• Darren Lehmann was just 34 when Michael Clarke announced himself with a fleet-footed and fluent century on debut at Bangalore in October 2004. Just months earlier, he had been one of the key performers as Ricky Ponting's team pulled off one of cricket's Labours of Hercules, beating a Sri Lankan side with Muttiah Muralitharan 3-0 on home soil. Yet, after Clarke's wonderful debut, Lehmann – who had waited so long for his chance – announced that he would happily step aside for the young tyro. By the end of the year, still short of his 35th birthday, he was gone, though one of the most gifted strokeplayers of his generation would go on to torment Sheffield Shield attacks a while longer.


    In Dubai earlier this week, Younis Khan's classy hundred defied and frustrated South Africa in the first Test. Each stroke that he played was a slap in the face for Ijaz Butt, the Pakistan Cricket Board chairman, whose treatment of him was as despicable as his continued maladministration of the country's

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  • Ashes is an important series

    In exactly a week's time, the first ball might be sent down in one of the most anticipated Test series of the year -- The Ashes. And given the manner in which the subcontinent is quite shamelessly offering a dull view of Test cricket in recent times with flat wickets by the matches, The Ashes could well, I hope, dish out what it has always been about -- Test cricket at a level typified by its rich intensity, unrivaled passion and unmatched dynamism. The Ashes of 2010 comes at a time when cricket is in dire need of a folklore to talk about, a cricketer whose achievements could capture a nation's imagination, with cricket being his tool of expression -- someone not quite dissimilar to the Freddie "Jesus" Flintoff of Lord's fame. And that's where I believe the Ashes is an important cricketing series.


    Add history, and it gives the contest a sense of context, a past that went on to define the game through its complex yet contrasting narratives. The dominant theme of this year's Ashes

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  • When Punter waxed sardonically that Australia would shellack England 5-0 this summer in the Ashes, it seemed like he was just putting it on to uphold tradition. At best, his claim came as a puny reminder of past editions, where that cranky ole codger Pigeon took it upon himself to put the irons in the fire in advance of the impending party with the Poms. That used to be Glenn McGrath's designated role. He did it best - even in 2005, when he was forced to eat humble (pigeon) pie and watch grumpily as Freddie and gang set about busting up the Aussies.


    Aah, Pigeon!


    The last images of him we have from the cricket field are those of him lounging in deck chairs boundary-side during the IPL in South Africa, looking like an irritated schoolmaster clad in pajamas. But as the Aussies hunker down for the Ashes this summer, his name will pop up again and again as the five match series unfolds. I don't think we realize how much we really miss that tetchy old dog in the Aussie lineup -- or in

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(1,341 Stories)




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