Tag Archives: maynard

Rory Hamilton-Brown leaves Surrey to Sussex

Hamilton-Brown hopes to start again at Sussex after death of Surrey team-mate Maynard

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

23:54 GMT, 3 April 2013

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UPDATED:

23:56 GMT, 3 April 2013

Rory Hamilton-Brown wants to honour the memory of his tragic friend Tom Maynard after leaving Surrey to return to Sussex.

The former England Under 19 captain spoke on Wednesday of his need to leave the Oval following the loss of his flatmate and best pal, who died under a train after fleeing police in London last June.

Hamilton-Brown, 25, believes he can rediscover his drive and love for the game back at Hove, where he spent two years between 2007 and 2009.

Outbound: Rory Hamilton-Brown leaves Surrey for Sussex

Outbound: Rory Hamilton-Brown leaves Surrey for Sussex

'I realised I needed to be in a place where I felt close to people again, where there was that love and care,' he said.

'I had two fantastic years at Sussex and in a funny way, it always felt like home.

'A little part of me wants to think that I’m carrying him with me and that’s going to give you a deeper, harder drive than I’ve had before.'

Tragic: Tom Maynard died at Wimbledon Park Tube station

Tragic: Tom Maynard died at Wimbledon Park Tube station

Robert Earnshaw"s move to Israel

Brits abroad! As Earnshaw heads to Israel, here's more
men playing on foreign soil

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UPDATED:

13:41 GMT, 21 September 2012

With the unexpected news that he is swapping Cardiff City
for Maccabi Tel Aviv for the season, Robert Earnshaw joined a small, but
adventurous, band of British footballers who are currently playing overseas.

While the cosmopolitan Premier League is a magnet for the
best talent from nations right around the world, the number of players
travelling in the opposite number is miniscule by comparison.

Here, Sportmail looks at ten British players (aside from
David Beckham) playing on foreign fields.

Robert Earnshaw
(Maccabi Tel Aviv)

Miles from home 2,334
Useful local phrase (NB May not be
entirely accurate): תן
לי את הכדור, אני
עושה את השאר. אני
מחשב היעד. (Give me the ball, I’ll do the rest.
I’m a goal machine)

Earnshaw has decided to try his chances elsewhere after dropping
down the pecking order at Cardiff City. He made just 20 appearances last season
and has yet to feature this, having fallen behind Craig Bellamy, Nicky Maynard,
Heidar Helgusson and others.

He has a very good career goalscoring record, with 202 goals in
457 appearances, as well as 16 strikes for Wales, and should prosper against
the defences of the Israeli league.

Maccabi are currently third in the Israeli league and will be
hoping the Welshman’s goals can fire them to a first title since 2003.

New adventure: Robert Earnshaw will spend the season on loan at Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel

New adventure: Robert Earnshaw will spend the season on loan at Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel

Emile
Heskey (Newcastle Jets)

Miles from
home 10,536 Useful local phrase There’s
no need to believe everything you’ve heard about me, cobber (There’s no need to
believe everything you’ve heard about me, mate)

Heskey, a free agent after becoming surplus to requirements at
Aston Villa, opted for a completely different change of scenery by moving to
the other side of the world.

In the Australian A-League, each club is allowed one ‘Marquee
player’ and, while many laugh at Heskey being given this tag, he is arguably
likely to be more useful that the likes of Dwight Yorke and Robbie Fowler from
previous years.

The 34-year-old former Liverpool, Leicester, Birmingham, Wigan and
England frontman will be in good company – former Premier League player Michael
Bridges could well be playing off him as a second striker.

Listen up, Australia: Emile Heskey has joined A-League side Newcastle Jets

Listen up, Australia: Emile Heskey has joined A-League side Newcastle Jets

Rohan
Ricketts (Dempo)

Miles from
home 4,725 Useful local phrase Maka phone koroonc khuim meltolem! (Where
can I phone home)

The curious case of globe-trotting Rohan Ricketts, who has scoured
the world in search of a game. After leaving the English game in 2008, the
former Tottenham and Wolves winger has played in Canada, Hungary, Moldova,
Germany, Ireland and now India, after joining defending I-League champions
Dempo, from Goa.

He has certainly had some adventures during his travels,
particularly in Moldova where he said in an interview: ‘As soon as a player
leaves England, everyone forgets about him. I had an offer from Azerbaijan and
Turkey. Then a Russian agent appeared and said go to Moldova.

Born adventurer: Rohan Ricketts in action for Tottenham against Chelsea before his globe-trotting career

Born adventurer: Rohan Ricketts in action for Tottenham against Chelsea before his globe-trotting career

‘It was nuts. The players were welcoming but smoked in the
changing rooms and drank four or five bottles of beer before games. I was
sitting in on meetings about match-fixing. It was strange but almost amusing.

‘Moldova was just horrendous. I had players take things from my
room. I was threatened by people to get out of the hotel.’

But Ricketts should be living the good life at Dempo, based in the
capital of Goa, Panaji – where the average temperature all year round is 31C.

