Cricket - It's a funny old game

Cricket - It's a funny old game

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Lost Gate Receipts Will ‘Cripple’ Australia in the Long-Term, Claims Dhoni

This article first appeared on on January 14, 2012.

Indian cricket captain MS Dhoni sent shockwaves throughout the cricketing world today when he outlined the real strategy he had in place during the seemingly disastrous tour of Australia.

At a hastily convened press conference, Dhoni said that by losing to Australia consistently within 3 or 4 days, the lost income through gate receipts would ruin Cricket Australia, forcing their top players out of the team.

“I’m saddened so many people have been critical of my on and off-field leadership,” continued Dhoni. “Yes, I could have tinkered with the batting line-up, or actually employed attacking fields when the Australian tail was batting, but the simple truth is that the current Australian line-up has foolishly stepped into my trap. I project that the money that Cricket Australia has lost so far will be enough to force them to have to rent out the WACA to farmers during the winter, just to stay afloat.”

Former Australian captain Ian Chappell was quick to congratulate Dhoni on his vision and his ability to consider his side’s long-term prospects over simply papering over the cracks. “Like a lot of people, I thought that this tour was going pretty badly for India. However, Dhoni has taken advantage of an Australian side with a young, inexperienced captain and who are hurting after a humiliating loss to New Zealand. So in their eagerness to impress, they have run headfirst into Dhoni’s trap. Brilliant.”

It is only now that historic parallels to this plan can be observed. When Australia ruled cricket throughout the 1990s and beyond, other sides had subtly and slowly chipped away at Australia’s finances through massive, but strategic, losses. Whereas it may be easy to claim Australia’s drop down the rankings can be attributed to the successive retirements of McGrath, Hayden, Langer, Warne and Gilchrist the truth was Australia could no longer afford these players and they were forced to seek out poorly-paid work, such as the IPL.

“So you see, having lots of world-class players retiring at once with untried replacements struggling to get experience was not the issue for Australia. I think we can all take comfort from that and never mention it again,” concluded Dhoni.

Dhoni then proudly and confidently strode off the stage and slammed the door behind him, eliminating the possibility of questions. Most commentators applaud Dhoni’s commitment for holding out for six hours, before acknowledging that he’d actually shut himself into a broom closet.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

South Africa shake off ‘Chokers’ tag after tight 258 run win

South Africa threw off their long-held mantle of being a team of chokers in emphatic style after a nail-biting victory over Sri Lanka yesterday. South Africa had been cruising to victory when a 10-run partnership between Kosala Kulasekara and Ajantha Mendis started alarm bells ringing throughout the South African camp.

In previous years, it may have been expected that South Africa would have crumbled under the pressure and that Sri Lanka, the World Cup finalists, would have knocked off the remaining runs with ease. However, the new South Africa, under the steely leadership of captain AB de Villiers, ensured that defeat was not snatched from the jaws of victory this time and South Africa held their nerve to record a 258 run win with just 179 balls remaining.

Hashim Amla, who top scored for the hosts with 112, said, “When we had them 13/6 we were feeling pretty confident. However, their next 3 partnerships all got into double figures and I could see some of the shoulders starting to slump around the team. I was getting really tense when they got to 43/9.”

However, de Villiers wasn't throwing in the towel just yet. “We were getting fairly anxious at 43/9, especially since Sri Lanka had really started accelerating and had got the run-rate above 2.1. However, I told the guys that if we kept to our game plan and kept our focus then we had a great chance to stop Sri Lanka’s number 10 and 11 from scoring 260 runs at 8.5 an over.”

The plan was successful, and despite some tense moments when there was a dot ball, South Africa finally prised out Sri Lanka’s number 11 Dilhara Fernando. At the moment of victory, the reaction of the players on the two sides could not have been more different with the South African players overcome with relief and the Sri Lankan players in anguish over what might have been.

Sri Lankan captain Tillakaratne Dilshan was quick to praise the hosts, saying, “Full credit to South Africa, they held their nerve after we had pulled ourselves back into the game. I feel sorry for [Kosala] Kalusekara as he did an amazing job in getting to 19. Such a shame that innings had to come in a losing cause, but that is the nature of cricket.”

Most commentators agree that this match was the most exciting and close One Day International of 2012 so far.