Relegation & Promotion Proposal in World Test Championship: Make Test Cricket Great Again Part III

Relegation & Promotion Proposal in World Test Championship: Make Test Cricket Great Again Part III

We consider the implementation Relegation & Promotion in our third segment of Make Test Cricket Great Again & Restore The Soul of this Wonderful Sport.

Earlier, we had discussed (1) how to reduce the imbalance due to the Big 3 in context of the World Test Championship, (2) detailed analysis of how the WTC Points Table can be fixed, and (3) innovative suggestions provided by our friends on Twitter.

Today we tackle one of the more popular suggestions on how to make test cricket more competitive and provide a detailed recommendation in our proposal.

The Problem

Ramiz Raza received backlash post the Zimbabwe Vs Pakistan Test series for implying in his YouTube channel that these one-sided series are a joke and will drive cricket fans away to other sports. What is the point of having Test matches where matches finish in 2 or 3 days and the team does not seem to improve

Despite the social media outrage, he definitely has a point.

Zimbabwe have managed only 14 victories & 28 draws in their 29-year Test history. Similarly, Bangladesh has only won 14 out of their 123 Tests in the past 21-years, and most of them at home. One can argue that India (20 years) & New Zealand (25 years) also took some time to get going, but that was an era between 1930 & 1955.

The entire face of sport has changed since then.

Why Does It Matter?

The World Test Championship was created to encourage context in Test cricket.

However, it has had the opposite impact. Since the finalists, India and New Zealand, were decided before the end of the WTC cycle, the Sri Lanka-Bangladesh and Pakistan-Zimbabwe series had low viewership and zero context.

There was also criticism that while New Zealand breezed through their home games and qualified for the finals, England were penalized even though they achieved success in traditionally tough touring spots like South Africa and Sri Lanka.

The question “Is Test cricket dying?” is thrown around a lot, but it does not provide the whole picture.

Rather the question should be asked, “How should the standards of Test cricket increase?” or “How can we even the level-playing field between the top-ranked/most-funded and the lower-tiered nations?”

It is clear that big nations will continue to invest & prosper in Test cricket, so Test cricket will remain alive. It is the lower-ranked teams, who will languish at the bottom.

The Background

According to the current ICC Test rankings*, there is a substantial gap between sides:

  • Top 4: India (121), New Zealand (120), England (109), Australia (108)
  • Mid 4:  Pakistan (94), West Indies (84), South Africa (80), Sri Lanka (78)
  • Bottom 4: Bangladesh (46), Zimbabwe (35), Afghanistan (-), Ireland (-)

Recently, the ICC also suggested temporary Test status to other Associate nations like Scotland & Netherlands, which is a step in the right direction.

Finally, we need to be mindful of some intricacies before our proposal. Unlike the standardized ODI Super League (3 ODIs per series), the Ashes & Border-Gavaskar Trophy (BGT) rivalry games will continue. On the other hand, a 2-Test series should be abandoned altogether.

*Rankings as of 13 May, 2021

The Proposal

We propose a two-tiered system, Bracket A (ranked #1-6) & Bracket B (#7-12) competing in the World Test Championship, with an additional Bracket C (non-Test playing nations) to encourage Associate nations.

General Rules

  • 2-year cycle, 5 series total
  • Top 2 of Bracket B promoted to Bracket A
  • Bottom 2 of Bracket A relegated to Bracket B
  • Each team plays ALL the other teams in the bracket for an equal amount of games per team
  • From the 5 series, it should have a division of 2-2-1 (Home/Away/Neutral venue)
  • If teams are in the same bracket for 2 consecutive cycles, they will alternate between home and away

Since the Big 3 nations play 4-5 Tests among themselves and the lower-ranked teams lose money while hosting a Test series, we will have two sets of proposals for the two brackets.

Bracket A

  1. 18 Tests total per team
  2. Three 3-match series, one 4-match Test series, one 5-match Test series
  3. Each series to include 1 Day-Night pink ball Test match per series
  4. Top 2 in Bracket A compete in a 3-match World Test Championship Grand Finale held in a neutral venue

*This depends if India and Pakistan agree to play each other because they will be in the same bracket if we go by current rankings.

Bracket B

  1. 15 Tests total
  2. Five 3-match series
  3. Top 2 of Bracket B compete in a Final match (neutral venue)
  4. Both finalists receive monetary award (incentive for lower-ranked teams)

Bracket C

  1. Replaces the Intercontinental Cup
  2. 4-Day matches, classified as First-Class Matches
  3. 1-3 matches per series depending on resources
  4. Exhibition games scheduled against Bracket B members
  5. Receive Test Status at the end of the cycle on a case-by-case basis

Demonstration

We demonstrate this proposal by utilizing the final status of the inaugural WTC Points Table. Here is how a potential Bracket A and Bracket B may look like if this proposal was implemented for the next iteration of the WTC:

Bracket A
India (Ind)
New Zealand (NZ)
Australia (Aus)
England (Eng)
Pakistan (Pak)
West Indies (WI)
Bracket B
South Africa (SA)
Sri Lanka (SL)
Bangladesh (Ban)
Zimbabwe (Zim)
Ireland (Ire)
Afghanistan (Afg)

For Bracket A, here is how the scheduling may look like.

  • Ind: 5 vs NZ, 4 vs Aus (BGT), 3 Vs Rest
  • NZ: 5 vs Ind, 4 vs Pak, 3 Vs Rest
  • Aus: 5 vs Eng (Ashes), 4 vs Ind (BGT), 3 Vs Rest
  • Eng: 5 vs Aus (Ashes), 4 vs WI, 3 Vs Rest
  • Pak: 5 vs WI, 4 vs NZ, 3 Vs Rest
  • WI: 5 vs Pak, 4 vs Eng, 3 Vs Rest

For Bracket C, we can look back to the 8-team 2015-2017 ICC Intercontinental Cup for inspiration. By the current ODI ranking, Netherlands (13), Scotland (14), Oman (15), Nepal (16), UAE (17), Namibia (18), United States (19), & Papua New Guinea (20), and Hong Kong (played in the last Intercontinental Trophy) should be offered the choice of playing “temporary Test cricket.”

This can provide a pipeline & adequate preparation for Associate nations to be granted Test status in the future instead of just at random (like granting Bangladesh Full Status after defeating Pakistan in 1999 World Cup).

