Groups for 2011 World Cup

The groups for the 2011 World Cup have been decided. While the format has not been formally disclosed by the ICC, they have indicated that it will be a quarter-final format i.e. top 4 in each group play in the QFs. The tournament is going to be shortened to 49 matches (from 51) and to around 5 weeks (from 6 weeks).

I personally am not a fan of the QF format, but what the hell can I do about it. I think the Champions Trophy is a better deal than the World Cup. My own ideal format for the World Cup is as follows: have 14 teams, of which 4 teams get byes into a Super-8 round (previous champs, most recent CT champs, most recent T20 champs, #1 ODI team, etc). The 10 remaining teams are divided into two groups of 5 each, and play each other. Top two in each group join the other 4 in the Super-8. In the Super-8, everyone plays each other and top 4 go to the semis. It will be 51 matches (same as 2007), but with at least two matches a day, it can comfortably be completed in 5 weeks or less.

Anyways, I’m not the ICC chief so I can’t decide the format. So, without further ado, I present the 2011 World Cup groups:

Group A – Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Canada, Kenya.

Group B – India, South Africa, England, West Indies, Bangladesh, Ireland, Netherlands.

[source] [source]


Mohammad Aamer – What do you know about him?

The cricket world can’t get enough of this guy, Mohammad Aamer but what do you know about him?

Well I managed to collect some information; this should give us an insight into his past:

Mohammad Aamer is young, energetic and beaming with confidence. He’s quick, able to move the ball, and takes wickets. Important ones, mostly. Barely four months into his international cricket career, he has not only won praise from experts and admiration from opponents, he has helped his side to a World Twenty20 title.

Aamer has set his sights high, and considering he’s only 17, has plenty of time in which to achieve his goals – not to mention the ability and talent.

His early success belies his rough journey up the ladder, marred by stress fractures, back problems, and a bout of dengue that left him incapacitated for two months. Prayers, conscientiousness, ample support and luck propelled Aamer into orbit after he was forgotten in the wake of being hailed as an exciting prospect. His love of cricket has made him stay away from home, play through pain, and rock up to his bowling mark having not walked for weeks.

As a six-year-old, Aamer had a talent for impersonating performers he saw on TV. His school clipboard felt the brunt of his precocious talent – it was repeatedly broken in two and used as a bat. Luckily for his parents’ finances, he started playing tape-ball cricket with people much older than him, using proper equipment.

Spotted at a local tournament, he was fast-tracked into the coach Asif Bajwa’s academy in 2003. The move to the academy in Rawalpindi and away from his home in Gujjur Khan, Punjab, was a significant step for the young left-armer.

“I was very young at that time and was told I have to stay at the academy, away from home, if I wanted to play cricket,” Aamer says with a smile that indicates he was prepared for as much anyway. “Life had become really simple and the future seemed very exciting.”

Taking wickets, it seemed, was Aamer’s birthright. Nine came in three matches for his district Under-19 side, 20 in five for his regional academy, and 40 in nine for the regional Under-19s. A few months after being told he was too young to accompany Pakistan’s Under-19 side to India, he was taking wickets in Australia: 12 in five.

With the wickets and achievements, however, came injuries. Too much bowling, it seemed, had taken its toll. Still 15, two stress fractures on the tour of England in 2007 effectively put his cricket on hold for the next nine months.

“Being away with the injury was a terrible time for me. I used to bowl all day and loved doing that, but in the end that proved to be the reason behind the injury,” Aamer recalls.

“The nine months I was out of cricket were made easy by Mudassar Nazar [then director of the PCB’s national academy]. He looked after my training, rehabilitation, diet, and gave me a shoulder while I worried about my future. He treated me like a father would treat his kid.”

A fairytale comeback lay ahead of Aamer, though he was warned against bowling too much. He tried to make up for lost time, taking 10 wickets in three matches on the tour of Sri Lanka, but he suffered a jolt when he was struck by dengue at the Under-19 World Cup in Malaysia.

“I want to be the go-to guy for the team, someone the captain and the nation relies on to lead them to glory. Like Ponting, like Afridi, like Younis”

“I had no energy to get up, walk or turn over. I thought that might be the end of my cricketing career,” he says. “I spent one month in a hospital and one month at home. The world had turned upside down for me.”

