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Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Ball tampering my foot... or is this just a massive leg pull?

THIS is it, the picture which has got the whole of South Africa in a lather. Stuart Broad's foot coming into contact with the ball on day three of the third Test in Cape Town.
The front page splash in the Cape Times decided to ignore the record temperatures, the packed crowds and South Africa's incredible 312-2 yesterday, choosing instead to run the banner: BALL TAMPERING FURORE.
Broad, not the most popular figure here, and Jimmy Anderson, the second-best wicket taker in the series behind Graeme Swann, both stand accused.
Broad for an innocent stop with his foot just before lunch yesterday, Anderson for picking at the quarter-seam. Images of both have been repeated again and again by the South African Broadcasting Association on television here and around the world.
While their captain Graeme Smith has just been out for a potentially match-winning, series-levelling 183 and the dominant hosts extend their lead to 366 with seven wickets in hand on another steamy morning here at Newlands, South Africa have now said they won't be making an official complaint to the ICC.
Instead, we await a statement after they "made clear their concerns" to match referee Roshan Mahanama.
Poor old England. They just can't win. First Kevin Pietersen gets wrongly accused of throwing beer at South African fans. Now they are hit with allegations of ball tampering on a day when South Africa seemed to cope rather well with anything Broad or Anderson threw at them. Between them they bowled 26 overs and took 0-103 yesterday. Neil Manthorpe, the British-born SABC frontman, raises the question: How did Broad get such great reverse swing in the last Test at Kingsmead and apparently they are going through the footage, checking for further fiddling. South Africa coach Mickey Arthur also asked the question after the spell which turned the second Test from a well-balanced contest into an innings and 98 run victory for England.
But the best comment on this subject comes from England coach, Andy Flower. The Cape Town-born Zimbabwean said simply: "This amazing amount of reverse swing gained from Stuart standing on the ball obviously hasn't worked today!"
Both captain Andrew Strauss and Flower are seething over this latest attack on England's integrity and Flower added: "The umpires or match referee haven't said anything to us. A lot of tall fast bowlers stop the ball with their boots so I don't see anything sinister in it at all."

Broad insists he stopped the ball with his boot because he couldn't be bothered to stoop for the ball in the near 40 degree heat which left the 7,000-strong Barmy Army bright red yesterday. They don't like him here, perhaps because his father Chris is a match referee or because he got a bit stroppy after his dismissal on review in Centurion.

Flower added: "I thought our bowlers were very skilful in the way they swung the ball at Durban. They did it a bit in the First Test at Centurion as well. Both sides know how to get the ball to reverse swing.

"It is a very well-documented skill. By shining the ball on your trousers you get a smooth side and that helps reverse swing."

Labels: ball tampering, , england in cape town, , james anderson, jimmy anderson, record temperatures, , third Test

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Beware the Christmas sack, Broady. Flower's words of wisdom before Boxing Day Test

STUART BROAD faces the Christmas sack if he doesn’t accept umpires’ decisions when the Boxing Day Test starts on Saturday.

The 6ft 7in England all-rounder, left, has been told by coach Andy Flower: “If an umpire gives you, just go,” after his outburst in the drawn first Test in Centurion.

Broad was given out under the controversial Decision Review System last Friday but felt the South Africans had taken too long to appeal when he was given not out for an lbw but was given the electronic finger by HawkEye.

Amid suggestions the South African coach Mickey Arthur had advised his side to go to the DRS from his television in the dressing room, Broad first remonstrated with on-field umpires Aleem Dar and Steve Davis before storming off to the television room to have a strong word with match referee Roshan Mahanama.

At the time Broad – whose dad Chris is a match referee - claimed he had stayed calm but former England captain Michael Vaughan he felt the Nottinghamshire man was lucky to escape without punishment.

It was a poor First Test all-round for Broad, who took 1-74 and and 2-58 with the ball while managing 17 and 0 with the bat, both dismissals coming after reviews as the opening clash ended in a tense draw, with England hanging on with a wicket to spare.

Flower, no fan of the new review system, said: “I have spoken with Broady about the incident. But he’s not over-stepping the mark. I certainly don't think Stuart will be suspended soon.

