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June 22, 2009

World Twenty20 best XI

I really enjoyed the World Twenty20 and I think it is fair to say that it was a huge success. There were upsets, fantastic bowling performances, huge hitting and relatively decent weather. All in all, it went according to plan for the organisers.

Today though, I want to focus on which players made the biggest impact. What would be the ultimate Twenty20 eleven based on this most recent tournament? Which team would have the most representatives?


Let’s take a look.


Tillakaratne Dilshan – Sri Lanka

Chris Gayle – West Indies

Kevin Pietersen – England

Kumar Sangakkara – Sri Lanka

AB De Villiers – South Africa

Jacques Kallis – South Africa

Shahid Afridi – Pakistan

Umar Gul - Pakistan

Ajantha Mendis – Sri Lanka

Muttiah Muralitharan – Sri Lanka

Lasith Malinga – Sri Lanka


Not a bad team for any form of the game I’m sure you will agree! It has absolutely everything for Twenty20 cricket though and represents the best players from this year’s competition in England. The batting line-up is destructive and contains plenty of experience. Imagine preparing to bowl against this lot!


As for key roles in the team, Kumar Sangakkara would be the wicket-keeper and the captain. Sri Lanka may have lost in the final against Pakistan, but the Sri Lanka skipper impressed me a great deal. He has a fabulous cricket brain and speaks a great deal of sense in post-match interviews as well. Plus, he is a world-class batsman which

helps!


Opening the bowling would be Gul and Malinga. They both have a fantastic record in the shortest form of the game and took 25 wickets between them in the World Twenty20.


These two would be backed up by Kallis in the seam department before the spin kings Murali and Mendis took over. Even if these two didn’t come off for some reason, there is Afridi and Gayle to get through a couple of overs.


Sri Lanka have the most representatives which is testament to their consistent form throughout the tournament. World Twenty20 champions Pakistan have only two players in this eleven, but what an impact Afridi and Gul had!


Overall, this is a fantastic group of players who each helped the 2009 World Twenty20 become a huge success. For now, we can look forward to Ashes 2009 bettingand, if you're looking to get in the betting mood, check out Betfair's fanvfansite.


By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about international cricket


June 03, 2009

Collingwood confident of Twenty20 success

Ahead of England’s World Twenty20 campaign, captain Paul Collingwood has claimed that home advantage could be enough for his side to have a genuine chance of winning the tournament which gets underway on Friday.

The hosts take on Holland at Lords in the opening game and Collingwood is confident that this can be the start of a successful couple of weeks. He says that he and his team ‘know the wickets and venues well’, something which could give them an advantage over the other teams.

England’s confidence is certainly high after the comfortable Test and ODI series victories over the West Indies, so perhaps Collingwood is right to feel optimistic. The combination of self-belief, being familiar with the conditions and having the fans behind them could be enough to make England contenders.

They must surely do better than they did in the inaugural World Twenty20 tournament back in 2007. During their time in South Africa, Collingwood’s men only won once in five matches and had a thoroughly miserable time.

England are in much better shape this time though with players such as Ravi Bopara, Stuart Broad, James Anderson and Graeme Swann starting to establish themselves as world-class cricketers. Then, there is the returning Kevin Pietersen to throw into the mix. Overall, the squad looks strong.

Speaking about Pietersen, Collingwood said that the former captain is ‘raring to go’ in this tournament after failing to make an appearance in the recent ODI series against the West Indies. KP hasn’t got the best record in Twenty20 games, so perhaps it is time he put this right.

As for England’s chances of winning the tournament, Collingwood reminded everyone how no England team have won an ICC event before. However, ahead of the warm-up games, the temporary skipper believes that he and his side have a ‘huge opportunity’ to continue the momentum picked up in the early part of the summer.

If you're looking to make a Twenty20 bet, personally, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if England made the semi-finals, at least. They are a happy dressing room right now and should have enough to progress in the competition. As for winning the whole thing, well I can’t look too far beyond current holders India. Their line-up looks formidable.

And, by the time all this is over, we might be able to make slightly more informed Ashes bets!

By the way, if you fancy seeing what I am up to, you can follow me on Twitter @Thomas_Rooney


July 07, 2007

Do the numbers lie?

Muttiah Muralitharan today took 4/14 against Bangladesh at Colombo, his 100th haul off 4 wickets or more in a test match innings. By doing so, he took his career tally of wickets to 687 and is closely honing in on Shane Warne’s world record figure of 708 test wickets. If (or should I say ‘when’?) he does so, his supporters will have even more of an argument to claim that Murali is the best spin bowler of all time. Aside from his controversial action, of which it seems no two people will ever have the same opinion, just how good is Murali when compared to the great Australian legspinner?

