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Cricket News & Views

Umpires let Cardiff clock tick

ENGLAND'S time-wasting during the last hour of the drawn Test at Cardiff proved to be a talking point rather than a genuine controversy. As the Laws stood, the umpires were powerless to intervene -- and that was the bottom line.

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The Law 42 on unfair play covered time-wasting by batsmen in section 10, but umpires Aleem Dar and Billy Doctrove could only make matters worse. They would have eaten up more time to the fury of the Australians if they had followed the laid-down procedure. Firstly an umpire has to give a single, final warning to the batsman and then inform his umpiring colleague, inform the other batsman and inform the fielding captain.

If time-wasting happens again, the umpire has to go through the same series of consultations and signal to the scorers five penalty runs, eating up a further minute or two. And the batting captain must be informed when practicable, so Andrew Strauss would have been justified in approaching the field of play to inquire what was happening. More time lost, especially if the captain pretends not to fully understand the situation. Ponting would have been jumping up and down with annoyance.

The sanction that umpires do not have is the power to stop the clock. So nothing could effectively prevent England messing about -- the team physiotherapist and 12th man twice ran on to tend the batsmen. In one case they needed to convey a message that time, and not overs, was the essence of the game.

Though Ricky Ponting and his Australia side were frustrated, they knew they did not dominate the moral high ground. At the last pair they bowled almost 12 overs in 37 minutes, despite the apparent time-wasting. This was a much much higher rate than normal simply because it suited them. Usually the rate is less 'honest' and more sluggardly to ensure that the bowlers send down no more than the day's proscribed minimum of 90 overs.

I mentioned these points in the BBC Television 24 Hours news studio on Monday after the excitement at Cardiff had died down, recalling a lovely example of time-wasting at Trent Bridge in 1976. The West Indies were racing towards a declaration to get England back to the crease in the evening, but at one end the batsman was frequently distracted by a flock of gulls from the nearby river feeding on the outfield in his sight line.

The time taken repeatedly shooing these birds away took many minutes off playing time, which was fine for England. It was only afterwards that it emerged that fast bowler John Snow had taken some cake crumbs in his pocket after tea and scattered them surreptitiously near his bowling mark. All very subtle and imaginative.

Posted by Charlie Randall
14/07/2009 10:21:18

ECB ban Lungley and Birch

PRO cricketers can become poisonous when they drop down below first-team level. Their behaviour in club cricket can sometimes be revolting -- they know who they are -- and it seems that county 2nd XI can bring out the worst too, as evidenced by the trouble caused of two Derbyshire players this week.

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Tom Lungley and Dan Birch were suspended by the ECB on totting up after incidents in a Second XI Championship match between Leicestershire and Derbyshire on July 1-3. That followed hard on this week's suspension of Omari Banks at Somerset after he was caught tampering with the ball because he felt bored.

Lungley, a fast bowler, was reported by umpires Ismail Dawood and Dean Johnson for showing serious dissent at an umpire’s decision by word or action, and in a separate incident he was reported by the umpires for a similar offence, this time intimidating an umpire.

In the same match Birch, a batsman, was reported by the umpires for serious dissent and later with another breach of the code -- threatening to assault another player, team official or spectator. Both players received a automatic suspension for a period covering Derbyshire’s next two competitive Second XI matches.

Derbyshire County Cricket Club investigated these incidents. In addition to the suspension above, a further one-match suspension was imposed on each player with immediate effect along with a fine of £1,000 suspended for 12 months.

Posted by Charlie Randall
10/07/2009 17:13:23

Umpire's death raises a question

NEWS of a death on the cricket field invites repercussions, especially in an era hell-bent on making the world a safer place. And bad luck is something that some blame lawyers seem unable fathom.

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Yet the death of Alcwyn Jenkins during a club match at Swansea on Saturday does strike a chord with me. It has been suggested that the health and safety issue might one day require umpires to wear protective helmets. That would be ridiculous, but it is positioning in the field that could be reconsidered.