Michael
Mancienne (Hamburg)

Miles from
home 448 Useful local phrase Ich war auf
europischer Champions Chelsea, aber es hat nicht geklappt (I was at European
champions Chelsea, but it didn’t work out)

After five years at Chelsea spent entirely out on loan,
centre-back Mancienne finally gave up on his hope of breaking into the first
team and signed a four-year deal to play in the buzzing German city of Hamburg.

He’s certainly gained more first-team experience that he would
trying to unseat John Terry, David Luiz and Gary Cahill at Stamford Bridge and
has been a first-choice this season – though he hasn’t been able to prevent
Hamburg’s woeful start.

Wanderer: Michael Mancienne, formerly of Chelsea and Wolves, now plays for Hamburg in the Bundesliga

Wanderer: Michael Mancienne, formerly of Chelsea and Wolves, now plays for Hamburg in the Bundesliga

Scott
Carson (Bursaspor)

Miles from
home 1799 Useful local phrase Wow,
sahada gibi kaygan zeminde (Wow, that pitch is slippery)

Best known for the comical goalkeeping that meant England didn’t
qualify for Euro 2008, Carson thought he’d ended a nomadic period in his career
when he found favour at West Brom.

But after three years and 110 league appearances, he suffered a
loss of form and was briefly dropped to the bench for Boaz Myhill. Despite
being restored to the first team eventually, Carson wasn’t guaranteed action
and so followed the increasingly well-trodden path for English players to
Turkey.

And the 2m transfer to Bursaspor has been largely successful,
with the Cumbrian keeper and ever-present during his first season as the team
finished eighth in the league and reached the final of the cup.

/09/21/article-2206658-151DDD7B000005DC-402_468x424.jpg

Swiss role: London born Sutter playing for Young Boys against Liverpool in the Europa League this week

But if nothing else qualifies him for this list of Englishmen,
then it’s this quote about wanting to play for England: ‘It hit me when I was
in a bar supporting England with all my mates, wearing my England shirt and I
knew that the next week I was going to be playing for Switzerland. It just
didn’t feel right. I was English.’ Alas.

Paul Ifill
(Wellington Phoenix)

Miles from
home 11747 Useful local phrase It’s
just a knock (It’s just a knock)

Long before Heskey, another attacking player was making his mark
Down Under. Paul Ifill, formerly of Millwall, Sheffield United and Crystal
Palace, has been turning out for New Zealand A –League side Wellington for
three years.

His time in England was hampered by persistent injury problems,
which scuppered his chances of making an impression at Palace and led him to
seek pastures new.

So far, he has 28 goals in 72 A-League appearances for the Phoenix
and was player of the year in his first season.

Down Under: Paul Ifill plays for Wellington Phoenix in New Zealand

Down Under: Paul Ifill plays for Wellington Phoenix in New Zealand

Craig
Rocastle (Thrasyvoulos)

Miles from
home 1479 Useful local phrase Α μπω καταβάλλεται, δεξιά (I will get paid, right)

Rocastle, cousin of the late Arsenal and England midfielder David
Rocastle, was initially in the youth set-up at Chelsea before embarking on a
nomadic career around the English league and non-league at no less than ten
clubs before the age of 30.

At one point, he found himself at Greek second division outfit
Thrasyvoulos though his season there ended in relegation from the top flight.

Via Welling, Dover, Forest Green, Sporting Kansas City and the
Missouri Comets indoor team, midfielder Rocastle found himself back in Greece
earlier this year.

Stateside: Craig Rocastle (left), in action here for Hibernian, is now with Chivas in the MLS

Stateside: Craig Rocastle (left), in action here for Hibernian, is now with Chivas in the MLS

Corrin
Brooks-Meade (Ermis Aradippou, on loan from Alki Larnaca)

Miles from
home 2024 Useful local phrase Αυτή η κίνηση έγινε για καθαρά ποδοσφαιρικούς λόγους (This move was purely for footballing reasons)

A slightly more obscure entry – an Enfield-born goalkeeper once on
the books at Fulham who was touted around the non-league on loan without making
more than a handful of appearances.

But good came out of it and Brooks-Meade is now between the sticks
for Ermis Aradippou in sunny Cyprus, on loan from local neighbours Alki
Larnaca.

‘I thought to myself that there are many countries where I can
progress and gain experience as a professional footballer and I also fancied a
change, so decided to take the offer,’ he said of his Mediterranean move. As if
we needed convincing…

Nicky Maynard to join Cardiff in 2m deal

Maynard heading for Cardiff in 2m deal just seven months after joining West Ham

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UPDATED:

21:44 GMT, 30 August 2012

Cardiff have agreed 2million fee with West Ham for striker Nicky Maynard. The 25-year-old only joined from Bristol City in January but is expected to join Cardiff on Friday.

West Ham, who have been giving a trial to Brazilian forward Alessandro Celin, have expressed an interest in taking Chelsea's Yossi Benayoun on loan.

Quick exit: Maynard only joined West Ham in January

Quick exit: Maynard only joined West Ham in January

Tom Maynard tributes fill family with pride

Tributes to Tom fill us all with pride, says emotional father Matthew

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UPDATED:

21:39 GMT, 22 August 2012

St Fagans lies on the western rim of Cardiff, an ancient village renowned for its English Civil War battlefield, the Welsh National History Museum and its cricket club.