Potential Consequences – A New Cricket Calendar

If implemented, the tiered-Test system has the potential to alter cricket forever.

The World Test Championship, ODI Super League schedule, & a formalized T20 league calendar should be the basis of scheduling matches. It will be the end of ICC’s Future Tours Programme (FTP). Hence, all matches in all formats will become consequential. No more dead rubbers.

Another possible scenario is the solidification of the two-separate squads experiment. Due to the pandemic, Australia initially scheduled two separate teams for South Africa Tests (eventually cancelled) & New Zealand limited overs series. This has come to life with India sending two separate squads for England (Tests) & Sri Lanka (limited overs).

With the new cricket calendar, it is likely that a short limited overs tour will be scheduled (for ODI Super League) at the same time as a long 5-match Test series (for WTC).

Conclusion

Raza’s video was titled “Zimbabwe should not play test.”

Although the Zimbabwe-Pakistan series displayed a stark difference in class, we should not jump to conclusions too quickly. The India-England series also included 2-day Tests and India were all out for 36 not too long ago.

Zimbabwe should still play Tests. All Full Members should. Provide the lower ranked teams with context and additional funding to host Tests, and they will flourish.

Just give them some time.

What do you think? Yay or Nay to Relegation/Promotion & a 2-Tiered System? Or would you do it differently – maybe two brackets of 5 teams each, until Afghanistan/Ireland find their feet in Test cricket? Would love to know your thoughts on this. Comment below and do not forget to hit that Subscribe Button!

Copyright 5/29/2021 – Nitesh Mathur, Broken Cricket Dreams – bcd@brokencricketdreams.com

Image Courtesy: International Cricket Council, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Need For Change in Women’s Cricket: Hoping Against Hope

Need For Change in Women’s Cricket: Hoping Against Hope

The pandemic has elevated the disparity between men’s & women’s cricket, with the situation worsening in recent weeks.

Post-Pandemic Disorder: Women’s Cricket Scheduling Problems

March 8th, 2020 with 86,174 spectators. The crescendo beginning in the 2017 Women’s ODI World Cup peaked on that day in the World T20 final between Australia and India. However, progress has stalled due to the COVID-19 break. The post-pandemic stats below show how the counterparts stacked between March 2020 & January 2021:

  1. Maximum possible days of international cricket scheduled (5 days maximum per tests)
    • Men: 128 days
    • Women: 16 days (including 5 Austria-Germany T20Is)
  2. Total Matches Played (international + T20 Leagues)
    • Men: 540
    • Women: 144

(Check out Who Cares About Women’s Cricket, where we displayed detailed list of post-COVID statistics, thoughts about women’s cricket & WIPL)

Miscommunication at its finest

Women’s cricket resumed in September 2020 as West Indies toured England. Later in the year, New Zealand played against Australia & England, and Pakistan visited South Africa. It took Indian women an entire year before playing against South Africa in March 2021. Proteas won the series comfortably 4-1 (ODIs) & 2-1 (T20I).

Although lack of match practice, domestic tournaments, & national camps was the reason for India’s defeat, highly regarded coach WV Raman was the casualty, alleging a “smear campaign” against him. Replacement Ramesh Powar, who famously had a fallout with Mithali Raj in 2018, was picked as the head coach again.

Stark Payment Gap

Although women cricketers have seen a marked increase in revenue since 2017, it is nearly not enough (with New Zealand, England, India, & Australia expanding central contracts).

BCCI’s latest contracts caused uproar. The highest paid men’s bracket is worth fourteen times as much as the highest paid women’s bracket.

Grade A+, consisting of Kohli, Sharma, and Bumrah earn about 7 crores (INR) or about $964,000 (USD). Grade A earn 5 crores ($689,000), B with 3 crores ($413,000), & C, consisting of the likes of Kuldeep & Gill, earn around 1 crore ($138,000).

Their counterparts—Mandhana, Kaur, & Poonam (Grade A) earn 50 lakhs INR ($68,000), while stalwarts like Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami (Grade B) plummet down to 30 lakhs ($41,000). This is comparable to the current standard around the world, but things do need to change.

What’s worse? World T20 finalist prize money worth $500,000 has not been paid yet, 14 months later. It took Isabelle Westbury’s Telegraph article & subsequent social media outrage to get BCCI to act, finally paying the dues.

The most profitable cricket board needs to allocate resources properly. The least they can do is avoid media stunts and focus on tangible progressive changes.

Hope In Times of Uncertainty

There is still hope, however.

Indian women will play two Test matches (last Test in 2014) this year, one each against England & Australia. The Test in Australia will be a day-night affair, which adds another layer of excitement.

Ireland & Scotland women are also back in action right now with a T20 series. New Zealand’s England tour in September is the only other scheduled series prior to the ODI World Cup (March 2022).

The Hundred Is the Savior

The Hundred in July this year promises to be a game-changer for women’s cricket.

All men & women’s game will be held on the same day on the same ground, will be televised (including free-to-air games), and prize money will be shared evenly between the winners of the men’s & women’s tournaments. It has the potentialize to revolutionize the women’s game and become a template for other T20 leagues to follow.

Even Indian players have been given the green signal to participate in the Women’s Hundred & the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL).

When Will the Attitudes Change Towards Women’s Cricket?

Australia, England, New Zealand are prime examples of how to recruit the future of women’s cricket, with efforts visible in the WBBL & New Zealand’s Super Smash tournaments.

Yet, there is still a long way to go. Each national board should prioritize women’s cricket, invest accordingly in the infrastructure, and work together with other nations to uplift standards.

Am I hoping against hope?

Copyright: Nitesh Mathur, 5/27/2021, Broken Cricket Dreams, bcd@brokencricketdreams.com

Image Courtesy: Photo by Ben Mack on Pexels.com

Pakistan Tour of South Africa & Zimbabwe 2021 Series Review: Fakhar-Hasan-Nortje-Markram-Rizwan-Babar-Jongwe-Muzarabani The Stars

Pakistan Tour of South Africa & Zimbabwe 2021 Series Review: Fakhar-Hasan-Nortje-Markram-Rizwan-Babar-Jongwe-Muzarabani The Stars

Pakistan tour of Africa 2021 Series Review!

