Cricket

Broad and Anderson the ultimate bromance

Sports like football and cricket, are beautiful sports for several reasons. Games can be decided and won through good teamwork or individual brilliance, yes that knock by Ben Stokes in the Ashes at Headingley comes to mind.

As important as those factors are for winning games, I want to talk about the need to build good partnerships in a duo, the bromance or the Romeo and Juliet pairings if you will. Let me elaborate.

Football fans, do you remember the Chris Sutton and Alan Shearer partnership for Blackburn Rovers, which helped the Lancashire side win the Premier League title in 1995.

Or what about the Teddy Sheringham and Alan Shearer partnership for England, or even the legendary pairings that both included Andy Cole, it’s fair to say someone is loved. First Cole and Peter Beardsley in the early ’90s, who combined to score more than 60 goals. If combining with Beardsley and scoring a sack load of goals wasn’t enough, it was when Andy Cole teamed up with Dwight Yorke at Manchester United that did an ultimate bromance develop.

In that 1998-99 season, as brilliant as Beckham and Giggs were, it was the deadly two upfront.

From the telepathic linkup play in the game against Barcelona or the semi-final win against Juventus in the 2nd leg, Cole and Yorke were brilliant, in fact so brilliant that then Blackburn manager Graeme Souness reunited the duo at Rovers.

In this blog, what I want to talk about are some of cricket’s deadly duo’s. Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, Alan Donald and Sean Pollock or Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee. In terms of the latter two players, they sound more like a solicitors firm rather than a potent Australian bowling attack.

In the example of every duo, that I have listed, one player seems to compliment the other, which I think can be said of the example I want to use now, the example of James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

With 1100 wickets between them, it’s obvious to see that despite Joffra Archer, Olly Stone, Sam and Tom Curran at their disposal and many more bowlers in the production line, England will revert to type and go to their two premier bowlers at any given opportunities, it’s with good reason.

Despite Broad being 34 and Anderson 38 respectively, these two are the men who seem most likely to answer the call of need for England.

The ongoing test between India and England seems to be proving my theory. This may be a bit harsh, but at the time of writing Archer and Ben Stokes combined have bowled eight overs between them and have conceded 43 runs.

Yes, the West Indies born pacer does have a wicket in the India innings, but compare that to the legendary duo of Anderson and Broad, they two have conceded just 31 runs in 15 overs. Both Stuart Broad and Anderson have been able to produce bits of brilliance on several occasions in their brilliant careers.

To be fair, the supporting cast have produced at times, but there’s an over-reliance on Broad and Anderson. With 1100 wickets between them, this thinking is natural. Until England area able to find this formula of winning games without Anderson (easier said than done) then England will remain stuck in the past.

India (Bumrah), South Africa (Rabada), Pakistan (Shaheen Afridi), New Zealand (Trent Boult) and Australia (Pat Cummins) have younger main strike bowlers than England. All I will say is, I don’t envy Joe Root’s dilemma, but until they find a formula I think England will be stuck in the past.

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India vs England third test, the tale of the wounded animal

They dared to win the first test and win at a canter.  That looks to have been the worst thing that they could have done. England since winning that first test in Chennai, have since been the victims of an Indian backlash. The sparkling double hundred from skipper Joe Root seems like a distant memory.

That 578 all out that they scored was this the same team? There have been some subtle changes but otherwise, the core of this batting unit has been the same.

Since that Stella knock by the England skipper and well backed up aggressive 40 in the 2nd innings, captain Root by his high standards has failed to get a score of note in the two innings since.

In that first game, both Bess and Leach did make significant contributions in the first test with the ball, but it was just Jack Leach who made a 2nd innings contribution with the ball. To get over the line, England were indebted to James Anderson like they have on so many occasions to help them finish India off.

At the time of writing, tourists England are again under the cosh. After making a paltry 112 all out, which included a Zak Crawley 50. To their credit Joe Root’s men have grabbed two quick wickets, to just put the brakes on proceedings.

Coming into this test The Three Lions would have wanted to lick their wounds after a chastening defeat in the 2nd test, but India are still obviously aggrieved that England had the nerve to win a game in this series.

With Anderson and Broad in their side, England will always have a chance, but if they didn’t know the task at hand, they will surely know now. A lot will depend on their start tomorrow, with Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli at the crease, the signs look ominous.

Where is Moeen Ali when you need him? He seemed to have Kohli’s number. If England didn’t know what they were in for, they do now. After all, it was England who were the last team to beat them in India, that was some eight/nine years ago.