They went to Lord’s three times for finals of the old village cup against English opponents and won all three.

St Fagans was basking in the glory of successive victories in the early Eighties when an 18-year-old batsman pitched up for a season on loan from Glamorgan. Matthew Maynard blew through a multitude of club bowlers that summer then upped the tempo on his county debut the following year.

Emotional: Matthew Maynard completes the Tom Maynard Trust Bike Ride to Surrey's Clydesdale Bank 40 game against Glamorgan and sports a tattoo in his son's memory

Emotional: Matthew Maynard completes the Tom Maynard Trust Bike Ride to Surrey's Clydesdale Bank 40 game against Glamorgan and sports a tattoo in his son's memory

Against Yorkshire at Swansea in August 1985, he hit a century, going from 82 to 100 by lifting the wily slow left-arm spinner, the late Phil Carrick, for three successive sixes. Three years later, Maynard was playing for England against the West Indies, the definitive baptism of fire provided by Malcolm Marshall, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh.

England dropped the new boy all too quickly, making him vulnerable to the rebel team being recruited for the 1990 tour of apartheid South Africa.

If there were times when he might have been too gung-ho for his own good, that was one of them. He knew he would be banned from Test cricket but shrugged it off, thinking he would be young enough to come back, as he did after three years.

Leading the way: Matthew Maynard leads the cyclists onto the field prior to the Clydesdale Bank Pro40 match between Surrey and Glamorgan at The Kia Oval

Leading the way: Matthew Maynard leads the cyclists onto the field prior to the Clydesdale Bank Pro40 match between Surrey and Glamorgan at The Kia Oval

His Test ban began in 1991, the last time St Fagans lorded it at HQ./08/22/article-2192181-14A43A56000005DC-560_468x286.jpg” width=”468″ height=”286″ alt=”In memory: Former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff took part in the cycle ride” class=”blkBorder” />

In memory: Former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff took part in the cycle ride

The events of the early hours of June 18 robbed cricket of an England batsman in the making and his parents of a beloved son. How would Matthew like his son to be remembered

‘The number of letters we’ve had show that Tom was a great bloke. There is nothing more rewarding as a parent, I guess, than knowing your lad has turned out as you’d hope. The thoughtfulness he had for others was not as apparent as it has become from the letters we have received and that fills us with pride.

‘Obviously his cricket was going in the right direction. We were so proud of how he turned out as a player and a person and always will be.

‘He seemed to have an ability to touch people he had just met. He was just a lovely character. He never got above his station.

Tributes: Tom Maynard died in June after being hit by a train

Tributes: Tom Maynard died in June after being hit by a train

‘When he scored the century against Glamorgan last year, the whole family were at the Swalec Stadium to see it. It had been a traumatic time for us all.

‘He just quietly acknowledged the applause. He didn’t do anything to upset the Glamorgan members, committee or management. It was probably one of his coolest celebrations because he didn’t want to offend people.

‘He had that wonderful way about him. If I had been in his shoes, I might have gone a bit crazy but he had his mother’s cooler nature.’

Maynard saw Tom make a career-best 143 for Surrey at Worcester in May and last saw him bat during a one-dayer in Cardiff 16 days before his death shocked the cricket world and beyond. How tough had it been

He paused, then said: ‘I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. It’s not only these two months. It’s always going to be with us. How we react in the future, no-one knows.’

Doing their bit: Matthew Maynard embraces Flintoff after the cycle ride

Doing their bit: Matthew Maynard embraces Flintoff after the cycle ride

Maynard is contracted to a second season as coach of the Nashua Titans in Pretoria.

‘As a family we are due to go out to South Africa. How I am going to work and coach, I have no idea. There’s very much an empty feeling in the family… we are trying to be as supportive of each other as we can, a day at a time.

‘I want to thank everyone who has supported us and say how proud we are of our lovely lad.’

Another ambition perished with Tom: that of him returning to his roots. ‘I’d love to come down for a game before I’m old and creaky,’ he had said before the season began.

‘But don’t tell Uncle Charlie…’

If fate hadn’t been so cruel, those sitting by the long-on boundary — where the Tom Maynard memorial bench is now located — would have been diving for cover…

Donations to the Tom Maynard Trust for aspiring cricketers can be made via www.tommaynardtrust.com

South Africa outplayed England at their own game – The Top Spin

South Africa outplayed England at their own game… pray for cloud cover at Headingley and Lord's

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UPDATED:

15:12 GMT, 24 July 2012

Sometimes sport seems to go out of its way to confound. Traditionally the tightest of the international fixtures, England and South Africa have just produced a Test which the statisticians are calling the most crushing win in the history of the game. English fans are calling it something rather less erudite.

How are we to make sense of a game in which the team at the top of the world rankings – as opposed to the world’s most-rounded Test team – claimed only two wickets in 189 overs and failed to reach 400 on a belter which yielded 637 for the opposition

After all, we're used to England not doing so well away from home: of their most recent trips to each of the other Test nations, they have emerged victorious from only Australia, Bangladesh and New Zealand.

