Australia’s next big thing?

Despite being 26 years, which although still young, could be considered on the more experienced scale of players, Chris Lynn is by far the most exciting batsman in the domestic game of Australia. His dominating, electric performances in the Big Bash League has lead to an almost cult like following of supporters that would pay top dollar to see him perform. In the Big Bash this year, Chris Lynn has scored 309 runs 5 innings at an average of 154 with a strike rate of 177. It cannot be brushed off as being a one season wonder, as last year, he was the overall leading run scorer in the competition with 378 runs at an average of 54 and a strike rate of 173. Both seasons, he has amassed more sixes than fours and has looked at such ease striking the ball with such power over the ropes, that he has seen comparisons made to Chris Gayle in terms of ball striking ability. His power and ability to hit a long ball was exemplified in a match earlier this season when he hit a 121 meter six off Shaun Tait out of the stadium at the Gabba against the Hobart Hurricanes. Lynn seemed almost emotionless at the fact that he had just hit one of the biggest sixes in cricketing history, but this is a testament to his character, he rarely shows his emotions on the field, and lets his bat do the talking for him.

Lynn made his One Day International debut last night against Pakistan at his home ground in Brisbane. He made 16 runs off 12 balls, including one six, which served us all a reminder of why he had made the team. One has to feel for Lynn in the situation that he was put in. Australia were 20 odd for 2, with their two star batsman David Warner and Steve Smith being dismissed cheaply within two balls. He said that the Australian team had told him to go out and play the way he has played in the lead up to getting selected, but this put him in the uncomfortable position of not being sure whether to attack or defend, with his instinct being to attack, but the team situation crying out for someone to build an innings. Lynn looked positive at the crease, and lit up the crowd for just the one delivery when he smacked Hasan Ali into the deep midwicket stand for a 97 meter six. Lynn’s dismissal came about from a rash shot-he skied an attempted long hit down the ground straight up into the air and was caught by the wicket keeper. Naturally, everyone viewing the game except Pakistan fans were incredibly disappointed and this is yet again a testament to Lynn’s reputation that he is one of the most exciting prospects in Australia, if not the world.

Overall, I, amongst many others, will be watching Chris Lynn with excitement and anticipation, and the first step to that is the second One dayer between Australia and Pakistan tomorrow night. There may be a suggestion to drop him down the order to number 5 or 6, and utilise him as a finisher, but I firmly believe that Lynn is so incredibly effective at the top of the order, that he needs to be in the top 4 to get the best out of him. This message should also go out to the selction committee at the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL, who seem to believe that not only is Chris Lynn less worthy of a spot than a mediocre 45 year old spinner, but they also seem to think that his best batting position in a t20 is at 6 or 7. Lynn will establish himself as a Gayle type force in the IPL if utilised successfully, and perhaps a change of team might do him well-I’m sure the Kings XI Punjab could do with a batsman that can actually score some runs!

My prediction for Chris Lynn is that within the next 5 years, he will establish himself as not only a one day and t20 force amongst the top domestic teams and international teams, but he will also establish himself as a test player as well, with his first class average of 45 showing that he is definitely no slouch in the longer format of the game either.

Advertisements

England vs India 1st Test Preview

As England prepare to undergo another trial by spin in Rajkot, there will surely be a lot of eyes cast upon their batting department-particularly the top order, and their bowling department-particularly the spinners. India come into the series off the back of a 3-0 thrashing of New Zealand with captain Kohli leading the way spectacularly with the bat, and Ashwin producing the kind of match winning spells that has taken him to the top of the ICC Test Bowling rankings. England come straight from their 1-1 draw with Bangladesh, where they were not in the slightest bit convincing in subcontinent conditions. They have the same problem they’ve always had, in the fact that they always find themselves 50-3 with the bat, and their spinners are erratic, and too often get dominated by batsman. It will surely be a captivating series for England and India fans, as well as the neutrals.

Players to watch:
England have confirmed in the build up to this Test that 19 year old Haseeb Hameed will make his Test debut tomorrow and will become England’s youngest ever opening batsman. There will be a lot of pressure on his shoulders as he bares the responsibility of becoming England’s latest attempt at trying to find a successful opening partner with Alastair Cook. However, he has shown that he is more than capable of handling pressure, when he became the youngest player to score twin hundreds in a Roses match earlier this year.

