MELBOURNE – After a feel-good two match drubbing of a hapless Sri Lankan team, Australia’s test cricket team has already shifted its focus to a far greater challenge – The Ashes, which starts on 1 August later this year.
BIG SPORTS & BIGGER OPINIONS
As a memorable summer of cricket nears its end in the southern hemisphere, fans will undoubtedly look back at the 2017/18 season and remember the pummeling Australia handed England in one of the most one-sided Ashes contests in decades.
While Steve Smith’s heroics and a 4-0 scoreline are certainly reasons for Australians to look back fondly, there’s been another story continuing to develop on the domestic scene which has been just as special, for entirely different reasons.
For the first time in the Big Bash League’s (BBL) history, two Afghans at opposite ends of their careers have featured, with Rashid Khan (Adelaide Strikers) and Mohammad Nabi (Melbourne Renegades) making the 10,000 kilometer trip down under to show our cricket-loving nation just how much talent exists in the tiny Asian country.
In addition to being largely unknown on the international scene, the duo’s rise and impressive string of performances have mirrored that of their nation’s success in recent years – a nation which has had to overcome far more obstacles than any other playing international cricket.
Khan, a 19-year-old leg-spinning all-rounder who has lived 16 of his 19 years on Earth in a country ravaged by war, the joy he takes from simply playing the sport he loves is always on display, with a beaming smile and an infectious laugh which has seen him become adored by his teammates and fans alike. For a young man who saw his country invaded and blasted by gunfire just days after his third birthday in October 2001, playing cricket has not always been a passion he could enjoy – and even when he was able to, finding a cricket field or proper equipment was often impossible. Instead, like many other young cricket-loving Afghans, suburban streets and buildings, often ruined by the horrors of war, would need to suffice.
Hailing from eastern Afghanistan, as the war settled throughout his teenage years, Khan began http://www.viagrabelgiquefr.com/ experiencing considerable success at a domestic level in Afghanistan and shortly after his 17th birthday made his ODI debut against Zimbabwe. It was here that the Afghan team beat the more fancied Zimbabweans with Khan making eight not out and taking 1/30 off 10 economical overs. Full of talent and possessing the passion to match, his rise in the two years since has been truly phenomenal and he currently finds himself the third ranked T20I bowler in the world behind Ish Sodhi (New Zealand) and Imad Wasim (Pakistan).
His journey since those early days has seen him secure lucrative contracts with teams in both the Caribbean Premier League and Indian Premier League – among others – and his latest challenge has been his continuing Australian crusade where he’s collected 14 wickets (at 14.38) and made 31 runs (at 15.50) in nine matches. These figures, as impressive as they are, are actually bettered by his stunning record in 59 international matches where he has taken 112 wickets (at 14.44) and made 594 runs (at 22.00). His future is brighter than any other young cricketer in world cricket.
Nabi’s story is vastly different to that of Khan’s, however they share the commonalities of team success with Afghanistan and a rapid rise up the ICC’s player ranking tables. A 33-year-old off-spinning all-rounder, Nabi hails from a wealthy family in north-eastern Afghanistan, who fled to Pakistan during the Soviet War when he was just a young child. After taking up cricket as a 10-year-old living in Peshawar, he quickly became obsessed and spent endless sessions practicing on the streets and at home with a tennis ball. After multiple attempts, he managed to secure a training opportunity at Arshad Khan’s Academy and played his first competitive match in 2003, aged 18. Since, he has been a mainstay of the national team, enjoying the success which saw them progress from Division 5 of the World Cricket League to now, a Test-playing nation which is set to play its first such match later this year. Speaking of the national team’s continued success this decade, Nabi noted;
“It’s been quite a good journey, the last six or seven years, starting from the 2010 Inter-continental Cup games. We played our first game against Zimbabwe A and we enjoyed that. It’s quite good memories over the years, quite good wins as well.”
Throughout his career with the national team, within includes 144 international matches, Nabi has taken 149 wickets (at 29.35) and made 2,848 runs (at 24.77). His impressive returns have seen him move into the number three spot as the world’s third best T20I all-rounder behind Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh) and Glenn Maxwell (Australia). His efforts across seven BBL matches this summer have been just as impressive, taking eight wickets (at 18.63) while also chipping in with 88 runs (at 29.33), including a blistering 52 off just 30 balls against cross-town rival the Melbourne Stars. His contributions have helped keep the Renegades in contention as they push for a finals berth.