Pakistan recently played in South Africa (3 ODIs, 4 T20Is) and Zimbabwe (3 T20Is, 2 Tests). The South Africa series, in particular was memorable, with most games going down the wire.

Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, and Hasan Ali highlighted the tour for Pakistan, while Anrich Nortje, Janneman Malan, and Aiden Markram came to the fore for the Proteas. While the Zimbabwe were criticized for their Test match display, they were pretty good in the T20s, with Luke Jongwe & Blessing Muzarabani emerging as Zimbabwe’s stars.

Also Read: Pakistan host South Africa 2021 Series Review, The Case for Pakistan Players in the IPL, South Africa Cricketers Who Play for Other Countries

Pakistan Tour of Africa 2021 – The Results

South Africa-Pakistan ODI Series: Pakistan won 2-1

* Player of Match

  1. Pakistan won by 3 wickets *Babar Azam
  2. South Africa won by 17 runs *Fakhar Zaman
  3. Pakistan won by 28 runs *Babar Azam
Player of SeriesSouth Africa Pakistan
Fakhar Zaman
Most RunsRassie van der Dussen – 183 runs
(best of 123*, 183.00 average, 107.01 average, 100s-1, 50s-1)
Fakhar Zaman – 302 runs
(best of 193, 100.66 average, 111.43 SR, 100s-2)
Most WicketsAnrich Nortje – 7 wickets
(best of 4/51, 16.28 average, 5.70 economy)
Haris Rauf – 7 wickets
(best of 3/54, 24.42 average, 5.89 economy)
Pakistan Vs South Africa 2021 ODI Series Stats

South Africa-Pakistan T20I Series: Pakistan Won 3-1

  1. Pakistan won by 4 wickets *Mohammad Rizwan
  2. South Africa won by 6 wickets *George Linde
  3. Pakistan won by 9 wickets *Babar Azam
  4. Pakistan won by 3 wickets *Faheem Ashraf
P*layer of SeriesSouth Africa Pakistan
Babar Azam
Most RunsAiden Markram – 179 runs
(best of 63, average 44.75, 182.65 SR, 50s-3)
Babar Azam – 210 runs
(best of 122, 52.50 average, 143.83 SR, 100s-1, 50s-1)
Most WicketsLizaad Williams – 7 wickets
(best of 3/35, 21.00 average, 9.38 economy)
Hasan Ali – 7 wickets
(best of 3/40, 18.71 average, 9.35 economy)
Pakistan Vs South Africa 2021 T20I Series Stats

Zimbabwe-Pakistan T20I Series: Pakistan Won 2-1

  1. Pakistan won by 11 runs *Mohammad Rizwan
  2. Zimbabwe won by 19 runs *Luke Jongwe
  3. Pakistan won by 24 runs *Hasan Ali
Player of SeriesZimbabwePakistan
Mohammad Rizwan
Most RunsWesley Madhevere – 89 runs
(best of 59, 29.66 average, 127.14 SR, 50s-1)
Mohammad Rizwan – 186 runs
(best of 91*, 186.00 average, 133.81 SR, 50s-2)
Most WicketsLuke Jongwe – 9 wickets
(best of 4/18, 8.77 average, 7.29 economy)
Mohammad Hasnain – 5 wickets
(best of 2/19, 14.40 average, 6.00 economy)
Pakistan Vs Zimbabwe 2021 T20I Series Stats

Zimbabwe-Pakistan Test Series: Pakistan Won 2-0

  1. Pakistan won by an innings and 118 runs *Hasan Ali
  2. Pakistan won by an innings and 147 runs *Abid Ali
Player of Series Zimbabwe Pakistan
Hasan Ali
Most Runs Regis Chakabva – 146 runs
(best of 80, 48.66 average, 50s-1)
Abid Ali – 275 runs
(best of 215*, 275.00 average, 100s-1, 50s-1)
Most Wickets Blessing Muzarabani – 7 wickets
(best innings – 4/73, best match – 4/73, 22.14 average)
Hasan Ali – 14 wickets
(best innings – 5/27, best match – 9/89, 8.92 average)
Pakistan Vs Zimbabwe 2021 Test Series Stats

The Moments

Pakistan had several memorable moments, while South Africa and Zimbabwe have some points to cheer about as well.

South Africa – Rising Young Team But Still Has Gaps To Fill

  • Pressure situations reveal the class of a player. Although Anrich Nortje only played 2 ODIs prior to IPL departure, his 4/51 & 3/53 in the middle overs gave Proteas hope. It was his 4 wickets in the 2nd ODI that stopped Pakistan from chasing the mammoth 342 score. Fakhar Zaman was left playing a lone hand as Nortje took out his partners. His wickets in the series? Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Imam-ul-Haq among others.
  • Rassie van der Dussen – nominee for South Africa’s T20I, ODI, and cricketer of the year award, he has taken responsibility on his own shoulder. South Africa were reeling at 4-55 in the first ODI before Rassie’s maiden century – 123* rescued South Africa to 273, a winning total in the end. Couple of other handy fifties on the tour as well.
  • The new look order does the job – ODI captain Temba Bavuma’s 92, Klassen’s 50 & 36*, Aiden Markram with 3 consecutive T20I fifties (51,54, 63) are positives. Couple of fifties for David Miller & Quinton de Kock with a 80 well.
  • Find of the tournament for me was Janneman Malan. Superb timing. 70 (81) in the ODIs and 24 (16), 15(10), 55(40), 33 (28) in the T20Is provided South Africa the starts. QDK-Malan-Markram is exactly what SA need to drive forward.
  • Will he? Won’t he? Well he has finally decided. AB De Villiers retires. For real this time.

