Posts Tagged ‘pakistan’
Before most major sporting tournaments I like to whet the appetite by glancing back over some of the action of yesteryear. But having visited the buffet bar of Cricket World Cup memories, I’ve decided I’m not that hungry.
Admittedly my recollections of the early competitions are sketchy, being that I was -4 when the inaugural World Cup took place. The participants were mainly robust-looking men with big collars and bigger hair whose primary ambition was to exit the field of play in order to avoid the frequent invasions of onrushing Rasta men and bell-bottomed youths. Who in turn were inevitably chased by harrassed coppers who looked like they’d spilt over from the set of Z Cars.
The 1992 jamboree probably has most to commend it with its modish pastel pyjamas and Jonty Rhodes‘ demented stump obliteration against Pakistan. But the most enduring incident was the result of a suspect pre-Duckworth Lewis rain calculation which left South Africa needing 22 off the last ball to beat England. They didn’t make it. They should have run quicker.
1996 was a largely forgettable tournament save for the emergence of a Sri Lankan side led by Arjuna Ranatuga, who pioneered the enterprising tactic of irritating his opponents into submission. My most lurid recollection is of English opener Neil Smith violently chundering by the wicket in Peshawar against the UAE. I like to think of that small technicolour puddle as a powerfully iconoclastic statement against the ongoing failure of English limited over cricket.
From that point on the dispiriting Australian procession began and may continue in the coming weeks. Sky Sports have been showing highlights packages of all tournaments, while pointedly excluding the last World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007. I don’t blame them. It’s a story no-one needs to be told.
After England subsided to a degrading loss in Perth you start to speculate whether all those hopes you had were false. But the side have suffered this kind of blippage before, suffering major boggles recently at Johannesburg, at the Oval against Pakistan, and most pertinently last summer at Headingley in the last Ashes series, a game in which they were also well and truly Mitched on. Then it seemed that Australia had snatched back the initiative only to lose the Ashes in famous style in the decider.
Before Plan A is wiped off the whiteboard, England should remember that they were able foist Australia out relatively cheaply in both innings at the WACA. Their opponents appear not to have solved the twin conundra of the no.6 position and the spinning option. They’ve merely caressed two birds with one Steve Smith-shaped stone. And the captain is struggling with form and a malformed little pinkie. So all is not lost yet.
Sorry. Not that funny. Just needed to be said.
I suppose it was inevitable that there would be some form of counterclaim from a man named Butt. What wasn’t expected was that it came from the same school as the “liar, liar, pants on fire” defence and the “eeny meeny miny moe” electoral system. If a defamation case can be thrown out on the grounds of being juvenile then the England lawyers can put away their notebooks now.
I can be accused of being high-handedly English in assuming that our chaps could never be involved in such skulduggery, but the fact that Ijaz Butt has sought to distance himself from the allegations by attributing them to something called the bookie’s circle suggests that his heart isn’t really in it. I’ve not heard of the bookie’s circle. Presumably it’s like magic circle except that its members wear flat caps and sheepskin coats. But like their conjuring associates, perhaps the bookies circle is not apt to disclose their secrets.
Mohammad Yousuf must have overslept on the morning the rest of the Pakistani squad were finally taught to catch. Or too preoccupied in the nets reminding himself how to bat again.
Yousuf’s batting may be rusty, but he’s alway been rubbish at fielding. He fields like someone’s rheumatoid granddad has wandered onto the field. He sort of bats a bit like that too, managing to amass runs in geriatrically sluggish style. The last time Pakistan played a test match at the Oval, Yousuf fannied around scoring 128 in six turgid hours. It was an innings that straddled two rainy days, both of which I had tickets for. The showers were the best bit.
You know something strange has happened on the sports field when someone takes a photo like this. It’s as if it hasn’t really happened unless it’s appeared on the scoreboard. I laughed so hard when I saw this I sicked up a little bit of my McFlurry down my shirt. And I already knew the score.
It’s a really nice memento of a hilarious day of cricket.
The shirt that is.
So the Harris Sportsthoughts Twenty20 World Cup preview grinds to an apologetic halt on the eve of the tournament. Group D, you’re up:
We are now able to add Twenty20 cricket to that tedious list of sports that England invented and are now a bit rubbish at. Built in the image of the national football team, England only perform as well as the opposition put in front of them. Hence last year, England were shamed by the Dutch, before defeating defending champions India and future ones Pakistan. If they could courageously exit in the semi-finals on penalties to Germany having had Kevin Pietersen sent off, then they surely would. Currently undergoing an operation to become fully South African, which means they are even more likely to plummet out of the tournament in hilarious style. Has anyone seen England and South Africa in the same room? Oh yes, today in Bridgetown.
The West Indies are the home team, which counted for not very much during the last World Cup in the region when most of its support was loitering ticketless outside the grounds trying to listen to what was going down. Might be amazing, might be awful. Which is an improvement on last year’s Champions Trophy, where a second string side were only going to be awful.
Ireland have recently made a habit of taking a scalp in the preliminary stages of major tournaments, before clogging up the second phase with their mediocrity. Quite capable of repeating the trick (see England above). Are destined to be forever plagued by strange men in synthetic orange beards.
The giddying torrent of Twenty20 cricket continues in the Caribbean. It’s only been a year since the last World Cup in the short format. But it’s still international cricket and therefore worthy of our attention so here is the first of my group summaries and predictions which are based on broad national stereotypes and the first things that come into my head. So get yourself down the bookie immediately after reading.
Brilliantly, Australia are considered rank outsiders in this group according to the seedings. They’ve always seemed a bit snooty about Twenty20, as if it’s a preamble to something else. It’s probably because they’re not very good at it. Appear to be approaching the end of that transitional period when all their legends retired to be replaced by a lot of very large young men who look like they all live together in the same ramshackle beachhouse playing wag from Heartbreak High.
