BBC BLOGS - Test Match Special

Archives for April 2007

Aussie joy cuts through World Cup gloom

Martin Gough | 22:24 UK time, Sunday, 29 April 2007

Martin GoughBarbados – After seven weeks away from home and a disappointing finish to the World Cup final, I was pleased on my final evening here to have a meeting with a six-foot blond, with long hair held back in an alice band.

You guessed it; I met up with Aussie bowler Nathan Bracken to help him with his BBC column. He still had a grin from ear to ear, clearly delighted with his second World Cup winner’s medal - his first as a regular member of the team...

Read the rest of this entry

Gilchrist dazzles on biggest stage

Martin Gough | 20:30 UK time, Saturday, 28 April 2007

Martin GoughBarbados - Wow! There was just no other way to describe Adam Gilchrist’s performance as he took Sri Lanka’s attack to pieces with the highest score ever in a World Cup final.

After 149 runs, just 104 deliveries faced, 13 fours and a record-equalling eight sixes there seemed little doubt that Australia’s total – in a matched reduced to 38 overs per side – would be out of sight.

Muscular forcing shots to full deliveries were pinged into the sightscreen, drives off the front foot bisected fielders perfectly and there was the odd bit of luck that few great innings can be without.

Read the rest of this entry

Aussies ooze confidence

Martin Gough | 18:25 UK time, Friday, 27 April 2007

Martin GoughBarbados – Glenn McGrath has been non-committal about his plans after his retirement on Saturday but, on the evidence of the last few weeks, he could always form a comedy double act with Ricky Ponting.

Perhaps they could reprise the Morecambe and Wise routine that takes place with them both in a double bed in their pyjamas.

Media conferences have seen the duo bouncing one-liners off each other throughout. On Friday, with one of the biggest games of their lives less than 24 hours away, there were digs at Ponting’s golf game and McGrath’s work-rate in the nets, among others.

Read the rest of this entry

Aussies prey on South African aggression

Martin Gough | 21:14 UK time, Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Martin GoughSt Lucia - This was supposed to be the clash of the titans. Many were calling it the real World Cup final. It turned into a massive anticlimax as Australia stopped South Africa well short of a defendable total in the second semi-final.

Australia’s batsmen barely blinked as their unbeaten run in World Cup stretched to 28 games as they reached their fourth successive final appearance, replying to South Africa’s lowest ever World Cup total.

After losing Adam Gilchrist seventh ball, then suffering a slight setback when Ricky Ponting was bowled through the gate by a pearler from Andre Nel, Matthew Hayden showed there is more to his resume than top-order biffing.

And he found a perfect ally in Michael Clarke in a third-wicket stand of 60 to get them to within touching distance, Clarke striking another clinical half-century.

Read the rest of this entry

Anticipation high for second semi

Martin Gough | 14:07 UK time, Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Martin GoughSt Lucia - The sun is shining brightly above the picturesque Beausejour Cricket Ground, and there is a real sense of anticipation for what many are calling the real World Cup final.

Most of the people I have spoken to – including South Africans – have the Aussies down as favourites but recognise that the Proteas have the firepower at the top of the order to really put Australia under pressure.

As long as they survive the early movement, South Africa are in an excellent position to do just that having won the toss.

Read the rest of this entry

Semi-finalists bold and focused

Martin Gough | 17:51 UK time, Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Martin GoughSt Lucia - Had England decided to stop off here en route back to the UK they may have learned a further lesson about what it takes to be a World Cup semi-finalist.

South Africa coach Mickey Arthur, who helped coin the phrase “Brave Cricket” in South Africa having taken the helm two years ago believes the four sides remaining in the tournament have all found the secret.

“When I came in we looked at ways we could lead and improve in one-day cricket. It is a power-based game now. It’s all about taking risks,” said Arthur.

Read the rest of this entry

South Africa relaxed and ready

Martin Gough | 19:13 UK time, Monday, 23 April 2007

Martin GoughSt Lucia - After all the grumbles about airlines so far in the World Cup, I am pleased to report my luggage turned up on schedule after the flight from Barbados. The trouble was, I wasn’t with it.

The charter plane that was supposed to be taking us, and the South Africa team, was inexplicably delayed for almost two hours but when we finally boarded we were told what had happened.

The same plane had been used to ferry Australia (and my bags) to St Lucia, leaving South Africa’s players – all kitted out in team polo shirts and khaki shorts – kicking their heels in the departure lounge.

