Ben Stokes is the best all-rounder in modern day cricket

Ben Stokes is the best all-rounder in modern day cricket

CT Contributor Updated: 28 August, 2019, 12:25 PM IST


2019 has been a year for Ben Stokes. The English powerhouse is a serious match-winner and defines the character of sheer heroism. Grit, resilience, sense and maturity can all come together for Stokes on the cricket field. It was purely evident in the third Ashes 2019 Test match held at Headingley in Leeds.

Stokes’ masochism and guts helped the sides chase down a record total of 359.It was pure joy and ecstasy. The ride on Day 4 of the Test match was a pure entertainer. Test cricket is here to stay and it’s people like Ben Stokes who are the epitome to the format’s success.

It was one of the best moments in England’s Test cricket history. It was a magical inning, one that is among the top in Ashes history. For England, it was a similar show in a Test win after Ian Botham (1981) and Andrew Flintoff (2005).

Stokes joined the bandwagon of famous all-round rockstar cricket celebrities as these to write his name on the history books. If Day 3 was utter labouring and holding on, Day 4 for Stokes was setting the tempo from the start.

There was a belief in the manner in which Stokes batted. He had the vision of getting England to an unbelievable position to square the five-match Test series at 1-1.

With two more matches to go, the dream for England is well alive. They have every chance to regain the Ashes. One can say Australia lost the plot in the final phase. And it was Stokes that stole the thunder.

One can also relate this innings as one of England’s best ever in Test cricket. For a side that was bowled out for 67 in the first innings, winning the Test from here on is something that nobody had ever imagined in this lifetime. But that’s why sports is a miracle.

Stokes deserves every bit of all the love, praise and attention. He is definitely the best all-rounder in today’s cricket.

In July 2019, the all-rounder’s heroics helped England win the ICC World Cup 2019. This was England’s maiden World Cup triumph and Stokes made all the difference in an epic finale against New Zealand. His knock of 84* was there for everyone to witness. He also stood out in that Super Over.

The World Cup was a success for Stokes in so many ways. His 465 runs that included five fifties were terrific. A month and a few days later, Stokes was once again instrumental in handing England their first chase of 350-plus in Test cricket. Moreover, it came in Ashes 2019. This time Stokes scored a superb 135*. The innings that gave us so much to savour.

Like he did in his innings six weeks ago in the ICC World Cup 2019 finale at Lord’s, Stokes launched a stunning solo assault. His mayhem at the crease tore apart the Aussies. Stokes left everyone stunned with his array of boundary hitting. He hammered off-spinner Nathan Lyon for three sixes and followed that up by hitting Josh Hazlewood for four, six and six in three consecutive balls. In this phase, he also brought up his hundred.

The last 84 runs off Stokes’ bat came from 67 balls. If someone that could win a game of this magnitude, it had to be Stokes. He knew one mistake could end everything. And his batting showed that nothing of this was to come. Stokes has risen to 2nd in the ICC Test Rankings for All-rounders. He has richly deserved all this and there is an aura about him. According to Ian Botham he has become an overnight sensation and is a box-office material. Stokes has more to produce and England, who are on an upward slope can benefit immensely from it.

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News Cricket

I watched the videos of AB, Smith and Williamson to learn how to bat at different positions - Rahul

Garima Kotroo Updated: 18 January, 2020, 3:59 PM IST


KL Rahul’s heroics with the bat and gloves drove the Men in Blue towards a 36-run win against Australia in the second ODI at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium on Friday. The 27-year-old right-handed batsman came at the number five slot in Rajkot and he stunned the opponent bowlers with his amazing shots. He smashed 80 runs off 52 deliveries before losing his wicket.

Not only this, Rahul proved his brilliance behind the stumps as he quickly grabbed the ball and removed the bails to dismiss the Australian skipper Aaron Finch.

Speaking about his game at No. 5 position, Rahul said, “I watched the videos of players like AB de Villiers, Steve Smith, and Kane Williamson. The only thing is I adjusted my game to it. My game reading has also become much better.”

