Sunday May 12, 2013
The Cricket Couch podcast with Subash Jayaraman offers a consistently high standard of listening on all matters cricket, but perhaps the most fascinating edition I've yet heard was the interview with USA Under-15 cricketer Vivek Narayan.
In an interview that covers a lot of ground in only 20 minutes, Narayan displays a broad understanding of cricket both on and off the field. He talks about his own development as a legspinning all-rounder and his cricketing heroes, as well as touching on the well-reported problems at the United States of America Cricket Association (USACA).
With an ability to give informed opinions on several topics, and to speak clearly and at length without a script, it seems the teenage Narayan has a big future in whatever he pursues. You can read more about Narayan here.
Sunday May 12, 2013
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has launched a fun new online cricket quiz game called WHATZAT!
At first, WHATZAT! seems to be little more than a zoomable image of a cricket ground. However, there are a lot of things on or near this cricket ground that you wouldn't see at Lord's: a dog, two ducks, a cow in a bowler hat, and more.
This isn't just a weird cricket menagerie, though. Each object represents a cricketing term (some of which you can find in the Cricket Glossary). The object of the game is to click on and identify as many of these objects as possible. It's a good test of how much you know about cricket and your ability to think outside the box -- some of the answers aren't obvious at a glance.
If you need a sweetener, though, you can go in the draw to win tickets to the final of the Friends Life Twenty20 (England and Wales' premier T20 competition) or a day of the second Test of the Ashes series between England and Australia.
Tuesday May 7, 2013
We can't be sure that it was a record, given that dropped catches are not generally noted on cricket scorecards, but everybody who saw Kieron Pollard's three consecutive drops of Michael Hussey was sure they had never seen it before. Anywhere. Ever.
Pollard, a man-mountain who is widely regarded as one of the best fielders of the current age (see this stunning catch), was fielding at point. Mitchell Johnson, the Australian fast bowler, charged in and delivered three short-of-a-length balls that bounced up outside Hussey's off stump. Hussey hit the ball straight at Pollard three times, each chance easier than the last. And Pollard dropped him three times.
Here's the video of Pollard's three drops. Unbelievable!
It's the sort of mistake that makes you want the ground to swallow you up, even at junior level. Pollard must have wanted to wish himself back to his home in Trinidad.
Ultimately, the drops did not cost Pollard and his Mumbai Indians teammates. They went on to inflict a surprisingly crushing defeat on Hussey and runaway Indian Premier League leaders Chennai Super Kings.
As for Pollard, he redeemed himself somewhat with this fine catch a couple of overs later.
Tuesday April 30, 2013
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, captain of India and of the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the Indian Premier League, is well established as one of the greatest six-hitters of all time. In the current era, only Chris Gayle is more damaging. But I'd suggest that of the two, Dhoni's big hits are more memorable.
(If you need to brush up on sixes, here's the entry for 'Six' in the Cricket Glossary.)
Gayle sixes have become almost routine. He swings his bat and, without putting in too much effort, the ball sails over the boundary. They seem like the work of a superhuman -- and he is a very big man -- who has perfected the muscle mass and technique required to hit a leather-and-cork ball for a distance of 100 metres. With Gayle, you expect such hits even though you cannot see how you would perform them yourself.
Dhoni sixes, however, are a visceral, eye-popping sight. He isn't a behemoth like Gayle but he is very strong, and he hits sixes through brute force more than calculated timing. Dhoni generates astonishing bat speed through the ball, mostly powered by his bottom hand on the bat, to send the ball into the crowd. They look like wild, hopeful swings until you consider that it is Dhoni and that he has done this so many times before.
What's more, Dhoni has stepped up and delivered sixes under pressure again and again. Here are some of the classics:
Dhoni did it again overnight, smashing three sixes in a rapid 45 for CSK against the hapless Pune Warriors India. He is the highest-paid cricketer the world has seen, and it's because he keeps delivering raw thrills for everyone watching.