Read the rest of this entry

Fletcher's farewell present a little late

Martin Gough | 23:32 UK time, Saturday, 21 April 2007

Martin GoughBarbados - Duncan Fletcher was never going to play a high-profile role in his farewell game, even before Brian Lara hijacked it.

After six weeks of disappointment, England finally provided him with a World Cup performance to be proud of but it was much too late to secure a semi-final place.

Michael Vaughan’s men looked out of it when a woeful start from their the opening bowlers allowed openers Chris Gayle and Devon Smith to return to form and add 102 together in the first 15 overs, setting West Indies on course for the 300 mark.

But finally, after the stumbling displays of the last six weeks, England showed some aggression at the top of the order.

Read the rest of this entry

Lara party over too soon

Martin Gough | 17:20 UK time, Saturday, 21 April 2007

Martin GoughBarbados - The streets of Bridgetown were buzzing early in the morning with a real sense of match-day occasion. There were reports in one newspaper of a “near riot” at the World Cup ticket office the previous day.

And, for the first time in this half-hearted tournament, a stadium was packed to the refurbished rafters, Kensington Oval bathed in sunlight, bedecked in flags and banners – many made especially for the occasion - and eagerly expectant.

This could have been a meaningless World Cup signing-off by two teams that had failed to live up to expectations, already eliminated from semi-final contention with just $50,000 prize money to play for.

Read the rest of this entry

Top batsman of all time

Paul Grunill Paul Grunill | 09:26 UK time, Friday, 20 April 2007

Paul GrunillOne thing I've always avoided like the plague is being drawn into one of those 'Who was the greatest batsman in history?' debates. There are two main reasons for this - 1) I'm an habitual fence-sitter and 2) because ultimately it's a pointless occupation - especially if you haven't seen all the players concerned.

Brian Lara's decision to retire from international cricket needs, however, to be put into some sort of historical context. Is he the greatest West Indies batsman ever to play the game? Or, are the words 'West Indies' superfluous and is he simply 'the greatest'?

Let's look at the bald facts first. The top 10 batsmen of all time in terms of runs scored in Test cricket are BC Lara, AR Border, SR Waugh, SR Tendulkar, SM Gavaskar, RT Ponting, R Dravid, G Gooch, Javed Miandad and Inzamam-ul-Haq.

Read the rest of this entry

Lara upstages Fletcher departure

Martin Gough | 23:48 UK time, Thursday, 19 April 2007

Martin GoughBarbados - That was more like it! The way in which West Indies great Brian Lara announced his retirement was a complete contrast to England coach Duncan Fletcher’s resignation earlier the same day.

A tired, irritable Lara had already faced more than 10 minutes of questions, continually being probed on the off-field problems that have beset the side through the World Cup and on his own future, with a tour to England imminent.

There was just one last question, which was not as testing as some that had preceded it but it proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Read the rest of this entry

Fletcher absent for final act

Martin Gough | 20:31 UK time, Thursday, 19 April 2007

Martin GoughBarbados - Duncan Fletcher has never been the most media-friendly of England coaches so it was little surprise that he did not attend his own resignation.

Instead it was down to two of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s top “suits” to do the deed, with ECB chairman David Morgan flanked by director of cricket operations John Carr to furnish the details.

Of course, by the time the massed ranks of the media moved from the baking heat of Barbados to an air-conditioned yet anonymous ballroom at the Hilton hotel, all knew that Fletcher was to stand down.

Read the rest of this entry

The World Cup Eleven - continued

Adam Mountford | 10:19 UK time, Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Now that we know the semi-final line-up its time to update the "Team of the Tournament". You may remember this led to a great deal of debate the last time we picked an eleven following the group phase.

We'll be debating our dream team during our coverage of the Ireland v Sri Lanka match.

You can, as always, have your say by texting the programme on 84040 or e-mailing

Or feel free to comment below - we'll read out as many of your opinions as we can during the broadcast.

Anyway - for what it's worth here is my "Team of the Tournament" so far:

Read the rest of this entry

England pay for poor preparation

Martin Gough | 09:04 UK time, Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Martin GoughBarbados - Reviews of the 5-0 Ashes Test series whitewash earlier this year laid blame mainly on poor preparation and selection for England's woes.

Does the same apply to the World Cup, after defeat by South Africa on Tuesday ended their hopes of reaching the semi-finals?

