Tag Archives: cricketers

Minnesota Vikings train with the Yorkshire Vikings

Surely there's more padding than this! NFL stars go into bat with cricketers of Yorkshire

PUBLISHED:

15:15 GMT, 27 March 2013

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UPDATED:

17:54 GMT, 27 March 2013

Yorkshire welcomed a Viking invasion from Minnesota on Wednesday as cricketers and American footballers swapped kit and technique tips at Headingley.

NFL side Minnesota are in Britain on a promotional tour and touched down in Yorkshire for a day of training with the county, who recently settled upon the name 'Vikings' in one-day cricket.

And the gridiron giants were taught the intricacies of the quintessential English summer sport by White Rose stars Liam Plunkett, Phil Jaques and Jack Brooks.

Invasion: (back row left to right) Yorkshire's Liam Plunkett, Phil Jaques and Jack Brooks (all in white) flank Minnesota's Kyle Rudolph while Harrison Smith bats and John Sullivan keeps wicket while two Vikings roar their approval

Invasion: (back row left to right) Yorkshire's Liam Plunkett, Phil Jaques and Jack Brooks (all in white) flank Minnesota's Kyle Rudolph while Harrison Smith bats and John Sullivan keeps wicket while two Vikings roar their approval

Yorkshire and Minnesota

Role reversal: Yorkshire bowler Jack Brooks holds the football while Minnesota centre John Sullivan wields the bat

Role reversal: Yorkshire bowler Jack Brooks holds the football while Minnesota centre John Sullivan wields the bat

Minnesota, who reached the NFL play-offs last year, are promoting the Sky Sports series about them, named Inside the Vikings, which will air on April 3. They are playing Pittsburgh Steelers at Wembley in September.

Centre John Sullivan, Tight end Kyle Rudolph and safety Harrison Smith put on a different kind of padding to have a net while the Yorkshire lads donned the helmets and shoulder pads ready for some football.

The Americans seemed to enjoy it and Sullivan tweeted: '@Yorkshireccc Thanks so much for the hospitality'.

Defence: Former England man Liam Plunkett teaches Kyle Rudolph how to bat

Defence: Former England man Liam Plunkett teaches Kyle Rudolph how to bat

Kyle Rudolph went for a bat and Plunkett told the Yorkshire website: 'I was very surprised how good Kyle’s batting was.

'Boy he could hit a ball. He creamed a few times through the covers – he could well be a pinch hitter for the Vikings in this year’s Friends Life t20 competition. He could well follow in the footsteps of another famous Yorkshire player Jacques Rudolph.

'I’m a big American Sports fan and love the NFL. This is a great opportunity to expose cricket to a wider marketing and more importantly Yorkshire Vikings.

'To have high-profile NFL players from the Minnesota Vikings come to our club is a great initiative and gives us some great momentum going into the new season.'

Offence: Kyle Rudolph has a swing

Offence: Kyle Rudolph has a swing

Rudolph added: “I didn’t know much about cricket before coming to Headingley today.

'This is a great tie up between two big sports organisations in Minnesota and Yorkshire. I will certainly be following the Yorkshire team this year, via social media, and hope they have a big season.

'We have been made to feel very welcome and love the Yorkshire hospitality.'

Angus Porter, Professional Cricketers" Association chief, reveals Tom Maynard was not tested for drugs before death

PCA chief Porter reveals Maynard wasn't tested for drugs last season before death

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

16:57 GMT, 3 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

16:57 GMT, 3 March 2013

Professional Cricketers' Association chief Angus Porter has revealed Tom Maynard was not drug tested last season before his death in June.

Maynard was killed in the early hours of June 18 after he was electrocuted and hit by a tube train near Wimbledon Park station.

Maynard had been trying to evade police after abandoning his car, and a Westminster Coroners' Court was told last week that he was four-times the legal alcohol limit to drive and that he had also taken cocaine and ecstasy on the night of the accident.

Tragic death: Tom Maynard was not tested for drugs last season

Tragic death: Tom Maynard was not tested for drugs last season

A post-mortem report also revealed the 23-year-old Surrey batsman, who was regarded as a potential England international, had used cocaine for at least three-and-a-half months.

In the wake of the findings the PCA have begun talks with the England and Wales Cricket Board to increase the levels of drug-testing – which would also include out-of-competition samples.

While Porter said Maynard's recreational drug use would have been detected under the current policy – which focuses on performance-enhancing drugs – he confirmed the batsman had not been tested last season.

'We have a drug-testing regime in cricket like those in all professional sports which is primarily focused on detecting performance-enhancing drugs for very obvious reasons,' Porter told BBC Radio Five Live.

Tribute: Maynard is remembered in the pavilion at The Oval

Tribute: Maynard is remembered in the pavilion at The Oval

He added: 'The pattern of drug use in Tom's case suggests he would have been picked up by our existing drugs programme.

'Although the use of recreational drugs outside of competition is not a breach of the anti-doping code, use in competition is a breach.

'So he would have tested for recreational drugs had he been tested in competition. Unfortunately given that is a random process he wasn't tested last year.'

Porter confirmed talks with the ECB to initiate out-of-competition testing were ongoing and that 'hair sampling' was likely to now be used to catch recreational drug users.

Shocking: A post-mortem report revealed that Maynard had been using cocaine for at least three months

Shocking: A post-mortem report revealed that Maynard had been using cocaine for at least three months

'We're in advanced discussions with the England and Wales Cricket Board about implementing a testing programme for drugs out of competition and almost certainly using hair sampling,' he said.

'As the coroner identified that gives you a longer history and a more certain test.