Pakistan – The Alis Rise to the Occasion (Abid, Azhar, Nauman, Hasan)

Pakistan Top Order a Class Apart in Limited Overs

  • We are living in the Babar Azam era. Except for the Zimbabwe series, Babar is having a good time, both with the bat and as a captain. Babar Azam overtook Virat Kohli’s reign at the top of the ICC ODI rankings. #10 in Tests and #3 on the T20I as well. Just the eighth captain in all of Test cricket to win four Test matches on a trot. Only Pakistani on that list.
  • Mohammad Rizwan continues on his merry way. 74*, 0, 73*, 0, 82*, 13, 91*. These are T20I numbers. Amazing stuff. I do not really mind the ducks if you can play 4 match-winning knocks in 2 series. Rizwan has been Pakistan’s hero for the past year, performing in overseas conditions consistently.
  • Just like Hasan Ali, Fakhar Zaman has yet to scale the heights of his 2017-2018 season. With Babar & Rizwan already in red hot form, Fakhar slotting as an opener was questionable. He repaid the selectors’ faith in style. Chasing 342 in the 2nd ODI, Fakhar Zaman scored possibly the best ODI knock in a losing cause—193 (155) (with 10 sixes), only to be run-out due to QDK’s guile. Until the 99th over of the match, it was anyone’s game. Followed this epic with a 101 in the very next game and 60 in a T20I.

Age is just a number

  • Abid Ali (33), Nauman Ali (34), Fawad Alam (35), Azhar Ali (36), and Tabish Khan (36) all came to the party in the Zimbabwe Test series.
  • Azhar Ali (126) and Abid Ali (215) combined for a magnificent 236-run partnership in the 2nd Test, batting Zimbabwe out of the match.
  • Fawad Alam is making each and every series count. Since his return, he has made a century in New Zealand (102), South Africa (109), and Zimbabwe (140). He has converted all of his four 50+ scores into centuries. Brilliant stuff.
  • Tabish Khan became the second oldest debutant for Pakistan. After toiling in domestic cricket for 19 years and after 598 wickets, Tabish finally received the international cap at the age of 36. Wicket in the first over as well.

The Test Bowling Unit Makes a Mark

  • Shaheen Shah Afridi, Nauman Ali, and Hasan Ali each took five-fors in the Zimbabwe Test Series.
  • Nauman, the left-arm orthodox, ended with figures of 5-86 to end Zimbabwe’s resistance in the final innings of the 2nd Test. Handy 97 (143) as well as a #9 batsman, combining for a 169-run partnership with Abid Ali.
  • Find of the victorious 2017 Champions Trophy campaign, Hasan Ali had a slight blip in his rising career. After a couple of years on the sideline and fighting back with a strong domestic performance, the energizer is back! Hasan Ali has been a revelation on his comeback – Most wickets for Pakistan in the SA T20I series and the Zimbabwe Test series. Truly deserved the Player of the Series award in the Zimbabwe series (4/53, 5/36, 5/27).
  • Take Shaheen lightly at your own peril. Opening bowler, death bowler, can do everything. 6 wickets in the SA ODIs and 3 in the T20Is, and figures of 4/43 & 5/52 versus Zimbabwe.

Imran Butt caught the attention of many as well. His 91 (236) set the tone in the Zimbabwe Test series. Five catches in the slips a pretty good job done as well.

Zimbabwe – Injuries, Memorable T20I Win, Humiliating Test Loss

  • Blessing Muzarabani has the height, pace, and bounce. At 24, he is one of Zimbabwe’s future stars. In a one-sided Test series, his 4/73 and 3/82 was quite a highlight. Babar Azam – 0(1) & 2 (8), Fawad Alam (140) , Azhar Ali (126) among his seven scalps.
  • Luke Jongwe was Zimbabwe’s hero in the 2nd T20I. Pakistan lost their way on a 119-run chase, bowled-out for 99. Jongwe’s figures? 3.5-0-18-4. 30* & 2/24 in the first T20I and 3/37 in the final match sums up a great series for Jongwe.
  • Sikander Raza was diagnosed of a bone-marrow infection operation (initially a cancer scare) and underwent a surgery. Raza was dearly missed with Brendan Taylor out of form and injury-list of Kyle Jarvis (COVID-19, malaria, tick bite fever), Sean Williams (sick), Craig Ervine (calf injury), Prince Masvaure, Wesley Madhevere,, & Tendai Chatara.

Ryan Burl Makes The Headlines

1. Ryan Burl exposes disparity between top nations and less-funded teams.

2. After social media outrage, Burl found a sponsor.

Squad Predictions for T20I World Cup

With 23-men squad for the T20I world possible now, here are my early squad predictions. Based on this Pakistan tour of Africa 2021, here is our early predictions:

South Africa

South Africa just released their squads for the tour of West Indies, which gives us some new hints.

  1. Quinton de Kock (WK), 2. Janneman Malan, 3. Faf du Plessis, 4. Rassie Van der Dussen, 5. Temba Bavuma*, 6. David Miller, 7. George Linde, 8. Chris Morris, 9. Kagiso Rabada, 10. Anrich Nortje, 11. Tabraiz Shamsi

Squad: 12. Heinrich Klassen, 13. Aiden Markram, 14. Andile Phelukwayo, 15. JJ Smuts, 146 Dwaine Pretorius, 17. Lungi Ngidi, 18. Bjorn Fortuin, 19. Lizaad Williams, 20. Kyle Verreynne, 21. Sisanda Magala, 22. Reeza Hendricks, 23. Keshav Maharaj

Wildcards: AB De Villiers (WK), Imran Tahir, Marco Jansen, Lutho Sipamla, Junior Dala, Pete van Biljon

*captain

Pakistan

For reference, here was our earlier WT20 watch for Pakistan’s squad in our Pak Vs NZ and the Pakistan leg of the Pak-SA series.. Some new faces have come into play, while some players have dropped off the list.

  1. Babar Azam (C), 2. Mohammad Rizwan (WK), 3. Fakhar Zaman, 4. Haider Ali, 5. Mohammad Hafeez, 6. Shadab Khan, 7. Faheem Ashraf, 8. Hasan Ali, 9. Haris Rauf, 10. Shaheen Shah Afridi, 11. Usman Qadir

Squad: 12. Imad Wasim, 13. Mohammad Hasnain, 14. Mohammad Nawaz, 15. Sarfaraz Ahmed (WK), 16. Sharjeel Khan, 17. Naseem Shah, 18. Imam-ul-Haq, 19. Danish Aziz, 20. Arshad Iqbal, 21. Zahid Mahmood, 22. Khusdil Shah/Hussain Talat/Asif Ali (lower order finisher), 23. Iftikhar Ahmed/Shoaib Malik

Wildcard: Sohail Tanvir, Zafar Gohar, Mohammad Wasim, Mohammad Musa/Aamer Yamin, Mohammad Amir (rumors has it he applied for UK passport in order to be available for the IPL)

Since Zimbabwe did not qualify for the 2021 T20 World Cup, we will not be looking into their squads.