And how can a team that beat world champions Australia in three successive matches on home soil in February now appear so poor...?

Read the rest of this entry

South Africa's turn for a big night out

Martin Gough | 20:50 UK time, Monday, 16 April 2007

Martin GoughBarbados - Forget Pedalogate; South Africa are the ones trying to play down a drinking controversy as they go into Tuesday’s must-win game against England.

Andrew Flintoff was stripped of the England vice-captaincy and banned for a game after a late-night drinking binge in St Lucia early in the World Cup.

This time it is South Africa captain Graeme Smith trying to defend his actions as one of a group of players on Saturday night, after the defeat to New Zealand in Grenada.

Read the rest of this entry

Ireland provide the clincher

Martin Gough | 21:55 UK time, Sunday, 15 April 2007

Martin GoughBarbados - The World Cup has been a lengthy journey for Ireland and I have been around for just a small part of it, witnessing their three Super 8 games in Guyana and two here at the Kensington Oval.

Their manhandling by Australia apart, they have earned extra respect for each game they have played and I’ll be sorry to miss the final game of their Odyssey as they move to Grenada to face Sri Lanka.

Whereas critics have already put the group-stage victory over Pakistan down to luck at winning the toss on a Sabina Park pitch that was very helpful to their bowlers early on, there were no such advantages come the second round.

But committed, workmanlike performances against England and South Africa in particular put them in positions from which they could have pushed for victory.

Read the rest of this entry

Ireland Zindabad?

Martin Gough | 17:51 UK time, Sunday, 15 April 2007

Martin GoughBarbados - Had the World Cup gone to seeding, Ireland’s match against Bangladesh would have been a clash between arch-rivals India and Pakistan.

The absence of the subcontinental big boys has meant a rather surreal atmosphere to the game but, as with every match here at the Kensington Oval, a medium-sized crowd has made plenty of noise.

In the new Greenidge & Haynes Stand, a Bangladesh chant was followed by one for Ireland by the next block of supporters, then by one for India by the next group on.

Read the rest of this entry

After the hurricane

Adam Mountford | 23:30 UK time, Saturday, 14 April 2007

Grenada - During our latest Test Match Special broadcast from the magnificent new Grenada stadium Arlo White mentioned on commentary that 1980s pop star Billy Ocean lives on the island.

Apparently, he has a house in Brizan around six miles up the coast from the capital St George's.

As any pop trivia fan will tell you Billy Ocean's biggest hit was When the going gets tough, the tough get going and in many ways that could be an anthem for the people of Grenada.

Read the rest of this entry

Low point in Ireland's fairytale

Martin Gough | 19:24 UK time, Friday, 13 April 2007

Martin GoughBarbados - Paul Davey set out to make a documentary charting Ireland’s experiences at the World Cup and it has turned into an epic. What could have been a two-week stay in Jamaica is now entering its fifth week.

The Irish amateur filmmaker is putting together a narrative covering the team’s fairytale tournament. There have been highs, like the victory over Pakistan on St Patrick’s Day.

And there have been lows, like being bowled out by Australia for the lowest total ever at the Kensington Oval in a match that was over by lunchtime.

Read the rest of this entry

Barbados body language

Martin Gough | 21:31 UK time, Thursday, 12 April 2007

Martin GoughBarbados - Apologies to those who clicked the headline expecting an examination on beach life around Bridgetown – this is all cricket.

A tour of Thursday’s news conferences provided an interesting insight into the approach and mental state of three sides, at the top, middle and bottom of the World Cup Super 8 table.

In the blue corner, appearing at the team hotel first thing in the morning, was a tired-looking Andrew Strauss, back in the England side for the last two games after being dropped at the start of the tournament.

Read the rest of this entry

Barbados ups the pace

Martin Gough | 19:29 UK time, Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Martin GoughBarbados - After a brief visit for warm-up games, the arrival of the Cricket World Cup proper in Barbados brought an instant change in tempo.

“What’s the pitch playing like?” asked Allan Lamb – who scored a Test century on his last visit to the Kensington Oval in 1990 – as he popped into the press box a few overs in.

He could answer his own question - “Whoa! It’s bouncy” - as a surprised Tamin Iqbal gloved Sajid Mahmood’s fiery third delivery high to point.