Low ebb: England captain scored a total of 29 runs in the first Test as England were thrashed by South Africa

Low ebb: England captain scored a total of 29 runs in the first Test as England were thrashed by South Africa

More from Lawrence Booth…

The Top Spin: Strength in depth gives England the edge against South Africa
17/07/12

The Top Spin: Aussies must find 'mongrel' for the Ashes… or England will stay top dogs
10/07/12

The Top Spin: England's dreams of one-day dominance are nightmare for Hapless Mitch
03/07/12

The Top Spin: Pakistan cricket moves forward from corruption… yet Butt and Kaneria remain stuck in past
26/06/12

The Top Spin: Maynard's shocking death is a sudden and painful descent into the world of reality
19/06/12

Top Spin: There's still plenty to take from Edgbaston despite the rain
12/06/12

Top Spin: If Pietersen can afford to retire, we know where we stand
05/06/12

Top Spin: Forget 'competing', it's time West Indies had a touch of class…
29/05/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

But at home In England The land of seam and swing The place where seven series have been won in a row, and only two Tests in that time lost This is where we enter the territory of one of Malcolm Gladwell’s outliers. Or do we

In last week's column, we argued – hilariously, you may now think – that England had the edge because of their greater strength in depth. While England’s only weakness, we said, was Ravi Bopara, South Africa had three soft batting targets either side of the ‘awe-inspiring peaks’ of Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers.

But while Alviro Petersen duly conformed to stereotype, England never got a crack at Jacques Rudolph or JP Duminy. The peaks proved too much. ‘High mountains are a feeling,’ wrote . They won in Colombo, and lost the rest. This can no longer be dismissed as the stuff of aberration.

Is it possible we are witnessing a
failure of collective imagination In the UAE and at Galle, England’s
bowlers did fine, plugging away with their usual accuracy and punching
above their weight on heartless tracks. But their batsmen, discovering
quickly that Plan A wasn’t much good, seemed unable to locate even Plan
Z.

Bowled over: The Proteas' attack was in impressive form as England floundered at The Oval

Bowled over: The Proteas' attack was in impressive form as England floundered at The Oval

Bowled over: The Proteas' attack was in impressive form as England floundered at The Oval

At The Oval, it was their bowling that deserved more scrutiny, poor though the strokes were from Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Strauss on Sunday evening to contribute to the terminal loss of four second-innings wickets.

For against South Africa, England discovered that plugging away wasn’t enough. In this respect, they have been warned: by Mike Hussey in the Ashes; by Rahul Dravid a year ago; by Azhar Ali and Younis Khan in Dubai; and by Mahela Jayawardene in Sri Lanka. Hell, even by Marlon Samuels.

THE TOP SPIN ON TWITTER

For more cricketing musings, please follow us on Twitter: @the_topspin

But the warning came mainly from individuals. At The Oval, they were faced with three men in the same side all capable of superhuman concentration. Smith, Amla and Kallis are not the kind of men you can bore out on good tracks. Refusing to take the bait, they made England look bereft of ideas.

The best teams produce a bit of magic when they need it, but England’s route to the top has hardly been full of conjuring tricks. They are an honest, hard-working, skilful side, who know their own minds to a degree that may be unhealthy. This is a strength – and occasionally, as we saw at The Oval, a weakness.

The trick now for England will be of the confidence variety. Convince themselves, as they did with the Pakistan whitewash, that The Oval was a freak, and pray for cloud cover at Headingley and Lord’s – the two English Test venues most affected by overhead conditions.

If not, interesting times lie ahead. After this series come four Tests in India. England will need all the imagination they can muster.

Hash of it: Amla (above) scored 311 as the tourists cruised to an innings victory in south London

Hash of it: Amla (above) scored 311 as the tourists cruised to an innings victory in south London

Hash of it: Amla (above) scored 311 as the tourists cruised to an innings victory in south London

THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS
Sweeping it under the carpet

England’s one decent Test win this year that we mentioned earlier came in Colombo. It may be no coincidence that it was their one Test out of five in Asia in which they more or less banished the sweep shot until they felt comfortable with the conditions – so much so that neither Andrew Strauss nor Alastair Cook played the stroke until the 39th over of England’s reply.

At The Oval, both Strauss and Matt Prior got out sweeping – Strauss in an over of hand-grenades from Imran Tahir, Prior to a ball he should have padded away. The sweep has its place. But when will England accept they don’t play it as well other nations

A genius in the making

When people wonder where the next generation of Indian batsmen is coming from, one man rises regally above the fray. On Saturday, Virat Kohli scored his fourth one-day international hundred in five innings (a sequence that has produced 596 runs off 549 balls), and his 12th in all from only 83 innings. He is 23.

/07/24/article-2178187-14278C12000005DC-412_634x440.jpg” width=”634″ height=”440″ alt=”Big hitter: Kohli scored his fourth one-day international hundred in five innings against Sri Lanka” class=”blkBorder” />

Big hitter: Kohli scored his fourth one-day international hundred in five innings against Sri Lanka

Rankings conundrum

If events at The Oval were a reminder that rankings must always be handled with care, then further confirmation came with the news that the fourth-best Twenty20 team in the world are… Bangladesh.