'We need to be clear we are talking about testing, not to catch cheats, but testing to find people who have a drugs problem.

'Therefore, it will be linked with a confidential programme of help, support, advice and if necessary treatment to get them back on the right path.'

Porter also promised to 'redouble' efforts to educate players on the issues associated with drug taking.

At the inquest: Maynard's former Surrey team-mates Jade Dernbach and Rory Hamilton-Brown (below)

At the inquest: Maynard's former Surrey team-mates Jade Dernbach and Rory Hamilton-Brown (below)

Friend: Rory Hamilton-Brown goes into the inquest

'We work very hard to make sure that all players understand both the challenges they face as professionals and also understand the risks that go with those and the issues associated with being in the public eye,' he said.

'We'll be redoubling our efforts in that respect to make sure they are educated and have access to help when they need it.

'If we are going to turn this in to a positive in any way it's that the things we are wrestling with are ones that are challenges for society at large. If we can draw attention to those challenges then that will be a good thing.'

India v England ODI series: Eoin Morgan praises preparations

Morgan praises England's preparations for India as one-day series looms large

. There are a lot of foundations already set so it's a matter of building on that,' he said.

'The majority of our preparation has already been done pre-Christmas. Many of us have been here (with the Test squad) since the 24th or 25th of October and some of the guys who weren't spent three weeks here before Christmas too.

'Over the next few days we'll just be doing top-ups in different areas of our games. We are prepared.'

'We've seen in past series how important that is – like the (2010/11) Ashes where we were there three or four weeks prior to the first game. It has done us good in the Test and Twenty20 matches and hopefully it will in the one-dayers too.'

While England are looking to get 2013 off to a winning start at the Palam Services Ground, all eyes in Delhi will instead be on the host nation's ODI match against Pakistan.

India have already lost that series after back to back defeats to their fierce rivals, but there is plenty still to play for in the final fixture.

Media pundits, former internationals and fans alike have called for a change when the squad for England is announced and established stars like Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh are all in need of runs.

Run drought: Gautam Gambhir is in a rut

Run drought: Gautam Gambhir is in a rut

Spin bowler Ravichandran Ashwin has been another target for criticism, having performed also modestly against England in the Tests, but Morgan is not ready to take the reigning world champions lightly.

'I don't think it is a good time to play India. I don't think it is ever a good time to play India,' said the Dubliner.

'We know how successful they have been in the past and they are the World Cup champions at the moment.

'They might be going through a bad patch but they are very, very dangerous cricketers and they have guys who can turn the game on its head in a matter of minutes.'

Tomorrow's match is due to begin at 9am local time (3.30am GMT) in conditions likely to be colder than an April outing at Chester-le-Street.

England's new limited-overs coach Ashley Giles is in charge of his country for the first time and has a couple of selection issues to ponder.

Somerset's Jos Buttler and Yorkshire's Joe Root appear to be battling for one place in the top six, while the variations of Jade Dernbach and the pace of Stuart Meaker offer different options for the final pace bowling spot.

Giles must also decide whether to leave Ian Bell at opener or restore Kevin Pietersen, back in the 50-over set-up after reversing his retirement, alongside Alastair Cook at the head of the innings.

Tony Greig tribute by Paul Newman

Tony Greig: A rebel with a cause. He was a pioneer who shocked the world… and saved cricket

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UPDATED:

20:26 GMT, 30 December 2012

Tony Greig rocked the establishment in walking away from high office as England captain to play a key role in setting up Kerry Packer’s breakaway ‘circus’ in 1977.

Sportsmail pays tribute to one of the most significant cricketers in the history of the game by recalling how the late, great Ian Wooldridge broke the seismic news of the Packer revolution exclusively on the front page of the Daily Mail.

And how Greig, who died in Sydney on Saturday at the age of 66, was finally welcomed back into the home of the game when he was invited to deliver the Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey lecture by MCC at Lord’s last summer.

Scroll down for video

66 and out: Former England captain and popular television commentator Tony Greig has died in Sydney at the age of 66

66 and out: Former England captain and popular television commentator Tony Greig has died in Sydney at the age of 66

Job well done: Greig, then captain of England, relaxes with a pint after a Test match at Old Trafford in 1972

Job well done: Greig, then captain of England, relaxes with a pint after a Test match at Old Trafford in 1972

On May 9, 1977, under the headline
‘World’s top cricketers turn “pirate” ’, Ian Wooldridge wrote: ‘In a
player revolution unprecedented in sport the world’s top 34 Test
cricketers have secretly signed contracts to become freelance
mercenaries. Disenchanted by low pay and what they regarded as doormat
treatment by cricketing authorities throughout the world they are to
play exhibition “Tests” for television and ten times the money.

Ragout

‘The new Dogs of Cricket include
England captain Tony Greig and 13 of the Australian touring party (in
England at the time). The possibility must be faced that Greig’s
involvement will be seen at Lord’s as defection and that he will be
removed from the captaincy this summer. Overnight. the whole balance of
world cricket has shifted.’

Last June, 35 years after being
ostracised from the established game, Greig, whose career of 58 Tests,
14 of them as England captain, was ended by his shocking switch, stood
tall at the home of cricket and explained, at the behest of MCC, why he
made the move that changed the game for ever.

Greig said: ‘I must explain my
reasons for sacrificing the most coveted role in world cricket, the
England captaincy, to become involved with an Australian television
tycoon. A quote from the transcript of my meeting with Kerry Packer,
five days after the Centenary Test on March 22, 1977, gives the best
insight of how I felt at the time: “Kerry, money is not my major
concern. I’m nearly 31 years old. I’m probably two or three failures
from being dropped from the England team. Ian Botham is going to be a
great player and there won’t be room in the England side for both of us.