The ball was struck into the off side field, and Mr Jenkins, 72, the bowler's umpire, moved to the correct position on the off side to adjudicate any run-out attempt. He was apparently struck a terrible blow on the side of the head by the fielder's throw. For such an accident to cause fatality is very very rare, but on the other hand an umpire is extremely vulnerable to throwing accuracy as he cannot always turn his head to watch the fielder as he releases the ball.

The only reason why an umpire should not move to the safer, far side of the stumps would be to give himself a clear sight of the stumps and gauge more accurately whether the player at the stumps breaks the wicket lawfully. That, again, is a rare dispute, so perhaps an umpire's text book positioning does not warrant the risk.

I have seen crouching umpires hit on fleshy parts by wayward throws, and I have been nearly hit myself while umpiring. In fact near misses might be quite frequent. When the ball is hit into the ring and a run is attempted, I think the umpire should retreat to the safer side in club matches, knowing a direct hit would be easy enough to adjudicate.

Mr Jenkins, a vastly experienced and well respected umpire, was officiating at a South Wales Cricket Association league match between Swansea and Llangennech at the St Helen's ground. The game was abandoned.

Posted by Charlie Randall
06/07/2009 18:00:25

ECB uphold powerplay goof

MIDDLESEX have failed in an attempt to have their Friends Provident Trophy defeat by Somerset on May 17 declared null and void after an umpiring cock-up.

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The ECB said today that on-field umpires Peter Willey and Michael Gough had acknowledged that they miscalculated the number of powerplay overs available to Somerset at Lord's, but after consideration the authorities decided to uphold the precedent. "Umpire errors cannot form the basis to declare a match null and void," ran a statement. "The ECB has great sympathy for the position in which Middlesex CCC has been placed, but a replay cannot be ordered in these circumstances."

CHARLIE SAYS: God, I wish the ECB and ICC would get rid of powerplays, an extra number of overs when the field has to be 'in'. I doubt if the public care one jot about their existence. It's just another thing officials can get wrong and another thing the captain has to worry about.

Posted by Charlie Randall
19/05/2009 18:39:38

Dawn of square-eyes umpiring

THE NEW set of initials in cricket parlance, UDRS -- umpire decision review system -- will be heard more often as a result of the ICC's opinion that the referral experiment has been successful.

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After the two-day ICC cricket committee meeting had finished at Lord's today, it was announced a "phased roll-out" would be recommended, with a start in October this year. This followed scrutiny of trials over the previous nine months in the series Sri Lanka v India (August 2008), New Zealand v West Indies (December 2008), West Indies v England (February/March 2009) and South Africa v Australia (February/March 2009).

Players could request a review by the television umpire of a decision made by the on-field umpire they believed to be incorrect. The third official was able to view the available television pictures and relay information back to the umpire on the field, who then had to decide whether or not to reverse his original decision. In the first two of the four series involved in the trial each side was allowed a maximum of three unsuccessful appeals per innings. This was reduced to two per side, per innings for the remaining series that formed part of the trial.

The ICC considered the following questions and published the following answers:

Was the number of overall incorrect umpiring decisions reduced? Yes.

Was there an undue negative influence on the pace of the game? No.

What was the effect on the players and did the process of placing the responsibility on the players for deciding whether a decision should be reviewed work?

The committee concluded this was the most appropriate way of handling the review system; the past experience of the Johnnie Walker Super Series in 2005 when the umpires had the opportunity to call for reviews showed that path was not effective as it led to umpires doubting their own abilities and slowed the game down.

Was the process (request for review, consultation and the conveying of the final decision) practical?

Yes, although it was agreed it needed fine-tuning.

What was the effect on the umpires and was the authority of the on-field officials unduly compromised?

 The committee concluded any possible negatives were far outweighed by the positive effect of ensuring more correct decisions were made.

Were there any other positives or negatives to be considered?

It was considered of vital importance that further training of the umpires in the processes was necessary ahead of any further use of the UDRS. This would be to ensure maximum levels of consistency in the implementation of the system. It was also noted that the use of the UDRS reduced examples of player dissent which may otherwise have occurred following incorrect decisions.

On the basis of its conclusions, the committee agreed to recommend that there should be a phased roll-out of the system from October 2009.

