India, Pakistan and England squads for Twenty20 Cup

The Indian Squad for the Twenty20 World Cup consists of: Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Ajit Agarkar, Dinesh Karthik, Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Joginder Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Piyush Chawla, Sreesanth, Irfan Pathan, RP Singh, Rohit Sharma

Dhoni was chosen as captain after Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly have decided to not take part in the tournament. Irfan Pathan has made a return to the international scene, along with his brother Yusuf. Sreesanth has been picked for the Twenty20 Cup but dropped for the ODI series against England.

Pakistan have also announced their squad which consists of: Shoaib Malik, Younis Khan, Imran Nazir, Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif, Shoaib Akthar, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Hafeez, Umar Gul, Shahid Afridi, Iftikhar Anjum, Fawad Alam, Abdur Rehman, Yasir Arafat, Misbah-ul-Haq

Englands squad consists of: Paul Collingwood, Ravi Bopara, Stuart Broad, Andrew Flintoff, James Kirtley, Darren Maddy, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Chris Schofield, Owais Shah, Ryan Sidebottom, Jeremy Snape, Vikram Solanki, Chris Tremlett, Luke Wright

New Convener of SA Selectors

The South African selectors have seen a change in the hierarchy with Haroon Lorgat being dropped and justifiably so. It is a decision that should have happened a long time ago. For some reason Lorgat took it upon himself to select players and then tell the coach in which position the player would bat. There was something very wrong when the convener of selectors called the shots instead of allowing the coach to make the call.

The man to take the helm is Joubert Strydom, a former Free State player and captain. He has been appointed convener of selectors for one year, and then will be reviewed. Shafiek Abrahams has replaced Lorgat as a selector.

Soon after the appointment, Strydom said “We have won the Emerging Players Tournament in Australia for the second successive year which means we are going to have a big pool of young talent to work with. The challenge is to find the right combination of promising and established players.”  Whilst I agree with this, both times we have taken a squad with various players, who have quite a bit of international experience to this tournament.

There have been reports of a “big 5” in the cricket side as well as observations of a team that isn’t as disciplined as it should be so it will be interesting to see how the new convener handles the squad for the upcoming season.

Surprises in the SA “A” Squad

The South African A side has been selected a short tour to Zimbabwe for two 4 day matches. A perfect opportunity to blood the youngsters and see who is pushing for a place in the upcoming tour to Pakistan. Its not often South Africa can send a young side to the wrong side of the Limpopo river for some bonding and a more than likely confidence boost for thrashing the helpless Zimbabweans.

So many names rush to my mind as to which players are knocking on the door in the selectors eyes before seeing the side. Will they let Vernon Philander develop a bit more? Has Ontong been given another chance to play in the longer form of the game? Surely with only two four day games, the essence of the squad will be those brought in to help South Africa’s dismal recent performances in this arena. We have climbed the rankings as India and Pakistan fell, so without a game being played South Africa moved from 6th to tie 4th!!!

When I saw the side, it seemed like a veterans side, until I noticed Neil McKenzie wasn’t part of it. It turns out that he is already playing in the long version of the game for Somerset in the County Championship.  With all the wisdom gained from years of insightful choices our selectors decided to top previous questionable decisions by selecting a squad of players with more experience than the current Zimbabwe test line-up.

The only thing I can be thankful of is Lorgat hasn’t come up with another 5 foot under player like Paul Adams. Adams is still the best spinner we have had since re-admission and was fantastic but he had fallen into the pit of anonymity, not being seen as a regular for the Cobras then lo and behold he was recalled into the squad and co-incidentally brought about the resignation of Boje.

The squad selected already went through another moment of embarassment when there was however a late substitution with Friedel de Wet getting axed for Johan Botha, which is a huge shame and disappointment for the Lions player after being told he was selected.