All-rounder: Greig scored 3,599 Test runs at an average of 40.43 and was also more than handy with the ball, claiming 141 wickets at an average of 32.20

All-rounder: Greig scored 3,599 Test runs at an average of 40.43 and was also more than handy with the ball, claiming 141 wickets at an average of 32.20

Mentor: Greig offers some words of advice for players of the future during a match for Brighton and Hove CC at Basingstoke in 1978

Mentor: Greig offers some words of advice for players of the future during a match for Brighton and Hove CC at Basingstoke in 1978

Leaders: Deposed England cricket captain Tony Greig (right) and his successor, Mike Brearley, during practice prior to the 1st ODI against Australia at Old Trafford in Manchester on 22nd June 1977

Leaders: Deposed England cricket captain Tony Greig (right) and his successor, Mike Brearley, during practice prior to the 1st ODI against Australia at Old Trafford in Manchester on 22nd June 1977

“England captains such as Tony Lewis,
Brian Close, Colin Cowdrey, Ray Illingworth and Mike Denness all lost
the captaincy long before they expected. I won’t be any different. I
don’t want to finish up in a mundane job when they drop me. I’m not
trained to do anything. I am at the stage of my life when my family’s
future is more important than anything else. If you guarantee me a job
for life within your organisation, I will sign”.

Greig worked as a commentator for Packer’s Channel Nine in Australia until his death from a heart attack, after being diagnosed with lung cancer in October.

He continued at Lord’s: ‘Obviously
there were also key issues with the England administrators that
disturbed me which I felt would never be resolved. I couldn’t understand
why we were only paid 210 a Test when we were playing in front of
packed houses. The psyche of the administrators was that the honour of
playing for England was enough — money shouldn’t be a consideration.

‘Consequently I couldn’t see an end
to the game under-selling itself and there appeared to be no hope of
expanding the revenue base for Test and county players alike unless
there was a revolution, or at least a big upheaval. I have never had any
doubt that I did the right thing by my family and by cricket. I have
worked for Kerry Packer’s organisation for 35 years and my family’s
future has been secured.

Meeting of minds: Greig chats with Pakistan cricketer of the sixties Saeed Ahmed in the United Arab Emirates in 1997

Meeting of minds: Greig chats with Pakistan cricketer of the sixties Saeed Ahmed in the United Arab Emirates in 1997

Controversial times: Greig as captain of the World Series Cricket World XI in the 1979 Supertest Grand Final match with Australia in Sydney

Controversial times: Greig as captain of the World Series Cricket World XI in the 1979 Supertest Grand Final match with Australia in Sydney

‘After the initial nastiness and internal feuding, cricket and cricketers also did quite well out of World Series Cricket.

‘WSC ensured cricket reinvented itself to survive the changing world.

‘WSC was the jolt the administrators
needed and it flagged the message that they were substantially
under-selling the sport to TV.

‘Players immediately received
substantially more money at both Test and first-class level, which
increased the longevity of their careers.

‘Companies saw the value in using
cricket as a marketing tool. TV coverage improved significantly, which
increased interest in the sport. Night cricket created a new audience,
both in terms of television and at the ground, and generated
significantly more income.

‘Cricket’s success inspired other sports to imitate cricket with things such as TV coverage and sponsorships.’

Memorabilia: Greig studies the ball used by Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh when he became the first Indian to take a hat-trick in Test cricket at an auction in Bangalore in 2003

Memorabilia: Greig studies the ball used by Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh when he became the first Indian to take a hat-trick in Test cricket at an auction in Bangalore in 2003

Greig concluded: ‘Cricket as we know
and love it still has plenty of problems. Most can be solved if the
International Cricket Council members put the game’s interests before
their own; if India accepts the survival of Test cricket as
non-negotiable; if India accepts its responsibility as leader of the
cricket world; if it embraces Nelson Mandela’s philosophy of not
seeking retribution; and if it embraces the Spirit of Cricket and
governs in the best interests of world cricket, not just for India and
its business partners.

‘What we have is a game with its
roots deep in the 19th century but, like a magnificent English oak,
continues to spread its luxuriant branches in the 21st century.

‘If we want our children’s children
to be able to climb on that tree, we must do everything in our power to
ensure that the tree can live.

‘To do that, no matter where we come
from in the world, we must be guided by the paramount and enlightening
thing that Colin Cowdrey, a man so courteous he called Jeff Thomson “Mr
Thomson” out in the middle, knew and cherished so well. The Spirit of
Cricket.’

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WORLD OF CRICKET UNITES TO PAY TRIBUTE TO GREIG

England wicketkeeper, Matt Prior: 'Can't believe one of my heroes Tony Greig has passed away. One of the greatest voices in cricket and will be sorely missed. #RIPGreigy.'

England batsman Jonny Bairstow: 'Today we lost a fabulous man, a family friend and someone who was respected by all not only as a cricketer but a true gentleman RIPTonyGreig'

England opener, Nick Compton:
'Sad day – RIP Tony Greig a fantastic player and a good man, loved his
commentary was one of the best! Cricket world will miss u.'

Legendary Aussie fast bowler, Brett Lee: 'OMG Poor Tony Greig. I feel so sad and shocked right now. Can't believe it.'

England all-rounder, Luke Wright: 'Gutted to hear that Tony Greig has passed away. A legend on and off the field. Our thoughts are with his family and friends #RIPGreigy.'

