September 18, 2011
Classy Dravid quits ODI cricket career
By NORMAN DA COSTA, Special to QMI Agency
TORONTO - India’s tour of England turned out to be a nightmare. Hammered 4-0 in the Test series, 3-0 in the ODIs and in the only Twenty20 match, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team heads home having disappointed a billion fans and losing its No. 1 Test team status to England.
England outplayed India in every aspect of the game and it appears this mediocre Indian team will find it exceedingly difficult to get back to the top of the Test podium in the near future as many of the players who held this team together for the past two decades are on their way out.
The first to wave farewell was the classy Rahul Dravid, who announced his retirement from the one-day version of the game, prior to India going down by six wickets at Cardiff Friday. Rain intervened with India poised for its first win after blasting 304 for four. The Duckworth/Lewis method was brought into play and resulted in England making 241 for four off 32.2 overs.
Dravid scored 69 and received a heartwarming, standing ovation from a near-capacity crowd at the Sophia Gardens in his 344th ODI. Every England player shook his hand as he left the field and made a beeline to hug his wife Vijeta and his two children.
Two of the placards read: ‘We will miss you Dravid, the great ambassador of India’ and ‘the only reason we are here is to show gratitude to Rahul.’
While India lost Dravid, England was buoyed by the performance of debutant Jonathan Bairstow. Just 21, the Yorkshire batsman, scored an unbeaten 37 from 22 just balls in a stunning display of big-hitting. “I have never seen an entrance into international cricket like that. Johnny has made a name for himself,” his captain Alastair Cook said.
TROTT, COOK TOPS
It came as no surprise that England scooped up the top two awards at the ICC’s annual awards night. Jonathan Trott was named ICC’s cricketer of the year, the first England player to win this prestigious award outright, while Cook was named Test match cricketer of the year.
But the big talking point was the absence of the Indian team at London’s Grosvenor House hotel, a few blocks away from where the Indians stayed.
The CEO of the world governing body Haroon Lorgat called India’s decision to miss the function a “shame.” The Indian Board has taken a defiant stand and made no attempt to clear the air. The team management claimed earlier that the invite only arrived at noon on the day of the function. But ICC sources say they have evidence that the Indian board had agreed the team would attend. The ICC should not really be surprised by the snub as India was a no-show in England all summer.
SRI LANKA HITS BACK
Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene put up an unbeaten 68 runs for the third wicket as Sri Lanka finished on 161 for two at stumps on the second day of the second Test against Australia at Colombo Saturday. Sangakkara is on the verge of becoming the seventh batsman to score a century in his 100th Test. Earlier, Australia made 316 with Michael Hussey stroking his 15th Test century while medium pacer Shaminda Erana made a dream Test debut by capturing four for 65. Sri Lanka needs to win to tie the two-match series after losing the first.
TYPICAL CHEEMA SLOG
Rizwan Cheema lit up the skies in Dublin with an innings Canadian fans are all too familiar with. In a blistering attack, Cheema took the Ireland bowlers to the cleaners with a knock of 97 that included 10 sixes and six fours off just 45 balls. Canada’s national team wished this innings came in an ODI or Twenty20 encounter but it was in a four-day Intercontinental match. Pity Cheema did not get a well-deserved century and, to make matters worse, it was a knock in vain as Canada got clobbered by an innings and 11 runs. What’s even troubling for Canada is the game was done in two days. Ireland made 462; Canada slumped to 194 and 257 ... The good news is that the dithering ICC has reversed its decision to bar the associate countries from the 2015 World Cup. The bad news is that Canada will likely be looking in from the outside as Ireland and Afghanistan are near-certainties to lock up the top two spots in an eight-team league that has been proposed as a qualifier. Canada will battle the Netherlands, Scotland, Kenya, Namibia and the U.A.E. among others for the other two spots.
That great West Indian speedster Curtly Ambrose has been honoured for his achievements by being called to the ICC cricket hall of fame. He was inducted along with another great pace man — Aussie Alan Davidson — and former captain of Australia’s women’s team Belinda Clark. Ambrose, another of the greats to play in Toronto, was by far the deadliest fast bowler during the ’90s. Two of Ambrose’s performances that stand out are his haul of six for 24 to send England crashing to 46 in Trinidad in 1993 and bagging seven for 25 in the series clinching Test against Australia in Perth a year before.
Mohammed Hafeez is set to join one of the many great players produced by Pakistan. This outstanding all-rounder scored 71 from just 48 balls and took four for 10 in the 85-run walloping of Zimbabwe in a Twenty20 match at Harare. Pakistan made 198 for four and Zimbabwe managed a paltry 113 ... All-rounder Cecil Marshall, who represented Canada in the 1979 ICC Trophy tournament in England, passed away in Ottawa last Saturday at the age of 71 ... Also, Ayazuddin, the 19-year-old son of former Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin, died last week following a motorcycle accident in Hyderabad ... It’s been a long time coming, but Lancashire finally won the English County Championships for the first time since 1934.