Ian Butler has declared himself ready for a return to top-level cricket.
That might sound strange with the season winding down but tomorrow the national selectors discuss the make-up of the New Zealand squad for the Twenty20 World Cup in England and Butler will be one of the players required.
The Otago bowling allrounder was the pick of the seamers in the two Twenty20 internationals and the opening couple of one-dayers against India before suffering a quadricep injury. It was subsequently linked to a knee problem.
This week Butler was given a clean bill of health.
“I could’ve played the last first class game (v Canterbury) but I saw no point, there was nothing to be gained,” he said.
“In some ways, though, the break has been good for me. I’d had a busy season, so I’m back now and really I couldn’t be better.”
Butler also distinguished himself with the ball in the Twenty20 international against Australia in Sydney, meaning he is sure to be one of the first bowlers confirmed in the squad for the June 5-21 World Cup.
There do not appear too many major dilemmas for selectors Glenn Turner, John Wright and Dion Nash. Jacob Oram will go to England as well, provided he gets through next week’s State Championship final between Central Districts and Auckland in Christchurch.
He reaggravated his Achilles tendon a fortnight ago.
“I’m pretty confident I will make the final and I won’t be tiptoeing through five days of cricket,” he said early this week. “I’m going to hit it hard and deep down I think I’ll be OK.”
The rest of the squad virtually picks itself after beating India 2-0 and taking Australia to the wire.
The selectors might chew over their choice of second spinner but so far have preferred Nathan McCullum over Jeetan Patel.
James Franklin and Kyle Mills should make the cut, as should Peter McGlashan as backup gloveman, which leaves one batting spot to be fought over between Grant Elliott and Scott Styris. Perhaps Styris.
A possible New Zealand squad for the Twenty20 World Cup in England: Daniel Vettori (captain), Jesse Ryder, Brendon McCullum, Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, Jacob Oram, Neil Broom, Scott Styris, Nathan McCullum, Peter McGlashan, James Franklin, Kyle Mills, Ian Butler, Tim Southee, Iain O’Brien.
ANDREW Symonds and three uncapped players have been selected in Australia’s preliminary 30-man squad for this year’s Twenty20 world championship in England.
Symonds endured a shocking season and suffered from injury, poor form and controversy in addition to undergoing counselling for personal problems.
The Queenslander has not played for his country since the Boxing Day Test against South Africa but was included in the squad, along with recalled batsman Brad Hodge, recovering fast bowler Brett Lee, spinner Jason Krejza and speedster Shaun Tait.
The three uncapped players among the group are Western Australian spinner Aaron Heal, Victorian batsman Rob Quiney and South Australian wicketkeeper Graham Manou.
Other fringe players to be included were NSW allrounder Moises Henriques; Victorian fast bowler Shane Harwood, Queensland duo Ryan Harris and Ben Laughlin and Tasmanian paceman Brett Geeves.
Symonds’ inclusion will give the 33-year-old the chance to resurrect his international career following his struggles since he was sent home from Darwin last year, when he went fishing instead of attending a team meeting.
He underwent counselling following that episode, but struggled throughout the international summer and then was involved in several alcohol-related controversies this year.
But Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said Symonds “had reached a point where it was appropriate to consider him for international selection, subject only to fitness and form”.
“Cricket Australia and Andrew have been speaking, as have members of the team leadership group, and we are satisfied he is committed to doing the things needed of an Australian international cricketer,” he said.
Australian chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch said his panel had chosen a squad based on performances in the shortest format at international level and in the domestic Twenty20 competition.
The preliminary squad will be halved to 15 in the lead-up to the tournament, which begins in June and precedes the Ashes series.
Tait, Lee, allrounder Shane Watson and opener Shaun Marsh were all included despite still recovering from injuries.
Hilditch said Marsh had overcome hamstring problems, Watson had resumed batting after recent back troubles and would aim to bowl again in May, while Tait (hamstring) and Lee (ankle/foot) would be monitored over the next month.
“We consider the squad to contain a good blend of youth and experience with several players who have been outstanding in Twenty20 cricket both internationally and domestically this year,” Hilditch said.
“From this 30 we hope to pick a final World Twenty20 squad that, if it plays to its ability, will be a very exciting, entertaining and extremely competitive team in its quest for the trophy.”
