England are wasting their luck
IT IS just as well England's attempt to lose the third Test in Cape Town was foiled by the obdurate batting of Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood. They go into the fourth and final match in Johannesburg on Jan 14 one up in the series after putting South Africa in to bat in two matches and nearly paying the full consequence.
Andrew Strauss had luck with the coin, inserted the South Africans at Centurion and nearly lost. Then he repeated his folly at Newlands, and once again England had to eke out a draw with the last pair at the crease, making Graham Onions twice the jack hero. Whatever the reason officially ventured for gambling away the advantage of a won toss, taking the risk of bowling first was simply not justified -- at the time and in retrospect.
England look a stronger all-round side than South Africa and they gave themselves a diminished chance of proving it. Perhaps it was professional funk, like Hussain at Brisbane in 2002 when he gave the Australians the Ashes initiative before a ball was even bowled. Naturally he did not see it that way; there was a good 'reason' for bowling first.
One reason why Strauss was reluctant to bat first might be found in the ICC Reliance World Rankings, where England's thin resources were underlined. After the Newlands draw the off-form Kevin Pietersen slipped down to 19th and Strauss himself was 16th, the highest-rated England player. The bowling remained relatively strong, with the admirable Graeme Swann at fifth, James Anderson at seventh, Stuart Broad 12th and Ryan Sidebottom 18th. The world's leading bowler and South Africa's potential trump card was Dale Steyn. without forgetting that Paul Harris, their left-arm spinner, was ranked at 13th. This is one place higher than Daniel Vettori, suggesting that the pompous and constant derision heaped on Harris by Geoff Boycott on Test Match Special has been misplaced.
There is a chance that South Africa will win the toss and bat first at The Wanderers. If that happens Anderson will have to be at his best with the new ball, because batting out the final day for a draw on this more bouncy pitch will be much harder. South Africa called up leg-spinner Imran Tahir into a 15-man squad before realising his eligibility had not been confirmed.
Tahir is a tenacious much-travelled wrist-spinner. He propped up Hampshire with rare brilliance in 2008 and, at 30, he has signed for Warwickshire for 2010. His first international experience was for Pakistan A, and this dangerous customer might well have made his debut for South Africa. The uncapped Wayne Parnell could deputise for Friedel de Wet if he fails to recover from a sore back, which reduced his effectiveness at Newlands. He did not bowl on the final day, a crucial factor in England's survival.
England depart Johannesburg on Jan 19 and are then due in Dubai on Feb 14 for two day-night Twenty20 matches against Pakistan, announced today by the ECB, before Strauss's squad fly on to start their tour of Bangladesh. Pakistan won the World Twenty20 in London last summer, so a good interest in the emirates seems guaranteed for the fixtures on Feb 19 and Feb 20 at the 25,000 seat Dubai International Cricket Stadium. England will be playing in The Gulf for the first time in 12 years since Adam Hollioake led them to victory in the Sharjah Tournament in December 1997.
England Lions are due to play in a Twenty20 tournament against Pakistan A and the United Arab Emirates in February, followed by a 50-over one-day series against the Pakistanis, still unable to play international cricket at home due to security fears.
Feb 17: England Lions (20/20 Abu Dhabi)
Feb 19: Pakistan (20/20, Dubai International Stadium)
Feb 20: Pakistan (20/20, Dubai International Stadium)
Feb 21: Arrive in Bangladesh
Feb 23: Warm-up v BCB XI (NOS Dhaka)
Feb 25-March 1: Warm-up v BCB XI (NOS Dhaka).
Feb 28: 1st ODI v Bangladesh (SBNCS)
March 2: 2nd ODI v Bangladesh (SBNS)
England Lions itinerary
Feb 9: UAE v Pakistan A (20/20 Sharjah)
Feb 10: UAE v England Lions (20/20 Sharjah)
Feb 12: England Lions v Pakistan A (20/20 Sharjah)
Feb 14: England Lions v Pakistan A (20/20 Sharjah)
Feb 16: England Lions v Pakistan A (20/20 Abu Dhabi)
Feb 17: England Lions v England (20/20 Abu Dhabi); Pakistan A v Pakistan (20/20 Abu Dhabi).
