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West Indies win World Twenty20 title in Sri Lanka

West Indies battle to glorious win over hosts Sri Lanka to win World Twenty20 title

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UPDATED:

17:08 GMT, 7 October 2012

Marlon Samuels inspired a West Indies fightback from the brink to deny Sri Lanka a home win and triumph themselves instead in the ICC World Twenty20 final.

Samuels' memorable 78 revived the Windies, after it appeared they had fluffed their lines terminally, on the way to an improbable 36-run victory at the Premadasa Stadium.

In a showpiece match which saw the majority of bowlers excel themselves, and almost all the batsmen stumble on centre stage, Samuels bucked the trend emphatically with a 56-ball innings containing six sixes and three fours on a fair pitch. How the West Indies needed him, though, after an embarrassing false start to their innings in which master blaster Chris Gayle could make only three from 16 balls.

On top of the world: West Indies players celebrate after winning the World Twenty20 final

On top of the world: West Indies players celebrate after winning the World Twenty20 final

We've only gone and done it: Dwayne Bravo celebrates as he holds a catch to clinch victory for the West Indies

We've only gone and done it: Dwayne Bravo celebrates as he holds a catch to clinch victory for the West Indies

Even after Samuels had transformed
proceedings, it seemed West Indies had almost certainly fallen short of a
winning score with their 137 for six. But it was to be Sri Lanka who
truly froze as what appeared a near routine chase featured a mid-innings
collapse of six wickets for 21 runs – for a final product of 101 all
out in the 19th over, and just the Windies' second International Cricket
Council global trophy since the 1979 World Cup.

But the match had started ominously
badly for them. Their famed big-hitters were simply nowhere to be seen
for the first half of their innings, as initial caution went to extremes
– and Ajantha Mendis (four for 12) took most advantage.

Delight: Sunil Narine celebrates with teammates after the run out of Jeevan Mendis

Delight: Sunil Narine celebrates with teammates after the run out of Jeevan Mendis

Angelo Mathews and Nuwan Kulasekera
used the new ball well, but it was still bizarre that the West Indies
should take until the fifth over to reach double-figures.

Their achingly slow start was under
way with four dot-balls from Mathews to Johnson Charles, who reacted to
the fifth by mistiming a catch to mid-off. After that wicket-maiden –
number three Samuels let the sixth ball, his first, go – there was not a
run on the board until Kulasekera bowled a wide halfway through the
second over.

All smiles: Denesh Ramdin celebrates with Marlon Samuels and Chris Gayle after running out Thisara Perera

All smiles: Denesh Ramdin celebrates with Marlon Samuels and Chris Gayle after running out Thisara Perera

Around 40 was probably par in
powerplay. But after Gayle took nine balls to get off the mark, with a
scampered single to mid-off – and was eventually lbw pushing forward to
Ajantha – the Windies could muster only 14 for two in their first six
overs.

They had a solitary boundary at that
point, punched past cover by Samuels off Kulasekera. It was not until
the 12th over, after Kulasekera had dropped Samuels at long-off on 20
off Jeevan Mendis, that birthday boy Dwayne Bravo added a first six to
go with the four – over midwicket off Akila Dananjaya.

Hitting out: Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene batting in Colombo

Hitting out: Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene batting in Colombo

But Samuels clubbed consecutive sixes
off the returning Lasith Malinga, over midwicket and extra-cover, and
then a third in the over, beyond long-on. The 13th over therefore cost
21 runs.

Bravo was to go to lbw, even though
bat might have been involved, pushing forward to Ajantha to end a
third-wicket stand of 59. Yet when Samuels brought up his 50 with his
fourth six, over long-on off Jeevan, West Indies were at last striking
to their potential.

Bowled: Tillakaratne Dilshan loses his wicket in Colombo

Bowled: Tillakaratne Dilshan loses his wicket in Colombo

It seemed too much had been left too
late, though, an impression underlined after Ajantha put himself on a
hat-trick – Kieron Pollard cutting, and well-held at backward point, and
Andre Russell lbw sweeping.

