Dec 192017
The new Bradman? Quirky Smith rises to exalted heights

Steven Smith brought up his second double-century in the Ashes, Dec 16, 2017/Getty ImagesSYDNEY: Steve Smith has broken English hearts and smashed records with his phenomenal Ashes batting and is being acclaimed as the best Australian batsman since the greatest of all, Don Bradman.That is rarefied company for the quirky 28-year-old skipper, who led Australia to reclaiming the Ashes with an imperious 239 — his highest Test score — in Australia´s mammoth first innings 662 for nine declared in the third Perth Test victory on Monday.Ashes-winning skipper Smith has almost single-handedly batted Joe Root´s team out of the series, accumulating 426 runs in just four innings at an average of 142, which allowed his bowlers to do the rest.Smith, whose idiosyncratic style — moving across his stumps as the bowler delivers — flies in the face of cricket´s purists, has a career average of 62.32 from 59 Tests.That places him second only in Test history to Bradman, whose average of 99.94 at the pinnacle was forged from 1928-48.Records have tumbled for the cricket-obsessive Smith, who broke into the Test arena as a leg-spin bowling all-rounder batting at number eight in 2010.Since then Smith has reeled off the milestones to draw comparison with the greatest batsman the game has ever seen.Unconventional styleHe has amassed 22 Test centuries, 14 of them in 29 Tests as captain. Bradman made 14 hundreds in 24 Tests as skipper.Smith is only the fifth Australian captain, one of them being Bradman, to have scored two Ashes double [Read More…]

Dec 182017
Australia regain Ashes with England rout

PERTH: Australia won back the Ashes after bowling England out cheaply despite rain delays and a pitch controversy to secure an innings win on the final day of the third Test in Perth on Monday.Having confirmed his status as the world’s best batsman with a match-winning double century, Steve Smith added victorious Ashes captain to his ever-expanding resume as England weredismissed for 218 in their second innings in the last Ashes Test to take place at the WACA Ground.That gave the home side an innings-and-41-run win and an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the five-match series, having won the opening two Tests in Brisbane and Adelaide.Pat Cummins secured the famous urn for the home side when he had Chris Woakes caught behind for 22, prompting Australian celebrations.But while it was a comfortable win, there was high drama on the final day courtesy of yet another WACA pitch controversy.Victory seemed assured for Australia when they had England 132 for four at the conclusion of the fourth day, still 127 runs behind with Australia yet to bat again, but a rain-damaged pitch threatened to end the match without a ball being bowled on the final day.Showers had caused play to be abandoned early on the fourth day and they continued through to Monday morning, forcing a scheduled early resumption to be cancelled, with Australia needing just six more wickets to win the match and regain the Ashes.Complicating matters further was a damp spot on the pitch, just outside the popping crease at the [Read More…]

Dec 182017
#Bestof2017: Re-live the greatest moments from Pakistan?s Champions Trophy win

The year may be ending, but Pakistan’s victorious campaign in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 remains an unforgettable memory for the fans.A trip down memory lane to re-live some of the greatest moments from the tournament:Hasan Ali’s unbelievable delivery to ParnellAn incredible specimen of swing bowling from the sensational Hasan Ali completely floored South Africa’s Wayne Parnell. The delivery was so good, even the young bowler termed it his favourite months after.  The pacer’s celebratory jump also got famous overnight. Flying high Sarfraz & Amir’s heart-stopping chase Who can ever forget that heart-pounding win against Sri Lanka? Those narrow misses, close calls, dropped chances, the highs and the lows? Sarfraz’s unbeaten 61 and Amir’s resilient stand of 28 took Pakistan through to the playoffs, but not before leaving us hanging by a thread and almost crying in relief when the match ended with a victory for Team Green! We did it!Sarfraz’s victorious celebration.. unreal. Euphoric. Keep calm and celebrate like royalty Rumman Raees carried his trademark style from PSL into Pakistan’s semi-final against England. How can you not enjoy his wickets? Watch on, with a smileEoin Morgan’s stumps – a father’s dreamThe happiest person in the world when Hasan Ali dismissed England skipper Eoin Morgan was none other than the bowler’s father, whose dream came true that moment. On top of the world Hasan Ali’s father told the media he had wished for his son to get the skipper out. And he did!And finally, THAT final…A Pakistan vs India final is any cricket lover’s [Read More…]

