Captain: Ricky Ponting
Coach: Tim Nielsen
World Ranking: 1st (Test), 3rd (ODI)
World Cup Best: Winners - 1987, 1999, 2003, 2007.
Recent form: Australia have been the best team in the world by a distance over the last decade, dominating the test rankings and winning the last three world cups. The big question at the moment is whether they can continue their success after the retirements of Warne, McGrath, Langer and Gilchrist. They were pushed all the way in the recent India series and suddenly don't look so invincible.
TSR fans: Thirucumaran
Captain: Mashrafe Mortaza
Coach: Jamie Siddons
World Ranking: 9th (Test and ODI)
World Cup Best: 7th in Super Eight Stage - 2007
Recent form: Bangladesh are the newest team to take up test cricket having played their first one in 2000. It has been a frustrating 8 years with only rare glimpses of the ability that they obviously possess. Bangladesh have started to become a credible force in ODIs and T20s though, and the improvement in test cricket is bound to come.
TSR fans: Sarforaz, Purbasha T
Captain: Andrew Strauss
Coach: Andy Flower
World Ranking: 5th (Test), 7th (ODI)
World Cup Best: Runners Up - 1979, 1987, 1992
Recent form: England were on the top of their game in 2005 when they finally regained the Ashes. They have been pretty poor in all forms of the game since, suffering a major post ashes hangover. Injuries to key players hasn't helped and neither did the indifferent selection policies of Duncan Fletcher and David Graveney. Its been all change in the past year, firstly with the resignation of Michael Vaughan as England captain, leading into the turbulent and short-lived tenure with Kevin Pietersen at the helm. Although there were encouraging signs in Pietersen's first ODI series with a comfortable 4-0 win over South Africa, Pietersen's captaincy came to a dramatic and fractious end when he demanded the removal of coach Peter Moores in the misguided presumption that his team-mates would back him. Ultimately, both coach and captain suffered an untimely demise and Andrew Strauss was appointed captain with Andy Flower the temporary coach for the tour of the West Indies.
TSR fans: SuperDaz
Captain: MS Dhoni
Coach: Gary Kirsten
World Ranking: 3rd (Test), 2nd (ODI)
World Cup Best: Winners - 1983 Runners up -2003
Recent form: Realistically this India team, with the likes of Tendulkar and Dravid, has rarely met its potential. It should have been pushing Australia for top spot for the last decade but has often flattered to decieve. Recent form is good though with a surprise series win in England followed by winning the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup. India also performed very well in Australia, though fielding remains an area for drastic improvement. Newly appointed coach Gary Kirsten will look to heal the scars of the Greg Chappell era and take a new generation forward.
MS Dhoni, the India captain, is the face of this new generation, whose undoubted natural talent presents a selection dilemma for Team India looking ahead to the 2011 World Cup, while still maintaining respectable results in the short term with the help of established 'seniors' such as Ganguly, Dravid and Tendulkar. It will be interesting, though, to see how they will cope with the possible losses of Ganguly, Dravid, Tendulkar and Kumble in the near future.
TSR fans: CorpusNinja, sohanshah
Captain: Daniel Vettori
Coach: Andy Moles
World Ranking: 8th (Test), 4th (ODI)
World Cup Best: Semi Finals - 1975, 1979, 1992, 1999, 2007
Recent form: New Zealand will really be up against it in the next couple of years. The retirements of key players and the lures of the County Championship and ICL have left them with a diminshed squad, already with such a small player pool it is inevitable they will struggle. New captain Daniel Vettori will have to reinstall the resilience and work ethic that we've come to expect from the Kiwis. New Zealand's young talent, in the form of Ross Taylor, Tim Southee and Jesse Ryder amongst others, has hinted at a possible revival in the near-future - bright results in the ODI format have at least offered some encouragement.
TSR fans: Thirucumaran
Captain: Salman Butt
Coach: Intikhab Alam
World Ranking: 7th (Test), 6th (ODI) 1st (Twenty20)
World Cup Best: Winners - 1992, Finalists - 1999
Recent form: Pakistan are going through a very chaotic period at the moment, with power struggles within the PCB. After a very poor run of form in the Tests, Pakistan were able to get to the semifinals of the World T20 only to be thrashed out by Australia in perhaps the best game of the tournament. They were able to continue the good form by beating Australia 2-0 in the T20s in England, followed by sharing the Test series 1-1, in which the Pakistani bowling was consistently asking searching questions of Australia's much vaunted top order, culminating in a first innings collapse for 88 and a first win for Pakistan over Australia in fifteen years. The batting however remains the weak link with the departure of stalwarts such as Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf and Misbahul Haq. It remains to be seen whether the new youngsters such as Azhar Ali, Umar Amin and Umar Akmal can fill the gap.
