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 81 
 on: September 14, 2015, 02:57:56 PM 
Started by Blwe_torch - Last post by Blwe_torch
Brian Close was the bravest man to ever play cricket
Yorkshire great, who has died aged 84 after a battle with cancer, was renowned for his ferocious battles with West Indies' great fast bowlers of the 1970s


Brian Close, the former Yorkshire and England batsman, has died after a battle with cancer Photo: ALLSPORT
Scyld Berry

No question about the physically bravest man who has played professional cricket: Brian Close, the former captain of Yorkshire and England, who has died of lung cancer aged 84.
Nobody took so many blows to the body when batting in the age before helmets as Close, a lion-hearted lefthander and leader. Nobody took so many blows to the body when fielding close to the wicket.

Perhaps the scariest cricket ever seen to that point was the third evening of the Old Trafford Test of 1976. It was the dawn of the era of West Indian fast bowling – the dawn, in effect, of the modern era.
There had been pairs of fast bowlers before, like Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson of Australia, who had blown England aside in 1974-5. But the West Indians under Clive Lloyd unleashed three outright fast bowlers in Andy Roberts, Michael Holding and Wayne Daniel.


Brian Close survives a barrage against the great West Indies attack of 1976

England’s response in that hot summer of 1976 was to opt for age, not youth. They wheeled out the old ‘uns, to be physically but not mentally scarred: John Edrich, David Steele, Chris Balderstone and Close, after he had defied the West Indians in an innings of 88 for Somerset, even though he was 45 years old.
He was already famous for his bravery. In 1963 he had walked down the pitch at Lord’s to Charlie Griffith and Wes Hall, and let the ball hit him. Not madness, not masochism, at least not in Close’s view, but the way to avoid being leg-before-wicket; and he scored 70, his highest score in his 22 Tests.
So although he had never been a regular batsman for England – he had been dropped after an eccentric innings against Australia in the Old Trafford Test of 1961, immortalised by Richie Benaud – Close was reinstated in 1976. Nine years had passed since his previous Test in 1967, when he had been England’s captain, until he fell foul of a controversy.

The second Test of 1976 at Lord’s went well enough. Close scored 60 and 46 at number four to force a second draw against West Indies. The third Test pitch however was “cracked, often unpredictable” according to Wisden, and baked hard in one of England’s hottest summers. For want of anyone else, Close was promoted to open.

England did not bat very well or for very long. While Gordon Greenidge hit England’s medium-pacers for a century in each innings, England were bowled out for 71 first time, Holding taking five for 17. On Saturday evening England began their second innings, needing 552 to win.
Close and Edrich, who was 38, were bounced and bombarded. Edrich took some evasive action, Close none. He did not want to give into the survival instinct of fending away the bouncers with his bat and offer a catch. He let the fiery fast bowling hit him – no helmet, no chest protector, no forearm guard, just gloves and a bat.
No limitation to the number of bouncers per over either, not two as now. Umpire Bill Alley had a word with Holding after he had bowled three in a row at Close, but that was it. After an hour’s play before the close, without loss of life or wicket, Close had scored one not out.


Brian Close had only gloves and pads for protection

Close was worse than black and blue after England had been dismissed for 126, he himself finishing with 20 after almost three hours under fire. His friend Geoff Cope, who also played for Yorkshire and England, saw him afterwards and said: “It was the sort of sunset you would not want to see on anybody.” Cope makes the additional point that the bruises were on Close’s right side: he did not turn away from the ball.
As a fielder Close was no less renowned for his bravery. The story was that when a ball hit him on the head at short-leg, he shouted “catch it!” Eric Morecombe joked that the start of the cricket season was the sound of leather on Brian Close.
Most human beings, if faced by Sir Garfield Sobers playing a hook shot two yards away, would flinch, even if wearing a helmet. Close, when appointed England captain in 1966 for the fifth Test against West Indies, stood at short-leg, watched the ball, caught it and led his team to victory by an innings.
In the dressing room Close’s wounds from batting or fielding were often seen by the rest of his team. “We all knew it hurt him,” Cope said, “but nobody was brave enough to mention it!”

