Saturday, January 19, 2008

Zaheer I Love U

A Televised Romance - video powered by Metacafe

A very funny scene involving Zaheer Khan. A girl shows a poster showing Zaheer I love you and see what happens.

Funny Cricket Video

Matthew Hayden Pissed - video powered by Metacafe

Funny Cricket Videos
Mathew Hayden gets angry when Simon Jones hits him with the ball when throwing the ball back to the stumps. The giant Hayden wasn't impressed at all but looked very aggressive, although Simon Jones apologized immediately indicated it was impulsive rather than intensional. Whatever it be, I don't mind such events, that make the match livelier.

Inspired India end Australia's streak

The wicket of Adam Gilchrist, who was bowled around his legs by Virender Sehwag, was a key turning point...

No overseas team, barring legendary Caribbean sides, had won in Perth since 1985-86, and given what transpired in Sydney a fortnight ago, India's convincing 72-run victory at the WACA will surely go down as their finest Test win. An entertaining ninth-wicket partnership between Mitchell Johnson and Stuart Clark gave a 16,000-strong crowd plenty of merriment, but it proved to have only nuisance value as India ended Australia's stunning 16-match streak.

Michael Clarke had been the boy on the burning deck, but with Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey, Andrew Symonds and Adam Gilchrist back in the pavilion, the good ship was always destined for the ocean floor. And when Clarke gave Anil Kumble the charge and was beaten in the flight, it was as good as over. His 81 had spanned just 134 balls and included some majestic drives, but when he departed, he took any lingering Australian hope with him.

Johnson and Clark thought differently though. They weren't about to die wondering, and a partnership that contained more agricultural mows than a harvest season gave Kumble and the Indians more than a bit of grief. The 73-run stand at nearly a run a ball had everything - fours, huge sixes, miscued hooks falling short of fielders and even Johnson being bowled off a no-ball.

Kumble took the new ball as soon as it was due and Irfan Pathan struck with the final ball of his second over with it, inducing a big swish from Clark that flew to Dhoni behind the stumps. But there was still time for Johnson to bring up his 50 and Shaun Tait to show off his space-age pads before RP Singh sneaked one through a defensive prod to spark joyous celebrations.

A couple of contentious decisions helped them along the way. At lunch, with Australia three down, the match was still finely poised. But soon after the interval, RP jagged one back a little to strike Hussey on the knee roll. As he had with Sachin Tendulkar on the opening day, Asad Rauf chose to disregard the height and give the batsman out. Hussey had made 46, and his exit dimmed hopes of glory.

Worse was to follow for Australia. Symonds biffed Kumble for a six over long-on, but was then caught on the crease by a delivery that hurried through at 102kph. To the naked eye, it was plumb, and Billy Bowden's finger was already on the way up by the time a dismayed Symonds suggested an inside edge. Having drunk from a reservoir of luck in Sydney, Symonds found the well bone-dry across the continent in Perth.

Through it all, Clarke played with the mastery that marked his debut in Bangalore in 2004. There were a couple of beautiful straight-drives, and elegant strokes through the covers that left the fielders standing. He was just as assured clipping off the pads, and with Gilchrist showing signs of finding his feet, the 50 partnership came up in 10.4 overs.

By that stage, with Ishant Sharma not replicating his morning heroics and Pathan not quite finding his rhythm, Kumble had gambled on the offspin of Virender Sehwag. It was an inspired move. Gilchrist tried to sweep one that was too full and was bowled behind his legs, prompting frenzied celebrations from the Indians. And when Brett Lee followed in Sehwag's next over, the game was as good as up.

It had been much tighter in the morning, even though a sensational spell of seam bowling from Ishant put Ponting through the wringer for an hour before dismissing him. Both Ponting and Hussey struggled for any semblance of fluency as the Indians toiled with little reward on a slightly cooler morning.

