Test cricket is poetic

There’s something about low-key Test match mornings…some days i want to see Regis Chakabva bat long at number seven, a pretty enviable job, or go deep into his specialist-wicketkeeper role. I cant help but imagine how cool it would be to live his life…being a Test specialist, entering the scene with your whites on, baggy green cap on which has seen sweat and tears through many shortcomings of Zimbabwean cricket but he’s seen out his hard times  as well…the last time he played a Test series in Bangladesh, he scored a ton and two fifties but hasnt hogged the limelight since then. In many ways, he’s your BJ Watling, who only dons the whites, plays as if there’s no pressure on him to justify his place in the XI and bats with the tail. Test cricket is their home.  
And then there are days when I just wanna sit back and watch Kyle Jarvis & Donald Tiripano defy the conditions, make the ball talk and grind out ball-after-ball to finish with decent figures. It’s not about the end figures that matter, it’s their spell that you want to watch incessantly. Almost as if the Greek poem Ithaka has been represented here…

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.

They arent your usual tearaway quicks but just good enough to be on the International circuit with whatever resources are available to them.

While I keep an eye out on the high-octane England vs Sri Lanka Test being played out in front of 20,000 fans, Barmy Army belting out their rendition about Sam Curran’s vigil but the sense of tranquility and low profile cricket being played out to near-empty stands in Bangladesh brings me back to the action unfolding on the penultimate day. Maybe it is the suspense that the decisive fourth day brings, perhaps it is the exciting raw potential that draws me in . Afterall, Zimbabwe are playing a Test after almost a year and they have held onto their chances rather convincingly after a dismal limited overs series. 

In an era of crash-bang-wallop high-on-adrenaline T20 style cricket with more focus on bigger sides, perhaps watching these lesser celebrated cricketers take a dogged, doughty defensive stride forward signifies that they defend more than just a ball…they defend Test cricket. 

Preview: T20 Tri-series Nepal-MCC-Netherlands at Lord’s

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If you’re a nerveless Nepal cricket fan or a Dutch fan reminiscing a win against England in the 2009 T20 World Cup at Lord’s or a jacket-less MCC fan sitting in the pavilion watching the teams train, mark your calendar and set an alarm. An iconic T20 tri-series awaits you on a Sunday afternoon involving Nepal, Netherlands and the Marylebone Cricket Club.

Here’s a small preview to take you through the team compositions:
Nepal : 

If you are a broadcaster , you could be expecting views in millions from a fan base that continues to grow . If you aren’t, perch up on a tree and make-do with your smartphone camera because the Nepal fans love their cricket.

Nepal returns to the Home Of Cricket , where they recorded a 41-run victory against MCC in a one-dayer in 2016 and are set to play their first recognised T20 international since they lost the status after a dismal World T20 campaign in Ireland in 2015.
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Nepal XI beat MCC the last they met at Lord’s  PC: ESPNCricinfo

Subash Khakurel returns to a side ,after a three year hiatus , that has a wealth of experience and proven young guns. All-rounder Basant Regmi, captain Paras Khadka and batsmen Sharad Vesawkar & Gyanendra Malla will be expected to play a senior role as they look to put a strong showing prior to their ODI debut. Their bowling stocks include pacers Karan KC, Sompal Kami , left arm spinners Lalit Rajbanshi and Shakti Gauchan who will be partnered by the teenage leg-spin sensation Sandeep Lamichhane.

Watch out for: 

Anil Sah – An aggressive opener with an effective bat swing booked his spot for Lord’s after he bludgeoned East London XI’s bowlers to all corners of the ground as he notched  up 131 in a 50-over warm-up preceded by a valiant knock of 56 against St. Cross CC in a T20 game.

Rohit Paudel – Another young batting sensation who starred during Nepal’s Division Two campaign and in the World Cup Qualifiers in Zimbabwe that accrued in Nepal gaining their ODI status. Known for his crucial partnerships and decisive middle-order contributions, he scored a 35-ball 44 against the Hampshire Hogs as he partnered captain Khadka ( 161 off 107 ) in their first practice game last week.

Marylebone Cricket Club: 

Another team with a well-rounded squad and perhaps ,the strongest team on paper featuring a unique combination of six Full Member internationals, three Associate member internationals from Scotland and three from MCC’s Young Cricketers Academy. Former England internationals Nick Compton, Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott, James Foster alongside former Sri Lanka legend Mahela Jayawardene would be the ones to dismiss for the young bowlers from Netherlands and Nepal as will pose a stern bowling challenge for them.

Zimbabwe wicketkeeper-batsman Peter Moor will be pushing for a place in the XI alongside Foster and can be a vital cog down the middle order.

Watch out for: 

The Scottish trio of right-arm quick Alasdair Evans, left-arm spin all-rounder Mark Watt and the explosive batsman Dylan Budge, all three featured in the XI that famously defeated England in a one-off ODI in Edinburgh last month. With scarcely any game to come for Scotland this summer, they’ll be raring to go in what could be an audition for a County stint, playing alongside former England greats.

Although thin on experience , MCC’s young cricketers Kashif Ali, a promising leg -spinner, former Kiwi youth international pacer Ben Sears and left-arm quick Dominic Manthorpe will look to create ripples as they look to form the crux of the bowling unit.