"He's a competitive bloke and he's desperate to contribute to winning games for England.

"I'm not a fan of the review system because I don't like the questioning of the umpires. I prefer the old style where the umpire makes a decision and you get on with it.

"I spoke with the match referee, Roshan Mahanama with Broady. I was there. Everyone is getting used to the decision review system. The extended delay (estimated at 34 seconds) in calling for that review contributed to him questioning what was happening. But I agree that, if an umpire gives you out, you should go. Broady and I have spoken about that.”

Former England captain Vaughan, clearly intent on making his name for himself as an analyst since retirement, said: "There is something a little bit annoying about Broad, he always seems to be complaining to the umpire. He needs to be careful. He could end up being banned for a couple of games."

England look like sticking with the controversial policy of using six batsman, leaving Broad, Jimmy Anderson, Graham Onions and Graeme Swann to struggle in the oppressive humidity of Durban. Suggestions that seamer Ryan Sidebottom should replace out-of-form batsman Ian Bell were dismissed by Flower.

He said: “I think Belly will be fine. He had a tough Test. So did opener Alastair Cook. But I think they will do things for us in this series.”

South African are continuing to monitor the progress of Dale Steyn, the world’s No1 Test bowler, after he withdrew from the first Test at the last minute. If Steyn recovers from his hamstring injury he is likely to replace Makhaya Ntini, who won his 100th cap at Centurion but failed to impress.

Labels: andy flower, boxing day test, , controversy, , , , , row,

Monday, 23 November 2009

Trott the all-rounder? A revelation from Botham

IAN BOTHAM, who knows a thing or two about all-rounders, picked out Jonathan Trott’s performance in the thumping seven-wicket win over South Africa yesterday as “a revelation”
While the immediate headlines surrounded the performance of Paul Collingwood, who took two wickets, a superb catch and scored an undefeated 105 in his record 171st one-day international for England, Botham went straight to Trott’s performance with bat and ball in his post-match analysis.
The Sky Sports commentator and former England captain said: “You have to look carefully at what Trott (pictured) did out there. He scored 87 and bowled seven overs for nothing (21, the most economical England bowler). England are having to learn to live without Andrew Flintoff and Trott will help them do that.
“It’s been a real revelation for England. South Africa are struggling without their all-rounder Jacques Kallis (broken rib) but we have Trott, Paul Collingwood, Luke Wright and Tim Bresnan who can do both now.”
Botham appears genuinely optimistic about England’s chances after they eased past South Africa’s 250-9 with seven wickets and four overs to spare.
With South African captain Graeme Smith admitting: “There is a realisation we’re in for a long, hard summer of cricket,” Beefy argues: “We all want to see a vibrant and punchy England side going at it hammer and tongs with the opposition.
“The best one-day teams in the world are front runners - the Australians and the Indians. I think Andrew Strauss finally recognises that. He was conservative in the West Indies, but he has been captain for a year now and I expect to see him blossom in charge.”
Collingwood, who overtook Alec Stewart as his country's most capped player in the ODIs, said: "It was a big day for me on a personal note.We were quite comfortable in the end. It was a special performance by all the boys really."
But the Durham dynamo also picked out Trott after their 162-run third-wicket partnership. Trott opened for the first time, replacing Kent’s Joe Denly, and fell just 13 runs short of a maiden one-day ton.
Collingwood purred: "It was a top knock by Trotty. He really played the anchor role. "Credit to him, all the international innings he's played so far have been special ones and hopefully that continues. He’s taken his county game to the international level."
England captain Strauss, who dropped three catches and scored just 16 off a sluggish 26 balls, did the vital thing - winning the toss - and said: "Jonathan and Paul both played exceptionally well. We always felt we could chase down 250 but we needed to get stuck in and build a partnership.
The great disappointment yesterday? Adil Rashid, once more England's least economical bowler. The young Yorkshire spinner, hit for four sixes in the only over allowed him in last week’s crushing Twenty20 defeat on the same ground, bowled just three overs for 27, leaving the door open for Kent’s James Tredwell to make his debut in the third one-day international at Newlands in Cape Town on Friday.
Tredwell, England’s Under 19 captain back in 2002, took 95 wickets in all forms of the game last season and he can bat a bit as well, with two first class tons and a 16 fifties for Kent.
The only other thing England need to worry about on Friday? The captain’s hands. After dropping those three catches, Strauss said: "That was the one negative. My hands went missing somewhere. I'll have to do some practice before Newlands on Friday."