Ishant had Ponting sparring outside off stump innumerable times, and induced more than one false shot in a spell where his rhythm was exceptional. Starting with an edge off Hussey that didn't quite carry to second slip, he tested both batsmen with lively pace and steep bounce while maintaining great seam position. His height was the most significant factor, with even length deliveries causing problems. Ponting took one on the knuckles, and was never at ease all morning.

There were two excellent appeals for leg before turned down, the second when Ponting didn't even offer a stroke, but justice was done 20 minutes before lunch when Ishant drew him into a stroke that took the edge through to Rahul Dravid at first slip. Ponting and Hussey had added 74, giving a platform for the rest to tilt at what remained an imposing windmill.

The figures may not show it, but Ishant's nine-over spell was as good as any seen from a visiting bowler in Perth over the past decade. It pushed Australia right back on to the ropes and after lunch, his bowling mates landed the knockout blows that levelled the best team in the world.

Australia's cracks finally exposed

It took four days for India to bring Australia's 16-match winning run to an end and Ricky Ponting is left with a truer perspective of the future...

The end of the era came quickly. An Australian unit that seemed unbreakable over the past 24 months had actually been admirably masking the dints. During the past four days they could not survive any more collisions and Ricky Ponting's stunning tower has toppled.

Through 16 wins there were many one-sided successes, but the handful of near-death experiences had stolen the energy for a world-record miracle. Australia have lost their first Test since August 2005 and India retain the tag as the great spoiler of baggy green parties. India's victory is a fillip for the global game, proving that the world champions can be beaten, and forcing the hosts into further self-analysis.

There will be disappointment from Australia and their supporters, especially when Perth was the most bankable venue for victory, but the team must be praised for extending the streak for so long. Three months ago they re-started a Test campaign without Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Justin Langer, a scenario that would have floored anybody else, yet Ponting held his side together until the tape could no longer handle the strain.

Matthew Hayden was missing his first match since 1999, leaving two inexperienced openers for Perth, Ponting was unable to patch himself up after his failed duels with Harbhajan Singh and a new bowling group seriously missed the influence of McGrath and Warne. Events that were supposed to happen in November were delayed until January and now the world is seeing the new Australia.

Like sharemarkets around the world, nobody knows how far they will dive, but the days of regular high dividends are gone. This record, a mark proving team substance over individual effort, must be cherished. After the Ashes defeat Ponting was able to look around his field of dream players and call for greater input. This time he has a handful of stars hovering above a core still waiting to know its worth.

Perth will be the venue where they realised Test success is not an Australian birthright. The WACA is meant to shock visiting teams, but the home players are the ones who cannot believe what has happened. The pitch didn't bounce, Shaun Tait whimpered and the batsmen were shut down by an under-manned India attack.

On the final day Ishant Sharma, a 19-year-old novice, operated like a world beater, working over Ponting in a way only Andrew Flintoff has managed since he became Australia's second best batsman. From the moment Ishant arced the ball wickedly into Ponting there was nowhere for Australia to turn.

The corner became tighter with a couple of umpiring errors against Michael Hussey and Andrew Symonds and the parallels to the Sydney Test were confirmed when Virender Sehwag picked up two wickets with his part-time spin. It was Australia's turn to experience misfortune.

Decisions are more likely to go bad for the struggling team, which is something Australia's opponents have complained about for years. At least there won't be calls for an umpire to be stood down for the final match of a gripping series in Adelaide next week, and the only boycott will remain an English commentator.

Australians believe official decisions even out over time. In Sydney it seemed an unfair pronouncement, but it has taken only four playing days for the theory to be proved. Hussey left immediately - only a sharp head turn and the briskness of his walk showed annoyance - while Symonds hung his bat out briefly after being ruled lbw to a ball he hit.

They were happy to accept the bonuses at the SCG and when the swings went against them here they were absorbed despite the impending loss. Australia have played in a manner that their supporters can be proud of, even in defeat.