Read the rest of this entry

Au revoir Guyana

Martin Gough | 13:22 UK time, Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Martin GoughBarbados - All hell broke loose a fortnight ago, when my blog on arrival in Guyana was picked up and picked apart on the front page of a national newspaper.

“Mr Gough makes the description of Guyana that even a half-wit mental asylum patient in the UK would do better at,” claimed the Kaieteur News of 27 March.

One of the newspaper’s columnists – who I refuse to give further fame by naming – took another step the following day.

He said of my parents, who by now were a little worried anyway: "If [they] are alive, then one hopes that they acknowledge that he is an embarrassment to the human race.

Read the rest of this entry

Faith in Providence pays off

Adam Mountford | 08:25 UK time, Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Guyana - As I left the Providence Stadium for the final time at this World Cup, I said goodbye to one of the many staff who's been working at the ground over the past few weeks. Her name was Candace and every morning she'd greeted us with a smile when we arrived at the media centre.

She was really sad that the matches at Guyana had come to an end and told me: "I've been looking forward to being part of this fantastic event for years and I can't believe its gone so quickly."

Candace didn't have the most glamorous of roles, coming to work at 5.00am every morning to keep the media area clean and tidy and leaving just before midnight - but she loved being involved in Guyana's World Cup adventure.

"I'll be back running my food stall in Georgetown on Wednesday" she added, with an air of disappointment.

Read the rest of this entry

Visiting the ghosts at Bourda

Martin Gough | 16:03 UK time, Monday, 9 April 2007

Martin GoughGuyana - It has become a sporting cliché to claim you can feel the history seeping from the pores of an old arena but if I am going to use it once on this trip it will be on Georgetown’s Bourda ground.

This venerable, timber-built venue just east of the city centre has hosted cricket since 1884, when British Guiana called it home.

Its first Test in 1930 saw Learie Constantine’s nine wickets and a century from George Headley shepherd West India to victory over an England side captained by Hon FS Calthorpe (uncle of Test Match Special's Henry Blofeld).

Read the rest of this entry

Avoiding cabin fever vital

Martin Gough | 16:02 UK time, Sunday, 8 April 2007

Martin GoughGuyana - Of all the analysis following world number one South Africa’s shock defeat to Bangladesh on Saturday, my favourite was from Reuters journalist Telford Vice.

“South Africa have hated spending the last two weeks in Guyana,” he told me. “They got off the plane, didn't see a McDonalds golden arch anywhere and decided it was a miserable place.”

That rings a bell somewhere.

This is not a holiday resort, as much of the rest of the Caribbean is, but those who take the trouble to find out more about Georgetown or explore Guyana’s interior have been rewarded, and I include myself in that.

Read the rest of this entry

Bangladesh Tigers come of age

Martin Gough | 22:01 UK time, Saturday, 7 April 2007

Martin GoughGuyana - A World Cup that has been short on fun was revived by a massive shock as Bangladesh completed a 67-run Super 8 win over world number one South Africa on a steamy day at the Providence stadium.

Seasoned observers whopped with incredulity while a large Easter-holiday crowd (including vast swathes of schoolchildren bussed in en mass) celebrated the triumph of David over Goliath.

Perhaps though, when we look back in years to come, this result will be considered the day the Tigers reached maturity in the international arena.

Read the rest of this entry

Another upset on the cards?

Martin Gough | 18:20 UK time, Saturday, 7 April 2007

Martin GoughGuyana - Maybe I’m sticking my neck out a little early here but, after Bangladesh knocked out 251-8 - their highest ever World Cup score - against South Africa, this feels like the best chance yet of a Super 8 upset.

The Tigers admitted they would have bowled first after they won the toss but survived the new-ball threat of Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini well before beginning to build.

Mohammad Ashraful, who scored a century when Bangladesh beat Australia in Cardiff almost two years ago, was in outstanding form.

He has lived dangerously, with a cavalier hook and an outlandish flick while stepping across his stumps but has also shown maturity in keeping the score moving throughout his 83-ball 87.

Read the rest of this entry

Bangladesh join the big boys

Martin Gough | 18:46 UK time, Friday, 6 April 2007

Martin GoughGuyana - Habibul Bashar does not come across as the sort of person you would burn in effigy but that is exactly what happened when Bangladesh lost their last World Cup game, to New Zealand on Monday.

The sort of scenes that have been seen in India and Pakistan transferred across the borders to the country only granted Test status in 2000 and until recently still regarded as a young upstart.

