1. Article by: Posted: 23rd April 2015 In: Cricket News Replies: 1 comment

    In the wake of Jimmy Anderson passing the legendary Sir Ian Botham to become England’s leading wicket-taker of all time, we take a look at 10 Test matches that have shaped his career and led the Lancashire ‘King of Swing’ to write his own piece of sporting history.

    Zimbabwe 2003
    A dream debut for the fresh-faced 20-year-old with the questionable highlights. Then billed as ‘The Burnley Express’, Anderson ripped into Zimbabwe at Lord’s. The full, fast, inswinging yorkers that would become his calling card were on full display, as was the stooping delivery, and the new boy would end the contest with an impressive haul of 5-73.

    New Zealand 2008
    The Test in which the building blocks for a fearsome strike partnership between Anderson and Stuart Broad were put down, with both still relative rookies on the international stage when they took to the field in Wellington. The former helped himself to seven wickets in total, including an impressive first innings five-for, before going on to demolish New Zealand again in the summer at Trent Bridge – finishing with figures of 9-98.

    Australia 2009
    Widely recognised as a number 11 in every sense of the word when it comes to batting, Anderson helped England to the most dogged, and unlikeliest, of draws in the opening Test of the 2009 Ashes. With 18 overs to see out, ‘The Burnley Lara’ dug in heroically alongside Monty Panesar to frustrate Ricky Ponting’s visitors and spark an outpouring of emotion in the Cardiff dusk.

    Pakistan 2010
    Anderson loves bowling at Trent Bridge, with there seemingly something in the Nottingham water that brings out the best in him. Pakistan found that out to their cost some five years ago now, with the tourists unable to live with movement off the deck as Anderson helped himself to a career-best haul of 11-71.

    Australia 2010/11
    A rarity Down Under in as much as England travelled as favourites, and they did not disappoint. Anderson led the attack with verve and vigour, silencing those who doubted his ability to get as much out of the Kookaburra ball as he could the Dukes. He took 7-127 at the SCG as England breezed through the fifth Test and to a 3-1 series success.

    India 2012/13
    Another historic series victory, with Alastair Cook’s men conquering India in their own backyard. Anderson, at the peak of his powers, seemed unfazed by subcontinent conditions, with patience and persistence delivering much-deserved rewards during the third Test at Eden Gardens – as he ended with 6-127.

    New Zealand 2013
    Ten years on from his dazzling debut, Anderson passed a notable career milestone at the home of cricket. Becoming only the fourth Englishman to take 300 Test wickets, New Zealand opener Peter Fulton played at a typically tempting outswinging delivery and nicked the ball through to Graeme Swann at slip.

    Australia 2013
    More Ashes success for England on home soil, with Anderson playing another key role in helping them off to the perfect start. There were to be no heroics with the bat on this occasion, but back at Trent Bridge he was to be devastating with the ball. Australia needed just 15 to snatch an opening win from the hosts, but Anderson – who else – found an edge from Brad Haddin to spark wild celebrations and wrap up his second 10-wicket haul at his favourite venue.

    India 2014
    Back we go to Trent Bridge, but this time with bat in hand. Records were sent tumbling again in Nottingham, with Anderson ensuring that England’s tail wagged ferociously alongside the more accomplished Joe Root. Contributing 81 – England’s highest score by a number 11 – Lancashire’s finest helped his colleague from Yorkshire to put on a history-making last-wicket stand of 198.

    West Indies 2015
    A fitting stage on which to pen another remarkable chapter in his cricketing career, with Antigua providing the backdrop for England’s most decorated strike bowler. Still only 32, it remains to be seen how many more matches and wickets there are to come – with there another meeting with old adversaries Australia looming on the horizon, with from somewhere this summer if they are to recapture the urn.

  2. Article by: Posted: 21st April 2015 In: Cricket Games News Replies: 1 comment

    Cricket Heroes, an indie cricket game that started as a small simulator with pixel graphics is trying to take the next step into a fully motion captured 3D environment and needs your help to make that step up. I’ll pass it over to developer Kurt – kurtkz on the forums – to explain in more detail:

    Greetings!

    Cricket Heroes is undergoing a facelift and we sure could use your help.

    We’ve managed to get our hands on a cheap mocap system and have steadily been churning out new animations for fielding, bowling, batting and the umpires. Unfortunately, these new animations don’t look great on the current models (not the producers fault, we asked for that style).