In his seven Tests as England captain, Close won six and drew the other. He was deposed after he had been found guilty of time-wasting when leading Yorkshire to a draw against Warwickshire at Edgbaston in 1967 and “severely censured”. England’s selectors voted for him to continue as England’s captain; the MCC Committee overruled and reinstated Colin Cowdrey.
Yorkshire had bowled only 24 overs in the one hundred minutes which Warwickshire had to chase 142 to win. Close’s defence was that it was raining or drizzling for much of the time and the bowlers had constantly to dry the ball. As a consequence, a minimum of 20 overs were introduced for the final hour, then reduced to 15; and England lost the most successful captain they have ever had in terms of win/loss ratio.
Close was the youngest Test cricketer to represent England at 18 years and 149 days – and still is. He made such an impact in his first season of 1949 that he also did the double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets (bowling seamers and offspin) in a first-class season, again the youngest ever.

He was selected for England’s 1950-1 tour of Australia, having played little the previous summer because of National Service, but after scoring 108 in his opening game against Western Australia, his tour was a disaster. It was “like releasing a young colt after he had been in the stable all winter”, he said in his autobiography ‘Close to Cricket’. He was lonely as the senior players ignored him: “I remember lying in my bed in Sydney ready to curl up and die.”
Subsequently, as a captain who led Yorkshire to three consecutive championships, he did his best to get to know his junior players; when he moved to Somerset he did much to father the young Ian Botham. “A big strong man who wouldn’t hurt a fly,” said Bryan Stott, who played alongside Close at school as well as for Yorkshire. “I never saw him lose his temper.”


More chin music for Close to deal with in his England career

As captain of Yorkshire and England, he usually had Ray Illingworth alongside him to organise tactics. He concentrated on the man-management and inspiration. “Look at this side,” he would say to his dressing-room. “They (the opposition) are lucky to be on the same field with us.”
Close also played football for Bradford City, Leeds United and Arsenal as a sturdy centre-forward who muscled his way above defenders before heading over the bar. Another story has him and Arthur Milton, England’s last double international, practising crosses and headers at an Arsenal training session. Sure enough, in the next game, Close headed a Milton cross downwards – and then it bounced over the bar.
He was such a gifted sportsman that he was down to a single-figure handicap as a lefthanded golfer, then as a righthanded one. He was very good at maths too, according to Stott, and had initially wanted to become a doctor – a sort of northern WG Grace. They were both champion allrounders and larger than life.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/cricket/11863319/Brian-Close-was-the-bravest-man-to-ever-play-cricket.html

 82 
 on: September 14, 2015, 02:48:10 PM 
Started by Blwe_torch - Last post by Blwe_torch
Brian Close: The 45-year-old who stood up to West Indies in '76
Jamie Alter,TNN | Sep 14, 2015, 05.37 PM IST



Brian Close was recalled at the age of 45  to face the hostile West Indies in 1976.  Getty Images)

For true, proper fans of cricket, the name Brian Close will perhaps be synonymous with the Old Trafford Test of 1976 when, at the age of 45, the recalled England batsman was made to weather a hostile spell of fast bowling from Michael Holding. As this clip shows in quite hair-raising manner, facing a riled up Holding without wearing a helmet was the toughest thing Close had to do on a cricket field.

That same Close passed away on Monday at the age of 84.

Yorkshireman Close's statistics are testament to his cricketing prowess: almost 35,000 first-class runs in a career that spanned 37 years, from a sensational debut season as a teenager to his last listed appearance in 1986. Along the way, Close became the youngest Test debutant for England at 18 years and 149 days in 1949 against New Zealand at Old Trafford. He captained his country too, in seven Test matches, leading batsmen such as Geoffrey Boycott and Colin Cowdrey.

Yet he only played 22 Tests, the last of which came at the age of 45 at Old Trafford - the very venue at which he debuted.

