Glenn McGrath makes confident 10-0 Ashes prediction

Duncan Bech 30/06/2015
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Assured: McGrath.

Glenn McGrath has mocked England’s decision to turn to an Australian for the first time in appointing Trevor Bayliss as their new coach for the upcoming Ashes series.

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Bayliss’ first assignment will be against his home country – the five Test showdown starts in Cardiff next Wednesday – and bowling legend McGrath has seized the chance to take a swipe at his old rivals.

“Can it get any worse?! I guess it’s a negative thing for English coaches that there weren’t too many thrown up at the top of the list,” McGrath said.

“When you see Australian coaches around the world coaching other teams it shows how great a job we have done. There’s no negative reaction back home. I think everyone is happy for Trevor. They wish him a lot of success, but not too much against the Aussies!”

McGrath, who took 563 Test wickets during an outstanding international career spanning 14 years, produced his customary prediction of a 5-0 whitewash of England when asked for his thoughts on the outcome of the series.

“I think everyone expects me to say 5-0 and I’ve dug a hole for myself over the years. If I say anything else they’ll think I’m not confident,” he said.

“So I’ll go for something slightly different this year. Considering Australia won 5-0 last time in Australia, I’m just continuing that so my prediction is Australia will win 10-0.

“To play England at home is always a lot tougher than playing them away, there is no doubt about that. Back when we come over here when we were playing pretty well there was never a 5-0 series win. This could always be the first. Australia have been playing some good cricket of late.”

Meanwhile, Australia and New Zealand will make history on November 27, contesting the first ever day/night Test in Adelaide.

Hopes are high that revised timings can help reinvigorate the longer format, meaning the eyes of the cricketing world will be trained on the groundbreaking match which will be the third and final game of the trans-Tasman series.

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#360stats: Sri Lanka vs Pakistan 2nd Test

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Younis Khan became the fifth Pakistani player to reach 100 Test caps.

As the dust settles on Sri Lanka’s victory over Pakistan in the second Test match, cricket statistician Mohandas Menon analyses the match  by numbers, with Kumar Sangakkara, Younis Khan, Tharindu Kaushal and Yasir Shah all achieving impressive feats.

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** The second Test between Sri Lanka and Pakistan was the 18th Test match hosted at the P Saravanamuttu Oval in Colombo since 1982. However it was only Sri Lanka’s 17th match there, making The Saravanamuttu only the second stadium in Asia, after Dhaka, to host a neutral Test match. Pakistan took on Australia in October 2002, which the latter won by 41 runs.

** This was the 50th Test match played between the two sides and the first time Sri Lanka has played a half ton of matches against a Test side. Pakistan on the other hand have played 74 matches against England, 59 against Australia & India, 53 against New Zealand and now 50 against Sri Lanka.

** This Test was Misbah-ul-Haq’s 38th as captain. However it was his 23rd consecutive Test as a Pakistani skipper, which puts him on par with Abdul Hafeez Kardar, who also led Pakistan in their first 23 Tests from October 1952 to March 1958. Misbah has been Pakistan’s only captain since the SSC Test at Colombo on 30 June 2012.

** Younis became the fifth Pakistani player to appear in 100 Test matches after Javed Miandad (124), Inzamam-ul-Haq (120), Wasim Akram (104) and Salim Malik (103).

** A breakdown of countries that have players with 100+ Test caps: England 13, Australia 12, India 10, West Indies 9, South Africa 6, Sri Lanka/Pakistan 5, New Zealand 2.

** Test selection has become increasingly ruthless as only 2.22% of Test players since 1877 have managed to reach this landmark of 100 Test matches.

** The recent match against Pakistan was not only Younis’ 100th Test match, but also his 200th first-class game since his debut in 1999 for Peshawar.

Younis’ first-class and Test career record:

                        Mts          Inns       No      Runs           Ave    100s          HS

FC:                  200            333        39    14898        50.67        49         313

Tests:             100            178        16      8640        53.33        29         313
 

** Younis now has an aggregate of 8640 runs. Only Brian Lara (8916) and Kumar Sangakkara (8651) have made more runs after their respective 100th Test match.

** Dushmantha Chameera became the 129th Sri Lankan Test player and he is the only Sri Lankan to make his debut in 2015. Sri Lankan Test debutants in the last five years: in 2010 (2), 2011 (8), 2012 (1), 2013 (2), 2014 (3).

** Sangakkara became the second player after South African AB de Villiers to take 50+ catches both as a keeper and a fielder in Test history. Sangakkara now has 182 catches to his credit, of which 131 have come while keeping and the remaining 51 as a fielder. De Villiers (184) has held 87 behind the stumps and 97 in the field.

** Tharindu Kaushal became the sixth off-spinner from Sri Lanka to claim a Test five-wicket haul. He follows Muttiah Muralitharan (67 five-fors), Ajantha Mendis (4), Dilruwan Perera (3), Kumar Dharmasena and Suraj Randiv.

** The wicket of Dimuth Karunaratne was Junaid Khan’s 50th wicket in 13 Tests against Sri Lanka. Junaid seems to enjoy playing against Sri Lanka as his next best record is 10 wickets in three Tests against Zimbabwe.

** Incidentally Junaid is the fourth Pakistani to claim 50+ wickets against Sri Lanka after Saeed Ajmal (66), Wasim Akram (63) and Waqar Younis (56).

** Yasir Shah’s wicket of Angelo Mathews – his fourth in the first innings – was his 50th in nine Tests and he has achieved this feat faster than any other Pakistani bowler. Waqar Younis, Shabbir Ahmed and Mohd Asif achieved their 50th wicket in their 10th Test match.

** Yasir took eight months and four days to claim his 50th wicket and is now the fourth quickest Test bowler to reach this landmark. However he is the quickest to 50 by any spinner.

