second, shall we?

Website: bplt20.net

Twitter:  @t20_bpl

This is, of course, the inaugural season for the tournament, and is Bangladesh’s answer to the India Premiere League and the Big Bash League: a short Twenty20 tournament featuring international cricketing mercenaries.

There are six teams from six of the seven Bangladeshi cricketing regions (sorry Rangpur). The teams are as follows:

1. Barisal Burners

2. Chittagong Kings

3. Dhaka Gladiators

4. Khulna Royal Bengal

5. Duronto Rajshahi

6. Sylhet Royals

All fine names, except for the team from the Barisal division.  I mean, really, the Burners?  That’s the best you can do?

There was an auction for each of the franchises, they went for about $1million a piece, and there was of course an auction for the players, just like in the IPL.

Each squads has its share of “big name” t20 cricketers:

Burners: Chris Gayle, Brad Hodge, Yasir Arafat, Phil Mustard, Shane Harwood.

Kings: Dwayne Bravo, Muttiah Muralitharan

Gladiators: Shaheed Afridi (his status is in doubt, however) Imran Nazir, Kerion Pollard, Saeed Ajmal

Royal Bengal: Sanath Jayasuriya (really?), Dwayne Smith, Niall O’brien.

Rajshahi: I am disappointed in myself because I do not recommend any of the names on the squad list. They do have a Canadian, Rizwan Cheema, so that’s cool.

Royals: Faisal Iqbal, Brad Hogg, Peter Trego, Kamran Akmal.

Plus each squad features Bangladeshi players – a good opportuntity for some of them to make a name for themselves on such a big stage.

The format of the tournament is rather standard: each team plays each other team twice. The top four teams go into the knockout stage: two semi-finals and a final.

There has been a lot of hype surrounding the tournament: there was the franchise auction, and the player auction, and the logo release party, and the opening ceremonies. Plus each team has their own song and is having their own opening day party.

Whoever runs their social media has also been on a tear, I think they tweeted like 75 times the other night: mostly links to the Cricinfo pages for each of the international players, but also important bulletins like the fact that the Kings had checked into their hotel.

There are a couple disappointing things about the tournament (other than the fact that these three week t20 money grabs are what’s killing cricket): 1. It is not on TV in the states (yes, that’s me, being hypocritical)  (I had thought ESPN3 would pick up the matches, as they do show Bangladeshi home internationals, but no dice) and 2. The matches will only be played in Dhaka and in Chittagong.

Regarding number 2: I thought it would have been awesome if each region had been able to host its home matches. But that is not the case, and though it must be down to an infrastructure issue (and a financial issue, surely), it really is too bad for the four franchises who will have to play all of their matches on the road.

I have feeling that it will hurt attendance as well. I mean, will cricket fans in Dhaka go watch Barisal v Duronto?

That’s a serious question.

The two stadiums involved are: the Zohur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Dhaka, and the Sher-e-Bangla Cricket Stadium in Chittagong.

Thanks to Wikipedia for the pics:

Dhaka:

Chittagong:

The first match is on February 10th, with the Barisal Burners taking on the Sylhet Royals at Dhaka.

The final is on my birthday: February the 29th.

Over the next week, the weather looks to be quite good: highs in 80s, dry, clear. Great cricketing weather. Who knew the weather was so very pleasant in Bangladesh?

I really think I need to visit there.

Anyway, I won’t go as far to say that I am looking forward to the BPL, but I think it will be worth at least paying attention to.

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Back on the pitch: Younis Kahn, a member of the 199 Club, cracked a century for Pakistan against England in Dubai last night, giving them a very firm grip on the match. A three-nil white wash of England for Pakistan? Unbelievable.

And just wonderful for the sport, in my opinion. Just simply wonderful.

I have talked a lot about “choosing” a nation to support. I vacillated between England, and Australia, and India, and even Bangladesh.

But now, I am thinking: Pakistan.

I know that makes me a bit of a front runner, but goodness me do I love watching them play cricket.

