Rajan's Wrong-Un: Shafiul deserves a holiday after superb – but unrewarding – spell

World Cup Diary

By Amol Rajan
Tuesday 15 March 2011 01:00

How poor Shafiul Islam didn't pick up a wicket in his opening spell against the Dutch yesterday – 6-3-7-0 – the cricketing gods alone must know. More's the pity for the young bowler because Bangladesh's proudest bureaucrats had announced a public holiday across the country, in anticipation of a win.

It duly came by six wickets, and the Dutchmen have now lost all five of their games. Shafiul bowled a wonderful mix of slower balls, yorkers, and good-length deliveries, while swinging the ball away in the air and making it dart in off the wicket. In yesterday's other game, Pakistan beat Zimbabwe by seven wickets via the Duckworth-Lewis method, in a rather low-watt encounter.

Possibly the most exciting event came before the match, when Shoaib Akhtar was deservedly dropped for his pathetic efforts thus far in the tournament. Between them, these results mean Group A is already settled. And as many fans have noted online, it's a good job Group B has been so utterly unpredictable, because otherwise the ICC would be feeling embarrassed about its scheduling of this opening phase.

England's future should be Swann's way

Much speculation over the weekend about Andrew Strauss's future as England captain in limited-overs cricket. Strauss has said he's in it for the long haul, but that hasn't stemmed the flow of "runners and riders" pieces about his successor.

Three candidates are most widely tipped: Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, and Stuart Broad. Clearly I'm going mad, because this list strikes me as absurd. Neither Cook's nor Bell's batting can be relied on; and Broad is too injury-prone. But more to the point, why is there barely a fleeting, if any, mention of the strongest candidate? Hugely reformed since his first England tour over a decade go, capable with bat, ball and anywhere in the field, and a galvanising force in the dressing room: the man to succeed Strauss, eventually, is their master of spin, Mr GS.

Stars show that cricket has the power to help

More than 10,000 fans watched at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on Sunday as a charity match raised NZ$500,000 (£229,856) for victims of the earthquake in Christchurch. Shane Warne's third ball flipper to Kiwi Prime Minister John Key posed little threat, and the PM later pulled a generous Warne full toss for four. All Black Tana Umaga took a wicket, and great Kiwi all-rounder Sir Richard Hadlee even endured "creaky hips" to bowl an over off four paces. This was sporting decency at its finest, and congratulations to all involved.

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