Virat Kohli has notoriously struggled against England in the past, with his previous tour of England resulting in him not registering a single score above 50 in the entire Test series. Since that series however, he has significantly improved his game in all formats, and currently stands alongside Ab de Villiers as the most feared batsman in world cricket. He has shown that he has the ability to dominate in every single format of the game, and his recent surge in Test cricket- 2 double hundreds in his last 2 series, shows that he is a batsman that is definitely capable of taking the game away from England.

 

Predicted England XI:

1:Cook, 2:Hameed, 3:Root, 4:Duckett, 5:Moeen, 6:Stokes, 7:Bairstow, 8:Woakes, 9:Broad, 10:Batty, 11:Finn

Predicted India XI:

1:Vijay, 2:Gambhir, 3:Pujara, 4:Kohli, 5:Rahane, 6:Pandya, 7:Saha, 8:Ashwin, 9:Mishra, 10:Ishant, 11:Umesh

Predicted result: England win by 2 wickets

England’s Dhoni?

Before the One Day International series kicked off between England and Bangladesh, there were many eyes cast upon the “stand in” skipper of the England side, Jos Buttler. Would he crumble under the immense pressure that surely is international captaincy. Or would he take it in his stride as calmly as he has done everything else in his career so far? Buttler seemed extremely composed before the first match, and was very nonchalant, and almost dismissive about any talks of the captaincy. Eoin Morgan has done such a brilliant job as captain of this flourishing England side in the last 15 months, that it surely would be a massive test of this England sides character to see whether they would be able to perform without their leader at the helm. It could be especially important for England to be able to quickly adapt to a new captain, and in many ways, a blessing in disguise that Morgan decided to skip this tour, because England just may have found their next superstar leader.

For a few years, Buttler has carried the tag of being a “bit of a slogger” down the back end of an innings. In more recent times, he has managed to demonstrate that he is much, much more than this and experiencing the biggest tournaments in the world such as the IPL can do such things to a player. On Friday, during the first ODI between England and Bangladesh, England were struggling towards the end of the innings with Stokes looking exhausted, and players like Moeen and the rest of the lower order unable to provide the explosive finish that England desired. Step forward the captain. Whilst every other player in the England team managed their runs at under a run a ball, or just over it in the case of Roy and Stokes, Buttler crashed 63 runs off just 38 balls with three fours and four sixes. At one point, Buttler was on 25 off 27 balls, until he decided it was time to push it on. It was his accumulating of ones and twos to get to 25 off 27 which was so reminiscent to MS Dhoni in his prime. Dhoni would always typically knock the ball into gaps with his unorthodox technique, running the ones and twos hard, and then just be able to flick a switch and hit boundaries at will. It seemed during the innings that Buttler just had the ability to decide whether a ball was going to go over the ropes or just into the outfield for a quick couple, which exemplifies what an outstanding talent he has become. Buttler definitely has an appreciation for throwing the old, classic English batting textbook out of the window, and following in the way in which someone like Dhoni bats.

Aside from his batting, Buttler also had to keep wickets and captain the side, like a certain number 7 from India always did, and in the One day format, still does. During the beginning of the innings, Buttler remained cool and collected, rotating his bowlers well, and knowing when to bring on spin, and bring on pace. As the innings progressed however, it looked increasingly likely that England were going to lose to Bangladesh with an impressive partnership between Shakib and Imrul Kayes putting England on the back foot. It looked increasingly worse when Buttler dropped what he described as “possibly the easiest catch in the history of international cricket”. Despite this, there was still a sense of anticipation that England were going to pull something special out of the bag, and that happened when Buttler brought on Jake Ball, and Ball won the game for England with a 5 wicket haul on debut.

Whilst it didn’t go as flawlessly as it possibly could, all the signs are there that England have unearthed a gem in Jos Buttler, and a possible captaincy candidate for all three formats, should Joe Root decide to simply focus on his batting in Tests and not the captaincy. Buttler’s captaincy will be further scrutinised in the following ODI’s starting on Sunday, and should he continue to impress, then England may well have found themselves their very own MS Dhoni.