And they have had a really terrible time of it as late, before the series against England anyway. It’s not like they have been winning everything over the last two years like England, or even India (yes, you did win the world cup not eight months ago, remember?)

No decision is final, yet, but I am planning a post on Pakistani cricket. Go into their history a bit, see how they fit.

Until next time.

Tasmania v New South Wales at Hobart, Ryobi One-Day Cup

Today: part eight, the final part, of the 199 Club.  Eight different posts on the eight different times a batter has gotten out one run shy of a double century.

Part seven is here.

The 199s have happened in just about every corner of the cricket playing world: Pakistan (twice), India, England (twice), Sri Lanka, the West Indies, and Zimbabwe…

Two of the batsman were from Pakistan, two from Australia, and one each were from India, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, and England.

Members were run out, LBWed, bowled, and caught.

And today we meet the club’s last member: Ian Bell.

Bell, of course, is everything that is wrong with English cricket right now.  And I mean that with a heaping helping of sarcasm. Yes, he has looked absolutely clueless at the crease in the UAE versus Pakistan, but the cricket media has been, in my opinion, overly hard on him.

The whole of England has been rubbish in this series against Pakistan.

Calling for Bell to be dropped is silly – if he should be dropped, then so should Pietersen, Cook, Trott…etc.

Shoot, Andrew Strauss has been awful for like two years, yet no one is calling for his head like they are calling for Bell’s.

Maybe it’s because he is Irish?

Seriously.

He has played in 71 tests for his country, scoring over 5,000 runs, and he is only 29 years old.

Calling for his head is treason.

But, we are not here to talk casual racism or Bell’s troubles in the desert, we are here to talk about Bell’s score of 199 in the first innings against South Africa at Lord’s on July the 11th, 2008.

When he was out via a catch on 199, it was as close as he had ever gotten to a double century in his four years in England’s test squad – so thank goodness he got that 235 against India at the Oval last summer.

Bell’s 199 happened on day two of the test, a day interrupted several times due to rain (of course), so you have to assume that he would have gotten to 200 if not for all of the starting and stopping.

England had put up a huge score in their innings, thanks to Bell and Pietersen (152) – plus Broad scored a respectable 72.

South Africa in their innings were all out for 247 despite a century from Ashwell Prince (that’s a cool name) – Monty Panesar was 4-74 to lead England’s attack.

The visitor’s were forced to follow on, getting to 393 before time ran out on day five and the match ended in a draw.

In South Africa’s second innings, Graeme Smith batted for 340 minutes, scoring 107 runs; Neil McKenzie batted for 553 minutes scoring 138 runs; and Hashim Amla batted for 345 minutes and scored 104*.

That’s how you go about earning a draw in Test cricket. The batsmen knew their attack was toothless, so they batted on and on and on.

South Africa went on to win at Leeds by 10 wickets and at Birmingham by five to win the series 2-1 (England won the dead rubber at the Oval by six wickets.)

Of historical note: on July the 7th, 2008: the price of oil hit an all time record: $147 a barrel.

So, really, when you think about it, it all feels a little gross that a bunch of South African cricketers plus all their press and all their staff and all their trainers got onto a gas guzzling jumbo jet and flew 10,000 miles to England to play a silly game involving a bat and a little red ball.

So, let’s not think about it.

But, first, your geography lesson:

And that, folks, is the 199 Club.  Thanks for reading.

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On the pitch:

Hey, look at that, India won a game!!

Yep, you heard right, India beat Australia last night in the 2nd T20 of the tour. Congrats, India!

Also, New Zealand demolished hapless Zimbabwe at Dunedin, and England scuttled Pakistan all out for 99 – only to lose six of their wickets before reaching the same score.

16 wickets fell in one day’s play. I should have stayed up for that.

Maybe this weekend.

Until next time.

New Zealand v Zimbabwe at Dunedin, 1st ODI

(This is part seven, find part six here. In part six, you will find a link to part five. In part five, you will find links to parts four, three, two, and one.)

