Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Saving Tests

Pride, respect, value you’re wicket as if you’re life depends on it

Play every ball as if it’s you’re first

Bat Time: Value every minute, hour, session, ball, over played knowing you are contributing towards the desired outcome

Be unflappable:-
-          Keep your temperament and composure if wickets are falling around you
-          If you play and miss put it out of the system and concentrate on the next one without getting worked up about
      Don’t give in and get carried away if the tempo of your innings is sluggish/circumspect
-          Don’t let sledging and chirping in your ear by close in fielders affect your game
-          If you are under personal pressure in the press, don’t let that affect your method or approach
-          If a certain bowler has troubled you, don’t let that affect your method in this innings, be clear in your approach

Be prepared to be slow, long, boring, consistent, and repetitive

Try to greet each delivery as securely and safely as possible

Be prepared to do plenty of grafting, grinding, stonewalling, leaving, and kicking away

Control a limited range, you can’t expect to be bossing the game or completely dominating, therefore just focus intently on a few elements
-          Keeping the ball along the turf
-          Playing straight
-          Reading the movement of the ball and picking the variations
-          Not flirting at anything you don’t need to play at

Make the opposition earn and work for the wickets, don’t help them on the way. Make every effort possible to save the match and put up a fight rather than giving in. This will increase your chances of preventing defeat and frustrating the opposition.

Once you are established and settled at the crease, ensure you maintain you’re composure and focus because 1 ball, 1 misjudgement, 1 lapse of concentration can end your stay and bring a new batsmen to the crease. Remember the analogy of 1 brings 2. Therefore, it’s imperative that those batsmen who are ‘in’ keep plodding along and make the most of it for the team cause.

Defend Positively – with intention and purpose to show you are up for the challenge and are prepared to battle hard, bat long and show you’re difficulties to be dislodged.

Remember the key phrases:

-          Hang in there
-          Grit it out
-          Absorb the Pressure
-          Go through the repetitive processes
-          Maintain strict discipline
-          Played the waiting game
-          Refuse to give in lightly
-          Dig in long, hard and deep

Key Words – reminder:

-          Patience
-          Concentration
-          Stamina
-          Application
-          Persistence
-          Endurance
-          Resistance
-          Perseverance

What you are trying to achieve is:

-          Frustrating the opposition
-          Grinding them down both mentally and physically
-          Wearing them down into the ground
-          Churning out the runs
-          Overcoming important passages of play
-          Taking time out of the game

This is when you want the following players to stand up and they should relish the challenge and try to prove why they are ‘the most prized wicket’:

-          Grafters
-          Grinders
-          Blockers
-          Crease Occupiers
-          Innings Holders

Take inspiration from some of the outstanding match saving innings that have been played. The following players are fondly remembered for saving the day for their team and it has been one of their career highlights, if not their career highlight. For example, Michael Atherton has dedicated a whole chapter to his Johannesburg epic  in his autobiography ‘Opening Up’

-          Hanif’s 337
-          Atherton’s 185*
-          KPs 158
-          Rudolph at Perth
-          Punter at Old Trafford
-          Younis’s 130* in his come-back test
-          Misbah’s 70* at the Basin Reserve
-          Shoaib Malik’s 148* against Sri Lanka
-          Cook’s 235*
-          Collingwood at Cardiff
-          Boycott 100* from 303 Hyderabad
-           Razzaq’s 71 from 260 at Mohali            
-          Atherton 89 from 280
-          Atherton’s 65* at Faisalabad                                     
-          MSD unbeaten one at Lords 2007

Or even cameos like

-          Russel’s 29* from 235
-          Danny Morrison 14* from 133
-          Monty 7* from 35
-          Geoff Allot 77 ball duck
-          Robert Croft 37* from 125
-          Chris Tavare 35 from 240
-          GMJ 31* from 153 (77)
-          Mark Taylor’s 98 ball 12

Attacking players need to try to put the team first and curb their instincts to be more cautious and watchful in their approach for the team, be selfless in this regard