The Art of Passing

When watching a football match, the average viewer will not fully understand the concept of just how the players on each team orchestrate swift attacks, and counter attacks against their opposition. The vital part of a football match, and what can truly epitomise the beautiful game, is the ability to pass and move.

Passing is often one of the most underrated and undervalued traits in football. If you are an amateur footballer playing at a lower level, most of the advice that the coaches will give to you will be the same: “Long ball upfield so the forward can run onto it”. Once the opposition team actually has a defence that can run at a more than decent pace, this thought process does become somewhat nullified.

This is where as a player, you must realise that the way in which you outplay and outsmart the opposition is by passing and moving. Simple. Or not so, as the case can quite often be. It is one thing to be able to pass along the floor to a player on your team and have it reach their feet. What many amateur players struggle with, and it is the most noticeable gap between an amateur player, and a professional player, is passing the ball, and moving swiftly into space, to not only open yourself up to a return ball, but to also possibly drag defenders from the other team into your space, allowing another member of your team to move into a space previously occupied by one of their defenders. It is this level of understanding and being able to apply it that will win you football matches. Many an amateur footballer I have played with, have possessed the ability to pass the ball on the floor no problem (others not so much), but then at the same time do not possess the ability, or as some would put it, the footballing knowledge to then move into space, and be able to read the game as a game of movement rather than just following the ball around, and trying kick it without really thinking.

For a midfielder, time is really the key when you are on the ball. As a midfielder in the middle of the park, you are going to be often closed down, in order to stop you from being able to distribute the ball to an attacking player, which needless to say, means you will have a very short amount of time to make a decision of what to do. This is where as a midfielder who controls and dictates the tempo of the play, you can be smart. Before the ball reaches your feet, you must be constantly looking ahead of you, assessing where your teammates are, prior to you receiving the ball, so that when the ball does reach your feet, you are already one step ahead of the defender on their team, because you will have a clear idea in your head of what your options are, and before the defender can adjust to get into position to close you down, you will already have picked out a pass, or made a run to further benefit your team. It is this footballing knowledge and awareness that will separate you from the other players on the pitch, and give you the confidence to play to the best of your ability. I know from personal experience that when I am playing in the middle of midfield, in more of an attacking midfield role, that I have to adopt this way of thinking if I am to be better than the other players. In the matches that I can remember playing from when I was younger, it would always feel like I was one step ahead of the defender, and that it was them that was playing catch up to me, because I had the awareness of my surroundings when I was not on the ball. Often, when players are off the ball, they drift in and out of their positions staring at the ball, hoping it will land at their feet. Not only is this lazy, but it will also give a simple advantage to the other team. Off the ball, you can anticipate where the ball will go, and more importantly, you can make runs into areas of space, that allow your team to have other options.

Obviously, it is not only the midfielder that bares the responsibility of passing and distributing the ball at a certain tempo to help their teammates. The defence, more specifically the full backs, are pivotal in linking up with the midfield to allow a rhythm of passing to ensue, and to put the opposition on the back foot. When the ball is with the central defenders, ideally they will either play it into a space in the midfield, or they will set it up to one of the full backs. From a full back position, they can press forward, and instead of the usual chipped pass that floats slowly into the path of the other team, which is all too common even in professional games, they can look into the middle of the park, and play central. It is far to common for the full backs to also just send the ball down the wing in hope of a winger running onto it and then making a run from there. This is infuriating to watch, as playing a much more narrow passing style will benefit the team much more. If the full back can pick out a player in the midfield, then the playmaker as it were, can move forward, and will find it easier to not only play the ball through the middle in a narrow passing style, as previously mentioned, but the midfielder will also find it easier to spot and pass the ball to wide men, if it necessary to play out wide.

 

Overall, in my opinion, passing really is what makes up the beautiful game, and one of the main reasons as to why English players are just not as skilled as a Spaniard or a German for example, is because of the complete ignorance to the passing and movement aspect of football by English coaches.