That's right: following their 3-0 victory over Ireland, the Bangladeshis have now overtaken both Pakistan and Australia, with India trailing everyone in eighth.

Clearly these calculations have their method, but it’s worth noting that prior to beating the Irish, Bangladesh had lost 13 of their 14 previous T20 internationals. Truly, we live in interesting times.

Irish eyes are smiling: Bangladesh are cruising up the ODI rankings

Irish eyes are smiling: Bangladesh are cruising up the ODI rankings

Modibo Maiga signs for West Ham

Maiga raring to go after sealing 5m switch to West Ham

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UPDATED:

16:39 GMT, 18 July 2012

Modibo Maiga has revealed his delight after sealing his 5million switch to West Ham.

The 24-year-old Mali striker arrives from Sochaux and has signed a four-year contract at Upton Park.

He will compete with Carlton Cole, Nicky Maynard, Ricardo Vaz Te and Sam Baldock for a place in the Hammers' attack.

Welcome: Modibo Maiga poses in his West Ham shirt, which is on sale from tomorrow in club stores

Welcome: Modibo Maiga poses in his West Ham shirt, which is on sale from tomorrow in club stores

Maiga said: 'I am really happy and excited about joining West Ham United. I know West Ham are a big club in England and I'm really looking forward to representing them.

'They have huge tradition and it is like joining part of a family and that is one of the main reasons I wanted to come here.

'I know some of the big names that have played for the club in the past and I am proud to be part of a new team back in the Premier League.'

Maiga is West Ham's fifth summer signing after Mohamed Diame, George McCartney, Jussi Jaaskelainen and Stephen Henderson.

The Top Spin: Strength in depth gives England the edge against South Africa

Strength in depth gives England the edge against South Africa

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UPDATED:

14:54 GMT, 17 July 2012

Both teams have been warily circling the Basil D’Oliveira
Trophy this week, too sensible to make a pre-emptive grab. Yet amid all the
talk of a seam-bowling shootout – as if the batsmen will simply resemble
coconuts in a fairground shy – it’s only fair to ask which of England or South
Africa have more chinks in their overall armour

Top Spin

For if this really is a question about survival of the
fittest (and the ICC rankings will tell you that, technically, as of the
weekend, No 1 v No 2 means the Ashes), then isn’t a team only as strong as its
weakest links

And it is here that England – despite the distraction of
Kevin Pietersen’s increasingly self-centred posturing – have the edge. I know,
I know. But hear me out.

Centre of attention: Kevin Pietersen (left) is set to line up against South Africa

Centre of attention: Kevin Pietersen (left) is set to line up against South Africa

More from Lawrence Booth…

The Top Spin: Aussies must find 'mongrel' for the Ashes… or England will stay top dogs
10/07/12

The Top Spin: England's dreams of one-day dominance are nightmare for Hapless Mitch
03/07/12

The Top Spin: Pakistan cricket moves forward from corruption… yet Butt and Kaneria remain stuck in past
26/06/12

The Top Spin: Maynard's shocking death is a sudden and painful descent into the world of reality
19/06/12

Top Spin: There's still plenty to take from Edgbaston despite the rain
12/06/12

Top Spin: If Pietersen can afford to retire, we know where we stand
05/06/12

Top Spin: Forget 'competing', it's time West Indies had a touch of class…
29/05/12

The Top Spin: England must reacquaint themselves with what they do best at Trent Bridge
22/05/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

While South Africa possess three all-time greats (Graeme
Smith, Jacques Kallis and Dale Steyn) to England’s none (sorry, KP, although
Jimmy Anderson may have joined the elite by the time he retires), it is
England’s strength in depth that leaves them better placed to avoid the kind of
one-session meltdown that could cost, say, a scandalously truncated three-Test
series.

Of England’s top seven, only Ravi Bopara is a potential
weakness – not because he looks out of touch (he doesn’t), but because his love
of the game can become crippling when he’s under pressure. Bopara knows that a
bad series here will leave the way open once more for Eoin Morgan and Jonny
Bairstow. If he wants it too much, South Africa will smell it.

But England will reason that South Africa now have three
potential troughs in a batting line-up that includes the awe-inspiring peaks of
Smith, Kallis, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers – a quartet to rank with any in
world cricket.

It seems unlikely that Alviro Petersen will give either
Anderson or Stuart Broad sleepless nights at the top of the order. A decent
player he may be, and in his most recent Test, at Wellington, he made a
career-best 156. But a first-class average of 39, in the context of a top-of-the-table
clash, is no more than adequate.

On paper, a 6-7 combination of Jacques Rudolph and JP Duminy
adds serious depth. But Rudolph, experienced though he is in English
conditions, is still readjusting to the middle order after beginning his Test
renaissance last year as Smith’s opening partner.

Pressure: South Africa is a massive series for Ravi Bopara

Pressure: South Africa is a massive series for Ravi Bopara

And history is yet to record too many instances of proper
batsmen – as opposed to marauding all-rounders prepared to throw caution to the
wind – influencing the result from No 7. Duminy is said to have sorted out his
technique against the short ball, but what about falling lbw to Graeme Swann

Less ponderable, perhaps, is the absence of Mark Boucher,
whose eye injury may not, mercifully, be as serious as was first feared. For no
matter how talented a sportsman de Villiers is, better rookie keepers than him
have been foxed by the late swing in England. Equally, no one can say for sure
that his batting will not be affected by keeping wicket. In this, there is an
element of crossed fingers.

