Cricket’s latest avatar was on display at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in the last few days as the inaugural T10 League got underway.
The revolutionary 10-over format saw a host of international stars, past and present, battle it out for supremacy in the four-day tournament.
The 39-year-old was delighted to return to Sharjah, a ground which holds many special memories to the Delhi man.
“It’s a good atmosphere at Sharjah and I have good memories of this ground when Sachin Tendulkar scored his two hundreds in the tournaments for India so it always good to come back here and play some games,” Sehwag said at the culmination of the tournament.
The World Cup winner was full of praise for the latest format and believes that it could be the perfect vehicle for the ICC to take cricket back into the Olympics.
“I think T10 is a way forward. If the ICC wants to take cricket to the Olympics I think this is the format for that since it finishes in 90 minutes. I played two games and enjoyed that experience,” Sehwag explained.
It was a bittersweet experience for the former India man who returned to the cricket field after a long time. Competing in a fast-paced format took its physical toll on Sehwag.
“It was a little tough since I have pains in my body and those came back. My back got stiff and sore and I got a spasm because I have not been playing but it is good to be back on the field,” the Maratha Arabians skipper bemoaned.
Though he is the sole Indian to have participated in the inaugural edition, Sehwag believes more retired cricketers from the country could join the league in the years to come.
“You never know. There are a lot of players who will retire in the coming years who can come here and play in the T10 League,” he stated.
Being an IPL mentor, Sehwag believes that fresh talent from the T10 League could make their mark in India’s premier T20 competition.
“The young players from UAE and the Afghanistan are playing in this league and as a mentor of the IPL I watch a lot of players and you never know when these players come in the IPL auction. You know the players (here) have a capability to score runs and take wickets,” he explained.
When asked whether T10 could impact ODI cricket, Sehwag was emphatic in his response.
“No I do not think so. I don’t think T20 cricket affected the 50-over game and neither will T10 cricket because they are different formats and have different crowds.
“You cannot play T10 cricket everywhere in the world since this is the first league but in coming years you never know.”
England’s bid to save the Perth Test, and with it, the Ashes, got off to a three-hour delayed start due to a wet pitch at the WACA. The 28 overs lost in play might have given the tourists a boost in their hopes to pull off a last-ditch miraculous save but despite the game not getting underway until after lunch, Joe Root’s men had been dislodged as the holders of the Ashes before tea arrived.
Steve Smith’s men have performed an encore of what Michael Clarke’s side did at the WACA in the last Ashes Down Under in 2013-14 by capturing the urn at the earliest with three wins in three. They look well on course to inflict a similar 5-0 whitewash.
The 2013-14 series ended some careers in the English dressing room, a point Nathan Lyon did not fail to reiterate before the start of the series. An Ashes defeat, let alone a possible whitewash, brings with it an autopsy led by former players, media, boards and the fans alike. This one will be no different for England.
There might not be an exodus of the scale in the previous loss this time but serious questions will be raised over the places of a few. Before the start of the tour, England’s soft belly seemed to be the inexperience of its batsmen making their Ashes debuts. The likes of Mark Stoneman, James Vince and Dawid Malan pitted against Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood would have made a large portion of England fans nervous.
However, after three Test defeats and six innings, it has been the failing of its senior and more experience batsmen in Alastair Cook, Root and to a certain extent Moeen Ali that had undermined the tourists’ efforts.
Cook’s failures have been the most apparent and perhaps the saddest. A man whose orthodox and sound technique could bail him out on any patchy surface has been left poking tentatively in a bid to survive. A man once destined to break Sachin Tendulkar’s run-scoring records in Tests has not even completed a century of runs in his six outings so far with the bat. His seems to be head that will be the first on the chopping block but it will be a difficult decision for the England selectors to make.
He has gone through a multitude of partners in the opening department since the retirement of Andrew Strauss denying him the luxury of a settled opening pair but his disappointments in the Ashes suggest Cook is firmly on the decline.
While Cook’s horrendous run makes for an easy scapegoat, his successor in the English captaincy has fallen short of expectations by a country mile. The pre-series debate had been built around the leading two batsmen in Test cricket leading their team against the other in a battle for cricket’s oldest prize. Three test matches in, Smith has confirmed his status as the clear greatest in the format and approaching legendary status while Root has emerged a distant second in both the batting and captaincy departments.
Smith has led from the front bailing Australia out of trouble in the opener at the Gabba with his 141 while his epic 239 at Perth has condemned England to their third defeat since December 2016 after having scored more than 400 runs in their first innings.