England squad for Bangladesh

A lot has been made of the upcoming England tour of Bangladesh. Questions have been constantly raised about whether or not the squad should go to Bangladesh, and with Eoin Morgan and Alex Hales both pulling out of the tour, it leaves room for at least two new faces in England’s team.

 

My England Test Squad Prediction:

Cook(c), Root(vc), Hameed, Ballance, Bairstow, Moeen, Woakes, Rashid, Broad, Anderson, Wood, Dawson, Buttler, Robson, Leach, Finn, Roy

 

My England ODI squad prediction:

Buttler(c), Root(vc), Roy, Duckett, Bairstow, Billings, Dawson, Wood, Finn, Rashid, Plunkett, Woakes, Willey, Moeen, Westley

England cricket young guns for India tour?

England’s latest tests series draw has left many people questioning their team selection-most notably their top order. James Vince has endured a horrendous start to his test career, yet to pass fifty, and has shown a huge weakness outside the off stump. Alex Hales hasn’t done anything to prove to the selectors and fans that he is to stay as Cook’s opening partner, and Gary Ballance has looked as abject against international bowling as he did last year before he got dropped. Among the county circuit, there is a plethora of young talent waiting in the wings to be given a go at international level, and to possibly be called up to England duty this winter, facing the number one ranked team in India.

Among all the young talent going around at the moment, Haseeb Hameed has to be the most unique. His technique and style of play are reminiscent of Geoff Boycott and the style of play that preceded one day cricket. It is completely refreshing to see someone like Hameed play the way he does, and be incredibly successful at it. Just 19 years old, Hameed already has 1000 first class runs at an astonishing average of just over 53. He has notched up 4 hundreds this year in Division One of the County Championsip against top bowling opposition. Such is the quality of Hameed, that he is already being mentioned as a potential opener for the upcoming series against India, and I for one, would be all for it. One thing is for certain, Hameed definitely won’t be giving his wicket away like Hales or Vince has, and it surely couldn’t be a bad move to include him on the tour.

Probably the most talked about name in County Cricket at the moment is Ben Duckett. At 21 years old, the Northants wicket keeper already has a one day double hundred this year, and boasts the second highest list a batting average of all time. A very unorthodox player, Duckett comes in at the complete other end of the technique scale to Hameed. He is a dominating player, and plays the reverse sweep so effectively against spinners. Duckett would be a perfect replacement for someone like Vince, because as they are both dominating players who like to play shots, one would imagine that it would be incredibly difficult for Duckett to replicate the immense failure that has been James Vince’s international career. 

My personal opinion on what the XI should be against India is as follows:

Cook, Hameed, Duckett, Root, Bairstow, Stokes, Moeen, Ansari, Broad, Wood, Anderson.

Some of the other names to look out for in the upcoming years in English domestic cricket are Daniel Bell-Drummond (23), Tom Curran (21), Sam Curran (18), Mason Crane (19), Joe Clarke (20)

Short Poem

With the world perhaps on its knees

Ignorance is still bliss

A world ravaged by an elitist disease

With the corruption so difficult to miss

A revolution is waiting

Wanted by the poor

The end result invigorating

To finally put an end to the class war

 

 

SHORT POEM

My first attempt at a poem, albeit a very short one!

I find that the short poems are often the ones which evoke the most feeling and thought, and most of the time can be the most inspiring.

 

 

IPL 2016 Predictions

Group Stage:

Royal Challengers Bangalore

Mumbai Indians

Gujarat Lions

Rising Pune Supergiants

Sunrisers Hyderabad

Kolkata Knight Riders

Delhi Daredevils

Kings XI Punjab

 

Winners: RCB

Runners Up: RPSG

Leading run scorer: Ajinkya Rahane

Leading wicket taker: R Jadeja

Most sixes: Chris Gayle

KXIP leading run scorer: David Miller

KXIP leading wicket taker: Axar Patel

Cricket t20 World Cup Predictions

Group A:

England

South Africa

West Indies

Afghanistan

Sri Lanka

Group B:

India

Australia

Pakistan

New Zealand

Bangladesh
Semi final: Australia beats England

Semi Final: India beats South Africa

Final: India beats Australia

Leading run scorer: Rohit Sharma

Leading wicket taker: Ravindra Jadeja