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Archives for October 2008

Stanford parade raises serious concerns

Jonathan Agnew | 12:20 UK time, Friday, 31 October 2008

Everyone knew this week in Antigua would be controversial, interesting and a massive talking point, but it has exceeded expectation on every level.

Almost lost in the early days of the Wags and presidential walkabouts was the main reason we are here - the winner-take-all play-off on Saturday night.

Lost, that is, except in the England camp, where the tension has noticeably heightened in the last few days.

There, two facts the media has been discussing for weeks have now hit home: that nobody gives you $1m for nothing; and they are in a no-win situation.

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Thrills and spills at the Super Series

Adam Mountford Adam Mountford | 05:35 UK time, Wednesday, 29 October 2008

We always suspected that this week would be full of intrigue and already the Stanford Super Series has not disappointed.

On the field we have already had four highly enjoyable matches, despite concerns about the quality of the pitch and the difficulty of catching the ball under the lights at the Stanford ground.

The best game of the week so far came on Tuesday night as England won a dramatic match against Trinidad and Tobago by a single run.

Off the field we've had the bizarre incident concerning Sir Allen Stanford himself, in which the Texan billionaire apologised to Kevin Pietersen and Matt Prior after pictures of him with Prior's pregnant wife on his lap were shown on the big screen at the ground.

Then as we were preparing to go on air on Tuesday we heard the news that England were down to just 11 fit players with a stomach bug sweeping through the camp.

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Pitch may spoil Stanford spectacle

Adam Mountford | 08:24 UK time, Monday, 27 October 2008

So far the Stanford experience has been generally very enjoyable here in Antigua. The ground looks magnificent, the event has been very well organised and the welcome has been incredibly friendly.

But the main concern now is whether the quality of the cricket will live up to the setting and the occasion because although the ground here is often described as the finest in the West Indies, the pitches provided so far threaten to ruin what should be an incredible spectacle this week.

It is true that low scoring matches can be very exciting - and last night's narrow win for England over Middlesex was an enjoyable encounter - but we really need a better surface if this week is really to be hailed a success.

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Ask Bearders #180

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Bill Frindall | 15:21 UK time, Friday, 24 October 2008

Welcome to Ask Bearders, where Test Match Special statistician Bill "The Bearded Wonder" Frindall answers your questions on all things cricket.

Below are Bill's responses to some of your questions posed at the end of his last column and if you have a question for Bill, leave it at the end of this blog entry. Please do include your country of residence - Bill loves to hear where all his correspondents are posting from.

Bill isn't able to answer all of your questions, however. BBC Sport staff will choose a selection of them and send them to Bearders for him to answer.

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Antigua awaits Stanford Bonanza

Adam Mountford Adam Mountford | 13:02 UK time, Friday, 24 October 2008

When I arrived here in Antigua a couple of days ago, I could tell the island was getting in the mood for the multi-million dollar Stanford Super Series when the gentleman at passport control detained me for longer than normal at his kiosk.

There were no problems with my documents - instead he had seen I had written "radio producer" as my occupation and wanted to put himself forward as a potential commentator.

"I've got a great voice for the BBC," he told me.

"Then he paused and said: "Actually forget that, I don't want to talk about cricket - with the money in the game now I want to play."

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Witnessing history - well, almost

Phil Long | 08:34 UK time, Thursday, 23 October 2008

From a personal point of view it was a mistake to match Nasser Hussain's decision to bat at the Gabba in 2002 or Allan Donald's decision to run in the 1999 World Cup semi-final.

Back home in England before I set off for India, the thought of a 40 or 50-hour train journey north from Bangalore to watch the second Test against Australia and a week in the Milton Keynes of the Punjab that is Chandigarh had seemed like one trip too far in my cricketing journey.

And so, sat in various hotel rooms and bars around Karnataka, Kerala and Goa, I suffered in self imposed exclusion wondering what I had been thinking of to miss Sachin Tendulkar make history in Mohali.

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India turn the tables

Aakash Chopra | 14:14 UK time, Tuesday, 21 October 2008

India's convincing win in the second Test proved that "old-fashioned" cricket still works. Before the series began Ricky Ponting had made a lot of hue and cry about how the Australians were going to play a new brand of cricket - i.e. aggressive and new-age - while the Indians are still stuck up on the old-fashioned way of playing.

Now, with the series standing at 1-0 to India at the halfway mark, Ricky might have to eat his words.

India didn't put a foot wrong in this Test match. As I'd mentioned earlier, winning the toss is crucial in this part of the world, and that was proved to be right yet again. Mahendra Dhoni won the toss and India piled on the runs.

