Tag Archives: Pietersen

What IPL really stands for

Now Brett Lee and the Rest of the World know what IPL stands for, the paceman having bowled probably the worst over of his cricketing life in the Punjab Stadium, yesterday.

The King’s XI Punjab had scored 181 in their twenty overs to set the Royal Challengers Bangalore a demanding target of 1.5 runs per ball.

The Challenger’s hundred came up in 76 balls, the King’s accomplished spin bowlers increasing the pressure on the batsmen ball by frugal ball. Yuvraj was unlucky not to have Pietersen lbw with a full toss that would have struck the bottom of leg stump.

It was at around this point that Dominic Cork in the commentary box suggested that Sangakkara was ‘setting this match up beautifully for his fast bowlers.’

Did Third Man hear that right?  The spinners were chocking the life out of Pietersen and the very fine Kohli.  Pietersen’s record against left arm finger spinners is the talk of every cricket club bar. The King’s spinners had overs to spare, including two from Yuvraj, Pietersen’s personal bugbear.

Cork commentates like he plays cricket, always searching for the extravagant pronouncement; the bouncer, the dashing offensive, the bold assertion; delivered, struck or uttered with consummate conviction but with fatally flawed performance. Self belief is not his problem. Execution is.

But it was as if Sangakkara had heard the siren Cork, because Yuvraj was immediately taken off and pace called up.  Pace to Pietersen is like an aqualung to a drowning man and yesterday it allowed him to splash in doggy paddle fashion to the relief of calmer waters.

The Challengers had reached 134 for 3 at the end of the 16th over, with the belligerent Uthappa coming in at the fall of Kohli, when Sangakkara called up the willing horse that is Brett Lee.

What followed was the sad destruction of a famous fast bowler in front of the many millions who watch the IPL.

Rather than use his considerable cricketing experience to surprise and disconcert with varying pace, the slow bouncer, the back of the hand ball, the knuckle delivery and then, only then, his trade mark yorker, Lee opted for familiarity (the long hop of Twenty20) and delivered the good length ball at pace which Uthappa lifted with ease for six over long off.

Like a disturbed wasp Lee then unleashed another fast full length ball and was this time slapped one bounce into the sight screen.   Ball three was the yorker which Uthappa squeezed to Third Man.  

With Pietersen on strike, another yorker was deflected to TM.  Control seemed to be being restored but Lee proved an unreformed character.  Uthappa hoisted another quick delivery way back over midwicket as if he  was flicking that wasp from his presence.

Surely nothing could be worse that these five balls?  Ball six was again delivered with pace this time on the full down the leg side for five wides.  The extra ball, again over pitched, was hit powerfully straight down the ground for two.

The 25 runs from the over took the Challengers to 159 for 3 and into a comfortable endgame.  It looks over for the Kings and surely it is over for the King of Pace who has yet to take a wicket in IPL3.  The film ‘They shoot horses don’t they?’ comes to mind.

Jeremy Snape, who advises the South African Test Squad, suggests that players now see themselves not as persons, but as economic concerns, small firms that they should grow into big businesses.

With this characterisation, however, needs to come the familiar financial warnings that stock values can go down as well as up and that the higher the rewards, the greater the risks. 

At whatever level in cricket, from the park to the Punjab Stadium, every player knows that what is truly at stake is their personality, that most fragile human construction. 

For the player-as-plc, liquidation is one bad personal decision, one humiliating shot, one injudicious comment, one atrocious over away.

IPL – the tournament and the cash – is intoxicating.  But players beware. IPL stands for Impending Personal Liquidation.

Last night, Brett Lee PLC cratered.

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The Best Day of the Year – Probably

Third Man is about his cottage early this morning moving the clocks forward.  There is a spring in his feet.  After all these years this day in March remains the best day of the year. Young people everywhere will have an extra hour of daylight to finish their games of cricket tonight.

