Friday February 28, 2014
In February 2014, we've got some updates to the Cricket Glossary:
Also, have you seen the BBC series Empire of Cricket? It's a great introduction to the game in four countries: Australia, England, India, and West Indies. We've got links to all four hour-long programs at BBC Empire of Cricket: Complete Video List.
And if you're a fan of the great Pakistan fast bowler Wasim Akram -- one of our Ten Great Fast Bowlers In Test Cricket -- then check out Wasim Akram In Quotes, a small oral history of a cricketing magician.
Thursday February 27, 2014
The Cricket Glossary has been updated with a few new pages to help you understand cricket results. There are three main definitions:
(One of these is almost impossibly rare. Do you know which?)
There's also the small matter of matches that are abandoned due to adverse weather conditions or other factors, but the above three are what you really need to know.
Wednesday February 26, 2014
credit flickr.com user nic_r
It seems that Kevin Pietersen, the most mercurial figure in England recent cricketing history -- and, according to some, England's greatest batsman ever -- will never play for his adopted home again. South Africa native Pietersen was first identified by England's then-captain in a 1999 tour match:
"England captain Nasser Hussain has been so impressed by the performance of rookie KwaZulu-Natal all-rounder Kevin Pieterson [sic] that he has asked the youngster for a chat today concerning the possibility of him playing his cricket in Essex during the next (English) summer." (ESPNcricinfo)
And from 2005-2014, Pietersen racked up the most international runs for England amid repeated controversies. After the disastrous Ashes loss of 2013-2014 in Australia, England management announced it would no longer select Pietersen for the team because of an alleged lack of trust and dressing room support:
"The ECB recognises the significant contribution Kevin has made to England teams over the last decade. He has played some of the finest innings ever produced by an England batsman. However, the England team needs to rebuild after the whitewash in Australia. To do that we must invest in our captain Alastair Cook and we must support him in creating a culture in which we can be confident he will have the full support of all players, with everyone pulling in the same direction and able to trust each other. It is for those reasons that we have decided to move on without Kevin Pietersen." (The Telegraph)
You can decide for yourself whether or not Pietersen deserved to go. In the meantime, Rob Smyth has written a eulogy of sorts for Pietersen's England career, addressing and recognising most of what this extraordinary cricketing performer had to offer:
"[...] there seemed to be a damaging desire to mould Pietersen into something he could never be. He had to play it as he saw it. And he saw cricket through different eyes to normal human beings."
Read more of Smyth's tribute at The Guardian. It's well worth it.
Wednesday February 19, 2014
James Neesham, BJ Watling, and Brendon McCullum
Hagen Hopkins / Getty Images
New Zealand's 1992 Cricket World Cup heroes -- far and away the best team of that tournament, who would have breezed into the final but for a destructive wonder innings that wrenched a semi-final from its grasp -- were in attendance for a couple of days at the Basin Reserve Test between New Zealand and India. The former greats, including Martin Crowe, Andrew Jones, and Chris Harris, were ostensibly in Wellington for work promoting the ICC 2015 Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. But their presence was poetically appropriate, too, as New Zealand's current crop heralded a new era in a way not seen since those Young Guns of '92.
The 1992 New Zealand cricket team brought Wild West innovations to one-day cricket, like pinch-hitting and opening the bowling with a spinner. The rest of the world soon followed them across these new frontiers, and by 1996, New Zealand were back to being a plucky member of the pack rather than a world leader. By contrast, the 2014 vintage are not innovative or flashy. These latest efforts drew on a deep well of cricketing history, of doing the basics right and performing to the best of your ability, and doing so consistently.
After a dream one-day series win over India, which followed quality efforts against an admittedly weak West Indies team, the Black Caps have now pulled off one of the toughest challenges in cricket: a great rearguard action when a Test match seems lost. At one stage on day three, New Zealand were 152 runs behind with only five wickets remaining in its second innings. The next two days saw a world record partnership, a New Zealand record team total, a memorable and inspirational triple century from captain Brendon McCullum, an epic and chanceless 124 from wicketkeeper BJ Watling, and a flowing century from debutant James Neesham.
Most of all, New Zealand fans were treated to a display of resilience and intense focus never before seen in the nation's cricketers. The Indian bowling attack may have been far from the world's best, and the pitch may have borne few demons after a difficult first day, but batting for two full days in any conditions is an enormous physical and mental challenge -- especially when you start from so far behind. It was a long, slow crawl based on sound defensive technique and leaving the ball well, and it made for a riveting spectacle.
The fact that McCullum and his team managed to play out a draw, and could even have pushed for a win, is testament to a new attitude in New Zealand cricket. The team now has a match it can refer back to when it has painted itself into a corner, and fans have a moment of pride to etch in their memories forever.