Awards

South AfricaPakistanZimbabwe
Emerging PlayerJanneman MalanImran ButtLuke Jongwe
Surprise PackageAiden MarkramReturns of Fakhar Zaman & Hasan AliRegis Chakabva
Broken Cricket DreamAB De Villiers Retires. Like ActuallyMohammad Amir applies for British citizenshipBrendon Taylor’s form
Short Test Matches
Sikander Raza
Pakistan tour of Africa 2021 – The Awards

Where Do They Go From Here?

Lots of cricket action coming up!

  • South Africa head to the Caribbean for 2 Tests & 5 T20Is against the West Indies in June.
  • Pakistan tour England for 3 ODIs & 3 T20Is in July, followed by 5 T20Is & 2 Tests against the West Indies. There is a Pakistan Super League resumption in the UAE somewhere in the middle as well (if it gets finalized).
  • Zimbabwe travels to Ireland for a mega tour – 3 ODIs & 5 T20Is.

What did you think of our Pakistan tour of Africa 2021?

Comment below for your favorite moments & squad predictions! Subscribe for more below! Share with your friends as well! Here is our Facebook Twitter pages.

Copyright (2021: 5/21/2021)– @Nitesh Mathur, aka Nit-X – bcd@brokokencricketdreams.com

5 Reasons Why BCCI Should Allow Players In Foreign Leagues? Learn From the West Indies

5 Reasons Why BCCI Should Allow Players In Foreign Leagues? Learn From the West Indies

Since MS Dhoni’s men lifted the inaugural T20I World Cup trophy in 2007, the Indian cricket team has failed to reach those heights again in the T20 format.

Indian Premier League is cricket world’s most lucrative and competitive tournament, providing Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) the monopoly to dominate cricket politics. Its influence has reached such an extent that England is even proposing to host the remainder of the IPL by reducing the 5-Test series, but that is another story.  

While IPL’s brand has hit the ceiling over the past decade, the quality of the Indian international T20I team has remained stagnant.

One of the main reasons is BCCI’s reluctance to let Indian cricketers play in foreign leagues—the Hundred, CPL, BBL, BPL, PSL, Abu Dhabi T10 among others.

Also Read: Babar Azam, Shaheen, Rizwan: The Case for Pakistan Players in the IPL

1. The Argument – Out of Favor Players Need an Outlet

India is sending separate squads for the England Test tour and Sri Lanka limited-overs series, an insight into the future.

Separate squads for different formats mean more international spots for domestic players. Yet, fringe players have limited opportunities. Out-of-favor players should have multiple outlets to stake a claim or regain lost spots.

Players looking to break into the Indian Test squad usually grind it out in Ranji Trophy or county cricket, but what about limited overs specialists? How about domestic stalwarts without an IPL contract but can provide value overseas? Or consider Kuldeep Yadav’s case, who has been warming the bench for two seasons.

If you rest, you rust.

Rather than wait an entire year for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and IPL, these cricketers could sharpen their skills overseas. They would improve, become financially stable, and help BCCI learn more about them.

Win-win situation.

2. Retired Players

Yuvraj Singh had to retire from cricket altogether to qualify for a T10 tournament, while Harbhajan Singh and plenty of others were denied altogether in similar cases. Not a proper way to treat legends.  

In 2007, Australia’s greatest era was coming to an end with retirements of Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Shane Warne, & Glenn McGrath.

Their acquisition highlighted the early days of the IPL. Hayden was CSK’s mainstay (remember the Mongoose Bat?), Warne inspired Rajasthan Royals’ inaugural win, and Gilchrist did the same with Deccan Chargers in 2009.

Watson exemplifies these points. His Player of the Series performance in IPL 2008 reignited his flailing international career. Post-retirement, Watson regained form in PSL 2019 (Player of the Series), held prior to IPL 2019, which helped CSK in their run to the final.

3. Learn From the West Indies

West Indies just announced a blockbuster summer ahead. 4 Tests, 3 ODIs, and 15 T20Is, right in time for the T20 World Cup. The likes of Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, and Dwayne Bravo have returned. Consider this squad for a second:

  1. Chris Gayle, 2. Evil Lewis, 3. Nicholas Pooran, 4. Shimron Hetmyer, 5. Kieron Pollard, 6. Andre Russell, 7. Jason Holder, 8. Dwayne Bravo, 9. Oshane Thomas, 10. Sheldon Cottrell, 11. Hayden Walsh Jr.

With Lendl Simmons, Andre Fletcher, Fabian Allen, Fidel Edwards, Akeal Hosein, & Obed McCoy on the sidelines and Sunil Narine yet to make his international comeback, this team is ready to complete their World Cup hattrick.

Benchmarking helps.

4. Match Practice and Pressure Situations

What is the secret sauce of this Caribbean generation?

In between World Cups, players employ their trade around the various leagues, gain valuable match practice in all conditions, simulate pressure situations, and experience playing with or against world-class opposition.

One can argue that West Indians were born for T20 format, but the same cannot be said about England.

Before 2015, England were adamant against the IPL and T20 leagues, except for Kevin Pietersen. Post the 2015 ODI World Cup debacle, they changed their thinking. The result? Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, and Jofra Archer had stellar seasons, became better limited overs players as a result, and England won the 2019 Cricket World Cup.

Radical change. Rapid strides.

5. The Solution

While injuries and players undervaluing internationals for T20 obligations are genuine concerns, there is a solution—implement a maximum cap of 2-3 leagues per year. This will ensure clarity in communication and provide time to obtain No-objection certificates (NOC), which will help cricketers manage commitments without giving up international dreams.

It does not have to be an all-or-nothing, but frankly the conversation needs to start somewhere.

Safeguarding the IPL brand is hurting India internationally.

IPL helped catapult India to the 2011 Cricket World Cup, but others have caught up. It is time BCCI let their players develop internationally if they have any chance in future T20 World Cups.

Home » Archives for May 2021

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Ross Taylor, A Giant Among New Zealand’s Greatest Generation

Ross Taylor, A Giant Among New Zealand’s Greatest Generation

Today I want to reflect upon the career of one of my all-time favorite players, Ross Taylor. We will discuss it all—the achievements, the struggles, my favorite memories, and ultimately what we can learn from him.