Long lines of spectators waited to enter the outer in the morning and the competition India have provided has lifted interest in combination with the fall-out from Sydney. They came to see Australia survive and hoped for better. Most stayed to watch them lose, were entertained by the late charge of Mitchell Johnson and Stuart Clark, and applauded at the conclusion when the players merged for well-meaning handshakes. Ponting's men continued to be dignified in a defeat that ended their all-conquering rule.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Geoff Miller unveiled as England's chief selector

David Graveney (left) has been overlooked in favour of Geoff Miller (seated) for the new role of National Selector...

The former England offspinner, Geoff Miller, has today been named in the newly created post of National Selector, thus bringing to an end the 11-year reign of the former chairman of selectors, David Graveney.

Miller, 55, was unveiled to the media at a press conference at Lord's, and will link up with the England squad when they depart for their one-day tour of New Zealand in a fortnight's time.

Miller joined England's selection panel at Graveney's behest in 2000, and only put himself forward for the new role when it became apparent that Graveney's name was not in the frame. He will now work alongside the England head coach, Peter Moores, in a four-man panel which also includes two new part-time selectors in Ashley Giles and James Whitaker.

Graveney, who became chairman of selectors in 1997, has been moved sideways into a new role of Performance Manager, where he will keep an eye on the development of the County Academy programme of all 18 first-class counties, to ensure that the cream of young English talent rises to the top.

Hugh Morris, the managing director of England Cricket, made the appointments together with the ECB deputy chairman, Dennis Amiss, and the chief executive, David Collier. "Geoff is the ideal person to take on this new and important role of National Selector," said Morris. "He has played at the highest level, possesses in-depth knowledge of the domestic game and as a member of the selection panel for the past seven years he has extensive experience of the selection process."

The change has been made in accordance with the findings of the Schofield Report, which will require the head of the selection panel to travel with the team on overseas tours. Miller was the favourite for the new role ever since it became apparent that he was the preferred choice of the new chairman of the ECB, Giles Clarke.

"It's an honour and a privilege to be in this position," said Miller. After seven years as Graveney's understudy, he admitted that the pressure would be on now that he's the man in the hotseat, but he was ready to embrace the challenge. "Hopefully I'll come in with a very fresh perspective," he said. "David did things in an exemplary manner and our friendship will not alter one iota, but I've got my own views, in the changing-room and outside."

One possible obstacle to Miller's promotion had been his lucrative second career as an after-dinner speaker, but the man himself believes the two aspects of his life will dovetail nicely. "Speaking is part of my life, a part of me, it's the entertainment business," said Miller. "It's not just a matter of standing up and talking for half an hour and hopefully making people laugh, when I get out to dinners I'm promoting the cause of English cricket - before dinner, during dinner, after dinner."

It's early days in Miller's tenure, but already he's set out his stall on one contentious topic. His preference is for a single England captain in all forms of the game, although he admitted that the current situation - with Michael Vaughan in charge of Test cricket and Paul Collingwood at the helm for ODIs and Twenty20s - was working pretty well for the moment. "We've had injuries and a change of personnel, and this is a transition period in both kinds of cricket," he said. "We've taken a few backwards steps but it's been an upward curve since 2000."

There is, according to Miller, a very definite art to selection - something that is not always apparent to the watching public. "You go out and watch people, see if they've got the ability, find out what kind of heart they've got to do the job, and then there's their mental toughness," he said. "When you've felt that they've passed all those tests, you go and talk to the individuals to find out what they are about. It can take a period of a year, it can take 18 months, but the art is to get that selection right, not too early, not too late."

These are attributes that Giles will presumably pick up in the course of the next few years. His appointment continues a meteoric start to his post-playing career, which only got underway when he retired from first-class cricket during last summer's Oval Test against India. He has since been appointed as head of cricket at Warwickshire, and has worked with England's spin bowlers during the England Performance Programme's trip to Chennai in December. "Ashley knows the type of character you need to succeed at the highest level," said Morris.