The success of both Khan and Nabi in this season’s BBL has been, for mine, one of the highlights of the summer, and with Afghanistan set to embark on Test Match cricket and more ODI and T20I fixtures throughout 2018, we can expect to see more talented players appearing from this tiny, yet determined, Asian nation.
On a warm summer’s morning, the last day of July 1977, American musician Meat Loaf released one of his signature songs, power ballad Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad. From that day on, the song, penned by brilliant lyricist Jim Steinman, would forever be recalled when two-thirds of any given situation came to fruition. As Steinman simply, yet precisely put, “Now don’t be sad, ’cause two out of three ain’t bad.”
Almost 40 years later, as stumps were drawn in Sydney to complete the opening day of the third Test Match against Pakistan, Australian cricket fans watched Matt Renshaw and Peter Handscomb triumphantly walk off a sun-drenched Sydney Cricket Ground, and for many, immediately recalled that phrase, knowing full-well that Australian cricket selectors had made two very good decisions just six weeks ago.
Following a humiliating loss to South Africa at Hobart, the opportunity had arrived to swing the axe. The Australian Test team hadn’t won since February, losing five consecutive matches against Sri Lanka (three) and South Africa (two), and the One-Day team had just been swept in a five-match South African series. The cricketing public demanded changes and the selectors agreed, dropping Joe Burns, Adam Voges, Callum Ferguson, Peter Nevill, and Joe Mennie. Replacing the quintet were the recalled Matthew Wade and Jackson Bird, as well as three young debutantes – 20-year-old Matt Renshaw, then 24-year-old Nic Maddinson, and 25-year-old Peter Handscomb. The batting trio represented a new era for Australian cricket, and it was hoped they would perform well enough to reverse the continuing, and alarming trend of embarrassing losses.
In the six weeks which have since passed, Nic Maddinson has failed in his bid to secure the number six batting position. Scores of 0, 1, and 4 during his first two Tests, were only bettered by a shaky 22 in his last. Lucky to receive as many chances as he did, he was dumped last week in favour of another youngster, 24-year-old Hilton Cartwright. While Maddinson’s continued failures were, at times, horrific to watch, the other two young debutantes have returned the faith shown by selectors and fall asleep tonight knowing their future, at least in the foreseeable future, is secure.
Handscomb’s 54 on debut against South Africa in Adelaide was an assured knock and one which didn’t fit that of a nervous young man representing his country for the first time. Almost immediately he looked settled, possessing the temperament of a man who knows his game inside out. His approach, which often sees him resting back in the crease and cutting late behind point, was unusual and unorthodox, however it worked. His innings’ since have included a maiden century against Pakistan in Brisbane, and another score of 54 against the same opposition in Melbourne. Today he added an unbeaten 40, boosting his tally to 289 runs at an average of 96.33. Importantly, each of his big scores have come in the first innings of a match, ensuring he is capable of performing when the match is there to be won.
While Handscomb showed his ability to succeed at the highest level from the moment he first walked out to bat, Renshaw took a little longer to have us convinced. A slower, more watchful batsman, he ground out an unbeaten 34 in the second innings on debut against South Africa to see Australia home, before making a patient 71 against Pakistan in Brisbane as the home side’s 429 first inning runs ultimately proved crucial to winning the match. Successive scores of 6 and 10 followed, with both innings being ended by poor shot selection, and in the harsh reality of professional cricket, some critics were already watching with a closer eye. However, while David Warner’s 95-ball 113 stole the show early on the opening day in Sydney, it was Renshaw who finished the day as the main talking point. In just his fourth match, the young Queenslander had batted through the day, ending it unbeaten on 167. His innings https://www.viagrasansordonnancefr.com/viagra-cialis/ was one straight from the opening batsman’s textbook; making a steady start before capitalising after Tea, where he feasted on a weary Pakistani attack and helped himself to 84 runs. His tally now exceeds Handscomb’s, with 298 runs at an average of 74.50.
