Another five-run penalty

Nice observation from Jagadish:

One of Inzamam’s first acts on returning to the Pakistan team for his farewell test was to accidentally palm the ball onto the helmet behind Kamran Akmal, thereby costing Pakistan five runs.

38.4 Mohammad Asif to Prince, no run, outside off, and he gets the edge at last, falls short of Inzamam at slip, Akmal may have reached that if he had dived, the ball comes off Inzamam’s hand, rolls away and into the helmet, 5 penalty runs given

The significance of this is that it was a rather uneventful act in comparison to the last time he/his team were involved in an act which cost five runs.

Delicious irony and coincidence, considering this happened just one day before Darrell Hair withdrew his allegations of racial discrimination by the ICC.

Famous by nickname

Everyone in cricket knows who Inzi is. He’s big and cumbersome, like a sleepy giant, yet with a sharpened wit. He’s a throwback to the pre-tracksuit era but, when he chooses, he is quick of feet. He is a potato, aloo and rarely – if ever – hated by anyone. He clumps drives rather than strokes them and yet, for such a big batsman, he is lightning quick to sweep the spinners. He’s just a great big legend and his illustrious career, not without controversy or incident, is over.

What are your favourite memories of Inzamam?

Like a pair of naughty schoolboys

Trying to prove in a court of law that the governing body of cricket is racist is an ambitious aim, and it may well be that Darrell Hair’s surrender stems from a realisation that he was going to lose, and lose expensively. It also appears that he hasn’t managed to cut a deal with the ICC, and is thus probably destined to spend the rest of his life umpiring club cricket and shopping at Primark.

I can’t think of a single incident in the last decade which has split cricket more evenly. Both sides’ arguments make eminent sense. Yes, Hair was simply applying the laws of the game, yes, the Asian lobby probably do wield too much power and yes, the ICC should have offered him more support. But equally validly, Hair was a pompous, posturing fool that day, there was no firm evidence of ball-tampering and trying to blackmail your employers for $500,000, let alone labelling them racist, is just plain daft.

Mercifully, then, it appears to be all over. It’s not really for me to apportion blame to one side or the other – although you should feel free below – but in this ugly display of playground mudslinging, neither party has exactly covered itself in glory and you can’t help thinking that surely, surely, the world of cricket can do better than this. Hair and the ICC have behaved like a pair of name-calling schoolboys. And as your teacher always told you: “It doesn’t matter who started it. You shouldn’t have reacted.”

Cricket in Barcelona?

Well, of a sort. The Pakistan community in Raval, Barcelona, playing it on a zebra crossing.

Sport in the Pakistan Comunity, Raval, Barcelona

sparklingstones.

Pakistan struggling against the odds, and Mark Boucher’s record

Pakistan have their work cut out to get something out of the First Test against South Africa. The Proteas scored 450, on the back of a big hundred by Jacques Kallis, who certainly would have had a point to prove to the selectors who left him out of the Twenty20 team. Then the rather unlikely sight of a South African spinner on top, Paul Harris taking 5 for 73. That left Pakistan all out for 291, and it could have been even less if it wasn’t for some stout lower order batting. Now South Africa in their second dig are 76 for 3, and the lead is already beyond 200. (scorecard)

The other notable feat of the Test is that South Africa’s keeper, Mark Boucher, has passed Ian Healy’s record for the most dismissals in Tests. He’s a worthy holder of the record, a fine gloveman who has mastered his craft. The one disappointment in his career would have to be that South Africa have not really produced a spin bowler worthy of his talents. On the rare occasion  that I’ve seen him up to the stumps, he’s certainly looked the goods though and it is notable that in Pakistan’s innings he did get two stumpings. There’s nothing wrong with his abilities at what is the ultimate test of a keeper’s skills. (stats)

Ye Gods! A Test match is happening!

We don’t get a lot of South Africans or Pakistanis in these here parts, but there IS a Test match going on as we speak- South Africa, batting first, are 104 for 1, with Gibbs on 50 – Smith out for 42.

Ahh. White clothes and a red ball. God is in his heaven and all is right with the world, et cetera!

Meanwhile, England play Sri Lanka in a Fifty/50 tonight, and Australia play India tomorrow. But who cares? Tests are the best!

ICC World Twenty20 Final: India v Pakistan

So, the final is upon us, and it is the dream one for the ICC- India vs Pakistan. The success of both teams in this tournament will do more then anything to popularise this form of the game. There’s no doubt we shall be seeing a lot more of it in the years to come- a fact that must engender mixed feelings in the players as well as more traditionally minded fans.

Both India and Pakistan have made it to the final thanks largely to the efforts of some of their less heralded players; the new format has given a new lease of life to some fringe players too. The final will add the weight of expectations to the players, which I hope will not dampen the freedom with which they play.

I saw the group game that took place in Durban between the two sides, that ended in a tie, with India winning the subsequent bowl-out. I think the final will not be quite as close but at this stage, I cannot pick a winner. Although given that it is being played at Johannesburg, traditionally favouring the chasing side, the toss might be as crucial a factor as anything else.

Keep an eye on Cricinfo’s scorecard, and leave your thoughts on the match in the comments below.

World Twenty20 semi-finals

So, the semis are upon us. I’m hoping to at least catch some of today’s games, either on radio or a pub TV, and I’m gunning for the Pakistanis. As my colleague Osman says, this game really is suited to them. Why? Well, partly due to their experience in the format: tape-ball cricket.

The number of overs isn’t important; matches last from five to 25 overs. There are few rules but the basic ethos of these games, the hustle and the bustle of it, the short, sharp intensity of putting one over the boys from the next lane or mohalla because, well, that’s just what men do, is something Twenty20 comes close to capturing.

Runs are not scored but nicked. A little tap, run; fielder about to throw, steal the second; often the only boundaries are straight because of the narrowness of the field, so running becomes an art in itself. Pakistan’s batting successes against Sri Lanka and Australia were built on cheeky running first and boundary-hitting second.

They face New Zealand in the first match (scorecard), followed by Australia and India (scorecard) later in the day. So keep an eye on the scorecards and offer your thoughts as the matches unfold.

Video of India’s bowl-out against Pakistan

For those who missed it, like me, here’s the video of India’s bowl-out in the World Twenty20 against Pakistan. Cricinfo’s comms is useful too.