But you ask, why am I talking about Ross Taylor all of a sudden?

Well for once, he has been in the news recently.

Ross Taylor still has a few years of international cricket left in him, but these events just highlight that the ending is closer rather than later.

It is the beginning of the end for the greatest Kiwi generation.

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New Zealand Cricket’s Greatest Generation

New Zealand cricket is now a powerhouse. Across the three formats, their record is spectacular:

  1. Semi-finalists: 2007 & 2011 ODI World Cup; 2007 & 2016 T20 World Cups
  2. Runners-Up: 2009 Champions Trophy; 2015 & 2019 ODI World Cup finals
  3. Finalists: Inaugural World Test Championship Final

This is surely New Zealand’s greatest cricketing generation, and great teams are built upon the contributions of exceptional individuals.

Post the Martin Crowe era, New Zealand’s performances were inconsistent until the Stephen Fleming generation. With a side consisting of Fleming, Daniel Vettori, Nathan Astle, Craig McMillan, Jacob Oram, Scott Styris, and the feisty Brendon McCullum, the Black Caps began to generate consistent performances.

Fast forward fifteen years, New Zealand have transformed from a team that ‘perennially punches-above-their-weight’ to serious ‘contenders.’

The Brendon McCullum-Kane Williamson generation has unearthed heroes like ODI double centurion Martin Guptill, superman Grant Elliot, American-bound Corey Anderson, steadiness of Tom Latham & Henry Nicholls, the all-round power of Colin de Grandhomme, Jimmy Neesham, Kyle Jamieson, & the Mitchells (Daryll and Santner), spin-guile of Ish Sodhi, and the depth with incoming youngsters like Conway-Phillips-Will Young-Tim Seifert-Tom Blundell.

From the land of dibbly-dobblies to the genuine pace regime consisting of Southee-Boult-Henry-Jamieson-Wagner-Ferguson-Milne, the transformation is complete.

One man was a constant that connected the Fleming and Williamson generations. From the promising youngster in 2006 to the calm senior in 2021, across 4 ODI World Cups, he has seen it all. The name is Luteru Ross Poutoa Lote Taylor, the second cricketer of Samoan descent to play for New Zealand.

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The Stats – The Best #4 ODI Batsman of All-Time

When things are all said and done, Taylor will go down as the best #4 ODI batsman of all time.

InningsRunsBestAverageSR10050+
#4 (ODIs)1797664181*52.1383.471965
Ross Taylor at #4

To put this in perspective, at #4, Taylor has the (1) most runs, (2) most centuries, (3) most 50+ scores, (4) second highest individual score after Vivian Richards’ 189*, and (5) second highest average after AB De Villiers of course (with at least 100 ODIs).

His international career as a whole is not that bad either.

MatchesRunsBestAverageSR100s50s
Tests105737929045.8359.801934
ODIs2338581181*48.2082.412151
T20Is10219096326.15122.3707
Ross Taylor’s career stats

Taylor’s career can be broken down into three phases—(1) swashbuckling slog-sweeper, (2) responsible middle order batsman, (3) and absolute world dominator.

His averages between 2017-2020: 60.50, 91.28, 55.47, 99.00. 6 hundreds, 19 fifties. Brilliant.

Ross Taylor Records In a Nutshell

Overall

  • 1st cricketer to play 100+ matches in each international format.
  • 3rd most catches combined (340) behind only Mahela Jayawardene & Ricky Ponting

New Zealand

  • Most capped player (440) for New Zealand across formats
  • Highest run scorer, most hundreds, and most fifties for New Zealand in ODIs
  • Highest run scorer in Tests, second most hundreds after Kane Williamson

Individual

  • 3 double centuries in Tests
  • 3 consecutive ODI centuries – 112* Vs India, 102 Vs India, 105* Vs Pakistan (2014)
  • 6 consecutive ODI fifties – 181*, 80, 86*, 54, 90, 137 (2018-19) Vs England, Pakistan, Sri Lanka
  • 5 ODI centuries Vs England

New Zealand Cricket Awards

  • Sir Richard Hadlee Award: 2012-2013, 2013-2014, 2019-2020
  • ODI Player of the Year: 2010-11, 2013-14, 2017-18, 2018-19
  • Test Player of the Year: 2012-13, 2013-14
  • T20I Player of the Year: 2019-2020
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The Beginning

He burst onto the scene in 2006, scoring an unbeaten 128 against Sri Lanka in only his 3rd ODI. He debuted in Test cricket a year later and found success in 2008 against his favorite opponent, England. Taylor would score 120 in Hamilton against them and 154* at Manchester later in the year.

My First Memory

My first memory of Ross Taylor was in that magnificent 2006-07 series vs Australia, one of the best ODI series of that era. The Kiwis whitewashed Australia 3-0 scoring 340 & 350 respectively in successful chases. These were the days where chasing 270 was considered a difficult task.

Taylor was the architect of the 2nd ODI, scoring 117 to go along with a brilliant diving catch at Eden Park.

Early IPL Career

Next came IPL 2009. I was already a fan of the 2009 RCB team – stalwarts Rahul Dravid & Anil Kumble, Robin Uthappa, and youngsters Manish Pandey & Virat Kohli. Finisher Ross Taylor just took RCB to the next level, one of their key players taking Royal Challengers Bangalore to their first final.

His best IPL innings was the 81*(33) Royal Challengers Bangalore Vs Kolkata Knight Riders. Coincidentally, Taylor’s 81* overpowered countrymen Brendon McCullum’s 84*.

At the halfway stage, the required rate hovered around 11. What came next was pure genius. With 52 needed off 24, Taylor unleashed five slog-sweeping sixes against the likes of fast bowlers Ishant Sharma and Ajit Agarkar. RCB won by 4 balls to spare. He would play a couple of more cameos in 2009, including a player of the match performance in the Champions League.

In the next few seasons, Taylor would play steady knocks for Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Daredevils, but his T20 form never reached the heights of that 2009 season again.

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Best Moments

Birthday Special – 2011 Cricket World Cup

One of Taylor’s sweetest moments came on his 27th birthday in the 2011 Cricket World Cup at Pallekele, when Kamran Akmal’s dropped catches and an array of full tosses literally gifted him a memorable birthday present.