To the Green beneath Beacon Hill we would go, the Danes, that is Mark left arm slow and Peter the acrobatic ‘keeper, Sam Eddings right hand bat, Bunny Burnell off-spin, Rob Barnard right hand bat, Richard McIlwaine,  right arm rapid and Third Man jack of all trades, to chalk fresh stumps against a wall and start their new season.

But Backwatersman has reminded him  that this is an inaccurate recollection. 

This should have read: To the Green that afternoon strode Sainsbury, Harrison, Marshall, Burden, cousin Barnard, Shackleton, and Livingston.  Hampshire claimed the extra hour to beat Kent despite a fine and inevitable century by Cowdrey.

In Yorkshire and Lancashire streets free of traffic became Headingleys and Old Traffords.  In Guildford, Taunton and Market Harborough odd sets of stumps were pitched or jerseys piled high in parks where matches with sides that fluctuated in numbers from three to thirty three were played until darkness finally settled the score.

Yes, in the year Twenty10 in Nottingham, Chewton Magna and Hartlepool, Tendulkas will play with Pietersens, Lees with Gibbs, Sangakkaras with Gayles.  The shots will be outrageously daring, the actions suspect, but the game will be the game.

IPL administrators, umpires, players and commentators carry huge responsibilities.  Like it or not the fate of our game is in their hands and it will be the spirit expressed by these wonderful players, facilitated by the administrators and guarded by the umpires; the comradeship, the enjoyment, the mutual respect that they all display over these six long weeks; that will matter.

The signs are good not bad.  The signs would be better were sides to include good players from Pakistan.  

As Yeats commanded, so all lovers of cricket command of them; ‘Tread softly because you tread on our dreams’.

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Britain, India and the game of C21 … Or why Flintoff should be next Ambassador to China

Is cricket to be our most important cultural asset in this relatively new century?  Are cricketers already our most important diplomats? 

While in Rome … do as the Greeks?

The Greeks gave the early Italian tribes who would later become the Romans their alphabet, weights and measures, coinage, many of their gods and cults. The Romans saw in Hellenistic cities a comfortable, enjoyable lifestyle. Their houses acquired columns, statues, mosaics, tapestries and paintings on the walls. Even the eating of dinner while reclining came from the Greeks.Roman trade, banking, administration, art, literature, philosophy, earth science and sport bore the marks of Greek influence.   For rich young Romans it was a must to have studied in Athens and to be able to speak Greek.

John Wayne, Walt Disney and Blue Jeans

America used Hollywood to colonize the world.  They didn’t need to invade both to succeed economically and to dominate culturally.  They sold the American dream first in the cinemas and then through the TV sets of the world.

And then, despite spending billions of dollars on nuclear armament, the fall of the Soviet Union came about when the people there rose up against their masters in pursuit of the freedom to be able to buy a thousand minutely differing variations of blue jeans.  (Third Man exaggerates to make a point but only slightly.)

China

TM wishes the Chinese played cricket, but they don’t … yet.  In fact they are busy trying to topple America by selling jeans to them and keeping the exchange rate low enough to destroy Western economies.  Well, if it worked for the Americans against the Soviet Block it could well work again.

Thankfully India Adores Cricket

Now as India stands on the verge of a bright future it is accepting the culture of Hollywood and transforming it into Bollywood; and the culture cricket and transforming it into Cricetainment.

For this they need players – the best players from all over the globe including those from the UK.  Our culture as expressed through the cricket and lifestyles of Flintoff, the English dimension to the Peiterson brand, Morgan, Bopara, and others will have their influence on how India progresses, what it values, how it acts, where it trades, what it buys and who it supports on the international stage as the century moves on.

A couple of runs off the bat

ONE: We need to properly value these relatively young men and for them to know and carry comfortably the responsibilities they hold and the opportunities they have to safeguard and develop the UK’s future.

TWO: We need Government to recognize that for every pound they spend on diplomacy, embassies and foreign affairs initiatives another pound might be more effectively spent on promoting the enjoyment of the game and the emerging talent in this country.

And Our Next Ambassador to China

When Preston born Andrew Flintoff hangs up his three stripes, he could be our best choice for our next Ambassador to China.

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