Mankad dismissal hides English frailties

Cricket – it is usually defined as the contest between the bat and ball; In the last decade though, with the invention of twenty20 cricket and various law changes from power plays and the reduction of bouncers have neutered the bowlers on placid pitches that serve up 300+ targets with disturbing regularity in the last few years.

Looking through ‘statsguru’ the stats machine on cricinfo, there has been 143 scores off 300+ since 2009 in One Day Internationals (ODIs). One man decided to fight back though, in last night’s fifth and deciding ODI between England and Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan spinner Sachithra Senanayake got one back on the batsmen.

Senanayake who bowled the 45th over for the traveling team warned England’s wicketkeeper batsman, Jos Butler about backing up too far twice, in the 42nd over thus was ready to put himself at the center of a controversy. He did this, by ‘mankading’ Buttler who backed up too far for a third time. After a slight debate between the umpires and Angelo Matthews, the dreaded finger was raised, Butler was out and England finished four runs short of their needed target.

We’ll back up for a moment though and explain a ‘mankad’ for people. A mankad is a type of run-out popularised by Indian bowler Vinoo Mankand after he ran out Australian Bill Brown in 1947. Since then – the dismissal method has been branded ‘unsportsmanlike’ by most but it is legal (since 2011) plus one weapon for bowlers in a game where bats sizes and the run-rate have skyrocketed to keep batsmen  in check at least at the non-striker’s end.

Here is the incident for those who may have not seen it;

England quite predictably are outraged by the dismissal, Graheme Swann and Michael Vaughan calling it against “the spirit of the game”, “like cuddling up to your sister.” The phrase which gets invoked by shrieking opposition usually Australia or England when something goes against them. Spirit of the game is a mythical ethos that nostalgic cricket watchers like to hold onto harking back to a by-gone era of amateurism and supposed gentlemanly conduct.

Cricket isn’t that game anymore, it hasn’t been for twenty years – England should look at their own backyard, as they collapsed with the regularity of a jenga game again. They started off 1/98 before losing their bottle again (sound familiar Australians?), so the “unsportsmanlike” dismissal didn’t cost them – it is an excuse they can now wheel out to cover the fact, they lost another series after the recent disasters against Australia.

This writer salutes Senanayake in striking a blow for the bowlers and fans who enjoy watching a lower scoring contest instead of these boring 300+ chases that come down to who can hit the more sixes in an innings.. yawn.

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2013 Rugby League World Cup Overview

It might have snuck under the radar for those who aren’t ardent rugby league fans but there is a world cup on currently and you know what it has been quite fun. Both group A amd B have completed their first round fixtures.

While there has been the status quo with Australia and New Zealand starting off with victories but looking at these victories on surface value belies the effort of both England and Samoa who pushed both sides to their limits.

If you are looking for enjoyment in the world cup through the bigger nations you will be disappointed although there is tremendous skill from the likes of Thurston and Sonny Bill Williams – there is a sense of inevitability about watching Australia/England and New Zealand compete to see who between them will contest the final.

That is why during world cups the early rounds hold such charm and intrigue for fans because you get moments like Papua New Guinea getting within a penalty goal of France or Samoa bringing the Warrington crowd to their feet during the second half against the reigning champions.

Yes these sides are composed of NRL and ESL players who take advantage of the eligibility rules that are lackadaisical to be kind. I’ll leave discussing the madness and absurd nature of these rules for another article though.

These rules don’t take away the pride and honour these players have representing smaller nations – the whole Fijian side this morning was singing their national anthem with gusto alongside their hymn circle that followed before getting their campaign off to a win against Ireland.

Rugby league is often accused of being short-sighted with how they go about things like eligibility rules but the the organisers have got the format of the 2013 edition of the world cup right. They have struck that balance so can’t have that accusation thrown at them. Three teams will progress from both group A and B alongside the two winners of group C and D.

This format allows the lower seeds in group A and B to compete and not be disheartened by thrashings they may incur from Australia, England and New Zealand. Group C and D aren’t given a participation sticker rather get a chance to make the semi-finals.