Australia captain Michael Clarke on www.cricket.com.au: 'I was only speaking with Tony a couple of days ago so news of his passing is absolutely devastating.

'Tony has a long and decorated history with international cricket both as a player and commentator and cricket will be much poorer for his loss.

'Personally, he has also been a great mentor for me, providing great advice through the good times and the bad.'

Former Australian paceman Glen McGrath: My thoughts are with Tony Greig's family today. RIP Tony Greig'

Long-serving Nine Network cricket commentator and former Australia captain Richie Benaud recalled Greig's 'fearless' reaction to the English public following his decision to join the Packer team in 1977.
'There was an enormous amount of pressure on him,' Benaud told the Sydney Morning Herald.

'He was captain of England at the time and played against Australia at Lord's. The English people turned against him.

'He wasn't just a fearless cricketer but a fearless thinker as well. He would not just jump in boots first, but it wouldn't matter how much pressure it put on him, he would stick with it.'

Former Australia fast bowler Dennis Lillee told the same publication: 'Tony was a tough opponent who took on all opposition with aggression and a determination to win.

'We will not forget the way he stirred the viewers in a similar vein to the way he did to opposition teams.'

ICC chief executive David Richardson: 'This is extremely sad news for cricket and the ICC send their condolences to Tony's family and in particular his wife Vivian.

'Tony played a significant part in shaping modern cricket as a player in the 1970s and then provided millions of cricket lovers with a unique insight as a thoughtful and knowledgeable commentator – primarily for the Nine Network in Australia.

'I met with him on several occasions during the recent ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka where he was a senior commentator for our broadcast partner ESS.

'He was also a regular visitor to the ICC offices in Dubai when commentating for Ten Sports.

'I am sure that I will not be alone in saying that he and his wise words will be missed by cricketers, administrators and spectators around the world.

'His figures in Test matches show that he was one of the leading all-rounders of his generation with a batting average of above 40 and a bowling average around 32.'

Stuart Broad must improve, says David Saker

BROADside! Coach tells bowler to buck up and drop the defeatist attitude

|

UPDATED:

19:56 GMT, 27 November 2012

Wicketless: Broad has struggled in India

Wicketless: Broad has struggled in India

England will consider leaving one of their most influential players, Stuart Broad, out of the crucial third Test after his anaemic performances in India.

The vice-captain was a bystander in the historic win here in Mumbai and it emerged on Tuesday the tourists will not hesitate to drop a bowler who has been one of their outstanding cricketers over the last four years.

The morning after an epic day dawned with Steven Finn, who was set to play an integral role in England’s attack in India before injury, beginning his attempt to prove his fitness for next week’s Kolkata Test.

Finn played for the England
Performance Programme squad who have just begun their own month-long
tour of India and took four for 60 in 16 hostile overs against a Mumbai
side to enhance his chances of returning at Eden Gardens.

If he has no reaction from the thigh
injury he suffered in the first warm-up game of the tour, he will become
a strong contender and, with England sure to retain two spinners, it is
Broad’s place that is under threat.

The choice of David Saker, the
fast-bowling coach, to face the media yesterday looked a curious one in
the aftermath of such a spin-dominated triumph until it became clear
that he seemed anxious to provide Broad with a public kick up the
backside.

Vice-captain: Broad is second in command for EnglandVice-captain: Broad is second in command for England

Vice-captain: Broad is second in command for England

Chat: David Saker talks to James Anderson (right) during a practice session

Chat: David Saker talks to James Anderson (right) during a practice session

‘He needs to front up and find out what’s the best way to go about it over here,’ said Saker.

‘He has to find ways to survive in
India. The great fast bowlers have had success here. You can’t just
think that the fast bowlers won’t have much influence. A defeatist
attitude like that is pretty much not accepted.’

Broad was the leading Test
wicket-taker in world cricket in 2012 ahead of this tour and is highly
regarded by England but has had an anonymous two matches on
spin-friendly pitches, bowling 12 wicketless overs for 60 in the first
innings here and not even being used in the second.

His unhappy tour was compounded by a
Twitter spat with Sir Ian Botham after the first Test that earned him a
rebuke from Andy Flower.

‘I just think he’s lacking a bit of
confidence and finding it really difficult to get his head around maybe
changing the way he bowls in India,’ continued Saker. ‘If you bowl wide
of the stumps here you get hurt. We did discuss that before this trip,
how bowling straight is crucial, and we watched a lot of footage of the
teams who have come here and done well.’

Broad, as Twenty20 captain, is a
member of the management committee here and, in theory, would be in on
the discussions over his own place but England are clearly preparing him
for the possibility of bad news.

Saker confirmed that Broad was unwell
ahead of the second Test, as revealed by Sportsmail last Friday,
but that he had insisted he was fit enough to take his place.

‘He had a bit of illness and he was
asked on the first morning of the Test whether he was good to go and he
said yes,’ said the Australian.

Knocking on the door: Finn plays for the Performance Squad this week

Knocking on the door: Finn plays for the Performance Squad this week

‘If the coach says, “Are you all right
to go”, and you say yes then to me you’re 100 per cent fit. If you’re
not sure, it’s a decision for the captain and coach, but he said he was
right.’

FORM GUIDE

Stuart Broad is yet to take a wicket in two Tests here but his form in 2012 has been good. He has 40 wickets, making him the leading wicket-taker in Tests until he was overtaken by Graeme Swann in Ahmedabad.

Broad did well on Asian-type pitches when he took 13 wickets in the 3-0 defeat by Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates but his best form came at home, with seven for 72 against West Indies at Lord’s and five wickets in the first innings against South Africa at Headingley.