If players are hopelessly defensively, there are only a few of these at test level, and then it might be an idea to play with the analogy of attack is the best form of defence and take a few chances, hoping to dent a bowler’s confidence and remove the attacking fielders

Work hard and ‘switch on’ at the start of the innings the most

-          Bide you’re time
-          Rein yourself in
-          Set out you’re stall for the long haul
-          Curb you’re attacking instincts
-          Content of occupying the crease
-          Put the shutters down
-          Battle for your runs

You are trying to:

-          Close down you’re end
-          Put a high price on your wicket
-          Spend time in the middle
-          See off certain bowlers
-          Carrying the innings through
-          Engage in partnerships
-          Show responsibility, dependability, stability

Relish the role of being a man for a crisis, a match saver, it’s the biggest thing you can do as a batsmen, save the day for your team when the odds are stacked against you. Bowlers win tests; batsmen at best can stop you losing them. The fundamental principle to winning test matches is taking 20 wickets, batsmen can’t do that, but they can deny them

Know that the opposition are under greater pressure to win the game, especially a spinner for a 5th day wicket and therefore if you spend time in the middle and survive for long enough, they might start to lose the plot with the frustration and start ticking. This is when you have a psychological edge.

If you are to play shots make sure they are controlled and selective with the percentages in your favour. Just try to look for nudge of the hip or another risk-free run option or wait for the predictable/bad ball which you can put away and can earn by good defensive play

The longer you spend in the middle the more runs you will get, the more runs you are giving yourself the chance to get and the more bad deliveries you will face and can then put away. It's natural for a batsmen to be thinking about runs and have something next to his name to show for his effort.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Predictions and Wants in SA

Predictions & Wants in South Africa 2013
Setting sights a tad lower on this one given the toughness of the series
1)      To win a test or draw the series
2)      To win or draw at least 4/10 encounters in the full tour programme
3)      To not lost a test by over 200 runs or 8 wickets
4)      Azhar Ali scoring his first test century outside Asia
5)      Not get bowled out under 230 in the first innings
6)      Not get bowled out under 200 in the series
7)      To win the first innings in at least 1 of the 3 tests
8)      Having one of our players being MOM in the 3 tests
9)      To have 4 sessions full where we only lose 1 wicket or less through the course of the 3 matches
10)  8 scores of above 50 in the series from our batsmen
11)  One of our batsmen to play a 300+ ball innings
12)  3 centuries in the 3 games
13)  3 100+ stands
14)  8 50+ stands
15)  Maintain top 6 for the 3 tests, chopping and changing won’t help in such conditions, more continuity and stability
16)  2 of our batsmen in the top 5 leading run scorers, 2 of the batsmen scoring at least over 250 runs in the series
17)  1 of our bowlers in the top 3 wicket takers
18)  Highest tour wicket taker to be Saeed Ajmal out of either side
19)  Two 5 wicket hauls from our bowlers
20)  Not let South Africa score more than 450 in any of the 3 tests
21)  Younis Khan century to remind one all of his class during the test series
22)  Misbah ul Haq maintaining his 50+ test average as captain & registering a half century with a couple of 30s in the series at least, overall at least 3 half centuries in the whole tour for him
23)  Not allow Imran Tahir to take more than 8 wickets in the 3 tests, making him toil
24)  Steyn to have a strike rate of over 45, make him work for his wickets, even if he eventually takes them, not letting him be outright dominant
25)  65 maidens from the two spinners, Ajmal & Rehman in the 3 tests, at least keeping proceedings tight & not allowing the hosts to get away easily
26)  An ODI 80+ from one of our top 3
27)  Not get bowled out under 180 in the ODIs, avoid a shambolic batting performance
28)  Not allowing Dumminy or Rudolph score a half century in the test series
29)  Avoiding Kallis & Amla put on over 150 if and when they bat together, the key partnership to break
30)  Ajmal to have a strike rate of under 60, maintain his wicket taking potency and threat even in seaming friendlier conditions, even if he is not as dominant as he has been in the UAE
31)  To win at least 15 of the potential 45 sessions
32)  To bat for at least 100 overs in all of our first innings, wearing down the opposition & providing our bowlers with rest
33)  During the course of the series, bat for 135 overs in one of the innings & also post 350 plus
34)  Azhar Ali to show his defensive powers & endurance to face over 700 deliveries in the series
35)  110 balls faced from numbers 1-6 over the 3 tests minimum per innings on average, they will probably be on the back foot trying to rear-guard meaning solidity/resistance is a must
36)  Only lose a maximum of 8 wickets in P1 over the first 10 overs in the 5 ODIs, coming to grips with 2 new white balls at each end against a seam heavy attack is a must to be on track