Here is the SA A squad: Boeta Dippenaar (c), Yusuf Abdullah, Hashim Amla, Johan Botha, Andrew Hall, Paul Harris, Imran Khan, Charl Langeveldt, André Nel, Justin Ontong, Alviro Petersen, Aswell Prince, Thami Tsolekile and Morné van Wyk.

There are a few things you can read from the squad selection. The players chosen are more than likely not going to play in the Pro20 world cup, thus the logical conclusion is Philander will play in the Pro20, Garnet Kruger is not considered part of the future plans nor is Roger Telemachus. Finally and painfully so, South Africa are not testing out any new captains nor coaches for the new future.

Its good to see the spinners selected, and to see some talented youngsters joining the battle hardened veterans. Peterson and van Wyk certainly deserve higher honours, and our middle order at test level needs serious re-wiring.

The first four-day game is on 9 to 12 August and the second from Wednesday 15th to Saturday 18th August 2007.

Twenty20 Finals Day

On Saturday the twenty20 finals day were held. In the first semi-final Lancashire batted first against Gloucestershire and made 148 in their 20. In this form of cricket that is hardly ever good enough and Gloucestershire ambled home in just under 17 overs with Craig Spearman earning himself the man of the match award for smashing 86 in 55 balls. This innings included 5 sixes and 8 fours.

The second semi-final contest was slightly closer as Kent made hard work chasing down 141 set by Sussex. Murray Goodwin made the top score of 38 off 35 helping Sussex post 140. Ryan Mclaren managed to pick up 1-10 in 2 overs. On the batting side both Martin van Jaarsveld and Mclaren failed with each scoring 2 runs. However Kent were through to the final and there was still time for a South African to shine.

Kent decided to field first and chase down the Gloucestershire total, which would have been massive until the dreaded nelson came up. At 111-4 it seemed like the was little hope for Kent, but the curse struck and with it Ryan Mclaren removed the danger man Hamish Marshall for 65 off 49 balls. Not satisfied with sending the danger man to have a shower, he clean bowled their keeper the next ball, then trapped Fisher in front for the cherry on top and a HAT TRICK. This helped break the momentum Gloucestershire had and restricted them to 146.

Kent didn’t want the crowd to be bored by the game and managed to just scrape home with 3 balls left, after some controversy about the captain, Key’s dismissal. For obvious reasons Ryan Mclaren was made man of the match.

In every game, the side batting second won, and all the totals were under 150. It seems a game where it is much easier to chase than to set!!!

Ranadeb Bose

Ranadep Bose picked up 5-51 against the Sri Lanka A side and seems to be a player that deserves a chance in the final test especially after Sreesanth lost it in the last test. The youngster has talent but has been mentally challenged in the series and seems to be struggling to produce the goods that he is capable of. Bose has been around the fringes for years, almost breaking through in 2005 when he joined the so called top 30 for a conditioning camp. He has a domestic average of 24.5 and an economy of 2.65. In his first class career he has collected just over 200 wickets. With 16 five-fors and 4 tenners in a match.

“In his Ranji career, Ranadeb has bowled over 12,000 deliveries and countless ones at other official games but hasn’t over-stepped even once.” This must be some sort of record and I certainly cant think of another fast bowler who can claim this.

Bose was interviewed before departing for England and said “Even as a kid I liked the fact that my friends were afraid to face me. They were scared of me. They kind of hero-worshipped me. I enjoy making the batsmen feel uncomfortable and that is how it will be all my life.”

There is very little in the way of India claiming the series, especially with the traditional English summer ensuring that it will more than likely rain at least once during the final test. India haven’t got their strongest batting line-up but I think its capable of posting a big score, thus if the can ensure England don’t compile a total of 500 in an innings, they shouldn’t lose. If they had a bowler who picked up wickets consistently like Khan and Singh they should walk away with the 3rd test. Sreesanth has picked up wickets, but either picks up a couple or nothing.

Prediction: India to win the series with either a draw or win in the final test, with Sreesanth playing.