When he was asked about the pressure of batting at different positions in the international arena, Rahul replied, “I get to learn so much about batting as art when I get to bat at different positions, new ways to counter the bowlers, new ways to adjust to the situations. I don't look at it is as pressure, just enjoy it. I am more than willing to bat at any position for the team. It is a team game and anybody would do it for the team.”

News Cricket

KL Rahul has ability and composure like Dhoni and Yuvraj: Sehwag

Abhishek Singh Updated: 18 January, 2020, 1:09 PM IST


Virender Sehwag has said KL Rahul has the calm and composer like that of MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh and could well fit into the role of a finisher, which has been left vacant since the World Cup last year.

Sehwag while speaking at a post-match show on Cricbuzz said, “I think KL Rahul is batting in a good form. When Dhoni and Yuvraj batted in slog overs, they always set up targets for every over. Scoring nine runs if they hit a four or 11 if they hit a six, they negated the risk this way. KL Rahul is getting into that groove as well. I can safely say, if he continues to work on his batting, he can become a good finisher like Dhoni and Yuvraj”.

Former Indian cricketer, Mohammad Kaif, who was also present on the show, said that Rahul has learned to adjust and play at any position. “It’s easier going up from down in the batting position. You have many examples, be it Sehwag, Sachin or Rohit Sharma, all of them batted down the order at the start of their career, but moved up gradually. In the case of Rahul, he has come down the order and it takes courage and consistency to prove yourself at a time when your position keeps changing in the batting order”.

Rahul played a crucial role in India’s 36-run win over Australia on Friday. Scoring 80 runs off just 52 deliveries, he gave team India the required momentum. The Karnataka batsman then kept wickets with the utmost composure, pulling off a quick stumping, making himself a deserving candidate for the Man of the Match award, which he was presented with after the end of the match.

News Cricket

Apna time aaega - Irfan posts a motivational message for Sanju Samson after the T20I snub

Garima Kotroo Updated: 18 January, 2020, 1:08 PM IST


The young wicketkeeper-batsman from Kerala, Sanju Samson is currently making the headlines for his cryptic tweet on the account after getting dropped from the T20I squad for the upcoming five-match series against New Zealand. The 25-year-old right-hander posted a comma on his official Twitter handle to show his disappointment on the team selection. This tweet left the cricket fans in a split and went viral in no time.

Meanwhile, the former Indian all-rounder Irfan Pathan came forward to support the youngster after his exclusion from the squad. He wrote, “Keep at it. Apna time aaega”.

Irfan also hailed the impressive innings of Dhawan during the second ODI against Australia at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot.

“If situation pushes you towards the wall what do you do???? Score 3 half-centuries and become @SDhawan25 #wellplayed #INDvsAUS.”

The 34-year-old Indian opener played an important knock of 96 runs off 90 balls against the visitors and helped his side to clinch the game by 36 runs. After their humiliating 10-wicket defeat in the series opener, Virat Kohli and the team finally bounced back against Aaron Finch's troops.

The Men in Blue have now leveled the ongoing series against Aussies by 1-1 and will play the series-decider at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on January 19.

Milestones Cricket

4 instances where 600-plus runs were scored in an ODI in India without a hundred

Renin Wilben Albert Updated: 18 January, 2020, 12:39 PM IST


India overcame a tough challenge from Australia in the second one-dayer at Rajkot to square the three-match series 1-1. Batting first, India posted an impressive 340 for 6 on the board courtesy half-centuries from Shikhar Dhawan, skipper Virat Kohli and KL Rahul. While Dhawan was dismissed for 96 from 90, Kohli contributed 78 from 76, and Rahul blazed his way to 80 from 52 balls.

In response, Australia finished on 304 as Steve Smith contributed a wonderful 98 from 102 deliveries. No other Aussie batsman could cross the fifty mark though. Marnus Labuschagne was the next highest scorer with 46 from 47 balls. The Rajkot ODI saw a combined total of 644 runs being scored. This was one of the rare instances of 600-plus runs being scored in an ODI in India without an individual century. Here’s a look at three other times where over 600 runs were registered in one-day international without any batsman scoring a hundred.