2013 has been a year of turmoil for rugby league – both in Australia and abroad so the world cup will hopefully be a positive note to sign off on with some entertaining rugby league thrown into the mix.

This article originally appeared on Grid of Sports

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Slapdash Cricketers

Remember when, as a child, you wanted something urgently but your parents would say “Patience is a virtue., this also holds true for cricket. It seems though, watching the two test series between South Africa and Australia, that it’s been abandoned in cricket.
Both matches have been played at a frantic pace, usually reserved for One Day Cricket or in Kallis’ instance in the first innings, of the second test, a T20 game. The first test was completed in within three days, after huge collapses by both sides but the alarming stat, is how many starts aren’t converted.
Let’s highlight Australia for a moment, in the first test, no one bar Michael Clarke and briefly Shaun Marsh applied themselves for long enough resulting in 284 all out in the first innings, continuing a long trend where Australia have failed to score over 300! (The 11th time this has happened since the start of 2010)
Has the modern batsmen, I’m loathe to just narrow it to the Gen Y batsman become so obsessed with fast scoring rates, that no one (besides England it seems) can apply themselves for long periods of time.
There is so much T20 and ODI cricket played with test cricket sprinkled in when it suits countries that changing gears between forms has become much harder. Strikers like Shane Watson, only know two gears, blocking everything or flaying the bat either screaming to the boundary or the opponents hands. It’s also reinforced in Watson having a subpar conversion rate (15 fifties converted into only two centuries).
These 50 and outs by Watson put pressure on the middle order for Australia to continue his solid start and more often than not, Australia collapse to somewhere within the 200s or in extreme cases, 127.
Granted it isn’t just Watson who isn’t converting, Phil Hughes hasn’t set the world on fire since his recall during last year’s Ashes plus at different stages carrying an out of form, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey and Brad Haddin hasn’t helped. Neither has rash shots when your team is in severe trouble (Looking at you Haddin from the 2nd innings at Newlands.)
Batsmen need to have some application on pitches, I’ll admit that there are great bowling spells which can clean up a team, like Steyn’s last night but there were some rank shots mixed in with the brilliance. Sometimes you have to make that mental note, that I won’t let that bowler beat me, soak up some time then pounce on the odd bad ball!
The problem though, isn’t limited to Australia. South Africa on DAY ONE came out all guns blazing, led by Kallis who scored 54 at a quick rate, was dismissed off a rash shot which seemed to be the order of the day with it becoming the catalyst for South Africa to be dismissed for 266, after a promising start.

For the other nations though, there is a counter balance which is provided brilliantly for South Africa by Amla and De Villiers. The Aussies need to get back to the basics of test cricket, if they want to improve scores to above 300, more consistently and give their bowlers a chance in most matches.

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The Pat Cummins Complex

It’s been trumpeted as a new era of Australian cricket, with the Argus review recommending sweeping changes. It’s been a positive beginning, with Michael Clarke leading his men to a 1-0 win away in Sri Lanka.

The poster boy for this new change, is 18 year old New South Welshmen, Patrick Cummins. He’s had a meteoric rise from star in the making after taking 11 wickets in last year’s Big Bash competition to someone who was supposed to play a handful of T20is for Australia to now on the cusp of his international debut.

Cummins burst onto the scene when New South Wales, down on bowlers due to international commitments and injury was picked for a Big Bash match against Tasmania in Sydney. He took three wickets and almost got NSW over the line but they fell just short.

Pat helped NSW make the final of the Big Bash before they were beaten by South Australia. This strong form earnt him two List A matches for NSW but they yielded no return.

The litmus test would be first class cricket and if Cummins could maintain his 140-150km/h speed throughout a whole day. It wasn’t a roaring success but Cummins got through three games, taking nine wickets. Good but not earth shattering for the talk of bringing him into the test side.

If anything, Cummins needed more time to settle in first class cricket and make himself a standout there to become a regular in NSW’s side, with a battery of fast bowlers all pushing for places.

While his debuts have been successful, Cummins was brought back down to earth with his two following performances in the one day series, taking two wickets and leaking runs.