Murali’s figures look good: 687 wickets at 21.49 compared to Warne’s 708 at 25.41. His strike rate is marginally better too: 54.12 plays 57.49. But as always statistics can be deceiving. I believe it is Geoff Boycott who says that statistics don’t tell the whole story, but they can generally be a good guide. To take the stats as a guide we know that both are very good spinners who are difficult even for the best test batsman in the world to face but there is a striking difference when viewed more closely.

The table below shows the two bowlers’ career records against the two ‘lesser’ test teams, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh followed by their career figures without those two teams:

Muttiah Muralitharan

M

B

R

W

Ave

Econ

SR

5w

Bangladesh

7

1695

728

59

12.3

2.6

28.7

8

Bangladesh Today

1

32

14

4

3.5

2.6

8.0

0

Zimbabwe

14

4721

1467

87

16.9

1.9

54.3

0

Total

22

6448

2209

150

14.7

2.1

43.0

8

Shane Warne

M

B

R

W

Ave

Econ

SR

5w

Bangladesh

2

524

300

11

27.3

3.4

47.6

1

Zimbabwe

1

319

137

6

22.8

2.6

53.2

0

Total

3

843

437

17

25.7

3.1

49.6

1

As we can see from the tables above, Murali has played a lot more games and collected a great number more wickets against the weaker teams than Shane Warne has; 150 wickets to the Sri Lankan compared to a mere 17 from 3 games from the blonde legspinner.

What this shows is that as far as sheer number of wickets is concerned, Murali has very much filled his boots against weaker opposition and without the cheaper wickets would in fact be very far from Mr. Warne’s world record tally. But what about the bigger picture, how do the two slow bowlers’ records compare against the stronger opposition?

Full Career 

M

B

R

W

Ave

Econ

SR

5w

Shane Warne

145

40704

17995

708

25.4

2.7

57.5

37

Muttiah Muralitharan

112

36967

14751

687

21.5

2.4

53.8

58

Top 8 Teams

M

B

R

W

Ave

Econ

SR

5w

Shane Warne

142

39861

17558

691

25.4

2.6

57.7

36

Muttiah Muralitharan

90

30519

12542

537

23.4

2.5

56.8

50

Evidently, Murali’s stats have taken a battering without the disproportionate number of fixtures played against weaker opposition but they do still hold true when compared against Warne’s, showing that Murali is in fact still a match for the great legspinner.

What is more interesting to note is that Warne’s figures have hardly been affected. This is of course due in part to the fact that he has only played an somewhat insignificant number of matches against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh compared to the rest of his career but even his overall average against these teams are not much departed from his overall career average. What this shows is that Murali’s statistics are, quite probably, to be taken even more with a pinch of salt.

It is without a doubt that both of these players are two of the best and most challenging spinners to face in the history of test cricket and it is clear that the fact that Warne’s wickets tally against the Top 8 opposition is considerably larger due in part because of a greater number of matches. This aside, when Murali does take his 709th Test wicket and march ahead of the retired Shane Warne it should be noted that on wickets tally alone, it will not quite be the achievement of the great Mr Warne.

Many view Murali’s efforts as not so much of a great achievement as Warne’s due to controversies over his action, and statistics like these do him little justice either. Nonetheless, I have no doubt that history will be as kind to Murali as it is to Warne (although I’m sure Australian reports will generally favour Warne much as Sri Lankan reports will profess Muralitharan as the greater). It is true that English and Australian fast bowlers from years gone by such as Fred Trueman had their records brought into question by the fact they played a lot against weak Indian batting line ups susceptible to fast seam bowling, something that is seldom mentioned today.

Another key point to note is that Warne has played in one of the best teams to ever set foot on a Test match field where as Muralitharan has been one of few reliable go-to strike bowlers in the Sri Lankan side for a large part of his career. This means that Murali has had more of an opportunity to take more wickets because there was less likely to be a player at the other end taking them with the same degree of regularity as a Glenn McGrath or any other of Australia’s top class seam bowlers.

Murali v Warne: who is the greater? I doubt we’ll ever agree and we’ll not have a fair view on the matter until after they’ve both retired but as it is at the moment, on the basis of sheer value of their wickets, I will have to pass my vote for Shane Warne.


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