The real Knights of cricket

We have grown accustomed to hearing jokes about Sir Ravindra Jadeja. Let us see who are the genuine Knights of cricket.

Firstly, the British sovereign proclaims someone a knight based on the recommendations of the government of the day. The gentleman concerned would be a citizen of the U.K. or one of the other countries which presently regard the British sovereign (presently Queen Elizabeth II) as their head of state. The countries of interest here are Australia, New Zealand and some (but not all) of the countries of the West Indies. Canada is also included, although it has not produced any famous cricketers yet. Those countries who do not regard the  Queen as the Head of State include many Commonwealth countries such as India and its neighbours, besides South Africa. This should make it clear:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/States_headed_by_Elizabeth_II

So here is a list of those who were knighted for their services to cricket, besides some cricketers who were knighted for other reasons:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cricketers_who_were_knighted

Another article on cricketing knights from the West Indies:

http://www.bbc.com/sport/cricket/26392726

Another general article which summarizes the topic:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/60096.html

 

Review of Test matches between Australia and the West Indies

Australia won the recent 3-Test series 2-0 with one draw, with the drawn match being badly affected by rain. After this series, a total of 116 Tests have been played between these countries. Australia leads 58-32 with one tie and 25 draws.

For the 66 Tests in Australia, the hosts lead 37-18 with one tie and 10 draws. In the 50 Tests in the West Indies, Australia still lead 21-14 with 15 draws.

A look at various statistical records at the end of the series:

Most runs (1000 and above):

Most runs

Nobody from the present sides, the most recent entries being that of Ponting and Chanderpaul.

Highest scores (175 and above):

Highest scores

Here newcomer AC Voges made the highest score for Aus v WI, surpassing the 242 by KD Walters in 1968-69. That was an important landmark as Walters became the first to score a century and double century in the same Test, a feat which was soon repeated by SM Gavaskar and others.

Now to highest averages (for a minimum of 20 innings batted):

Batting Avg

The top two names might be a little surprising, as well as the relatively low positions of Richards, Sobers and Greenidge who were prolific scorers against most teams.

The most centuries are 9 by BC Lara and RB Richardson, followed by 7 by RT Ponting and SR Waugh.

The most 50-plus scores are 20 by BC Lara, followed by 19 by DL Haynes and IVA Richards and 18 by CH Lloyd.

Bowling: Most wickets (40 and more):

Most wickets

The most 5-fors were 8 by Ambrose and McGrath, while McGrath was the only one to take two ten-fors. It can be seen that McGrath is the most recent entrant in this table.

Now we look at bowling averages (for a minimum of 2000 balls bowled):

Bowling average

This is on expected lines.

The best economy rates are 2.06 by LR Gibbs, followed by 2.27 by MHN Walker and 2.33 by R Benaud and GD McGrath

The best strike rates are 42.2 by B Lee, 44.7 by JR Thomson and 47.0 by J Garner.

Fielding: (20 or more dismissals):

Most dismissals

The most stumpings were 9 by the now-forgotten GRA Langley. The most catches by non-keepers were 45 by ME Waugh and 38 by CL Hooper.

The most dismissals in an innings was 7 by RD Jacobs, and in a match it was 9 by DA Murray and RD Jacobs.

Highest dismissal rate (for a minimum of 20 innings fielded):

Best fielding rate

Note that RB Simpson has the highest rate among non-keepers.

All-round performances (overall):

As usual, we have to use some semi-arbitrary criteria to identify all-rounders here. However, this has got most of those who are generally considered to be better all-rounders (though one may say that AR Border’s second place is surprising).

All-round overall

And finally, best all-round performances in a match:

Allround match

DS Atkinson and Mushtaq Mohammed are the only ones (in all Tests) who have scored a double century and taken a five-for in the same match.

 

Refrigerated trains-an afterthought

For many years, refrigerated rail wagons and ships have been carrying freight across the world while refrigerated containers have come in more recently. The generic term for them is “reefers”.

Anyone familiar with 20th century American slang would know that reefer is another popular slang term for marijuana. It does seem to have a remarkable number of synonyms such as ganja, grass, Mary Jane, pot, cannabis etc. There is a well known ‘public service film’ produced on behalf of the US government in the 1930s called “Reefer Madness”, which film historians consider to be a rather clumsy attempt at educating the young about the dangers of drugs.

It has been nominated for awards for “worst film of all time”, though there are more deserving candidates such as “Plan 9 from Outer Space”, “Manos-the Hands of Fate” and “The Beast of Yucca Flats”. There was also a companion film called “Sex Madness” which has a similar reputation. You can see these films of ill-repute on Youtube.

Someone in the US started the Razzie Awards (for raspberry) for worst film, worst actor etc exactly on the lines of the Oscar awards. This continues to thrive. Some stalwarts like Sharon Stone have won multiple awards. Bollywood caught on to this later and someone started the “Ghanta awards” which are still awarded each year. The initial symbol of this was a prominent Bollywood villain in the nude with a strategically placed ghanta (though this picture seems to have vanished from the net now). Well, it was photoshopped from this picture:

http://s742.photobucket.com/user/veerupaaji/media/top_rapists_bolly_55.jpg.html

Also see this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghanta_Awards

There is also a rival Golden Kela award ceremony.