The success of the duo has contributed, significantly, to the resurgence being seen in Australian cricket. Three consecutive wins, and a fourth now looking likely, has given fans hope of a competitive showing in India next month, where the tourists commence their four-match series in Pune on 23 February. Following that, three further grueling challenges await in Bangalore, Ranchi, and Dharmasala, as the revamped Australian side battles to overcome extreme heat and crumbling wickets. For Handscomb and Renshaw, they’ll head to India full of confidence after strong showings at home, and hopeful of helping their team to a series win which just over a month ago seemed almost impossible.
Records have tumbled in the ODI tonight between South Africa and the West Indies.
Batting first, South Africa posted an incredible 2/439 off 50 overs. Here’s the scores:
Hashim Amla 153* (140 balls)
Rilee Rossouw 128 (115 balls)
AB de Villiers 149 (44 balls)
David Miller 0* (2 balls)
More to follow…
The Border-Gavaskar Trophy Test Series is over and for the hosts, who won the series 2-0, it was quite a memorable series.
From the first few days of the series, the Australians stamped their authority – in particular with the bat. Their first innings total of 7/517 (dec) in Adelaide became the first of four consecutive first innings scores greater than 500 and as history has shown, it’s highly unlikely a team will lose once this feat has been achieved. This impressive display with the bat was lead by stand-in Captain Steve Smith – who broke numerous records over the four match series – and he was well supported by all of his teammates at various stages throughout.
The bowling was varied – sometimes impressive and other times not – and at times it lacked potency on batting-friendly wickets. On all four occasions, the Indians reached 400+ in their first innings and really, it was largely due to indisciplined batting in the second innings’ of both Adelaide and Brisbane that the Indians lost the two matches.
Here’s a review of how each of the 15 Australians to appear during the series performed:
Steve Smith (10 out of 10) – in a word, brilliant. For a period of time a few years ago, Steve Smith had a lot of critics – myself included. His unorthodox technique seemed to raise more questions than answers and one wondered if he was simply a player more suited to short-format cricket. After some impressive returns on recent Tours, Smith had began silencing these critics however it was this series where Smith truly proved himself as the next best thing in Australian cricket. The baby-faced 25-year-old scored a staggering 769 runs at 128.16 and in each of the four matches scored a century in the all-important first innings. In addition, he captained the team well and much like Michael Clarke, remained aggressive as much as he could. Unfortunately, his fielding in the Sydney Test was ordinary and his 17 overs of leg-spin didn’t fetch a wicket, however as they say, nobody is perfect. A truly memorable series for the young New South Welshman.
David Warner (8) – hit hard by the death of his close mate Phil Hughes, Warner signalled his intentions from the get-go in Adelaide with a stunning opening day knock of 145. This impressive form continued on throughout the series and he ultimately finished with 427 runs at 53.37 – including three centuries. With 12 Test centuries now under his belt and having just turned 28 years of age, he is well on the way to becoming one of Australia’s best ever opening batsman.
Michael Clarke (8) – the bravest face of the Phil Hughes tragedy and entering the series under an injury cloud, nothing was going to keep Clarke out of the first match and it was always likely he would go on to score a century. He did just that, with an injury-ridden, determined innings of 128 to help set-up an Australian victory. He missed the remainder of the series and his future remains uncertain, however his 28th Test century was a fitting tribute to his close mate Phil Hughes.
Chris Rogers (7.5) – due to his age more so than anything, questions about Rogers’ spot in the team never seem too far away, however as he has done for some 18 months now, he keeps finding ways to silence his critics. Despite not making a century during the series, 417 runs at 52.12 was an impressive return and his consistency, combined with his experience on the County Cricket circuit, is surely enough to see him win a trip to England for the upcoming Ashes series.
Ryan Harris (7) – despite bowling on batsman-friendly wickets and at times, bowling without much luck, Harris yet again proved how valuable he is to the side with some impressive, economical performances. His 10 wickets at 33.40 apiece may not look outstanding on paper, however the constant pressure he places on opposition batsmen frequently leads to wickets at the other end. Harris bowled 126 overs in the three matches he appeared in and worked to an economy rate of just 2.65. In addition to his tireless efforts with the ball, Harris also whacked 120 runs at 40.00, involving himself in some crucial late-innings partnerships.