Dec 162017
Smith double-century leaves England bereft of answers

Australian captain Steve Smith celebrates after reaching his 200 on day three of the third Ashes cricket Test match at the WACA ground in Perth. -Reuters PERTH: With his chanceless double-century dominating day three of the third Ashes test on Saturday, Australia captain Steve Smith proved once again that bowlers’ plans are something for other batsmen to worry about.Smith strode off the WACA with an unbeaten 229, his highest test score anchoring an epic 301-run stand with Mitchell Marsh (181 not out) and driving Australia to 549 for four at stumps and a 146-run lead.Having scored an unbeaten 141 in the series-opening win at the Gabba, Smith’s masterclass put England on the brink of another Ashes surrender with two matches to spare in the five-test series.Seven English players rolled over their arm on day three at the WACA. None looked remotely capable of dismissing the skipper.“I told the boys when I got back in last night (on day two) that I was just getting started,” Smith said before exiting the ground to raucous applause.“Luckily it came off today and (we‘re) getting ourselves in a nice position.”For England captain Joe Root and his senior bowlers, there was a horrible feeling of deja vu at the WACA, where Smith scored a century in the corresponding test four years ago.Alastair Cook’s team crashed out in that match, handing over the urn before going on to suffer the humiliating whitewash.England assistant coach Paul Farbrace admitted England had no answers for Smith, their bowlers too slow [Read More…]

Dec 142017
Malan scores debut ton as England reach 305-4 at stumps

Dawid Malan takes in his maiden Test hundred, Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth, 1st day, December 14, 2017/Getty ImagesPERTH: A magnificent debut Test century by Dawid Malan took England to 305 for four at stumps on the first day of the third Ashes Test against Australia in Perth.Malan was on 110 not out, with Jonny Bairstow on 75.Earlier, Australia´s pace trio turned up the heat on England on the opening day of the third Ashes Test.After Joe Root won the toss and elected to bat, the tourists were 175 for four at tea facing hostile bowling on a bouncy WACA Ground wicket hosting an Ashes Test for the last time.The visitors were well-placed just before lunch at 89 for one, but lost James Vince (25) minutes before the first break and were then subjected to a brutal barrage of fast, and often short, bowling after the resumption.Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins terrorised the English with aggressive bowling that was often more than 90 miles per hour. Starc claimed two wickets, and his fellow quicks took one each. The pace and bounce of the WACA is one of the main reasons English have only won once in Perth since 1970, and captain Joe Root was the first victim after lunch, caught down the leg side off the bowling of Cummins for 20.But it was Stoneman, who had looked in very good touch before lunch, who was on the receiving end of the most brutal Australian bowling as the home [Read More…]

Dec 132017
Form, history against England as Australia eye the urn

PERTH: Here it is, then. The last ever Test match – probably – at the WACA, a ground famous for being, at one stage during the 1970s and 1980s, the quickest and bounciest pitch in the world. Itis a venue which has embodied the tenets of Australian cricket perhaps better than anywhere else. To play well here at the WACA’s quickest, you needed to have courage, show aggression, have pace with the ball and daring with the bat. All are fundamentals of how Australia – even now – attempt to play their cricket.Yet it has not been the recent fortress some might like to believe. In all, Australia have won 24 of the 43 Tests at the WACA but in the last nine matches, they have lost four and drawn one. South Africa have won here on their last three visits, including last year, and New Zealand matched them blow for blow in a 2015 high-scoring draw. The pitch no longer has the pace and bounce it once had which has given hope to opposition teams. Something for England, perhaps, to cling to.The WACA has, however, been a place of punishment for English teams. They have won just once there, in 1978, when the home side were decimated by World Series Cricket. England have not escaped defeat at the ground since 1986 and their last three matches at the WACA saw defeats by the margins of 150 runs, 267 runs and 206 runs respectively. England will be very happy that [Read More…]

Dec 082017
Hafeez to reach England next week for re-modification of bowling action