Now Saker accepts that he must play
his part in restoring the brio that has made Broad such a confident and
successful competitor for England.

‘I’ve been blessed in that I haven’t
had to do a lot of hard yards as a bowling coach but now, with Tim
Bresnan and Stuart of late, we’ve had to have some good talks and maybe
some tinkering with actions.

‘The key is holding your length and
line. It’s an old adage but if you bowl at the stumps you’ve a chance.
Stuart probably just hasn’t played that well in these two Tests. Maybe
he’s looking for something that isn’t there. He’s asking questions that
probably don’t need to be asked.’

Saker insisted that he has every
confidence in Broad should he remain as one of only two seamers in
England’s Kolkata line-up but clearly he would like to see Finn’s extra
height and bounce added to the team.

‘Finn has been monitored the last few
days and he’s playing this game with the Lions squad so if he gets
through there’s a good chance he might play in Kolkata,’ said Saker.
‘He’s a special talent and has the pace we probably need for this place.
We’d like to get him. It will be an interesting selection call if he is
fit.’

There was a feeling of satisfaction
here among the England squad on Tuesday but there is no question that
another defeat would have led to some tough questions being asked within
the camp.

Saker added: ‘I was questioning myself as to whether we were
doing the right things, and if I’m doing that I think others in the camp
were wondering if we were going in the right direction too. But it
turned out to be as good a win as I’ve experienced with this group.’

England are considering adding
another spinner to their squad after the spectacular success of Monty
Panesar and Graeme Swann. They are concerned they have no specialist
back-up and could fly in James Tredwell or turn to Lancashire’s slow
left-armer Simon Kerrigan, who took four wickets for the Lions on
Tuesday.

Kevin Pietersen thanks England team-mates for support after Test win over India

KP thanks England team-mates after match winning century levels series with India

|

UPDATED:

07:54 GMT, 26 November 2012

Kevin Pietersen thanked the England players, management and fans as he firmly re-established himself in the line-up with a match-winning century in the second Test against India.

Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann took 19 wickets between them – 11 of them going to the left-armer – to ensure England only had to chase 57 this morning, something they achieved with a minimum of fuss.

But the victory was built on the first-innings centuries from Alastair Cook and, in particular, man of the match Pietersen, whose 186 was his first major contribution since his return to the team following the much-publicised troubles of the summer.

Man of the match: Kevin Pietersen celebrates his match winning innings in the England dressing room

Man of the match: Kevin Pietersen celebrates his match winning innings in the England dressing room

'Thanks to the guys in the dressing room and the management for sorting everything out,' he said.

'Every day you put on an England jersey is a special day.

'We are so privileged as England cricketers with the spectators that travel around the world with us, they are purely magnificent.

'Without their support we can't achieve things.'

Pietersen said he thought his innings was his best for England.

Asked where he placed the ton among his record-equalling haul of 22, he said: 'Now that we've won, probably at the top.

'Yesterday I said we needed to win the match and Test hundreds feel a lot better when you win.

'Panesar, Swann were outstanding in that second innings. Cookie is a magnificent cricketer – he'll break every England record for Test hundreds and career runs.

'What a difference a week makes. The boys came to Mumbai, they worked hard, they trained hard, they backed themselves and there's a good united spirit in that dressing room which is magnificent.'

It was an impressive way for England to bounce back from the nine-wicket defeat in Ahmedabad in the first Test.

Chipping in: Swann was able to support Panesar with his wickets

Chipping in: Swann was able to support Panesar with his wickets

Captain Cook said: “It was a tough week at Ahmedabad and the character we showed today and these last three days has been fantastic. I just can't fault the effort from the lads and the performance they've put in these last four days.'

Cook was visibly frustrated after losing the toss and being asked to bat, and he said: 'It was an important toss but the way we bowled that first day was fantastic.

'And the way Kevin batted, the way he took the game away from India – to get an 80-odd run lead was vital on that wicket.

Main man: Panesar bowled very well in both innings

Main man: Panesar bowled very well in both innings

'It was a fantastic innings, great to watch from the other end. We almost could have got more of a lead in the end.

'The way Swanny and Monty bowled when the pressure was on, not to let India get away was fantastic.'

He added: “It's been an interesting two weeks, both ends of the spectrum.'

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni singled out Panesar as England's matchwinner.

'Monty bowled really well,' he said. 'If you see all the other spinners, all of them looked effective, all of them were getting a bit of turn and bounce, but they were not really uncomfortable for the batsmen, but Monty, the pace he bowled at, he made sure the batsmen were coming on to the front foot and playing him so I think the major difference was him.'

India preparations leave England in a spin – The Top Spin, Lawrence Booth

India preparations leave England in a spin, but for captain Cook's charges the warm-up has barely begun

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UPDATED:

12:41 GMT, 13 November 2012

A fortnight in India is usually enough for the wide-eyed tourist to get his bearings. Some need a little longer. But for England's cricketers – 10 of whom are on their first Test tour here – time has now run out.

Ten days of warm-up cricket have, it's true, brought some reward. There have been five hundreds and 10 fifties, and not a single member of the Test top seven can reasonably fret about being out of nick. It is hard to recall an England trip quite like it.

But the effect has been almost unreal, like sitting a mock exam with the answers laid out in front of you. Because, as you will have noticed unless you've only just returned from a holiday on Pluto, England's exposure to top-rank spin has been strictly limited.