Labels: , , , , , , world cup

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Record-breaking Collingwood's clout of Africa

PAUL COLLINGWOOD take a bow. Two wickets and an undefeated century as he broke Alec Stewart's record of 170 England one-day international appearances - and South Africa crushed by seven wickets. What a day for the Man of the Match. Oh, and typically, a flying catch at backward point to dismiss danger man AB De Villiers for two.
The Durham dynamo (left, with me at The Oval earlier this year) ended with 2-24 off six overs with the ball as South Africa could only manage 250-9 off their 50 overs at Centurion. Then, with a little help from Jonathan Trott, 87, and Eoin Morgan, 27 off just 18 balls, Colly scored a magnificent 105 off 110 to see England home.
Home captain Graeme Smith, who gets more articulate by the day since his early, clumsy attempts at verbalising on his first tour in charge here back in 2005, was left admitting candidly: "I think the realisation has dawned that we're in for a long, hard summer of cricket against England.
"Credit to them, they bowled well and we were 30 runs short. I think we were a little soft with a few dismissals in the middle. I'd like to congratulate Paul Collingwood...and we will have to be at out best from now on."
How's that for a change of mood? Just a week ago, South Africa raced to a record Twenty20 victory at the same ground (curiously the hero of that game, Loots Bosman, was left out in the longer form of the game) and injury-hit England looked in all sorts of trouble despite somehow contriving to draw the two-match wham-bam series.
The 50 over game made the South Africans look impatient and under-prepared. Collingwood said: "To be fair this was a completely different track today. Last week was a quick track, the ball was coming onto the bat. I thought we bowled really well and I had great support from Trotty and Morgs.
"Jonathan just took was he does in county cricket and did it here. To be fair, his international innings so far have all been magnificent.
"It was a big day for me, but I thought the team were fantastic all the way through. I had a bad back last week but the medical staff did a great job and hopefully I'll be fine now."
As a Sunday cricketer lucky enough to have netted with Collingwood, and ghosted newspaper columns with him, you can rest assured a day like today couldn't happen to a finer fellow. A handy golfer and all-round sporting genius, Collingwood has often been lambasted for being something less than Andrew Flintoff as an all-rounder. If England are to live without Freddie, we have to start loving Colly more.
Lifted by a warm-up win against South Africa A in Potchefstroom, England were magnificent today, apart from a couple of dropped catches from captain Andrew Strauss, who also failed with the bat.
But as he picked up the magnificent R15,000 winners' cheque (that's about £1,000, which won't go far back home), Strauss was all smiles. He did all the captain had to today, winning the toss before play had even started. He said: "It was an imporant toss to win, I think the pitch flattened out a bit for us. But I was very happy with how we bowled. It was a professional performance. Paul and Jonathan played very well and hopefully we can take this forward. We aren't going to get carried away, but we're fairly happy with where we are at the moment."
With three more one-dayers to go - the first was rained off in Johannesburg on Friday - followed by the four Tests, we're all fairly happy Straussie. And as Collingwood said: "We'll just have to give the captain some catching practice."

Labels: , , , , , one-day international, , , test series

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Stormy start for England, and it's pretty soggy in the middle too