The ICC said that the months before the roll-out would allow time to factor in of lessons learnt from the trials, to issue documentation of minimum technical standards in technology and protocols, to confirma and implement minimum standards for the third umpire’s room, to give further training of umpires to implement the protocols and processes.

The committee’s recommendations will now go forward to the ICC chief executives’ committee and the ICC Board, both of them meeting at Lord’s during the ICC’s annual conference week on June 22-26.

ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said: "I’m excited that the committee concluded that the umpire decision review system had a positive effect on the game. It reduced the number of incorrect decisions and also cut down on the instances of player dissent. The committee’s recommendation will now be taken forward to the ICC chief executives’ committee and the ICC Board and, if both those groups agree, then we will seek to roll out the system from October 2009."

The cricket committee agreed that the concept of day/night Test cricket should be explored, with the possibility of a trial match in 2010, provided key factors were established beforehand. These factors included successful tests of an appropriate colour ball, a clear indication that day/night Tests were what stakeholders wanted and successful trials at first class level.

The committee also agreed to recommend stricter penalties for players and captains guilty of failing to maintain an acceptable over-rate. Host boards, umpires and match referees should also take responsibility for ensuring that everything within their control was done to ensure over-rates remained as high as possible.

The committee was chaired for the first time by former West Indies captain and ICC Cricket World Cup winner Clive Lloyd, replacing ex-India captain Sunil Gavaskar. The committee comprised David Richardson, ICC general manager of cricket, Mark Taylor, Ian Bishop, Simon Taufel, Ranjan Madugalle, Mickey Arthur, Tim May, as chief executive of the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations, and Clare Connor, the head of women’s cricket for the England and Wales Cricket Board.

CHARLIE SAYS: There were errors made by the television umpire in the West Indies, but as the ICC say extra training will be given this seems to be a right way forward. It is a pity that the referrals stopped short of using the electronic wizardry of Hawk-Eye -- right through -- Snickometer and Hot Spot. Serious analysis and testing should establish whether these commentating aids are as effective as they seem for the use of umpires.

Posted by Charlie Randall
12/05/2009 18:50:05

England build-up falters

CHARLOTTE Edwards struck an elegant 93-ball 72 for England women in a losing cause against Australia in Australia during the build-up schedule of games before the World Cup on March 7-22.

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England lost by 25 runs after the holders Australia opener Alex Blackwell hit a flawless 91 not out off only 112 balls in a 50-overs total of 214 for eight at The Village Green club in Sydney. England in reply were cruising nicely at 152 for four before Erin Osbourne (2-31) and Shelley Nitschke (2-31) started a collapse, with the last six wickets falling for 37 runs in a total of 189 all out. Edwards, the captain, was the key to the good start and Claire Taylor also showed signs of good form in a 47-ball 35. Lydia Greenway contributed 23.

At Old Kings a New South Wales team defeated the West Indies by two wicketswith one over left. West Indies recovered from a precarious 75 for eight to 145 all out after tail-ender Afy Fletcher top scored with 36 not out from 80 balls, adding 42 with Anisa Mohammed for the last wicket.

On arriving in Australia Edwards said she believed England were peaking at the right time and that the key players were firing consistently.

England, champions in 1973 and 1993 on home turf, are pooled in Group B with India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, who they meet first on March 7 in Canberra.

Group A is made up of defending champions Australia, New Zealand, West Indies and South Africa. The top three sides in each group will go forward to the Super Six stage where each side then plays the teams which have qualified from the other group. The top two sides from the Super Six go forward to the final.

Edwards, 29, ICC Women’s Player of the Year of 2008, reckoned the tournament would be the toughest yet, with the format guaranteeing that only the two best teams would qualify for the final. "The World Cup is all about peaking at the right time and dealing with the pressure of big matches," she said. "I think the four pre-tournament favourites --England, Australia, India and New Zealand -- are equal in strength, which brings it down to the fact that the difference between winning and losing will be whose key players excel on match days."

Edwards was speaking with the experience of 117 one-day internationals. "It’s obviously nice for England to be spoken as favourites, but I think Australia are favourite, especially because they will be playing on home turf. Australia have dominated international cricket for the past 10 years and being on home soil thy are the team to beat.

