ICC Cricket World Cup, 2014/15 news from ESPN

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

cricket world cup 2015 - South Africa's 16-1 advantage

South Africa's 16-1 record against West Indies is the most lopsided between two top-eight teams in ODIs since the beginning of 2007

3-2 South Africa's World Cup record against West Indies. They won in 1992, lost in 1996 and 2003, and won in 2007 and 2011.
16-1 - South Africa's win-loss record against West Indies since the beginning of 2007. It's themost lopsided win-loss ratio in ODIs between two of the top eight teams during this period. South Africa's only loss was in Port Elizabeth earlier this year, when West Indies chased down 263 for the loss of 9 wickets. There was also a tied game between them in the 2013 Champions Trophy in Cardiff. The next most one-sided match-up is also against West Indies - Australia have an 18-2 winning record during this period.
4 - Hundreds that both AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla have scored in ODIs against West Indies. Amla has got them in 11 matches, and averages 94.66, while de Villiers has played 20 games, and averages 66.06 against them. Both have a strike rate of 105. Two other South African top-order batsmen have also enjoyed batting against West Indies - JP Duminy averages 63.14 from 15 games, and David Miller 78.75 from ten.
20.69 Chris Gayle's batting average against South Africa in his last 13 ODI innings, going back to the beginning of 2007. During this period his highest score against them is 45.
4 Number of times Morne Morkel has dismissed Gayle in ODIs. He has bowled 46 balls to Gayle, and conceded 41 runs. Against Dale Steyn, Gayle has scored 47 off 45 balls and been dismissed once; while Vernon Philander has gone for 35 from 24, for one dismissal.
12 Wickets for Imran Tahir, from four games against West Indies, at an average of 13.25 and an economy rate of 4.72. Steyn has 19 from 12 games, at an average of 23.57, while Morkel has 22 from 12 and averages 23.54.
7 Number of games out of the last ten completed ones at the Sydney Cricket Ground - going back to 2010 - that have been won by the team chasing: they all have been day-night games as well. Each of the last four matches at the SCG has gone in favour of the team batting second.
4.93 The average run rate for the team batting first in ODIs here since 2010. There have been only two 275-plus scores in the last ten 50-over games for the teams batting first.

cricket world cup 2015- How the teams stack up

A look at how New Zealand and Australia's elevens match up, player to player

On Saturday, the World Cup co-hosts meet at Eden Park and given recent form and familiarity with conditions, it is a clash of the two favourites to win the tournament. Remarkably, Australia and New Zealand have not played out a full ODI since the last World Cup in 2011, when Australia prevailed in Nagpur. That is a shame, because it is hard to imagine two more evenly-matched one-day outfits right now. As these comparisons show, it is hard to split the sides, although New Zealand seem more settled and with the home advantage, might just have the edge.
Opening with a bang
Brendon McCullum & Martin Guptill v David Warner & Aaron Finch
Who would you rather, Brendon McCullum or David Warner? That has been a common question asked this week as observers consider the power batsmen at the top of these two orders. McCullum lets his bat do the talking, as he did with 77 off 25 balls against England in Wellington. Warner's mouth does plenty of talking, but so does his bat. But the question neglects the serious talent at the other end: Aaron Finch is Australia's top ODI run scorer of the past two years, and is coming off a World Cup 135 against England; Martin Guptill has New Zealand's highest-ever ODI score. On the small Eden Park ground, heaven help the record books if all four men get going.
The young rocks
Kane Williamson v Steven Smith
Kane Williamson is 24, Steven Smith is 25. Williamson has captained his country, so has Smith. Williamson is New Zealand's leading ODI scorer of the past year, Smith is Australia's reigning ODI Cricketer of the Year. Williamson has become New Zealand's most reliable batsman, Smith is Australia's. The retirement of the likes of Ponting, Tendulkar, Kallis, Dravid et al left some uncertainty about who would figure in the next generation of great batsmen. There is every chance that Williamson and Smith will lead the way.
The middle-order experience
Ross Taylor v Michael Clarke
If there are top-order wobbles, both teams have an experienced right-hander who can steady things in the middle. Australia's problem is that theirs, Michael Clarke, has played only two ODIs in the past year, got injured in both of them, and by Saturday will have spent 11 weeks without a proper international match. For New Zealand, Ross Taylor might have flown under the radar compared to some of his team-mates, but scored an ODI hundred four games ago.
The wicketkeepers
Luke Ronchi v Brad Haddin
Luke Ronchi v Brad Haddin. The subject, no doubt, of the occasional Australian selection debate circa 2008. Haddin was preferred then, but Ronchi filled in during ODIs in the Caribbean when Haddin was injured. Now they are playing for opposing countries. Both men now have a finishing role down the order, and little separates their striking ability. Haddin is especially strong down the ground, so the short straight boundaries at Eden Park may well suit him.
The seaming allrounders
Corey Anderson & Grant Elliott v Shane Watson & Mitchell Marsh
It will be interesting to see how the medium-pacers from both sides handle the small ground, whether they can contain the batsmen by using variations or nagging accuracy. Corey Anderson offers something different, being a left-armer, and his batting might is clear. Shane Watson has the experience of the quartet, but not necessarily the recent form. Mitchell Marsh took a five-for against England but New Zealand might target him, and Grant Elliott is the most overlooked of the group but also has the most recent hundred.
The spinners
Daniel Vettori v Glenn Maxwell
New Zealand will use a highly-experienced, specialist spinner who can bat. Australia will use a part-time offspinner whose dynamic batting and fielding could turn a game. Maxwell's presence contributes to Australia's very deep batting order, but at Eden Park he will have no room for error with his bowling. Vettori's experience and canniness might prove an advantage to New Zealand.
The pace attacks
Tim Southee, Trent Boult & Adam Milne v Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc & Josh Hazlewood/Pat Cummins
Richard Hadlee reckons Tim Southee and Trent Boult are New Zealand's best ever new-ball pair. Their swing and control will be a severe challenge for Australia's top order; Southee's seven-for against England was a masterclass of swing bowling. But Mitchell Starc is just as fine a swing bowler when conditions suit - no bowler has more ODI five-fors in the past three years than Starc's four. Both teams have men who can break 150kph - Mitchell Johnson and Adam Milne - but New Zealand's attack is more settled, with Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins jostling for the final spot for Australia. Execution amongst the fast men could be where this game is won or lost.
The captains
Brendon McCullum v Michael Clarke
Australia have become so used to winning without Clarke in the one-day format that it is hard to predict what effect his return could have for a side that feels more like it belongs to George Bailey. Certainly the captain-coach dynamic between Clarke and Darren Lehmann has received plenty of attention lately, thanks to Shane Warne and his comments. New Zealand's leadership is more settled. "Stephen [Fleming] was amazing in the background, the way he could organise and motivate a team," Daniel Vettori said on Thursday. "I think Brendon does that similar sort of role, but he probably does it on the field. That's why the guys have gravitated towards him so much, because of the example that he sets, particularly the way he fields, he sets an example that you have to follow."