But while he was drained of physical energy, his will was not so badly hit. He turned up for a domestic cup match at a day’s notice – preceded by two months with no training and no exercise. Wickets proceeded to come by the load, for Rawalpindi, for Pakistan U-19, and Pakistan Academy.

The due call-up to first-class cricket arrived, as expected, but there was a price to pay. Playing with a back strain, Aamer was only able to bowl 46 deliveries before he retired hurt to face the wrath of his coaches.

“This was a tough situation for me. People were telling Bajwa to let me go since I was getting injured often. I was on the doorstep of first-class cricket. If I was to take a break then people would forget who Aamer was. I didn’t work this hard to come this far and just let it go.

“I wanted to play cricket even if I had to wear 10 belts [for the bad back]. If the pain didn’t go away, I told my coach I’d leave cricket and get back to studying, but I wanted to give it a shot.”

That, for Aamer, was his day of reckoning. The permission he got to play on ultimately allowed him to be part of Pakistan’s World Twenty20 and Champions Trophy squads.

It seemed like a dream, he says, the journey to the conditioning camp in Bhurban, following 56 wickets in his maiden first-class season, the training camps that followed, and sharing a dressing room with the greats of Pakistan cricket.

“I was very nervous meeting the team. They were people I had come to adore on TV,” he says. “It felt great, becoming one of them, representing Pakistan with the whole world watching and people following us. It teaches one a lot about life, helps you mature and gives you great joy.”

Pressure situations are what Aamer craves. His favourite batsman, Ricky Ponting, is his next target, and Aamer has his eyes set firmly on where he wants to be in five years. “I want to be the go-to guy for the team, someone the captain and the nation relies on to lead them to glory. Like Ponting, like Afridi, like Younis.”

Away from the field, he wants to be well known, have a bundle of wickets to show for his efforts, and “have a bit in my wallet”. None of that, going by the story so far, seems implausible.


Cricket and Terrorism

A Question for the audience:

Can terrorism (in any form) ever end Cricket in Pakistan, or around the world?

Have your say.  I will be writing about this shortly but I’d like to read what you think?

Younis OFF Yousuf ON – Pakistan Cricket

Younis OFF Yousuf ON – Pakistan Cricket

Younis Khan has withdrawn from the tour of New Zealand requesting a break from cricket. This is nonsensical. Pakistan have barely broken sweat over the last two years. Younis has just won a pivotal power struggle to secure the captaincy. Pakistan require some consistency, not flip-flopping, and regular changes in leadership create inconsistency and doubt. The team needs to build its form and strategies for the big challenge of an Australian tour.

Moreover, Younis’ mixed messages have become baffling. As much as many fans believe him to be the right choice as captain, he either wants the job badly enough to stick with it through thick and thin or he should give it up. The problem for Pakistan is that there are few genuine alternatives, and the selection of Mohammad Yousuf as stand-in captain underlines Pakistan’s poverty of resources.

All the Pakistan fans who recently supported Younis against the establishment, like me, will be bemused, disappointed, and let down by his decision.


Mohammad Aamer Phenomenal for Pakistan

Mohammad Aamer Phenomenal for Pakistan

An exciting game to top any table.

WOW, where do you start with this one.  New Zealand batting first totalled 211 in a steady average per over.  Like many say “…no one knows which Pakistani side will turn up…” and today it was more the case of which Pakistani players will turn up.  Aamir turned up for sure and what a style.

In typical dramatic fashion Pakistan batting combusted, despite Salman Butt 25 (from 34) and Khalid Latif 19 (from 17).  When all hopes were lost Mohammad Aamer took on the New Zealand team.  Aamer made his appearance as a tail end batsman at number 10.  Pakistan required 126 runs from 26.5 over’s and with only two wickets in hand.  With many leaving Sheikh Zayed stadium, expecting the match to finish moments later, but Aamer had more tricks up his sleeve.

Both Aamer and Ajmal contributed 103 runs by some shots not exactly in the textbook but nevertheless find the boundaries.  In the final over Pakistan required 8 runs to win but Ajmal top-edge was caught by Kyle Mills at short fine leg, ending what could have been a recorded breaking comeback by tail-end batsman.  Aamer scored 73 (from 81) and Ajmal 33 (from 44).  Daniel Vettori seem to have got a bashing from Number 10 Aamer who smashed 3 sixes in one over stunning not only Vettori but the whole of New Zealand team.  This was a nervous victory for New Zealand

Check out Mohammad Aamer 73 (highlights) below:

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