643 runs -- Asia v Africa, Afro-Asia Cup 2nd ODI (Chennai 2007)

In the second match of the Afro-Asia Cup played at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on June 9, 2007, a match aggregate of 643 runs was registered. Asia XI, after winning the toss and electing to bat first, posted an imposing 337 for 7 on the board. Sourav Ganguly was the top-scorer for Asia XI, with a fluent 88 from 112 balls. At the top, Virender Sehwag blasted 52 from 38 balls while Mohammad Yousuf contributed 51 from 44 towards the end. Yuvraj Singh too played a splendid cameo, making an unbeaten 30 from 13 balls.

In reply, Africa XI were bowled out for 306. Mark Boucher was the top run-scorer for them with 73 from 71 balls. Batting at number three, Boeta Dippenaar contributed 67 from 72 deliveries. Opener Vusi Sibanda and Shaun Pollock hit 35 each, but Africa XI fell 31 runs short of the target. For Asia XI, Dilhara Fernando was the standout performer with 4 for 36.

641 runs -- India vs England, 1st ODI (Rajkot 2013)

In the first ODI of the five-match series between India and England, played at Rajkot on January 11, 2013, a total of 641 runs were scored without a batsman from either side hitting a hundred. Electing to bat first after winning the toss, visitors England put up a highly challenging 325 for 4 on the board. Opener and captain Alastair Cook scored 75 from 83 while Ian Bell made 85 from 96. The impressive contributions continued as Kevin Pietersen hit 44 from 45, Eoin Morgan 41 from 38 before Samit Patel gave the finishing touches to the innings with a blazing 44 not out from 20.

India were competitive in response, but eventually ran out of steam, losing the contest by nine runs. Openers Ajinkya Rahane (47 from 57) and Gautam Gambhir (52 from 52) added 96 for the opening wicket. Yuvraj Singh contributed 61 from 54 and Suresh Raina 50 from 49. However, England kept chipping away at the wickets, and eventually ended up on top. Off-spinner James Tredwell was named man of the match for picking up 4 for 44 and stalling India’s chase.

637 runs -- India vs England, 3rd ODI (Kolkata 2017)

England defeated India by five runs in a high-scoring encounter at Eden Gardens on January 22, 2017. The teams combined to put up 637 runs on the board, yet again with no batsman from either side scoring a hundred. England batted first and put up 321 for 8 on the board. Jason Roy hit 65 from 56 while Jonny Bairstow contributed 56 from 64. Towards the end, all-rounder Ben Stokes blazed his way to an unbeaten 57 from 39 balls while Chris Woakes also impressed with 34 from just 19.

In India’s chase, Kedar Jadhav made a belligerent 90 from 75 balls while skipper Virat Kohli and all-rounder Hardik Pandya contributed 55 and 56 respectively. However, India fell tantalizingly close to the target, finishing on 316 for 9. Stokes sent back both Kohli and Pandya to finish with 3 for 63 and was adjudged man of the match for his all-round brilliance.

Feature Cricket

Nadkarni – Gutsy with the bat, parsimonious with the ball

Partab Ramchand Updated: 18 January, 2020, 12:37 PM IST


The objective of any cricketer is to win the match but if a situation arises when the team is facing defeat and a draw is the best possible option that’s when you need someone like Rameschandra Gangaram Nadkarni. It was Indian cricket’s good fortune that during their formative years in the fifties and sixties when they faced one setback after another they could rely on Nadkarni, gutsy with the bat and parsimonious with the ball to bail them out.

With all his courageous deeds with the bat Nadkarni who passed away on Friday will be remembered for his niggardly left-arm spin bowling. Taking runs off him was like squeezing the proverbial water out of the stone. Hour after hour, over after over he kept wheeling them down on the same good length spot and the batsman just had no option but to play the ball dead at his feet. When the batsmen tried to take liberties he found the ball hitting the middle of the middle stump. The batsman had to be the epitome of patience in negotiating Nadkarni who was accuracy personified. He did not turn the ball much and the joke among his Indian teammates was that he fooled the batsman by forcing him to think that he was turning the ball. The fact remains that Nadkarni is not remembered for being a big turner of the ball; he is remembered chiefly for his ability to bottle up one end as few bowlers have done in the history of cricket. Little wonder then that he is second among the most economical bowlers in Test history (1.67) among those with 75 wickets or more just behind South Africa’s Trevor Goddard (1.64).