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India's interest in Test cricket fading

Phil Long | 09:00 UK time, Thursday, 16 October 2008

The journey from Bangalore, where the first Test against Australia finished in a draw, up to Mohali in the north of India, has been a long one. But it has given me plenty of time to reflect on the future of Test cricket in a country currently obsessed by the Twenty20 format.

After the shenanigans between these two teams at the start of the year in Sydney I don't think it's an exaggeration to call this series the most eagerly-awaited rematch of the new millennium.

As such, I expected Bangalore to be buzzing with the mouth-watering prospect of India looking to put one over Australia and gain some sort of revenge for their recent narrow series defeats both at home and Down Under.

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Lack of quality spinner costs Australia

Aakash Chopra | 10:43 UK time, Tuesday, 14 October 2008

India-Australia matches are becoming increasingly tight contests - and the first Test in Bangalore wasn't any different.

Winning the toss in the sub-continent has always been very important but on tracks like the one at the M._Chinnaswamy_Stadium, it's almost a must.

Australia did the expected by choosing to bat first and piled on the runs. One could argue that with the scoring rate, which hovered around three runs an over instead of the four we're so used to seeing when Ricky Ponting's side are batting, that they weren't really finding it easy going.

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The promise of an exciting winter

Adam Mountford | 15:42 UK time, Friday, 10 October 2008

So cricket's latest on-off saga has been settled with confirmation that the Stanford Super Series is going ahead.

And there'll be extensive coverage of the event on BBC radio.

The much anticipated "Twenty20 for Twenty" game between England and the Stanford Superstars will be live on 5 Live with commentary from Jonathan Agnew and Arlo White plus contributions from the voice of West Indies cricket Tony Cozier, Antigua's favourite son Sir Viv Richards plus one or two England legends... More details to follow.

Our coverage of the multi-million dollar match begins from 2100 BST, Saturday 1 November with the game itself getting underway at 2130.

But they'll be plenty from Antigua before that!

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About Aakash Chopra

Aakash Chopra | 12:35 UK time, Friday, 10 October 2008

Aakash Chopra will be writing four blogs during the India v Australia Test series and two during the India v England series which follows.

The 31-year-old is a prolific opening batsman, who made his first-class debut during the 1997-98 Indian season.

With India struggling to find a consistent top order pair, he was given his first Test cap against New Zealand at Ahmedabad in 2003 and followed that with two half centuries in the following game at Mohali.

Chopra went on to make 10 appearances before losing his place during the home series against Australia 12 months later, but has remained a heavy scorer at domestic level.

During the 2007-08 season he scored almost 800 runs to help Delhi win the Ranji Trophy and again put himself in the farme for a Test recall.

He also plays for Kolkata Knight Riders in the Twenty20 Indian Premier League.

Put your questions to Vaughan and Bopara

Adam Mountford Adam Mountford | 16:56 UK time, Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Former England captain Michael Vaughan will be joining Mark Saggers for what promises to be a fascinating Cricket Special during Thursday night's 5 Live Sport.

Vaughan will be joined by England and Essex all-rounder Ravi Bopara and by two former Middlesex bowlers who will be part of the Test Match Special team this winter, Simon Hughes and Angus Fraser.

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Ask Bearders #179

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Bill Frindall | 09:57 UK time, Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Welcome to Ask Bearders, where Test Match Special statistician Bill "The Bearded Wonder" Frindall answers your questions on all things cricket.

Below are Bill's responses to some of your questions posed at the end of his last column and if you have a question for Bill, leave it at the end of this blog entry. Please do include your country of residence - Bill loves to hear where all his correspondents are posting from.

Bill isn't able to answer all of your questions, however. BBC Sport staff will choose a selection of them and send them to Bearders for him to answer.

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India's Dad's Army must prove the doubters wrong

Oliver Brett | 10:28 UK time, Tuesday, 7 October 2008

I still remember a wonderfully accurate banner unfurled with great pride by Australian fans on day one of the Brisbane Ashes Test in November 2006.

"Our Dad's Army - Too Old, Too Slow, Too Damn Good" it said.

There they all were, pushing ever closer to 40 - Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne and Justin Langer. And there they all were the following January, retiring from Test cricket drenched in beer as they toasted a glorious 5-0 drubbing of the Poms.

On Thursday, a Test series that has attracted as much interest as any recent Ashes rubber begins in Bangalore when India take on Australia.

But this time the visiting side, attempting to follow up their momentous 2004 success under Ricky Ponting, is conspicuously bereft of old-timers.

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