"I also think the West Indies will be the surprise package. We played them in the summer, and I was really impressed with them, especially with their bowling and fielding."

Officials will include the ICC international umpires Steve Davis, Tony Hill and Brian Jerling. There is one female umpire -- Kathy Cross, of New Zealand -- who will be the first woman to stand in a World Cup event. The other umpires are Shahul Hameed and Sarika Prasaad (Associate and Affiliate panel), Lakani Oala and Neil Harrison (East Asia-Pacific panel), Jeff Brookes, Andrew Craig, Tony Ward, Mick Martell (Australia National Panel) and Gerard Abood (Australian first class umpire). Referees are Brian Aldridge and David Jukes.

England squad: Charlotte Edwards (capt), Caroline Atkins, Katherine Brunt, Holly Colvin, Lydia Greenway, Lauren Griffiths, Isa Guha, Jenny Gunn, Laura Marsh, Beth Morgan, Ebony-Jewel Rainford-Brent, Nicola Shaw, Anya Shrubsole, Claire Taylor, Sarah Taylor.

Posted by Charlie Randall
03/03/2009 01:08:01

ICC act to cut video 'frivolity'

THE number of unsuccessful appeals to the video umpire is to be reduced from three to two during England's Test series in the West Indies to reduce "frivolous" referrals, the ICC announced today.

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The experiment of querying umpiring decisions and calling up electronic assistance has been regarded as successful by the ICC, and it seems certain to be introduced permanently. The first two Tests are to be monitored and, if the two appeals number seems right, the reduction will be introduced for South Africa's home series against Australia, which opens on Feb 26. England start their first Test in Jamaica on Feb 4.

The ICC say that when the two series are concluded, a full appraisal of the trial will be undertaken and the issue of whether to continue with the review system or discard it will be debated at the ICC Cricket Committee in May.

ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said: "The umpire decision review system trial has so far received mostly positive feedback from players and officials, but we want to get it right before we consider applying it to international cricket on a permanent basis.

"That is why we have made this refinement to it. It has become clear during the trial so far that three unsuccessful reviews per innings is too many as there is potential there for frivolous or unnecessary reviews to be made by one side or the other.

"This is all part of the trial process. We are testing different playing conditions so that we can find the best one and give the trial every chance of succeeding. We listen to feedback and we have been hearing that two is a preferred option."

The fielding and batting side are allowed two unsuccessful appeals to the umpire per innings to change a decision if it is perceived to have been incorrect. The rest of the playing conditions for this trial remain unchanged.

Appeals can be made only by the batsman in receipt of the umpire’s original decision or by the captain of the fielding side, in both cases by the player making a 'T' sign with both forearms at shoulder height. The on-field umpire will consult with the third umpire, who will review available television coverage of the incident before relaying fact-based information back to his colleague.

The on-field umpire will then deliver his decision either by raising his finger to indicate 'out' or by crossing his hands in a horizontal position side to side in front and above his waist three times – as per a 'safe' decision by an official in baseball.

If it is different to his original decision, the umpire will touch both shoulders, each with the opposition hand, to revoke the previous signal and then make a fresh signal as per the revised decision.

Commenting on the trial, ICC general manager of cricket David Richardson said: "Our Emirates Elite and International Panel umpires already ensure the vast majority of decisions made in any Test or ODI are correct, but we want to see if we can enhance the game further by reducing or removing the few clearly incorrect ones.

"The fact that each side is now allowed only two unsuccessful requests to review in each innings should mean that players will not make frivolous challenges and, instead, only seek a referral to decisions that, it is quickly clear, are highly likely to be incorrect.

"By seeking to reduce these potentially contentious decisions we believe we can help remove a source of tension and frustration among players and spectators as well as any resultant pressure on umpires.

"At the same time we have sought to ensure the continued primacy of the on-field umpire. The man on the field’s role is to consult with his colleague, not to refer the decision away, and he still decides whether or not to change his original decision.

"Once the trial is over we will conduct a thorough review of the process before deciding whether the trial was successful and worth persevering with."