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The over 40’s club

With Pakistan being neighbours to them, many won’t be able to resist the comparisons between Pakistan Super League and the Indian Premier League. Such comparisons are extremely unfair of course as the PSL is an infant a toddler almost at 4 years old whilst the IPL is the bigger brother at 13 years old, the IPL knows more than the PSL, but he too is inexperienced and can mature much more. What I want to talk about here is that many see these T20 tournaments as a ‘young man’s game’.

This year’s PSL tournament is an example that the youngsters won’t be solely dominating the Super League team sheets, several veterans are blessing the PSL.

West Indian legend Chris Gayle (Quetta Gladiators), Mohammed Hafeez (Lahore Qalandars) and Shahid Afridi (Multan Sultans)  are all members of the 40-year old club. The four, might not want to scream that from the rooftops, but fans will be screaming and shouting about how Messers Gayle, Hafeez and Afridi have made solid contributions.

Former Pakistan captain Afridi has impressed with the ball, in particular, the first game as the veteran all-rounder Afridi finished with 2-24 off four overs against Islamabad United in the first game.

As for the other three, they have made some good contributions with the bat. Gayle scored a solid 39 and a streaky half-century (68) in two games. The fifty that The Big Boss scored did offer a couple of big changes to the Lahore Qalanders, but the Qalanders fielders shelled those chances. Those drops didn’t prove costly as fellow veteran Mohammed Hafeez clubbed an unbeaten 73 off just 33 balls, which helped Lahore win and chase down a potentially tricky target at a canter.

For the cricket purists amongst you, I know you will be thinking why hasn’t Kamran Akmal been mentioned? I must admit as I drafted this up, I was thinking the same thing too, but then after some research realised he’s a spring chicken at 39. Just like Akmal,  Shoaib Malik is a youthful 39.

As I was compiling this blog, there was some drafting and re-drafting, my criterion is strict, this blog is a shout-out to the 40’s club. Messers Malik and Akmal wishing them good health will be in the club next year! It’s brilliant to see the veterans we mentioned doing so well. Sohail Tanveer, Mohammed Irfan, Sarfraz Ahmed are arguably in the veteran category too but are a bit more youthful than Gayle, Hafeez and Afridi.

The youngsters in the tournament and the emerging players too is clear evidence that the PSL is making huge strides on the T20 cricketing world map. Not bad for a tournament that’s 10 years behind the IPL and the other leagues around the world.

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James Anderson, the man who can do it on a ‘cold night in Stoke’

In cricketing terms, he should have retired a while ago, he’s arguably outstayed his welcome, but England fast bowler James Anderson is like fine wine, as they say, he gets better with age.

There are not many other sportsmen that this could be said about, giving this some thought and I would say Juventus forward Christiano Ronaldo is the only man who you can say this about. Jimmy is the other.

Born in Burnley, Jimmy Anderson has turned from a spiky-haired youngster who would have issues with injuries and his action, to a world-beater with the ball. Our Jimmy is no mug with the bat either.

Starring in an Ashes test with folk legend Monty Panesar in a stubborn last-wicket stand to thwart old enemy Australia and save the game on that occasion. An 81 against India, his highest in first-class cricket left the cricketing fraternity pondering on the thought of England having a new all-rounder in the making.

As the Burnley Brian Lara got older, and more greys appeared on the head, what else came abundantly clear was Jimmy was getting smarter with the way he bowled. In his heyday, he could run in at close to 90 mph more consistently. These days towards the mid-eighties is the norm.

Anderson has now almost turned wizard-like with ball. When Ronaldo takes a free-kick in football, no one else can make the football talk like he does. In cricket, the same can almost be said of James Anderson.

Reverse-swing and making the old ball talk was only a skill that many thought Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis could do, but Anderson has mastered the reverse-swing art too. It must be a Lancashire bowler thing.

As impressive as that is for the now 38-year old Lancastrian, the challenge is if he can do it on a dry spinning pitch? The football equivalent of doing it on a cold night in Stoke. With 600 wickets to his name (the most by any fast bowler in world cricket), one would come to a resounding conclusion, yes he can!

In fact, in the ongoing series with India, James Anderson now holds more records. In the previous test series against Sri Lanka, the 38-year old became the oldest man to take a five-wicket haul and has the distinct record of being the man who has taken the most wickets in test cricket after reaching 30.

For a player who changed and remodelled his action, only to go back to it in the process, this is some achievement. James Anderson, you are a legend of the English game, no the world game.

There won’t be a fast bowler who can quite do it in all conditions as you have. World cricket salutes you, it won’t be long till her Majesty will be calling for a Royal Visit. Sir James Michael Anderson arise!

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Pakistan pak too much of a punch for The Proteas

Pakistan wasted little time in wrapping up the first test against South Africa, in what turned out to be a convincing seven wicket win, with a day to spare. Hosts Pakistan, who wrestled control back in this test match, at the end of day three, were full value for their win.

