In February 2014, we've got some updates to the Cricket Glossary:
- Win - Cricket Glossary
- Draw - Cricket Glossary
- Tie - Cricket Glossary
- All-rounder - 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.
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.
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.
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.
- Watch: Inzamam-ul-Haq's 60 off 37 steals Pakistan a place in the 1992 Cricket World Cup final from New Zealand
- Read more: Martin Crowe's Five Best Innings
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.
- Read more: Three Great Test Cricket Rearguard Actions
- Scorecard: New Zealand vs India Third Test at Wellington, 14-18 February 2014
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.
A few updates to the Cricket Glossary:
For the New Zealand cricket team, the blueprint to defeat world champions and number-one-ranked India in an ODI series was firmly established from the first game and followed to the letter in each of the five matches. The result? A 4-0 series win for the home side against a line-up featuring the likes of Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni. NZ fans must be pinching themselves: it's hard to remember a Kiwi side playing this well.
- Scorecard: New Zealand v India 5th ODI, Wellington, 31 January 2014
- Series results: India in New Zealand 2014
When batting first, as NZ did in four of the five matches, the game plan can be broken down as follows:
- Make a quick start with openers Martin Guptill and Jesse Ryder.
- Consolidate and accumulate with Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor to be about 140/2 after 30 overs.
- Launch with the middle order power hitters Brendon McCullum, Corey Anderson, James Neesham, and Luke Ronchi to reach around 300 by the end of the innings.
- Bowl tightly in the first 30 overs, forcing the opposition to take risks if they want to score.
- Bring back the best bowlers to take wickets and kill the game off well before the end.
(If bowling first, NZ would just swap numbers 4 and 5 to the top of the list.)
The consistent execution of this plan gave New Zealand one of its best ever series results and made a mockery of the teams' respective ICC rankings prior to the series, which had India at number one and NZ at number eight. NZ will now look to carry this momentum into the two-Test series starting on 6 February.
As for India, a team that seemed unstoppable a few months ago has come crashing down to Earth. Shikhar Dhawan looks a shadow of the player who scored five ODI centuries in 2013, and the bowling unit is struggling to produce consistent performances. Kohli remains majestic, but India cannot continue to rely on him. A year out from the 2015 World Cup, this is a team that badly needs to rediscover its mojo.
Following on from the thrilling tie between New Zealand and India in the 3rd ODI at Auckland last week, ESPNcricinfo has put together a gallery of memorable images from ODI cricket ties of the past 15 years.
It includes a classic 1999 World Cup encounter between Australia and South Africa, which is also high on our list of the Top 10 One Day Internationals Of All Time.
Check out the gallery here: 'Level Playing Fields'.
In The Guardian's weekly cricket newsletter The Spin, Andy Bull has likened the ongoing debate over the future of the International Cricket Council (ICC) to a game of high-stakes poker. Bull breaks down the ongoing financial struggle for most national cricket boards around the world -- Sri Lanka, South Africa, New Zealand, and so on -- and explains how they rely on India to support their respective bottom lines.
This, as Bull explains, leaves India holding all the aces (emphasis added by me):
The BCCI [Board of Control for Cricket in India] is clear that the one aspect of the proposal it views as non-negotiable is the redistribution of revenues, and has suggested that it will withdraw from future ICC events unless that, at least, is agreed to. It would still be able to play bilateral series, and, as the list above suggests, wouldn't be short of opponents. If the damage to the World Cup wouldn't be as severe as some fear, even the threat of India's withdrawal would hobble the ICC's upcoming negotiations of the next round of TV rights. At the same time, the seven boards know there is a real possibility, elucidated in Mani's paper on the leaked proposal, that the redistribution will leave them even worse off.
(Read more at The Spin: 'India hold all the aces in this poker game over the future of cricket')
The game's lopsided nature begs the question: if you're not India, why would you play? The answer is complicated, but cricket in most countries is in such a difficult financial position that it has to appease India to some extent to stay above water. Under the redistribution model proposed, this means agreeing to a short-term payoff with potentially devastating long-term consequences. But when you're desperate, you have no choice but to come to the table.
If you want to learn more, ESPNcricinfo has full coverage of developments regarding the ICC's proposed wealth redistribution and fixture model here.
Brett Hemmings / Getty Images
With her performances for Australia in the ongoing 2014 Women's Ashes series, Ellyse Perry threatens to bring the trophy back down under from England almost single-handedly. Perry has been so exceptional with bat and ball, especially with her match-winning 90 not out on Sunday, that another possibility is in the reckoning: a genuine women's cricket superstar.
To date, no woman cricketer has become sufficiently well-known to be a household name even in their own country, let alone across the cricketing world. Belinda Clark piled up runs and set records for the Australian women's cricket team for nearly 15 years, but when she recently became the first woman entered into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame, fellow inductee Mark Waugh was a much more familiar face than his female counterpart. For England, Charlotte Edwards has played more than 200 international fixtures and is the highest run-scorer in the history of women's one day internationals, but she has never gained the same notice as the stars of the English men's team.
Could 23-year-old Perry break the mould and become women's cricket's first crossover superstar? Having started out as a bowler who bats a bit, Perry is now a genuine all-rounder: one of the fastest bowlers on the women's international cricket circuit, and a number five batter possessing skill and power.
Perry is also one of the highest-paid woman cricketers, with potential earnings of over AU$100,000 per annum (including endorsements).
The major barrier to woman cricketers converting their talent into superstar status is a lack of exposure. Men's cricket remains a huge draw for television networks, especially in cricket-mad Australia, but the women's game has to be content with the occasional TV broadcast and live streaming through the Cricket Australia website.
One hopes that if serious talents like Ellyse Perry continue to rise through the ranks, women's cricket can continue its growth and become a counterpart to the men's game rather than a poor cousin. Perry could be the ambassador to make that happen.
The 2014 men's international cricket calendar is up! We've split into two parts, as follows:
- Men's International Cricket Fixtures: January-June 2014
- Men's International Cricket Fixtures: July-December 2014
And here are this month's updates to the Cricket Glossary:
Happy New Year!