Thursday, March 27, 2008

In the International Spotlight...United Arab Emirates Cricket

UAE Cricket team

United arab emirates batting against Argentina

The United Arab Emirates cricket team represents the United Arab Emirates at the sport of cricket. The UAE joined the International Cricket Council as an affiliate member in 1989, and were elected to associate membership in 1990.

They won the ICC Trophy in 1994, which carried with it a place in the 1996 cricket World Cup, but they were elimated in the first round. The team was dominated by ex-patriates from the Test playing nations of South Asia who make up a large part of the United Arab Emirates population. After the 1996 World Cup, the rules were changed requiring a set number of players to be native-born, and the team has never been so strong since. They only managed to win the ICC Plate (a competition for teams eliminated early from the ICC Trophy) in 1997.

The ruling families for the UAE have invested substantially in cricket. Many One Day International matches between the leading cricket nations have been played in Sharjah - and also a Test match series between Pakistan and Australia when security reasons prevented Pakistan from hosting the matches. The International Cricket Council has recently relocated their headquarters to Dubai.

In 2004 the team competed in the ICC Intercontinental Cup for the first time. This competition meant that they played two three-day matches against Nepal and Malaysia. They then progressed to the semi-finals, which were held at Sharjah, but lost to Canada. These matches were accorded first-class status, making them the first first-class games they had played. They also competed in the 2004 Asia Cup, which was granted official ODI status.

In 2005 they competed in the ICC Intercontinental Cup for the second time; this time they took on Nepal and Hong Kong. They qualified for the semi final, but were eliminated by eventual winners Ireland. They also competed in the 2005 ICC Trophy, finishing sixth. Their loss to the Netherlands in the fifth-place playoff meant that the UAE missed out on a place in the 2007 World Cup and full ODI status for the next four years.

World Cup:

•1975 to 1987: Not eligible - not an ICC member
•1992: Did not participate
•1996: First round
•1999 to 2007: Did not qualify

Intercontinental Cup:
•2004: Semi Finals
•2005: Semi Finals

ICC Trophy:
•1979 to 1986: Not eligible - Not an ICC member
•1990: Did not participate
•1994: Won
•1997: 10th place
•2001: 5th place
•2005: 6th place

Asia Cup:
•1983 to 1988: Not eligible - Not an ACC member
•1990/91: Did not participate
•1995: Did not participate
•1997: Did not qualify
•2000: Did not qualify
•2004: First round

ACC Trophy:
•1996: Runners up
•1998: Semi Finals
•2000 to 2006: Won

CRICKET IN 2006/2007:
In August, the UAE participated in the ACC Trophy, where they won for the fourth consecutive time. After this, they played their group games in the 2006 Intercontinental Cup. They visited Namibia sometime in December, and hosted Ireland and Scotland in early 2007.

In November 2007, the UAE participated in the Division Two of the ICC World Cricket League. They will play Denmark, hosts Namibia and Oman in addition to the two qualifers from the Division Three, Uganda and Argentina. The UAE won tournament, beating Oman in the final. On the basis of their top four finish in this tournament, the UAE qualified for the 2009 ICC World Cup Qualifier.

Links On cricket in United Arab Emirates are:

  • United Arab Emirati national cricket captains
  • United Arab Emirates national women's cricket team
  • Website of the UAE cricket team
  • List of one-day tournaments held in the UAE

    *Acknowledgements to, and owners of pictures and videos used

  • Monday, March 24, 2008

    Player Profile(#13)...Kevin Pietersen(England)




    Kevin Peter Pietersen MBE (born 27 June 1980 in Pietermaritzburg, Natal, South Africa) is an English cricketer. He is an attacking right-handed batsman and occasional off spin bowler who plays for Hampshire County Cricket Club and is a member of both the England Test match and One Day International teams.

    He made his first-class debut for Natal in 1997 before moving to England after voicing his displeasure at the racial quota system in place in South Africa, and in order to further his opportunities for playing at international level. Being born of an English mother gave Pietersen eligibility to play for England, and after serving a qualifying period of four years playing at county level, he was called up almost immediately into the national side. He made his international debut in the One-day International match against Zimbabwe in 2004, and his Test match debut in the 2005 Ashes series against Australia the following year.

    Pietersen quickly became the fastest batsman to reach both 1000 and 2000 runs in One-day International cricket, and currently has the highest average of any England player to have played more than 20 innings of one-day cricket. He also has the second-highest run total from his first 25 Tests, behind only the Australian Donald Bradman. He became only the third English batsman to top the ICC One-day International rankings, doing so in March 2007.

    Here is a write-up about him by Jenny Thompson (July 2007):

    “Expansive with the bat and explosive with the bombast, the South African-born Kevin Pietersen is not one for the quiet life. Pietersen, an enthusiastic, bold-minded and big-hitting No 5, first ruffled feathers by shunning South Africa - he was disenchanted with the quota system - in favour of England; his eligibility coming courtesy of an English mother. He never doubted he would play for England: he has self-confidence in spades but, fortunately, he has sackfuls of talent too. Sure enough, as soon as he qualified in September 2004, he was invited to tour Zimbabwe for that winter's one-dayers, where he averaged 104 in three innings. Success here earned him a late call into England's team against none other than South Africa in early 2005. Undeterred by hostile receptions from the home crowds, he announced his arrival - loudly, of course - with three centuries in five innings, and in doing so demonstrated his peerless eye for the ball and for making headlines, too. On reaching his maiden ton in the second ODI at Bloemfontein, he kissed his badge with unreserved fervour and afterwards announced his next ambition: getting a tattoo of three lions and his England number. Playing at Test level was next on the Pietersen to-do list, and, as a man who puts his money, if not always his mind, where his mouth is, it was only a matter of time. Overlooked for two Tests against Bangladesh, he made his debut against Australia at Lord's of all places, and responded with a pair of hard-hitting fifties in a losing cause. Six dropped catches in the series appeared to have dented his brash confidence, but with the series at stake, he once again showed his unswerving eye for the limelight by clubbing a phenomenal 158 on the final day at The Oval, to secure the draw that England needed for a first Ashes triumph in 18 years. First to congratulate him on his feat was Shane Warne, his good friend and captain at Hampshire, whom Pietersen had joined at the start of the season after three eventful and fractious years at Nottinghamshire. Unsurprisingly, that innings proved hard to live up to, but astonishingly Pietersen managed it, clubbing two more big hundreds in his next two Test innings in England, the second of which - against Sri Lanka at Edgbaston - included a remarkable reverse-sweep for six off Muttiah Muralitharan. In Australia the following winter, he once again lived up to his reputation with hard-earned runs, but his tour ended in disappointment when he flew home with a fractured rib, courtesy of Glenn McGrath after the first match of the CB Series. While England's World Cup was a miserable failure for the team it was a personal success for Pietersen who hit two centuries - including his first ODI ton in a winning cause against West Indies - and confirmed his role as England's leading batsman. His dominance continued against West Indies with a majestic 226 at Headingley - finally beating his previous 158, a score he had made three times previously. It was the highest score by an England batsman since Graham Gooch's 333, and his march towards greatness continued. “

    Born of an English mother and an Afrikaner father, Penny and Jannie Pietersen had a strict and well-disciplined childhood, along with his three brothers Tony, Greg and Bryan; he learned valuable lessons from this "fantastic" approach to parenting, and said: "Discipline is good. It taught me that I didn't always have to have what I wanted; that what I needed was different from what I wanted." In his autobiography he refers to himself and his brothers getting the cane both at home and at school. Bryan is currently playing club and second XI cricket in England.

    Pietersen attended Maritzburg College, Pietermaritzburg, and made his first-class cricket debut for Natal's B team in 1997, aged 17, where he was regarded predominantly as an off spin bowler and a hard-hitting lower-order batsman. After two seasons, he moved to England for a five-month spell as the overseas player for club side Cannock CC, and helped them win the Birmingham and District Premier League in 2000. This first spell away from home did not leave him with fond memories for England, in particular "those horrible Black Country accents", living in a single room above a squash court, and working in the club bar. However, he returned to newly-renamed KwaZulu Natal side a better cricketer, a lack of opportunities to bowl having improved his batting.

    Pietersen is widely portrayed in the media as having a self-assured personality, described by Geoffrey Boycott as being "cocky and confident". England test captain Michael Vaughan counters this, saying, "KP is not a confident person. He obviously has great belief in his ability but that's not quite the same thing...And I know KP wants to be loved. I try to text him and talk to him as often as I can because I know he is insecure." He has been noted for his unusual haircuts, with his peroxide blond dyed streak of hair along the middle of his head during the 2005 Ashes series being described as a "dead skunk" look. During the 2006–07 Ashes tour, the Australian team, noted for their efforts to dominate opponents psychologically, dubbed him "The Ego", or "FIGJAM" (Fuck I'm Good, Just Ask Me). Other nicknames include KP, Kelves and Kapes.

    Pietersen was rumoured to be dating model Caprice Bourret who accompanied him to the ICC awards in October 2005, but he is now married to Liberty X singer Jessica Taylor. The couple married on 29 December 2007 at the Manor House Hotel in Wiltshire, with former England team-mate Darren Gough acting as best man.

    Domestic career:
    He impressed members of Nasser Hussain's England side when playing for KwaZulu Natal in 1999; he took four top-order wickets and, despite batting at number nine, scored 61 not out from 57 balls, hitting four sixes. Hussain then recommended that Pietersen secure a contract with an English county side.

    Despite the praise from the England side, Pietersen was dropped from the Natal first team. Pietersen felt that this was due to the country's racial quota system, in which provincial sides were required to have at least four non-white players. Pietersen's view was that players should be judged on merit, and described it as "heartbreaking" when he was left out of the side, although he later reflected "it turned out it was the best thing that could have happened". Pietersen has since firmly criticised the quota system, which he feels forced him out of the country of his birth. He has also criticised Graeme Smith, who became captain of the South African side in 2003, calling him "an absolute muppet, childish and strange" and that his behaviour "leaves a lot to be desired". Smith opposed this, saying, "I'm patriotic about my country, and that's why I don't like Kevin Pietersen. The only reason that Kevin and I have never had a relationship is because he slated South Africa". His outspoken views published in his autobiography, Crossing the Boundary, in September 2006, and in an interview for South African magazine GQ, led to unsuccessful calls for an ICC investigation regarding bringing the game into disrepute.

    In 2000, Nottinghamshire coach Clive Rice, who had seen Pietersen play in 1997 in South Africa at a schools week, heard that Pietersen was playing club cricket in Birmingham and offered him a three-year contract to play for the county. His maiden first-class century came on his Nottinghamshire debut against Loughborough UCCE. In his first season he made 1,275 runs with an impressive batting average of 57.95, including 218 not out in an unbroken sixth-wicket stand of 352 with John Morris at Derby in July, after having been out lbw for a duck in the first innings.[33] These performances led to praise in the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack: "If he can maintain his first season's form, the name of Pietersen should be pencilled in for future Test squads." This form did indeed continue into the following year: he made another unbeaten double-century, against Middlesex, taking part in a partnership of 316 for the fourth wicket with Darren Bicknell. This period proved to be a purple patch for the batsman, scoring four consecutive centuries (254 not out, 122, 147 and 116) in one week in August.