MICKEY ARTHUR, the South African coach who has seen his side lose their last five One-Day Internationals against England, chose to have another tilt at young Adil Rashid before today's rain-threatened opening 50-over clash at the Wanderers. With England suffering an injury crisis, Arthur will be hoping the ground - flooded by a typical early summer Highveld thunder storm yesterday - dries out in time for his side to pick up an early win in the five-match series. England have called up Kent's James Tredwell, 27, who took 95 wickets in all forms of the game last summer, to replace the stricken Graeme Swann, who has a side injury. But initially Rashid, 21, looks likely to be England's recognised slow bowler, despite figures of 0-44 against South Africa A at Potchefstroom earlier in the week and a disastrous over which went for four sixes in last Sunday's Twenty20 hammering. Arthur, whose side lost the last series 4-0 and were upset by England in the Champions Trophy at Centurion last month, said: "Rashid's the logical choice, but it will be interesting to see if Tredwell steps ahead of him. It would justify my saying that it doesn't look like England have faith in Rashid." Arthur expressed surprise when Rashid was taken off after just one over when he conceded those 25 runs at Centurion last week, leading to heated debate between the two sides who will do battle until the last day of the final Test, scheduled for the Wanderers on January 18 next year. Arthur, linked to the England job when Peter Moores left in January, added further spice by saying: "We will take some confidence from scoring at 12 an over against them last Sunday and the England bowlers would have had to go back, think about and analyse their performance. I know we would have after a day like that. "We played particularly well on Sunday, but England have played very well against us before that. They are still a work in progress, but they are a very good side and they can beat anyone on their day." England captain Andrew Strauss, who chose to sit out the two Twenty20 clashes, insists: "I don't think I've ever seen an England squad more motivated to do well. "Tredwell is definitely an option. He has deserved his chance, he has performed very well for Kent over a long period of time and is a very canny one-day operator. "But Rashid is improving all the time and the more exposure he gets the better. He needs to play too, but it's important that we get the right player for the game. Clearly, it's important that we have both options. "The 4-0 series win in England was a long time ago, in very different conditions. But we will take some confidence from beating them in a pressure situation out here in the Champions Trophy. "South Africa at home are hard to beat, they've shown that time and time again, but I like the way we've prepared and I like the brand of cricket we've played." Swann and Notts team-mate Stuart Broad (shoulder) are both definitely out of today's game while Paul Collingwood - aiming to make his record 171st ODI appearance to better Alec Stewart's record - and James Anderson face fitness tests today. Anderson lamented on twitter last night: "Rain washed out practice today. Looks bleak for tomorrow - ground underwater and not a great forecast."

Labels: adil rashid, , , , james tredwell, mickey arthur, twenty20, wanderers

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Time to end England's misery. Not.

TIME for a quick review of the last week for English sports fans before we begin to discuss this weekend's international showdowns.
On Saturday Martin Johnson's rugby union hopefuls produced what former World Cup-winner Matt Dawson described as "the worst half of rugby I have ever seen" as they scraped to a 16-9 win over Argentina at Twickenham. Soon afterwards, Fabio Capello's all-conquering World Cup group winners were given a severe reality check by Brazil in Doha, losing 1-0 when really, they were lucky to get nil.
And so to Sunday, with Andy Flower's cricketers treated to a record-breaking Twenty20 defeat by South Africa at Centurion and Tony Smith resigning after his side were soundly walloped by the Wallabies in the Four Nations final at an even-quieter-than-usual Old Trafford.
Not a great weekend then. Oh, perhaps we should mention that all four of our international bosses, particularly Johnson and Capello, were hit by injuries to 341 members of their squads.
And no doubt the excuses will be hauled out again this weekend, with England launching their five-match ODI campaign at the Wanderers with only 13 fit players and New Zealand arriving for the final Autumn International at Twickenham with Simon Shaw back in the squad at 35.
The cricketers did manage a win over South Africa A at Potchefstroom yesterday with Andrew Strauss, Matt Prior and Jonathan Trott all getting half centuries and yes, all three of them were born in South Africa. Alistair Cook pulled out with a sore back to add to the injury list which already features Paul Collingwood, Stuart Broad, James Anderson and Graeme Swann.
Adil Rashid? The man taken off after one over when he was hit for four sixes last Sunday, bowled eight overs and ended with 0-44.
Trott was wheeled out for the post-match quotes. He said: "I think it was a nicely measured innings from us. Andrew Strauss set it up nicely at the beginning and along with Joe Denly gave us a good start.
"I then came in and sort of got going. There was then a little period where the guys came in, getting themselves in and then getting themselves out unfortunately.
"But Matt Prior came in and played an awesome innings - I just batted around him and then Luke Wright came in and played his part, the way we know he can, and we got ourselves home."
I can't see England beating South Africa on Friday at the bull-ring... though I notice their rugby Springboks fell to a third successive defeat on tour, this time by a point to one of their colonies, Saracens, at Wembley.
If only England were playing the Boks on Saturday we might have a chance. The All Blacks, beaten by South Africa in the Tri-Nations, may be too much for England's depleted side, even with the resurgent Shaw.
It's going to be another tough weekend for England fans.