Samuels was eventually sixth out,
caught in the leg-side deep off Dananjaya, but captain Darren Sammy gave
his team a late lift by taking 16 off Kulasekera's final over. That
feelgood continued for the Windies when Ravi Rampaul produced an
excellent first delivery, knocking out Tillekeratne Dilshan's off-stump
to see him off for a duck.

Cheer we go: Sri Lankan bowler Ajantha Mendis celebrates after taking the wicket of West Indies batsman Andre Russell

Cheer we go: Sri Lankan bowler Ajantha Mendis celebrates after taking the wicket of West Indies batsman Andre Russell

The early breakthrough was a
necessary starting point for Sammy's men, but scoreboard pressure
appeared minimal while home captain Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar
Sangakkara were sharing a second-wicket stand of 42.

Not until Sangakkara picked out deep
midwicket with a pull at Samuel Badree did the Sri Lanka wobble kick in.
Mathews somehow managed to be bowled round his legs, off-stump, trying
to sweep Sammy.

Having a go: Kieron Pollard in batting action for the West Indies

Having a go: Kieron Pollard in batting action for the West Indies

The lynchpin himself, Jayawardene,
had already been dropped twice but could not make it count when he
reverse-swept Sunil Narine into Sammy's hands. Then the collapse went
into overdrive as Jeevan and then Thisara Perera were both haplessly
run-out.

There was no way back – despite some
late hitting from Kulasekera – after Lahiru Thirimanne, the last
specialist batsman, also bowed to the pressure by holing out in the
deep. A shell-shocked home crowd of 35,000 capacity had assembled to
cheer Sri Lanka all the way to their first 'World Cup' success since
1996.

Instead, they witnessed the
unlikeliest of denouements as West Indies got their hands on some
silverware to add at last to the Champions Trophy of 2004.

Showpiece: Sri Lanka face West Indies in the final

Showpiece: Sri Lanka face West Indies in the final

Hair we go: Sri Lankan fans cheer on their side at the R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium in Colombo

Hair we go: Sri Lankan fans cheer on their side at the R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium in Colombo

Sri Lanka v West Indies live: follow the World Twenty20 final

LIVE: Sri Lanka v West Indies – follow the score from the World Twenty20 final

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UPDATED:

13:53 GMT, 7 October 2012

Sri Lanka recalled teenage spinner Akila Dananjaya for the ICC World Twenty20 final against West Indies at the Premadasa Stadium.

Dananjaya was left out of the hosts' semi-final victory over Pakistan at this same venue three days ago when his replacement Rangana Herath took three vital wickets with his left-arm orthodox.

But against the Windies Sri Lanka chose to switch the two spinners again. West Indies, unchanged from their semi-final trouncing of Australia here, won the toss and chose to bat first under lights before a capacity and partisan crowd of 35,000.

West Indies won the toss and elected to bat

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST SCORECARD FROM COLOMBO

Showpiece: Sri Lanka face West Indies in the final

Showpiece: Sri Lanka face West Indies in the final

Stuart Broad says England can defend World Twenty20 title

Broad still believes England can defend Twenty20 title despite last two losses

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UPDATED:

08:35 GMT, 28 September 2012

ICC World Twenty20 champions England insist they can still complete a successful defence of their title, despite back-to-back defeats in their last two matches.

Captain Stuart Broad rued the 'unacceptable' loss of two wickets in the first over, which undermined England's attempt to chase 179 for five against West Indies in their first Super Eight match at Pallekele last night.

Even after Eoin Morgan, with 71 not out, and opener Alex Hales, with 68, had kept faint hope alive in a century stand, Broad's team fell 15 runs short of what they thought might be an achievable target.

We can do it: England's captain Stuart Broad (left) still believes

We can do it: England's captain Stuart Broad (left) still believes

England must surely therefore beat New Zealand back at the same venue tomorrow, if they are to retain realistic hopes of returning to Colombo next week for the knockout stages.

Broad, for one, is keeping the faith.

'We hope we've got four games left in this “World Cup”,' he said.

'We back the guys up there (at the top of the order); we know they're all dangerous players.

'But losing wickets in the first over, especially, is not acceptable.'