Top 6 batting predictions
Hafeez = no 50s
Taufeeq = 1 century
Azhar = 1 century and 3 50s
Younis = 1 century
Misbah = 3 scores of 30+, including 1 fifty
Shafiq = 2 50s
Rest = no 50s

Overall Pakistan Tests

 Key young players: Junaid Khan
Key experienced players: Younis Khan & Taufeeq Umar

Key Batsmen – Azhar Ali
Key Bowler – Saeed Ajmal
Key Fielder – Younis Khan & Misbah ul Haq
Potential MOTS – Azhar Ali, Younis Khan

Overall Pakistan ODIs

Key Young Player: Hammad Azam (if selected)
Key experienced player: Misbah

Key Batsmen – Azhar Ali
Key Bowler – Saeed Ajmal
Key Fielder – Umar Akmal

Potential MOTS – Azhar Ali, Saeed Ajmal

Overall Pakistan T20s

Key young player – Raza Hasan
Key experienced Player – Mohammad Hafeez

Key Batsmen – Nasir Jamshed
Key Bowler – Umar Gul
Key Fielder – Umar Akmal

Tour Overall

Most runs = Azhar
Most wickets = Ajmal
Most catches = Misbah

Going Strong at 60: The Champion of Champions

He was Pakistan’s greatest all-rounder and captain and arguably their greatest ever player. He has led Pakistan to more test wins than any captain. He led Pakistan to their first series win in England and India. He claimed a match winning 10 wicket haul against the West Indies in their prime to win a test and draw an away series against a side which is regarded by many as the greatest sporting unit of all time. He played in 5 World Cups, captaining in 3 and every one of them he led in they reached the semi-final or beyond, in the case of Melbourne 1992. He was Pakistan’s 3rd leading test wicket taker of all time. He was a father figure in the dressing room who saw the value of having  leg-spinners in the side and spotted talents like Inzamam, Waqar & Wasim who gave great memories to Pakistan fans and fans of the world game all across the globe. He is one of 4 Pakistan cricketers to be inducted into the ICC hall of fame. Talent was there, but self-belief, ambition and courage to stand up to take on the big guns were his biggest attributes. Pakistan Cricket, Pakistan as a country would have had a considerably lower profile without their genuinely great player, without their genuinely great man. Imran epitomised what was attainable through high standards, personal drive, and boy he achieved a lot in his 21 year international career and afterwards as well with his political and social work. As he turns 60 in the 20th anniversary of Pakistan clinching status as champions at the MCG and in their 60th anniversary since debuting as an international side, we pay tribute to our potential future president.

Imran won many man of the match and man of the series awards in tough contested test series. During his first tour of England as captain in 1982 although Pakistan lost the 3 match affair 2-1, Imran won 2 man of the match awards and won the player of the series award. When Pakistan beat India 3-0 in a 6 match test series under his captaincy during the home season which followed Imran won 2 man of the match awards and the player of the series award. When Pakistan won their first series in England in 1987 Imran was the player of the series and won the man of the match award during the only result of the series. During the same year he was man of the series in a 5 match series in India as Pakistan claimed their first series honours on Indian soil. During the 1988 tour of the West Indies he was awarded the man of the series in the 1-1 series, a moral win for any side visiting the Caribbean at the time. In one day cricket Pakistan won a 6 team tournament in 1989 under his captaincy and he also was awarded the player of the final and player of the tournament too. Not only did he lead successfully, he individually performed outstanding well while doing it with both ball and bat.  