** Yasir (6/96) is the first visiting bowler in Sri Lanka to claim six-wicket hauls in consecutive innings, having claimed 7/76 in the second innings in Galle. Imran Khan is the only Pakistani to achieve this feat in three consecutive innings between March and August 1982. His figures were 8/58, 6/58 & 7/52.

** Azhar Ali’s scored the ninth Test century of his career in his 80 Test innings and it was his fifth against Sri Lanka. Only Sachin Tendulkar (9) and Younis Khan (7) have recorded more centuries against Sri Lanka in Tests.

** All of Azhar Ali’s nine Test centuries have come from the number three position. Only Younis (13) has made more centuries at this position for Pakistan.

** This is the first time Pakistan has lost a Test match after Azhar Ali has made a century.

** Dinesh Chandimal’s six dismissals (five catches & one stumping) in the second innings equals the Sri Lankan wicket-keeping Test record of Amal Silva (six catches) against India at ColomboSSC in 1985.

** Sangakkara now has 11 Test ducks, six of which are golden. However the ducks are not such a bad omen for Sri Lanka as they have won four, lost one & drawn one of the matches where the veteran was dismissed first ball.

** Yasir now has 54 wickets in nine Test matches. This is the most by any Asian bowler at the end of their ninth Test match. Second is India’s Ravichandran Ashwin, who claimed 53 wickets after his 9th Test match.

** Yasir now the highest Test wicket-taker in 2015 with 27 victims to his name in four games. Following the spinner are English pair James Anderson and Stuart Broad , both with 23 wickets in five games.

** Sri Lanka registered their 50th Test win at home. Now only New Zealand (49), Zimbabwe (9) and Bangladesh (4) are yet to reach this landmark at their home ground.

** It has been over five years since a Sri Lankan pace bowler has claimed a Man of the Match award in Tests. The last was Lasith Malinga at Galle in July 2010, which was incidentally Muralitharan’s farewell match. 

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Surprise exclusion: Rahane was shockingly dropped from ODI series.

Some people are more equal than others. That’s the way sport, and sometimes life, is. Some get all the opportunities in the world while others have to justify the handful that they receive. Just take the example of India batsman Ajinkya Rahane.

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Last season, he was the toast of the nation. His smooth technique and attacking style provided immense solidity to a young Indian batting line-up that seems to have moved effortlessly past the retirements of stalwarts like Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly.

His stylish batting and ability to score at a brisk pace saw him score runs with ease outside India. Even though he has played just 15 Tests, he has some impressive numbers. In four Tests in Australia, he scored 399 runs at an average of 57, in two Tests in New Zealand he has 162 runs at 54 and in South Africa, 209 runs from two Tests at an average of almost 70.

In ODIs, he has done fairly well, scoring two tons and nine fifties in 54 matches. They are not great limited overs numbers but aren’t poor either as half of those games were played outside the subcontinent.

Rahane had a decent World Cup Down Under this year, with scores of 0, 79, 14, 33*, 19, 19 and 44. Nothing flash but not terrible. In fact his scores of 79 and 44 came against South Africa and Australia respectively, which shows that he has it in him to take on the best.

When India began their recently concluded tour of Bangladesh, Rahane looked set to continue his good form. And in the one-off Test, he showed that he could adjust to any conditions as he hit a superb 98 off just 103 balls. He got out trying to slog, as India were looking for quick runs before declaring, and it was clear Rahane didn’t have a Test century in mind but only runs for the team. It’s in situations like these that a player earns the respect of the dressing room and the confidence of the captain.

But sadly for Rahane, Virat Kohli was the captain in the Test. In the one-day series that followed, the team was led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni and he saw Rahane in a different light. After the team succumbed to a comprehensive 79-run defeat, the team management got into huddle and decided to make three changes to the side for the second match and go after the Bangladeshis with renewed effort.

One of those three changes turned out to be Rahane. Dhoni’s logic for it was an interesting read. According to him, Rahane struggles on slower pitches and takes time to get settled. All this was concluded after one batting failure.

It’s amazing how players around the world get stuck with a certain image. Rohit Sharma started his career in 2007 and for the first three years, averaged 25 (in 39 ODIs). Still, the management stuck with him as he was seen as an exceptional talent. 

It was only in 2010 he started to churn out the runs and now has two ODI double tons under his belt. And he got his Test debut in 2013, a good six years after his ODI debut. That’s how patient the Indian team was with Rohit. But no such luck for Rahane.

Other teams have also displayed such a propensity. Sri Lanka seem enamoured by left-handed batsman Lahiru Thirimanne and he continues to get chances at the top level. But in 17 Tests, he averages a paltry 26 and in 94 ODIs, 33. Not good for someone seen as a future captain.

At the other end of the spectrum you have players like Ben Stokes. It was expected that one of the few bright spots in England’s disastrous Ashes tour Down Under in 2013-14 (he scored 279 runs and took 15 wickets from four Tests) would be a part of the ODI team for this year’s World Cup as knowledge of conditions is a crucial factor.

However, he was axed from the ODI side following a few poor outings against India and in Sri Lanka and didn’t play in the World Cup. A few months down the line, we are seeing Andrew Flintoff say Stokes is more talented than him and should go on to become an England great. That’s the sentiment in the England camp after his man of the match effort against New Zealand in the Lord’s Test where he scored 92 and 101 and picked up three wickets.

But the fact remains it hadn’t taken the England management long to drop him not too long ago. Maybe some of these players are not in the good books of the ‘right’ people or are so engrossed in their own work that it’s easy for them to get lost in a team. They can only hope for consistency in every opportunity they get. Because unlike a few privileged others, they can’t afford any slip ups.

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