Which brings us to the defining image of Close the Test batsman. The summer of 1976, the acrimonious Test series following England captain Tony Greig's infamous 'we will make them grovel' comment to the BBC's Sportsnight programme. It must be noted here that Greig's comments, in response to a volley of newspaper article highlighting the might of Clive Lloyd's West Indies, were specifically: "I'm not really sure they're as good as everyone thinks," he said. "These guys, if they get on top they are magnificent cricketers. But if they're down, they grovel, and I intend, with the help of Closey [Close] and a few others, to make them grovel."

With that, Greig invited upon himself and his England team the ire of the famed West Indian pace battery. As time would reveal, West Indies would win the five-Test series 3-0 and Greig would be left to eat his words.

But back to Close. His Test career had been a chequered one from the time he became England's youngest debutant in 1949 until he played his last match in 1976. A row over Yorkshire's over rate had cost him his job in 1976, but the England selectors sent out a surprise SOS to him to face the fearsome West Indies fast bowling at home - nine years on from Close's previous Test appearance.

He started with 2 and 36* not out in Nottingham and then took seven body blows during clutch innings of 60 and 46 at Lord's. At Old Trafford, Close was subjected to more pain on a gloomy evening when Holding went all out in a hostile spell. For nearly 40 minutes Close repeatedly took blows on the body, chesting the ball away until he buckled at the knees to elicit oohs from the crowd.

Wisden noted: "The period before the close of the third day brought disquieting cricket as Edrich and Close grimly defended their wickets and themselves against fast bowling, which was frequently too wild and too hostile to be acceptable." That brave innings of 20 at Old Trafford spanned 108 deliveries and nearly three hours, as England were beaten by 425 runs proved to be Close's last at Test level.

His contributions with the bat in that epic series were passable - 166 runs at 33.20 in three Tests - but it was Close's guts and determination in facing the West Indies quicks that earned him legendary status in the game. That image still abides, as do one of Close lifting his shirt to reveals a Jackson Pollock-styled canvas of bruised and cracked ribs. After that heroic effort, Close also become the subject of a famous joke by comedic duo, Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise: "I always know it's summer when I hear the sound of leather on Brian Close."

Today, with Close's death, summer is no longer the sound of leather hitting Brian Close.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/toi-cri/top-stories/Brian-Close-The-45-year-old-who-stood-up-to-West-Indies-in-76/articleshow/48957939.cms

 83 
 on: September 13, 2015, 02:13:13 PM 
Started by Blwe_torch - Last post by Blwe_torch
Ajinkya Rahane reminds me a bit of Sachin Tendulkar: Steve Waugh
PTI | Sep 13, 2015, 05.33 PM IST

BENGALURU: Former Australian captain Steve Waugh on Sunday said that Ajinkya Rahane reminded him a bit of Sachin Tendulkar and his "compact technique" would fetch him a lot of runs for India.

Waugh, who is here for the inauguration of world class sports arena at Brigade Orchards at the outskirts of the city, said Rahane has modelled himself on iconic batsman Tendulkar.

"I like Rahane and he is a quality player. He reminds me quite a bit of Tendulkar. He does not have a very big back swing. He obviously has modeled himself a bit on Tendulkar," Waugh said in an interview at the inauguration of world class sports arena at Brigade Orchards at the outskirts of the city here.

"(Virat) Kohli is a world class player, one of the best. But, I also like Rahane's technique. He has a very compact technique, has shots all around the ground and has a good temperament. I like him as a player and is going to score a lot of runs for India," said Waugh.

Asked about Kohli's captaincy, Waugh said the Delhi batsman was on right track as a skipper after he led India to a historic away Test series win in Sri Lanka.

"Obviously, to come back from one-nil down and winning a series in Sri Lanka is a major achievement. So definitely he is on the right track," he said.

"He (Kohli) obviously has led the side well, and it is not easy to do that in an away series. So, as a captain he has got all the players going in one direction which is important. They believe in his captaincy," Waugh added.

On South Africa picking three spinners for the upcoming India Test series, Waugh said picking more slow bowlers would not guarantee success as Indians are very good players of spin and it's hard to win in India.