Australian preliminary squad: Ricky Ponting (capt), Nathan Bracken, Michael Clarke, Callum Ferguson, Brett Geeves, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, Shane Harwood, Nathan Hauritz, Aaron Heal, Moises Henriques, Ben Hilfenhaus, Brad Hodge, James Hopes, David Hussey, Mike Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Jason Krejza, Ben Laughlin, Brett Lee, Graham Manou, Shaun Marsh, Rob Quiney, Peter Siddle, Andrew Symonds, Shaun Tait, Adam Voges, David Warner, Shane Watson, Cameron White.
Back in India for the second edition of the Indian Premier League, former Australia opener Matthew Hayden on Friday attributed India’s
growing stature in Tests and ODIs to the IPL and the country’s Twenty20 World Cup triumph.
“India was focused towards Tests and ODIs but the win in the T20 World Cup has changed all that and the IPL has brought out some excellent players,” said Hayden, who addressed the media after his training session with the Chennai Super Kings at Chepauk, in Chennai on Friday.
The burly left-hander, who retired from international cricket after the third Test against South Africa in January following a string of sub-par performances, said he would be missing the Chepauk stadium after the IPL was shifted to South Africa since its dates were clashing with the Lok Sabha elections.
“I am really disappointed, I will be missing Chepauk,” said the 37-year-old Hayden.
However, he said fans can expect fireworks in South Africa where small grounds and high altitude will ensure tall scores.
“Bowlers will have a chance there (in South Africa) but small grounds and high altitude will ensure high scores there too,” he said, adding that the IPL will “take the game to a wider audience”.
Having been there and done that, Hayden’s job would be to guide the juniors in the Chennai Super Kings team which had finished runners-up in the inaugural year.
“As a senior player I will always be around to help them and also continue to contribute,” said the left-handed batsman who has to his credit a double century here.
Hayden also praised Virender Sehwag and termed the swashbuckling batsman as a huge crowd puller.
“Sehwag is an awesome talent with a great track record. He is a player who compels people to watch the game.”
Talking about his retirement, Hayden said, “I was forced to play too many roles. There was a lot of pressure but I have always enjoyed it and performed well when I was under the scanner. As a professional athlete you have to be selfish sometimes and single minded, after sometime the intensity goes down and that is the time to quit.
“I have had no press conferences to attend. I am relaxed, working on my fitness and getting strong.”
He also felt Australia have come back strongly ever since the Test and ODI series loss at home to South Africa.
“They have come back strongly,” Hayden said about the Ricky Ponting-led side that clinched the Test series in South Africa 2-1 and retained their supremacy in the ICC Test Championship.
Kolkata Knight Riders’ (KKR) coach John Buchanan’s multiple captain idea is nothing but a mockery of the game, former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar said on Wednesday.
Ridiculing Buchanan’s suggestion, Vengsarkar said he would be glad to see KKR captain Sourav Ganguly back at the helm of the Kolkata-based Indian Premier League franchise.
“I’ll be glad to see Ganguly back at the helm of the Knight Riders. This is ridiculous,” the former player said.
“Suppose there is one ball to go and six runs to be scored and then four guys come to advise you,” he said.
“It can happen to Ganguly himself. I want Ganguly to go to Buchanan, whose idea it is, and ask what to do. This is a mockery of the game with four captains telling the captain what to do,” said Vengsarkar who was here for Pepsi’s ‘First Ball Ka Captain’ initiative.
Under the programme, 16 fans will get a chance to bowl to a legendary player before every ICC World Twenty20 match in England.
Vengsarkar, who boasts three centuries at Lord’s, said it would be a lifetime chance for a youngster to bowl at the ‘Mecca of Cricket’.
“I was not initially sure if ICC would allow such things. But it’s going to be a great chance for someone to bowl at Lord’s,” he said.
Recalling his fond memories of the ground, Vengsarkar said, “I played my first match there in 1979. I had heard so much about the venue and when I walked out to a full house, the atmosphere was simply electrifying.
“I got a duck in the first innings and we were bundled out cheaply. When I walked out to bat in the second innings, I thought if I get a pair here, what will I tell my grandchildren? That I got a pair at Lord’s? I was determined to get a ton.”
