All change?

Earlier today, England named their 30-man provisional squad for the ICC World Twenty20. For once, it seems, the selectors have paid some attention to the nature of the format.

There are several interesting inclusions. The sight of Trescothick’s name, for one, will bring some relief to many, although there must be huge doubts over his progression to the final 15. Similarly, there are finally places for those players who have played the most Twenty20 domestically, and have proven themselves capable. After the series of washouts this year, it would have been hard to pick those necessarily most in form, but David Graveney et al seem to have elected for those players that have deployed themselves well over the past couple of seasons. Sir Viv Richard’s call for Darren Maddy, now captain of Warwickshire, has been answered, although there is no place for Nayan Doshi or Samit Patel. Among other ‘specialists’ included are new Essex captain, Mark Pettini, Surrey’s one-year contracted Chris Schofield and the man of the moon ball, Jeremy Snape.

Is it all for show? There are significant figures gone from the World Cup squad: Strauss, Vaughan, Joyce, Mahmood and Dalrymple all miss out. However, there is no real sign that England intend to keep these welcome additions in their final 15. The entire one-day squad that faced the West Indies have been included, although it must be admitted that one incumbant, Stuart Broad, was the most economical seamer in last year’s domestic competition. It can only be hoped that in slimming down the squad in August, the selectors do not show this initial attempt to be a pointless exercise in media quelling.

First-class ducks

I’ve been accused by venerable Corridor readers of being something of a duck fetishist, although I suspect there are more specialist websites for that. However, for the sake of consistency, it would be wrong to overlook the misfortune of Thomas Poynton, the new Derbyshire gloveman, who this week got a pair on his first class debut. But at the age of 17 years old, he will have better days and do one heck of a lot more in his career than me. In fact, he already has.

Hopefully he will be smashing the ball about in an England shirt before long, although with the recent form of English keepers, he has a lot of frogs to leap. Foster, Ambrose, Mustard, Read, Nixon all in the runs, putting pressure on Prior. Good to see.

Too highly rated?

I see Kevin Pietersen has been knocked off the top spot in the ODIs by Ricky Ponting. Very difficult to argue with that – Ponting is surely the stand out batsman in both forms of the game. Looking at the other batting rankings, it is difficult to find fault, although on current form, Shiv Chanderpaul ought to be in the test top three at least. Also, I struggle to understand how Mahela Jayawardene doesn’t break into either top ten, while Hussey retains a top five place in both. He’s very good, granted, but is he top five?

Jason Gillespie

The bowlers are altogether more perplexing. For one, how can Shoaib Akhtar still be at number 10 in tests? He’s played four tests since the start of 2006 and taken only a handful of wickets. Maybe in the current game, not playing is the way to climb the rankings. Likewise, Jason Gillespie (22) is still deemed a better Test bowler than Lasith Malinga (28)!

Agreed, it must be difficult to devise a workable system. Also, stats don’t tell the full story. But things start to look decidedly suspect when you inspect the Best Ever Ratings, which is a list of players at their peak. Ponting at four is just about fair enough, given his recent dominance. However, Peter May above Viv Richards shows a flaw, while Matthew Hayden in the top ten is just crazy. KP (21) is one place higher than Sachin and two places higher than Wally Hammond. Enough said.

For the bowlers, I half expected to see the list packed high with bowlers of yesteryear, given how modern bowlers are meant to have struggled, but it does put Murali, McGrath, Pollock, Waqar and Warne in the top 15. Of course, Warne should be in the top three, if not top of the pile. Wasim Akram limps in at number 57 behind the likes of Ntini, Shoaib and Harmison, which doesn’t seem right.

That said, like most critics, I can’t think of a better way. There must be some bright spark at Cricinfo with a formula….?

Three lions of South Africa

First there was Kevin Pietersen. Then a growing army of South Africans, fed up with their lot (and what a lot…), joined him over here as part of a growing band of Kolpakians. Allan Donald was soon poached – and now Jonty Rhodes is next. What ever is going on in South African cricket?

I think it’s great having Donald and Rhodes over here. I don’t believe a foreign coach is necessarily a bad thing, but you do have to wonder how and why South Africa are unable to employ such high-profile former players.

“As with the rest of the support team we want the right person to do that job,” said England coach Peter Moores. “When we’ve got the right bloke we can look to bring him in and see how he goes. We have seen that in other specialist positions for coaches.

“We are talking about people who could make a genuine difference to international performances – and they don’t always grow on trees. If we get a fielding coach we want him to influence fielding in England not just at England level.”

From Cricinfo.

Dying embers

Even the Lancashire dressing room of my time was inhabited by half-a-dozen or so. Nick Speak, Graham Lloyd, Phil De Freitas, Wasim Akram and Graeme Fowler all paid constant homage to nicotine. Early season Benson and Hedges games, when sponsors not only provided loot but product as well, produced a terrific scramble for those distinctive yellow bricks; even the non-smokers were known to hoard a packet or two to bargain with. How about a few half-volleys in the nets then, Daffy?