Good work: Broad and Steven Finn (right) celebrate the dismissal of West Indies' Kieron Pollard

Good work: Broad and Steven Finn (right) celebrate the dismissal of West Indies' Kieron Pollard

England's latest setback followed a record defeat against India in their final Group A match last weekend – and was all the more dispiriting because they thought they had restricted the Windies well with the ball.

'It's disappointing,' added Broad.

'At the halfway stage, we thought we'd done a good job – especially after the start they got, on an absolutely belting track.

'Batsmen would have wanted to roll it up, and take it with them everywhere.'

Openers Johnson Charles and Chris Gayle both made fifties for the Windies, and shared a century stand.

Got you: West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle (right) celebrates the wicket of Jonathan Bairstow

Got you: West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle (right) celebrates the wicket of Jonathan Bairstow

But Broad said: 'We thought we had them probably just below par, very chaseable.

'So to then lose two wickets like we did, in a disappointing manner, was frustrating – but I thought we rebuilt pretty well.

'It was always going to take some overs out of the game, because we couldn't afford to lose more.

'We still tried to keep wickets in hand, and explode in the last eight – but we didn't quite get there.'

World Twenty20 2012: Pallekele reminds England captain Stuart Broad of Kandy

Broad: Pallekele is reminiscent of Kandy, scene of England's greatest T20 triumph

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UPDATED:

10:29 GMT, 26 September 2012

England had their first glimpse of Pallekele on Wednesday, and immediately felt at home in their bid to retain the ICC World Twenty20 title.

Captain Stuart Broad saw reminders everywhere, at the picturesque stadium near Kandy, of the scene of England's 2010 success in this tournament in the West Indies.

There is no sea view, of course, at this inland venue. But otherwise it was not difficult, as England prepared to practise before their first Super Eight match against West Indies, to see exactly what Broad was getting at.

Bowled over: Broad has noticed the similarities between Kandy and Pallekele

Bowled over: Broad has noticed the similarities between Kandy and Pallekele

He was in the ranks when England won their first and still only International Cricket Council global trophy, under the captaincy of Paul Collingwood, two years ago.

This time, they are at least through to the second stage and know they are only four wins away, in five remaining matches, from lifting the silverware again.

'It's my first time at the ground, and it looks a fantastic ground,' said Broad.

'It reminds me a bit of the Caribbean grounds, so it brings back good memories.'

To sustain the feel-good factor, Broad's England will need to play much better against the Windies than they did in their final Group A match in Colombo – where India trounced them by a record margin.

Final preparations: England are hoping to win the next five matches to retain their crown

Final preparations: England know they are only five matches away from retaining their crown

Final preparations: England are hoping to win the next five matches to retain their crown

'It was important to get through the group stages, and this is where it starts for us,' added Broad.

'We are only five games away from winning the World Cup, but it's important we don't look at it like that and break it down into small bits, starting with the West Indies.'

Broad's opposite number Darren Sammy echoed those sentiments, on behalf of his team, and is unperturbed that West Indies have reached this stage without a victory yet – having qualified via a rain-shortened defeat against Australia and then a no-result with Ireland, when bad weather again intervened in Colombo.

'I don't think that's important at all,' said Sammy. 'One of our first objectives was to get to the Super Eights – and now we're here.'

Waiting game: West Indies have played and lost their only completed match of the tournament

Waiting game: West Indies lost their only completed match of the tournament thus far

Steven Finn says England will bounce back from India hammering

Don't panic! Finn says England will bounce back from India hammering

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UPDATED:

08:49 GMT, 25 September 2012

England's grand plan for the defence of their ICC World Twenty20 crown will survive their record defeat against India.

Stuart Broad's team are refusing to
panic, or give up on the principles worked out over many hours in the
nets on how to play spin, after just one setback.

Positive: Steven Finn, right, celebrates dismissal of India's Irfan Pathan

Positive: Steven Finn, right, celebrates dismissal of India's Irfan Pathan

Many have interpreted their 90-run loss at the Premadasa Stadium – in which they were bowled out for their worst Twenty20 score of just 80, in under 15 overs – as an ominous blow to their aspirations as defending champions here.