cricket world cup 2015- The 'magic wand' behind India's turnaround

It has helped that India have a captain who has lasted as long as he has due to his approach of treating cricket for what it is: a game

It is a 15-minute leisurely walk along the Swan riverfront in Perth to a restaurant serving simple south Indian meals near the jetty. A couple of India players and a member of the support staff strolled along to the place last evening to enjoy a relaxed dinner. It was a busy time at the restaurant, but no one disturbed the players while they ate, barring a single fan who also patiently agreed to wait for a photograph till they had finished.
Personal space in public places is a luxury for Indian cricketers back home, and they enjoy whatever precious leeway they get while touring. They have to come to value this space so much that they guard it zealously from all outside interference. They like to exist in their own cocoon - just the players and the support staff. Come occasions with still greater scrutiny than their usual high levels such as the World Cup, the cocoon enveloping the squad only gets thicker, shutting them from the world as much as possible. 
It becomes even more critical then that the inner space around the squad remains free of negatives, and an enabling atmosphere is created. Especially when you have been on the road for three months, and are expected to do so for another month. Especially when you have won nothing in those three months leading into a world tournament where you are the defending champions.
You go right away into the two big games in your group, against arch-rivals Pakistan, and South Africa, a side you have never beaten previously in a World Cup. Watchers are expecting you to beat the weaker sides in the group and scrape to the knockouts riding on the predictability of the format. And you come up with two thumping victories in matches you were widely expected to lose. The team management, the support staff, the captain and the players face flak when the side does not do well. They also deserve credit for delivering such a sensational start to their World Cup title defence.
MS Dhoni was asked what magic wand had he used to engineer this turnaround. He put it down to the squad having faith in each other and keeping together during tough times previously on the tour.
"I think it's the belief and trust that we have in each other," Dhoni said. "What's very important is to have that belief and that magic wand actually is the support staff and the 15 players because irrespective of what others think, what really matters is what 15 people who are part of the team are thinking and how the management is working. If we are moving in one direction and we are together, there are more chances of us making a strong comeback."
As always, it has helped that they have a captain who has lasted as long as he has due to his approach of treating cricket for what it is: a game. "It's not the end of the world, and that's how I feel any sport needs to be taken," Dhoni had said when asked how the side had dealt with their winless months in Australia.
It is how Dhoni had approached the Pakistan game as well, saying that no matter who the opposition was, you were going to earn the same number of points for a win. Although he had admitted it was not a normal game, he promised his players would try to treat it as that. Which is what they managed to do.
Living in the present might sound a cliché but that is what India have had to do in Australia. They had no option but to put away the losses where they belonged: in the past. There is already enough pressure of expectations in the present, according to Dhoni, for the players to entangle themselves in thoughts of past defeats.
Whatever Dhoni wanted from his squad in the build-up to the tournament could not be achieved if the spirits sank in the dressing room, highly probable when the wins are not coming.
"Well, that's really the job of the leader," Dhoni said. "What we wanted to do from a management point of view was to keep the morale high. It is very crucial because if the morale is down then it becomes more difficult to come back. Everybody is smiling, and even going through a lot of difficulties and problems, and if you turn up every day to improve yourself as a cricketer, you know the result will follow."
India have ensured the players get to totally switch off from the game on the days they are not training. Recreational activities and outings have been organised to try and keep some freshness intact amid the jadedness that can easily set in on such an extended trip.
On the other hand, India have also tried to get the most out of training sessions. They have often requested for centre-wicket nets. Practice has been intense and focused.
As Dhoni said after the South Africa win, India have invested too much effort into this core set of players over the past few years to not have them ready to fire come the World Cup. The players have responded superbly in the first two big ones, and have earned themselves a more relaxed setting for the remainder of their group engagements.