Feb 22: England Lions v Pakistan A (50-over, Dubai)
Feb 24: England Lions v Pakistan A (50-over, Dubai)
Feb 26: England Lions v Pakistan A (50-over, Dubai).
Posted by Charlie Randall
Stodgy England Under-19 beaten
ENGLAND Under-19 were beaten by Bangladesh in a four-day Test in Chittagong in accordance with the pattern at this level on the subcontinent.
Though the margin was only two wickets in a hard-fought match, the result hinted at the reason why England struggle so frequently at senior Test level. Players in the UK take longer to mature and probably go into full-time cricket too early. There can be no high hopes of success in the junior world cup in New Zealand in January after consistent failure in past decade.
England collapsed to 107 against Bangladesh after achieving a first-innings lead of 49 at the Jahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium. Their batting had been undistiguished from the start as they took 119 overs to compile a total of 221. James Goodman, at No 3, lingered 73 balls for his eight runs, and captain Azeem Rafiq top-scored with 59. Coyne did not bat in the second innings, presumably through illness, when England crawled along for 69 overs against a tight spin attack.
Danny Briggs, the Hampshire left-armer, took 5-50 in the second innings, but he could not prevent the Bangladeshis squeezing home, with wicketkeeper Anamul Haque hitting a crucial 59 not out to add to his 46 in the first innings. England beat these opponents by 10 wickets in their four-dayer at Scarborough in July, but the subcontinent provided a completely different challenge.
England were without the Somerset batsman Jos Buttler, with Somerset in the Champions League Twenty20 tournament in India.
England Under-19 squad:
B Stokes (Durham), C Dent (Gloucs), D Payne (Gloucs), M Bates (Hampshire), D Briggs (Hampshire), J Vince (Hampshire), J Goodman (Kent), N Buck (Leicestershire), C Haggett (Somerset), J Buttler (Somerset), M Dunn (Surrey), A Javid (Warwicks), P Best (Warwicks), A Rafiq (Yorkshire), J Root (Yorkshire), C Roebuck (Yorkshire).
Coach: Mick Newell
Posted by Charlie Randall
Leicester makes Under-19 impact
ENGLAND Under-19 start their two-Test home series against Bangladesh at Scarborough on Monday July 6 with three Leicestershire players in their squad of 14.
Leicestershire have been trying to rid themselves of their quick-fix Kolpack reputation and this contribution to the talent pool should do no harm, with Josh Cobb, Nathan Buck and James Taylor winning selection. Two of the one-dayers have been scheduled for Grace Road, which is handy.
This age group is not especially significant, as trends show that most players will not play at senior level, but it always seems surprising when there are no players from Middlesex, Surrey or Lancashire, the major population areas. Bangladesh should be beaten, but at this level they are relatively strong -- more successful than the senior side -- and at home on the subcontinent they have pulverised England before now.
England, captained by the Hampshire batsman Hamza Riazuddin, play two Tests and a five-match one-day series -- two at Hove televised -- before two Twenty20 fixtures at Sleaford in Lincolnshire.
Friends Provident England Under-19 squad:
Scott Borthwick Durham
Danny Briggs Hampshire
Nathan Buck Leicestershire
Joshua Cobb Leicestershire (1st Test only)
Jaik Mickleburgh Essex
Sam Northeast Kent
Thomas Poynton Derbyshire (wk)
Azeem Rafiq Yorkshire
Hamza Riazuddin Hampshire (capt)
James Taylor Leicestershire (1st Test only)
James Vince Hampshire
Luke Wells Sussex
David Willey Northamptonshire (2nd Test only)
Chris Wood Hampshire
Coach: Andy Pick
FRIENDS PROVIDENT TEST SERIES
July 6–9: England U19 v Bangladesh U19 Scarborough
July 12–15: England U19 v Bangladesh U19 Derby
FRIENDS PROVIDENT ONE-DAY INTERNATIONAL SERIES
July 18: England U19 v Bangladesh U19 Leicester
July 19: England U19 v Bangladesh U19 Leicester
July 21: England U19 v Bangladesh U19 Northampton
July 23: England U19 v Bangladesh U19 Hove (televised)
July 24: England U19 v Bangladesh U19 Hove (televised)
FRIENDS PROVIDENT TWENTY20 SERIES
July 28: England U19 v Bangladesh U19 Sleaford, Lincs
July 29: England U19 v Bangladesh U19 Sleaford
Posted by Charlie Randall
Brighter for Bangladesh
THE carve-up of the 2011 ICC World Cup in Pakistan's absence has benefited Bangladesh. They will host an extra two matches, and their eight games will include two quarter-finals, India's share rising to 29 matches and Sri Lanka's to 12.