But then Nadkarni also notched up four five-wicket hauls and a ten-wicket haul during his 41-Test career that stretched from 1955 to 1968 and brought him 1414 runs at an average of 25.70 and 88 wickets at fractionally over 29 apiece. The feat for which he is most famous of course is his world record 21 successive maidens he sent down during the Test against England at Madras in January 1964. He ended the innings with the mind-boggling figures of 32-27-5-0.

A more than useful left-handed batsman down the order Nadkarni scored one hundred and seven half-centuries. His lone hundred came in a match-saving act against England at Kanpur in February 1964. India were following on 293 runs behind and Nadkarni who had remained unbeaten with 52 in the first innings was promoted to No 3 the second time around and responded with an unbeaten 122 in seven hours which enabled India to save the match.

At the first-class level Nadkarni was among the giants running up a record of 8880 runs at an average of 40 with the highest score of 283 not out coupled with 500 wickets at 21 apiece. He represented Maharashtra and Mumbai during a long first-class career. In later years he was a popular manager of Indian teams and served as national selection committee chairman in 1987-88.

News Cricket

No Comments: Ganguly on Dhoni’s omission from the contract list

Abhishek Singh Updated: 18 January, 2020, 12:36 PM IST


BCCI president Sourav Ganguly refused to comment on MS Dhoni's omission from the annual central contract list. The World Cup-winning captain was left out of the list for not playing international cricket since the last edition of the World Cup in England and Wales.

"I can't comment on this," Ganguly said in his straightforward response on Dhoni's omission from the BCCI's annual player retainers for 2019-20.

The possibility of Dhoni making a comeback cannot be ruled out as India’s coach Ravi Shastri has already said that the former captain’s chances of playing the T20 world cup would depend upon his IPL performance.

The iconic former captain has been out of action since India's World Cup semifinal loss to New Zealand in July last year. He started training with his state team Jharkhand from Thursday with an eye on the upcoming edition of IPL.

Ganguly, however, spoke on the merger of the Kolkata's iconic club Mohun Bagan with ATK and hailed it as the "way forward".

"Game has professionalized. This is the right way forward. Many big clubs like Manchester have also done this. Only time will tell (about the success). This is the way forward," Ganguly said.

The historic Indian football club Mohun Bagan was merged into the newbie Amar Tomar Kolkata, a side that represents the city of joy in the Indian Super League, one of the two top tier football leagues in the country.

News Cricket

Mohammad Hafeez to retire after T20 World Cup

Garima Kotroo Updated: 18 January, 2020, 12:35 PM IST


Pakistan all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez recently revealed that he will bring down the curtains on his 17-year-old career after the conclusion of the T20 World Cup this year.

Speaking on his decision of retirement from international cricket, Hafeez said, “It has been a privilege. I want to play the Twenty20 World Cup and then exit from Pakistan’s international team. I have played 17 years for Pakistan and tried my level best. At times I missed my bowling.”

Hafeez is currently gearing up for the upcoming three-match T20I series against Bangladesh starting from January 24. He will be making a comeback to the Pakistani squad after getting dropped by the selectors following his underwhelming performances in the 2019 World Cup.

While recalling the experienced players Hafeez and Shoaib Malik in the team for the next series at home, Head Coach and chief selector, Misbah-ul-Haq said, “We never said Malik and Hafeez aren’t in our plans, we were trying out our pool of players and we felt we needed them here. Hafeez is experienced and he has so many performances, he is mature. We feel he can contribute to the team and perform for Pakistan.”

Hafeez captained the Men in Green in 29 T20I matches. Under his guidance, Pakistan have won 17 games and lost 11 with one ending in a tie.