"They - South Africa - have picked three spinners, but that does not guarantee them success. Indian side have very good players of spin and it is very hard to win in India," Waugh said.

South Africa have named three specialist spinners, including Imran Tahir, in their Test squad for the four-match Mahatma *hi-Nelson Mandela series beginning next month.

"South Africa have picked a smart side - perfectly tailor-made for Indian conditions as they believe pitches are going to turn here," Waugh said.

Asked about the chances for South Africa to win the upcoming series, Waugh said, "They have won before in India. They have very good reverse swing bowlers," he said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/toi-cri/top-stories/Ajinkya-Rahane-reminds-me-a-bit-of-Sachin-Tendulkar-Steve-Waugh/articleshow/48945326.cms

 84 
 on: September 12, 2015, 07:51:12 AM 
Started by Blwe_torch - Last post by Blwe_torch
Blog: Well done, Roberta Vinci
Vineet Ramakrishnan,TNN | Sep 12, 2015, 09.09 AM IST

Who doesn't like a dogged underdog victory?


Roberta Vinci, 32, ranked 43rd in the world up against the ever so dominant top-ranked Serena Williams for a spot in the US Open women's singles final against Italy's Flavia Pennetta.

Vinci had 300-1 odds to win the semi-final fixture. It was supposed to be Serena all the way. Chasing a calender Grand Slam that has not been achieved since 1988, Serena was 11-0 in US Open against unseeded opponents before this match. Serena was 4-0 up, without dropping a set, in head-to-head against the diminutive Italian. Serena's win-loss record this year was 48-1 going into the match, while Vinci's record, a middling 20-20.

The numbers overwhelmingly favoured the American. But sporting contests are never decided just by stats. It has to be played out. And it was the 5'4" Italian who played a hell of a game to upset - a momentous one at that - the crowd favourite.

Unlike Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal, Serena's game or style of play is not something you could sit and admire for long. She is a powerful hitter and her USP as a performer is that she can be sheer ruthless and decimate the opponent in no time, or just keep coming back one way or other when the chips are down.

And she was ruthless taking the first game 6-2 against the light-footed Italian. Pressure seemed to be on Vinci, but she could not have been taken lightly. A veteran in the sport, Vinci has 34 titles to her name - 25 of which have come in doubles, five in Grand Slams. A top-ranked player three times in her career in doubles, Vinci had the game and guts to be a big match player and she summoned that at the start of the second set, breaking Serena's serve.


The crowd gasped as Vinci sliced her way to win the second set. (AFP)

A flurry of mad rush to the net and one-handed backhand slices followed as Vinci clawed back, in a painstaking way. She made Serena earn each of her points and as the rallies grew longer, pressure, along with its ably ally - frustration - took its place in the top-seeds' corner. However, Serena reminded time and again why she has won 21 Grand Slam singles titles with that ultra-powerful baseline winners to which Vinci had no answer.

Vinci though remarkably broke Serena's serve with a magnificent rally as she moved across the court like a 20-year-old would, and then held her serve to race to a 4-2 lead after being 1-2 down.

This was the turning point.

Serena roared, screamed and started landing her aces perfectly. Vinci was clearly intimidated. The cameras seldom panned towards the Italian and American's dramatic expression was captured often in its full glory. Whenever Vinci came in to the frame she either had a bemused look or a wary smile, as if trying to get Serena's persona out of her head and instead focus on Serena the player.

Focus she did and sliced her way to win the second set. The crowd gasped. Vinci let out a rare expressive celebration of her own. The crowd warily got behind Vinci, sensing that the Italian had taken the fight to their favourite.

At this point, Serena had a bigger inner battle to win, against the pressure of a monumental achievement and Vinci took advantage by breaking Serena's serve once again early and then held her serve. Serena had to catch up and Vinci just had to hold her serve. At 3-3, Vinci survived a 126 kmph ace and got the better of the best rally of the game to break the top-seed. The American could only stare, not angrily but worryingly.