Now, with the ODI series done Cummins SHOULD be heading back to Australia to continue developing for NSW. That isn’t the case though, he is remaining in South Africa as the last choice seamer (made clear by the tour match going on currently) and will be carrying the drinks for the two tests.

While there is no doubt, he’ll gain valuable insight from the old heads in the Australian team, there is no substitute for playing especially as NSW need all the resources they can get currently. They have fourteen players unavailable through either injury or international selection which would allow Cummins an extended run in the side.

A chance which would give him a chance to work on his rough edges like maintaining his pace through an entire innings, day or spell and not getting too predictable in when he delivers the slower ball which has been devastating until now.

Overall though, Cummins is a work in progress and needs to be managed correctly, to not end up like other Australian tearaways Brett Lee and Shaun Tait who have retired from first class cricket. Test cricket needs to have pace bowlers, not only to continue a fine tradition but to once again fill stands across Australia and the world.

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This is for the true believers

Confused. Disappointed. Hurt. That is the general feeling amongst Dragons after the shameful surrender against the Roosters. It wasn’t the huge comebacks like against Canberra and South Sydney but it was an empty feeling.

Normally when the Dragons go into halftime with a lead, even a slender two point lead like yesterday, they would grind their opponents into the dust, as recent history shows, that hasn’t happened.

Besides the backdoor exit in the finals of 2009, this might be the lowest point of Bennett’s reign at St George Illawarra. Four losses in a row, 2 from 10 since the origin period, it isn’t enjoyable reading for Dragons fans or the coaching staff.

This isn’t to overlook, how amazing and impressive, the past two and a half years have been. Two minor premierships, a grand final win and topped off by the World Club Champions in February this year are great but the main thing, Bennett and his coaching brought was belief! Belief that we can defend anything, defeat anyone and have a team, that would put in every week.

Looking at the team in the last few weeks and months, that belief has deteriorated to what was on display yesterday afternoon, surrendering to a team that was battling for the wooden spoon.

Scarier is that, the supercoach Wayne Bennett doesn’t have the answers, all Dragons thought he had to every situation that arose, even saying, he is beyond concerned about the Dragons slump. That is what has caused this backlash against Bennet and the team.For the first time, since 2008, Dragons fans can’t trust Wayne Bennett to deliver them victories.

Unfortunately that feeling won’t be erased overnight. All us fans have to strap in for the ride, put our belief into the players like the previous two seasons and hope the playing group will get together to rectify this form and make a charge deep in September.

Next up for St George Illawarra, is probably the game we need. An away clash against the table topping Melbourne, with a large crowd in which 80% will be against them. There is their opportunity to prove all these slogans from the past few seasons, “Red V is apart of me”, “Proud.Inspired.True” aren’t only useful to sell memberships and show the passion for the team, perfectly illustrated by Dean Young.

Fans have our own part in this, even if you can’t get to Melbourne to cheer on the team, stick solid, remain positive and get two the remaining home games, to show the boys they still have the fans behind them, if nothing else. “In Wayne We Trust,”

Image couresty of Annelise Fagan

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Cricket Australia Contracts: Who’s in and out

It’s been quiet here on the Randwick End and obviously on the cricket front, with Australia not playing any cricket but we have something to talk about, with the annual list of contracted players released today from Cricket Australia.

The biggest causality it seems, from the list is Simon Katich. The left hander who got injured during the Ashes and replaced by Phil Hughes, has been told he wasn’t going to be playing much test cricket over the next little while. This must mean a vote of confidence for Phil Hughes who retains his spot.

Other players who have lost their spot for next season are, Shaun Tait, Andrew McDonald, James Hopes, Clint McKay, Marcus North and Adam Voges. While being excluded from the list isn’t a death kneel for those players careers esp. McKay who is still young, it puts them below quite a few in the pecking order.