On the surface, there just isn’t a lot to say about the seventh member of the 199 Club.

It was Younis Khan, against India, in Pakistan, on Saturday the 14th of January, 2006.

Nothing extraordinary happened on that date, historically speaking.

The test itself was forgettable: the pitch was a flat joke, it ended in a draw after losing two entire days due to rain, and it is roundly ridiculed in the Wisden Almanak (sic).

On top of all of that: Kahn had already hit a 267* at the time of the knock in question, and then went on to score a triple century three years later. So, it’s not like January the 14th was his one and only chance at 200.

One bit of note: he got out on a run out, the only member of this dubious club to get out in such a fashion. His stumps were taken out by none other India spinner, Harbhajan Singh.

The match was played at Gaddafi Stadium (no, not that Gaddafi) in Lahore, Pakistan.

Actually, wait a minute, the ground is actually named after recently toppled Libyan dictator Colonel Mummaur al-Gaddafi – you know, the guy who ordered his armies to kill their fellow citizens. Are you kidding me!?

According to Wikipedia, the Colonel gave a speech in 1974 that was in favor of Pakistan acquiring the rights to nuclear weapons – so, of course, they named a cricket ground after him.  The logic there is fool proof.

In late October of 2011, the Pakistani Cricket Board requested the name to be changed. Of course, they waited until after he was dead – don’t want offend the nice murderous dictator that thought we should get these nukes – and to date the name has not been changed.

I am surely oversimplifying a complex regional conflict, of course, but that is par for the course around here these days.

The Lahore Stadium, as it was known previous to the 1974 speech, and how I will refer to it going forward, was also the host ground for the 2009 test between Pakistan and Sri Lanka that saw the visitor’s bus shot at by armed militants, injuring nine* of the players – and the shooting occurred very near to the Stadium.

Pakistan has not hosted an international match since.

Violence begets violence.

Your geography lesson:

Now, of course, renaming a stadium is not going to end the volatile security situation in Pakistan, and it is not going make the ICC think twice about their banning of international matches there, but taking a crazed lunatic dicatator’s name off of the marquee of one of your most well attended grounds might a good first step toward returning to world cricket’s good graces.

And that, in so many words, are my thoughts on Younis Khan’s 199 at Lahore, in 2006.

Well, I will add that I greatly admire Khan.  I like that he quit the T20 format right after captaining them to T20 World Cup championship in 2009.  And I like that Cricinfo describes as a “complex but honest man.”

He has played in 75 tests for his country, scoring 6,267 for a commendable average of 52.22.

His most recent test of course was just last week at Abu Dhabi against England.  Neither of his innings were worth writing home about: he got out for 24 in his first innings, before being bowled for one by Monty Panesar in his second.

However, that one run was more than Morgan, Broad, Swann, and Panesar scored in their second innings for England, and it was just as many runs as scored by Pietersen, Trott, and Anderson in their second innings.

So, chin up, Younis.

Gosh, you know, the more I write and read and watch these Pakistani cricketers, the more I love them. Their nomadic status is one of cricket’s real shames.

*I always forget that Mahela Jayawardene was one of the nine Sri Lankan players injured at Lahore. I don’t know. It’s just odd to think about the fact that he has been SHOT.

I am sure it is odd for him, as well.

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On the pitch: hey, speak of the devil: the dead rubber between England and Pakistan starts up in three and a half hours.  Sorry, but I am not staying up for that.

Australian and India’s second T20 is in six hours – I would rather get shot at dawn then stay up for that.

But, hey, the first ODI of Zimbabwe’s tour of New Zealand is on as I type. Zimbabwe are chasing 248 – and already down a wicket in the fifth over. Oh wait, make that two wickets.

All right, I am off to watch the cricket – for this could be over in like 20 minutes.

South Australia v Victoria at Adelaide, Sheffield Shield

(This is part six of the 199s. Find part five here – and in part five you will find links to parts one, two, three, and four.)