Whitaker, who played one Test for England during the 1986-87 Ashes, represented Leicestershire throughout his first-class career, and went on to coach them until 2005. Recent and active players were specifically encouraged to apply for this role in a bid to bring a new perspective to England's deliberations, and among the notable names who missed out were Sussex's captain, Chris Adams, and Warwickshire's Dougie Brown.

For Graveney, the announcement brings to an end the career of one of the great survivors of English cricket. He was appointed to the role on March 13, 1997, when his sidekicks were Graham Gooch, Mike Gatting and the then-England captain, Mike Atherton. He was involved in the selection for 133 Test matches, starting with that summer's Ashes, and finishes with a record of won 52, lost 45, drawn 36.

"While I am naturally disappointed to no longer be directly involved with the England team, I feel that I can play an important part in ensuring that we maintain a consistent flow of world-class talent from the county academies into our international teams at all levels," said Graveney.

Malik promises improved results

Fully recovered from the ankle injury, Shoaib Malik promises a better year for Pakistan cricket starting with a strong performance against Zimbabwe...

Shoaib Malik's initiation in to the captaincy has been a mixed one. He began smoothly in May last year with an ODI series-win over Sri Lanka, and led a young side to the final of the ICC World Twenty20 in September.

Since then, the going has been rougher, with four consecutive series losses (ODI and Test) to South Africa and India cranking up the pressure on him. Talk of new captains hasn't been far away, despite the Pakistan board appointing him captain until December 2008.

But as he prepares to lead Pakistan in their first assignment of 2008, against Zimbabwe, he is hoping a new year might bring new results. "I am more confident now as captain," he told reporters days before the first ODI in Karachi.

"The senior players are supporting me and I'm happy the board has placed its confidence in me. I don't worry about how much time I have. I admit mistakes were made in the last seven months, but this year there will be no repeat."

Poor results bring their own pressure, often putting personal performances out of context. Malik's ODI numbers since taking over as captain aren't bad - from 13 matches he averages four runs more than his career average of 34 - yet he was still asked about a dip in form.

"I don't think my recent record is that bad if you look at it. In my last match in Jaipur, I was player of the match [for an all-round performance]. I just want to make sure that the consistency is there," he said.

Malik also asked for more time to be given to Geoff Lawson, who took over as Pakistan's coach last August, stressing that this was his first international assignment in that role. Though not overtly criticised, Lawson's impact has been repeatedly questioned and some officials have been privately underwhelmed by his contribution so far.

"Bob Woolmer had his own skills, Geoff has his own," Malik countered. "Bob came with a lot of top experience with South Africa and Warwickshire while this is Geoff's first international role. It takes time to settle in to that and we should give him that."

There was doubt over Malik's participation in the run-up to the Zimbabwe series due to an ankle injury sustained in India, but he believes he has now fully recovered. "I am fit. I came through my rehabilitation, passed a fitness test and am doing everything the others were at the camp."

With Australia scheduled to arrive soon - to provide the sternest test yet to his leadership - Zimbabwe offers Malik the perfect platform to chalk up some morale-boosting wins, ideally on the back of some impressive personal contributions. "This is a good opportunity to try out some young talent and to work out plans ahead of the Australia series. You can't underestimate Zimbabwe, but we will put all our efforts in to it."

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Kumble joins 600-wicket club

Anil Kumble is the third bowler to get 600 wickets in Tests...

When Anil Kumble picked up his 500th Test wicket, against England in Mohali in 2006, Adam Gilchrist, then in Bangladesh, had hunted down his number to give him a call. Kumble hadn't forgotten the gesture, when he became only the third bowler to break the 600-wicket barrier, and was to jokingly tell Gilchrist: "It would have been great if you had been my 600th victim."