cricket world cup 2015- Backing Green at the Gabba

Choice of game:
Ireland v United Arab Emirates at the Gabba (located in Kevin Pietersen's favourite city, Brisbane).
Team supported:
Ireland. Not only do I have Irish heritage, I also figured 100% of Ireland's cricketing faithful would not be able to make it to the match, and someone had to sing Ireland's Call in their stead. Hashtag Backing Green.
Key performer:
While his performance didn't contribute to a win, Shaiman Anwar's terrific century was easily the best innings of the day. Gary Wilson shepherded a difficult chase intelligently, and Kevin O'Brien's belligerence got Ireland into an ultimately winning position, but Anwar seemed to possess a little of both Wilson and O'Brien. Many of us guys and girls in green were assuming he was going to run out of time to make his hundred after a circumspect start. But some powerful late-innings strokes gave us a reason to celebrate. Presumably, the UAE fans enjoyed it too.
One thing I'd have changed about the match:
Is it wrong to berate Mother Nature when she answers our call? I attended the Australia v Bangladesh match in the rather naïve hope of seeing some action. My rant against the rain would have been heard at the other side of the stadium (because the echo was so distinct). Only a few days later, we spectators are blessed with a perfect Brisbane day (stifling humidity and all), and everybody spends it in the shade. It's too hot, we say.
Face-off I relished:
Khurram Khan v Ireland. This man's batting prowess is not lost on those who know their Associate cricket. But I suspected the firmer wickets of the southern hemisphere would present a challenge, particularly against fast bowlers. As it happens, things didn't go according to this fan's pre-match script (one wonders why they're drafted at all). Ireland's spin attack performed admirably and, while the UAE were forced to consolidate after stumbling to 78 for 4, Khurram Khan's abundant skill evaporated into the scorching hot sun.
Wow moment:
Kevin O'Brien produced two wow moments of contrasting styles. He unleashed some dodgy deliveries towards the end of the UAE innings, prompting those of us in the crowd to wonder why a bowler's variation has to be that variable. But that's the best thing about being an allrounder - you can still contribute. His duet of booming straight sixes brought the game back to life.
Close encounter:
Bail fail. The green contingent in the crowd experienced a gamut of emotions when that brightly lit bail didn't drop. Shock, acceptance, surprise, relief, joy. All in one minute.
Shot of the day:
Amjad Javed channelled some extraordinary players with his whip off the hip from the all-over-the-shop bowling of Kevin O'Brien in the 39th over. A little bit of Sir Viv Richards, a little bit of Aravinda de Silva and a lot of "Shut up, I wanna see this replay" was heard in the stands.
Crowd meter:
Less than 6000 people enjoyed this match. I guess this is one of the reasons the ICC is whittling down future World Cups. But sitting among the Irish cricket faithful was always going to make the match more enjoyable, regardless of crowd numbers. We were camped next to like-minded fans from Penbroke Cricket Club (or Penbroke Cricket Clu, if read from their torn flag). Andrew Balbirnie was the number one star in their eyes, but this delightful group of fans were silenced after his dismissal for 30. They soon perked up as Ireland's chase hit the home stretch.
Fancy dress index:
Despite the dedication of the UAE fans (who were barely visible from the other side of the ground), the points must go to Larry the Leprechaun. A man who can wear a polyester suit, fake red beard and impractical hat, relish the heat, sing all day and be a photo magnet has got my respect.
Drummers kept pulses racing in those occasional ODI lulls. Warm applause greeted their renditions of Teenage Kicks andEnter Sandman, played in concert with the on-ground PA system. A few callous groans were reserved for any time a U2 song was played. I imagine those groaners have heard their last album.
Marks out of 10:
9 out of 10. All the griping about the heat knocks it down a little but frankly, complaining about the heat at the cricket is like complaining about the cold at the Winter Olympics. The day was littered with great people, a great atmosphere and a great match. And that's something the ICC can't afford to shrug from their shoulders. Associate nation cricket is exciting, and it should be here to stay.
PS. Apparently, I was caught on camera wolfing down a chocolate ice cream. It brings to mind the episode of Seinfeldwhere George is filmed making a pig of himself at the US Open. I hope that footage doesn't come back to haunt me… Actually, make it 8 out of 10.