Tough Test: South Africans (from left) Jacques Rudolph, Alviro Petersen, Jacques Kallis and Vernon Philander during a nets session at The Kia Oval

Tough Test: South Africans (from left) Jacques Rudolph, Alviro Petersen, Jacques Kallis and Vernon Philander during a nets session at The Kia Oval

THE TOP SPIN ON TWITTER

For more cricketing musings, please follow us on Twitter: @the_topspin

To dissect South Africa’s bowling in the same way feels like
clutching at straws, except to say that Morne Morkel is a better operator with
the new ball (68 Test wickets at 25) than he is at first change (58 at 34); and
that they must avoid the mistake of replacing Imran Tahir with Albie Morkel at
The Kia Oval in the event of more wet weather.

In the balance of their attack, with Kallis as the fourth
seamer, the South Africans can rightly claim to possess more options. Dale
Steyn is the quickest bowler on either side, and Vernon Philander the most
accurate. Morne Morkel retains the greatest potential to take three wickets in
three overs. And Tahir’s googly ought to place any lower order on red alert.

But England will comfort themselves with the thought that,
if both sides lost a front-line seamer, it is they who would suffer less
disruption: witness the selection of Albie Morkel in place of the injured and
highly promising Marchant de Lange.

Steven Finn and Graham Onions, on the other hand, are both
primed to step in at a moment’s notice. Neither would weaken the attack.

South Africa are self-evidently a classy side. They won here
four years ago, and have enough high-calibre players to beat England again. But
scratch at the surface of excellence, and England will tell themselves there is
hope.

A prediction, you say Go on then: despite all this, South
Africa’s top guns to mask other deficiencies and secure a rainy 1-1 draw –
enough for them to retain the Basil D’Oliveira Trophy, but for England to hold
on to the No 1 ranking.

THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS

Such is a spinner’s life

Peter Such is a man on a mission. A player perhaps most
famous for two deeds at Old Trafford – 6 for 67 on his Test debut against
Australia in 1993, and a glorious 72-minute duck against New Zealand in his
final Test, in 1999 – was recently named the ECB’s new National Spin Coach. And
though he’s confident England have enough established spinners to see them
through the next few years at the highest level, he has aimed his sights on
changing the culture further down the ladder.

Man on a mission: Peter Such (left) with Derbyshire Disabled CC coach Paul Roe

Man on a mission: Peter Such (left) with Derbyshire Disabled CC coach Paul Roe

‘Counties do recognise the value of a top-quality spinner,’
Such told the Top Spin last week. ‘But not everyone invests the time in
developing their own. Some tend to sign a ready-made overseas player. Spinners
begin to mature around the age of 26. For batters and quicks, it’s more like
23. So you can’t judge them by the same criteria.’

Eye on the ball: Such (right) watches Robson Wadsworth from Alvaston bowling

Eye on the ball: Such (right) watches Robson Wadsworth from Alvaston bowling

Speaking on behalf of the Sky Sports ECB Coach Education
Programme, Such said this summer’s miserable weather had hardly helped county
cricket’s young spin brethren. ‘If they’re bowling less, they take even more
time to mature. Our job is to create an over-supply pipeline of young spin
bowlers, and to get that age of maturation down to 25 or 24.’ We wish him luck.

The world according to Kevin

Kevin Pietersen appears to have made so many U-turns in the
past few days you wonder whether he’ll be representing England or South Africa
at The Oval on Thursday. But it seems that part of his logic for wanting to
miss next summer’s two-Test series against New Zealand so he can play in all
seven weeks of the IPL is that the New Zealanders themselves won’t be at full
strength either (because, naturally, of the IPL). And, in the weird and
wonderful world of Kevin, two wrongs apparently add up to a right.

The harsh truth by a different name

The Top Spin has always enjoyed the different ways in which
players try to get round the fact that their side was simply beaten by the
better team. ‘We weren’t consistent enough’ is a classic, suggestive as it is
of a nirvana in which greater consistency is in no way related to greater
ability. ‘We’re good!’ they imply. ‘It’s just this damn inconsistency that
keeps getting in the way…’

That's a new one: Tim Southee tried to explain New Zealand's defeat

That's a new one: Tim Southee tried to explain New Zealand's defeat

So black caps off to New Zealand’s Tim Southee, who provided
a novel twist on the theme when he tried to rationalise his side’s defeat in
the fourth one-day international against West Indies in St Kitts. ‘Wickets at
the wrong time hurt us,’ he said. ‘We have to think of those key moments in
games.’ Rough translation: West Indies were better than us.

Bangladesh in Blackheath

If you happen to be in south London on Wednesday (apologies
to our overseas reader), then why not pop into Blackheath Cricket Club to catch
an unexpected glimpse of Bangladesh’s Mohammad Ashraful – arguably Test
cricket’s most unfulfilled talent. Ashraful is playing for MCC against the
Tower Hamlets District schools team as part of the club’s efforts to spread the
gospel in less privileged parts of the capital. The match starts at 11.30am.

