‘I want to be England’s Tendulkar’

Not my words, but those of Ravi Bopara, the Essex and England batsman (oh alright: he’s an allrounder. Just). My miniature magazine colleague, Daniel Brigham, did an excellent interview with the future Tendulkar in a recent issue of The Wisden Cricketer, and Bopara’s claims are nothing if not ambitious.

“Sachin’s my ultimate hero. He’s the one who I learnt all my batting off, just watching him constantly. I always tried to copy his batting and put it in my own style. I want to be a top-four Test batter – similar to Tendulkar. I don’t think anyone’s going to score as many runs as him but I want to have a career close to his – do everything he did but do it for England.”

He’s got drive, I’ll give him that. But has he got Tendulkar’s drive? Patrick Kidd, who has championed Bopara’s talents since the lad was about 10, will hopefully tell us more…

Use the force, Luke

I was a little sceptical about Luke Wright’s succession to the England 20-20 squad on the basis that he scored the most runs in this year’s campaign, not least because Chris Schofield was picked for taking the most wickets. Graeme Swann must be uber-gutted! But while I am delighted the selectors have decided to go with a specialist squad, I had developed the opinion that Wright was just a slogger-got-lucky.

Not for the first time, I was dead wrong. His 60-ball hundred last night for Sussex against Gloucestershire was stunning. While there was the odd smear and hoik, almost every shot was orthodox, including a dreamy cover drive and on drive, all hit with terrible power and timing. Gloucestershire are not the very worst of attacks – I’m sure Wright will meet some worse bowlers at the 20-20 World Cup – but he made them look inept. Even Michael Atherton was purring by the end, shifting his stance from, “if you’re good enough for international 50 over cricket, you’re good enough for 20-20” to “if this lad’s good enough for 20-20, he should be good enough for 50 overs too.”

There were various comparisons, such as he grips and rips like Tendulkar or has the speed of hands through the ball as Ali Brown. Indeed, not since Brown have I seen an Englishman so dismantle an attack in the way Jayasuriya or Gilchrist do for fun. As a right-hander, he had something of Michael Slater about him, although I’ll go for a more modern Aussie as a comparison, who likewise has plenty more to prove. Shane Watson batted in a very similar fashion in the World Cup, matching power and timing with elegance. He bowls a bit too and has the same bottle blond hair. Time will tell whether Luke Wright can mix it on the same stage.

Video: Monty Panesar dismissing Sachin Tendulkar

A video of Monty dismissing Sachin Tendulkar. Not quite yet his bunny, but…check out those celebrations.

Click here if nothing appears above.

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….?

Wither, bowlers

Were the bowlers all blind or drugged into bowling half-volleys?

Two junior cricketers from Hyderabad created history when they added a world-record 721 runs in 40 overs to eclipse the 664-run stand between Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli set in 1987-88. The St Peter’s School openers B Manoj Kumar and Mohammed Shaibaaz Tumbi, both 13, hit an unbeaten 320 and 324 respectively in the Hyderabad Cricket Association Inter-School Under-13 tournament on Wednesday.

Show offs.

McGrath v Tendulkar

2.6 McGrath to Dravid, no run, this time it’s the offcutter and it threads the gap between Dravid’s bat and body.
2.5 McGrath to Dravid, no run, left alone outside the off stump
2.5 McGrath to Dravid, 1 wide, wide outside off stump and moves wider after pitching.
2.4 McGrath to Dravid, no run, good length on off stump, Dravid gets forward and plays it back to the bowler
2.4 McGrath to Dravid, 1 no ball, McGrath oversteps, that pitched outside off and moved away from Dravid who lets it go
2.3 McGrath to Tendulkar, 1 run, worked through midwicket for a single
2.2 McGrath to Tendulkar, no run, beaten by a unplayable ball. That pitched on middle, opened up Tendulkar, and moved a touch away to beat the outside edge
2.1 McGrath to Tendulkar, no run, bang on the helmet, McGrath digs it in short and the ball doesn’t get up as much as Tendulkar thought it would. He ducks into it and the ball crashes into the helmet. What a start to the McGrath-Tendulkar battle

The McGrath-Tendulkar battle has resumed. India are chasing 245 to win.

Duckworth, Lewis, Carib

Del, protector of the Wisden wallets, rose from his seat this afternoon and jeered “Editorial! Duckworth and Lewis…friends of the West Indies.”

A fervent West Indies fan, he was just slightly pleased at Duck’n’Loo’s calculations which helped them down India in yesterday’s one-dayer. And all that, in spite of 141* from Sachin Tendulkar…on comeback!

Tendulkar’s back

Sachin Tendulkar is back and has been declared fit to play in the tri-series in Sri Lanka:

“Tendulkar has been undergoing rehabilitation under the supervision of team physiotherapist John Gloster and in the last five days has made progress satisfactory enough to make him available for the Sri Lanka series,” he told reporters. “The report we have got is that Sachin is fit to play. He is available for selection again.”

More at Cricinfo

Sachin Tendulkar’s 50 at The Oval

Tendulkar hit 50 against Pakistan tonight but Shahid Afridi and Inzamam-ul-Haq powered Pakistan to victory. It was a (wet) charity game at (a very gloomy) The Oval. They raised £250,000. Stuck a brief report up at Cricinfo including photos.

Sachin polaroid

Utterly pointless “polaroid effect” of a photo I took of Sachin Tendulkar:

Sachin Tendulkar polaroidcf