The Central Organising Committee met in Bombay on Tuesday under the chairmanship of ICC vice-president Sharad Pawar to discuss preparations for the 49-match tournament. A total of 14 matches were originally scheduled to take place in Pakistan.
It was the first meeting of the committee since the ICC board resolved earlier this month that, given the current security uncertainty, Pakistan should not host any matches at all. ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said: "It was a very constructive meeting and decisions taken have created a platform for us to move forward in preparing for the tournament"
A total of 13 venues will be used for the tournament, with eight of those in India, three in Sri Lanka and two in Bangladesh, who were originally awarded very little to fill their Mirpur stadium in Dhaka. The previous set-up with four hosts including Pakistan had 15 venues. The two semi-finals will be held in India and Sri Lanka, with the final in India. Scheduling for the quarter and semi-finals will attempt to ensure that the host country will play at home should they qualify
The event tournament director was confirmed as Prof. Ratnakar Shetty, and the tournament secretariat will be based in Bombay. Inderjit Singh Bindra, the ICC principal advisor, will work closely with the organisers, adding his vast experience to the administration of the tournament. Bindra was a key figure in the successful staging of the two previous world cups to be held on the subcontinent, in 1987 and 1996.
A security directorate will be formed under the chairmanship of Board of Control for Cricket in India president Shashank Manohar. This will include representatives of all three host countries and the ICC in a pro-active attempt to manage the issue both before and during the tournament. A venue inspection sub-committee was formed under the leadership of N Srinivasan.
Commenting on the gathering, ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat said: "It was a very constructive and decisive meeting with various working groups now charged with the responsibility to deliver on operational requirements.
"With less than two years to go before we are due to stage cricket’s biggest showpiece the clock is ticking, but everyone can be encouraged by the progress made in Mumbai today.
"Some fundamental decisions have been taken which have cleared the way for us to move forward and deliver the tournament successfully.
"We now need to continue with this level of progress in the weeks and months ahead to ensure a safe, secure and successful event."
Those attending the Central Organising Committee meeting in Bombay
From the ICC:
Sharad Pawar, World Cup chairman
Haroon Lorgat – ICC chief executive
Inderjit Singh Bindra – ICC principal advisor
From the Board of Control for Cricket in India:
Prof Ratnakar Shetty
From the Bangladesh Cricket Board:
Lt Gen. Sina Ibn Jamali
From Sri Lanka Cricket:
DS De Silva
Posted by Charlie Randall
ICC donate Bangladesh aid
THE International Cricket Council today donated £125,000 to the Bangladesh Relief Fund to help alleviate the suffering caused by a cyclone that hit the country last month.
On behalf of the ICC board the chief executive Malcolm Speed presented a cheque to Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful before the start of the charity Twenty20 match between a Bangladesh XI and a New Zealand XI at Hamilton. All proceeds from Sunday’s match are to help the victims of the cyclone.
“The devastation caused in Bangladesh by Cyclone Sidr last month shocked us all,” Speed said. “More than a month on and a huge challenge still faces those tasked with assisting in the rebuilding process. When one of our members is so badly affected in this way, and when we see the great work done by the various relief organisations, it puts what we do into perspective.” he said.
“I am glad that the ICC has this opportunity to make a contribution to the relief effort and I applaud the generosity of the people here in New Zealand, who have made their own personal contributions to ease the suffering in Bangladesh.”