South Africa, after being skittled all out for 220, in their first innings, did manage to get back into the match after they had reduced the Asian side to 27-4. Fawad Alam and Azhar Ali however, were the key for Pakistan as they frustrated The Proteas and gradually got back in the game.

This defensive rearguard, essentially knocked the wind out of South Africa’s sails and since then Pakistan have been on top. South Africa did threaten to get back into the game when Aiden Markram (74) and Rassie Van Der Dussen (64) combined for a second wicket stand of 127.

When the 30-year old Van Der Dussen, was dismissed from the bowling of Yasir Shah, the next eight South African wickets fell for just 70 runs. From being in a solid position of 175-2, the tourists inexplicably crumbled to 245 all out.

Debutant Nauman Ali, was the chief destroyer for Pakistan as the slow left armer claimed an impressive 5-35. This batting collapse by Quinton De Kock’s South Africa, meant that Pakistan just needed 88 to win, which they duly did with seven wickets to spare.

There was a couple of hiccups early on as both openers Abid Ali (10) and Imran Butt (12) fell in quick succession. Any hopes of a dramatic win for South Africa, were dashed as experienced pair Azhar Ali (31 not out) and captain Babar Azam (30) helped steady any nerves.

When the third wicket did fall, the wicket of captain Babar Azam leg before wicket off the bowling of Keshav Maharaj, there was just two runs needed to win. Those two runs were scored by the first innings centurion Fawad Alam, who won the game with a four.

South Africa, after being well beaten in this test will be looking to exact their revenge in the next test. The next test will be on 4th February in Rawalpindi.

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Pakistan vs South Africa first test review

Pakistan ended day three firmly in control in the first test against South Africa, after a very good day with bat and ball.

Hosts Pakistan who had lost eight wickets when day two ended, quickly lost their ninth wicket as Hassan Ali was bowled by Kagiso Rabida, who got his 200th test wicket in the process.

Rabada (44 matches), became the third-fastest to the feat behind legend Alan Donald (42) and Dale Steyn (39).

 

As impressive of a feat that was for the Delhi Captial’s bowler, the tourists were frustrated by a stubborn last-wicket stand of 55 between debutant Nauman Ali (24) and Yasir Shah (38 not out).

Leg-spinner Shah, who does have a Test hundred to his name, scored his runs at more than a run a ball (38 off 37 balls).

Those 55 runs could still prove very crucial as this helped Pakistan helped build up a 158 run lead.

A century for Fawad Alam, who also scored a ton against New Zealand, was crucial for the Asian side.

They were in serious trouble at one stage (27-4). Fifties for Azhar Ali (51) and Faheem Ashraf (64) helped Pakistan complete their batting recovery.

South Africa, after being bowled out for 220 in the first innings, got off to a solid reply in their second.

When opener Dean Elgar fell for 29, the hosts were thinking maybe there was an opening to get through The Proteas batting line-up.

Aiden Markam (74) and Rassie Van Der Dussen (64) put on 127 for the second wicket. When Van Der Dusen was out caught at silly mid-off from the bowling of leg-spin king Yasir Shah, this lead to a mini-collapse as three wickets were lost for 10 runs.

After initially batting so well South Africa, this game has arguably swung back in the favour of the home side. Tomorrow promises to be exciting. 

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Three Lions roar on as England win series 2-0

England’s cricketers beat Sri Lanka 2-0, to clinch the two match series against Sri Lanka, with six wicket win. Tourists England, showed one change from their first test win as Stuart Broad made way for all-time highest fast bowling wicket-taker James Anderson.

The hosts Sri Lanka, who were well beaten in the first test, fared better with the bat in the first innings this time round. Dinesh Chandimal’s side scored 381 all out, largely helped by 110 by star all-rounder and former captain Angelo Matthews.

Wicket-keeper batsmen Niroshan Dickwella (92) and skipper Chandimal (52) provided support for Matthews as the hosts Sri Lanka for the first time in the series frustrated England’s bowling attack. Spinners Jack leach and Dom Bess were wicketless, and only were able to dismiss Sri Lanka’s batting line-up, largely due to veteran James Anderson’s brilliance (6-40).

In response England, got their reply off to the worst start as England’s openers Zak Crawley and Dom Sibley again feel cheaply. Just like in the first test, The Three Lions were indebted to their captain supreme Joe Root. The 30-year old Root, who scored a brilliant 228 in the first game, backed this up with another superb knock of 186.

It was only Jos Buttler (55) who was able to offer any kind of support for his captain. Despite this, England were still able to get close to Sri Lanka’s first innings total and ended up being just 37 runs behind Sri Lanka’s total.