Imran had a beautiful classical bowling action, the jump transformed his bowling. Genuinely was sharp with a vicious inswinger. Later on in his career, when the bowling took its toll on the body, Imran cut down on his pace and bowled some handy slower deliveries.

Even when injured towards the latter half of his career he did his best to serve his country as a leader, by focussing on his batting. As a batsman he was more than capable of leading by example, playing to the needs, demands and requirements of the team situation. Imran possessed match awareness and read situations exceedingly well. Through attack or defence he played with positive intentions.

His man-of-the-match award in Georgetown 1988 against the feared West Indies side is unforgettable. Imran was contemplating retirement, but knew the significance of the tour and was persuaded to carry on. Teams during this time went to the Islands, expecting to lose, but hoping to lose respectfully, minimising the levels of ruthlessness. However, to win a test by a margin of 9 wickets and prevent them from beating you’re side in the series required a lot of skill, courage & hard work. Imran managed to achieve it and for me this was his biggest feat. Imran was on the brink of defeating the best number 1 side in the world for many old folks. The World Cup in 1992 was the icing on the cake and a sensible time to bow out which completed his CV as Pakistan became the 4th winner of the trophy, but there is much more to him as a player and leader before that which tends to go unnoticed amongst today’s youth. We sell him short, by just considering the World Cup triumph when he was on his last legs as a player to summarise his career achievements.

Imran believed in specialists in selection of the best XI whether they were good batsmen, solid or destructive or specialist spinners, particularly leg-spinners or Wicket taking fast bowlers. Having experienced first class structures in England with counties and Australia with states, he knows how far Pakistan are lacking in having a reliable first class domestic structure and has been critical of it for a number of years. Less team, better competition is what he wants to see and abandoning departmental associations. Although he acknowledges the talent and raw ability is there to flourish, he feels it’s badly underutilised through a failing system. Imran also, was not a big fan of coaches, once saying that the role of the coach was nothing more than booking the hotels. He felt the captain and players are the ones who matter and can make a difference and all the attention should be given to that. This is similar to Warne’s view of coaching isn’t necessary at the very top level.

Those who got to see him play were fortunate and indeed it was a special time for Pakistan’s rapid progress as a major force in the world game. Whether he was the greatest all-rounder the game has seen can be debated endlessly as it’s a subjective matter. However, I will go far as saying he was the greatest ‘playing captain’, in the sense that he was as good a player as he led, but could have easily made the side as a specialist captain. A complete player and a well-rounded individual who was an intellectual, articulate, highly educated leader of men or leader of people. Few players or leaders have influenced a country to the extent Imran has and there could be more to follow from him yet, but this time away from the field of play with the 2013 elections fast approaching. 

Key Battles in SA | Part 1

Hafeez vs Smith

In whatever format, Mohammad Hafeez is a difficult bowler to get away and a nightmare for a left hander. To say Smith favours the on side, is stating the obvious. With a closed bat face, habit of chopping on and shuffling across, Hafeez should fancy knocking him over. We have seen him in the past trouble the likes of Strauss, Cook in the longer form of the game with his nagging accuracies & subtle variations who are top class players, too. There shouldn’t be much surprise to see him operating against Smith even early in the innings because of how highly rated he is against lefties & his impressive track record against them and Hafeez will certainly feel he’s in business when Misbah ul Haq tosses the ball to him as Smith marks out his guard. Hafeez will enjoy bowling to him as he does with any left handed batter.

Gul vs Kallis

Kallis looks extremely relaxed and comfortable at the crease. He survives for an age and steadily compiles his runs. There is barely a chink in his armour. If anything at all, he tends to get bowled when pace bowlers surprisingly slide in a yorker early in the innings. Gul bowls a fine yorker & should have the courage of his convictions to test him out with it. You are not going to get Kallis out by out-boring or frustrating him.