CHARLIE SAYS: I am coming around to the video appeal idea after the futile experiment in the Friends Provident Trophy in 2007, a one-day competition. It is clear that Test cricket is a much more fertile area for umpiring error such as bat-pad decisions, especially if it means finger-spin bowling is encouraged. Mind you, I wonder how many different umpiring signals there are with these new additions.

Posted by Charlie Randall
29/01/2009 10:47:01

Bodenham reaches another goal

THE former international football referee Martin Bodenham has been named in the ECB's list of first class umpires for 2009 today, an unprecedented round-ball double.  

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Three former players have been promoted with Bodenham to the 25-strong full list other -- Nick Cook, Michael Gough and David Millns -- but the appointment of Bodenham introduces a welcome diversity to a sector of the professional game that is a little too in-bred for comfort.
Bodenham, a Cornishman, attracted newspaper headlines, as most referees still do, for the occasional controversial incident, including his decision not to penalise Newcastle striker Alan Shearer for an apparent kick in the face on Neil Lennon, of Leicester City, in April 1998 after they fell to the ground together in a Premier League game at Filbert Street. An apologetic Shearer said the incident was accidental, a claim largely backed up by video evidence.

Bodenham made his name umpiring in the Sussex League, and it was Peter Moores, while Sussex's coach, who encouraged him to apply for the ECB reserve list, one step before full status. He said: “I am absolutely delighted to be on the full list.  I began playing cricket when I was around 10 or 11 years old and love the game.  When I retired as a football referee 10 years ago, I took up umpiring and continued to play 2nd XI league cricket.  Cricket is and always has been my major sporting passion."
CHARLIE SAYS: Michael Gough is one to watch after retiring early from playing at Durham because he realised he was too mediocre. That in itself suggests sound judgment when he could have soldiered on as a former England A opening batsman.

Umpires Full List for 2009:
R Bailey, N Bainton, M Bodenham, N Cook, N Cowley, B Duddleston,
J Evans, S Garrat, M Gough, I Gould, M Harris, P Hartley, J Holder, V Holder, R Illingworth, T Jesty, R Kettleborough, N Llong, J Lloyds, N Mallender, D Millns, T Robinson, G Sharp, J Steele, P Willey.

Posted by Charlie
10/11/2008 15:21:14

Zaheer Khan fined for circling

THE India left-arm fast bowler Zaheer Khan has been given a massive fine by the ICC for his disgraceful antics during the 320-run victory over Australia in the second Test at Mohali.

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The umpires reported Khan for giving a 'send-off' to the Australian opener Matthew Hayden after his dismissal, lbw to Harbhajan Singh in the over before lunch on the fourth day. The ICC noted that Khan ran from his fielding position and circled the batsman, shouting at him in an aggressive manner before returning to his team-mates.

Tim Nielsen, Australia's coach, shrugged off the incident as "a bit of by-play", but Chris Broad, the referee, saw it differently, fining Khan 80 per cent of his match fee. Khan pleaded guilty to a Level 2 charge under clause C1 of the ICC Code of Conduct, which states that players "shall at all times conduct play within in the spirit of the game as well as within the Laws of Cricket".

Broad said: "Clearly, this sort of behaviour is not acceptable at any level of cricket – it showed a lack of respect for the player who had been dismissed. Respect for the opposition was something that we talked about in the pre-series meeting I had with both captains, and so it was disappointing that Zaheer behaved in this way.

"However, in considering the penalty, I took into account the fact that Zaheer had a good disciplinary record. He also pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and was very apologetic while also promising not to repeat the offence."

CHARLIE SAYS: Zaheer Khan must have been very pumped to act in this way, and it seems bad blood remains between these two teams after the sledging rows during the series in Australia at the start of this year. The on-field behaviour became so bad that even Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd felt obliged to comment. "Cricket is a tough and competitive business, but you can conduct it with a bit of civility," he said.

Posted by Charlie
21/10/2008 12:09:58

Australia blanked in ICC gongs

THE award to the West Indies batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul as ICC cricketer of the year in Dubai last night was heart-warming mainly because there was hardly an Australian name in the long list of categories, a notable exception being Simon Taufel, umpire of the year for the fifth year in succession.