On Nov 11 Cyclone Sidr formed in the Bay of Bengal and over the following four or five days tore across Bangladesh leaving behind a trail of devastation. More than 3,500 people were killed and many thousands more were left homeless by the cyclone.
The Twenty20 match was the highlight of a day of fundraising activity at Seddon Park for Cyclone Sidr relief efforts. The New Zealand XI included many top cricketers, including former Black Caps captain Stephen Fleming, current players Scott Styris, Peter Fulton and Ross Taylor, as well as potential internationals such as Jesse Ryder and Tim Southee.
Posted by charlie
Dollar rising in Bangladesh
THE England A tour party were impressed by the Khulna rookie fast bowler Dollar Mahmud during their tour of Bangladesh in March, and this week he started his climb up the ladder to international recognition with the first hat-trick in the domestic championship’s nine-year history.
Mahmud, 19, breezed into National Cricket League record books on the first morning of Khulna’s home four-dayer against Rajshahi at Bir Shrestha Motiur Rahman Stadium, sharing the new ball with senior international Syed Rasel in the absence of Mashrafe Bin Mortaza.
Mahmud had earlier bowled Jahirul Islam – the opener Stuart Broad dismissed regularly -- with a delivery that moved in. With his fifth delivery of over number five Mahmud had Junaed Siddique lbw, followed by Naeem Islam caught behind. With the first delivery of his sixth over, he had Mushfiqur Rahman also edging to wicketkeeper Sahagir.
Mahmud finished with figures of seven for 39. The Khulna and former Bangladesh captain Habibul Bashar said: “He was amazing. The wicket had nothing in it for quick bowlers, but Dollar was outstanding. I still can’t believe a pace bowler had taken seven wickets on such a surface,”.
“He was extremely quick through the air and bowled a fuller length. All the wickets came off genuine wicket-taking deliveries and no one can say that the odd one kept low or he received assistance from the pitch.”
Mahmud had been scheduled to fly to Pakistan with the Bangladesh Under 19 side, but the tour was postponed.
Posted by charlie
Bangladesh commission bites
THE clampdown on endemic corruption in Bangladesh has claimed the former president of the Bangladesh Cricket Board, Ali Asghar, who has been sentenced to 13 years in jail by a Dhaka court.
Civil unrest early this year, caused by the postponement of the general election, had disappeared by February this year when it became clear to the public that the interim government’s Anti-Corruption Commission was showing some teeth. Street violence had threatened the start of the England A tour, but the security precautions proved to be unnecessary.
Hardly a day went by without a report in the national newspapers of a corruption hearing in the Commission’s mobile court while England continued their cricket tour happily. Many of the convictions were commercial dodges such as fish market traders soaking their wares in formaldehyde to make everything look fresher and biscuit makers using rotten eggs. But there was a flow of local dignitaries and national politicians allegedly on the make.
A state prosecutor said that Ali Asghar, cricket president for five years until 2006, would have to serve 10 years in jail for illegally amassing wealth, and another three years for concealing the information in his wealth statement to the Commission.
The Dhaka court also ordered Asghar, a former lawmaker of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) headed by ex-prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia, to pay a fine of one million taka, or serve another six months in jail. The court ordered Asghar's wife, Khusnud, to serve three years in jail for abetting her husband in corruption.
Asghar was president when the BNP ruled the country and he served on the Asian Cricket Council, two years as their president. He was arrested by the security forces in February and sentenced to eight years in jail in another case for evading taxes.
More than 170 political figures have been detained. They include Khaleda and her rival Sheikh Hasina, also a former prime minister, Khaleda's two sons and dozens of former ministers and lawmakers.
Posted by Charlie Randall
Junaid jogs England memories
THE success of Junaid Siddique ‘Imroje’ in Bangladesh’s four-wicket defeat by Pakistan in the World Twenty20 at Cape Town today should have rung a bell with Stuart Broad and Graham Onions.
Imroje, 19, taller and stronger than average in Bangladesh, hit 71 off 49 balls against Pakistan and last February he piled into the England A new-ball attack in the warm-up match at the start of their tour. The left-hander introduced himself by driving 38 off 22 balls to give Bangladesh Academy a flying start after the loss of an early wicket to Broad at Savar, near Dhaka.
