August 1, 2010

England’s seam bowlers bring Australian counterparts to shame


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Surprised by the headline? No mention of Pakistan in it. Well sometimes it does happen. The England pace trio of James Anderson, Chris Broad and Steve Finn just stuck to the basics to earn a convincing 354-run victory for their side in the first Test at Trent Bridge.

Inexperience is not the most appropriate word to describe the Pakistan batting line-up fielded in the first three Tests of the summer so far. It’s much worse than that. They are short of technique let alone any exposure to the conditions of England.

Ijaz Butt and his cronies have done a cruel joke with the nation and the game of cricket. By blooding the raw youngsters at key positions they have made a mockery of a term called merit.

That even the weakest of batting line-up to have taken to Test cricket for a long time managed to register a victory over Australia was attributed more to lady luck and the suicidal instincts of the opponents.

Australia had to stoop very low indeed to be able to lose a Test match to Pakistan in the English conditions. For doing that they had to commit a suicide and they did exactly that in the second Test at Headingley to ensure that they didn’t win the series.

Ricky Ponting’s decision to bat first under overcast sky after having called correctly was as much horrible as the bowling of Australian fast bowlers during both the Test matches and this has been proved by the Englishmen who just bowled in the right areas to expose Pakistan’s brittle batting.

I don’t know what the trio of Doug Bollinger, Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus was doing in those two games. We are told that the Australians have the best cricket system in place in the world.

But if their top three fast bowlers are unable to produce the goods in favourable conditions then something must have gone somewhere. Either the selectors made the mistake of picking out-of-form guys or the managers were unable to keep them motivated.

Bollinger, Johnson and Hilfenhaus had played cricket at the international cricket having come up with sterling performances in the recent past. How all three of them became ineffective to the extent of useless remains a mystery?

If Ponting had to look to Shane Watson, Steve Smith and Marcus North for the wickets it really made a mockery of his plans. The Australian think-tank had probably made a blunder of lifetime somewhere.

Cricket remains a game of uncertainties and we can expect to have a lot of unexpected things in the field. But can we hope the powerful Australians to be laid low by a bunch of cricketers who themselves were short of confidence and struggling for survival.

Not sure how the Australians would be treating this odd defeat at Headingly but the bowling performance of England in the following Test at Trent Bridge has certainly made them look even uglier.

Andrew Strauss and his men have done nothing exceptional. Their batting also collapsed in both outings but the bowlers didn’t let the team down and the result was hardly ever in doubt. Birthday boy Anderson remained on song and his 11-wicket haul was a perfect gift to his teammates.

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KPC Sports Festival concludes with a fabulous ceremony


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The prize distribution ceremony of the Karachi Press Club’s Summer Sports Festival 2010, held on July 30, turned out to be quite an event with the likes of Dr Mohammad Ali Shah and Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui making the occasion a memorable one.

The Ibrahim Jalees Hall was already packed to capacity when Shoaib Siddiqui, Secretary Sports & Youth Affairs to the Government of Sindh, arrived at 6.45 pm and then the convoy of Dr Shah reached the club within the next 15 minutes.

As planned the ceremony started at a few minutes past seven and the intensity remained high until the prizes were distributed after speeches by the two dignitaries and the top officials of the club.

As promised cash awards were disbursed among the top three position holders of all five tournaments. The winners were presented Rs 5,000 each and those having ended runner-up received Rs 3,000 each. There was also a purse of Rs 2,000 for each of those having finished third in their respective events.
Besides the cash there was also an incentive in the shape of a certificate of merit, documenting the award and carrying the signatures of Dr Mohammad Ali Shah, Shoaib Ahmed, Imtiaz Khan Faran, A H Khanzada and Syed Khalid Mahmood.

Khurram Baig, who won the table tennis tournament, was quick to remark that he would cherish the certificate and preserve it for a while. The statement was reflective of his positive mindset.

The other award winners were also quite delighted and it was very heartening indeed that all of them turned up to receive the award personally from the chief guest. A couple of them reached the venue a few minutes late but most importantly they made it and their moment of glory was seized by the camera.

The speeches of Dr Mohammad Ali Shah and Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui were music to the ears of the members of the Karachi Press Club who were thoroughly praised for their enthusiasm in the field of sports besides discharging their professional duties.

They were appreciative of the sporting spirit of the Governing Body of the club that took the decision to revive the Sports Festival.

The KPC officials present on the occasion also did not let go the opportunity of recognizing the monumental efforts of Dr Shah and Shoaib Siddiqui in bringing sports to life throughout the province. They have also been instrumental in building a solid relationship between the sports department of the Government of Sindh and the KPC.

Following were the prize winners:
Snooker: Masroor Afzal Pasha (Daily Times) 1st; Faizan Lakhani (Geo TV) 2nd; Qasim Khan (Dawn TV) 3rd
Chess: Anwar Mooraj (Freelance) 1st; Mohammad Shahid (Monthly Fanoos) 2nd; Hasan Mansoor (AFP) 2nd.
Scrabble: Mohammad Shahid (Monthly Fanoos) 1st; Mohammad Afaq (Daily Muqadma) 2nd; Irshad Ali (Aaj TV) 3rd.
Badminton: Jahangir Khan (APP) 1st; Azhar Sultan (Samaa TV) 2nd; Kaleemuddin (Geo TV) 3rd.
Table Tennis: Khurram Baig (Express Tribune) 1st; Mohammad Azhar (Din) 2nd; Mahmood Ahmed Khan (Mahshar) 3rd.

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