Feature Cricket

Dhoni’s Omission the Only Practical Option

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 18 January, 2020, 12:33 PM IST


Why did it not send shockwaves that Mahendra Singh Dhoni was omitted from the central cricket contracts for 2019-’20? With the former Indian captain out of the playing field by his own volition, this was the only logical move.

The current BCCI president, Sourav Ganguly, would rather comment on the state of Bengal football and the team merger rather than shed light on the status of Dhoni following the decision not to award the wicketkeeper-batsman a central contract for the current year. Previously Dhoni was the recipient of payment in accordance with the top tier Grade A level players.

However, while there is talk of Dhoni making a comeback to the national side for the ICC Twenty20 World Cup in Australia later in the year, Dhoni has been absent from India’s limited-overs cricket team since the conclusion of the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2019 in July in England. Back then, Dhoni’s form came into question as did the merit in having Rishabh Pant in the wings and not be used if the former captain was a reluctant player.

Repeated continuation of his self-imposed sabbatical post the ICC flagship event has raised questions of even the illustrious former Indian captain and the feasibility of his making a direct entry into the team without having played any cricket in the interim in the international arena.

The Indian coach, Ravi Shastri, spoke recently of assessing Dhoni’s form after the Indian Premier League 2020 where Dhoni is the captain of the Chennai Super Kings. But this would be met with some antagonism given that the norm is not to use the IPL alone as the basis for selection. With India playing a limited number of one-day internationals and Twenty20, it would not have been the strenuous task for Dhoni to show up as part of the squad if his intention was indeed to prolong his international career.

Whether this is some concocted behind-the-scenes plan of the current captain, Virat Kohli, the Indian coach and Dhoni himself that the latter should stay on as backup in case his successor – Rishabh Pant or anybody else – fails to sufficiently meet the team’s criteria by the time of the next World Cup event later in the year, it has not been a popular decision, not to mention undermining the confidence of the young replacement.

Furthermore, it would appear the selectors and the BCCI are not on board with the plan, having previously communicated to Dhoni that the wait for him to return was not a patience game anymore with the intent to look forward. With Dhoni’s continued absence, there was little choice other than to decide not to award him a retainer contract.

While some have dubbed it humiliating on Dhoni, it seemed like the only practical precedent to be set in the event that the player himself makes himself unavailable for the squad, irrespective of the number of years he has served as part of the team and the accolades that have come his way.

News Cricket

Family above Cricket: Mushfiqur Rahim reveals the reason for opting out of Pakistan tour

Abhishek Singh Updated: 18 January, 2020, 12:32 PM IST


Bangladesh’s top batsman and wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim has refused to tour Pakistan. Rahim has cited security concerns as the main reason for his decision. “I have already informed Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) that I am not going to Pakistan for the upcoming series. I have submitted an official letter, and BCB accepted that. Not just T20Is, I am unavailable for the entire series,” Mushfiqur told media after the final of Bangabandhu Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) final at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka.

“My family is afraid of the security condition of Pakistan. In this situation, I can’t go to Pakistan and play cricket there. It is always tough for me to sit down from a series of Bangladesh national team,” he added.

The gritty wicketkeeper cringed on the fact that he will be losing an opportunity to play cricket on batting-friendly wickets of Pakistan. The little dynamite also opined that the situation in Pakistan is getting better for playing cricket, but he is bound by family commitment and concerns.

“Cricket is not bigger than life. But at the same time, I would like to say that the situation in Pakistan is better than before. I toured Pakistan in 2008 before that incident (terror attack on Sri Lankan team in 2009). Pakistan is a wonderful place to play cricket. The wickets of Pakistan are batting-friendly and I will miss playing there. But if the situation gets better and remains better consistently, I would definitely love to go to Pakistan to play cricket,” said an optimistic Rahim.

News Cricket

Ben Stokes will go down as the greatest all-rounder of all time - Michael Vaughan

Garima Kotroo Updated: 18 January, 2020, 12:30 PM IST


Former England cricketer Michael Vaughan has heaped praise on star all-rounder Ben Stokes after his remarkable century against South Africa on the second day of the third Test at the St George’s Oval. The 45-year-old legendary player believes that Stokes is going through the best phase of his career and will definitely go down as one of the greatest all-rounders of all time.