But inside the camp, as they move from their Group A campaign in Colombo on to three Super Eight matches at Pallekele, a steely resolve remains to press on with Plan A.

The consolation of Sunday's defeat, and England's hapless batting against Harbhajan Singh in particular, was that it came in a fixture which had no direct consequence – between two teams who had already qualified for the next stage.

As England prepared for the four-hour road trip to Kandy – their first match at Pallekele will be against West Indies on Thursday – fast bowler Steven Finn made it clear they will be sticking to their guns.

'We don't have to do anything different than we've done,' he said.

Focused: England captain Stuart Broad

Focused: England captain Stuart Broad

'We've had one one bad game – we know that – but we move on from it.

'We brush it under the carpet; we learn from our mistakes, and we get better from it.'

West Indies were last night confirmed as England's first Super Eight opponents, after a rainy no-result in Colombo which spelled the end of Ireland's unlucky tour.

The Windies have yet to win a match, having come off worst against Australia in their Group B opener but recorded a superior run rate to Ireland's.

Their captain Darren Sammy spent much of last summer losing to England in all formats, but he is optimistic of gaining telling revenge. 'We have a strong belief in ourselves,” he said.

'The first hurdle is overcome – then the real business starts.

'We've got England in our first game and we're looking to start off very well.

'We've played them a few times in the last few months and we believe we can go out and beat them – we have a good twenty20 record against them.'

The Windies lost a one-off match at Trent Bridge in June against England in the sprint format, but a year ago drew 1-1 in a short series at The Oval.

Previously, they had to watch while England claimed their first International Cricket Council global trophy, right under their noses – winning the 2010 World Twenty20 title by beating Australia in the final in Barbados.

'England are defending champions, and we will not under-estimate anybody,' added Sammy.

'They won a tournament in the Caribbean when the wickets were also assisting spinners.

'So we have to go out there and bowl properly. We hope our spinners can play a big part.'

World Twenty20 2012: Australia beat West Indies in Colombo

Watson smashes Australia to simple victory in rain-hit clash with West Indies

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UPDATED:

17:47 GMT, 22 September 2012

Australia secured their place in the Super Eight stage of the World Twenty20 with a 17-run Duckworth/Lewis victory over West Indies after rain curtailed play in Colombo.

A heavy downpour interrupted the Australians' charge towards their 193 target when they were 100 for one – 17 runs ahead of the Duckworth/Lewis par score after 9.1 overs.

All-rounder Shane Watson – man of the match in Australia's opening Group B triumph over Ireland on Wednesday – was once again in full flow, unbeaten on 41 from 24 deliveries alongside Michael Hussey (28 off 19) when the heavens opened.

I've got the power: Shane Watson hits for six at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo

I've got the power: Shane Watson hits for six at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo

All-round excellence: Watson, who took two wickets and hit 41 runs, bowls to Samuels

All-round excellence: Watson, who took two wickets and hit 41 runs, bowls to Samuels

The Windies earlier posted 192 for
eight from their 20 overs after captain Darren Sammy won the toss and
stuck with his team's preferred tactics in this format, opting to bat
first – their total underpinned by half-centuries from Chris Gayle and
Marlon Samuels.

Opener Gayle smashed 54 off 33 balls –
including five fours and four sixes – before a soft dismissal, caught
and bowled by Watson, while Samuels plundered three fours and four sixes
in reaching 50 off 32. He holed out to David Warner at long-on off the
bowling of veteran spinner Brad Hogg.

Paceman Mitchell Starc (three for 35)
and all-rounder Watson (two for 29) were the pick of the Australia
bowlers, the former having been passed fit after recovering from
gastroenteritis. Pat Cummins, Daniel Christian and Hogg also claimed a
wicket apiece.

Big hitter: Chris Gayle drives to the boundary during his innings of 54 against Australia

Big hitter: Chris Gayle drives to the boundary during his innings of 54 against Australia

Crash, bang, wallop: Marlon Samuels hits out on his way to a half-century for West Indies

Crash, bang, wallop: Marlon Samuels hits out on his way to a half-century for West Indies

Australia suffered an early setback in
their response when Warner – much to his displeasure – was given out
caught behind by Denesh Ramdin off Fidel Edwards with the first ball of
the third over, but not before the opener had racked up 28 from 14
balls.