Perhaps Bashar, who has come under fire for his own poor form despite leading his side to the World Cup second round for the first time, should view it as a compliment.

Read the rest of this entry

Rain can be a pain, if you let it

Martin Gough | 20:15 UK time, Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Martin GoughGuyana - Somehow New Zealand’s Ross Taylor managed to say, without a hint of irony: “We never know, it could rain in this next game.”

It was hammering down so hard outside the windows of the team hotel that we could barely hear the young batsman speak.

New Zealand, who arrived from Antigua on Tuesday, were supposed to be training at the old Bourda ground the following morning. Not a chance.

Unless they get a chance to train, it could be a long stay in Georgetown for the Kiwis, who do not play another game in the World Cup Super 8 until facing Ireland next Monday.

Read the rest of this entry

Kallis does what he does best

Martin Gough | 00:06 UK time, Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Martin GoughGuyana – It is probably a good thing that the pundit who suggested Jacques Kallis be dropped from the South Africa side following his part in the defeat to Australia is sitting safely back in Johannesburg.

Those piercing blue eyes may not be as menacing as they once were in the delivery stride but they certainly were when the subject came up after his man-of-the-match performance against Ireland.

“I’ve never minded criticism but there is a line you don’t cross and certain people crossed it,” said Kallis, piercing blue eyes directed at his questioner.

“I do remember these things and who these guys are so in the future …”

Read the rest of this entry

One step too far for Ireland?

Martin Gough | 13:07 UK time, Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Martin GoughGuyana - As dawn broke over the Providence stadium this morning, the pre-match talk was less about whether Ireland could cause another World Cup upset, as they did against Pakistan in the group stages, and more about how much damage South Africa could do.

England last week simply made sure they avoided a “potential banana skin” against their neighbours but as the Super 8 progresses it is looking more and more likely that run rate may need to be used as a tie-breaker between teams on equal points to decide the semi-finalists.

As Australia and New Zealand have shown against Bangladesh this week, that means winning as quickly – and therefore brutally - as possible.

Read the rest of this entry

Under-fire Lara still fighting

Martin Gough | 14:35 UK time, Monday, 2 April 2007

Martin GoughGuyanaBrian Lara should have been in a grotty mood on Sunday, after defeat to Sri Lanka left West Indies on the brink of elimination from their own World Cup party.

Pressure on the 37-year-old was high going into this tournament and it has grown even heavier over the last few days, with a spat over selection made public after the defeats to Australia and New Zealand.

Against Sri Lanka, in their fourth game in 10 days, West Indies looked tired and at times disinterested despite being bayed on by the largest crowd of the World Cup so far, which must say something for their captain’s motivational ability.

Read the rest of this entry

Hanging By A Thread

Adam Mountford | 14:20 UK time, Monday, 2 April 2007

After the West Indies' comprehensive defeat to Sri Lanka here in Guyana their chances of reaching the semi-finals are hanging by a thread.

Brian Lara's team need to win all their remaining Super Eight matches AND hope that other results go for them.

Read the rest of this entry

Jayasuriya shines through Windies gloom

Martin Gough | 18:55 UK time, Sunday, 1 April 2007

Martin GoughGuyana - Getting out of the taxi this morning just as the downpour was starting and walking the 200 or so yards to the ground felt like being stuck under a hosepipe.

After a pretty soggy start of his own, Sri Lanka’s Sanath Jayasuriya put on yet another batting masterclass for his 25th century in his 384th one-day international.

But for the fans who almost filled the Guyana National Stadium for the West Indies’ first and only appearance of the World Cup at this venue the entertainment looked like being cold comfort as their side lurched towards elimination.

Read the rest of this entry

Come on you reds

Adam Mountford | 08:13 UK time, Sunday, 1 April 2007

Whilst waiting for the Sri Lankan and West Indian press conferences to begin at the Guyana National Stadium, the BBC team got involved in some typically idle conversation.

Among the ludicrous topics of discussion raised was that the 2007 ICC World Cup is proving a very good tournament for "the gingers".

Now you've probably noticed that some players are perhaps prouder of their "red heads" than others. Irish all-rounder Kevin O'Brien is about as "carrot topped" as a man could be. In fact his father , one of Ireland's most famous cricketers , is even called Ginger.

Others, who I won't name, would probably say their hair is more strawberry blond. They are fooling no-one.

Read the rest of this entry

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.