Rawalpindi draw indicates Australia still fears enforcing the follow-on

The second Test between Pakistan and Australia, which ended in a thrilling draw in Rawalpindi on Tuesday, brought to the fore one, rather puzzling question: why is Australia so afraid to enforce the follow-on?

It looks like the decision made by Steve Waugh in Calcutta in 2001 still haunts the Australian team.

On that occasion, Australia, 274 ahead on the first innings, asked India to follow on. Thereafter, what happened is well known: Rahul Dravid and V.V.S. Laxman put on 376 for the fifth wicket and India finally waltzed out winners by 171 runs (coincidentally their own first innings score).

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Don’t go overboard with the sentiments, Warne was just another flawed human being

There is an unwritten rule in most human societies that one does not speak ill of the dead. You can be the worst murderer, thief, rapist or sociopath and beat your wife every day of the week, but the moment you die, you have to be treated as some kind of saint.

This kind of hypocrisy is so embedded that at least in one language there is a specific word to describe it: Sinhalese, the language spoken in Sri Lanka. [Despite all my efforts, I just cannot recall the word which was told to me when I was in the eighth standard many moons ago.]

Courtesy: megapixl.com

That rule appears to be asserting itself in Australia following the death of cricketer Shane Warne, a player who revived interest in the art of spin bowling when he came on to the international scene in 1992; this was after fast bowlers, predominantly from the West Indies, had ruled international cricket for two decades.

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Vale Shane Warne, the man who revived spin bowling

The master has gone. Spin legend Shane Warne bows out, bowled for 52.

Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne has shuffled off the mortal coil. He died in Thailand on Friday at the age of 52, felled by a suspected heart attack.

The leg-spinner arrived on the international scene in 1992, a blond-haired kid from Melbourne, but did not catch the attention of the game’s pundits right away.

It took a while, but under the captaincy of Allan Border he grew in stature and slowly became the go-to bowler when Australia needed a wicket.

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History lessons at a late stage of life

In 1987, I got a job in Dubai, to work for a newspaper named Khaleej (Gulf) Times. I was chosen because the interviewer was a jolly Briton who came down to Bombay to do the interview on 12 June.

Malcolm Payne, the first editor of the newspaper that had been started in 1978 by Iranian brothers named Galadari, told me that he had always wanted to come and pick some people to work at the paper. By the time he got the oppotrunity to do so, he had been pushed out of the editorship by both the Pakistani and Indian journalists who worked there.

For some strange reason, he took a liking to me. At the end of about 45 minutes of what was a much more robust conversation than I had ever experienced in earlier job interviews, which were normally tense affairs, Payne told me, “You’re a good bugger, Samuel. I’ll see you in Dubai.”
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Racism: Holding and Rainford-Brent do some plain speaking

Michael Anthony Holding, one of the feared West Indies pace bowlers from the 1970s and 1980s, bowled his best spell on 10 July, in front of the TV cameras.

Holding, in England to commentate on the Test series between England and the West Indies, took part in a roundtable on the Black Lives Matter protests which have been sweeping the world recently after an African-American man, George Floyd, was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis on May 25.

Holding speaks frankly, Very frankly. Along with former England cricketer Ebony Rainford-Brent, he spoke about the issues he had faced as a black man, the problems in cricket and how they could be resolved.
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David Warner must pay for his sins. As everyone else does

What does one make of the argument that David Warner, who was behind the ball tampering scandal in South Africa in 2018, was guilty of less of a mistake than Ben Stokes who indulged in public fights? And the argument that since Stokes has been made England captain for the series against the West Indies, Warner, who committed what is called a lesser sin, should also be in line for the role of Australian skipper?

The suggestion has been made by Peter Lalor, a senior cricket writer at The Australian, that Warner has paid a bigger price for past mistakes than Stokes. Does that argument really hold water?

Stokes was involved in a fracas outside a nightclub in Bristol a few years back and escaped tragedy and legal issues. He got into a brawl and was lucky to get off without a prison term.
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The BBL is going downhill slowly, but surely

The ninth edition of Australia’s annual 20-over cricket tournament, the Big Bash League, ended on a rather downbeat note, with the final reduced to a 12-over-a-side affair, though the fact that it would rain on the day was known well in advance.

Despite that, the Sydney Sixers, a finalist and the eventual winner, did not want the game shifted to Melbourne due to the home ground advantage that it claimed it would have.

The other finalist, the Melbourne Stars, would not have minded moving the game so that the full 20 overs could be played, but moving it to the MCG, which was the alternative venue, would have afforded the Stars home-ground advantage. Shouldn’t professional teams be able to play at any venue and win?
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Smith’s weakness to short-pitched bowling has been exposed

There are two things one can take away from the Australia-New Zealand Test series, even though it is not yet over, and the third and final match remains to be played in Sydney early next year.

One, the rankings system that the International Cricket Conference uses is out of sync with reality; if Australia, ranked fifth, can beat second-ranked New Zealand with so much ease, then whatever decides those rankings needs sore re-examination.

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Fast bowlers have lost their balls

There was a time in the 20th century when there were more class fast bowlers in the game of cricket than at any other. Between 1974 and 1994, pacemen emerged in different countries as though they were coming off an assembly line.

It made the game of cricket, which many call boring, an exciting spectacle.

From Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson, to Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Colin Croft, Joel Garner, the late Malcolm Marshall, Imran Khan, Sarfraz Nawaz, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Devon Malcolm, Bob Willis, Ian Botham, Allan Donald, Fanie de Villiers, Richard Hadlee, Courtney Walsh, Curtley Ambrose, Patrick Patterson and Craig McDermott, they were of several different types and temperaments as is to be expected.
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Test cricket is becoming a joke

Pakistan look like they will lose by an innings again to Australia, meaning that the two-Test series will end in a wipeout.

The question is: why are so many weak teams coming to Australia and playing matches that end up being hopelessly one-sided, resulting in very few people going to watch them?

Or is it the case that there is no other option given that India cannot come to Australia every year and play?
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