However, they continued at a decent
pace as Watson and Hussey set about reducing the 9.65 required run-rate
which ultimately proved crucial.

The result left West Indies facing a
winner-takes-all clash with Ireland on Monday to determine who will join
Australia in the Super Eights.

Timber! Dwayne Smith of the West Indies is bowled by Mitchell Starc (unseen), who took thee wickets

Timber! Dwayne Smith of the West Indies is bowled by Mitchell Starc (unseen), who took thee wickets

Tom Maynard death: A sudden descent into the painful and brutal world of reality – The Top Spin

Maynard's shocking death is a sudden and painful descent into the world of reality

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UPDATED:

12:59 GMT, 19 June 2012

Cricket is full of scripts. You can usually spot them a mile off: the carefree debut, the two-fingers-up return to form, the sinus-loosening last hurrah. And in their familiarity resides a certain comfort.

It matters not that you may already know, to an unhealthy degree, the prescribed possibilities of this diversionary world. Because you also know that, despite your better judgment, you’ll never get bored of them.

They're always just different enough to keep you interested, and besides – they're a damn sight less troublesome than those we meet in real life.

Tributes: Fans left flowers and messages of sympathy for Maynard outside the Kia Oval

Tributes: Fans left flowers and messages of sympathy for Maynard outside the Kia Oval

More from Lawrence Booth…

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

The Top Spin: Late bloomer Anderson is England's man for all seasons
15/05/12

The Top Spin: Come in No 6! Five pressing questions for England to answer this summer
07/05/12

The Top Spin: Forget the rain… the lack of Gayle-force Windies dampens series
30/04/12

The Top Spin: Come what May tortured batsmen will weather cruel April's storm
24/04/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

So it feels shocking when sport departs from its unwritten pledge to distract us a little, and to do it in terms we can all understand, if not necessarily emulate.

Tom Maynard was tall, dark, handsome, and talented. He could hit the ball a long way, and he could hit it often. His script may have been highly promising rather than once-in-a-blue-moon exceptional. But it was his script, his life, and it was well under way.

Hell, he'd deviate from it from time to time. He had already done so the previous weekend. But there was fun to be had – his and ours. Sport shouldn't be so demanding as to ask for much more than that.

Tom's story has ended differently now, on the tracks of a tube station while most of us were sleeping through the dawn chorus of Monday morning. Family and friends mourn a loved one. The rest of us respectfully wonder what might have been.

Not many hours earlier, he had been playing for Surrey against Kent at Beckenham. The day before that, he had appeared on Sky's Cricket AM, full of mischief. He was going places.

And he was striking. My girlfriend,
no great sports fan, asked me not about the slightly shy figures of
Jason Roy on one side of the Cricket AM sofa and Stuart Meaker on the
other, but about the swarthy brunette in the middle. If he hadn’t played
for Surrey, you might be tempted to say he had a strut.

His death is an unmitigated tragedy.
It is no more or less tragic than if the body found at Wimbledon Park
station had belonged to a prince or a pauper. But the escapism of sport –
and the significance society ascribes it – is such that any sudden
descent into brutal reality can be especially painful.

Silence: The England and West Indies players paid a fitting tribute at Maynard's home ground

Silence: The England and West Indies players paid a fitting tribute at Maynard's home ground

Silence: The England and West Indies players paid a fitting tribute at Maynard's home ground

Sportsmen are not supposed to die young. They may lapse into premature decline once their careers are over; they may be taken too soon from us by injury. But to die young is the preserve of the rock star. It is not part of the sporting deal, with its emphasis on athleticism and gilded youth.

How else to explain the astonishing
response to the on-field collapse of Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba
Thousands perish every day in grim circumstances, yet it was the fate of
a man most of us knew only distantly through the prism of Match of the
Day that dominated the headlines.

Clearly,
there was a very human empathy in the outpouring of concern for Muamba
that day. But how much of it jostled for space with disbelief that a
supposedly inviolate world had suffered an intrusion more commonly
reserved for you or me When a footballer has a weak heart, what hope is
there for the rest of us

Muamba
survived, thank God, but Tom Maynard was less fortunate. A son, a
team-mate, a hope and a dream. And above all, a human being.

