October 31, 2011
England cringes over cricket blowout
By NORM DA COSTA, Special to QMI Agency
TORONTO - A couple of months ago England ran roughshod over India in a pathetically one-sided series in England. The local press, rightly, hailed its conquering heroes. One English commentator went as far as dubbing some Indian players “donkeys” for their inept fielding.
But who would have guessed that in such a short time these same donkeys could be transformed into thoroughbreds? England arrived on the subcontinent with high hopes of hammering India yet again, but it was India’s turn to handout a 5-0 whitewash. Unfortunately, most will remember this tour for the bitterness that existed.
Alastair Cook’s squad had three players fined and, in that final game at Eden Gardens where England lost 10 wickets for 47 runs and crashed to a 95-run win, it was shocking to witness an altercation between Indian spinner Ravindra Jadeja and England’s Ian Bell and Jade Dernbach as the players lined up to shake hands.
England coach Andy Flower has promised to stamp out the unpleasant actions of his squad when it meets a resurgent Pakistan in the United Arab Republic in January. Flower’s word to cut down the unsavoury on-field behaviour came three days after he was quoted as saying, “I am very proud of our record and the way we conduct ourselves in international cricket.”
Graeme Swann, who was in the spotlight during this tour for his untimely autobiography criticizing teammate Kevin Pietersen during his brief tenure as England captain, revealed he received death threats on Twitter following the whitewash. He told British tabloid The Sun: “It can’t be easy to watch us, not just losing but losing the way we did.”
England, at least, did win the one-off Twenty20 match before returning home to a cool reception. The England women, though, can expect a warm welcome after completing a 3-0 sweep in South Africa.
WINDIES IN DRIVER’S SEAT
Darren Bravo bears a striking resemblance to his childhood hero Brian Lara. West Indies is now pinning its hopes on this 22-year-old lefthander to take over from the former great. Bravo emulated his hero by smashing two sixes and seven fours in his maiden Test century against Bangladesh at Mirpur Monday. His unbeaten 100, coupled with a solid 86 from Kirk Edwards, helped West Indies reach 207 for three. Scores: West Indies 355 and 207 for three; Bangladesh 231 . . . Both New Zealand and host Zimbabwe will be short-handed when the teams meet each other in the one-off Test Bulawayo Tuesday. Zimbabwe will be without Tatenda Taibu and Brian Vitori while the Kiwis will be minus Kyle Mills and Jesse Ryder.
The jurors in the trial of two Pakistani cricketers accused of match-fixing failed to reach a unanimous verdict after three days of deliberations in London Monday. Former Test captain Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif are charged for plotting to bowl deliberate no-balls in a Test against England last summer. The judge told the jurors he will accept a 10-2 majority in the event they cannot reach a unanimous decision.
PLAYING FOR FREE
Kumar Sangakkara made an exceptional speech at Lord’s, July 4, touching on the history, culture and a more-than-honest assessment of the Sri Lankan administration. He received a standing ovation for a speech considered the finest ever delivered by a cricketer. A red-faced Sri Lankan board threatened action but backed off since this classy batsman pinpointed the problems bubbling under the surface on the island. Reports filtering out of Sri Lanka confirm its national players have not been paid since it co-hosted the World Cup earlier this year. The board says it will meet its obligations as soon as it receives the $5 million (U.S.) owed by the International Cricket Council. Little wonder Sri Lanka’s powerful Test team was drubbed by Pakistan by nine wickets in the second Test at Dubai last week. The teams meet in the final Test starting Thursday.
KATICH ON CARPET
A few months ago Aussie cricket fans were stunned when in-form batsman Simon Katich was dropped from the national team. At the time Katich denied that a dressing room altercation with newly-appointed captain Michael Clarke had anything to do with him losing his central contract with Cricket Australia. But Katich now admits that the incident in 2009 during a Test versus South Africa did him in. Apparently Clarke and Katich argued about when the team song should be played and that led to Katich grabbing Clarke by his throat. “I think you don’t have to be Einstein to figure out that it’s not just the selectors that had a part in sending me on my way,’’ Katich said. Katich has been asked to appear before a Cricket Australia panel for his “detrimental comments.’’ . . . Batting ace Chris Gayle, who has had his own running battles with the West Indies Cricket Board, wants to know why he should apologize to the board for comments he made before he can be reinstated to the national team. “They need to come clear and say what Chris Gayle should apologize for, and what should Chris Gayle retract, what are the terms, really and truly,” Gayle said . . . Things appear to look a little rosier for another ace player who has had his share of issues with his national board. With a new chief in charge of Pakistan cricket it appears Shahid Afridi will be welcomed back to the national one-day team. Said Zaka Ashraf: “As a Pakistan national and as a cricket viewer, I think Afridi is very good one-day player and has plenty to offer.’’ Afridi walked out on the team after issues with former boss Ijaz Butt.