Ajmal vs Amla

Ajmal bowling to Amla will be gripping. Amla is a strong backfoot player who doesn’t mind batting on off stump & risking being LBW. He gets across his stumps, works the ball in to the on side from the off spinner, plays it late & backs himself to make contact rather than worrying about the LBW. Ajmal could bowl it straighter & quicker, backing the pace he bowls with to get one through Amla as it crashes into the pads. LBW will always be in play. Amla’s wrist work will be in full flow as he tries to tackle the challenge of Saaed Ajmal. Two of the best players of our modern era going head to head was always going to be a fascinating head to head contest.

Steyn vs Azhar 

Azhar is a stodgy, patient and amazingly consistent top order player who is workmanlike in style. He is prepared to bide his time, battle for his runs, reign himself in, hang in there, absorb pressure. He is a good crease occupier, blocker of the ball and a determined scrapper for the visitors and is an expert at playing the marathon innings & consistently being involved in long hauls. However, he has had issues outside the off stump channel with a habit to feel for the ball & has therefore feathered a few too many through to the wicket keeper and slip cordon early in his career. Nevertheless, the enduring grafter has strengthened his technical judgement & concentration levels even more to tackle this problem and now we see him averaging in excess of 45 in the premier form of the game. Azhar scored heavily against the South Africans in the Emirates in 2010 & was instrumental along with Misbah ul Haq in securing those commendable draws with a new looked side, but admittedly they came on unresponsive tracks, but there is an argument that the reputation of the South African attack compensates for that. Azhar will need to perform in this series for the visitors to avoid potential humiliation at the hands of a very fine Southern African side. His battle against Steyn will be a key contest. Azhar needs to ensure he doesn’t defend outside the line of the off stump, try to pick up clues in detecting the inswinger and have the short ball in mind, being clear in his method of how he will try to tackle the challenge. Classical dogged batsmen looking to deny against a fearsome quick with late swing should make intriguing viewing. Will Steyn knock him over or will Azhar manage to see him off and wear him down? For me, this is the key battle of the series.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Misbah ul Haq has the highest average, 2nd most 50+ scores, most sixes, 2nd highest number of balls faced, most not out innings in the last 8 test series since becoming captain

Azhar Ali is probably the most impressive batsmen though

All batsmen have impressive numbers

Misbah and the side have prided themselves on their consistency with the bat

He leads the way and others follow. Other players are inspired by his consistency and want to follow. One of the stand out points of Misbah's leadership is the consistency of his batsmen in the red ball cricket, not something Pakistan are renowned for

Random Stuff

Retired Blockers XI

Michael Atherton
Geoff Boycott
Chris Tavare
Shoaib Mohammad
Nasser Hussain ©
Jimmy Adams
Jack Russell (WK)
Ravi Shastri
Matthew Hoggard
Bob Willis
Geoff Allot

Retired Hitters XI

Sanath Jayasuria
Matthew Hayden
Viv Richards
Brian Lara
Nathan Astle
Shahid Afridi
Adam Gilchrist (WK
Ian Botham
Wasim Akram
Shane Warne
Brett Lee

Modern Day Blockers XI 

Ed Cowan                    
Tino Mawoyo
Azhar Ali
Thilan Samaraweera
Shiv Chanderpaul
Misbah ul Haq ©
Prasanna Jayawardene (WK)
Ishant Sharma
Kemar Roach
Jimmy Anderson
Monty Panesar

Modern Day Hitters XI

Dhoni ©

Thursday, November 1, 2012

2012/13 Season Predictions

India Tour

ODIs= 2-1 India win
T20s = 1-1 Draw

South Africa Tour

Tests= 2-1 SA win
T20s= 1-1 draw
ODIs= 3-2 SA win

Champions Trophy

Pakistan beat West Indies

Pakistan beat South Africa

Pakistan lose to India

Pakistan beat Australia/New Zealand in the semi-final

Pakistan will play the final that can go either way on the 23rd of June

Final Will Be

1) England vs Pakistan
2) England vs Australia
3) Pakistan vs West Indies