    To this end, we’re trying to replace the cutesy models with something a little more realistic. We’re not looking for AAA models. We’re just trying to find a style that people enjoy and that will engage them better.

    We’re testing a variety of automated tools for this and are producing test models using MakeHuman (free software). If you think you can help us out or if you’re just interested in how we’re doing mocap, please drop me a PM or email me at kurtkz2 at gmail dot com.

    Cheers!

     

    A work in progress model of one of the umpires is already available, but it needs a lot more work before it’s all ready for the game

    Capture

    Of course if you don’t have time to help them out directly, purchasing a copy of the game can help support Kurt’s development efforts. You can do that, or download the demo of the game as it currently stands, on the Cricket Heroes website. Or pop down to the Cricket Heroes forum on PlanetCricket and give your feedback on the game so far.

  3. Article by: Posted: 27th March 2015 In: Cricket News Replies: No comments
    2015_Cricket_World_Cup_Logo.svg

    As Sunday’s final at last draws to a close a World Cup that started nearly 2 months ago, few can deny that the two preeminent sides of this tournament are undeserving of their place at the MCG. This World Cup has exposed myths about competitive matches between full members, about outdated notions on how to play One Day cricket and about bowlers being an endangered species. Most of all it brought a nation to its feet as New Zealand finally made it past a World Cup semi final.

    What is clear is that Australia and New Zealand boast the best bowling attacks in this World Cup and, for all the 6s and double-tonnes, that is what has made the difference. Mitchell Starc has taken 20 wickets in 7 matches at a frankly staggering 3.65 rpo. Trent Boult is the leading wicket taker and Dan Vettori, at 36, can still bowl at under 4 rpo, take 15 wickets and jump 10 feet in the air to take a catch.

    What is also clear is that we shouldn’t read too much into Australia’s defeat in the group stages. Eden Park is a very different venue to the MCG and Australia have the crucial advantage of having played in 6 previous finals. Due to the joint-hosts arrangement New Zealand have played all their games at home and not had any practice clearing the ropes at the larger MCG. Of the current NZ side only Dan Vettori played in this year’s Big Bash (with Jesse Ryder not making the 30 man squad). That said plenty of the current side have IPL experience (although that isn’t always an advantage in ODI cricket) and will know exactly what to expect.

    And what of Australia? It was only 2 years ago that the nucleus of the current side arrived on English shores lampooned as the worst side ever to wear the Baggy Green and an embarrassment to their country. Today they’re favourites to list the World Cup yet again, and red hot favourites for the Ashes starting in just 3 months. Johnson and Watson have gone from being dropped for failure to complete homework to writing the course textbooks.

    Intriguingly there have no real stand-out stars in this Australia side. Consistency and aggression from Steve Smith, Powerful batting down the order from Brad Haddin, fast scoring from Glenn Maxwell. Overall this team gives the impression of being just that; a team. The wickets have been shared around, the runs have been shared around, they’ve even managed to avoid off-field scandals.
    New Zealand will hope the ball swings in Melbourne as the Australian bowlers will probably have the edge if it doesn’t. If Australia bat first and the ball fails to swing, New Zealand will really be up against it. What has been impressive about the Kiwis though is how they take on the mantra of “it’s my job to win the game”. In matches where McCallum or Williamson have failed, others like Guptill have stepped up (and some).

    In two months we’ve seen associates show that they won’t go quietly. We’ve seen England look like they will be amongst the teams having to qualify next time round and we’ve eventually seen the two best teams reach the final. Finally here’s a thought that will keep Aussies awake at night in fear of losing though. If New Zealand win on Sunday they will hold the Rugby World Cup, the Bledisloe Cup, the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy and the Cricket World Cup. Sweet as.

  4. Article by: Posted: 17th March 2015 In: Cricket News Replies: No comments
    2015_Cricket_World_Cup_Logo.svg

    With the offering 2/5 on AB de Villiers’ men South Africa will enter their Quarter Final match against Sri Lanka as the bookmakers clear favourites, but will have to shrug off a well-earned reputation as World Cup chokers if they are to progress to the last four.

    Much of the pre-match discussion has centred on The Proteas’ terrible record in the knockout stages of this competition and it only takes a cursory glance at the record books to confirm that promising World Cup campaigns have customarily crumbled in the Quarter Finals.

    If anything South Africa have put in a less convincing group-stage performance this year than we’ve typically seen over the last two decades, only managing to squeeze into the knockout stages thanks to a strong net run-rate.