He would make the most of this opportunity. After slowly rebuilding to 69* (108), what followed was carnage. He ended up scoring 131* (124) with 7 sixes. Carving away off-side yorkers, slogging leg-sided deliveries into the stand, and thrashing Shoaib Akhtar, Abdul Razzaq, and Shahid Afridi, this was Taylor at his best. In the last six overs, NZ scored 114 and gave Pakistan their only loss of the group stage.

Apart from that mild altercation with the South African team in the quarterfinals, it was a pretty decent tournament for the Kiwis.

A Double Century To Remember

Taylor was going through a lean patch in 2014-2015. Although he had a few 30s and 40s, questions were being asked on his place in the Test squad. On a flat track in Perth (when does that ever happen?), Taylor made the most of his opportunities, scoring a brilliant 290 & 36* with a 265-run partnership with Kane Williamson. That would be the end of Mitchell Johnson’s career.

Best Innings

Ross Taylor saved his best (thus far) against England at Dunedin in 2018. Chasing 336, New Zealand were reduced to 2-2 in 3 overs. Then he mastered a chase….on one leg.

That’s right.

When Taylor was 107, he ran for a two and dove to reach the crease in time. In the process, he injured himself. New Zealand still needed 116 from 13 overs. Since he could not run twos, for the last ten overs it was all stand-and-deliver stuff. The fact that he stayed in and remained unbeaten just blows my mind.

With healthy support from Williamson, de Grandhomme, and Henry Nicholls as well as a 187-run partnership with Tom Latham, NZ’s third highest successful run chase (after that 2006-07 Australia series) was complete. Following tradition, it was a day before his 34th birthday.

Here are some of the commentary clips from Taylor’s innings. Just dominated all across the park.

Pull over long leg… Swung over long on… Flicked… Slaps it to point boundary…Swats it powerfully…Beats deep square… Carts it over deep mid-wicket… Over backward point… Beats third man… Conventional sweep… Through extra cover! Out of the ground.

Definitely a candidate for the best ODI innings in a chase of all-time. Epic.

My favorite Taylor innings by far.

India Vs New Zealand 2019

One criticism of this New Zealand generation is not being able to lift the elusive trophy after seven ICC knockouts opportunities in the last 15 years.

Taylor himself had not played a match defining innings in a high-profile game apart from a few steady 40s here and there (I believed in the 2015 World Cup Final when Elliot-Taylor had ‘rescued’ NZ to 150 in 35 overs. In came James Faulkner for the final powerplay, dismissed Taylor off the first ball, and took the game away. Dreams crushed.)

In the 2019 Cricket World Cup semi-final, he finally came to the party. 74 (90) might not seem too much, but in the context of a slow pitch & disciplined bowling attacks, this was a precious little innings, keeping NZ’s middle order together.

Unfortunate that his innings ended with a direct hit from Ravindra Jadeja, but by then, NZ had pushed to a competitive total.

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A Word On the Williamson-Taylor Partnership

Speaking of run-outs, Kane Williamson & Ross Taylor. The best number #3-4 pair of the decade, but not so good between the wickets.

With the exception of McCullum-Guptill, New Zealand have often rotated through their openers resulting in frequent top-order collapses and slow starts. This brings in Taylor and Williamson in the game to do what they do best—read the situation, soak in the pressure, nudge it for singles and doubles, dab down to third man, flick it off the hip.

Next thing you know, the innings is halfway done, wickets are in hand, and the acceleration has begun. Standard Williamson-Taylor template.

The thing is they seem to do it over and over….and over…again. Astonishing consistency.

The Struggles

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Captaincy

At the peak of his batting form, Ross Taylor was handed captaincy after an interview process, narrowly edging out Brendon McCullum. His two year tenure ended unceremoniously. Post a disastrous 2012 T20 World Cup and a tour of Sri Lanka, Taylor was sacked unceremoniously as captain from all three formats, without proper communication, especially from coach Mike Hesson. Putting this aside, he fought through and scored 142 & 74 against Sri Lanka.

He took a break from the game and skipped the subsequent tour of South Africa. New Zealand folded for 45 against Steyn-Philander-Morne Morkel and lost the first test by an innings and 27 runs. This match would be the catalyst for McCullum to compete in an ultra aggressive approach that catapulted them to the 2015 World Cup final. Taylor was selected back into the side as the trio put their differences aside.

However, as McCullum writes in his book Declared, the incident “gouged a rift between us that will probably never heal.” Taylor himself states that the top job probably “came a couple of years before I was ready.”

Eye Surgery

The 290 at the WACA is special, but you know what is more special? Scoring that many runs against the pace of Josh Hazlewood & the Mitchells—Johnson, Starc, Marsh without a functioning eye.

He had to have a surgery in 2016 to remove the pterygium in his eye. This probably gave him that extra bit of timing that sparked the second wind in his career and elongated his career.

Martin Crowe

Apart from being a Black Cap legend and a critical thinker of the game, Martin Crowe was a mentor to the current crop of players in the New Zealand side, especially Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor. Crowe lost a tough battle with cancer in 2016, which impacted them both tremendously. After Taylor went past Crowe’s all-time Test record and closed in on his 100th test, Taylor could not hold his tears back in a press conference.

In his own words, Crowe was “New Zealand’s best ever Test batsman, best ever cricketing brain, a genius, and someone that inspired thousands of Kiwis and thousands of people overseas as well.”

End of his T20 career?

Ross Taylor was dropped from the T20I squad last year due to scintillating performances from Devon Conway and Glenn Phillips. He needs to re-invent his T20 game if he has any chance of resurrecting his T20I career. Since the upcoming T20 World Cup allows a squad of 23, I think he might just find a place.

What We Can Learn From Ross Taylor & the New Zealand team?

New Zealand Cricket Team: Camaraderie & Team Spirit Galore

Why are the Kiwis everybody’s second favorite team? Is it just because of the 2019 World Cup Final and the obsession with captain Kane Williamson’s smile? Umm…maybe.

Or is it because of the talent among the group? Possibly. Maybe it is due to the aggressive approach installed by McCullum’s captaincy? Maybe, maybe not.