    In 2003, Pietersen scored 1,546 first-class runs, and 764 runs in limited overs cricket. He was selected for the 2003–04 ECB National Academy tour of India, and had a successful tour scoring 523 runs including three centuries in his six first-class innings to record an average of 104.60, and making 131 in a one-day match against India A in Bangalore.

    After Nottinghamshire were relegated in 2003, Pietersen requested a release from his contract, saying "I haven't been happy for a while....The pitch at Trent Bridge has been one of my problems... I could have done so much better if the wicket had been good." This led to a public row with club captain Jason Gallian, where Gallian allegedly threw Pietersen's kit off the Trent Bridge balcony and broke his bat:
    “During the game I told the captain that I was not happy and that I wanted to leave. After the game we spoke in the dressing room and then I went to have dinner. I got a call saying the captain had trashed my equipment. I was told the captain had said, 'if he does not want to play for Notts he can f*** off.' I have not spoken to Gallian since, nor have I received an apology.”

    Pietersen was made to honour the last year of his contract at Nottinghamshire, but "didn't enjoy it at all". In October 2004, he joined Hampshire under the captaincy of Shane Warne.

    After becoming a regular in the international side, Pietersen rarely gets an opportunity to play domestic cricket. Having an England "central contract" means that Pietersen is only released to play for Hampshire at the discretion of the national coach. After being left out of the national side to face Bangladesh in May 2005, Pietersen had several good innings in the four-day county championship, including two centuries. He only played twice for the county in 2006, and has played once so far in 2007, with an unbeaten 66 against Ireland.

    International career:
    The tour of Zimbabwe caused several players to voice their concerns about the Robert Mugabe regime, the security issues in the country and the standard of the Zimbabwean side. Steve Harmison was the first to boycott the tour for "political and sporting reasons", and all-rounder Andrew Flintoff was reported to be considering taking a moral stand himself. The England Chairman of Selectors David Graveney denied that the selectors would leave out players unhappy with touring Zimbabwe and would put their absences down to injury. Flintoff was, however, "rested" and Pietersen rushed into the squad "at the earliest opportunity". In the five match ODI series, Pietersen batted in three innings which included a score of 77 not out; he finished the series with an average of 104.00 as England won the series 4–0.

    Pietersen was upset not to be initially in the squad to tour South Africa. With Flintoff withdrawing due to injury, Pietersen was recalled to the squad, and cemented his place in the first team with 97 off 84 balls in the warm-up match against South Africa A, in the face of a hostile crowd. Throughout the tour, Pietersen was subjected to a barrage of abuse from the South African crowd, who regarded him somewhat like a traitor. He said:

    “I knew I was going to cop a lot of stick but it will be like water off a duck's back...I expected stick at the start of the innings, and I'm sure it will carry on through the whole series. But I just sat back and laughed at the opposition, with their swearing and 'traitor' remarks... some of them can hardly speak English. My affiliation is with England. In fact, I'm starting to speak too much like Darren Gough... In fact, I'm going to get one of Gough's tattoos with three lions and my number underneath...No one can say I'm not English.”

    Pietersen scored a 96-ball 108 not out in the tied second ODI at Bloemfontein, after which the crowd turned their backs on him as he returned to the pavilion. This score set his ODI average at an incredible record 234.00. He made 75 at Cape Town, then at East London Pietersen made an unbeaten 100 from only 69 balls, the fastest century by an England player in a one-day match, although England still lost by eight runs. In the final game at Centurion Park, Pietersen came to the wicket at 32/3 and scored 116, but again could not prevent a defeat. Pietersen ended the series, which England lost 4–1, with 454 runs in five innings, and the Player of the Series award. By the end of the series, the South African crowds had generally replaced hostility with respect for Pietersen, his final century being awarded a standing ovation.

    Mixed success in Ashes build-up:
    Despite press speculation, Pietersen was not picked for the Tests against Bangladesh—his early season form being dogged by a foot injury—but with his county form improving, he was selected for the Twenty20 match against Australia at Southampton, making 34 from 18 balls and taking three catches as England won by 100 runs.

    In the triangular ODI series against Australia and Bangladesh, Pietersen did not get to bat in the first match at The Oval as England won by 10 wickets, but scored 91 off 65 balls in the match in Bristol against Australia. In the remainder of the triangular series, Pietersen scored quickly, although without other half-centuries. He finished the seven-match series with a total of 278 runs at an average of 46.33.

    Pietersen's performances sparked speculation over whether he would be brought into the Test side for The Ashes later in the summer. A BBC poll of 10 respected cricketers resulted in a minor preference for playing Pietersen and Ian Bell in the middle order, with Graham Thorpe missing out.

    Later in July, Pietersen played in all three matches of the (ODI) NatWest Challenge against Australia. In the final match he was the top scorer for England with 74 runs, however he was forced off the field in the third over of Australia's reply with a groin injury.

    Speculation over when Pietersen would play for the Test team was ended in July with the announcement by the England chairman of selectors, David Graveney, that Pietersen had been selected ahead of Graham Thorpe. He made his debut in the first Ashes Test at Lord's, becoming the 626 player to play for the national side. Pietersen scored 57 and 64 not out as England collapsed to a heavy defeat, becoming only the fourth player to top score in both innings on debut for England, the eighth England player to score a half-century in each innings on his debut, and the third cricketer to do so at Lord's. In the second Test at Edgbaston he scored 71 in the first innings and 20 in the second, with England narrowly winning by 2 runs.

    In the drawn third Test, Pietersen struggled with 21 and 0, then scored 45 and 23 in the fourth as England went 2-1 up. Under pressure to post a large score in the final Test at The Oval, Pietersen did not contribute significantly in the first innings with 14. In the second innings, Pietersen was dropped twice before reaching double figures, but went on to score his maiden Test century with 158, drawing the match and securing the series for England. His innings included seven sixes, a record for an English player in an Ashes innings. Pietersen was named Man of the Match for his efforts, and finished the series as top scorer, with 473 runs over the five Tests, an average of 52.55. However, he had a less successful series in the field, dropping six catches in the five Tests, a point he made wryly when questioned about the Australians dropping him three times on the final day. Pietersen was given an ECB "central contract" to reflect his place in the national side.

    Less rewarding winter tour:
    Pietersen had a less successful time in the three Test matches against Pakistan, which England lost 2–0. He made little impact in the first and third Tests, his highest score being 34. He fared better in the second, however, making his second Test century in the first innings. He was also performing well in the one-day series with two explosive innings of 56 from 39 balls to help England win the first ODI, and 28 from 27 balls in the second. The quick-scoring innings in the second ODI was to be Pietersen's last on the tour. A rib injury sustained in the first ODI proved too painful throughout the second, and Pietersen returned to England to recover fully for the tour of India.

    In March 2006, Pietersen played in the three Tests against India, which England drew 1–1. His 87 in the second innings of the first match came during England's acceleration period, helping push the required target over 300. England then declared overnight, and India successfully batted out the final day to secure a draw. This half-century was followed by another in the first innings of the second Test. The second innings was not so good, facing just 13 balls before being given out caught behind off a Harbhajan Singh delivery. The unhappy Pietersen was later fined 30 percent of his match fee for shaking his head and showing signs of dissent. "Replays demonstrated that the ball that had dismissed him had brushed his forearm, not his glove, before ballooning up into the hands of Rahul Dravid at slip. But umpire Darrell Hair gave him out for 4 as England collapsed on the fourth afternoon." Pietersen posted scores of 39 and 7 in the final Test, a match England won comfortably after a dismal 100 all out in India's second visit to the crease.

    In the one-day series, which England lost 5–1, he was top scorer for England in four out of the five matches he played, and had the highest average of any player with 58.20. His 71 in the second ODI took him past 1,000 ODI runs, equalling Viv Richards' record of 21 innings to reach this total.

    In May 2006, Pietersen matched his highest Test score of 158 in the first match against Sri Lanka, and followed it with 142 in the second Test. This took him passed the milestone of 1,000 Test runs, in his 12th Test match, and he became the first batsman since Graham Gooch in 1990 to score a century in three successive Test innings on English soil. This performance moved Pietersen into the top ten of the ICC cricket ratings, as he was named the England (Test Match) Player of the Series. On the first day of the third Test against Pakistan, Pietersen reached his fifth Test century with an overnight score of 104. Although Pietersen retired hurt shortly after reaching three figures, due to cramp, he returned to the crease the next morning and went on to top score in England's first innings total of 515 with 135 runs from 169 balls.

    Pietersen bowled his first delivery in Test match cricket on June 4, against Sri Lanka. His first Test wicket came against Pakistan later in the summer when Kamran Akmal got a thin edge through to Geraint Jones. Later in June, Pietersen scored 17 in the Twenty20 International as England lost by 2 runs to Sri Lanka. The twenty over match against Pakistan was no better, Pietersen being bowled by Mohammad Asif for a golden duck as Pakistan helped themselves to a five-wicket victory.

    England in Australia, 2006–7:

    In the much anticipated Ashes series in Australia, Pietersen was widely judged to be England's best player, scoring 490 runs in five matches and averaging over 50. He started well with a defiant 92 in the first Test despite England losing by 277 runs, and then backed up his good form with a century in the second Test in Adelaide, sharing a 310-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Paul Collingwood. When he was eventually run out, his first reaction was to "giggle" because it was the third time he had scored exactly 158 runs (at that point, his highest Test score). However, even Pietersen seemed disheartened by the end of the series, which England lost 5–0.

    In the Twenty20 match, Pietersen was run out on 11, as England lost the match by 77 runs. For a powerful hitter, Pietersen has not posted a large score in the specialised twenty-over format, averaging 15.50 In the first One-day International of the 2006–07 Commonwealth Bank Series, on 12 January at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Pietersen was injured when a ball bowled by Glenn McGrath hit him on the ribs. Despite continuing his innings in some discomfort, making 82, X-rays revealed a fracture and Pietersen was forced to miss the rest of the series.

    CAREER IN 2007:
    In the 2007 Cricket World Cup, Pietersen crafted 104 runs off 122 balls against Australia in the Super Eight stage of the tournament. It was the first World Cup century by an Englishman since 1996, and the first ever against Australia. He made three half-centuries, scoring 60 runs from 92 balls against New Zealand, 56 runs from 72 balls against Kenya, and 58 runs from 80 balls against Sri Lanka. His efforts in the World Cup helped him achieve the status of ICC number-one ranked batsman in the world for ODIs; however, England did not reach the semi-finals. In England's final match of the World Cup against the West Indies, Pietersen made 100 from 91 balls, and effected the run-out of retiring captain Brian Lara. This century took him past 2000 ODI runs, in doing so equalling the record 51 matches set by Zaheer Abbas. He finished the tournament with 444 runs, at an average of 55.5, and was described as shining in the England team "like a 100 watt bulb in a room full of candles".