Bangladesh are mostly made up of those naughty boys at school who were obviously more talented than anyone else but more interested in etching willies on the underside of their desk with a compass. They’d turn up and scorch a quick fifty before getting themselves out so they could go and chuck gravel at the chess club. My cricket teacher had even less hair than Jamie Siddons. Are capable of winning any game, particularly with Tamim Iqbal firing away at the top of the order. As far as I’m aware, Tamim is not into penile graffiti which will stand him in good stead.
Pakistan are the defending champions but given that this is Pakistan and this is Twenty20 cricket anything could happen. Remember that the last time they came to the West Indies for a tournament, an abortive murder investigation was launched following the death of their coach. Seriously, anything could happen. Shahid Afridi is the captain and also the personification of mental Pakistani cricket. He’s very dangerous with bat and ball, provided he hasn’t eaten the ball first.
Prediction: I don’t know.
There’s something that initially jars about England’s upcoming fixture with Warwickshire. It’s as if they have gone on tour in their own country. I know that holidays in the UK are very popular these days but this is a new one. I suppose that with international and domestic Twenty20 bashing first-class cricket out of the fixture list in the last month it is a sensible if unusual match-up.
With Pakistan currently canvassing to play their games on these shores, things could start to get pretty congested. Expect test matches at your local village ground any time soon.
One player who won’t be flying over to line up for the Pakistanis is Shoaib Akhtar. And while I was delighted to see his erstwhile team-mates conquer their early mediocrity to win the Twenty20, I couldn’t help shed a small tear for poor wretched Shoaib: sitting over there in Rawalpindi watching on television with an ice-pack on his genitalia. And to compound his sense of desolation he also had to witness the emergence of a potential new fast-bowling superstar. At 17 years old, Mohammad Aamer might be sticking around for a while. Which could spell the end for the old rogue and his international pretensions.
And after the England summer squad announcements today Michael Vaughan might be in a position to lend an empathetic ear. He should take a trip to Rawalpindi and pay a visit to the bowler. He could hold that ice-pack in place while he’s out there.
Having watched most of the Twenty20 through a pop-up window at my desk, I felt very fortunate to take my seat on the pavilion balcony at the Oval to sample it first-hand yesterday. Here are a few things that I learnt:
1. With Chris Gayle’s fluoro-shades and the equally luminous sweatbands worn by the quick bowlers, the West Indies are definitely the most nu-rave team in international cricket. They really should come out to bat to the Klaxons.
2. Younus Khan speaks with the cadence of an agitated racing commentator. He also looks a lot like DS Don Beech from The Bill. But I knew this already.
3. A scantily-clad young female cavorting lasciviously whilst draped in the Pakistani flag seems a bit wrong.
4. Well done to Surrey who won their first County Championship match in nearly two years. I actually learnt that today by looking at the internet on my phone while on a picnic with my parents but I feel it needs to be said.
5. The Yahoo yodelling jingle that accompanies every change of bowler maybe the worst excess of the commercialisation of cricket, but it is strangely entertaining.
6. The ICC need to hire a PA announcer that doesn’t sound so sinister when declaring to the crowd that “all the children are very welcome today”.
7. The dubious novelty of the Mexican Wave. It is popular not only with England fans. Happily after a few abortive attempts, the crowd seemed to give up on it. I think this is because, like water down the toilet, the Mexican Wave goes counter-clockwise in New Zealand. The opposite to everywhere else. So after a few awkward occasions when they just waved at each other, it was put to one side.
8. Twenty20 is more than just great fun. But it doesn’t compare to a Test Match.
So those pesky little Irish cricketers are up to their old tricks, brushing off the Bangladeshis and handing them their boarding passes to the flight back to Dhaka. I offer a cautious congratulation, if only because I remember what happened two years ago in the Caribbean: the wierd and grisly circumstances surrounding the death of Bob Woolmer following the Pakistani defeat to the Irish. Perhaps the Bangladeshi team doctor should maintain a wary vigil on coach Jamie Siddons this evening.
The continued participation of the Irish in the last World Cup had the same clogging effect on the tournament as hair does on a plughole. It was all very nice and hilarious when they upset the Pakistanis but when they became little more than net practice for the rest of the Super Eight watching them grew more than a little tedious. Even England beat them. Coincidentally the only side they did conquer in the latter stage was Bangladesh.
I probably shouldn’t fret and certainly shouldn’t be so uncharitable towards Ireland. The Twenty20 schedule is positively anorexic compared to the corpulence of the World Cup, which lasts for about three years. It feels like. So it should only be a week or so before we can bid a fond toodle-pip to the Irish and all those parvenu Irishmen who claim ancestry because they once went to Dublin on a stag weekend or bought the Joshua Tree on cassette. I can just about tolerate those Guinness hats and leprechaun beards on St. Patrick’s Day. I won’t be sharing a “point of the black stuff” with any of them. Bottom of the morning to you.
Brilliantly though, the Irish have survived the Australians, who got sent packing by Sri Lanka tonight. And because they’re hanging around for the Ashes, they don’t even get the opportunity to slink off sheepishly to the nearest airport. They’re spending the next two weeks sulking in Leicester, the prospect of which Ricky Ponting couldn’t hide his unenthusiasm for. Well now you have a little time on your hands Richard, maybe you could seize the chance to explore what Leicester has to offer. Here’s a link to the Leicester Tourist Board, in case you’re reading this. Which you are clearly not.
Better still, the Aussies should head westwards towards Ireland and pretend they’re Irish too. Then they’d know what winning feels like right now.