Back to reefers and the unfortunately named West Indian Test cricketer named Floyd Reifer. (Yes, you can see a PJ coming but this time it was not devised by me). He started off his Test career (as a specialist batsman) with 29 versus Sri Lanka in 1997. That was to be his career best score. His Test career seemed to be over in 1999 by when he had made a total of 63 runs at 7.87 (not too different from Vizzy’s career average). Even the more nerdish followers of Test cricket thought they had seen the last of him, although he continued to score heavily in domestic cricket.

Over 10 years later, he got another opportunity to play for the West Indies and that too as a captain when, in one of their periodic crises, the WI first XI and most of the second XI decided to boycott a 2-Test series against Bangladesh. A hurriedly put together third XI took the field. The captain made some brave speeches about his team beating Bangladesh in these circumstances, prompting local journalists to ask if he had been “smoking something sounding like his name”. Here you can see the sum total of his career:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/52808.html

As you know, Bangladesh won the series 2-0 and the captain and most of the West Indies players of that team vanished without a trace. Their only new face from this series who is still around is Kemar Roach.

Make mine a double…..No, a triple (Part 1)

The most satisfying moment in a Test batsman’s career would be when he scores his maiden century-particularly when it is on debut, even if he never scores another century. This aspect was covered recently in this blog.

Then there are those whose maiden effort was a double century. This is somewhat more common than one may think. More about this shortly.

And there are two who went even further and made their first Test century a triple, and went on to score many more. More recently KK Nair became the third member of this exclusive club.

The first was Sir Garfield St Aubrun Sobers, generally known as Gary Sobers. He made his Test debut against England at Kingston on March 30, 1954 a few months before he turned 18. This was a relatively strong England team which had Len Hutton scoring 205 and defeating WI by 9 wickets. Young Gary batted at No 9 in both innings, scoring 14* and 26 besides taking 4-75 an 0-6 in the brief second innings. His first wicket was Trevor Bailey and the other three were tailenders (but famous names, Wardle, Lock and Laker). The scorecard is here: http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/62772.html

In his next few Tests he batted at various positions including opening and more often at No 6, besides chipping in with a few wickets. Essentially he came to be regarded as a bowling all-rounder who wasn’t a particularly good batsman. By the middle of February 1958 he had played 16 Tests, with these career figures:

Sobers1

He had scored 856 runs at 34.24 with 6 50s, though he had scored 52 and 80 in the last Test against Pakistan which then had an useful opening pair in Mahmood Hussein and Fazal Mahmood supported by spinner Nasim-ul-Ghani. The West Indies won by 120 runs, with the 22-year old Sobers batting at No 3 and 6. He had also scored a fifty in the first Test of that series, which is remembered for Hanif Mohammed’s epic 337 which drew the Test. There was some thought that the then world record of 364 by Len Hutton in 1938 would be overtaken. Hanif did not manage this, but the peak was scaled in a most unexpected manner in the third Test at Kingston, starting on Feb 26, 1958.

By the second day Pakistan had scored an apparently respectable 328 and the West Indies had replied with 147/1 for Kanhai’s dismissal. Hunte was batting on 100 and Sobers on 20.

While Pakistan could not be called a bad bowling side, in this innings Mahmood Hussein was injured while bowling his first over and Nasim could not bowl after his 15th over. The brunt of the bowling then fell on Fazal Mahmood, Khan Mohammed and Kardar (who was hardly a strike bowler and was also injured) and various part-timers.

By the end of the third day (Feb 28), Sobers had got past his century hoodoo and was batting on 228 and Hunte was on 242, with the score on 504/1. On the 4th day (Mar 1), Hunte was soon dismissed for 260 but Weekes and Walcott kept things going. Sobers got past Headley’s 270 to claim the West Indies record, then 300, and ultimately Hutton’s record which had stood since 1938. Once he made 365 not out, there was a crowd invasion which resulted in the West Indies declaring at 790/3, with Walcott on 88 at the other end.

Then came the rest day. After that a dispirited Pakistan batted with two men short and collapsed to a large innings defeat early on the 6th day: http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/62837.html

Sobers then made up for his earlier drought of centuries by scoring 125 and 109* in the very next Test. The West Indies won that series 3-1 and then dominated the 1960s. Sobers played an important role in this dominance. By the time he played his last Test in 1974, he had scored 26 centuries (including one more double) and a then record 8032 runs besides taking 235 wickets and 109 catches in 93 Tests.

He also had a long if not very successful stint as captain. He was arguably the best all-rounder in Tests. But who would have imagined this before this Test at Kingston?

There were two other batsmen who made their first Test century a triple, though perhaps the circumstances there were less dramatic. More about them later.