    Having scored a century in the first Test against the West Indies at Lord's, Pietersen posted his highest score of 226 in the second Test at Headingley, surpassing his previous best of 158 which he had achieved three times. With this score, Pietersen moved ahead of Everton Weekes and Viv Richards to be the batsman with the second-highest run-total out of his first 25 Tests (behind Don Bradman). It is also the highest Test score for England since Graham Gooch scored 333 against India in 1990. This innings subjected the West Indies to an innings and 283 runs defeat, their largest against any team. Pietersen, the Man of the Match, said, "I believe the recipe for success is hard work. I've been criticised for throwing my wicket away, and I tried to make it count here".

    In the third Test at Old Trafford, scoring 68 in the second innings, Pietersen lost his wicket in a bizarre dismissal when West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Bravo delivered a bouncer which knocked Pietersen's helmet off his head and onto his stumps. He is only the fourth batsman in Test cricket to be dismissed "hit wicket" as a result of headgear falling onto the stumps. This score took him past the 8500 first-class runs mark, and 2,500 runs in Test cricket.

    In contrast, Pietersen's batting was poor in the following single innings matches; he scored a total of 77 runs in five matches (two Twenty20 and three ODI), recording a second-ball duck in the final ODI.[120] He subsequently fell to second in the official One-day International batting rankings, behind Ricky Ponting. Pietersen himself has commented that his lack of recent form is a result of "fatigue", and has reiterated his calls for a less "hectic" match schedule.

    Pietersen found some form in the first Test against India, with a magnificent 134 in the second innings to set up a potential England victory. Pietersen described this as his best century, in very testing conditions. After two low scores in the second Test, Pietersen scored his 10th Test Century in the third and final Test at the Oval, helping England to draw the game with 101.

    Pietersen was also picked for and played in the Twenty20 Championship in South Africa. In England's first game against Zimbabwe on September 13, Pietersen hit 79 runs off 37 balls including four sixes and seven fours in an English total of 188-9. England won the match by 50 runs, however this was to be Pietersens only significant contribution in the competition.[citation needed]

    Sri Lanka 2007–8:
    Pietersen travelled to Sri Lanka with England's ODI squad in September 2007. He scored 50 in England's warm up game against the Sri Lankan Cricket XI, however followed this with scores of one, twelve, and eight. He then found form with 63 not out from 75 deliveries to clinch a historic series win for England, the first in the country since the 1980s. He went on to score 28 in the final match which was a consolatory victory for Sri Lanka. In the first test that followed in November, he was the only batsman not to make double figures in a drawn warm up game against the Board President's XI, being caught for four. In the second warm up match against the Sri Lanka Board XI, Pietersen was again out for a low score in the first innings, surviving just three balls and scoring one run. In the second, however, England snatched a "surprise" win, with Pietersen finding form and hitting 59, the highest score of England's innings.

    During the test series, however, Pietersen suffered a period of fluctuating form. Scoring 31 and 18 in the first test, he managed only a single in the first innings of the second. While he regained his touch for the second innings, with a match saving 45 not out, he hit one and 30 in the final test, passing 3,000 test career runs but averaging only 25.2 across the series, failing to score a half century in a series for the first time in his career, and having the second lowest average of all the recognised batsmen. He equalled the Test cricket record for passing 3000 runs within 3 years of playing for his country, with the distinction that he reached this total 6 months earlier than the other two players to achieve this.

    New Zealand 2008:
    Pietersen averaged 33 in the five match ODI series in early 2008, a high score of 50 and 165 runs overall failing to save England from a 3:1 defeat. The series was preceded by two warm up matches, where Pietersen scored 48, and 10, and two 20Twenty internationals where he scored 43, and 3, each match resulting in an England win.

    England then played a series of warm up matches before the three test series began, where Pietersen would face New Zealand for the first time in his test career. Pietersen, however, did not play in the first warm up match for the test series, as England featured both wicket keepers Tim Ambrose and Phil Mustard in their batting lineup.


    Pietersen gained several awards for his performances in the 2005 season. He was named both the ICC ODI Player of the Year and Emerging Player of the Year in 2005, and was one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the Year (alongside team mates Simon Jones and Matthew Hoggard) for his role in the successful Ashes series against Australia. Along with the rest of the England team, he was decorated in the 2006 New Year Honours list, being awarded the MBE for his role in the successful Ashes series. He also played for the ICC World XI in the ICC Super Series 2005 against Australia.

    Test match performance:

    Test debut: vs Australia, Lord's, July 21, 2005.
    ·He has the second highest run-total from his first 25 Tests (behind Don Bradman).

    ·Fourth Englishman to top score in both innings of debut Test.
    ·He is one of only twenty-two players to have a peak ICC batting rating over 900.

    One-day International performance:
    ODI debut: vs Zimbabwe, Harare - Nov 28, 2004
    ·Fastest batsman to reach 1000 and 2000 runs.
    ·Fastest century by an England player (69 balls) (v SA, 2005).


  • Kevin Pietersen's Official Website
  • Player Profile: Kevin Pietersen
  • Cricketweb interview with Kevin Pietersen
  • Kevin Pietersen Career Averages



    *Acknowledgements to, and all other sources.

  • Amateurs vs Professionals Cricket Matches

    Should there be an annual Amateurs vs Professional Cricket game...?

    Amateurs vs Professionals? Many cricket fans would have had dreams of facing their heroes in the game of cricket. I believe an annual Amateur vs Professional Cricket game would fulfil the needs of the average joe to put their skills to the test by playing the great game with the legends of cricket. Could you imagine yourself batting against the likes of Shane Warne and Brett Lee? Or bowling to batting legends like Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar? Or compare our fielding skills to legendary fieldsman such as Jonty Rhodes and Stephen Fleming? I have thought of a few concepts some which include having an hour or so of cricket with professionals during the intervals of One Day Internationals or Twenty20s, or as I have said have an annual Amateur vs Professional game (even a series) with the amateurs being selected from entries in a competition of some sort (amateurs being general people from the public), and proceeds to go to developing cricketing countries and another charity helping with social issues outside of cricket eg OxFam, World Vision, R.S.P.C.A etc etc. The game would be played in a festival like atmosphere and the main aim of the game would be to have fun and celebrate the game of cricket and how it has influenced peoples’ lives positively. If anyone has any views on this and/or has had the same or similar idea as me feel free to comment on this post. I think there would be many people that would like the idea, it’s a matter of working the idea with the cricketing authorities and working out the logistics of such an idea. But I think it may be possible...

    In the meantime here’s some information about Amateur and Professional Cricket I found on the net:

    Cricket at the highest level has developed into a fully professional international sport from which leading players can earn a large income. However professionalism has a long history in English cricket. The first professionals had appeared by the first half of the eighteenth century, when heavy gambling on the game encouraged wealthy patrons to draft the best players into their teams. They would often offer these players full-time employment as gardeners or gamekeepers on their estates. In the second half of the century, the famous Hambledon Club paid its players match fees.

    In the middle of the nineteenth century William Clarke's All-England Eleven was a highly successful all-professional venture which did much to popularise the game. The earliest overseas tours were also all-professional affairs.
    For many generations there was a formal divide in English first-class cricket between amateurs and professionals, or "Gentlemen and Players" as they were known at the time. Although amateurs and professionals often played together in the same team, they would use separate dressing rooms and on some grounds went on to the pitch through different gates. The amateurs referred to the professionals by their surname only, but the professionals called the amateurs "sir". However, this was not specific to cricket, but was the normal nomenclature used between middle and working class associates at that time. The "Gentlemen and Players" divide was a reflection of the divide between officers and other ranks in the army and it seemed perfectly natural to most English people of all classes in the 19th Century. The Gentlemen v Players matches were amongst the highlights of the English season, although the Players could usually put a much stronger side into the field than the Gentlemen.
    An amateur would often be appointed as the captain of a team despite being one of the worst players, or even not good enough to belong in the team at all on the basis of his cricketing skills. This even applied to international Test cricket. After the 1870s and 1880s, when some touring teams to Australia were all-professional, England did not have a professional captain again until Len Hutton was appointed in 1952. Some of their amateur captains were unquestionably worth their place in the side, others were not. In the 1930s, Walter Hammond switched from professional to amateur so that he could captain his country.

    In the 20th century the position gradually changed in cricket as English society became more egalitarian. There was also a mounting problem of shamateurism as the number of men who could afford to play cricket full time for several months each year without being paid to do so decreased. Some "amateur" players were given a largely nominal job as "club secretary" and there were sometimes allegations that a few were paid surreptitiously. The old distinction became increasingly out of step with social conditions after the Second World War and amateur status was abolished in English cricket at the end of the 1962 season.

    When county cricket began to formalise in the mid 19th century, the counties employed professionals. The better supported and therefore richer counties such as Surrey often had teams made up largely of professional players with an amateur captain, while poorer counties such as Somerset relied much more heavily on amateurs to allow them to field a team without going into the red. However, early professionals were paid a low weekly wage and during the off season, which could last for nearly eight months, most were left to fend for themselves and had to take whatever work they could get. A few played professional football in the winter. In order to provide cricketers with some financial security after their playing careers, the benefit system was developed, but this was generally a poor substitute for good wages and a pension.

    By the post Second World War period, most cricketers were on a fixed salary, but only for the summer months and until the 1970s, the earnings of professional cricketers were low. In England many cricketers needed to find other jobs over the winter to make ends meet, and in other countries with less demanding domestic cricket schedules most cricketers fitted their cricket in with study or a regular job. Things began to change in 1977 when cricket was shaken up the Australian media tycoon Kerry Packer. By offering cricketers higher wages than had ever been known in the sport before, Packer induced many of the world's most famous cricketers to abandon the official cricket competitions and play solely in a new competition called World Series Cricket which was broadcast by a television network which he owned. This was one of the biggest crises in the history of the sport, but it was patched up after a couple of years, when Packer's channel was granted the rights to official matches. The earnings of top cricketers from "official" cricket then began to escalate.

    In the early 21st century cricket is still not as lucrative as some other sports, but international cricketers typically earn several times the average salary in their country. Regular members of the English cricket team earn several hundred thousand pounds a year. However, the highest paid cricketers in the world are the star members of the Indian cricket team, who make most of their income from endorsement contracts. Cricket is the main sport in India, and the players are front rank celebrities, especially Sachin Tendulkar, who is one of the world's highest paid sportsmen, with an income estimated by the Times of India to be in excess of thirty million US dollars a year, nearly all of it from endorsements[1]. The Indian Cricket Team is one of the highest paid sports teams in the world and it is the highest paid National Sports team.

    It is also possible to earn an adequate annual income from domestic cricket in some countries, especially in England where the eighteen first class counties each employ about twenty players, most of whom earn at least the national average salary for the six month season, and some considerably more. Nonetheless many cricketers use the offseason to prepare for a post-cricket career.

    *Acknowledgements to,

    Player Profile(#12)...Richard Staple(U.S.A)

    Richard Staple

    Richard Staple2

    Richard Wayne Staple (born 25 November 1969 in Kingston, Jamaica) is an American cricketer. He started his first-class cricket career playing for his native Jamaica from 1989-90 to 1994-95. He later emigrated to the United States and became captain of his adopted nation. He played two further first-class games in the 2004 ICC Intercontinental Cup. Staple led the United States to victory in the ICC Six Nations Challenge in 2004, which saw the Americans qualify for the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy in England. Staple and his teammates fared poorly against the New Zealanders and Australians as the Americans lost their first two official One Day Internationals by a wide margin. Staple plays his domestic cricket for the Progressive Cricket Club in the New York Metropolitan Cricket League.

    Some extra info about Richard Staple can be found in these links:

  • Windies stars to play in New York next month (Jun 30, 2006)
  • USA axe Staple as captain (Jul 25, 2005)
  • Ponting slams worthless match (Sep 13, 2004)
  • Fleming eyes winner-take-all against Australia (Sep 11, 2004)
  • USA enjoy their outing (Sep 10, 2004)
  • Cricinfo page on Richard Staple
  • CricketArchive page on Richard Staple
  • View the full list of 12 related articles

    *Acknowledgements to and owners of pictures and videos used.

  • Thursday, March 20, 2008

    In the International Spotlight...New Zealand Cricket

    nz cricketers dressed in Beige for twenty20

    shane bond

    The New Zealand cricket team, also known as the Black Caps, played their first Test in 1929-30 against England in Christchurch, New Zealand, becoming the fifth Test nation. It took the team until 1955-56 to win a Test, against the West Indies at Eden Park in Auckland. They played their first ODI in the 1972-73 season against Pakistan in Christchurch.

    The current Test captain is Daniel Vettori. He replaces the Black Caps' most successful captain, Stephen Fleming who led New Zealand to 28 Test victories, more than twice as many as any other captain. Vettori lost his first match as captain (vs South Africa) by 358 runs, New Zealand's worst ever defeat by runs.
    The New Zealand cricket team became known as the Black Caps in January 1998, after its sponsor at the time, Clear Communications, held a competition to choose a name for the team.

    As of October 2007, the New Zealand team has played 332 Test matches, winning 18.67%, losing 39.45% and drawing 41.86% of its games.

    New Zealand Cricket involves the following first-class teams:

    ·Auckland Aces
    ·Canterbury Wizards
    ·Central Districts Stags
    ·Northern Districts Knights
    ·Otago Volts
    ·Wellington Firebirds

    New Zealand Cricket has established High Performance Cricket training centre based at Lincoln University. It also operates a grassroots development programme for school children called 'MILO Kiwi Cricket' . John Wright, former NZ opening batsman, was appointed acting high performance manager for NZC in November 2007.
    New Zealand has many private cricket academies and the Bracewell Cricket Academy based at Rathkeale College is one of the largest cricket academies, providing an Overseas Cricket Development Programme, a Pre-Season Coaching Camp, a Festival of Cricket.

    There are around 100,000 registered cricketers in New Zealand. By way of comparison, Australia and the U.K. have around 500,000 each. According to Mark O'Neill, New Zealand's batting coach from 2007-09, the competition at club level in NZ is nowhere near as intense as in Australia.

    "In Sydney there are 20 first grade teams, each club has five grades. To get to first grade you've got to be a friggin' good player and once you get there the competition is very, very fierce. Unfortunately it's not the same standard [in NZ]. Competition is everything and the only way the New Zealand guys are going to get that is to play the world's best players."


    World Cup
    ·1975: Semi Finals
    ·1979: Semi Finals
    ·1983: First round
    ·1987: First round
    ·1992: Semi Finals
    ·1996: Quarter Finals
    ·1999: Semi Finals
    ·2003: 5th Place
    ·2007: Semi Finals

    Mini World Cup
    ·ICC Knockout 1998: Quarter Finals
    ·ICC Knockout 2000: Won
    ·ICC Champions Trophy 2002: First round
    ·ICC Champions Trophy 2004: First round
    ·ICC Champions Trophy 2006: Semi Finals

    Twenty20 World Championship
    ·2007: Semi Finals

    Commonwealth Games
    ·1998: Bronze medal

    World Championship of Cricket
    ·1985: Fourth

    Austral-Asia Cup
    ·1986: Semi Finals
    ·1990: Semi Finals
    ·1994: Semi Finals

    ·ICC Knock-Out Trophy Nairobi Gymkhana Club Nairobi Kenya 2000. New Zealand beat India in the final.

    ·2003 Bank Alfala Series Trophy held in Sri Lanka (New Zealand, Pakistan,Sri Lanka)
    ·2004 NatWest Series Trophy held in England (West Indies, England,New Zealand).
    ·2005 Videocon TriSeries held in Zimbabwe (India, Zimbabwe,New Zealand).

    ·Richard Hadlee, one of New Zealand and the world's best all-rounders, took the world record for most Test wickets (374) vs India at Bangalore in 1988. He lost the record to Kapil Dev. Hadlee was the first bowler to reach 400 Test wickets vs India at Christchurch in 1990

    ·Andrew Jones and Martin Crowe held the highest ever 3rd-wicket partnership in Tests which at the time was the highest partnership for any wicket.

    ·Brian Hastings and Richard Collinge together scored 151 runs for the highest ever 10th-wicket partnership against Pakistan in 1973.

    ·Nathan Astle scored Test cricket's fastest ever double century versus England Christchurch 2002. He scored 200 off 153 balls with the second hundred coming off just 39 deliveries. He was eventually out for 222 — the dreaded double Nelson. He knocked the first hundred off 114 balls. Astle smashed the record by 59 balls, previously held by Adam Gilchrist Australia vs South Africa Johannesburg 2002).

    ·Geoff Allott holds the record for the longest time taken to score a duck. South Africa Auckland 1999. He faced 77 balls in 101 minutes for his zero score.

    ·Danny Morrison held another "unwanted" record for the most ducks in Test cricket(24)
    . He lost the record to Courtney Walsh.

    ·Chris Cairns and his father Lance Cairns are one of the two father-son combination to each claim 100 Test wickets, South Africa's Peter and Shaun Pollock being the other.

    ·Chris Cairns held the record for the most Test sixes. He passed Viv Richards record of 84 (vs England, Lord's, London, 2004) and retired from Test cricket with 87. He has since been passed by both Adam Gilchrist (the current record holder) and Brian Lara.

    ·Chris Harris is the only New Zealand cricketer to have taken 200 wickets in ODIs. (vs England, Lord's, London, 2004). He is only the second player in ODIs to complete the 4000 run / 200 wicket double. (The other is Sri Lankan Sanath Jayasuriya). He holds the record for the most ODI caught and bowled dismissals, with 29.

    ·Fast bowler Shane Bond holds the best strike rate in the history of One Day International cricket of 26.5 (one player out for every 26.5 balls bowled).

    ·John Bracewell became the first - and so far only - substitute fielder to take four catches in a One-Day International, vs Australia in Adelaide on 23 November 1980.

    ·The New Zealand team holds the dubious honour of the record for the most consecutive Test series played without a win - 30 series between 1929-30 and 1969-70 (40 years), comfortably ahead of Bangladesh on 16 series.

    ·Another unenviable distinction is the largest margin defeat in the Cricket World Cup, by 215 runs, by Australia. (April 2007).

    ·New Zealand dismissed Zimbabwe (Harare 2005) twice in the same day for totals of 59 and 99. Zimbabwe became only the second team (after India Manchester 1952) to be dismissed twice in the same day. The whole Test was completed inside two days.

    ·Daniel Vettori scored NZ's fastest Test century. (vs Zimbabwe Harare 2005). Vettori needed only 82 balls to reach the 100 mark.

    ·In the same match, he became the third NZ cricketer (after Richard Hadlee and Chris Cairns) to take more than 200 Test wickets.

    ·Lou Vincent holds the record for the highest one-day cricket innings by a New Zealander of 172 (vs Zimbabwe Bulawayo 2005). The previous best was Glenn Turner 171 not out (vs East Africa Birmingham 1975). Vincent and captain Stephen Fleming broke the New Zealand one-day opening partnership record against all countries. Their total of 204 beat Fleming and Nathan Astle's 193 (vs Pakistan Dunedin 2000-2001). The team total of 397 was just one run short of the then record one-day total of 398 (Sri Lanka vs Kenya Kandy 1996).

    ·Brendon McCullum scored the fastest World Cup (2007) fifty (off 20 balls) for New Zealand against Canada, beating Mark Boucher's 21-ball record set against the Netherlands six days earlier.

    ·In a match for the New Zealanders (i.e., the New Zealand national team playing a tour match against non-test opposition) at Scarborough, Yorkshire, in 1986 vs the D.B. Close XI, Ken Rutherford scored 317 runs off just 245 balls, including 228 runs in boundary fours and sixes. In terms of balls faced, this is almost certainly one of the four fastest first-class triple-centuries ever recorded.


  • BLACKCAPS official website
  • New Zealand cricket
  • Beige Brigade Official Website
  • Cricinfo New Zealand
  • A somewhat wacky site - Fun with the Black Caps
  • Cricket database
  • Runs on the board - New Zealand cricket (NZHistory)
  • New Zealand Cricket website
  • New-zealand Cricket News
  • Black Caps website
  • Bracewell Cricket Academy
  • New Zealand Cricket Blog


  • Cricinfo Test Team Records page


  • List of New Zealand cricketers
  • New Zealand national cricket captains
  • New Zealand women's cricket team
  • Beige Brigade Blackcaps Supporters


    Ross Taylor

    *Acknowledgements to, and other related sites/links in this article/post.

  • Wednesday, March 19, 2008

    Player Profile(#11)...Mohammad Ashraful(Bangladesh)

    Player Profile(#11)...Mohammad Ashraful(Bangladesh)

    Mohammad Ashraful (Bengali: মোহাম্মদ আশরাফুল) (born July 7, 1984 in Dhaka) is a Bangladeshi international cricket player and the captain of both the Test and ODI of Bangladeshi national cricket team. He has also been selected to represent ACC Asia XI ODI side.

    Ashraful made his test debut on 6 September 2001 against Sri Lanka. In the first innings he was dismissed for 26 runs from 53 balls, but in the second innings he scored his maiden Test century - 114 runs from 212 balls. The century made him the youngest player to score a test century in an international match. There has been some uncertainty regarding his birth date - some sources claim it is July 7, but others, as well as his passport, record it as September 9; although either date would qualify him for his world record status (previously held by Pakistani Mushtaq Mohammad, aged 17 years 82 days in 1960-1).

    Following the century, Ashraful began receiving high expectations. However, a prolonged string of poor performances and soft dismissals resulted in him being dropped from the national team. He returned to the team in 2004 against the Indian cricket team and scored his second century, 158 not out, claiming the record for the highest individual Test score by a Bangladeshi. In 2006 he scored his third century, with 136 in the first test against Sri Lanka. In his maiden match as captain of Bangladeshi, during the 2007 season, against Sri Lanka, he made 7 runs in the first innings and the 37 in the second. In the second match of the tour and his captaincy Ashraful was out for a duck in the first innings but scored his fourth century in the second innings. He scored 129 not out, making him the first Bangladeshi cricketer to score 4 centuries. To date Ashraful is Bangladesh's second highest run-scorer in Test cricket behind Habibul Bashar.

    Ashraful made his ODI debut against Zimbabwe on 11 April 2001, where he made just 9 runs and Bangladesh lost the match by 36 runs. He had a poor first World Cup - the 2003 Cricket World Cup - making 71 runs at an average of 14.20, with Bangladesh being eliminated in the Group Stage. Despite a poor start to his ODI career Ashraful has been one of the the key batsmen in several of Bangladesh's famous victories. He made exactly 100 in Bangladesh's win over Australia at Cardiff in the 2005 NatWest Series, possibly one of the greatest upsets in sporting history. During the 2007 Cricket World Cup, he made 87 from 83 balls against the ICC ODI Championship world number 1 ranked South African team, helping his team clinch a 67 run win, with Ashraful being named the Man of the Match. With 216 runs at an average of 24, he was Bangladesh's highest run scorer in the World Cup. To date, Ashraful is Bangladesh's second highest run-scorer in ODIs, behind Habibul Bashar.

    When not playing with the national team, Ashraful plays domestic cricket for the Dhaka Division cricket team in Bangladesh's domestic one-day and First-class competitions, captaining both sides on occasion but with no real regularity. In November 2006 he set a league record score of 263, against Chittagong Division for Bangladeshi First-class cricket - although this record has since been bettered by Raqibul Hasan. Ashraful also captains Sonargaon Cricketers, a club in the Dhaka Premier League. He became captain at a crucial period as his team were placed at the bottom and turned team with a second place finish at the end of the season. He played for Rainhill CC in a local cricket league in UK.

    Although Bangladesh performed well under the captaincy of Habibul Bashar in the 2007 Cricket World Cup, the Bangladesh Cricket Board decided to replace Bashar as the national team ODI captain after losing 2-0 to a touring Indian side in May 2007. There was a lot of criticism of the BCB for their decision from many cricket pundits, including the departing national coach Dav Whatmore, who believed the change was unnecessary. Bashar agreed to step down from the post of ODI captaincy but insisted that he wanted to remain as the national Test captain, but after losing the Test series in the same Indian tour of Bangladesh, the BCB also decided to replace him as Test captain.

    The two favourites for the captain's role were Shahriar Nafees (who was vice-captain at the time) and Ashraful. Perhaps due to Nafees's poor form in both the World Cup and the India series the board awarded the captaincy to Ashraful - becoming the second youngest captain of an international cricket team at 22 - with Mashrafe Mortaza replacing Shahriar Nafees as vice-captain of the team.
    Ashraful and Mortaza took on these roles from the start of the Sri Lanka tour in June 2007. High hopes were placed on the shoulders of Ashraful by the Bangladeshi fans to motivate the team during the tour, but Bangladesh lost all three of the Test matches by large margins of an innings and 234 runs, an innings and 90 runs and an innings and 193 runs respectively, Ashraful scored a century in the second test.

    •Ashraful's family given nickname is Matin but his teammates call him Ash (short for Ashraful), a nickname given to him by former Bangladesh coach and South African international Eddie Barlow.

    •He and Bangladesh teammate and opener Shahriar Nafees are very good friends, having been trained by the same coach in the BKSP when they were young.

    •3 of 4 of his Test centuries were against Sri Lanka. The other was against India.

    •Ashraful has been caught out more than any other dismissal types in both Tests and ODIs.

    •In Tests, he has been dismissed most by Muttiah Muralitharan of Sri Lanka , Muraltharan has dismissed Ashraful 6 times. In ODIs he has been dismissed most by Dilhara Fernando of Sri Lanka, who has dismissed Ashraful four times.

    •In 1997, Sourav Ganguly came to Dhaka to open Amarjyoti cricket club where 12 year old Ashraful met him and asked him for an autograph and a photo, little that either of them knew that they would be playing against each other in the future. When India toured Bangladesh in 2007, Ashraful went up to the Indian team's dinner table in Sonargaon hotel in Dhaka where Ganguly was seated with his team-mates and showed him and the other Indian players the picture.

    •He started his cricket career as a leg-spinner who could bat.


  • Mohammad Ashraful player profile
  • Ashraful's poor run of form: Ashraful off to Liverpool for league cricket
  • Ashraful is Bangla's little master
  • Mohammad Ashraful's Profile on BanglaCricket
  • Ashraful's battle to make his mark by S.Rajesh

  • *Acknowledgements to,,

    Tuesday, March 18, 2008

    Temporary Glitch

    Hey there everyone,

    Just would like to apologise for the delay of updated content as my Microsoft Word software has been playing up and partly because I have to go to an intenet cafe to do the site (though as of the 26th of this month I will have my own connection THANK GOD). Im trying to fix the problem and I hope to resume as normal by tomorrow, as I have to do several planned articles again (I lost some work in the process).

    In the meantime enjoy reading my content:)

    Thursday, March 13, 2008

    Ever seen 6 consecutive sixes hit in one over in international cricket? If you havnt this is MUST SEE!

    Ever wondered if it was possible in international cricket to hit 6 sixes off one over? In case you don't know it has happened! Was it the great Viv Richards, or either of these hard hitting blokes- Chris Cairns, Lance Cairns, Matthew Hayden, Daryl Cullinan, John Davison, Kevin Pietersen etc? If you though either of them you're wrong! Check out this video to find out who achieved this unique feat...

    In the International Spotlight...Fiji Cricket

    Mid morning cricket game in fiji
    Cricket in Fiji

    The Fiji national cricket team is the team that represents the country of Fiji in international cricket matches. They have been an associate member of the International Cricket Council since 1965, though their history goes back to the late 19th century.

    They regularly take part in regional tournaments including the cricket tournament at the South Pacific Games. They have taken part in every ICC Trophy tournament with the exception of the 2005 event. They are currently ranked at 28th in the world by the ICC, and are the second ranked non-test team in their region.

    Early days:
    Cricket was introduced to Fiji by European settlers in 1874, and the native population began taking up the game in 1878. The governor of Fiji at the time listed introducing cricket to the native Fijians as one of the achievements of his tenure in his memoirs.

    Early tours:
    Fiji was playing first-class cricket just 21 years after cricket was introduced to the country, when they toured New Zealand in early 1895.
    1895 tour of New Zealand

    Fiji's team on the tour in 1895 was captained by John Udal, whose great-grandson Shaun would eventually play Test cricket for England. The first match of the tour was a two-day match against Auckland, which Fiji lost by an innings.
    A low scoring second match against Otago was drawn after rain washed out the first of the two days. The third match against Canterbury was also lost by an innings, before a draw against Wellington.

    The final two matches of the tour went much better for the Fijians, winning against Hawke's Bay by an innings after a century from John Collins, and beating Taranaki by two wickets.

    1908 tour of Australia:
    In January 1908, Fiji toured Australia. Only one result is known from this tour, a draw against Queensland in a two-day match, highlighted by a seven wicket haul for Pope Cakpbau.

    Post War period:
    Fiji toured New Zealand twice more, in 1948 and 1954. Fiji's first match against a Test-playing nation came in 1956, when the West Indies visited. Fiji won the match against a team featuring the likes of Garfield Sobers by 28 runs despite being bowled out for 91, largely thanks to a six wicket haul from John Gosling.

    1948 tour of New Zealand:
    Like the tour in 1895, the 1948 tour started with a defeat to Auckland, by 168 runs. Fiji won their next match against Wellington by one wicket, before losing to Canterbury by 36 runs.

    The tour continued with a 46 run defeat by Otago and concluded with a 115 run win against Auckland. One notable player for Fiji on this tour was IL Bula, who scored the most runs and the only century on the tour. Bula's full name is Ilikena Lasarusa Talebulamainavaleniveivakabulaimainakulalakebalau, and his name is thought to be the longest of any first class cricketer.

    1954 tour of New Zealand:
    Just four matches were played on the 1954 tour, which started with a two wicket defeat to Otago. The tour continued with another two wicket defeat, this time to Canterbury, before a 117 run defeat to Wellington. The tour ended with a seven wicket win against Auckland. The team included Ratu Kamisese Mara who would go on to become the Prime Minister and President of Fiji.

    ICC Membership:
    Fiji gained associate membership of the ICC in 1965. They played in the first ICC Trophy tournament in 1979, and played in every one until 2001. They also played in the first ACC Trophy in 1996, losing in the semi-final to the UAE.
    In 2001, Fiji played in the first Pacifica Cup in Auckland, reaching the final where they lost to the New Zealand Māori by three wickets. They played in the 2002 tournament in Samoa, finishing third after beating the Cook Islands in a play-off.
    In 2003, Fiji hosted the South Pacific Games. The cricket tournament saw the hosts lose to Papua New Guinea in the final. The following year, they took part in the EAP Challenge in Fuji City, Japan, winning after beating Tonga in the final. This qualified them for the repêchage tournament for the 2005 ICC Trophy. At that tournament in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, they reached the final, where they lost to Papua New Guinea by 30 runs, thus missing out on the 2005 ICC Trophy.

    In 2006, Fiji played in the 2006 ICC EAP Cricket Trophy in Brisbane, Australia. They won the tournament winning all of their matches against the Cook Islands and Japan, qualifying them for Division Three of the World Cricket League in Darwin, Australia. They warmed up for the tournament with a three match series at home against Vanuatu, winning all three matches, but were unsuccessful in the tournament itself, losing all five games they played, thus meaning they will have to take part in Division Four in 2008.

    Later in 2007, they took part in the cricket tournament at the 2007 South Pacific Games, losing to Papua New Guinea in the final group game, meaning that they went home with the silver medal.

    Tournament History
    ICC Trophy:
    1979: First round
    1982: First round
    1986: First round
    1990: Plate competition
    1994: Plate competition
    1997: 11th place
    2001: First round
    2005: Did not qualify

    ACC Trophy:
    1996: Semi-finals

    South Pacific Games:
    2003: Silver medal
    2007: Silver medal

    Fiji's most famous player is Neil Maxwell, who played first-class cricket for New South Wales and Victoria in Australia, and for Canterbury in New Zealand in addition to representing Australia A. Nat Uluiviti is the other Fijian to have played first-class cricket for a team other than Fiji, playing for Auckland in the 1950s.

    Fiji's squad for the 2007 South Pacific Games cricket tournament was as follows:
    -Josaia Baba
    -Josefa Baleicicia
    -Malcolm Bossley
    -Eric Browne
    -Iniasi Cakacaka
    -Samuela Draunivudi
    -Kida Jikoivanualevu
    -Ratu Lesuma
    -Sakaraia Lomani
    -Vuiyasawa Mateiwaqa
    -Joeli Mateyawa
    -Iliesa McGoon
    -Rajeev Patel
    -Sekove Ravoka
    -Colin Rika
    -Josefa Rika
    -Seci Sekinini
    -Jone Seuvou
    -Kiti Tavo
    -Colati Tupou
    -Roko Uluiqalau
    -Filimoni Vuliwaqabaca
    -Taniela Waqaituinayau

    Some links to more info on Fijian Cricket can be found below:

  • Fiji Cricket on
  • ICC Trophy matches played by Fiji at Cricket Archive
  • Fiji in New Zealand, 1894/95 at Cricket Archive
  • Scorecard of Auckland v Fiji on 25 January 1895
  • Scorecard of Otago v Fiji on 1 February 1895
  • Scorecard of Canterbury v Fiji on 8 February 1895
  • Scorecard of Wellington v Fiji on 15 February 1895
  • Scorecard of Hawke's Bay v Fiji on 19 February 1895
  • Scorecard of Taranaki v Fiji on 22 February 1895
  • Fiji in Australia, 1907/08 at
  • Scorecard of Queensland v Fiji on 1 January 1908
  • Fiji in New Zealand, 1947/48 at
  • Fiji in New Zealand, 1953/54 at
  • Scorecard of Fiji v West Indies on 12 January 1956 at
  • Scorecard of Auckland v Fiji on 13 February 1948 at
  • Scorecard of Wellington v Fiji on 1 March 1948 at
  • Scorecard of Canterbury v Fiji on 5 March 1948 at
  • Scorecard of Otago v Fiji on 13 March 1948 at
  • Scorecard of Auckland v Fiji on 3 April 1948 at
  • Scorecard of Otago v Fiji on 12 February 1954 at
  • Scorecard of Canterbury v Fiji on 19 February 1954 at
  • Scorecard of Wellington v Fiji on 26 February 1954 at
  • Scorecard of Auckland v Fiji on 6 March 1954 at
  • Scorecard of Fiji v Papua New Guinea on 27 February 2005 at
  • Vanuatu in Fiji, 2006/07 at

    *Acknowledgements to,,,,

  • Tuesday, March 11, 2008

    Player Profile(#10)...Harbhajan Singh(India)

    Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh

    was the match referee unfair to harbhajan singh?

    harbhajan_singh_with a pretty girl

    Harbhajan Singh pronunciation (Punjabi: ਹਰਭਜਨ ਸਿੰਘ, born: 3 July 1980 in Jalandhar, Punjab, India) is an Indian cricketer and is one of the world's most successful off spin bowlers.

    Harbhajan made his Test and One Day International (ODI) debuts in early 1998. His career was initially beset by investigations into the legality of his bowling action and disciplinary incidents that raised the ire of cricket authorities. However in 2001, with leading leg spinner Anil Kumble injured, Harbhajan's career was resuscitated after Indian captain Sourav Ganguly called for his inclusion in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy team. In that series victory over Australia, Harbhajan established himself as the team's leading spinner by taking 32 wickets and becoming the first Indian bowler to take a hat trick in Test cricket.

    A finger injury in mid 2003 sidelined him for much of the following year, allowing Kumble to regain his position as the first choice spinner. Harbhajan reclaimed a regular position in the team upon his return in late 2004, but often found himself watching from the sidelines in Test matches outside the Indian subcontinent with typically only one spinner, Kumble, being used. Despite unremarkable Test performances in 2006, which led to speculation about his lack of loop and his waning value as a strike bowler, he remains India's first-choice ODI spinner.

    Early years and personal life:

    Harbhajan was born into a middle class Punjabi family, the only son of businessman Sardar Sardev Singh, who owned a ball bearing and valve factory. Growing up with five sisters, he was in line to inherit the family business, but his father insisted that he concentrate on his cricket career and represent India.

    Harbhajan was trained as a batsman by his first coach Charanjit Singh Bullar, but converted to spin bowling after his coach's untimely death saw him turn to the tutelage of Davinder Arora. Arora credits Harbhajan's success to a work ethic that included a three hour training session in the morning, followed by another in the afternoon lasting from 3pm until after sunset, using the headlights of a parked scooter to provide light.

    Following the death of his father in 2000, Harbhajan became the family head, and as of 2001, had organised marriages for three of his sisters. In 2002, he ruled out his own marriage until at least 2008. In 2005, he again fended off marriage rumours linking him to a Bangalore based bride, stating that he would only make a decision "after a couple of years", and that he would be seeking a Punjabi bride selected by his family. In 2007, in an interview with Tim Sheridan for the Cricket Show, he admitted that he hoped his marriage would take place within the next year.

    In a country where cricketers are idolised, Harbhajan's performances have brought him government accolades and lucrative sponsorships. Following his performance against Australia in 2001, the Government of Punjab awarded him Rs. 5 lakh, a plot of land, and an offer to become an honorary Deputy Superintendent of Punjab Police, which he declined. Harbhajan is also an employee of Indian Airlines, for whom he does promotions.

    Somewhat ironically, after being offered an honorary post with the police, Harbhajan sustained minor injuries in March 2002 in an altercation with police outside the team hotel in Guwahati. The scuffle broke out when Harbhajan remonstrated with police officers after they refused to allow a photographer into the hotel. Harbhajan was struck by the police, cutting his bowling arm and injuring his elbow. Extensive negotiations from local officials and organisers were required to dissuade Harbhajan and captain Sourav Ganguly from leaving the area after Ganguly said that the Indian team would abandon the scheduled match against Zimbabwe.

    One of his common nicknames, outside India, is The Turbanator, deriving from his skill as a bowler in terminating the innings of the opposing team, and the fact that, as a Sikh, he wears a black turban whenever he plays. Among Indians, Harbhajan is more commonly known as bhajji. It was estimated in 2005 that Harbhajan was the most recognised and commercially viable Indian cricketer after Sachin Tendulkar, in part due to his colourful personality and iconic turban, as well as his reputation for enjoying the celebrity social scene. His signing for English county team Surrey in 2005, based at The Oval in London, was partly attributed to his marketability. Harbhajan had generated a large personal following in the western London suburb of Southall, which boasts a majority Punjabi Sikh population, when he lived there in 1998 whilst training under Fred Titmus.

    In 2006, Harbhajan's endorsements generated controversy when he appeared without his turban in an advertisement for Royal Stag whisky. This angered many orthodox Sikhs, leading to anti-Harbhajan protests in the Sikh holy city of Amritsar, with effigies of Harbhajan being burnt. The Sikh clergy and Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee demanded an apology from him and asked Seagram's to withdraw the advert, on the basis that it had "hurt the feelings of Sikhs". Harbhajan quickly issued an apology, but he was also unhappy at the clergy's interference, stating "If they were unhappy, they should have called me and talked to me like a son".

    Early career:

    Harbhajan made his first-class cricket debut in late 1997, during the 1997/98 Ranji Trophy season for Punjab cricket team. Playing in six matches, he took 18 wickets at an average of 22.5, ranking outside the top 20 in both wicket taking and averages. He played in only one Duleep Trophy match for North Zone, in which he took 5/131. Despite many bowlers having superior domestic performances, Harbhajan was selected to make his Test debut in the Third Test against Australia in Bangalore, where he recorded the modest match figures of 2/136. He was subsequently overlooked for the ODI tournament that followed the Tests, involving Zimbabwe in addition to Australia, but was selected for all group matches in the triangular tournament that followed soon after in Sharjah, where he made his ODI debut against New Zealand. Harbhajan was fined and reprimanded by the match referee in his first international series, when his on-field behaviour was adjudged to breach the ICC Code of Conduct, following an altercation with Ricky Ponting after Ponting was dismissed by Harbhajan.

    Harbhajan was then omitted from the team during a home triangular ODI tournament against Bangladesh and Kenya, but was recalled for the Singer Trophy in Sri Lanka, claiming eight wickets at an average of 24.1. After again being omitted for the Sahara Cup series against Pakistan in Toronto, Harbhajan took five wickets at an average of 22.6 on a tour to Zimbabwe, in what would proved to be his last ODI appearances for India for more than two years. In all, he took 18 wickets at an average of 27.2 during the calendar year.

    Harbhajan was retained in the Test team, taking 5/106 in the only Test on the Zimbabwe tour. However, his opportunities were limited in the 1998/99 season, playing in five of the seven Tests after being omitted for matches against New Zealand and Pakistan respectively. In all, he claimed 13 wickets at an average of 36.8. When he was free of international fixtures for the season, he played in the Ranji Trophy matches, claiming 27 wickets at an average of 24.59 in five matches, including his first five-wicket haul at first-class level. Harbhajan was overlooked for the ODI team for the whole season and missed selection for the 1999 Cricket World Cup. He managed to retain his Test position for the late 1999 home series against New Zealand, as India fielded a three pronged spin attack on dusty tracks, taking six wickets at an average of 32.66.

    International exile:

    Harbhajan toured Australia in 1999/2000, as the second spinner. He did not play in the Tests, with India opting to field only Anil Kumble in the team. Upon returning to India in early 2000 for the latter stages of the season, Harbhajan was again unable to find a position in the Indian team, as Murali Kartik became Kumble's spinning partner.

    In mid-2000, an opportunity arose when Harbhajan was selected in the first group of trainees sent to the National Cricket Academy to study under Erapalli Prasanna and Srinivas Venkataraghavan, two off spin bowlers from the Indian spin quartet of the 1970s. However, his behaviour did not conform to requirements, and he was expelled on disciplinary grounds by director Hanumant Singh. His sponsorship job with Indian Airlines was also reviewed as a result of his indiscipline. Harbhajan later admitted that he had been at fault earlier in his career.

    Following his run-ins with Indian cricket administrators, there was nothing to indicate that Harbhajan's chances of national selection had improved at the start of 2000/01. Despite Kumble being injured, Harbhajan was again overlooked as Kartik, Sunil Joshi, and debutant Sarandeep Singh were entrusted with the spin bowling duties in Test matches against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe on the subcontinent. Having made little success in this phase of his international career, averaging 37.75 per wicket, and seemingly out of favour with selectors, Harbhajan faced a difficult decision. His father had recently died; as the family's only son, Harbhajan was now obliged to support his mother and unmarried sisters. He contemplated quitting cricket and moving to the United States to drive trucks for a living. After being out of the team for more than 12 months, there was little indication of the sudden rise that would occur in his cricketing career only a few months later.

    2001 Border-Gavaskar Trophy:

    With Kumble injured during the home series in March 2001 against the visiting Australians, Harbhajan, whose previous best Test figures were only 3/30, was entrusted with a heavy burden. He was to lead the spin attack against an Australian team which had set a world record with 15 consecutive Test victories, and was searching for its first ever series victory on Indian soil since 1969. Harbhajan started well in the First Test in Mumbai, taking three quick wickets in a spell of 3/8, to reduce Australia to 99/5 in response to India's first innings of 176. However, a counter-attacking 197-run partnership between Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist in just 32 overs, saw Harbhajan concede 103 runs from his last 17 overs, to end with 4/121. Despite being struck for many sixes into the crowd, it was still Harbhajan's best statistical analysis at Test level, as Australia proceeded to a crushing 10-wicket victory, their sixteenth consecutive Test victory in succession.

    With leading paceman Javagal Srinath ruled out of the series with a finger injury during the First Test, the teams met for the Second Test in Kolkata, with an even bigger burden on Harbhajan. Public opinion was sceptical about India's chances of stopping Australia's winning streak, with former captain Bishan Bedi lamenting the demise of Indian cricket. Australia were again in control on the first day, having scored 193/1, with Hayden having struck Harbhajan out of the attack. Harbhajan fought back to reduce Australia to 252/7, taking five wickets in the final session, including Ricky Ponting, Gilchrist and Shane Warne in successive balls to become the first Indian to claim a Test hat-trick. After a prolonged wait for the third umpire to adjudicate whether Sadagoppan Ramesh had managed to catch Warne before the ball hit the ground, the near-capacity crowd at Eden Gardens erupted when he was given out. Harbhajan eventually finished with 7/123 as Australia were bowled out for 445. India batted poorly and were forced to follow-on, but a 376-run partnership between V.V.S. Laxman and Rahul Dravid, who batted together for an entire day, allowed India to set Australia an imposing target of 384 to win on the final day. Australia appeared to be safely batting out the match for a draw, until losing 7/56 in the final session, collapsing from 166/3 to be bowled out for 212. Harbhajan claimed four of the wickets, to finish with 6/73 for the innings and a match tally of 13/196. India ended Australia's 16-match world record winning streak, and became only the third team to win a Test after being forced to follow on (Australia having lost all three of those matches).

    The teams arrived in Chennai for the deciding Third Test, and Australia's batsmen again seized control after winning the toss, reaching 340/3 on the second morning. Then, Australian captain Steve Waugh padded away a delivery from Harbhajan. The ball spun back into Waugh's stumps, who pushed the ball away with his glove, becoming only the sixth batsman in Tests to be given out "handled the ball". Waugh's dismissal instigated another Australian batting collapse, losing 6 wickets for 51 runs to be bowled out for 391, with Harbhajan taking all six in a spell of 6/26, to finish with 7/133. After India's batsmen gained a first-innings lead of 110, the Australian batsmen were again unable to cope with Harbhajan in the second innings, who took 8/84 to end with match figures of 15/217. India appeared to be heading for an easy victory at 101/2 chasing 155, before losing 6/50 to be 151/8. Perhaps fittingly, Harbhajan walked to the crease, and struck the winning runs. He was named man of the match and man of the series, having taken 32 wickets in the series, when none of his team-mates managed more than 3. The Wisden 100 study conducted by Wisden in 2002 rated all four of Harbhajan's efforts in the Second and Third Tests in the top 100 bowling performances of all time, the most for any bowler. He paid tribute to his father, who had died just six months earlier. His performance led to him usurping Anil Kumble's position as India's first-choice spinner.

    Later career:

    Harbhajan's Test success saw him recalled to the ODI team after more than two years. He was unable to reproduce his Test form against Australia, managing only four wickets at an average of 59.25, and a cameo batting performance of 46 runs from 34 balls, including three sixes. He was dropped from the ODI team during a subsequent triangular tournament in Zimbabwe in 2001 after only managing two wickets at 69. Harbhajan was also unable to maintain his form in the Test series, taking eight wickets at 29.1 in the series against Zimbabwe, but did manage to post his first Test half-century, reaching 66 in the First Test in Bulawayo. The Indians subsequently toured Sri Lanka in mid-2001, enjoying spinning wickets similar to those in India. Harbhajan managed to establish himself in the ODI team with eleven wickets at 21, but his Test form deteriorated further, yielding only four wickets at 73, while Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan was named man of the series with 23 at 19, in what was billed as a contest between the world's two leading off-spinners. Harbhajan was omitted from the Indian team in favour of Kumble on the following tour of South Africa, only playing in the later matches when India fielded two spinners. Nevertheless, Harbhajan continued to average 20 in the ODI format, winning his first man of the match award in the ODI form in an ODI against South Africa in Bloemfontein. His disciplinary problems continued when he was one of four Indian players fined and given a suspended one match suspension for dissent and attempting to intimidate the umpire by over-appealing.

    Harbhajan's Test fortunes improved immediately upon the start of the 2001/02 international season in India. Playing in his first international match at his home ground in Mohali, Punjab, Harbhajan took match figures of 7/110, including 5/51 in the first innings, to help India win the First Test by ten wickets against the touring English team. He continued his steady form throughout the series with another five wicket haul in the Second Test in Ahmedabad, to end with thirteen wickets at 24.53 for the series. Harbhajan's good form persisted in the matches against Zimbabwe, taking twelve wickets at 19.66. His 2/70 and 6/62 in the second Test in Delhi saw him named man of the match in a Test for the second time in his career. As in the first instance, he hit the winning runs, a straight-driven six. He also performed strongly in the ODIs during the Indian season, taking twenty wickets at 19.75 in ten matches and taking his first five wicket haul in ODIs.

    Harbhajan's overseas difficulties returned during the tour of the West Indies in mid-2002. He injured his shoulder while fielding in a tour match, and was forced to miss the First Test in Guyana. After taking only six wickets at 38 upon his return to the team for the Second Test, he was dropped for the Fourth Test, but was recalled again for the Fifth Test at Sabina Park, after Kumble was injured. Despite taking improved figures of 8/180, Harbhajan was unable to prevent an Indian defeat. He claimed three wickets in the three match ODI series at 33. Despite his performance at Sabina Park, Harbhajan was dropped again when Kumble returned for the First Test on the tour to England at Lord's. India's coach John Wright later admitted that this had been a mistake. Harbhajan returned for the final three Tests with moderate success, taking 12 wickets at 34.16, as well as managing his second Test half-century of 54 at Trent Bridge in the Second Test. The 2002 ICC Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka at the end of the tour brought moderate results with six wickets at 30.66, and a best of 3/27 in the washed out final against the host nation.

    As was the case in the previous season, Harbhajan's return to Indian soil coincided with an improvement in results. He took 8/85 in an innings victory at Mumbai in the First Test against the West Indies, and then contributed match figures of 7/135 and 37 in an eight wicket victory in Chennai which saw him named man of the match. A haul of 5/115 in the Third Test at Calcutta was the best in a high scoring match, and with 20 wickets at 16.75, Harbhajan was named as the man of the series. He was unable to transfer his performances to the ODI format, taking only six wickets at 50.16 against the same team. Harbhajan took only five wickets in the subsequent Test tour to New Zealand, in a series where five pace bowlers averaged less than 20 on seaming tracks.

    Harbhajan had a mixed tournament at the 2003 Cricket World Cup, taking 11 wickets at 30.45. He was the first-choice spinner and played in all matches but one, being dropped against arch-rivals Pakistan. His rival, Kumble, played in only three matches. Harbhajan was the only Indian bowler to take a wicket in the defeat to Australia in the final, taking 2/49. He was the fourth leading wicket taker for India overall and his tournament bowling average was worse than those of Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra and Javagal Srinath. He finished the season with six wickets at 14 in an ODI tournament in Bangladesh, where he was fined for abusing an umpire.

    Finger injury:

    After experiencing pains in his spinning finger during the World Cup, Harbhajan was scheduled to undergo surgery in mid-2003 in Australia, but the surgery was delayed as he sought to play through the pain. He underwent physiotherapy in lieu of surgery and was declared fit for a two-match Test series against New Zealand in late 2003. His performance was substantially worse than his previous displays on Indian soil, taking only six wickets at an average of 50. Aside from his debut series, it was his worst series bowling average on Indian soil. Despite an ODI series in which he managed only four wickets at 40.5, the Indian team attempted to manage his injury rather than have his finger operated on, and took him on the 2003/04 tour of Australia. After an ineffective 1/169 in the First Test at Brisbane, his injury deteriorated and he underwent major finger surgery late in the year 2003. Kumble replaced him and took 24 wickets in the remaining three Tests. Kumble bowled India to victory in the following Test against Pakistan in Multan, taking 6/71 to reclaim his position as the No.1 spinner.

    After a seven-month layoff, Harbhajan returned to represent India in ODIs in the Asia Cup in July 2004, where he took four wickets at 39.75 in four matches. His performance improved markedly on the tour to England for an ODI series against England and the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy, taking eight wickets at 14 and hitting as an unbeaten 41 against England at The Oval.

    Harbhajan made his Test return against Australia, who were again seeking their first series win on Indian soil since 1969 in the late 2004 home series. Harbhajan took 5/146 in the first innings and 6/78 in the second innings in addition to making a run out to reduce Australia from 103/3 to 228 all out. Despite this, India required 457 in their second innings to win, slumping to 125/8 before Harbhajan (42) and Irfan Pathan helped India to reach 239, still a 217-run loss. Harbhajan was less effective in the drawn Second Test in Chennai, with match figures of 5/198, and withdrew from the Third Test in Nagpur due to illness. Australia won the match, clinching the series. Harbhajan returned for the final Test. After failing to take a wicket in the first innings, he claimed 5/29 in the second to help India bowl Australia out for 93 and claim a dramatic 14 run victory. Harbhajan ended the series with 21 wickets at 24.

    A Test series in India against South Africa followed, with Harbhajan taking match figures of 4/166 in the First Test in Kanpur, before producing a man of the match performance in the Second Test in Calcutta to lead India to a 1-0 series win. After taking 2/54 in the first innings, he took 6/78 in the second, including South Africa's first five batsman to set up a successful run-chase of 117. Harbhajan was the leading wicket-taker for the series, with 13 at an average of 23.61. He ended 2004 with a quiet tour of Bangladesh, scoring a 47 and taking four wickets at 41.75 in two Tests and one wicket at 94 in two ODIs. He had a relatively light workload, bowling only 47.4 overs, as Irfan Pathan frequently scythed through the Bangladeshi batsmen with the new ball, taking three five wicket hauls.

    His performance in Bangladesh saw him dropped for the First Test in the early 2005 series against Pakistan on his home ground in Mohali, with Kumble being the only spinner selected on the pace-friendly surface. He was recalled for the Second Test in Calcutta and took match figures of 4/145 in an Indian victory. Despite taking 6/152 in a marathon 51-over spell in the first innings of the Third Test in Bangalore, Pakistan won the match to level the series. He finished the series with 10 wickets at 33.2. His performance in the subsequent ODI series was even worse, managing only three wickets at 73.66 in five matches. In spite of the poor end to the season, his performance in the year since finger surgery saw him nominated for the 2005 ICC Test Player of the Year. Harbhajan spent the international off-season playing for Surrey in English county cricket, citing the improvement that other international players had gained from such an experience. It was his first stint in county cricket, after a planned season at Lancashire in 2003 was cancelled due to injury.

    Chappell era:

    Harbhajan's first outings under newly appointed coach Greg Chappell came at the Indian Oil Cup in Sri Lanka in August 2005. He took five wickets at 31.4 in four matches, but was wicketless in the final, which was won by the host nation. This was followed by a tour of Zimbabwe, which was marred by tension between the new coach and Indian captain Ganguly. Harbhajan played in five matches in the Videocon Tri-Series involving Zimbabwe and New Zealand, managing only two wickets at 94, both of them against an inexperienced Zimbabwe team crippled by a mass exodus of white players from the Mugabe regime. Harbhajan had a quiet Test series against Zimbabwe, taking six wickets at 31. He was only required to bowl 58 overs, as the majority of the Zimbabwean batsmen were removed after being unable to cope with Pathan's swing which was likened to "Frisbees at high speed". He managed to claim his 200th Test wicket in the First Test, and in doing so became the second youngest player to reach the mark after Kapil Dev. Harbhajan's batting was notable for an exceptionally aggressive 18-ball innings in the First Test in Bulawayo, where he struck four fours and three sixes in a cameo innings of 37.

