This is a quick note to let readers know there will no longer be a blog on About.com Cricket from 1 June 2014 onwards. This change is being made across all sites in the About.com network.
If you've enjoyed the blog entries on here, don't fear: they will all be archived on the site and can be found through search engines.
I'll still be posting plenty of exciting new cricket content on About.com Cricket in the coming months and into the distant future -- but it'll all be under the category headings rather than via this blog. The best ways to keep up with the latest updates are to like About Cricket on Facebook, follow @About_Cricket on Twitter, or add me to your network on Google+.
See you there! (And hopefully here, too.)
Usually, the bouncer is a cricketing weapon wielded only by the sport's fastest bowlers. Curtly Ambrose, Shoaib Akhtar, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Malcolm Marshall -- those are kinds of names you associate with proper, rip-snorting bouncers.
But what about Shane Warne?
Yes, that's Australia's great leg spinner Shane Warne: the second-greatest wicket-taker in international cricket history, and anything but a fast bowler. However, Warne had a propensity to throw the occasional bouncer into the mix. He usually bowled it when Australia was either well on top or a long way behind. The Warne bouncer was never intended to take a wicket, only to mix things up a bit and prove he could still surprise you.
I've got your video evidence right here:
- Shane Warne bowls a bouncer to Kevin Pietersen
- Warne bowls a bouncer to Brian Lara
- Warne bowls an (ill-advised) bouncer to Sachin Tendulkar
You may be wondering whether or not to try this at home, or at least on your local cricketing pitch. The bouncer isn't advisable as a regular delivery for slow bowlers, but it has been known to surprise some schoolboy or village cricketers into giving away their wicket (including me). So maybe it's worth a try, once in a while.
If you do try it, let us know how you get on.
'Catches win matches', says the old cricketing phrase. This isn't exactly true: cricket matches are won not merely by taking catches but also by scoring runs, bowling well, and taking wickets (whether via catches or one of the other ten ways of getting out).
Still, if you have a chance to take a catch, you'd best be ready to grasp it. A dropped catch can have a ripple effect, particularly in a close match: your confidence in your ability may take a hit, the bowler and your other teammates could become frustrated and lose focus, and the batter might take advantage of their extra life and pile up a big score. Everyone drops catches sometime -- even experienced internationals -- but there are ways to increase your success rate.
You've probably guessed what those ways are. Practice, practice, practice. Have someone hit balls at you for an hour and refine your ability with both the orthodox cup and reverse cup methods. Here are guides for each:
Trust me, a cricket player can never have too much catching practice. Get to it!
Shane Warne captured the global imagination as much as any cricket player of recent history, with the possible exception of Sachin Tendulkar. In his recent book 'On Warne', the prolific Australian journalist Gideon Haigh delves deep into the Warne legend, which started on the field and continues to be written in Australian and British gossip pages.
One of the most fascinating segments from the book examines Warne's on-field partnership with fast bowler Glenn McGrath (who is incidentally one of our Ten Great Fast Bowlers in Test Cricket). As Haigh explains, Warne and McGrath contrasted and complemented each other perfectly on the cricket field. Here's an excerpt:
'They were easy to contrast. Beanpole McGrath, meatloaf Warne; rural McGrath, suburban Warne; clinical McGrath, prodigal Warne; McGrath the paceman who nagged away with the patience of a slow bowler, Warne the spinner with the attitude of an express paceman [...] But you can stress these contrasts unduly, for there was a great deal of complementarity to their careers. Both evolved homespun methods, arriving at the right way to do things by experimentation and intuition rather than instruction.'
I found 'On Warne' to be a very enjoyable and insightful cricket book that mostly lives up to the claim on its cover: "the finest cricket writer alive on the greatest cricketer of our era". My full review of 'On Warne' by Gideon Haigh is here (spoiler: four out of five stars).
Meanwhile, if you want to know more about Gideon Haigh -- and if you want to read more good cricket writing, you should -- this 8385-word tribute by SB Tang on A Straight Bat is a good place to start.
www.flickr.com user zoonabar
What a waste. All that good work for nothing. And you put so much effort into it. But then everything fell apart. It sometimes does in cricket.
I'm talking about Kolkata Knight Riders' (KKR) terrible collapse in IPL 2014 against Rajasthan Royals (RR), who should have been easily beaten. KKR needed exactly 50 runs off 30 balls, with all 10 wickets in hand -- a pretty easy task in Twenty20 cricket. They ended up losing by 10 runs, and the recollection of Shane Watson and Pravin Tambe destroying their hopes will give them nightmares.
- WATCH: Kolkata Knight Riders' dramatic collapse against Rajasthan Royals, IPL 2014
- SCORECARD: Rajasthan Royals vs Kolkata Knight Riders, 5 May 2014
Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) were three wickets down with 53 runs on the board. Debutant Rilee Roussouw was struggling to score, and South Africa captain AB de Villiers -- considered by many to be the best all-round batsman of his generation, capable of greatness in Tests, ODIs, and Twenty20 -- had only scored five singles. RCB needed another 103 runs to overhaul Sunrisers Hyderabad's total of 156, and they only had 61 balls in which to get them.
To cut a long story short, it didn't look good for RCB, who badly needed a win to keep their IPL 2014 hopes alive. But AB de Villiers, effectively his team's only hope, calmly told them it was in the bag.
The bin bag, to be precise. de Villiers got down on one knee and swung a straight ball from India all-rounder Irfan Pathan straight down the ground, depositing the ball cleanly in a rubbish bin in front of the Sunrisers dugout. It was the first of de Villiers' eight sixes in a remarkable innings of 89 not out, which gave RCB a much-needed win.