In positive news, some exciting young talent have picked up a contract for next season, the pick of the lot has to be fast bowling talent Patrick Cummins who has only played a handful of games for NSW, has been clearly earmarked for the future. The other new additions in Khawaja, D.Hussey, Pattinson, Doherty, Krezja and Hastings are all selections for the future, which is key in an Australian team which will have some huge calls to make on senior members in the near future.

Australia top 25 contracts: Doug Bollinger, Michael Clarke, Patrick Cummins , Xavier Doherty, Callum Ferguson, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, John Hastings, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, Phillip Hughes, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Usman Khawaja, Jason Krejza, Brett Lee, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, James Pattinson, Ricky Ponting, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, Shane Watson, Cameron White.

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New South Wales Team Picking Blog #254768

Can you smell that? No it’s not the steaming pile of crap that Matt Orford dumps on the football field, it’s origin time! Everyone has had their say, who shoul;d and shouldn’t be in origin, so I thought, I might as well have a go. It’s no use, trying to get into the minds of the selectors, I think there might be monkeys there, just eating bananas.

Thus this list, will be the players I think, could win the shield back for NSW, after five years of Maroon dominance, where i’m sure, they will try and say they are the underdogs somehow. Maybe because their health system is worse in Queensland, I don’t know.

Justin’s NSW all conquering 17

1. Josh Dugan (Canberra)

2. Brett Morris (St Geo. Illawarra)

3. Mark Gasnier (St Geo. Illawarra)

4. Josh Morris (Canterbury)

5. Akuila Uate (Newcastle)

6. Jamie Soward (St Geo. Illawarra)

7. Jarrod Mullen (Newcastle)

8. Aidan Tolman (Canterbury)

9. Robbie Farah (Wests)

10. Kade Snowden (Cronulla)

11. Greg Bird (Gold Coast)

12. Ben Creagh (St Geo. Illawarra)

13. Paul Gallen (Cronulla & Captain)


14. Dean Young (St Geo. Illawarra)

15. Luke Douglas (Cronulla)

16. Beau Scott (St Geo. Illawarra)

17. Michael Weyman (St Geo. Illawarra)

Why these guys?

Backs: Originally I had Michael Gordon slated for the fullback spot but with his injury last night, Josh Dugan barring injury tonight will be NSW’s fullback. Jarryd Hayne hasn’t done enough to retain his spot and Dugan had a good showing in both All Stars and City/Country.

Brett Morris is the Australian winger thus automatic selection and Akuila Uate has set the league world alight and will do the same to those dirty Maroons (hopefully). The same principle applies to Mark Gasnier, he’s been NSW’s best centre this year, partner him with the destructive Jamal Idris and we have a damaging backline.

Halves: It’s time, Jamie Soward step up. He’s done everything needed of him, won pressure games for the Dragons and started running the ball more frequently. His kicking game, will hopefully kick the amazing backline of Queensland quiet. Jarrod Mullen gets the edge over Mitchell Pearce despite the latter shining for City, Mullen has the passing game and long kicking game, which will worry Queensland.

Forwards: One side of the scrum is formed by Kade Snowden who has excelled in a Sharks pack which earnt him a nice payday back home in Newcastle. ON the other side, is someone who has been touted for Origin and deserves the call up, Aidan Tolman who is the worker of the pack, he’ll tackle his arse off and take it up, the same way.

Between the two bookends, Robbie Farah is attacking and will exploit any weakness in the impressive armour of the Queenslanders plus he won’t give away needless penalties ala Ennis.

The second rowers select themselves, Greg Bird is and I loathe to quote Phil Gould here but “an origin player”. He showed in the third game, he can make an impact and Ben Creagh, ok, he ran away but since then, he’s been one of the best second rowers in the competition.

Gallen, nuff said, he should be captain.

Interchange: Dean Young is there, to be the utility player for the forwards, he can play lock, second row and hooker to the same standard but mostly for hooker. Douglas to partner Snowden and be apart of the prop rotation along with Weyman who also has origin experience already. Scott is there for the second rower also covers the backline, if he isn’t picked, Luke Lewis would suffice.

There is my team, rate it, hate it or whatever you want to do with it but do Retweet, comment and share the post with friends🙂

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