Tragedy: Maynard had a promising future with club and country to look forward to

Tragedy: Maynard had a promising future with club and country to look forward to

Tragedy: Maynard had a promising future with club and country to look forward to

Ravi Bopara keen to seize England opportunity

Bopara keen to seize England opportunity after Bairstow fluffs audition

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UPDATED:

13:15 GMT, 14 June 2012

Ravi Bopara is anxious to make up for lost time on his return to England colours after injury, in the NatWest Series against West Indies.

Bopara was at the head of the queue to fill England's number six position against these opponents in this summer's Investec Test series, only to suffer a calf injury on the eve of the squad announcement for the first match last month.

That place was filled at Lord's, and in two subsequent Tests, by Jonny Bairstow – and Bopara's calf trouble was the latest in a series of minor but untimely niggles over the past eight months.

Hungry for more: Bopara last played a Test for England against India last summer

Hungry for more: Bopara last played a Test for England against India last summer

The middle-order batsman is expected to be back at number four in the first of three 50-over matches against the Windies, at the Ageas Bowl on Saturday.

'I'm really looking forward to it,' he said. 'I haven't played a lot of cricket for England recently because of injuries.

'So it's exciting for me, and I'm in good form.'

Top Spin

Bopara returned at the start of this month with a 50-over century, and then one in four-day cricket too, for Essex.

He is not about to start worrying unduly either about a run of injuries, which may be pure coincidence.

'It's very frustrating. It's only recently I've started to get a few injuries,' he said.

'Before that, I very rarely missed games through injury… it's probably a sign of me getting old.

Work in progress: Bairstow struggled in the Tests against the West Indies

Work in progress: Bairstow struggled in the Tests against the West Indies

'It is annoying. It is frustrating. But whatever's meant to be is meant to be.'

Even so, he is aware of others profiting from his absence – and at 27, time is not on his side as much as it once was.

'I guess what it does is it gives someone else an opportunity to cement their place, and that's not ideal.

'But it means when I get my opportunity, I've got to cement my place. Let's hope I get it soon.'

England v West Indies: Nasser Hussain – selectors right to rest Jimmy Anderson

England selectors are right to rest Jimmy the gem now

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 6 June 2012

England are 100 per cent right to rest Jimmy Anderson from this Test – and if they choose to leave out Stuart Broad, they would have my total support too.

It’s all very well the old-timers saying these guys just need to keep bowling to stay fit, or arguing that fans who pay good money to support England are being deprived of watching the very best.

But the game's so much more intense than it used to be. And if England bowl Anderson into the ground and force him to retire in his early 30s, won’t that be depriving future generations even more

Well-earned rest: James Anderson will not play in the third Test at Edgbaston

Well-earned rest: James Anderson will not play in the third Test at Edgbaston

Anderson is a gem, and England need to look after him as carefully as they can. He turns 30 this month, which means he is at his peak as a fast bowler.

More from Nasser Hussain…

Nasser Hussain: We must hope there's not an ulterior motive to KP quitting ODIs
31/05/12

Nasser Hussain: West Indies must find room in young side for a few old hands
28/05/12

Nasser Hussain: I'm bowled over by the game’s top thinkers
27/05/12

Nasser Hussain: A swing mystery but England keep it short and sweet
25/05/12

Nasser Hussain: Windies will be blown away if Anderson and Co pitch it right
24/05/12

Nasser Hussain: Far from faultless, but just the sort of test England required
21/05/12

Nasser Hussain: England need to pitch it up to get on top of Shivnarine
20/05/12

Nasser Hussain: Hundred sets the tone for England's summer
18/05/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

The last thing England want to do is overuse Anderson so that he loses his nip and has to retire early.

Just look at recent history – Dean Headley played his last Test at 29, Angus Fraser at 33, Darren Gough at 32, and Matthew Hoggard and Andrew Flintoff at 31.

England owe it both to Anderson and the fans to keep him going for longer.