[embed_video1 url= style=center] KARACHI: Pakistan’s former captain and all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez will travel to England next week to work on his bowling action under bowling coach Carl Crowe and biomechanics expert Dr. Paul Hurrian.Hafeez was suspended from bowling in international cricket after his bowling test was found to be illegal.According to a statement issued by PCB, Hafeez will travel to England in the middle of next week to work on re-modification of his bowling action.“Hafeez will have his bowling action assessed under Dr. Paul Hurrian, Bio mechanist expert and Carl Crowe, bowling coach who has worked successfully with Sunil Naraine,” the board’s statement said.Carl Crowe has also worked with Hafeez previously.Azhar Mahmood, Pakistan’s bowling coach, who is already in England, would also be present during the assessment of Hafeez’s bowling action.“After the assessment both the experts would devise a remedial work action plan that would be handed over to Azhar Mahmood for implementation in Pakistan,” said PCB.Azhar Mahmood and PCB’s bowling action review committee, on the advice of experts, would work with  Hafeez under the guidelines given by the Paul and Carl for the correctness of his bowling action.The committee would also perform periodical testing at PCB Biomechanics lab at LUMS university in Lahore to ensure Hafeez’s bowling action is well within the allowable benchmarks before recommending that he may be sent for re-testing at any ICC accreditation biomechanics lab.Hafeez, according to PCB, has agreed to follow the plan after having gone through his initial assessment on his bowling action [Read More…]

Dec 062017
Nigeria to play WC warm-up with England

ABUJA: Nigeria’s Super Eagles are set to play England in a World Cup warm-up game in June, the general secretary of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Mohammed Sanusi has said. “We plan to play a friendly against England in June, before the World Cup,” he said, adding that the venue and other details of the match were still to be worked out. Both Nigeria and England will feature at next year’s World Cup in Russia. The Super Eagles are drawn in Group D along with Argentina, Croatia and Iceland, while England are in Group G with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia. Both countries have clashed once at this level, in November 1995, when England won 1-0 at Wembley courtesy of a David Platt headed goal. Click for detailed story

Dec 062017
Day-night Test: Australia beat England by 120 runs

ADELAIDE, Australia: Pacemen Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood spearheaded Australia to a crushing 120-run win in Adelaide on Wednesday leaving Ashes holders England trailing 2-0 and on the verge of losing the five-Test series.Hazlewood snuffed out England’s hopes of a miracle victory when he claimed the key wicket of captain Joe Root in the third over of the final day of the first-ever day-night Ashes Test.Left-armer Starc ripped through the tail to finish with five for 88 and bowled Jonny Bairstow to clinch victory 15 minutes from the end of the first session.England now face the prospect of losing the series in next week’s third Test at Perth’s WACA Ground where they have not beaten Australia since 1978. While Root was batting England still had a chance to pull off a record run chase of 345 at Adelaide Oval.But Hazlewood enticed a bottom edge and wicketkeeper Tim Paine did the rest to the unrestrained glee of the Australian team. Root left the field on his overnight score of 67 and with him England’s hopes disappeared. Australia got off to a dream start when nightwatchman Chris Woakes was out to the second ball of the day, caught behind off Hazlewood for five. Woakes sought a review and while the ‘Hot Spot’ infrared imaging system could not find anything, the ‘Snicko’ sound-video technology detected an edge and the umpire’s decision was upheld and Root followed shortly afterwards. Nathan Lyon got the wicket of fellow off-spinner Moeen Ali for the fourth time in [Read More…]

Dec 042017
Stunning Lyon, Starc catches floor England

Nathan Lyon with a blinder of a catch/Getty Images ADELAIDE: Two freakish Australian catches rocked England´s diminishing hopes of saving the second Ashes Test on a fast-moving third day at Adelaide Oval on Monday.Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Starc pulled off stunning caught and bowled efforts to leave the tourists reeling and facing a massive deficit in the first-ever day-night Ashes Test.Everything that could go wrong for Ashes holders England did on a demoralising day in the context of the five-Test series.Australia tightened their grip on the pink ball Test and they pursue a 2-0 lead in the series after winning last week´s Brisbane opener by 10 wickets.At the dinner break, England were 219 for eight in reply to Australia´s imposing first innings declaration of 442 for eight with Craig Overton not out 36 and Stuart Broad yet to score. They trail by 223 runs. Lyon pulled off an athletic one-handed catch to dismiss Moeen Ali off his own bowling in the second over after the first break.Moeen chipped to the left of Lyon, who flung himself across the pitch in a split second reaction to take the catch.Lyon, nicknamed GOAT (Greatest Of All Time), again produced a sublime piece of cricketing skill following his laser throw to run out James Vince in the first Brisbane Test. Moeen had scored 25 off 57 balls in a 30-run stand with Bairstow.Five overs later Bairstow was on his way for 21 after Starc juggled the return catch and finally accepted it behind his back. [Read More…]

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