Posts Tagged ‘england


Michael Owen arrives at Old Trafford

Michael Owen playing alongside Neville, Rooney and Scholes not just for England but also for Manchester United. Is it possible? 24 hours ago the answer may have been no. But it is now onfirmed that the injury friendly striker has penned a deal with the Reds that will keep him at Old Trafford till 2011. He will become only the 4th player in history to have played for both United and their sworn enemies Liverpool. Honestly, being a Red Devils fan I really don’t know whether to take this new move positively or not. Sir Alex has sure made a huge gamble by signing him.

The latest Red Devil in town Owen sure has had a roller-coaster career. A boyhood Everton fan, he went against his father’s wishes to join Everton’s mersyside rivals Liverpool. During his time at Anfield, he was regarded as one of the world’s most feared strikers, having netted a staggering 118 goals in 216 appearances for the club. But in 2005 he made the biggest blunder of his career by moving to an already star- studded Real Madrid. Mostly benched and under-performing, he was sold off to Newcastle United later. His time there was injury ridden and he rarely showd glimpses of his much talked about prowess. The Magpies however were relegated this past season and Owen has found himself without a club to play for. Hull City were first to publicly acknowledge their interest in the player. There had also been offers from Tottenham, Portsmouth and Stoke City.

Michael Owen will be keen to fill be keen to fill in the void left by the departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez.  Sir Alex Ferguson will be hoping that Owen would  don a similar role like that of Henrik Larsson two years back. The former Swedish captain had joined United on a 6 month long loan deal after stunning spells at clubs like Feyenord, Celtic, Barcelona etc. Despite being in the swansong of his career, Larsson was able to help United to a League Championship while providing useful guidance to youngsters like Rooney and Ronaldo. One should also not forget when a 35 year old Edwin van der Sar was signed by Fergie there were quiet a few eyebrows raised. Since then, van der Sar has proved to among the best goalkeepers in Europe. Fergie had even called him the best keeper at Old Trafford since Peter Schmeichel. United legends such as Eric Cantona and Laurent Blanc were similar signings too.

As you can see, Owen can definitely be at comfort with the club’s history with ‘finished’ players. However he will have to see that his fitness doesn’t turn out to be a roadblock. The best thing to expect  from the striker though, will be a goal against his former club and United’s arch-rivals Liverpool. Now, that would be mouthwatering.


BCCI vs ICL but on the cricket field for a change

India takes on giant-killers Ireland in today’s T20 World Cup fixture. Shouldn’t the BCCI be boycotting the game? Perplexed? When India takes the field for tonight’s game it will probably be the first time an India team is involved in a Match that also features players who’ve been involved in the Indian Cricket League (ICL). Ireland mainstays Niall O’Brien and Boyd Rankin turned up for the Delhi Jets and the Kolkata Tigers in the inaugural season respectively.

Keeper O’Brien was in fact the man of the match in Ireland’s victory over Bangladesh in their earlier match. He was also the MOM when he scored a gritty 72 to lead the Irish to a famous victory over India’s arch-rivals Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup. Rankin meanwhile took career best figures of 3/32 in the match and also  topped the bowling charts for Men in Green for the tournament. The two are in fact the only ex ICL players to have turned up for their national sides in official tournaments so far.

The BCCI looks like is unaware of the ICL presence in the Ireland team. They may have relaxed rules for ex ICL talent and is in the process of welcoming them back to the ‘official’ fold and so is unlikely to create any problems in tonight’s game even if they are aware of the situation. But it should be noted that Rankin and O’Brien returned to national colors as far as back in March 2008, more than an year before the Indian Board’s pardoning of the ‘rebels’. If Ireland goes on to upset the Indians tonight, the ICL bosses will have a reason to smile. After all it will be the only time that they probably will taste any sort of success against the BCCI.


A truly global England

 Watching the England cricket team play is like watching an IPL team play. Six of their players from the T20 World Cup have foreign roots. Here is a list of ‘foreign’ players in the England T20 squad.

  • Kevin Pietersen – Born to an Afrikaan father and English speaking mother in Durban, South Africa
  • Ravi Bopara – Born to Indian Punjabi parents in London
  • Dimitri Mascarenhas – Born to Sri Lankan parents in London
  • Adil Rashid – Born to Pakistanis in Bradford, England
  • Owais Shah – Pakistani born in Karachi
  • Eoin Morgan – Born in Dublin, Republic of Ireland, and even played in the 2007 World Cup for the All Irish team. 

In the 2007 cricket World cup, seven players in addition to coach Duncan Fletcher were either of foreign origin or born outside England. Andrew Strauss who is the current ODI and Test skipper was born in South Africa off Afrikaan heritage (I’m not entirely sure, but his surname is of German origin and hence my conclusion). Monty Panesar is a Sikh of Indian origin while Sajid Mohammad is a second generation Pakistani. Jamie Dalrymple was born in Nairobi, Kenya. 

Since the 70s England has been represented by many an outsider. Most were cricketers from South Africa, which at the time was barred from International cricket, who turned up in England colors. Tony Greig, Basil D’Oliviera, Robin Smith, Allan Lamb, Derek Pringle to name of a few. The 90s and the new millennium saw a lot of other ‘countries’ in the team, especially Asians. Graeme Hick, Philip DeFreitas, Chris Lewis, Nasser Hussain, the Hollioake brothers, Robert Croft, Kabir Ali, Vikram Solanki etc were England regulars. 

Now although this trend does reflect the diversity in the British society, the inclusion of players like Eoin Morgan and Gavin Hamilton of Scotland in the past is not commendable. Both these players are easily the best in their own country. Associate nations like Ireland and Scotland need players like these to prove a challenge to the big boys. Morgan has of course stated his desire to play test cricket but his priority should be for his homeland for whom he has played internationals. ICC should also do something for this. Morgan was playing in green not more than a year back. It is not ethical for England to choose such players. Like in other sports, ICC should bring laws to prevent players from being poached. In fact Hamilton played the 99 world Cup for the Scots, later represented England in a test in which he failed miserably and now he is back playing for his home nation. Why can’t cricket have a rule like in Olympic sports where a player has to wait for 3 years or so before he can switch national sides?