Mitchell Johnson (7) – despite missing the final match through injury, it was a reasonably impressive series for Australia’s premier fast bowler who also proved damaging with the bat. In all, he took 13 wickets at 35.53 and made 133 runs at 44.33, with his most impressive performance coming in the second innings in Brisbane when he took 4/61 to lead his team to a victory. Earlier in the same match he blasted 88 off just 93 balls and together with Steve Smith, took the game away from Indian when it was seemingly in the balance. He is still, without doubt, one of the world’s most devastating cricketers.
Shaun Marsh (7) – so desperately looking to secure his spot in the side with a big innings, there were a number of positive signs for Marsh during the series despite him not being able to reach triple-figures. The West-Australian made 254 runs at a solid average of 42.33 and his 99 in Melbourne – despite its horrific ending – was probably enough to see him secure a place in The Ashes squad later this year. Having now played 12 Tests, Marsh is close to securing his spot in the side long-term, especially with the concerns surrounding Michael Clarke’s fitness, however he really does need to produce a few big innings to keep the vultures at bay.
Nathan Lyon (7) – another player who has his fair share of critics, Lyon yet again proved his doubters wrong as he spun his way to 12 wickets and an Australian victory in the first match of the series. From then on, his bowling was somewhat inconsistent against a nation which has always played spin bowling well, however he still finished the leading wicket taker of the series, with 23 at 34.82 apiece. A handy number 11 batsman, he also squeezed out 38 runs at 12.66.
Josh Hazelwood (7) – young, confident, eager and fast, Hazelwood worked his way back into the team and performed quiet well, taking 12 wickets at 29.33. His 5/68 in Brisbane proved crucial in helping the Australians build a first innings lead and he followed that up with consistent performances during the remainder of the series. Like most of his fellow tail-end batsmen, Hazelwood also proved he’s no bunny with the bat, making an impressive 32 not out, including seven boundaries in Brisbane.
Mitchell Marsh (6.5) – the younger brother of Shaun played in two matches, making 98 runs at 32.66 and taking his first Test wicket, conceding 54 runs in the process. The 23-year-old oozes talent, both with the bat and ball, and there is no doubt he will play a significant role in this team in future years. His 40 off 26 balls in the second innings of the Adelaide Test was explosive and helped set up an Australian lead, in which most of the runs were ultimately required in order to win. A huge future awaits.
Joe Burns (6.5) – called in to make his debut in Melbourne, Burns looked comfortable at the crease however failed to push on to make a significant contribution – with scores of 13 and nine. He changed that in Sydney though and made a composed 58 in the first innings to prove that he has the potential to succeed at the highest level, before following that up with a quick-fire 66 as Australia pushed hard to increase their lead. Still just 25-years-old and a proven match-winner at domestic level, the Queenslander appears to have a bright future.
Brad Haddin (6) – like Rogers, due to Haddin’s age his future in the side often comes under scrutiny whenever he fails. His series started slowly and despite an impressive 55 in Melbourne, he finished the series with just 129 runs at 25.80. Whilst this tally isn’t significant, his 22 dismissals behind the stumps and valuable leadership on-field still is and needs to remain in the side for a while longer yet.
Mitchell Starc (5) – appearing in the Brisbane and Sydney matches, Starc took seven wickets at 36.00 and at times, appeared to lack the pace in which he was brought into the team to deliver. Having now played 15 Tests, accumulating 50 wickets at 35.44 apiece, Starc still lacks the consistency required to secure his spot in the side – a side in which many other young fast bowlers are pushing to enter into. His 52 off 59 balls with the bat in Brisbane was impressive and his ability adds even more value to a strong Australian tail-end.
Shane Watson (4.5) – no doubt a frustrating series for the Australian all-rounder, who made 238 runs at 29.75 and took just five wickets at 48.80. In addition, his fielding – typically at slip – was poor at times and this only adds to the frustration being experienced by many Australian cricket fans of which he often divies opinion. Now a veteran of 56 Tests, Watson has just four centuries in 105 innings and to put that into perspective, 80s and 90s off-spinner Greg Matthews made the same amount in just 53 innings.
Peter Siddle (3) – dropped after the first match, having taken just two wickets at 54.50 apiece, Siddle will have a fight on his hands to work his way back into a side which is filled with younger, quicker arms. The 30-year-old veteran of 56 Tests is however a fighter and just eight wickets shy of 200, the motivation will be higher than ever to re-gain his spot.