I know Sir Ian Botham is very passionate about English cricket and is the greatest all-rounder this country has ever produced.

But wouldn’t his record have been even better if he had been looked after properly – as the modern cricketer is – so that he could have carried on bowling at high pace right up until the end of his career

The other point is that Steven Finn and Graham Onions are high-class performers.

High-class: Graham Onions and Steven Finn bowling at nets at Edgbaston

High-class: Graham Onions and Steven Finn bowling at nets at Edgbaston

It’s not as if England will be drafting in some unknown from the Under 19s. I believe the crowd will be just as excited about seeing one of them steaming in against West Indies in the hope of making a point.

And don’t imagine Anderson won’t have a point of his own to make when he returns against South Africa. He’ll be fired up – and that can only be good for England.

Kevin Pietersen ODI retirement – Top Spin by Lawrence Booth

If Pietersen can afford to retire, we know where we stand

By
Lawrence Booth

PUBLISHED:

07:52 GMT, 5 June 2012

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UPDATED:

07:52 GMT, 5 June 2012

TOP SPIN ON TWITTER

For more cricketing musings, please follow right here @the_topspin

If the back and forth in the Kevin Pietersen debate resembles one of those tedious clay-court baseline rallies (his fault, their fault, his fault, their fault), then one thing is clear: all national boards bar India’s are now at the mercy of their players.

Of course, this has been true for a while. Just ask Barisal Burners/Matabeleland Tuskers legend Chris Gayle. But when the biggest name in the world’s second-most powerful cricket country decides he can afford to quit two of the international’s game three formats, we know where we stand.

Bowing out: Pietersen retired from limited overs international cricket last week

Bowing out: Pietersen retired from limited overs international cricket last week

More from Lawrence Booth…

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

The Top Spin: Late bloomer Anderson is England's man for all seasons
15/05/12

The Top Spin: Come in No 6! Five pressing questions for England to answer this summer
07/05/12

The Top Spin: Forget the rain… the lack of Gayle-force Windies dampens series
30/04/12

The Top Spin: Come what May tortured batsmen will weather cruel April's storm
24/04/12

Top Spin: Time for Twenty20 to pay some of Test cricket's bills… it's what families do
17/04/12

The Top Spin: Chastened, not disheartened – why England can afford a smile again
10/04/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Before we jump down any throats, it
should be made clear that Pietersen has not yet signed to play in this
year’s Big Bash League. His agent is even on the record saying this will
not happen.

But it’s hard to imagine that a
batsman who is not yet 32 will – between now and his retirement – limit
himself to Test matches, a bit of IPL and some county cricket for
Surrey… especially if his decision to sacrifice ODI and Twenty20
international cricket begets an unintended consequence in the Test-match
dressing-room.

Still, let’s take Pietersen’s stated
reason for his limited-overs retirement at face value. He cites the
‘increasing demands on my body’, and here, to a degree – but only to a
degree, since the extra cricket he plays in the IPL is entirely his
choice – the game’s administrators should pay attention.

At the risk of repeating ourselves,
the international schedule is almost as ridiculous and ramshackle as the
English domestic calendar, with its chaotic mixture of different
starting days and times, and quarts squeezed into pint pots. The
international calendar, a Babel’s Tower of commercial opportunities, is
exhausting enough to keep track of. Goodness knows how the players cope.

So when Pietersen is accused of
chasing the money, let’s be quite clear that he is merely following the
example set by those above him.

Greed is now an unquestioned part of
the game, even though anyone who questions it is usually scolded for
threatening to deny star cricketers the right to earn as much cash as
possible (and here I admit that the difference between owning three
houses or four is lost on me).

The excess of international cricket
was borne out on Sunday, when Jimmy Anderson was rested from this week’s
third Test against West Indies at Edgbaston. Squad rotation has become a
necessary evil, not least in a calendar year in which England play 15
Tests, almost twice as many as they did in 2011.

Packed schedule: England play 15 Test matches this year

Packed schedule: England play 15 Test matches this year

Top Spin

The ECB, then, can feel irritated by
Pietersen’s decision; equally, behind the scenes there are those who
wonder how many other England cricketers would willingly give up a large
chunk of their international careers.