Final preparations: England begin their Test series against India in decent shape

Final preparations: England begin their Test series against India in decent shape

More from Lawrence Booth…

The Top Spin: Why India are clinging to faith in England's ineptitude against spin
06/11/12

The Top Spin: England's batsmen show they are still struggling to get to grips with spin
24/09/12

The Top Spin: England voyage into the unknown on a wing and a prayer
18/09/12

The Top Spin: Bears, Twitter and textgate… a review of the summer that was
10/09/12

The Top Spin: KP's England future is more dependent on his attitude than he may realise
03/09/12

The Top Spin: Strauss's future uncertain after mid-table mediocrity takes hold at precisely the wrong moment
21/08/12

The Top Spin: Don't judge Pietersen – leave that up to Flower and Strauss
14/08/12

The Top Spin: Pietersen chasing omnium of desires… love, 10,000 Test runs and to be rich
07/08/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

The Indian teams have been well within their rights, of course. The days when tourists were given a proper workout ahead of the Tests are gone now that Australia no longer have the same depth. And there are times when county cricket ought to be ashamed of the XIs it fields against our guests.

Yet the upshot is that we are no closer to knowing whether England's achilles heel – everyone's favourite Trojan War hero has been clocking up the name-checks of late – has been properly plastered over.

It's not just that the best spinner they have faced has been Amit Mishra, who ascribed his bowling of only 17.1 overs out of 193.3 for Haryana partly to a sore finger.

But England are yet to bat on a pitch that has been anything other than flat, nor older than three and a bit days. The true test will come on a fifth-day crumbler against Ravi Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha, with Ashwin already talking darkly of a mystery ball – another pre-England-series staple these days in the grand manner of Shane Warne and Saeed Ajmal.

England have done all they can in the circumstances, chalking up totals of 426, 345 for 9, 149 for 2, 521 and 254 for 7 (when several of their wickets were thrown away ahead of a declaration). It's just possible that India may come to regret allowing all of their batsmen to find their groove. As own-goals go, it would be spectacular.

Yet for all the focus on spin, there are other issues to resolve. For a start, England are yet to encounter anything approaching the skill of Zaheer Khan or the pace of Umesh Yadav, who are likely to share the new ball for India – at least until Zaheer's next injury crisis.

Their own bowling attack is hardly a picture of fighting fitness itself. Steven Finn – to his chagrin – is out of the reckoning after failing to bowl at training on Tuesday morning, while Stuart Broad is set to play in the Ahmedabad Test, starting on Thursday, after sending down only 10 first-class overs on tour.

The phrase 'not ideal' has become de rigueur in press conferences. It may be erring on the side of generosity.

Neither has Graeme Swann been fine-tuned to the degree England would like. To the relief of everyone, not least the Swann family, his baby daughter Charlotte recovered well enough for her dad to return to India on Monday morning. But since bowling 23 overs on the opening day of the tour's curtain-raiser against India A, he has sent down only a further five.

Mo problems: The batsmen are in good nick... but are yet to face frontline spinners

Mo problems: The batsmen are in good nick... but are yet to face frontline spinners

Mo problems: The batsmen are in good nick… but are yet to face the frontline spinners

In the meantime, Monty Panesar has bowled 66. Panesar could yet be an outside bet for a place in a four-man attack ahead of Tim Bresnan, yet the balance of so many aspects of England's game depends rather more on Swann.

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It's not just the bowling attack. The retirement of Andrew Strauss means Swann is now England's banker in the slips, standing at second early on, then ousting Alastair Cook to become the lone slip when the ball gets older (although Jonathan Trott, and not Jimmy Anderson, will take the spot when Swann or Samit Patel are bowling).

Cook's fallibility – his miss of Alviro Petersen at Headingley arguably cost England their No 1 ranking – and the fact that the third-slip position will depend on who is bowling, both place extra pressure on Swann to catch everything that comes his way.

And that may just sum up England's predicament. India may have a few issues of their own, but Cook needs to wring every last drop of perspiration and inspiration from his team if they are to stand a chance. Really, the warm-up has barely begun.

Sitting it out: Finn is expected to miss the first Test in Ahmedabad

Sitting it out: Finn is expected to miss the first Test in Ahmedabad

EVEREST COMPETITION WINNERS

Last week we asked you to name the member of the England tour party who climbed to Everest base camp five years ago. As most of you knew, it was Nick Compton.

But there are only three lucky winners of a copy of Alan Curr's new book: Cricket on Everest: The Inspirational Story of the World’s Highest Cricket Match. Congratulations to John Bartlett, Mark Klein and Duncan MacKenzie.

THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS

All-out attack

Full marks to the Indian brains trust, whose attempts to remind England of their fallibility against spin at every, ahem, turn, even extended during the bore-draw against Haryana to the press conferences.

On the second evening, the 22-year-old off-spinner Jayant Yadav was impressively quick to make the point that England had been 'very uncomfortable' against him, a view based on his contention that they had been quick to use their feet (damned if you do, damned if you don't).

In a spin: Yadav says England struggled against him in the Haryana warm-up

In a spin: Yadav says England struggled against him in the Haryana warm-up

Yadav's assault was almost as withering as England's on the Haryana bowling during their first-innings 521 at 4.4 an over. And yet there was a point amid the propaganda. Against Yadav and the leg-spin of Amit Mishra, England lost 8 for 177. Against Haryana's four seamers, it was 1 for 332.

Gavaskar plays down the hype

Duncan Fletcher once made the point that it is always sad when a good wine goes sour. He was talking about Sunil Gavaskar. The Top Spin couldn't possibly comment, except to say that Gavaskar's columns in the Times of India do a consistently fine job of proving Fletcher’s point.