Labels: , , , denly, , , new zealand, Potchefstroom, rugby, saracens, wanderers

Thursday, 12 November 2009

KP won't look Bok in anger

KEVIN PIETERSEN’S first task on arriving in South Africa? Offering a little advice to the other bloke in the England squad with that dodgy aksent, Jonathan Trott.
KP, off the crutches he used for weeks after the mid-Ashes operation on his right ankle, flew in late to join the tour in Johannesburg and said: “I’ve just caught up with Trottie and asked how everything’s been so far — he said it had been great.
“I had a long chat with Jonathan in the dressing room after the Ashes, talking about the little things I didn’t do when I first came into the England side that perhaps he could do — to try to stop him making the mistakes I made.”
Pietersen, 29, doesn’t like to be reminded of his attitude when he first appeared for England against his former homeland in a stormy series in 2005.
The unrepentant manner and the multi-coloured “skunk” hairstyle didn’t go down to well with the old guard at the ECB — and South African fans were only too happy to jump on the bandwagon, heckling the Pietermaritzburg-born batsman with some relish.
Both the hair and the mood are much quieter now as Pietersen recalls: “Don’t remind me. I was 24, still growing up and I was having a great time, fresh and buzzing. I hadn’t had many knocks along the way. In the last few years I’ve grown up, got married and am a lot more mature. This year has been like never before but it’s all part of development and learning.
“It’s been a fantastic ride and I want to jump back on now. I have identified the next four or five years to get back on that treadmill again.
“It’s been a horrible year but I can turn that around by playing some great cricket against South Africa. I love playing here. The wickets are good and it’s a fantastic country. It’s a recipe to make runs.”
And old foe Trott? “I’ve heard he’s been fantastic in the dressing room and there will be no problems between us.
“Yes, we were opponents growing up in South Africa but that’s because he played for Western Province and I played for Natal — they were big rivals.”
That rivalry will pale into insignificance at the Wanderers’ bull-ring on Friday night, venue of the first Twenty-20 international — and the opening clash of a battle between England and South Africa which will run until the end of the fourth Test, back in Johannesburg, in mid-January next year.
Pietersen won’t play on Friday “unless the injuries pile up” but he adds: “It was pretty hostile five years ago, but I’ve been back for the Twenty20 World Cup and the IPL and had fantastic receptions. Hopefully they respect the cricket I’ve played in the last five years.
“What happened to me at the Wanderers in 2005 will come up over the next couple of days and if Trotty wants to talk about it I’ll help in any way I can.
“But I won’t force myself on him. I’ve thought about how the crowds will be this time over here.
“All our efforts have to go on beating South Africa, not worrying what anyone else says. It doesn’t bother me how the South African crowds react.”
What might bother him is mischievous spinner Graeme Swann’s suggestion earlier in the week that Pietersen may struggle to break into a side which blasted through their opening games in some style.
But after the crashing defeat against South Africa A in Bloemfontein on Tuesday night, Pietersen grins: “I think the team looks like they’re really on fire out here.
“I’m very encouraged.”
NEAL COLLINS will be joining the England tour next month. Read his daily blog from South Africa and express your views on the tour simply by logging on to

Labels: , , , , , tour, world cup

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Just put this on page 51 of today's Lite