Fortunately for shell-shocked England he was dismissed off a leading edge before he could make a big score, with the two bowlers gaining revenge – Broad holding a skier at mid-off from a delivery by Onions. He impressed the watching Peter Moores, on his last job before elevation to England national coach.
Imroje drove hard through the line on both sides of the wicket, judging length very well, though he was a notable failure in two serious one-dayers against England A, and the selectors lost faith in him for a while. He was named in the World Cup 30 without making the final squad.
In first class cricket Imroje was capable of destructive innings, though he made only one hundred for Rajshahi in the four-day divisional championship last season. As a student, age remains in his favour and he should improve as an outstanding prospect for Bangladesh.
Posted by Charlie Randall
Bangladesh consider Houghton
BANGLADESH have sounded out Dave Houghton as a possibility to fill their national coach vacancy, though the Zimbabwean would be a reluctant candidate.
Houghton, Derbyshire’s coach, admitted this week an informal approach had been made, but said he would have to think hard about working abroad after relocating his family, including his parents, in England. The Bangladesh Board have also spoken to Richard McInnes, Australia’s team performance analyst, who coached Bangladesh development teams for two years until 2005.
The resignation of Dav Whatmore has left Bangladesh with a sizeable gap to fill, though their cricket infrastructure has improved dramatically under Shaun Williams, the Australian director of cricket acting as temporary coach during the current tour to Sri Lanka.
Houghton would be an ideal national coach for Bangladesh, because he is a gifted individual well accustomed to backs-to-the-wall life with Zimbabwe and now Derbyshire. In fact he did a remarkable job coaching my club Radlett in Hertfordshire for two years, especially in 2003 when they won the London 50-overs knockout competition – the Evening Standard Trophy -- as rank outsiders. Radlett’s path to the Oval final included away victories at Teddington and Wimbledon, the champions respectively of Middlesex and Surrey. Houghton’s knack as a coach to maximize the ability of every player could hardly be better illustrated.
Houghton captained Zimbabwe in their early days as a Test nation and later during his time as their coach he achieved a better record in the World Cup than England’s.
After the World Cup finished in April all four Asian countries lost their coaches. Sri Lanka were first to make an appointment, hiring the Australian Trevor Bayliss. That leaves India, Pakistan and Bangladesh still looking.
Posted by Charlie Randall
Bangladesh three in top 15
BANGLADESH have eagerly seized the opportunity to make their mark in this World Cup, buoyed by some surprising evidence. First they defeated India fair and square in Trinidad to set up their progress into the Super Eights. Then the ICC world rankings this week placed three bowlers in the top 20, whereas England, for example, had only Andrew Flintoff among the elite, at No 14.
After success in the group games Abdur Razzaq rose to 11th, Mushrafe Mortaza 12th and the veteran left-arm spinner Mohammed Rafiq 15th. Whatever Bangladesh’s weakness in Test cricket, their one-day prospects seem to have improved by leaps and bounds. They outgun England in the bowler rankings, though Kevin Pietersen has risen to No 1 batsman, replacing Australia’s off-form Michael Hussey.
Pietersen became only the third England player to go top in the one-dayer list. The previous England man there was Marcus Trescothick, for a brief reign in 2005, and Allan Lamb. Matthew Hayden, bolstered by his 66-ball century for Australia against South Africa at St Kitts, returned to the elite at 19, and AB de Villiers, of South Africa, jumped 12 places to 20.
CHARLIE SAYS: The ICC ratings undoubtedly add interest to the cricket scene. They are meticulously worked out, taking into account the standard of opposition, and anyone reading my Bangladesh dairies would know the respect I have for their cricketers, but my suspicion is that these rankings have probably over-egged the value of ICC World Cup performance. The ICC themselves commented: “It is worth noting that players get extra credit for good performances against the top sides in ICC Cricket World Cup matches. So players in teams that have made it into the Super Eight stage have a good chance of making further climbs over the coming weeks.”
Posted by Charlie Randall