Captain: Graeme Smith
Coach: Mickey Arthur
World Ranking: 2nd (Test), 1st (ODI)
World Cup Best: Semi Finals - 1992, 1999, 2007
Recent form: South Africa are a talented side who are finally overcoming the gloom of the post-apartheid quota system to deliver the world-class side that many have felt they were capable of before now. Their dangerous seam attack, led by the explosive Dale Steyn, has led them to series wins over most of the teams around the world in the last few years, the culmination of which was a series victory over Australia, the current world number one, in their own backyard. In some quarters it is felt that they have now usurped Australia and are the (unofficial) world number one Test-playing nation; a title that could become official should they defeat the Australians again in South Africa early in 2009. Irrespective, the captaincy of Graeme Smith, who has united the team through the turbulence of the quota system, offers South Africa great hope for the future. The talent throughout their side, from the captain at the top of the order to Jean-Paul Duminy in the middle order and Dale Steyn in the seam attack means South Africa are a very dangerous side, adaptable to all forms of the game.
TSR fans: Thirucumaran
Captain: Kumar Sangakarra
Coach: Trevor Bayliss
World Ranking: 4th (Test), 7th (ODI)
World Cup Best: Winners - 1996, Finalists - 2007
Recent form: Sri Lanka have improved drastically under Tom Moody and Mahela Jayawardene. They play with a lot of flair and determination and will now give anyone a good game.
Rugged veteran, Sanath Jayasuria, silky middle order batsman and captain, Mahela Jayawardene, flamboyant wicketkeeper-batsman, Kumar Sangakarra, wily left-arm swing bowler Vaas and legendary offspinner Muralitharan form the extremely talented and experienced core of this side, which is peppered with prodigious talent in the form of Chamara Silva, upcoming seamer Ishara Amerasinghe, and fast slinger Lasith Malinga. The recent discovery of mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis, who has bamboozled batsmen the world over with his mystifying and entrancing combination of off-breaks, leg breaks, doosras and googlies, has provided a further edge to the Sri Lanka attack. The balance of the bowling attack, dedicated fielding and robust top order make Sri Lanka a formidable ODI outfit, and a challenging Test side. Twenty20 World Cup underachievers, they are still perfecting their approach to this format, though with their honest and humble leader, it surely won't take too long.
The installation of World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga as the president of the SLC should hopefully bring about a constant stream of good talent to the national team
TSR fans: wackysparkle, Thirucumaran
Captain: Chris Gayle
Coach: John Dyson
World Ranking: 8th (Test and ODI)
World Cup Best: Winners - 1975, 1979
Recent form: The West Indies have really struggled since their glory days of the 70s and 80s. The last 10 years have been a dreadful time, though there are signs of encouragement under new coach John Dyson. There is definitely talent in the side with the likes of Chanderpaul, Gayle and Bravo. The retirement of modern batting legend, Brian Lara, left behind a gaping void in the middle order, which has been mitigated to an extent by the supreme consistency of Chanderpaul, but the team will surely look to Samuels and Bravo to raise their game for the future. The batting also suffers from a chronic disease of collapsing dramatically after good starts. The fast bowling resources, are quick and passionate, if a tad unpredictable, and are threatening to match the glory boys Marshall, Garner, Holding and Roberts.
From established competitions like the County Championship and the Pura Cup, to new inventions like the Stanford 2020 and the IPL (and the unofficial ICL).
Australia State Cricket
The primary competition contested within Australian Domestic Cricket is the Sheffield Shield. The six states; Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania - contest the competition, as well as contesting the Australian One-Day Domestic competition, the Ford Ranger Cup. The KFC Cup is Australia's Twenty20 competition.
The Sheffield Shield is played out in a league format, with the top two sides contesting a final in which the highest placed side is rewarded with home advantage. Teams are awarded six points for a win, though points are also awarded for a tie (3 points) or a first-innings lead (2 points; though the points awarded cannot exceed six irrespective).
Australian Domestic cricket maintains a proud emphasis on providing players to compete for international honours. The players for each state are therefore primarily Australian, and the system has been praised the world over as the strongest domestic system because of its depth, though also because it encourages a tough brand of cricket and is not seen to provide a comfortable atmosphere for promising youngsters.
English County Cricket
English domestic cricket is based on the idea of traditional English counties competing against each other. The only non English side to compete is Glamorgan who represent South Wales. There are four different competitions in which counties compete against each other. The County Championship which is the first class competition. The Pro40 league which is a 40 over a side league. The Friends Provident Trophy which is a 50 over aside knock out tournament and the Twenty20 cup which is a 20over a side knock out tournament.
County cricket has changed a lot in recent years as it has tried to attract new fans, improve the quality of cricket played and to further assist the England team. These include the introduction of two leagues with promotion and relegation, the twenty20 cup and the introduction of central contracts.
