Valiant Scotland bows out


By: Al Muthu

The Netherlands survived a minor scare to kill Scotland’s hopes of appearing in the 2012 Cricket World Twenty-20 championships.

Tom Cooper carried the Dutch to a vital three-wicket victory over Scotland at yesterday’s Twenty-20 qualifiers match. Abused by a smattering of injuries within the team, the Scots leaked 50 runs in the last 5 overs allowing a competitive target of 167 to be overhauled with relative ease.
Once again, Majid Haq made Scotland proud. In addition to being extremely miserly, the crafty off spinner accounted for three of the opposition’s top batsman, one of which almost swung the game Scotland’s way. He is currently the highest wicket taker for the entire tournament.
But Haq was forced to lead a lone battle as Australia-born Tom Cooper exploited Captain Kyle Coetzer’s lack of bowling resources. His belligerent 60 off a mere 32 balls included a hat-trick of sixes against second spinner Moneeb Iqbal.
Gordon Drummond, returning for this game after a side strain, teamed up with Majid Haq to cause a small stir. The duo removed three Dutch batsmen including Tom Cooper, in the space of three overs.
In a brave move, the skipper took the responsibility to capitalize on his men’s efforts, but 20 year-old Tim Gruijters smashed him for a massive six over midwicket to throw momentum back in favor of the Dutch.
In a final display of game-losing misfortune, Tom de Grooth miscued a slow bouncer, which flew over the keeper, Craigh Wallace’s head, and became the winning runs. This signalled the end of the Scottish campaign to qualify for the Cricket World T20 Championships later this year.
Scotland’s batsmen have had an impressive tournament. Openers Calum MacLeod and Richard Berrington consolidated with a blistering partnership amassing 59 runs in just 6 overs. Berrington contributed 37 off 25 balls whilst MacLeod became the tournament’s second highest run scorer in the process of notching up his second half century (57 off 42 balls, with two sixes and five fours). MacLeod also holds the record for the second highest score in an innings for his undefeated 104 against Oman.
Preston Mommsen compiled a handy 26 off 19 and Jan Stander (17 off 15) guided the tail end of the Scottish innings to reach 166/6 in their allotted 20 overs.
The Scots sorely missed Safyaan Sharif, their 20-year old hero, whose final against the Americans secured Scotland entry into the playoffs. Matthew Parker and Moneeb Iqbal, were forced to fend for themselves on the big stage and were found wanting. The Netherlands, as a team, shamed England at Lords in the 2009 Twenty-20 Championships and Pakistan in the 2007 Cricket World Cup. Scotland faces Canada today to battle for fifth place in the tournament.

Cricket in a right old ‘fix’

Salman Butt. Photo: courtesy AFP

Disgraced former Pakistan Captain Salman Butt and promising 19-year-old sensation, Mohammad Amir, lost their appeals yesterday when the Lord Chief Justice dismissed their claims of disproportionate sentencing in the Lord’s spot fixing case.

On November 3, Pakistan’s Butt, Amir and Mohammad Asif were convicted of spot fixing and sentenced to prison. Butt was given a 30 month sentence and Amir was charged to spend six months at a youth correctional facility. The bookie, Mazhar Majeed, was handed a sentence of 2 years and 8 months.

Asif, who is facing a one-year sentence, is also scheduled to appear. Balham Chambers, a London-based lawyer will be representing him. Unlike his fellow disgraced teammates though, Asif is appealing against the conviction itself.

The Incident

During the course of the fourth and final test match between England and Pakistan, at Lord’s from 26-29 August, it was proved that Butt influenced Asif and Amir to bowl no-balls to signal to Majeed that ‘everything was going according to plan’

Had he not been caught, Butt’s pocket would have been ₤150,000 heavier.

Deadly Impact

Any illegal activity in sport is disastrous, let alone players accepting money to underperform. They represent their country when on the field.  Is ₤150,000 enough justification to betray one’s motherland?

At a time when the International Cricket Council (ICC) is looking to widen the reach of cricket around the globe, the poison of match fixing is the last thing they want. As seen by the misdemeanor of the Pakistani trio, something as small as a no-ball has caused widespread havoc: young talents ruined; old cases dug up; fingers pointed; administrations in uproar. Would someone new want to pursue a sport in such malady?

And what of the loyalists?

The thrill of watching a ‘good game’ is now diluted with persecuting doubts. ‘Wait, this is too spectacular. Could it have been fixed? they wonder.  ‘Can I ever watch a game without being paranoid?’

But it is the players who are true to the game who bear the worst impact of match fixing.

They adhere to rigorous training, tackle overwhelming pressure and display inspiring human toughness to bring glory to their country. But instead of the recognition they deserve, their efforts are rubbished in one simple phrase: ‘Oh, it’s obviously been fixed!’

Change in attitude

Cricket is already suffering from a lack of fan involvement. People are starting to prefer the comfort of their homes to the excitement of the stadiums. Add in the needless Umpire Decision Referral System (UDRS) controversy and the ICC has more than enough on its plate already without having the bane of match fixing threatening to destroy the credibility of the sport.