Mark Ramprakash retires but admits he wanted to carry on at Surrey

Ramprakash goes out on a low note and admits he wanted to carry on with Surrey

|

UPDATED:

20:16 GMT, 5 July 2012

Mark Ramprakash confirmed his retirement on Thursday, insisting he had wanted to continue playing for Surrey until the end of the season.

The 42-year-old, who began his career with Middlesex and won the last of his 52 Test caps in 2002, was told he was no longer part of Surrey’s plans, despite the recent upheaval caused by the tragic death of Tom Maynard and the decision by Maynard’s close friend, captain Rory Hamilton-Brown, to take a break from the game.

‘I believe I still have plenty to offer and contribute at this level,’ said Ramprakash, who has finished with 114 first-class centuries and more than 35,000 runs. ‘So much has happened to the club this season, and I very much wanted to try to contribute a little bit.

I quit: Mark Ramprakash announces his retirement from cricket on Thursday

I quit: Mark Ramprakash announces his retirement from cricket on Thursday

‘I wanted to finish my career
strongly. But what with having a tough start, then being left out of the
one-day side and not featuring in Surrey’s plans, the last thing you
want to do is go on too long.’

Ramprakash, whose talent was unfulfilled in Tests, added: ‘I’ve been asked many times about regrets over my England career.

‘I know I couldn’t have trained any harder. I listened to other people and I did the best I could at that time.

‘If you’ve done that, then you don’t look back with regrets.’

'I went through many ups and downs at international level, but had some highlights.

'Playing my first Test in 1991 when we beat the West Indies was one, another was here in Ashes matches.

'The best innings I ever played was here against Australia in 2001 (he scored 133). You remember any win for England.'

Top class: Ramprakash hit 114 first-class hundreds in a long career

Top class: Ramprakash hit 114 first-class hundreds in a long career

Media work will keep Ramprakash in the game, while the winner of Strictly Come Dancing in 2006 may also pursue coaching.

'I'm not sure what the future holds, but professional cricket has taught me many things about life. I look forward to new opportunities,' he said.

'Coaching does interest me without doubt, I enjoy bringing young players on.

Ramprakash factfile

1969: Born at Bushey, Hertfordshire.

1987: Makes Middlesex debut.

1988: Man of the match after brilliant 56 in NatWest Trophy final win over Worcestershire.

1989: Scores maiden first-class century against Yorkshire at Headingley.

1991: Makes Test debut in England's home series against West Indies.

1993: Scores first Test half-century, 64, against Australia at The Oval on recall after a year out of the side.

1997: Appointed Middlesex captain.

1998: Scores maiden Test century, 154, against West Indies at Bridgetown.

2001: Moves to Surrey. Scores first Test century in England, 133 against Australia at The Oval.

2002: Wins last of his 52 Test caps during indifferent tour of New Zealand.

2003: Century against former club Middlesex makes him the first player to have scored a ton against all 18 first-class counties.

2006:
Scores 2,278 first-class runs, including a career-best 301 not out, and
averages more than 100 during his 20th county season. Achieves more
fame as winner of TV show Strictly Come Dancing.

2007:
Scores 2,026 runs at 101.3 to become first batsman to average more than
100 in consecutive English seasons. Named Wisden Cricketer of the Year.

2008: Scores 100th first-class century against Yorkshire at Headingley.

2010: Is again the highest run scorer in England with 1,595 at an average of 61.34.

2011:
Scores the 114th and final first-class 100 of his career but fails to
reach 1,000 first-class runs in an English season for the first time
since 1998 and averages only 33.33.

2012: Is dropped by Surrey after a poor start to the season.

July 5: Announces his retirement from first-class cricket.

Danny Cipriani pays tribute to Tom Maynard

Cipriani makes tattoo tribute to tragic Maynard as Sale fly-half plans new start at Sharks

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UPDATED:

13:36 GMT, 5 July 2012

Danny Cipriani has paid a unique tribute to cricketer Tom Maynard who died last month as the new Sale fly-half looks forward to the new Aviva Premiership season.

The Sharks' fly-half joins up with his new team-mates on Monday after being released early from his contract with Melbourne Rebels.

The 24-year-old was allowed to leave the Super 15 franchise with immediate effect in what was presented as a mutual agreement after he reportedly requested extra time to prepare for his fresh start at Sale.

Heading home: Cipriani's spell in Melbourne was ended early

Heading home: Cipriani's spell in Melbourne was ended early

Cipriani also posted a picture on Twitter of his tattoo tribute to cricketer Tom Maynard who was buried on Wednesday dying in tragic circumstances three weeks ago.

'There's a real chance of building something at Sale,' declared Cipriani. 'I felt a real sense of backing and understanding from owner Brian Kennedy and Steve Diamond.

'I'm 24 and ready to settle down and it starts at Sale. Playing in Australia has made me more determined to show the strings to my bow.

'The only thing is coming to the north I'll have to get used to chips and gravy!'