Vengsarkar scored 103 and shared a 210-run partnership with Gundappa Viswanath that steered India to safety.
“Viswanath played really well in that match and we had a great partnership. I got a century. I also heard someone saying no Indian had scored a century there since Vinoo Mankad in 1952,” Vengsarkar reminisced.
In 1982 again, I scored 157 and it could have been a bigger innings but I top edged a Bob Willis delivery which flew to third man.
“In 1986, I was precariously placed at 92 when Maninder Singh joined me as the 11th man. In the previous series in Sri Lanka, he had played across and got bowled to leave me stranded on 98. So when he asked me ‘Dilip bhai, kya karu’ (how to play)? I said ‘Kuch bhi kar, ara mat khelna ‘(just don’t play across),” he said.
“He did just that and I got my third century at Lord’s. We also won our first match at Lord’s, something we have not done since,” said Vengsarkar.
“Incidentally, I got four centuries at Ferozeshah Kotla – three against the West Indies and one against Pakistan – but people only talk about Lord’s,” the former chief selector said.
Talking about the current India team, Vengsarkar recalled anointing Mahendra Singh Dhoni the Twenty20 captain, a move which led to the star stumper-batsman taking over in other formats of the game as well.
“For the Twenty20 World Cup, we picked a side which fitted into the format. Dhoni had not led even his state team when we decided to make him the skipper.
“We realised here was a man who knew the game. We asked people who fielded in the slips about him and the feedback was that he was a man who was very intelligent and positive. So we picked him ahead of everyone and we won the World Cup,” he said.
South Africa has named Johan Botha to lead their side for opening Twenty20 International against Australia at the Wanderers ground.
Skipper Graeme Smith and acting skipper from last week’s third Test Jacques Kallis are both injured, while opening batsman Neil McKenzie has been dropped.
Botha led South Africa to a series win in the One-Dayers in Australia against Ricky Ponting’s side in January to claim the world No.1 ranking.
“Wins are always important. But there is going to be a bit of experimenting. We need to try to get our team for the (T20) World Cup sorted out. There’s only these two games and then in June it’s the World Cup (in England),” Botha said on Thursday.
Botha is keen to avenge South Africa’’s two Twenty20 defeats against
Australia in January, the Daily Telegraph reported.
“We know we have to start better tomorrow. We can’t let Australia get ahead. We want to start really well here. We are looking forward to playing in front of a massive crowd,” he said.
The second and final T20 match is at Centurion on Sunday followed by a five-game series of one-day internationals.
Sri Lanka’s newly appointed cricket captain Kumar Sangakkara said his immediate focus would be on the upcoming Twenty20 World Cup that begins in June in England.
The wicket-keeper batsman had been a vice-captain since 2006 and was officially named Sri Lanka’s new captain Thursday afternoon. Muttiah Muralitharan has been appointed the vice-captain. Their first assignment will be the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20 in England.
“It is a huge honour and great privilege to be given the captaincy of the Sri Lanka cricket team. I had no hesitation is accepting the responsibility when the chairman of selectors offered me the job. I am very excited by the challenge ahead,” Sangakkara said.
Sangakkara takes over from Mahela Jayawardene, his close friend and team-mate. Jayawardene, who had been the captain for a decade, stepped down immediately after the aborted two-Test tour to Pakistan early this month saying his successor needs at least 18 months to prepare the team for the 2011 world cup.
“Taking over from such a great player and a successful captain like Mahela is a great feeling. My immediate focus is on the Twenty20 World Cup and build a strong team for it,” Sangakkara told IANS Thursday.
“As we prepare for this and the year ahead, I will be stressing to the players the individual responsibility they must take on to improve and develop their games,” he said.
Claiming that he and the outgoing captain “saw eye-to-eye on many things” on and off the field, Sangakkara, from the Central Kandy district said he would “now continue on the same road trying to help bring Sri Lanka consistent success in all forms of the game”.
The 31-year-old stylish left-hander is one of the world’s finest wicket-keeper batsmen, having scored over 6,000 runs in both versions of the game.
Holding averages of 54.99 in Tests and 36.31 in One-day internationals, Sangakkara has taken over 380 catches and effected 80 stumpings in both versions of the game.