LITESPORT would like to apologise to any readers of yesterday’s cricket story on page 35 headlined: “Swann warns SA this is NOT same old England side”.
This newspaper was taken in by two early wins on the tour of South Africa which encouraged us to accept Graeme Swann’s argument which ran along the lines of: “What we’ve been trying for the last five years hasn’t really worked and we’ve done something about it.”
Last night’s humiliating Twenty20 defeat against South Africa A in Bloemfontein suggests this England team ARE, in fact, just as bad as all the other touring teams we send around the world for a good hammering at the hands of our former colonies. For that we apologise unreservedly.
England, without captain Andrew Strauss who avoids the shortest form of the game, were skittled for 89 in an innings that featured three comical run-outs. The second-string South Africans got there with four wickets to spare.
With the first of two Twenty20 internationals looming at the much more intimidating Wanderers Bull Ring in Johannesburg, stand-in captain Paul Collingwood said: “I’m hoping this was just a blip. I never like losing, but I think sometimes it is going to be a little bit of a reality check as well.
“We’ve started so well, it’s a really great atmosphere and there’s a lot of hard work going into it. I guess it’s just our decision-making in this form of the game that tonight has let us down.”
England’s injury list is worrying too. Swann left the field with a slight thigh problem, joining James Anderson (knee), Graham Onions (back) and Stuart Broad (shoulder) in the casualty department.
To see the relevant stories, go to

Labels: , bloemfontein, captain, , disaster, england, graham onions, humiliating, james anderson, , , , tour

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Hey big spenders! How do Spurs do it?

BACK page of my beloved but soon-to-die London Lite today ( had to be all about Spurs and their record profits. Last year, according to the accountants, they made over £33m, up from a meagre £3m last year.
But further analysis reveals chairman Daniel Levy has done more than just balance the books with Harry Redknapp over the past 12 months. Miraculously, given this set of results, my sums show they have actually spent almost £150m in 16 months, with Juande Ramos (Roman Pavlyuchenko, Luka Modric, Heurelho Gomes) doing the early buying before Harry came in and re-signed departed Spurs favourites Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe plus, more recently, Sebastien Bassong, Niko Kranjcar and Peter Crouch.
Yes, while North London rivals Arsenal scrabble for scraps (okay, Andrey Arshavin (£16m) and Thomas Vermaelen (£10m) were good buys, but we've hardly seen a mega-spree from Arsene Wenger) Spurs have splashed out £150m since the summer before last - only mega-bucks Manchester City in the Premier League and, further afield, Real Madrid can beat that.
Spurs spent £119.3m in the year ending June 2009, but their books don't show the further £29.4m spent on Crouch, Bassong and Kranjcar, which puts quite a big dent in that record profit of £33.4m.
Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool? Not even close on the spending front. How the hell do Spurs do it, on smaller crowds with recession-hit backers... and they're redeveloping White Hart Lane, building a new training ground and... I dunno.
Look, here's the Lite quotes from Levy, make of them what you will in the light of their spending: "We have made significant progress in delivering on our long-term vision for the club. We have always had three key priorities and you will have heard them oft repeated - investment in the first team, a new training centre and an increased capacity, state-of-the-art new stadium.
"We have assembled what we believe to be one of the most talented squads we have had during our time in the Premier League, the ground is being turned and pitches laid for the new training centre at Bulls Cross in Enfield and we have submitted a planning application for a stunning new stadium on a site next to our existing stadium."
Levy is in talks over a new shirt sponsorship contract from next season, with the deal with Mansion set to expire at the end of the current campaign. God on the shirts next year perhaps? They'll need Him to maintain those spending levels!
Oh, and son Harry has just called from the car. England's cricketers, after that bright start to their tour in South Africa, went into game three in Bloemfontein today - their first Twenty20 of the safari against South Africa A - expecting another stonking win. I hear they were all out for 89. Gulp. South Africa's also-rans got there with 15 balls and four wickets to spare. And what did I say in the Lite today? I quoted Graeme Swann saying they'd be fine without captain Andrew Strauss, who doesn't get on with the shortest version of the game. He got 72 and 117 not out in those first two 50-over wins. Only Alistair Cook (22), Eoin Morgan (11) and Paul Collingwood (18) got double-figures today. Ouch. Check out Swanny and James Anderson on later. There may be belated fireworks!

Labels: , bloemfontein, , Daniel Levy, , james anderson, Jermain Defoe, , Spurs, White Hart Lane