Gone but never forgotten: Cipriani posted this picture of his new tattoo with Maynard's initials and Surrey squad number inked into his arm

Gone but never forgotten: Cipriani posted this picture of his new tattoo with Maynard's initials and Surrey squad number inked into his arm

And chief executive Diamond is confident Sale will be the perfect club at which Cipriani's huge potential can blossom.

'Danny's talent isn't in question. It's a case of getting him settled down and then, hopefully, he can play well for us and his career will take off again,' Diamond told the Manchester Evening News.

'There's no real risk for him and no real risk for us.'

Chris Tremlett is back – Paul Newman World of Cricket

Tremlett is back and ready to hit the heights once more

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 4 July 2012

Back in action: Tremlett has returned from a spell on the sidelines

Back in action: Tremlett has returned from a spell on the sidelines

England’s seam bowling has rarely been stronger, with Jimmy Anderson leading an attack brimming with options and depth. But it is about to get even stronger. The big man is back.

When Chris Tremlett claimed the final wicket in Sydney that completed England’s 3-1 win in the last Ashes series he was at the very top of his game, finally fulfilling the potential that had been blighted by injuries and question marks over his temperament at the highest level.

Sadly, despite a man-of-the-match-winning display on his old home ground of the Rose Bowl last year against Sri Lanka, it was not to last. Tremlett, so often cursed by the fragility of his vast frame, had the most serious injury of the lot and needed a back operation. The man who had at last proved his worth was back on the sidelines.

Now, at a time of tragedy for Surrey following the death of Tom Maynard, Tremlett is providing a crumb of comfort by returning for his county in their Twenty20 team and hopes to step up his comeback over the coming weeks. He has, at 30, a lot of lost time to make up.

‘It’s been a case of so far so good,’ said Tremlett, still an imposing physical presence.

Key man: Tremlett took the final wicket of the 2010-11 Ashes series

Key man: Tremlett took the final wicket of the 2010-11 Ashes series

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‘Mentally it’s been quite hard to deal with but now I’m in a confident frame of mind. I’ve got a few games under my belt, my back is feeling better and I’m trying to enjoy every opportunity I have.’

It would be a welcome good-news story if Tremlett could force his way back into England contention, if not for this summer’s Test series against South Africa then for the winter.

He has all the attributes to be a world-beater, as David Saker quickly recognised when he first set eyes on him after becoming England bowling coach. ‘I want that bloke with us for the Ashes,’ Saker told England coach Andy Flower. The rest is history, but is Tremlett history now as far as the national team are concerned

‘I’ve not been involved with the England team but Andy Flower has kept in touch and I’m sure they’re keeping one eye on me,’ said Tremlett. ‘They’re aware of what I’ve been doing which is nice to know. England is the step to get back up to and I feel that when I’m bowling well I’m as good as anyone.

‘I played in a great side and I don’t think I did much wrong. Now I’ve had an annoying setback which has taken a long time to heal and has been frustrating but I’ve done the work and need to play. I feel I can be as good as I was. It feels the same running in.’

England, with Anderson, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan, Graham Onions and Steven Finn all competing for three Test places, do not have an immediate need for Tremlett. But, with the height, pace and bounce that he brings, the Surrey giant would improve any team. It is good to have him back.

Chance to Shine ambassador Chris Tremlett was helping to promote the ‘play hard, play fair’ message of MCC Spirit of Cricket.

D'Oliveira legend lives on

Take a look at the county scoreboards for this year’s Twenty20 competition and a famous name jumps out at you.

Brett D’Oliveira is the grandson of the late, great Basil and the third generation of his family to play for Worcestershire, with father Damian having played a big role in his development as second-team coach at New Road. Now he is making his way in the first team.

Legend: D'Oliveira (centre) passed away last year

Legend: D'Oliveira (centre) passed away last year

So keen are Worcestershire to protect a young leg-spinning all-rounder from extra pressure because of his surname that director of cricket Steve Rhodes is reluctant to talk about him, saying only that D’Oliveira is a ‘good prospect’.

But the potential was there to see on Sunday when he took three Somerset wickets in the best of his first-team performances to date. We wish him well.

Calling it a day: Ramprakash

Calling it a day: Ramprakash

Ramprakash signs off

Mark Ramprakash will on Thursday call time on one of the most prolific but enigmatic careers in cricket history when he announces his retirement.

Ramprakash, 42, hit an astonishing 114 first-class centuries before losing his Surrey place earlier this season, but in a 52-Test career he could average only 27.

Sadly, we will never know what he might have achieved had he come along in the modern age of central contracts and continuity of selection.

Under Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss the gifted but volatile Ramprakash just might have become one of the all-time greats in his prime.

Bumble's final word

England are a damn good team in all forms of the game but it is still a crying shame that Kevin Pietersen cannot play Twenty20 cricket after retiring from the 50-over game.

Look at the Aussies. Michael Clarke retired from Twenty20 but still plays in Tests and one-day internationals. Was that what Geoff Miller and John Inverarity, the heads of the England and Australia selection panels respectively, were talking about at Lord’s last Friday

Twenty20 is box-office cricket and KP is a box-office talent. The spectators are being deprived of that talent and I just wonder if the ECB might reconsider and let Pietersen play in the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka in September. Don’t shut the door on him.