Vinci managed to just about hold her serve, Serena held her and at 5-3, Vinci was on the cusp of the doing the unthinkable. Three match points followed and a drop shot to the sideline propelled Vinci to the US Open final.

It is matches and moments like these that draws one to sports and contests in general. It convinces you to buy a ticket for a game or spurs you to sit up at odd hours in front of the telly. Even if you have a fair idea about who is going to win, there is that little part in your brain that prompts you to think, what if the underdogs could pull off a little surprise or even defy all odds. And as you enjoy the dominance of the favoured player, you look for those sporadic sparks of brilliance from the longshot that could lift the game and keep you engrossed.

And as the crowd clapped their approval, with Vinci overjoyed, but keeping her emotions in control and Serena rushing off the court in a hurry, there was only one thing to think.

Who doesn't like a dogged underdog victory?

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/tennis/us-open-2015/top-stories/Blog-Well-done-Roberta-Vinci/articleshow/48931445.cms

 85 
 on: September 06, 2015, 06:33:27 AM 
Started by ruchir - Last post by Blwe_torch
Ruchir made a great point. Ganguians have accepted Gangu teli to be the crap player he was. He coasted much longer with scoring than even Rohit Sharma.

Ganguly hai hai

'Fraud'ian slip :P

 86 
 on: September 04, 2015, 04:05:19 PM 
Started by ruchir - Last post by vincent
If aggression means fast scoring like Sehwag did by scoring 285 in one day, I will take it any time. But style and grace are also important for test cricket : Vishwanath,Azar,VVS and Ganguly (mainly his cover drive in the early years) were a treat to watch for the Test cricket lovers. Patience to stay at the crease and still score runs without boring the spectators is also important : Gavaskar and recently Pujara showed that quality of batting which is also an important factor in test cricket. Aggression in behaviour and actions in the field should be out of question.

I wish you had named Dravid along with Gavaskar and Pujara.....may be you just missed out inadvertently. Fortunately, I have seen live all of them above bat........ and where will Tendulkar fit in? :)

Sorry,my mistake. How could I miss Dravid? I am not sure where to fit Tendulkar except for breaking many records.

 87 
 on: September 04, 2015, 02:23:48 PM 
Started by ruchir - Last post by Cover Point
Ruchir made a great point. Ganguians have accepted Gangu teli to be the crap player he was. He coasted much longer with scoring than even Rohit Sharma.

Ganguly hai hai

 88 
 on: September 04, 2015, 01:23:16 PM 
Started by ruchir - Last post by Blwe_torch
If aggression means fast scoring like Sehwag did by scoring 285 in one day, I will take it any time. But style and grace are also important for test cricket : Vishwanath,Azar,VVS and Ganguly (mainly his cover drive in the early years) were a treat to watch for the Test cricket lovers. Patience to stay at the crease and still score runs without boring the spectators is also important : Gavaskar and recently Pujara showed that quality of batting which is also an important factor in test cricket. Aggression in behaviour and actions in the field should be out of question.

I wish you had named Dravid along with Gavaskar and Pujara.....may be you just missed out inadvertently. Fortunately, I have seen live all of them above bat........ and where will Tendulkar fit in? :)

 89 
 on: September 04, 2015, 11:02:02 AM 
Started by ruchir - Last post by vincent
If aggression means fast scoring like Sehwag did by scoring 285 in one day, I will take it any time. But style and grace are also important for test cricket : Vishwanath,Azar,VVS and Ganguly (mainly his cover drive in the early years) were a treat to watch for the Test cricket lovers. Patience to stay at the crease and still score runs without boring the spectators is also important : Gavaskar and recently Pujara showed that quality of batting which is also an important factor in test cricket. Aggression in behaviour and actions in the field should be out of question.




 90 
 on: September 04, 2015, 06:02:46 AM 
Started by Blwe_torch - Last post by Blwe_torch
CP, you are stuck on Ganguly. It is a worrying obsession that we have followed for a decade now. Go get a doctor or eat some gobi ka parantha. Otherwise you are such a charming fellow!

He somehow believes that this is the only way one can have a meaningful discussion :)

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