In his latest one, a bizarre screed in which he argues that a three-Test series has more chance of producing a result than a four-Test series, Gavaskar writes: 'The India-England series has been over-hyped, as is the case with any series involving England.' Pots and kettles, Sunny, pots and kettles…

Anorak heaven

After attending our first Ranji Trophy match in Mumbai the other week, the Top Spin now cannot get enough. And some of the scorecards in the recent round of games made for eye-watering reading.

The stattos at Tamil Nadu (538 for 4) v Karnataka (562 for 6) would have enjoyed themselves, but not half as much as those who sat through Maharashtra (764 for 6) against Uttar Pradesh (528 for 5).

Master blaster: Tendulkar at the crease during a Ranji Trophy match - but the big runs were scored by others

Master blaster: Tendulkar at the crease during a Ranji Trophy match – but the big runs were scored by others

But our favourite has to be Gujarat against Saurashtra. Gujarat had done pretty well to make 600 for 9. Or so they thought. Because Saurashtra responded with a merciless 716 for 3, which included a third-wicket stand of 539 between Sagar Jogiyani (carelessly run out for 282) and Ravindra Jadeja, who finished unbeaten on 303.

The partnership takes its place in the top ten highest stands for any wicket in first-class history.

Come again!

The most unsettling part of last week's story about former Australian batsman Greg Ritchie's use of a racist epithet during a lunch-time speech at the Gabba Members' Club was that no one had complained before.

'I have told the story 500 times during the course of my speaking career,' said Ritchie. 'I do it verbatim.' Tasteless and unoriginal – it's some double whammy.

Graeme Smith vents fury at ECB over Kevin Pietersen text slur

South Africa captain Smith vents fury at ECB over 'provoked' Pietersen text slur

By
Richard Gibson

PUBLISHED:

21:00 GMT, 9 October 2012

|

UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 9 October 2012

South Africa players have demanded an apology from ECB chief executive David Collier following his claims that they provoked Kevin Pietersen during textgate.

Collier spoke out on Sunday – two months after Sportsmail exclusively revealed Pietersen had sent messages about his team-mates to the South Africans during the Test series – and suggested South Africa’s strategy was to unsettle Pietersen.

However, their captain Graeme Smith retorted: ‘We pride ourselves on being a sporting and ethical team. We talk a lot about values and our approach to the game. We play hard but we play fair and any suggestion that we did this as a tactic is totally unwarranted and unnecessary.’

Exile over: Kevin Pietersen is set to be 're-integrated' into the England squad

Exile over: Kevin Pietersen is set to be 're-integrated' into the England squad

Tony Irish, chief executive of the South African Cricketers’ Association, added: ‘By his own admission Mr Collier never saw any text messages and we know Kevin himself has never suggested he was provoked, so where is the evidence for this claim

‘In international cricket if a player makes an inflammatory comment or accusation he gets punished. Look what happened to Kevin Pietersen himself. The players think that the same should apply to administrators, especially when this is done publicly. Our players are awaiting an apology.’

World Twenty20: Eoin Morgan says England do not talk about Kevin Pietersen

We don't talk about 'You-Know-Who', insists England Twenty20 star Morgan

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UPDATED:

15:00 GMT, 16 September 2012

England's ICC World Twenty20 hopefuls are free to discuss Kevin Pietersen, and his controversial absence from their campaign, whenever they want – but rarely feel like doing so.

Unlike on the outside looking in, where Pietersen never seems to be far from the central topic, his name hardly ever comes up for debate between the England cricketers who have left him behind.

Eoin Morgan dismissed the suggestion that he, for example, might be tempted to mull over the whys and wherefors of Pietersen's non-selection for England's defence of their only International Cricket Council trophy to date.

You-Know-Who: England have not been talking about Kevin Pietersen

You-Know-Who: England have not been talking about Kevin Pietersen

The Irishman made it clear too, though, that there is no ban on mentioning the prodigal South Africa-born batsman – whose prospects of continuing his international career after his summer of contract wrangles may become clearer on Tuesday when England are expected to name their Test squad to tour India.

Pietersen is not, Morgan points out, 'like Voldemort' – the menacing, unseen character in the hugely popular Harry Potter books who is so feared even his own advocates dare only refer to him as “You-Know-Who”, “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” or “the Dark Lord”.

Pietersen goes by none of those epithets in the England dressing room – and his ears will not be burning either.

Asked if the aforementioned is covered much in conversation by his erstwhile colleagues, Morgan said: 'Not at all really. It's probably out of sight, out of mind.'

Pietersen may not stay that way for much longer, given his agreement to work as a television pundit during the three-week tournament set to get under way on Tuesday.

In the spotlight: Morgan was talking to reporters in Colombo

In the spotlight: Morgan was talking to reporters in Colombo

Should he become uppermost in anyone's mind at that point, however, he will not be a banned subject. 'No. It's not like Voldemort. It's all right,' said Morgan, who understandably prefers to talk about people who are actually part of England's Sri Lankan venture.

Specifically, Jos Buttler and his 10-ball 32 not out in Wednesday's win over South Africa just before England flew east, brings a smile to his team-mate's face. 'It was absolutely brilliant,' he said. 'It gives everyone else belief that he can perform at any given time.

'I've been watching Jos train for nearly a year now, and he's phenomenal.

'The guy is brilliant – and we've all been waiting for this to evolve.

'The fact it has now is awesome, great for the team.'

Within hours, Buttler appeared to be struggling to come to terms with Colombo conditions in a spinners' net during England's first practice of the tour.