Root on the other hand, was handed his chance to prove his credentials in the final innings at Adelaide but could not grasp it unlike his opposite counterpart. His failure to convert his two fifties into something big like Smith has been the difference between the two sides. The burden of England’s expectations was always going to be on Root in Ben Stokes’ absence and the Yorkshire man has fallen short of those to a great extent.
Similarly, Moeen Ali’s failure with both bat and ball so far in the series has been befuddling, greater so have his deficiencies with the former. He got decent starts in both innings at Brisbane but failed to convert either. He had dismal returns subsequently at Adelaide before mirroring that performance at Perth. His vulnerability to Nathan Lyon’s off-spin is now bordering on the silly with five dismissals in six innings to the Aussie spinner.
For a man known for his ability to take on spin, Moeen’s weakness to it has been shocking. Together the failure of these three batsmen has left the debutants with too much to do. Stoneman, Vince and Malan have all given a good account themselves in patches throughout the tour with the latter surprisingly being England’s best batsman so far.
However, the failures of the seniors have left the debutants with too much to do. England’s bowling will also be up for a review post the Ashes after not having set the world alight but it is in the batting department that the visitors have disappointed the most.
Australia defeated England in Perth on Monday to regain the Ashes as they took an unassailable 3-0 series lead.
Australia’s extra pace was the difference at the WACA as England’s lack of firepower was exposed.
With this, Australia have become the most successful side in Ashes history with 33 series victories compared to England’s 32 in a befitting final Test for the WACA.
Here, we look at the good and the bad of the Test.
STEVE SMITH’S EPIC DOUBLE TON
The Australian skipper is simply operating on another planet compared to the rest of the batsmen in world cricket at the moment.
He once again was a brick wall to the English bowlers who struggled to conjure a way to get him out throughout the Test.
Smith‘s counter-attacking 239 seized the momentum from the visitors and put Australia in the driving seat despite England racking up 400 odd in their first innings.
His 22nd Test ton, and the biggest so far of his extraordinary career, was up there with one of the best Ashes innings ever played.
The Aussie’s stunning batting average of 62.32 is second only to the legendary Don Bradman’s 99.94.
What is even more staggering is that he has averaged over 72 since scoring his maiden Test ton against the same opposition in August 2013.
His 239 is the third highest by an Aussie captain in an Ashes Test, behind only Bob Simpson and Don Bradman.
MITCHELL MARSH SILENCES DOUBTERS
The Marshes are developing a habit of making critics eat their words in this series.
It was elder brother Shaun who erased questions over his surprise selection with a superb ton in the first Test at Brisbane and it was the younger Mitchell who performed the same trick in Perth.
Coming into the team on the back of a solid season in Shield cricket, Mitchell was preferred over Peter Handscomb to provide Australia with an added option in the bowling attack.
His bowling abilities seemed surplus to requirement at the WACA but it was with the bat that Marsh silenced his doubters.
The junior Marsh showed a new facet to his game with a much improved batting technique as he plundered England’s attack to all corners of the ground.
He registered his maiden Test ton and was looking good for a double-hundred before being pinned by James Anderson for 181 off just 236 deliveries.
His 301-run epic stand with the skipper for the fifth wicket was a match-winning one.
MOEEN ALI DOES A DISAPPEARING ACT
The all-rounder has been given the added responsibility as the sole England spinner in three Tests so far and his performances have paled in comparisons to those of Australia’s Nathan Lyon.
While Lyon has managed to build-up the pressure and hold one end up while also chipping away at wickets, Ali has failed at both.
His dismissal of Shaun Marsh in the match was only his third wicket in the series so far. However, more disappointing than Ali’s benign threat with the ball has been his utter failure with the bat. He was dismissed for a duck in the first innings before being dismissed for 11 in the second by Lyon.
It was the fifth time in six innings that the England all-rounder has fallen to Lyon.
The 30-year has now scored only 38 runs in his last four innings at Australia and his form has been one of the reasons for England’s shambles of a tour so far Down Under.
ALASTAIR COOK IN FREEFALL
The senior most English batsman had come under increasing fire after his failures in the first two Tests of the series.
It did not prove to get any better for the 32-year-old at Perth where he was dismissed for 7 and 17 in the two innings.
While his opening partner Mark Stoneman has displayed some grit in his debut Ashes series, Cook has been a shadow of his former self.
He was late to get his bat down to a full delivery from Mitchell Starc in the first innings and was caught and bowled by Josh Hazlewood in the second after a huge leading edge while attempting an on-drive.
His failures up top have meant that England have not had the luxury of a single good start in their six innings so far.
Only 83 runs have come off Cook’s bat in his six innings Down Under, a shocking statistic for a man of his calibre.