Tail Piece: Sobers’s Test record of 365 lasted for 36 years before it was overtaken by Lara, then briefly by Hayden and again by Lara. But there were other unwanted records made by bowlers in this Test. Pakistan’s Khan Mohammad still holds the record of conceding the most runs in an innings without taking a wicket, while Fazal Mahmood is also high on the list of runs conceded in an innings:

KhanMohd

National anthems of WC 2015

So the festivities have begun. Since the practice of singing the national anthems seems to have picked up in recent tournaments, here is a quick run through the anthems which you are likely to hear over the next month:

AFGHANISTAN: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gs9y-P0FdOo

AUSTRALIA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8tswkr25A0

BANGLADESH: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVjbVPFeo2o

ENGLAND: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKRHWT6xdEU

INDIA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yMvU73Wr7Q

IRELAND: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVoWUnKA18k

NEW ZEALAND: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BT9k_7_jP8A

PAKISTAN: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d41Ld1-8Mbo

SCOTLAND: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0MklIdTiaU

SOUTH AFRICA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gr0414FrN7g

SRI LANKA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1f4VYi9uE8

U. A. E.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8ArIT7u4Fg

WEST INDIES: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbcbsmeRYC8 

(also see http://www.angelfire.com/ks/davincy/windies.html)

ZIMBABWE : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKJOZ44Ec9k

This has a lot of disclaimers and peculiarities, as we will see. There is no country called the West Indies, so this “anthem” is purely used for cricket. I have been able to get the English lyrics or English translations for all the anthems.

As usual in such matters, the United Kingdom is on its own trip.

“God Save The Queen” : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppIomb3r_3Q is the national anthem of the United Kingdom. Scotland has a separate song which is not an official anthem, but is played at sporting events. That is given above. England sticks with the U.K. anthem for soccer but uses another song called “Jerusalem” for cricket, which is what you hear above. Ireland here includes Northern Ireland (which comes under the U.K.) and the Irish Republic (which is another country whose anthem is given here).

Several countries have versions of their anthems in different languages: New Zealand’s includes Maori followed by English in the same anthem. South Africa’s has five languages, one after another: Xhosa, Zulu, Sesotho, Afrikaans and English. Sri Lanka’s has Sinhala and Tamil versions, but the former is more commonly used. Zimbabwe’s has versions in three languages: Shona, Ndebele and English. Similarly Ireland has it in Gaelic and English. Scotland’s unofficial anthem also has  Scots and  Scots-Gaelic versions, though it is unclear if these are unofficial or even un-unofficial.

The UAE anthem might remind Brits of the term “Blighty”, said to be derived from Urdu: According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word derives from “bilayati”, a regional variant of the Urdu word “vilayati”, meaning “foreign”, “British”, “English” or “European.”

Parting shot: Supporters of one of India’s main political parties might find the Sri Lankan anthem particularly inspiring 🙂

Down memory lane: the cricket calypsos of 1950 and 1971

Veteran cricket watchers would have heard these at some time or the other. Now they are easily available on the net.

The most famous cricket calypso would be “Cricket, lovely cricket” composed by Lord Kitchener and sung here by Lord Beginner.

A little background here. The West Indies was then a group of colonies firmly under the Union Jack, with the general conditions as well as racial discrimination being what you would expect from the British at that time. The West Indies had been playing Tests since 1928 and had shown a lot of improvement after a whitewash in their first series. By 1950 they had won a few Tests and even a series against England in 1948. But they had never won a Test in England.

The trend looked set to continue when the first Test was won by England by a big margin: http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/62709.html

Ramadhin and Valentine made their debuts, the latter taking 8 wickets in the first innings and 3 in the second (besides a pair). Ramadhin had a less impressive 2 wickets in each innings.

Then came the second Test-at Lord’s, no less. Now hear it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06P0RdZyjT4

and see the scorecard: http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/62710.html

Or better, still, see the scorecards of the whole series here: http://static.espncricinfo.com/db/ARCHIVE/1950S/1950/WI_IN_ENG/

This famous picture was taken just after the end: http://caribbean-beat.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/style-1_0.jpg

Lord Kitchener is the one with the guitar. It is said that he composed the song within 30 minutes and led the troupe of West Indian fans dancing through London celebrating the victory. A more detailed account can be seen here: http://caribbean-beat.com/issue-100/triumph-calypso-cricket#axzz3Q7iVHLC9

Years passed and the West Indies team rose to greater heights. Most of the colonies became independent countries. But the team had its ups and downs – as in 1971. But there still was a calypso there. In case you need to refresh your memory, see the series scorecards here: http://static.espncricinfo.com/db/ARCHIVE/1970S/1970-71/IND_IN_WI/

It was, in a sense, Indian cricket’s coming of age as it was the first time they had won a Test series against one of the big powers away from home. There was, of course, the 3-1 victory in New Zealand in 1968 which was not given much importance.

In fact, India had never won a Test (let alone a series) against the West Indies until then. And they did not win a Test against them in India until 1974-75 and a series against them in India until 1978-79.

Here is the calypso, composed by Lord Relator:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0V2UUuKcIeA

and the lyrics:   http://andynarell.net/calypso/lyrics/1gav.html

(Note the PJ about Uton Dowe)

Do not pay too much attention to the visuals as they seem to have been hastily put together much later-you can see Roberts, Holding and Chandrashekhar and others (Alan Knott!) who were not part of the series.

There may have been other cricket-based songs later on, but these are probably the best known. There are a few famous poems as well.