Having been in a position of dominance, inexplicably the home side self destructed and in their second innings scored 126 all out. Star bowler Lasith Embuldeniya , who has starred with the ball in this series, ended up top scoring with the bat, the spinner top scored for the Sri Lankan’s with 40.

England were left with a low target to chase of 164 to win the second test and complete a whitewash over their hosts. Just like throughout the series opener Zak Crawley fell cheaply, but just like the first test in the second innings, the tourists England had a wobble.

From the English perspective, thankfully Dom Sibley (56 not out) was able to return to form and Jos Buttler (46 not out) were able to guide the tourists home, winning by six wickets. Tougher challenges await Joe Root’s side, who play India 5th February in Chennai’s Chidambaram Stadium.

Sri Lanka vs England; tourists edge out day two

England, thanks to James Anderson’s superb bowling figures of 6-40 helped the tourists keep in touch with their hosts on the second day of the second and final test against Sri Lanka. Anderson, who was rested for the first test win in Galle, rolled backed the years with a superb spell of bowling.

Anderson, the world’s leading wicket taker for seam bowlers made a mockery of his age and became the oldest player (38) to take a five wicket haul in tests. Critics had been circling the ‘Burnley Express’, saying that he wasn’t able to replicate his performances in home tests, away from home.

The Burnley Brian Lara, as he is also affectionately known by, has taken an impressive 49 wickets in just 14 tests away from home. Anderson’s brilliance was needed as spin twins Jack Leach and Dom Bess toiled. To put into context the pair send down 65 overs and conceding 195 runs.

To put that into context, their joint economy (Leach and Bess) was three runs over, which was more than double James Anderson’s (1.38 an over). Mark Wood was able to chip in with three wickets and Sam Curran one wicket as hosts Sri Lanka added another 152 runs to their total, before being dismissed for 381.

After their first innings showing in the first test, where they were shot out for just 135, hosts Sri Lanka will be delighted with their showing here. In reply to that impressive first innings total, England again fell into trouble as out of form pair of Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley both fell cheaply Lasith Embuldeniya.

Just like in the first game, England were indebted to their captain. Root, who scored a first test double century (228), followed that effort up with a counter attacking 67 off just 77 balls. That enterprising knock, helped Jonny Bairstow play a more watchful innings at the other end.

The Yorkshire man, will join his captain on 24 not out. An interesting days play, which leaves the test finely balanced.

Sri Lanka vs England 2nd test

All-rounder Angelo Matthew‘s patient century, helped hosts Sri Lanka to just about dominate day one of the 2nd test in Galle.

The hosts got their innings of to the worst start after after falling to 7-2. James Anderson claimed two early wickets, and picked up another to leave the Asian side reeling at 76-3.

In the gruelling heat, former captain Mathews hit a measured 107 not out and put on 117 with captain Dinesh Chandimal Sri Lanka closed on 229-4.

Wicketkeeper batsmen Niroshan Dickwella finished the day 19 not out. Sri Lanka have arguably scored slowly on a flat pitch.

Credit goes to England, who limited the scoring on a pitch offering little movement for their fast bowlers or turn for the spinners.

Veteran James Anderson (3-24) was the tourists’ main threat with the ball as Jack Leach and Dom Bess remained wicket less.

So it was Sri Lanka, who edged day one but only just!

Australia vs India, tourists win a classic

India won a gripping fourth test by three wickets, which helped them clinch the series 2-1 and retain the Border Gavaskar trophy in the process.

Tourists India, were injury hit and between their seamers of Thakur, Saini, Siraj and Natarajan (who made his debut), there was barely 10 international appearances between them.

The Indian’s were set a very tricky 328 to win this test and the series. To put this into perspective, the Asian side had last won at The Gabba since 1930, a record which they changed in some style.

Rishabh Pant and Shubman Gill (both who have impressed in this game and the series ), both fell short of centuries in the match .

As much as that personal achievement would have been nice been nice for either player, the contributions of both men, helped India win this one in what turned into nail biting circumstances.

The final day, was played like a One Day International, rather than a test match.

Hosts Australia, who are third in the World Test Championships standings after this test series defeat, had no answer to this Indian on slaught. Gill and Pant in particular, showed the Aussie attack that they weren’t settling for the draw.

After the game, captain Tim Paine said Australia were outplayed in this series, that in itself was a credit for this young Indian team that was lead superbly by Ajinkya Rahane. Home side Australia did have some good moments in this test, Marnus Labuschagne made another century (108) and captain Paine made a half-century.

India were not to be denied this historic win, and will go into their up and coming test series with fourth placed England, full of confidence.

The Asian side will most likely have first choice spin pair Ravi Jadeja and Ravi Ashwin back available for this one.

The world test series is really hotting up.