I have to wonder if Andy Flower, the architect of England’s recent phenomenal success on the cricket field, ever falls asleep thinking about a certain knock of his…a knock where he finished one run short of a double century against his birth country of South Africa for his adopted country, Zimbabwe.

The date was September the 7th, 2001.  In four days, the entire world would be changed forever, but on the seventh, we were all still worried about Gary Condit and shark attacks, and Flower was doing his best to lead his team to a hard fought draw.

In Zimbabwe’s third innings, he batted for 590 minutes, amassing 199 runs, only to simply run out of partners.  199 with an asterisk.  The only member of the 199 Club to finish the innings not out.

It was the first test of a two test series…ergh, wait a minute…

I have run into a bit of problem with these 199 posts.

It seems when Cricinfo lists the date, it is not the date that the batsman actually scored his 199th run, it is instead the day that the match started.

And so: Azharuddin did not get his 199 on the same day as the first triple organ transplant, and Waugh got out not on the third day of the NATO led bombing campaign in Yugoslavia, but probably on the fourth day or so.

And as such: Flower’s 199 not out came not on the 7th of September, 2001 – but on the 11th of September, 2001.  Not probably six hours before the first plane hit, considering the time difference.

Considering that, I bet he thinks of that knock quite often, as we all remember quite well where we were when the towers fell.

The match was the first in a two match series – the second took place as scheduled a week later – ending in a draw at Bulawayo.

Flower’s 199 happened in the third innings, but before that, South Africa put up a huge score in their first at bat, then scuttled the hosts for 286 which forced the follow on, at which time Zimbabwe put up a decent score  of 391 – thanks of course to Andy Flower – but it wasn’t enough as Kirsten and Kallis (after Dippenaar’s duck) gave South Africa the victory in just a little over two hours.

As with the most of his fellow 199 Club members, Flower will not rue not seeing the happy side of 200 too much, as he had a double century against India at Nagpur the previous November.

Flower, of course, had a wonderful Test career for Zimbabwe. He played in their inagural Test match against India at Harare – and then went on to play 63 more for his country, scoring 4,794 runs, including 12 hundreds.

Interesting enough, seven of those 12 triple digit scores have astericks next to them: it seems he found himself quite often in the position of just simply running out of people to bat with.

A great many of those tests were played alongside his brother, Grant Flower.  Grant was more of all rounder: scoring 3,457 runs in his 67 matches but also taking 25 wickets.

Big brother Andy retired from Test cricket in 2002.

His nickname was Petals.

If I ever meet him, I am going to ask him about that 199 he scored in Africa on September 11th, 2001.

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Today, Mohammad Amir was released from jail. His six month sentence for gambling related activies was halved thanks to UK law.

His appeal to the ICC to shorten his five year ban from playing cricket is on going.

Now, like cricket fans the world over: I loved watching Amir bowl:

Loved, loved, loved.

And that’s why it pains me to say this: he should never bowl again.

Sure, of course, he is the least complicit of the four jailed parties, but it is absolutely imperative that a lesson be taught to cricketers the world over: this sort of behavior will not be tolerated – and it will end your career.

The ICC in this case can take a lesson from Major League Baseball and their lifetime ban of Pete Rose for betting on baseball.  It might seem overly harsh, but such bans are vital to the game – when people start to question every play, every result, every error, every meatball, then your game is ruined forever.  MLB knows this, and the ICC needs to take heed and increase the length of the ban to a lifetime ban for all guilty parties.

I loved watching him bowl, and I love Pakistani cricket, but it needs to happen.

And the same lifetime ban needs to be handed down to Mervyn Westfield, and all other County Cricketers whose behavior comes to light during this period of amnesty.

Your amnesty is you don’t go to prison – but you are still not allowed to ever play cricket again.

All of the above is simply my opinion, I would love to hear yours.

Now back to watching the match in the title of this post on cricket.com.au. Free and legal; god bless the future.