Phil Tufnell and Wayne Larkins were the culprits on my first England tour. Because I was a first-time tourist, and because I have no sense of smell, I was forced to room alternately with ‘Tuffers’ and ‘Ned’ for the whole five months.

Another cracking piece from Mike Atherton in The Sunday Telegraph.

Cameroon, The Falkland Islands, Peru and Swaziland

Who? Well, these four are the latest Affiliate members of the ICC. I wrote a couple of pars on each for Cricinfo, and they’re not as estranged a family member as you might think.

As the ICC family expands to 101 countries, Cricinfo looks at the four newest Affiliate members who were elected at the annual conference last month

Cameroon

The airstrip on the Falkland Islands
© Falkland Islands Government

Cricket doesn’t stand much of a chance of forging a stranglehold on a country so crazed by football. Or does it? Cricket in Cameroon is most certainly on the up, with a national league competition now in place – and the formation of their first cricket federation (Fecacricket) in 2005. Much of the work has been done by the British high commission’s embassy in its capital, Yaoundé, providing equipment and logistics. Indeed, in May this year, the British high commissioner to Cameroon, Syd Madicott, was kitted out for a match in order to help publicise the game. And they have plans for expansion, too, with their president, Victor Agbor Nso, promising to bring the game to other towns in the country. Agbor Nso has also organised teaching seminars for coaches, administrators and umpires.
Number of grounds: 3
Number of senior teams: 4

The Falkland Islands

Cricket’s second most southerly outpost is more familiar with penguins than pavilions and lbws. But they were warmly welcomed into the ICC’s ever expanding bosom, in spite of possessing just one proper pitch: a synthetic wicket laid in 1985 at Mount Pleasant Airfield Oval, about 30 miles outside the country’s capital, Port Stanley. Around Christmas each year, the island hosts the South Atlantic Ashes, a match between teams representing the governor of the country and the Commander of the British forces. However, though the Falklands Cricket Association was formed in 2001 in an attempt to better organise the set-up, a lack of funds has prevented their expansion.
Number of grounds: 1
Number of senior teams: 4

Peru

Cricket in Peru dates back to 1859 when the Lima Cricket and Football Club was formed. Nowadays, much of the interest stems from the local Indian expats who have combined forces with the British. However, in 2005, they boasted only 25 players (considered by Wisden as “hard core…plus tourists are welcome”), and share the pitch with the footballers. The corrugated pitch makes for difficult batting, to say the least, but nevertheless they have one hotly contested fixture: India & Pakistan v Rest of the World, including one Peruvian, Jorge Pancorvo who Wisden described in 2005 as “an excellent wicketkeeper (aged 51, but still fit)”. Freddie Brown, the former England captain and allrounder, was born in Lima and, in 2005, the local club had completed 15 years of play without losing a single minute to rain.
Number of grounds: 2
Number of senior teams: 4

Swaziland

Like many smaller nations, cricket in Swaziland has so far belonged to a privileged minority: those who can afford entry into the exclusive country retreats and clubs. But in January 2005, a group of enthusiasts decided enough was enough and a new slogan was formed: “Cricket for All”, designed to take the game to as many people as possible. In 2006 they received further encouragement when the Sport Council of the government donated a piece of land to be used as their home ground. However, the country still has very few decent-quality pitches and outfields, preventing them expanding as well they might – and a row broke out recently regarding the lack of equipment available. As much as they struggle, the Swaziland Cricket Association (SCA) continue to do their best, with their president promising to take the game to “street children” in an attempt to give them a brighter future.
Number of grounds: 4
Number of senior teams: 5

ICC criteria for application for Affiliate membership

  • Cricket must be played in accordance with the laws of cricket
  • There must be a minimum of four senior teams playing in a structured competition
  • At least six competition matches must be completed in a season
  • The applicant body must be able to field a national senior team
  • The applicant must be recognised as the sole governing body for cricket in the country
  • The association must have a formal written constitution; a designated secretary; contact details and a suitable administrative structure
  • They must have at least one ground on which matches are played
  • Annual accounts must be submitted every year

Shiv Chanderpaul is…Kurt Cobain?

Arise ye geeks. I’ve just found out that one of the (many) anagrams of Shivnarine Chanderpaul is Nirvana Relaunched Hips.

Not quite as good as my Parmesan Tony (Monty Panesar), but it could catch on.

Twenty20 short-sightedness

I see Sir Viv has called for England to pick a team of 20-20 specialists for the World Cup later this year. It shouldn’t take a genius to point this out to the ECB. We have players capable of winning the thing, so why not give them a run out now against the Windies, rather than using this as a warm-up for the ODIs?

Colly, who seems to have graduated from the Alec Stewart academy of interviewing, says that these are the best ODI players in the country and that they’ll adapt. Wrong! 50-50 is a different game from 20-20, so pick a different team! The only concession they made in team selection was to drop Monty, presumably because he doesn’t bat or field. Have they learned nothing from Fletcher’s mistakes?! Spin is vital in 20-20 and he’s our best spinner. Play him! How long before they wheel Gilo out again? Sheesh.