Gilchrist, though, was very much part of the action, watching the moment from the non-striker's end. Kumble, playing his 124th Test, joined his spin colleagues Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan after dismissing Andrew Symonds. He would have seen Kumble appeal, not once but several times. A fastish legbreak caught Symonds' edge, deflected off Mahendra Singh Dhoni's glove before popping up to Rahul Dravid at first slip. Asad Rauf didn't seem too convinced by the appeal but finally raised his finger after a prolonged thought.

Kumble, almost on his haunches during the long appeal, couldn't hide his joy: clenching his fists and punching the air. He was soon mobbed by his team-mates and received a warm applause from a sizeable crowd here. Taking the ball from Rauf, he held it up to the stands and let out the characteristic modest smile.

"It was important we broke through," he said referring to the counter-attacking partnership that Andrew Symonds and Gilchrist had engineered. "After that you had to appeal and look at the umpire to give the decision. I'm happy he did. It was a crucial moment."

While his 400th and 500th wicket came at home, in Bangalore and Mohali respectively, his 600th was achieved on a hot day in Perth. Coming on to bowl in the 28th over, on a pitch more suited to pace than spin, he was smashed for ten runs in his first over before returning to undo Symonds with some extra bounce.

It was a happy coincidence that Rahul Dravid was the catcher. The duo, state-mates in Karnataka, have a combined tally of 54 victims. Both proud competitors, they bring a similar work ethic to the table. "It's an irony that Rahul had to take the catch, he's probably taken the most catches off my bowling."

Kumble talked about the hard times. With a smile on his face, he spoke of his experience as a 13-year-old, trying to impress the selectors in just a couple of balls. "It's the kind of selection we have back home when you're a 13 or 14 year old," he said. "You have 1000 kids showing up to display their talent. It's probably why I became a bowler. You get more than three or four balls, unlike a batsman."

Long been riled for not being a big spinner of the ball, Kumble has always valued substance to style. "It's all about creating doubts in the batsmen's mind," he said, "and at the end of the day you needn't bother about how you do it. You can spin the ball, bowl straight, swing it, bounce it ... as long as you create doubts, you'll be fine ... Right through my career there have been a lot of criticisms but these critics are important to egg you on."

The master of nuances

Anil Kumble's 600 wickets are just rewards for a cultured practitioner of a unique art...

Kumble has shown that changes in length and pace can deceive the batsman as much as turn and flight...

It's incredible how 600 Test wickets has become a routine milestone. That Anil Kumble would get there had been apparent for a year, that he would get there so quickly in this series was perhaps not expected. When he got to 400 wickets in 2004, he had said it would be nice to get to 500. At the rate he has been going it is conceivable he joins his illustrious comrades and rivals, Shane Warne and Muthiah Muralitharan, in the 700-club.

It would be fitting, too, because Kumble belongs in their company. In their contrasting and incomparable ways these three kept the flag flying for spin bowling, that most delicate and noble of cricket arts, in an era when everything - bigger bats, shorter boundaries and the limitations of one-day cricket - conspired against slow bowlers. It is staggering that between them the holy trinity have teased, deceived and winkled out over 2000 victims. And if Murali and Kumble keep going the number could well swell to 2500. That, you can safely say, would take some beating.

Kumble has certainly been hurrying to his landmarks. The last 200 wickets have come in 40 Tests, and the only thing that would stop him, it seems, is a weakening shoulder that has speared down more 38,000 balls in 18 years and has already been under the scalpel. I chatted with one of his colleagues before this series and to him it was never a matter of faltering form or a waning of desire. It was only a matter of how many overs Kumble could squeeze out of that shoulder.

That he has been an unusual spinner has been said many times before. It has also been said, a trifle unfairly, that he is a unidimensional bowler. Palpably, he has lacked the turn of Warne and Murali, but his variety has been subtler, far more apparent to batsmen than to viewers. He has shown that not only turn and flight that can deceive the batsman but also the changes of length and pace. He has been a cultured practitioner of his unique craft and a master of nuances. How many times have batsmen gone forward to find the ball not quite there, or gone back to find it hurrying on to them? It's only in the later years of his career that umpires over the world have started declaring batsmen lbw on the front foot. Had they been more amenable to one of Kumble's most natural modes of dismissal, he may even have had a hundred more wickets by now.

