The rising of the Sonn

It may have passed you by that Percy Sonn, the former president of the United Board Board (UCB), has succeeded Ehsan Mani as president of the ICC, the game’s ruling body. So what? Well, quite a lot actually, for Sonn is no ordinary president. By all accounts, he’s a rather colourful character – although that particular adjective was a poor choice…

It was he, during his tenure with the South African board, who dropped Jacques Rudolph (a white player) for Justin Ontong (a black player) on racial grounds. Telford Vice, an excellent South African writer, has written a superb article at Cricinfo on the incoming president and his various benefits and attributes.

“Then he’ll walk out of the room and, often without having had a drink, start swearing and go mad. He offers so many excellent qualities, but there is the risk that he could blow at any time. He could make some comment or do something stupid, and then you have fires to put out.”

Infamously, Sonn “fell out of his trousers” at a 2003 World Cup match; he has used, publicly, language that would make footballers, their wives and their hooligans blush; he said Hansie Cronje “wouldn’t be allowed to play beach cricket”.

Another South African administrator remembers the Sonn years differently. “If I did one tenth of what he did I would have been hung, drawn and quartered. But he has an impish look and demeanour, and he can get away with a lot. He’s a classic curate’s egg.”

Scrambled, fried and hard-boiled, clearly.

Brilliant. Read the rest of it here. Interestingly, his first port of call will be Zimbabwe

West Indies’ performance against Zimbabwe

Did the bulletin for this game today which, let’s be brutally honest, wouldn’t register too high on most cricket fan’s “must watch” list. It was, however, a fascinating game but for all the wrong reasons, for it highlighted the West Indies failings even more starkly than ever before. In my eyes, anyway.

Zimbabwe are frankly no more than a county team. I would expect every county in England to beat them at least six times out of ten, convincingly. And that’s not doing them a disservice; they aren’t very good, they’re extremely young and have scant experience to call on. Yet somehow, they managed to make West Indies look like a bunch of amateurs. All in all, in terms of standards, it was a quite dreadful game of cricket.

To make matters worse, the pitch was diabolical to bat on. Variable bounce (skidding low then taking the splice of the bat) was the main problem to affect the batsmen. That Zimbabwe even managed to reach 150 was a fine effort – they could have been bundled out for about 60 had the West Indies wanted to. Fact is, they were bored, disinterested and lacklustre. They didn’t seem to care enough to take 10 wickets; it wasn’t so much complacency, or understimation of Zimbabwe, they just didn’t look alert and refused to boss the game. They should have done this and they didn’t, and I cannot explain or reason why this is.

Instead, they sat back and waited. Zimbabwe, who have a few obviously talented batsmen, are so inexperienced that they weren’t sure how to increase the run-rate. After losing their opener Piet Rinke, they closed up and batted for time (and that’s fair enough. playing to your strengths and all that). But you’d have expected the West Indies to come at them hard; to show them who was boss; to nail throws from the boundary right above the bails; to intimidate the weaklings and say to them “Yeah. It’s tough, international cricket. You might only be 18/20/23 years old but we’re not here to have a tea party, we want to win.” But no. Nothing. Nada. Only when their captain, Terry Duffin, and Justice Chambawamba (sorry, forgotten his surname) were dismissed did the Windies wake up and realise they really ought to take the remaining wickets.

To compound the farce, they then lost five wickets during their chase. Five? What odds would you have given on them losing two, let alone five? They’re only chasing 152 for fuck’s sake! Prosper Utseya bowled very well indeed – at good pace for an off-spinner, too. Young spinners often bowl too slowly – partly due to their bodies not yet maturing fully and their tendons in their wrists not being strong enough – but this chap Utseya was excellent, really impressive and showed a lot of guts.

Utter complacency and arrogance though from the batsmen; Morton’s lazy swish in the first over was bad enough, but Ramnaresh Sarwan’s jogged-single, causing him to be run-out, was absolutely incredible. If schoolkids made such an error, they’d be dropped from the team or given 1000 lines or 100 press-ups. It said to those watching “can I really be bothered”? Tony Cozier, commentating on TV, said of the incident: “[it] epitomises the state of West Indies cricket”. It’s hard to disagree.

All in all, a rather sad state of affairs. I’m fond of West Indies cricket, very much so – and I’ve made mention of my frustration before. But today, I don’t know…somehow I feel even less enchanted with them. I know they have problems with the WICB and I know there are constant, ongoing disputes and money problems and all that crap. But they have a group of players, good players, none of whom seem able to perform consistently – even against what is effectively an amateur team comprising teenagers and early 20-year-olds.

West Indies v Zimbabwe, 1st ODI

Another day, another one-day tournament, this time between two troubled nations. West Indies ought to sweep Zimbabwe aside, but there’s still the possibility of an upset. As Betfair note, though, it’s rather unlikely.


Cricketers arrested in Zimbabwe

Things go from bad to worse in Zimbabwe, it seems. From the BBC:

Team manager Babu Meman and players Vusi Sibanda and Waddington Mwayenga were arrested on Saturday.

They have been asked about foreign currency accounts and transactions.

It is increasingly hard to imagine that Zimbabwe can field a credible team for the forseeable future, however it is hard to imagine that ICC can act anytime soon. It is a tragic situation for Zimbabwe, in which cricket is just a small part.

Ganguly asked to step down

Thoughts on this? Seems to be causing an understandable (?) storm

Zimbabwe scrap for a defeat

For some time, I’ve watched Zimbabwean cricket teams either become decimated when batting, or demoralised when bowling. Today, it was neither, as they nearly put up a genuine fight against New Zealand – but they ran out of overs, losing by 27 runs. What is to be done about them? It is a complete farce and, in my opinion, is diluting the intensity required and expected at International level. Full report at Cricinfo.

New Zealand are crucifying Zimbabwe

Have you seen? Lou Vincent is on his way to 200. New Zealand 307/1 after 36 overs! Oh dear.

Five runs per over is the new Black

It’s official. Scoring at 5/over in Tests is the new black

Pietersen isn’t Hick

Vic Marks writes an interesting piece on the parallels, or lack of, between Kevin Pietersen and Graeme Hick.

Pietersen probably does not see it like that at the moment – he has the tattoo to prove otherwise. In any case, he barely has time to think in this helter-skelter summer. For the moment his accent, his haircut, his thoroughly unEnglish brashness don’t matter a jot – provided he can keep scoring runs against Australia.

Heath Streak returning

Heath Streak is returning to International Cricket for his country, Zimbabwe. Warwickshire, the country he has signed for, expect him to play this season – and he probably will, since Zimbabwe aren’t playing again until September (at home v New Zealand). Finally, some good news from that part of the cricketing world…