Above all, I believe it is the due to the camaraderie between the players in the New Zealand team. Although Kane Williamson is the star of the team, he acts just like a core member and nothing more. Tim Southee is happy to relinquish his place for in-form Matt Henry and instead take diving catches as a substitute fielder. BJ Watling is going out but has given his complete support to Tom Blundell, the next in line.

This is exactly what this New Zealand team is all about. Actually, this is what sport is about. Give it your all, play aggressively on the field, respect the opposition, live & die for each member of your team.

This quote below encapsulates the dynamic within the Black Caps unit.

Legendary NBA coach for the Chicago Bulls & Los Angeles Lakers Phil Jackson once said, “The strength of the team is each individual player. The strength of each member is the team.”

Source: 40 Awesome Team Player Quotes for Tomorrow’s Leader – Quotes Muse

Ross Taylor’s Legacy: Stable, Steady, Responsible

One of the most popular cricketing social media question is, “Is Ross Taylor the most underrated batsman of our era?” First of all, I am not a huge fan of these pointless clichés like ‘underrated,’ overrated,’ ‘unluckiest,’ etc., etc.

Anyway, in my books, Taylor will go down as one of the all-time greats of our game. To do what Taylor has done for how long he has done it is truly remarkable. It turns out that slow and steady actually does win you the race.

Will Ross Taylor be remembered as talented as Sir Vivian Richards or the recently retired with confirmation, AB De Villiers? Was he as technically adept as Williamson and the Fab 5? Did he have the exquisite timing of Hashim Amla or the free-flowing nature of Mohammad Yousuf?

It all depends on your point of view, but one thing is for certain—Taylor is the glue that kept New Zealand together for so many years.

What can you learn from his life and apply to yours?

  • Dependability – In case of a crisis, you could always depend on Ross Taylor. It might not pay off every time, but he had the uncanny ability of turning gloomy situations into positive ones. Not only as a batsman, his role as a trusted slip fielder as well.

Be dependable. Regardless of what is going around on you, internally or externally, try to weather the storm. Once you overcome the obstacle, lend out a hand and help someone else out in need.

  • Balance – Once Taylor rescued NZ from precarious situation, he knew when to accelerate and who to turn the strike to.

Be self-aware. Know your limitations and balance your life accordingly. Too much of anything is harmful. Learn how to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

  • Responsibility – Taylor curbed his natural gameplay and transformed from a slogger to an accumulator to suit his side’s needs. In order to accommodate the firepower at the top & the lower order, somebody needed to take the responsibility and be that insurance policy.

Be responsible. Sometimes giving up your own personal comfort for others around you is the way to go. Follow your dreams, but also combine it with a slight dose of practicality.

There is probably no better match than Ross Taylor & the New Zealand cricket team, or shall I say they are tailor-made for each other (bad joke, sorry 😅). His responsible character gelled perfectly into the team spirit.

What will I remember the most? The tongue celebration, his bent stance, hard bottom-hand grip, the slog sweeps, and the numerous partnerships, and the calm demeanor.

I will leave you with a smiling picture of Ross Taylor. Because why not.

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Ross Taylor Videos

  1. 181* Vs England

2. 290 Vs Australia (WACA)

3. Ross Taylor Vs Pakistan (2011 Cricket World Cup)

3. Leg Side Sixes

4. 25 Questions With Ross Taylor (ESPN Cricinfo)

5. Fastest Century by a BLACKCAP (until Brendon McCullum 2016) – 81 ball century vs Australia (2010)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Who Is the best player in New Zealand?

When things are all said and done, Kane Williamson will probably be regarded as the greatest New Zealand batsman of all time.

Yet, for New Zealand cricket to get to this point, players like Martin Crowe, Ross Taylor, Stephen Fleming, Daniel Vettori, and Brendon McCullum, have played their parts.

How Good is the New Zealand Cricket Team?

Ranked #1 in ODIs, #2 in Tests, and #3 in T20Is according to the latest ICC rankings (2021), the New Zealand cricket team is definitely one of the best going around. The fact that they have qualified for 8 different semi-finals or finals in the last 15 years across the formats makes this generation of New Zealand team one of their bests ever.

Is Ross Taylor an Underrated Cricketer?

Ross Taylor is one of the unsung heroes of New Zealand cricket, but he will go down as one of the all-time greats of our game. To do what Taylor has done for how long he has done it is truly remarkable. It turns out that slow and steady does actually win you the race.

What makes Ross Taylor such a special cricketer?

Taylor’s ability to read the situation makes him such a special cricketer. Knows exactly when to attack and when to soak in the pressure.

What was Taylor's highest score in one day cricket?

Taylor’s highest score is 181* in a run-chase in Dunedin (2018) against England.

Second highest score in a successful run chase.

Ross Taylor Birthday

March 8th, 1984 (8/27/1984)

Why does Ross Taylor stick his tongue out when he scores a century?

Taylor’s unique celebration can be credited to his daughter, Mackenzie. It is a tradition that started during his ODI hundred against Australia in 2007 and “made her happy.” He continues his famous tongue-poking celebration to this day and even passed on the tradition to his son, Jonty.

Tribute to Other Cricket Legends

Thank you all for reading! Really appreciate it.

If you like these stories about cricket legends, check these some of my earlier featured articles below:

  1. Rahul Dravid: What Rahul Dravid Taught Me?
  2. MS Dhoni & SK Raina: Retirement: An End of an Era
  3. Shakib-Rahim-Iqbal-Mortaza-Mahmudullah: Why Shakib And Co Are the True Fab 5 of this Era?
  4. Lasith Malinga: The Slinga, Slayer, and Superstar
  5. Ellyse Perry: What Can Ellyse Perry Not do?
  6. Dean Jones: A Celebration of Life
  7. AB De Villiers & Faf Du Plessis: Can Faf Fulfill the Broken Dream of ABD?
  8. Umar Gul: The Magician With the Yorker
  9. Sam Curran: Why the World Needs Same Curran: Calm, Charismatic, Courageous
  10. Joe Denly & Joe Biden: The Importance of Being Joe
  11. Nicholas Pooran: A Story of Pain, Hope, & Inspiration: The Next Big Thing of West Indies & World Cricket

5/18/2021Copyright – @Nitesh Mathur, aka Nit-X – bcd@brokokencricketdreams.com

Image Courtesy: Ross TaylorChubby Chandru, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons