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Tag: cricket

Mohammad Amir gets sentenced to six months and we all weep once more

Like most cricket fans when the Pakistani players were alleged to be involved in spot fixing the only thing that once my mind wasn’t ‘I hope it’s not true’ as deep down we all thought it was but in fact ‘Please not Mohammad Amir’. Sadly though my hopes and those famously of Michael Holding on Sky Sports were to be dashed relatively quickly.

Having been a cricket lover all my life it pains me to see the sport brought into disrepute but what pains me more is to be the best young player I have ever seen coming through the ranks (Sachin and Warne whilst not before my time breakthrough when I didn’t have Sky so couldn’t fully appreciate them as young starlets) fall by the wayside and see his career gone before it ever really got started.

I recall that Australia tour down under where Pakistan to be blunt were a shambles at best and a joke at worse. They lost all three tests if I remember correctly but in two of them they gave the Aussies a real scare thanks to Amir and the bowlers suddenly getting their tails up. It happened over here to in the now infamous series where when the Pakistani bowlers go their tails up they caused the English batsmen all types of problems.

Yet I as type this the players that was the great hope of Pakistani cricket is sitting in a cell underneath the court waiting to be transported to prison to serve a six month sentence for deliberately bowling two no balls. His fellow fast bowler Mohammad Asif got a sentence of a full year whereas the captain has two and a half years to think about what he has done.

In some ways I think the sentences are harsh and yet on the other hand less so. I really don’t know how to feel about it apart from a sense of great loss that the world of cricket feels knowing that arguably the most important player of a generation is unlikely to see the field of play again. I know his ban will be up by the time he’s 23 but can Pakistani cricket bring him back into the fold? I’m really not sure.

He was the one that could have brought Pakistani cricket back and that nation is one of the most important amongst the test playing countries. Pakistani cricket will limp along but deep down all this case does is leave a horrible taste in the mouth. I couldn’t care less about the spot fixing per se which is wrong but honestly I couldn’t care. What I did care about was seeing Mohammad Amir lead Pakistan cricket back to the forefront of the sport. Instead all he’d lead in the next few months is an existence behind locked doors.

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BCCI dig heels in over DRS and the more they do – the more they ruin cricket.

I get more and more annoyed with the BCCI. They are trying to ruin the game of Cricket by forcing the ICC to change the DRS system and with the first test between England and India starting on Thursday it has come out that umpires will be making all lbw decisions without any technological help No hawk-eye, no hot-spot or even the tramlines on screen to help the third umpire see where the ball pitched and struck a batsman.

Basically it is completely down to the umpires and whilst umpiring has become much better in recent years – a lot of that is down to the DRS allowing umpires to go more with their gut knowing that they could overturn a decision if wrong. It has increased the correct decisions to 97-98% instead of 92-94% that is was before.

I must say that I love DRS and all the technology that cricket has been using for the past few years. The one thing that doesn’t work is catches and the foreshortening of the lens when they go to replay. Players know instinctively whether they have caught the ball or not and players/umpires need to rely on what the catcher says unless the replay shows and obvious lie from the player – i.e the video below when Philip Hughes claimed a catch off Alistair Cook despite the fact he knew it didn’t carry.

There was an incident in the T20 at Chelmsford the other night when Scott Styris caught a Kent batsman – I think it was Darren Stevens – at third man with a wonderful tumbling catch. It was a catch but the players refused to take Styris’ word for it and the replays showed some doubt in the eyes of the third umpire and it was given not out. I know it was out – I know it was a good catch. Anyone who had played cricket to any standard knows a good catch when they see it but the onus as the rules are written are that the third umpire has to be 100% sure – not 99% sure of a catch. This is the only way when in my opinion technology harms the sport.

With no DRS we’d have no reversal of big obvious errors like the video below when Michael Clarke hit the cover off the ball to short leg and didn’t walk and was not given out by the umpire.

To sum up the BCCI’s stubborness is a disgrace and the way the ICC is cow-towing to it sickens me. I can’t wait until the great Sachin Tendaulkar is in his 90s at Lords and gets given out on an absolute shocker that TV replays would overturn. I wonder what they’ll be saying then and also I have a sneaky feeling a lot of cricket fans around the world will be hoping for the same.

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Why mess with nigh-on perfection? *glares at Sky Sports Test Cricket*

When it comes to watching sport on the tellybox I know what I am talking about. My life often revolves around what sport is on and I watch hours of sports each week even in the summer and when the winter comes then that number increases exponentially. Throughout all the fantastic and enjoyable commentry and presenting teams that I watch (BBC F1, ESPN College Gameday, ESPN/ABC College Football Primetime, NBC Sunday Night Football, #9 Cricket, ESPN PTI) one team sticks out from above the paraphit of these top notch teams is the Sky Sports Test Cricket team. Six men between them bring something different and as a mix they all just work well together.

Let’s look at them alphabetically (albeit with the main anchor first):

David Gower: The former Leicestershire, Hampshire and England left-hander did some anchor work with the BBC after he retired and moved to Sky Sports. He brings a very laid-back demeanour to the broadcast and anchors it both professionally but with a sense of enjoyment. Extremely knowledgeable about the sport and is quite brilliant at putting forward both sides of an arguement during analysis – certainly in a long rain-break analysis. First rate.

Michael Atherton: Former Lancashire and England opening batsman is without a doubt the best analyiser of the team. Athers also writes about cricket and won the Sports Journalist of the Year award last year, described by the judging panel as “a unanimous choice”, they praised the former England cricket captain for “tackling subjects way beyond cricket” and said “the brilliance of his writing shines.” Not afraid to say exactly what he thinks he also brings great gravitas to the position with a dry wit that you need when commentating on a five-day match.

Sir Ian Botham: The former Somerset, Durham and England all-rounder well known on the scene for being part of The Champagne Club in the England team of the 80s and early 90s (along with Gower and Mike Gatting) who loved to play cricket but also enjoyed having a good time. Brings an old school mentality to the broadcast but also very laid back.

Michael Holding: The fast-paced West Indian who loves his horses also brings great gravitas to the role. Knows exactly what he is talking about but isn’t afraid to go off-topic. His disgust and sebsequent rant about plastic bags in supermarkets was wonderful. Also purely on a simplistic issue his tone is very different and brings a good contrast to the broadcast.

Nasser Hussein: The former Essex and England middle-order batsman often plays the role of the whipping-boy in the broadcast but likes all his peers is extremely knowledgeable about the sport. His prowess running between the wicket was shall we say not first-rate. It may not have been as bad as Inzamam-ul-Haq’s but not far off.

David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd: The former Lancashire batsman and England coach very much brings the humour whilst not being over the top. His T20 commentries are second to none and he has been asked to call the final overs of both T20 World Cup’s so far by the international TV stations.

All six just work and mesh perfectly. You can sit and listen to all six quite happily. Sky Sports though have other cricket commentators who work on other games but Nick Knight seems to have been promoted for this series with Sri Lanka and for me it’s just not working. He tries too hard and doesn’t seem at ease. His voice grates and unlike Holding and Atherton when going into detailed analysis, Knight just doesn’t seem to be working. Maybe I should give him time and I’m probably being overly harsh but Sky Sports Test Cricket coverage is quite simply as close to perfection as it stands and the whole 2010/2011 Ashes Series (with Shane Warne as well) was just as good as it can get.

I shall leave you with this video of an amusing moment down under…you all know which one it is…

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Mohammad Amir banned. Call me selfish but I want to see him back – and soon.

So the ICC have banned three Pakistani cricketers for two different offences following the News of the World allegations of last year. Captain Salman Butt has been banned for ten years (five of them suspended) for failing to disclose information about a meeting and an agreement with a dodgy bookie. The two fast bowlers who bowled the no balls, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir (he was Aamer when he broke into the game – why has the spelling of his name changed?) have got seven (two suspended) and five respectively. So all three will at least be out of the game for five years but the likelihood of them ever returning seems low.

The only one who seems to have any realistic shot of taking the field again is Amir. The young left hander was like a breath of fresh air. A truly gifted swing bowler reminded many of Wasim Akram at his pomp. I first saw Amir during the Australian summer twelve months or so ago when he was the shining light in a pretty laborious Pakistani pace attack. He was making waves all over the cricketing world and every cricket fan thought a true great was being unearthed.

Then step forward to the English summer and the Pakistani tour. Again he impressed and showed he wasn’t a one-time wonder. The world was his oyster. He was set to become the poster boy of Pakistani cricket for the next decade or more. If there is one country where a great cricketer can truly have it all then it in Pakistan.

However a no ball later that seemingly was bowled deliberately in return for a few quid has ruined all that. Now these players will face a criminal trial in the UK and that trial will need to prove guilt whereas the ICC Panel didn’t. So I won’t be typing anything about any of them being guilty just yet but I know my heart sank when I read it was this kid involved last summer. I suspect others felt the same.

Now whether he felt pressured into doing it but senior players (if indeed he did do it) or that he was told it was the norm. The long and short of it is cricket is poorer that he won’t be around. Asif and Butt were fine players but neither was a great or had the potential to be one, Amir did. I feel like we are missing out on watching him play because of what happened and the world of cricket is poorer for it.

It makes me sad.

Criminal proceedings get underway in the spring and I know I’ll be watching them intently. If they are found not guilty it will be very interesting to see what happens next but I think the fear is that is less likely than the three of them spending time at Her Majesty’s Pleasure.

I might be selfish but I want to see Amir again. He’ll only be 22 by the time his ban is up but I fear his name has been tarnished too much. We shall wait and see but true greatness being taken down before it has time to shine is a sad situation for us all.

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