But they should not be surprised. And
if they are surprised, they are simply being complacent. Well-paid
though their centrally contracted players are, a few stand to earn more
from a life of Tests and Twenty20 freelancing. We may not like it. But
that’s the way it is.

The mercy, for the time being, is
that Pietersen is unlikely to trigger a stampede. By and large, national
pride still counts for plenty among England’s cricketers. Players may
grumble occasionally, as Graeme Swann has done about the 50-over format.
But still they turn out for their country, knowing it is how posterity
will judge them.

England, though, have been warned –
not just by Pietersen, but by cricketers from the less well-off nations
who increasingly place lucre above national lustre.

Loyalty is a two-way street. But there will always be those who spy something more attractive travelling in the other direction.

Parting shot: Pietersen hit two 50-over tons in Pakistan

Parting shot: Pietersen hit two 50-over tons in Pakistan

THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS
Ireland’s Indian creates history

Until now, Sion Mills CC in County Tyrone traded on the fact that, in 1969, it played host to the day Ireland bowled out West Indies for 25. But another legend was added on Sunday when Dundrum’s Indian professional Ravi Patel cracked six sixes in an over during an innings of 167 (including 18 sixes) in the Ulster Shield.

The previous day Patel, who hails from Pune and lives alone in a caravan five minutes from the Irish Sea in County Down, had scored 53 from 15 balls. Reporting the innings on Facebook, he was goaded by friends into trying for six sixes on the Sunday. And he delivered. In a radio interview on Monday he said he had already played in the Indian Cricket League. Perhaps the IPL will now come calling…

Get that tournament a window!

The news that some of New Zealand’s finest may miss the first Test at Lord’s next May because of a clause in their contracts which allows them to play five weeks of IPL is yet more evidence that the IPL needs a window on the Future Tours Programme.

Double-booked: Kiwi stars such as Brendon McCullum (above) could miss the Test series in England next summer

Double-booked: Kiwi stars such as Brendon McCullum (above) could miss the Test series in England next summer

The first part of the English summer, in which the weaker of the two touring sides traditionally visits, is becoming a farce: Sri Lankans turned up under-prepared in 2011, West Indies are missing some beguiling names this year, and next year it will be New Zealand’s turn to take cricket’s realpolitik on the chin. Who wants to pay good money to watch England duff up a New Zealand side without Brendon McCullum, Dan Vettori and Ross Taylor

Since the IPL appears to be here to stay, the only solution is to treat it as the ICC treat the Champions League, and slot it into the FTP. Ideally, of course, the BCCI would recognise the damage the tournament is doing to other cricket nations and agree to limit its span to four or five weeks (this year, it lasted 7). But a longer window, which would at least allow other countries to sort out their schedule so as not to belittle their own attempts to stage international cricket, may be the best we can hope for.

In good Nick: Compton has made a fine start to the season

In good Nick: Compton has made a fine start to the season

Deprived by the rain

Bad luck to Nick Compton, who was denied the chance to become the first player to score 1,000 first-class runs before the end of May since Graeme Hick in 1988 because of the weather. The temptation, in any case, is to belittle Compton’s near-achievement, since this season began in late March. And yet the 13 first-class innings he squeezed in between then and now are only two more than Hick required to reach the mark 24 years ago.

And the remarkable thing about Hick’s feat is that his sequence included two double failures at an apparently crucial moment in the pursuit: 8 and 11 against Somerset at New Road (not long after taking a handy unbeaten 405 off them at Taunton), followed by 6 and 7 at Grace Road against Leicestershire. By the time the touring West Indians visited Worcester on May 28, Hick was still 153 short of four figures. Against an attack including Patrick Patterson, Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh and Ian Bishop, he made 172. Not bad, really.

But will it make any difference…

It was easy to miss in the ICC press release last week, but a provisional independent report into the accuracy of international cricket’s two ball-tracking devices suggested 100 per cent agreement with 14 ‘examined sequences’ from last year’s South Africa v Australia Test series. Much more of this, and one or two administrators may have to concede that Hawk-Eye and Virtual Eye are not the educated guesswork they conveniently believe them to be.