Punishments and procedures can only go so far in curbing cricket’s worst illness, as seen from previous cases (Salim Malik’s life ban being removed, Marlon Samuels’ light sentence). The incentive is on the players themselves to resist temptation and it isn’t that hard. All one needs to do is remember the pride of wearing the national crest to spit in its face.

Wanting a little extra on the side doesn’t give anyone the right to cheat.

Renowned cricket journalist commits suicide

by Al Muthu

Peter Roebuck

Peter Roebuck, noted cricket journalist leaped six storeys to his death
from his room at the Southern Sun hotel in Cape Town, South Africa on Saturday.

Police visited the 55-year-old former Somerset captain to investigate an allegation of indecent assault against him when he moved towards the window and jumped. A spokesperson announced that investigations are on-going and the matter will be subject to an inquest.

It is alleged that Roebuck invited Itai Gondo, 26, on pretence of a university scholarship and proceeded to seduce him against his will. Gondo met the English born cricketer-turned-journalist through a friend who knew one of his adopted sons. During a chat via Facebook, Roebuck wished the young Zimbabwean to call him ‘Dad,’ asking him to bring a stick in case he needed to beat him.

During the actual meeting however, Roebuck launched himself on the unsuspecting youth.  Gondo’s phone rang at the time, which ceased Roebuck’s assault and the shocked student fled the suite.

Southern Hotel

Peter Roebuck was as much a pot of controversy as he was a brilliant journalist.

During his stint as Somerset captain he refused to renew the contracts of Sir Vivian Richards and Joel Garner stating them to be too old. The two West Indian stalwarts left the club after scribbling ‘Judas’ on his door.

In 2001, he was handed a suspended jail sentence for caning three of his students.Henk Lindeque from South Africa recalls his stint at the Taunton Cricket Club where Roebuck would cane him and three of his friends and then wish to see the markings. He would then coax those who were unwilling.

Tatenda Dennis Chadya, one of Roebuck’s adopted sons tells a different story.  A lawyer in training, he has been under Roebuck’s care since 2005. Registering genuine shock over the incidents surrounding his “Dad’s” death, Chadya  admitted his house had stringent rules, but claimed the worst that happened was docking of allowances.

During his days as a player, Roebuck was prolific in domestic matches, amassing 25000 runs including 38 centuries. He pursued coaching after his life as a professional cricketer and eventually delved into the world of books and journalism. He wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald and ESPNCricinfo at the time of his death.

His form of commentary was  rare in that it was brutally frank. His article that questioned the domination of the Indian Premier League and how its popularity is dumbing down the audience from enjoying good and hard Test cricket is a typical example of his unique style of cricket journalism.

Perhaps Roebuck’s personality contributed to the disgraceful events surrounding his death. The man was often eccentric, introverted and political. An ardent follower of the old school values of cricket, his articles often probed those issues other journalists stayed away from.

Whatever has been said about the man, in the tragic passing of Peter Michael Roebuck, cricket has suffered a huge loss.

Captain Pietersen quits in England turmoil

By Ross Hart

English cricket is in turmoil as captain Kevin Pietersen resigned and coach Peter Moores was sacked in dramatic fashion yesterday.

Batsman Andrew Strauss will captain England for the forthcoming tour of the West Indies, which starts on January 25th with a warm up match against a St Kitts and Nevis Invitation XI before the first test in Jamaica on February 4th.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said that there had been an “irretrievable breakdown” in Pietersen and Moores’ relationship and that the squad had been split as a result.

In a statement, Hugh Morris, managing director of the ECB, said: “The England and Wales Cricket Board has late this afternoon accepted, with regret, the resignation of Kevin Pietersen as England captain.

“Kevin recognised that in the present situation it was impossible to restore the dressing room unity, which is vital, if England are to win the forthcoming tour to the Caribbean, the ICC global events or regain the Ashes in the npower Ashes Test series.” [Read more...]

England postpone India cricket tests

By Ross Hart                     

Anthony Devlin/PA

Picture courtesy of Anthony Devlin/PA

The England and Wales Cricket Board have postponed England’s final one day matches against India in the wake of the terror attacks in Mumbai.                                     

101 people, including six foreign nationals, are reported to have been killed in co-ordinated attacks by gunmen across the city, which was due to host a test match between the two countries from December 19.

The England squad will remain at their hotel in Bhubaneswar, 580 miles east of Mumbai, for at least 24 hours as the ECB and their Indian counterparts continue talks as to whether the remaining games will be played.

In a statement, the ECB’s managing director Hugh Morris said: “On behalf of the board and the England team, we would like to express our condolonces to the families and friends of those people who were killed or injured in last night’s attacks.”

Mr Morris added that “the safety and security of the England team is of the utmost importance to the ECB”. They will continue discussions with Indian officials over the next 24 hours.

England are 5-0 down in the seven match series, with the sixth game due to take place on Saturday and the final match scheduled for December 2.

Kevin Pietersen’s side are also due to play a three day match from the 5th of December before taking on two test matches from the 11th, but the future of these remains uncertain.

The inaugural Twenty20 Champions League tournament due to start in Mumbai next Wednesday has also been postponed in the wake of the attacks.

English county side Middlesex were due to take part in the competition but delayed flying to Mumbai, while two participating Australian teams were stopped from travelling by the Australian cricket authorities.

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