Netherlands : 
The Dutch side would be familiar with the English conditions of late with a young Developmental side beating a strong Essex 2nd XI side marginally last month and featured many players from the current squad.
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PC: ICC
They will be boosted by the return of Ryan Ten Doeschate ( playing for Essex ) and Michael Rippon ( playing for Otago in New Zealand ). Their presence alongside Pieter Seelaar, Wesley Barresi and Paul Meekeren compliments the inclusion of youngsters Scott Edwards, Bas De Leede and the promising trio of the newcomers in batsman Tony Staal, seam all-rounder Hidde Overdijk and left-arm spin all-rounder Clayton Floyd , who have put in convincing performances in inter-regional Pro-series and the Dutch domestic competition.

Watch out for: 

Tobiás Visee – The wicketkeeper-batsman didn’t have a convincing start to his International career but in recent times, he’s been striking the ball aggressively at a decent strike rate and will be expected to provide some fireworks at the top of the order.

Shane Snater – A player who can be deemed as a “work in progress” has bowled on and off lately but he knows the English conditions better , having played for Essex in all forms this year and with a consistent run in the side, he’ll be the express fast bowler Netherlands need to partner Paul Van Meekeren.

Quite easily, the fan frenzy that follows Nepal cricket like a globetrotter will be expected in plenty at Lord’s as the marquee T20 tri-series turns a new chapter in the Associate cricket circle. The legendary batting stalwarts of English cricket up against a mix of youth and experience from Scotland, Netherlands and Nepal in T20 cricket is a perfect advert for the game to grow globally.

Gone in 90 minutes : Chin Music, Bajan Moves and an Interesting Symmetry

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If there was a handbook on fast bowling being written, the men from the Caribbean would own a chapter. They always have. Not so much in the recent times but the way the Bangladeshi batsmen fell prey to the West Indian quicks, it was nothing short of a dominative and a complete bowling performance. So complete that every paceman scalped five wickets in both the innings. Talk about symmetry and there you have it.

The Test started on a positive note for the West Indian quicks as they skittled out Bangladesh for a lowly total of 43. 110 balls was all it lasted.

43. Nope, it isn’t just another sorry looking scorecard from the EA sports Cricket ’07 game. The 8th ranked Bangladeshi looked like a fish out of water against the 9th ranked West Indies.

With good bounce off the surface to exploit, Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel exercised some chin music : their own version of the Bohemian Rhapsody perhaps! The Bajan, Roach, picked five in just 12 balls to leave Bangladesh in tatters at 18/5.

Kraigg Brathwaite anchored the Caribbean ship away from the Bangladeshi shores with a dogged knock of 121 and found able support in Devon Smith, Kieran Powell and Shai Hope. Finishing on 406 with a lead of 363, a mammoth effort was needed from the subcontinental side but they failed to turn up once again.

CRICKET-WINDIES-BANGLADESH-1ST TEST

Nurul Hasan, playing just his second test, put up a gutsy 55-run stand with Rubel Hossain in an attempt to save Bangladesh the blushes by breaching the 100-run mark but only delayed the inevitable.

The T20 style of cricket that Bangladesh is often acquainted to play with, slowly caught up as boundaries flourished. Nurul reached fifty off 33 balls striking at nearly 150. Enroute his knock of 64, he sent the bouncers and Gabriel’s slower balls either to the fence or over it. The 24-year old wicketkeeper batsman was proving to be a positive spark in an otherwise misfiring batting lineup.

Although Roach didn’t take the field in the second innings due to a niggle in the ankle, Gabriel ensured that West Indies didn’t miss his services as he pulled off a “Kyle Abott coup“ from South Africa’s tour of Australia in Steyn’s absence. Gabriel picked up his fifth 5-wicket haul as he made light work of the Bangladeshi top order.

There were talks of Devendra Bishoo finally taking the centre stage against an opposition that struggles regularly against leg spin but such was the mighty raw pace of the Islanders that ensured  only six wicketless overs were bowled in the second innings and none in the first by the duo of Bishoo and Roston Chase.

Quite clearly, hitting a good length and angling the ball from wide of the crease to seam it away coupled with raw pace seemed to be just the right plan to leave the batsmen in two minds- to play it or leave it. The pace would leave them with little time to decide and would result in them having a nervous poke in the corridor of uncertainty. The plan was vindicated when you see that 12 of the 20 Bangladeshi wickets to fall were either outside edges to the slip cordon or a nick behind to the gloveman Shane Dowrich. The Bangladeshi bowlers at times bowled too full and often their lengths were found wanting.

For the Windies, it was fun while it lasted but Bangladesh didn’t prove to be the perfect match up to their might in all the three departments. A loss by an innings and 219 runs. In a season of one-sided games, the subcontinental side was decimated and left in shambles.

There were a few positives for the tourists in  the batting department as Nurul Hasan and Liton Das will prove to be a vital cog in the wheel for the next Test. Bangladesh square up against the hosts in the second and final Test of the tour in Jamaica starting Thursday, July 12.

Big Billy Bullies Upbeat Pakistan

  Beef burgers, fries, kids kicking up heels and a top order meltdown under the Harare sun. A setting Australia well and truly basked in after a long while. As they looked to shrug off their psychological wounds after a 0-6 drubbing at the hands of England, Australian bowling fortunes were in dire straits. Injuries […]