He would perhaps have a few more if he didn't have to provide succour to his bowling colleagues who, for a substantial period of his career, couldn't soften up the top order as Glenn McGrath did for Warne. And with India's batting proving fragile overseas for the first 12 years of his career, he has often been pressed into damage control rather than hunting for wickets.

Only in the last five years has he had the cushion of runs and the comfort of a pace bowling attack with some teeth. It has allowed Kumble the luxury of being more expressive and experimental. He has expanded his range, looked to bowl more googlies, slow the pace down, toss the ball up bit more and take more risks than he could afford in the earlier years. The results are revealing.

His first 84 Tests yielded him 397 wickets at a strike rate of 67.1 and an economy rate of 2.52 runs an over. He has been far more generous to batsmen in the last 40 Tests, allowing them 3.04 runs an over, but the strike-rate has dipped by nearly ten points to 58.5, almost at par with Shane Warne's career-rate. His career strike-rate of over 64 is the highest among the top ten wicket-takers of all time but it must be viewed in the context of his predicament.

It was fitting in many ways that he got to his latest landmark against Australia, for he has always stood tall against these mighty opponents, claiming 105 of their wickets, 68 of which have come in the last 10 Tests. He was lion-hearted on his last tour here, claiming 24 wickets in three Tests after being ignored for the first, but he returned with the regret of not being able close out the series for India on the last day of the Sydney Test. The wicketkeeper wasn't his greatest ally that day, nor were the umpires.

Given the task of leading the county in the autumn of his career, Kumble has brought the same dignity and competitiveness that have distinguished him as a player. It was a job that should have been his by right - John Wright, India's coach for four years, often used to reflect on what India had lost by not choosing him as captain - but was ultimately granted by default. In some ways, that has been the story of Kumble's life: he has had persevere till recognition and reward could be denied no longer.

Six hundred Tests wickets were inevitable, but let this be another reason to celebrate the success of one of the greatest cricketers India has produced, and a man who has dignified his sport.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Disappointed' Bucknor returns home

Umpire Steve Bucknor has been handed his cards...

The umpire Steve Bucknor has returned home to Jamaica after being sacked from the fractious Test series between India and Australia. He said he was disappointed not to be continuing but that he respected the ICC nonetheless.

A dignified Bucknor took the moral high ground and told AFP: "I respect ICC's authority in the matter. To err is human, to forgive divine, as the old saying goes. However, I consider it a sad day to see umpires sidelined after making only two wrong decisions out of a record of 35 appeals."

Bucknor, 61, was dumped by the ICC after India complained over his performance in last week's last-gasp victory for Australia in the second Test in Sydney. Several wrong decisions by Bucknor swung the odds against the Indians. He has been replaced by Billy Bowden.

The most experienced Test umpire in the Elite Panel, Bucknor made a quiet return home to Jamaica over the weekend, managing to elude the glare of the local press and a group that had planned to meet him at the airport to show their support for him. To date he has stood in 120 Tests and five straight World Cup finals including the most recent in the Caribbean. His contract runs out in March.

Bucknor's removal was announced by ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed who also acknowledged that some people would be unhappy given India had requested Bucknor be stood down. "I can understand that people will take that view,'' he said. "It is an extraordinary set of circumstances and we want to take some of the tension out of the situation.''

He was confident Bucknor would umpire again at Test level. Published reports estimated that as many as eight of 11 questionable decisions made by Bucknor and fellow umpire Mark Benson went against India.

The dismissal of India's Rahul Dravid on day five, and Andrew Symonds' admission he was out on 30 before scoring 162 not out in the first innings, particularly embarrassed Bucknor. The string of incorrect decisions during the match prompted calls from some commentators for administrators to make better use of technology in aiding umpires in their verdicts.