Teeing off: Buttler impressed against South Africa

Teeing off: Buttler impressed against South Africa

England (ICC World Twenty20 warm-up match v Australia, starting at
0500 BST, at Nondescripts Cricket Club, from):

SCJ Broad (Captain), AD
Hales, C Kieswetter (wkt), LJ Wright, EJG Morgan, JC Buttler, JM
Bairstow, TT Bresnan, GP Swann, JW Dernbach, ST Finn, SR Patel, DR
Briggs, RS Bopara, MJ Lumb

But to the wider world, the Somerset batsman has already produced a statement of intent to supersede a previously lean start to his international career. 'There were a lot of contributing factors to why he didn't have a chance to go out and play the way he could – it is very timely he has now,' added Morgan.

'Like anything, until you go out there and prove to yourself and you know inside you can perform, (reassuring) words run off your shoulders really.'

Morgan himself took that first step long ago, but his challenge now is to re-emphasise his value to England and standing in world Twenty20 cricket after a year of relatively low productivity.

'I find the hardest thing is keeping things simple. When you go wrong, you can move away from those simple things,' he said.

'My stance was something that worked for me.

'But I went through a stage at the start of the year where I struggled with it, so I had to change it.

Stalwart: Morgan has become a key member of England's Twenty20 side in recent years

Stalwart: Morgan has become a key member of England's Twenty20 side in recent years

Changes: Morgan has worked on his batting technique

Changes: Morgan has worked on his batting technique

'I was fortunate enough to learn that pretty quickly – because something that went so extreme could have taken a hell of a lot of time to rectify.'

In the immediate future, Morgan and England must prepare for the first examination of their credentials in tomorrow's warm-up match against Australia – who have the advantage of several days' extra acclimatisation under their belts, not to mention a victory over New Zealand too.

After one more practice match, against Pakistan, England will face Afghanistan in an important opening group fixture on Friday.

Morgan knows from experience those minnows must not be under-estimated.

'I've played Afghanistan before, when I played for Ireland, and have been on a losing side against them. So I won't be taking them for granted at all,' he said.

'They have a lot of up-and-coming players, and it's a potential banana skin for us.

'If we don't perform, there's a chance they could sneak over the line.

'We'll need to be on our toes.'

Nasser Hussain: Strauss goes with pride, on his own terms

Nasser Hussain: Strauss goes with pride, on his own terms

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UPDATED:

23:02 GMT, 29 August 2012

If Andrew Strauss’s experience of resigning as England captain was anything like mine, he’ll currently be going through a range of emotions, both high and low.

A lot of what he said in the press conference resonated with me. You just know when you are mentally finished at the top level, and Strauss said he had run his race. That’s exactly the way that I felt. No matter what other people say, you — and you alone — know when it’s someone else’s turn at the captaincy.

Above all he’ll be feeling a sense of relief. All cricketers know how lucky they are to be playing sport for a living, but sometimes people don’t quite realise how all-consuming it is — not just leading England, which is tiring enough, but to be a professional cricketer full stop. It takes over your whole life and there is this tremendous feeling of release when you pack it all in.

Relaxed mood: Andrew Strauss spoke with his usual poise

Relaxed mood: Andrew Strauss spoke with his usual poise

He’ll no longer have to wake up and think, ‘How am I going to cope with Morne Morkel from round the wicket’ or ‘How am I going to help England deal with their problems on Asian pitches’

Resigning as captain of England means you can finally begin to feel like a normal human being again. You can start to deal with the normal things in life, and spend some overdue time with your family. It’s priceless, really.

Having said that, the change can hit you hard because the brutal fact of the matter is that you are no longer ‘Andrew Strauss, captain of England’. I remember when the crowd started singing ‘Michael Vaughan’s Barmy Army’ after I stepped down in 2003 — and it hurt.

That sounds silly, but it’s all part of the realisation that this incredible job, the job of leading your country in a sport you love and that has been your whole life, now belongs to someone else. That feeling may not properly dawn on Strauss until he sees Alastair Cook leading the Test team out at Ahmedabad on November 15. But when it does, it will affect him. He’s only human.

Ashes glory: England celebrate winning Down Under in 2011

Ashes glory: Andrew Strauss celebrates winning Down Under in 2011 as he became the first England captain in 25 years to retain the Ashes

The most important part of resigning is that you do so on your own terms. I was always quite clear about not wanting to leave the game with any regrets, and I was lucky to be able to sign off from Test cricket with a hundred — on Strauss’s debut against New Zealand — even though I’d given up the captaincy a year earlier.

The sense I get is that Strauss has done just that. He’s not the sort to be jealous of team-mates, or look enviously at someone else’s IPL contract, or wonder what might have been. He’s played 100 Tests, for goodness’ sake, and captained England in 50 of them. He’s squeezed every bit of ability out of himself to score more than 7,000 Test runs and average 40.

Like me, he’s had to spend a lot of time working on a fragile technique and tinkering with his game. He knows he’s worked as hard as he could have done. There’ll be no bitterness — and that’s crucial for your wellbeing and state of mind.

I quit: Hussain with chairman of selectors David Graveney in 2003

I quit: Hussain with chairman of
selectors David Graveney in 2003

People will inevitably confuse the issue of Strauss’s resignation with what’s been going on with Kevin Pietersen, but this isn’t about KP. This was all about Strauss. He’s too strong-minded to let other distractions influence his decision.

Above all, Strauss knows that playing cricket is not the be all and end all. I probably needed to quit the game to realise this, but it’s a helpful thought — whenever it occurs to you. Because he’s such a well-rounded bloke, with a life outside the sport, you can tell he’ll be OK. I wish him luck. He deserves it.