    Despite some huge scores batting has at times been tentative and over-reliant on the match winning form of AB de Villiers. Defeats against India and Pakistan may have been offset by comprehensive victories against lesser teams (most impressively in their 257-run demolition of the West Indies) but doubts will accompany South Africa as they enter this well-matched Quarter Final, not least because of the extra pressure that comes from their desperation to cast off the chokers tag once and for all.

    For their part, Sri Lanka put in some exceptional batting performances in the group stage but lost to Australia and New Zealand and seem to lack a bit of quality in their injury-depleted bowling line-up.

    Nonetheless there is a steely determination about Sri Lanka that has seen the perform well under pressure in the latter stages of recent tournaments and it’s certainly hard to argue with a betting line-up that includes the unstoppable Kumar Sangakkra and Tillakaratne Dilshan. Between them they’ve accumulated a whopping 891 runs and Sangakkra (who is set to retire from ODI cricket) will pursue his fifth consecutive century spurred by the extra incentive of wanting to ensure that this doesn’t prove to be the last One Day International of his career.

    It’s tempting to conclude that the outcome of this match may rest on the toss of a coin. Both teams perform far better when their batsmen are given the chance to set a big target rather than chase one.

  5. Article by: Posted: 16th March 2015 In: The PlanetCricket View Replies: No comments
    2015_Cricket_World_Cup_Logo.svg

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    As far as the ICC is concerned the World Cup proper is just starting. Unlike previous editions no associate has had the temerity to gate-crash the later stages, and now the “World” cup can be contested by the countries who matter; those who run the game. Reading Second XI, the excellently researched and entertainingly written account of cricket beyond the full members, you might start to suspect that this is all part of an ICC masterplan. Indeed it gets to the point where you are boiling with anger about what a few entitled suits are doing to stop the spread of the game.

    As someone who has been a regular visitor to Raeburn Place over the years and who plays club cricket in Scotland, I had generally swallowed the line that the ICC were doing what they could to develop the game, and there were just too few countries able to reach international standard. Instead I contented myself with watching Ryan Watson smash a brilliant century against Somerset, the sublime brilliance of Rahul Dravid and the intercontinental cup wins that basically labelled you best of the rest, but meant nothing more. Like the football team I figured that we were doomed to qualify for the occasional world cup and struggle to win a game once there. Reading Second XI, I find this is precisely what the ICC wants me to think. I am to be grateful that my side might get tossed an occasional match against an under-strength touring side and I’m supposed to support a full member if I want to watch test cricket being played.

    Reading Tim Wigmore and Peter Miller makes you realise that so much more is possible. Associate teams play in a system where winning and losing has real consequences for funding and the future of the game in their country. They play in a system with a glass ceiling for the top sides and a lack of opportunity for the bottom ones. They play in a system where full members ranked above them can simply refuse to schedule fixtures in order to avoid getting beaten. As I Scotland fan I’ve been complacent about this and the ICC has taken advantage of that. Ireland are starting to show that maybe the way to get attention here is to get angry. For years I’ve read writers like Andrew Nixon railing against the system and I haven’t paid enough attention. This matters for everyone, not just supporters of associates but lovers of cricket.

    Second XI is essentially split into two parts for each of the nations selected. The first delves into the historical context and the second brings us up-to-date with recent travails. It’s a reminder that cricket in these countries hasn’t been started by an ICC task force but instead has roots as old or older as many of the full members. Clearly this is partly a legacy of empire and the British diaspora, cricket played by expats but it goes beyond that. The recent reading in most cases makes for the most depressing part as time and again, lack of fixtures, lack of competitive opposition and lack of opportunity stifles growth. As the book details, the ICC development programme has actually done many wonderful things with limited resources, and corruption amongst local officials, lack of government support or simply bad governance cannot be blamed on them. What can though is reducing funding to line the pockets of England, Australia and India, reducing the number of teams at the flagship event, rejecting the opportunity to make cricket an Olympic sport and refusing to host major tournaments outside of the big three. The mania for maximising commercial rights had led the ICC to forget that they are custodians of the game and not its owners.

    Overall though Second XI is a hopeful and optimistic book. To hear about the success of the Chinese women’s team or to see cricket being played in the streets of Papua New Guinea is to entertain the hope that the game can and will grow strong still. To believe that enough fans will stand up to the ICC and say “enough”. Buy, read, understand and act. Because it’s our game too.


    Second XI – Cricket in its outposts by Tim Wigmore and Peter Miller is out now and available from Amazon.