Vaughan also took to his official Twitter handle to post a heartfelt message for Stokes, "Sometimes we take for granted sports people we are watching in our own era .. but it's safe to say @benstokes38 is at the height of his power and will go down as one of the all-time greats .. Many more years of him to go as well. Let's enjoy it.”

Ben Stokes was recently named as the ICC's Cricketer of the Year and he went on to take the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy.

Stokes, who was overwhelmed with the great honor, said while receiving an award, "It is quite flattering to win the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for the ICC Men's Cricketer of the Year. The past 12 months have been incredible for England cricket and to lift the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup for the first time was our greatest achievement."

News Cricket

India have underachieved in the last two World Cups - Michael Vaughan

Garima Kotroo Updated: 18 January, 2020, 12:28 PM IST


Former England skipper Michael Vaughan came up with another bold statement on Team India as he claimed that the Men in Blue have underachieved in the last two World Cups. Vaughan believes that India lack power in the middle-order and they have not been able to do justice with their performance in the ODI format.

The 45-year-old veteran batsman recently took to his official Twitter handle and wrote, "If they are honest they will accept the last 2 World Cups they have underachieved!! They lack power for me in the engine room, the middle order, they have 3 yrs to make sure they can keep up the tradition of the hosts winning!”

India faced a crushing 10-wicket defeat against Australia in the first ODI at the Wankhede Stadium. However, they bounced back and the won the second game in Rajkot. Virat Kohli-led team was superb in the batting department and vital contribution from the top order led them to a big total. Aussies tried their best but were undone by some exceptional bowling in the end. Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah were superb in their bowling spells.

News Cricket

Author’s derogatory comment on Virat-Anushka invites the wrath of fans

Abhishek Singh Updated: 18 January, 2020, 12:27 PM IST


An Indian author Bhawna Arora wrote a cheap comment on the personal equation of Indian captain Virat Kohli and Bollywood diva Anushka Sharma. In a derogatory tweet, Bhawna tried a ‘tongue in cheek’ joke about Virat Kohli changing his batting position in the ongoing India-Australia ODI series. She tried to link the batting position with sexual positions, which was taken in a bad taste by the Twitterati.

“Anushka Sharma is angry as Virat Kohli is trying new positions with Australians but not with her #INDvAUS,” her tweet read. The twitter community got enraged with such clumsy and audacious tweet seeking cheap limelight for the sake of discussing the Indian captain’s personal life.

A twitter user replied to Bhawna’s comment saying, “It isn’t funny”, while another one called it purely “shameless”. Bhawna was made to realize her grave mistake after getting humiliating replies.

Virat Kohli didn’t look fussed about anything at all and went about his business scoring 78 runs off just 76 balls. At one stage, he looked well settled to score yet another century but was dismissed by Adam Zampa. However, India went on to win the second ODI by 36 runs and leveled the series, setting up a thrilling decider in Bengaluru, which will take place tomorrow.

News Cricket

Boucher: ICC must find balance but Rabada went 'bit too far' 

AP Updated: 18 January, 2020, 11:05 AM IST


Like any fan of the game, Mark Boucher wants the International Cricket Council to find a balance when regulating how players - and especially aggressive fast bowlers like Kagiso Rabada - display their emotions on the field so as not to over-sanitize the sport.

“Don’t take the emotion out of the game because I still think there is a very big part for that in the game of cricket,” South Africa's head coach said.

There should be little argument over that. But while making that point, Boucher also conceded that Rabada maybe went too far when he celebrated, screaming and with fists pumping, right in front of Joe Root after bowling the England captain in the ongoing third test in Port Elizabeth.

The incident has put reasonably new ICC regulations guiding how and where players vent their emotions on the cricket field back under scrutiny.

The 24-year-old Rabada, a star of the sport, received a demerit or disciplinary point for his over-zealous celebration. An accumulation of those points led to him being banned for what will be the series-deciding fourth and final test next week. That robs the finale to a hotly contested fight between two old cricketing foes of one of the world's best bowlers.