New obstacles have arisen in recent years. The Kolpak ruling means that there are more and more foreign players representing counties, while there are worries that with the added importance of money in the modern game, that the bigger, test match hosting counties will dominate county cricket and the smaller counties such as Leicestershire and Derbyshire will be squeezed out.
Indian Domestic Cricket
While the pitches are tilted in the favour of batsmen in 90% of matches, the domestic arena has produced a pack of aspiring fast bowlers such as Sreesanth, RP Singh, Munaf Patel and more recently Ishant Sharma. Tall and speedy, they represent a new generation of bowlers consistently on the right side of 140kph, and each has had their moment of glory in Test or ODI cricket. Recurring injuries, however, have raised questions about their long term reliability.
Batsmen have been India's forte, and while the coaches are still searching for the next Tendulkar or Dravid, there have been a crop of fearless batsmen ready to take the attack to the opposition, and the Twenty20 WC presented the perfect stage for them. Rohit Sharma, Robin Uthappa, Gautam Gambhir and Suresh Raina have all been in and out of the ODI side, knocking on the doors of Ganguly and Dravid, while Yuvraj and Dhoni present possible Test fixtures in the years following the retirement of middle order titans Laxman, Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly. Unrefined technique and lack of application in testing situations remains an area for improvement, but there is no doubt the Indian domestic circuit will continue to churn out batting talent for years to come - how they are handled is another issue altogether!
The Indian Premier League, or IPL, is a Twenty20 league organised by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The league comprises eight franchises, or teams (Kolkata Knight Riders, Rajasthan Royals, Delhi Daredevils, King's XI Punjab, Hyderabad Deccan Chargers, Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Chennai Super Kings) and could be described as the cricketing equivalent to football's domestic systems, for players are bought and sold in an auction format and generally attached to a city or region.
The league attracted numerous world superstars for the inaugural edition of the IPL, including Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne, Chris Gayle, Sanath Jayasuriya, Graeme Smith and Kumar Sangakkara, as well as the iconic Indian national players (Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh, who are generally attached to their 'home' franchise.
In the 2008 edition of the league, teams played each other in a round-robin format, including home and away fixtures. The top ranking sides then contested semi-finals and the final, with Shane Warne's Rajasthan Royals eventually winning the competition. Off the field, the league has courted controversy for the way it has taken precedence over international cricket (in the eyes of some) by wooing the world's top international stars with huge sums of money. The conflict between the IPL and the ICL has seen many players banned from international cricket by their boards, including the likes of Shane Bond and Abdul Razzaq.
This rebel 20/20 league was the first to get off the ground in India, with the ICC approved IPL yet to begin. The matches were initially low scoring, as the sides adjusted to a slowish pitch and subcontinental conditions which favoured slower bowlers, but once into their stride, most sides produced thrilling entertainment, with the international stars coming to the fore in most cases. Lara remained the sad exception, but the likes of Cairns, McMillan and Harvey showed why they were a class apart. Some young Indians shone through, but with the BCCI shunning ICL signees, their international prospects remain slim.
The winners, Chennai Superstars (sporting horrific pink kit) took home $1m dollars, while international players pocketed extremely lucrative contracts for a fortnight's work.
Stanford Twenty20 refers to a number of Twenty20 competitions imagined by Allen Stanford.
Allen Stanford is a Texan millionaire who first became known in the world of cricket when he financed the West Indies' inaugural domestic Twenty20 competition, better known as (the) Stanford Twenty20. The islands of the West Indies compete to reach the final of the Stanford Twenty20, which is held on a year by year basis. Stanford's 'Twenty20 Empire' revolves around the ground he financed and built, the Stanford Cricket Ground, located in Antigua.
Stanford is perhaps better known for his global aspirations and the much-hyped Twenty20 for 20 (million dollars). In a plan designed to help the growth of West Indies cricket, Sir Allen proposed to prominent cricket boards (including South Africa and Australia) a one-off match between a selection of 'his' superstars and their national sides. After suffering a number of rejections, Stanford succeeded in wooing the England and Wales Cricket Board to his proposal, whereupon the Twenty20 for 20 slogan was born; culminating in a win for the West Indies XI over a lacklustre England side in the inaugural competition.
Stanford's domestic Twenty20 competition continues to go from strength-to-strength, such is the popularity of Twenty20 both in the West Indies and worldwide. The future of the 'Twenty20 for 20' competition, however, appears sketchy, after England - who had signed a five-year agreement with Stanford - expressed doubts about the competition's future during and after the inaugural event. Yet it is unclear as to whether England have any reasonable grounds to renege on their agreement with Allen Stanford having originally agreed to the proposal.
Allen Stanford himself has now brought the future of all Stanford Twenty20 competitions into question in disbanding his board of West Indian legends. It is rumoured in the press that Stanford believes his vision for West Indies cricket is unsustainable, and that shall imminently announce that he is withdrawing from the game for good.
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