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Chanderpaul, 34, the Guyana and Durham left-hander, had an outstanding year for one of the weakest Test-playing countries, which made his achievement all the more gratifying. He was named in the ICC world Test team of the year, as chosen by a panel of eminent past players.

England had two players in the Test team, Kevin Pietersen and Ryan Sidebottom, while Australia had only one in Brett Lee, the only player to appear in both Test and one-day lists. Australia had five in the ICC one-day pick and England none, though if the home South Africa series had been included, no doubt Andrew Flintoff's name would have cropped up.

Australians were even pipped in the women's section when the England batsman Charlotte Edwards followed in the footsteps of Jhulan Goswami, of India, and former Australia captain Karen Rolton to become the third women’s player of the year. Perhaps the lack of all-round Australian star quality suggests Ricky Ponting faces another very tough Ashes tour in 2010. 

There was a new award to mark the Twenty20 international performance of the year. Yuvraj Singh became the inaugural winner of that following his remarkable six sixes in one over for India during the ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa. The bowler, not mentioned in the citation, was the luckless Stuart Broad.

Taufel, 37, was voted to his award by the 10 Full Member captains and the eight-man Emirates elite panel of ICC referees. Receiving the award, he said that Ricky Ponting's success had restricted his own ambitions. "I’m delighted to win this award, but I don’t set this as a goal at the start of a season," he said. "My goals are to be selected for finals and for major championships like the Champions Trophy or World Twenty20. If Ricky and the boys slip up eventually, I might get the chance to do a final. Umpiring is essentially a mental exercise. For me it’s about being mentally fit and keeping at the top of my game."

Taufel beat off strong competition for this award from his colleagues on the Emirates elite panel of ICC umpires Mark Benson, Rudi Koertzen, Steve Davis and Aleem Dar.

Taufel made his first class debut as an umpire in 1994-95 an joined the Emirates Elite Panel in 2003. In the voting period of these awards Taufel stood in 10 Tests and 16 ODIs, as well as the ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa, where he was an on-field umpire in the thrilling India v Pakistan final along with Benson.

In the video clips dedicated to he awards, the bravado of batsmen and bowlers can be well illustrated with pounding background music -- but umpiring? One can imagine a montage of Taufel decisions, with the finger going skywards in rapid succession, followed by signals of fours and sixes in slow motion, and then the lifting of the bails... Perhaps not.

ICC award winners

Cricketer of the Year: Shivnarine Chanderpaul (W Indies)

Test player:              Dale Steyn (S Africa)

ODI player:               Mahendra Singh Dhoni (India)

Woman cricketer:       Charlotte Edwards (England)

Emerging player:        Ajantha Mendis (Sri Lanka)

Associate ODI player: Ryan ten Doeschate (Holland)

Twenty20 performance: Yuvraj Singh (India)

Spirit of Cricket:         Sri Lanka

Umpire:                     Simon Taufel (Australia)

ICC World Test team 2008 (in batting order):

Graeme Smith (S Africa, captain)

Virender Sehwag (India)

Mahela Jayawardena (Sri Lanka)

Shivnarine Chanderpaul (West Indies)

Kevin Pietersen (England)

Jacques Kallis (S Africa)

Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka, wkt)

Brett Lee (Australia)

Ryan Sidebottom (England)

Dale Steyn (S Africa)

Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka)

12th man: Stuart Clark (Aus)

ICC world one-day team 2008  (in batting order):

Herschelle Gibbs (S Africa)

Sachin Tendulkar (India)

Ricky Ponting (Australia, captain)

Younus Khan (Pakistan)

Andrew Symonds (Australia)

Mahendra Singh Dhoni (India, wkt)

Farveez Maharoof (Sri Lanka)

Daniel Vettori (NZ)

Brett Lee (Australia)

Mitchell Johnson (Australia)

Nathan Bracken (Australia)

12th man: Salman Butt (Pakistan)

Posted by Charlie
11/09/2008 14:31:08
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