There's been criticism of the rules and the suspension of Rabada. He was charged and punished by cricket's ruling body for “using language, actions or gestures which disparage or which could provoke an aggressive reaction from a batter."

Some question if the ICC is going too far and trying to restrict players showing their feelings.

But Rabada wouldn't have been disciplined if he celebrated in the same way a meter or two to the left or right of Root. His venting right in front of Root — “yes, he was in his space,” Boucher admitted — was the problem because it was deemed provocative. Rabada appeared to intentionally head straight for Root.

And this is where the criticism that the ICC is removing emotion from cricket might be misplaced.

Because Rabada, young, energetic and fiercely competitive, has celebrated plenty of wickets this series with equal zealousness, just not right in the face of an opposing player. And the ICC hasn't had any issue with it.

That's surely the balance Boucher and other coaches and players are calling for.

Another incident from this series saw England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler fined for his expletive-laden taunting of South Africa's Vernon Philander in the second test in Cape Town. On-field sledging between players is far from new in cricket, but Buttler's swearing was caught on a stump microphone and broadcast fairly clearly to a live TV audience of all ages.

Buttler was fined, a move also criticized by some commentators and former players, though the ICC does not appear unreasonable in its concerns over swear words ringing out on live TV during a game.

There's evidence of some balance from cricket officials in this regard, too. When Buttler walked out to bat on Friday, the South Africans greeted him with some words of their own - there may or may not have been expletives — but nothing was caught on any microphone.

Most cricketers see sledging, within reason, as a part of the game and the ICC isn't going to be taking any action against anyone for Buttler's fiery welcome because it all stayed on the field among the players. Their business.

As Ollie Pope, the other England batter out there when Buttler arrived, said: "What’s said on the pitch stays on the pitch, unless the stump mics pick up on it.

"Obviously there would have been a bit of a hostile environment but that’s only natural, that’s cricket. Two countries are battling it out. It was all good.”

It was all good for the ICC also, which seems to have found some balance between those two sledging incidents.

Boucher made clear he had issues with some of the finer points of the regulations, including being unable to appeal low-level offenses like Rabada's that resulted in him being banned only because he has committed similar offenses three times previously in the last two years.

But Boucher also conceded: “KG (Rabada) knows what he can and cannot do and he maybe just pushed a little bit too far.”

News Cricket

Each day I have been thrown different roles and responsibilities, and I am enjoying it - KL Rahul

AP Updated: 18 January, 2020, 9:52 AM IST


India leveled the series with a match to go after beating Australia by 36 runs in the second one-day international on Friday.

Made to bat first, India totaled 340-6 with half-centuries from Shikhar Dhawan (96), Lokesh Rahul (80), and captain Virat Kohli (78).

Australia was well short long before the chase sputtered out with five balls left, on 304 all out. Steve Smith-led with 98 and Marnus Labuschagne added 46. They shared 96 runs for the third wicket but were gone by the 38th over.

Mohammed Shami finished with 3-77, while Navdeep Saini and Ravindra Jadeja took two wickets each.

The series decider is on Sunday at Bengaluru.

Dhawan and Rohit Sharma shared an 81-run opening stand, as India looked to rebound from the rare 10-wicket loss on Tuesday.

Sharma was out lbw on 42 to Adam Zampa (3-50) in the 14th over, which brought Kohli to the crease.

Dhawan and Kohli put on 103 runs, rotating the strike with ease and setting up a big score. India crossed 150 in the 25th over as Dhawan brought up his second consecutive half-century off 60 balls. He fell four short of a deserved hundred, dismissed by Kane Richardson.

Meanwhile, Kohli countered Zampa's leg spin with aplomb and reached his half-century off 50 deliveries.

However, Zampa bowled Shreyas Iyer (7) and got Kohli’s prized wicket for the fifth time in ODI cricket. The India skipper was caught at the boundary with Ashton Agar aiding Mitchell Starc in the catch relay.

Rahul took charge in the death overs and smashed six fours and three sixes, bringing up his half-century off 38 balls to push India past 300 and earn man of the match. He helped India score 89 runs in the last 10 overs.

“Each day I have been thrown different roles and responsibilities, and I am enjoying it," Rahul said. "I got a good start today and the ball was coming on nicely. I was happy with the wicketkeeping duties as well.” He wore the gloves instead of Rishabh Pant, who was ruled out of the game owing to a concussion.

Australia's chase lost David Warner (15) early thanks to a stunning one-handed leaping catch by Manish Pandey.

Smith and Aaron Finch (33) rebuilt the innings. Despite Finch being stumped off Ravindra Jadeja, Smith kept Australia abreast of the asking rate.

He found an able partner in Labuschagne, and Australia crossed 150 in the 25th over. When Labuschagne tried to push the scoring rate, he was out caught in the deep off Jadeja.

Alex Carey added 18 off 17 balls, but Kuldeep Yadav delivered the double blow in the 38th over that changed the game.

First, Carey was out caught at mid-off and Smith played on, falling two short of a hundred.

Australia's lower middle order didn’t have enough firepower to push for victory.

"We were always just one more wicket down than what we'd have liked at any stage of the chase,” Finch said.

Dhawan didn’t field after being hit in the ribs while batting. But he is expected to be fit for the series finale on Sunday at Bengaluru.start today and the ball was coming on nicely. I was happy with the wicketkeeping duties as well.” He wore the gloves instead of Rishabh Pant, who was ruled out of the game owing to a concussion.

Feature Cricket

SA Players Must Make AB’s Return Harder

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 17 January, 2020, 5:29 PM IST


Recently Peter Siddle announced his retirement from Test cricket. Although in the squad for the Test series against New Zealand, the performances of players such as Pat Cummins and James Pattinson perhaps made it clear to the veteran fast bowler that his services were only a backup and not part of the mainstream plan. Similarly, the onus should be on South Africa’s players to not necessitate AB de Villiers’ predicted return to the team.

South Africa could well not take a chance after their doleful performances at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England and include AB de Villiers if the talks mutually favor his return from retirement. Although even that return is expected to brief with an intent to feature in the ICC Twenty20 World in Australia later this year, it would mean that South Africa would need to decide quickly if they do want de Villiers and whether he is willing to be a part of the team set up once more after retiring by his choice with late pangs in the course of the World Cup.

That said, while South Africa will not want world-class talent to sit idle if it is the intention of the player to return to the game, they must, also, look ahead. With Graeme Smith as the director of cricket and Mark Boucher in charge of the team as head coach with Jacques Kallis and Charle Langeveldt to back them up in the support staff, South Africa’s cricket needs to look for successors rather than take only regressive decisions in the immediate interests of the team.

Much has been written about the Kolpak deals that have seen player drains, the financial conundrums that have forced players to retire and play in overseas domestic cricket and also, of player migrations for perceived lack of opportunities at home. The number of South Africa born players playing for other teams – including Marnus Labuschagne and Neil Wagner – is endless.

South Africa will have to find a better way for the remaining players who have decided to throw their weight behind the cause of playing for South Africa to rise to the occasion, put up their hand and be counted rather than simply make up the bleak numbers. It will mean a lot of work to unearth unpolished diamonds from the support staff and bridging the gap between domestic cricket and international level. But it will, also, mean that the players making the team know that this is an opportunity to entrench themselves.

From feeling desperate enough to controversially call up Siddle, the Australian selectors would have silently heaved a sigh of relief not at Siddle’s retirement but rather watching Australia’s bowlers do the job well enough on the field against Pakistan and again against New Zealand not to warrant Siddle’s induction into the playing eleven at any point.

Although it might seem farfetched, given South Africa’s performances in the past year, it is not beyond them to find players who can commit themselves to the point where AB de Villiers and others like him could be a problem of riches rather than the dearth forcing desperate measures. It will be up to the players to make a player, who has chosen to step out of the game, work harder to get back into the team. It is a tall order, not only because of AB’s versatility as a batsman but also, because of the many problems that virtually derailed South Africa last year.