    Harbhajan's difficulties were compounded when he earned the ire of cricket authorities by publicly attacking Chappell and defending Ganguly after the team returned to India. He claimed that Chappell had used "double standards" and instilled "fear and insecurity" into the team. The Punjab Cricket Association called him to explain his actions, but he was not punished after offering an apology. In early 2006, Harbhajan changed his stance publicly, praising Chappell for the team's improved form, stating "He has great knowledge about the game and it has been a very successful year for us under him. He has lifted our team to great heights".

    Harbhajan was under pressure to perform when Sri Lanka toured India in late 2005 following his attack on Chappell and the replacement of Ganguly, who had frequently supported him during previous career difficulties, with new captain Rahul Dravid. In addition, his home ODI form had been poor in the previous three years, managing only 12 wickets at 56 in 16 matches, with an economy rate of 4.8.[89] He responded by claiming 3/35 in the first ODI in Nagpur after Sri Lanka had raced to 50 in just 6.3 overs. The Sri Lankan batsman hit the Indian fast bowlers out of the attack, scoring 74 runs in the first 10 overs and forcing Dravid to delay the Power Play and introduce Harbhajan. This sparked a collapse, with 4 wickets taken for 14 runs, resulting in a 152-run Indian victory. Harbhajan aggregated six wickets at 26 in the first four matches, at a low economy rate of 3.43, with a series of performances noted for skillful variations in pace and flight, helping India gain an unassailable 4-0 series lead. He was subsequently rested for the fifth ODI, and ended the series as the most economical bowler.

    He put on another strong personal performance in the first ODI of the following series against South Africa in Hyderabad, where he struck an aggressive unbeaten 37 from 17 balls, including two sixes, to help India recover to 249/9, before taking 1/35 from his 10 overs. He was unable to prevent an Indian loss, and was fined after pointing Ashwell Prince to the pavilion after dismissing him. Harbhajan ended the series with five wickets at 27.4, and was again India's most economical bowler.

    2005 ended with a three Test series against Sri Lanka. After the first match in Chennai was washed out due to rain, Harbhajan took match figures of 4/137 in as India took a 1-0 series lead. He finished the calendar year with a man of the match performance in Ahmedabad, which saw India seal a 2-0 series victory with a 259 run victory. He took 7/62 in the first innings, including six of Sri Lanka's top eight batsmen. A middle-order batting collapse, with 6 wickets falling for 82 runs, allowed India to take a 193-run first innings lead. Harbhajan later contributed an aggressive innings of 40 not out from 51 balls, in an unbroken 49 run final-wicket partnership with Kumble in the second innings, their display of unorthodox hitting stretching India's lead to 508 runs . His prospects of a half century were cut short by a declaration from acting captain Virender Sehwag, but he was compensated with opening the bowling, as Sehwag employed a novel tactic of assigning the new ball to a spinner. He took 3/79 to finish with match figures of 10/141, ending the year on a high note after he had been embroiled in the leadership struggle only three months earlier.

    Test decline:

    2006 began with Harbhajan's first tour to arch-rivals Pakistan. The First Test was a high scoring draw held in Lahore, where Harbhajan recorded his worst ever Test figures of 0/176 in a match where 1,089 runs were scored for loss of just eight wickets. In a match in which many batting records fell, Harbhajan was hit for 27 runs in one over by Shahid Afridi, just one short of the world record. The second Test in Faisalabad was another high scoring draw, with the aggregate runs being the fourth highest in Test history. Harbhajan took 0/101 and 0/78. His 81 overs in the series were the fourth highest amount of overs in any Test series without taking a wicket. When he was given the opportunity to make use of the batting surface, he managed a brisk 38, including two sixes. Harbhajan was dropped for the Third Test in Karachi, where a green pitch promised to favour seam bowling, and Kumble was the only spinner used. After sustaining an injury, Harbhajan was sent home during the subsequent ODI series without playing a match, ending his tour without taking a wicket.

    A return to Indian soil for the Test series against England failed to ease Harbhajan's wicket-taking difficulties. He managed match figures of 2/172 in the drawn First Test in Nagpur, and 1/83 in the Second Test in Mohali, where his main contribution was to hit 36 runs, helping India to a first innings lead. Despite taking 3/89 and 2/40 in the Third Test in Mumbai, Harbhajan ended the series with eight wickets at an average of 48, nearly twice his career average on Indian soil. Despite his difficulties in Test cricket, Harbhajan's ODI form remained strong, as he top-scored with 37 and then took 5/31 in a man of the match performance in the first ODI against England in Delhi, sparking a collapse of 7/47 which secured a 39-run victory. He ended the series with 12 wickets at 15.58, and topped the wicket-taking list, as well as having the best bowling average and economy rate.

    Harbhajan was unable to maintain his ODI form on the tour to the West Indies, where he managed three wickets at 64 in five matches. He was omitted from the Test team for opening two Tests as India opted to use three pace bowlers and Anil Kumble, scrapping the five bowler strategy used since early 2006. The reasons were unclear, with performance, fatigue and injury variously offered as explanations. Harbhajan was recalled for the Third Test in St Kitts after the pace attack was unable to dismiss the West Indian batsmen, with West Indies captain Brian Lara stating that his team would have been lucky to draw the Second Test had Harbhajan been playing. In a drawn match, Harbhajan claimed the leading match figures of 6/186, as well as contributing an unbeaten 38. Harbhajan's 5/13 in the first innings in the Fourth Test saw the hosts lose their last six wickets for 23, to give India a 97 run first innings lead. India went on secure a victory in a low scoring match in three days and win the series 1-0. It was India's first series victory in the Caribbean in 35 years, with Harbhajan contributing 11 wickets at 24.

    The 2006/07 season began with the DLF Cup in Malaysia, where Harbhajan made a good start to the season, taking six wickets at 17.5 in four matches. He was man of the match against the West Indies, scoring 37 in a 78-run partnership to push India to 162, before taking 3/35 to secure a 16-run victory. He was unable to maintain his form in the 2006 ICC Champions Trophy held in India, managing only two wickets at 51.5 and saving his worst performance of 0/49 in the final group match against Australia on his home ground in Punjab. The tour of South Africa in late 2006 saw even less success, taking only one wicket in three ODI matches while conceding 161 runs. He finished the year watching from the sidelines as India fielded Kumble as the only spinner in the three Test series. Apart from the injury hit 2003, it was Harbhajan's least productive year in Test cricket since he became a regular team member in 2001, managing only 19 wickets at 52.78.

    Harbhajan returned for the early 2007 ODI series against the West Indies and Sri Lanka in India, taking seven wickets at 35.87 in seven matches. Despite criticism that he was afraid to toss the ball up, and was concentrating on bowling flat in a defensive run-saving style, Harbhajan was selected as the off spin bowler in the Indian squad for the 2007 Cricket World Cup, while Ramesh Powar, who had been more expensive but had taken more wickets recently was omitted. A statistical study showed that since the start of 2006, Harbhajan has been the second most economical bowler in the final 10 overs of ODIs.

    Playing style:

    Harbhajan is an attacking-minded bowler who exercises great command over the ball, has the ability to vary his length and pace, although he is often criticised for his flat trajectory. His main wicket-taking ball climbs wickedly on the unsuspecting batsman from a good length, forcing him to alter his stroke at the last second. With a whippy bowling action, he was reported for throwing in November 1998. He was forced to travel to England for tests, but his action was cleared by former English player Fred Titmus.

    He has developed an ability to bowl the doosra, which was the subject of an official report by match referee Chris Broad, on-field umpires Aleem Dar and Mark Benson, and TV umpire Mahbubur Rahman after the Second Test between India and Bangladesh at Chittagong, Bangladesh in December 2004. The ICC cleared his action in May 2005, saying that the straightening of his elbow fell within the permitted limits.

    Harbhajan averages 25 with the ball in home Test matches. All five of his man of the match awards and both of his man of the series awards have been obtained in India. His bowling average climbs to 40 outside India. Statistically, his bowling is most effective against the West Indies and Australia. His most productive hunting grounds has been Eden Gardens in Calcutta, where he has taken 33 wickets at 20.87 in five Tests, while the Chepauk in Chennai, where he has claimed two man of the match awards, has yield 27 wickets at 21.62 in four Tests. Harbhajan has claimed his wickets most cheaply at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, where he has taken 22 wickets at 19.45. Harbhajan tends to bowl outside off-stump more than Muttiah Muralitharan, who attacks the stumps; he captures 66% of his wickets via catches and only 22% by bowling or trapping batsmen LBW, whereas the corresponding figures for Muralitharan are 48% and 41%. Harbhajan's off spin complements Kumble's leg spin. While Harbhajan is known for his emotional and extroverted celebrations, which are part of a deliberate strategy of aggression, Kumble is known for his undemonstrative and composed approach. Both spinners have opined that they bowl more effectively in tandem via persistent application of pressure to batsmen, but statistics have shown that while Kumble has performed better when paired with Harbhajan, Harbhajan has been more effective in Kumble's absence.

    In an interview in 2001, Harbhajan stated his ambition to become an all-rounder. Although he has recorded a few good batting scores, his batting average is less than 15 in both Tests and ODIs. However, in the span of four years starting from 2003, he has shown improved performance, averaging around 20 with the bat. His style is frequently described as being unorthodox, with pundits agreeing with his self-assessment attributing his batting achievements to his hand-eye coordination, rather than his footwork or technique. The aggression in Harbhajan's bowling also extends to his batting, with a Test strike rate of 67.95, which is surpassed by only six players who have scored more than 1000 runs in Test cricket.

    Racial abuse charges:

    Harbhajan received a ban of three Test matches after a Level 3 charge of racially abusing Australian cricketer Andrew Symonds calling him a "big monkey" whilst he was batting during the third day of the Second Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground, was upheld by the match referee Mike Procter. This decision generated controversy since no audio or video evidence was used, instead relying on the testimony of Australian players. The BCCI filed an appeal against the decision on behalf of Harbhajan. The Indian team had initially threatened to withdraw from the series pending an appeal against Harbhajan's suspension, however later the BCCI president Sharad Pawar confirmed that, the tour would not be canceled even if Harbhajan's appeal did not go favourably. It was claimed that Harbhajan called Symonds a "monkey", a charge that Harbhajan and his batting partner at the time of the incident, Sachin Tendulkar, have denied.

    On 2008-01-29, the appeal hearing was conducted in Adelaide by ICC Appeals Commissioner Justice John Hansen. After the hearing of the appeal, the racism charge on Harbhajan Singh was not proved and therefore cleared and three Test ban imposed on him by the match referee Mike Procter was lifted. However, lesser charge (Level 2.8 offense) of using abusive language was applied and Harbhajan was fined 50% of his match fee. Hansen later admitted he "could have imposed a more serious penalty if he was made aware by the ICC of the bowler's previous transgressions" - including a suspended 1 Test Match ban. Also it was reported that senior players had written a letter to John Hansen requesting a downgrading of the charge. The letter was signed by Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting and counter-signed by Michael Clarke, Matthew Hayden and Andrew Symonds.

    Some references to other news articles and related sites about Harbhajan Singh:

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