- Scorecard: Royal Challengers Bangalore beat Sunrisers Hyderabad by 4 wickets, IPL 2014
- VIDEO: RCB vs SH highlights, 4 May 2014
Later, de Villiers hammered Dale Steyn -- his South Africa teammate, widely considered to be the best fast bowler of his generation -- for 24 runs off the penultimate over of the match. The usually fiery Steyn could only smile and applaud. After the match was won, Steyn came to de Villiers and embraced him. Sometimes in sport, an irresistible force can render your abundant talents irrelevant.
The 19th over of Sunrisers Hyderabad's innings in the match against Mumbai Indians on 30 April 2014 was a strange one for many reasons. It was a neat encapsulation of the madness of the IPL (Indian Premier League).
Here's the bizarre combination of events that made it so unusual:
- Corey Anderson, the bowler, was bowling his first (and only) over of the innings. You'd normally have guys who had already bowled two or three overs coming on to bowl at the death.
- Anderson took two wickets in the over -- those of David Warner and Darren Sammy -- but he also conceded 18 runs, including two sixes and a four. Wickets usually keep the number of runs down.
- Warner was dismissed attempting a switch hit, a rare type of shot where he switches from a left-handed to a right-handed stance and smashes the ball through the off side. He'd already tried it once and was nearly caught out. This time, he edged the ball straight through to the wicketkeeper.
- Sammy was dismissed by a brilliant diving catch from international teammate Kieron Pollard.
- Anderson bowled two wides in the over, one down the leg side and one on the off side. He also managed three dot balls from which no runs were conceded, including the two wickets.
www.flickr.com user paddynapper
You wouldn't normally think of the professional cricket player's life as glamorous. Cricket calls to mind stuffy, wood-panelled rooms with honours boards and scorecard archives, or perhaps an evening at the pub rehashing the day's play with an opponent. Not big-bosomed beauties, cigars, and dollar-sign bling.
Chris Gayle, the massive, maverick Jamaican known for destroying bowling attacks all around the world, blows all that out of the water.
Gayle hasn't had the greatest Indian Premier League so far. He's only played one match out of five, scoring only 20 -- way below his Twenty20 batting average. He also only managed one half-century in the recent World T20 in Bangladesh, where his below-average ball-striking meant he had to play more of an anchor role for the West Indies. The big left-hander seems a little lower than usual.
Take one look at Gayle's Instagram feed, though, and you stop fearing for his mental health. A few excerpted highlights:
- Chris Gayle smoking a cigar and surrounded by bikini-clad models, with dollar-sign bling around his neck
- Chris Gayle lifting his arms to heaven as he surveys a cityscape below
- Chris Gayle resting in front of an expensive motorcycle, surrounded by scantily clad models
- Chris Gayle and his friends, living the "gangsta life"
- Chris Gayle enjoying a pool party with bikini-clad women
And so on.
Here's hoping Chris Gayle transfers some of his off-field success back to the middle soon. When Gayle gets going, there's no one else like him.
By the time Mitchell Johnson bowled a no ball in the 20th over, Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) were already well on top against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). Johnson and his fellow bowlers had done a sterling job for the third match in a row, with young swing bowler Sandeep Sharma starring yet again.
And the free hit that followed Johnson's no ball? A bottom edge through to the wicketkeeper for no run. It just wasn't RCB's day.
You cannot take anything away from KXIP right now, who totally deserve their five wins out of five so far in IPL 2014. After the IPL auction, I thought KXIP looked like the most balanced squad on paper; they had brought in a quality pace attack (Johnson, L Balaji, Rishi Dhawan) and bolstered their hitting power (Glenn Maxwell and Virender Sehwag).
Most of all, they had signed a charismatic and communicative captain who could be relied upon to foster an inclusive culture at the franchise. George Bailey raised a lot of question marks when he was named as Australia's Twenty20 captain before even playing a match for the national side, but he's erased all doubts about his leadership qualities over the course of his two years in the job and several stand-in captaincy assignments with the ODI team.
You can get an idea of the attitude Bailey brings to a top-level cricket team from his videos for Cricket Australia at the 2014 World Twenty20 (scroll down for the links). He seems like the kind of guy anyone could get along with, and who would want to make everyone at the party feel welcome.
As exceptional as Maxwell, Sharma, and others have been for Kings XI Punjab, I'm certain the biggest slice of the credit for their outstanding form should be laid at George Bailey's door.
The first XI of Wirral Cricket Club entered the gutter of cricket's worst innings on 26 April 2014 as they were bowled out for 3 by Haslington in Cheshire League Division Three.
That's right, three runs. Eleven batsmen couldn't even manage to reach double figures. In fact, the only person to get a run off the bat was number 11 Connor Hodson, who finished on 1 not out. Two leg byes bumped them up to their paltry final total.
Astoundingly bad as it was, Wirral's was not cricket's worst team innings ever. Somerset club Langport couldn't even muster a single run between them as they were bowled out for 0 by Glastonbury in 1913. Meanwhile, in first-class matches, you have to go back to 1810 to find a team total in single figures as The Bs were punched out by England for just 6.
You'd normally be safe in assuming this was a total mismatch, and that Haslington were simply bullying a drastically inferior Wirral team. But Wirral entered the match having racked up 208 as they won their first match of the season the previous week.
As Wirral player Matt Garrett thought during the carnage, "you think perhaps it's not your day".