The Reuters global sports blog
First Jacques Kallis retired. Then Graeme Smith called it quits. In between, South Africa lost a test series against Australia, their first at home since the 2008-09 season.
What stares the Proteas in the face now, however, is a far bigger challenge than just replacing two great cricketers.
The real test lies in rebuilding the team once again, with a new leadership and vision.
South African cricket is now known for what Smith achieved, and not for those World Cups where they ‘choked’. They deserve to be the No. 1 test side in the world but retaining that position now will be a different task all together.
Cricket boards can ruin careers and no example demonstrates it better than the England and Wales Cricket Board’s treatment of their star batsman Kevin Pietersen.
The decision to retire is always best left to the player unless he carries on without form and fitness, and Pietersen, England’s highest run-getter across all formats, should have been allowed to make that call.
Time has come for the world of test cricket to move on without its biggest conqueror – Jacques Kallis. He is arguably the greatest cricketer to have played the game and his retirement ends a career that has been both revered and envied.
The 38-year-old has set a benchmark for excellence in cricket. His test record boasts of 13,289 runs from 166 matches at 55.37, which includes 45 hundreds, to go along with 292 wickets and 200 catches. Any test cricketer would easily settle for any one of the above statistical landmarks in their entire career, let alone all of them together.
It’s not only the on-field performances that let England down in the Ashes. The selectors too got it wrong starting from the initial announcement of the squad to the playing XI that was chosen for the third Test. The team management must also share the blame for going 3-0 down and losing the urn.
They made their first mistake in denying paceman Graham Onions a place in the touring party, a move that then came under harsh criticism in the English media. He has long been considered the second best swing bowler in England after James Anderson and his omission especially after a good season with Durham was baffling if not downright foolish. Instead, Onions is now in South Africa, playing for the Dolphins.
from India Insight:
A draw in the crucial 10th game after 65 moves of play gave the young Norwegian an unassailable lead in the 12-match contest and put an end to Anand's hopes of retaining the FIDE title he’s held since 2007.
While Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement may have been looked upon as the saddest chapter in Indian cricket, the fact remains that his exit can only work to the benefit of MS Dhoni’s emerging Test side.
There is no doubt about Tendulkar’s contribution to Indian cricket but as statistics show his impact was on the decline, more so in the last two years.
For 24 years Sachin had been India’s happiness index.
If a common man, while wading through the struggles of his daily life, smiled, it was mostly when Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar took guard for India. All that has come to an end with his retirement.
India may never find another sporting icon who singularly succeeded in making the nation forget its faults – a unifying factor of rare stature. No player, in contemporary cricket, has evoked spells of pure joy with his craft and conduct for so long – 24 years. Life, for the nation of a billion people, will go on but never be the same again.
from India Insight:
By Sankalp Phartiyal and Aditya Kalra
Sachin Tendulkar's 200th test match, against West Indies at the Wankhede Stadium, will also be his last as the 'Little Master' brings the curtain down on a glittering 24-year cricket career at the age of 40. (Click here for main story)
Here’s a look at how Tendulkar’s peers on the cricketing field have described him over the years:
from India Insight:
Magnus Carlsen is the world's number one chess player but that counts for little in India, where he'll have to conquer local favourite Viswanathan Anand to become the first world chess champion from the West in nearly 40 years.
Anand, the undisputed world champion since 2007, has slumped to eighth in the rankings but has the experience of five world titles to thwart his 22-year-old Norwegian rival. If Carlsen wins the title this month, he'll be the first champion from the West since American Bobby Fischer’s reign ended in 1975.
from Photographers' Blog:
(Editor's note: Gary Hershorn, now Global Editor, Sports Pictures, for Reuters, has covered sport for 35 years. A Canadian, he gained the trust of compatriot Ben Johnson in the run-up to the 1988 Seoul Olympics and had special access to the sprinter's training. Here, Hershorn, looks back at that time and at Johnson's downfall.)
By Gary Hershorn
Standing shirtless on the training track, Ben Johnson looked at me, then dropped his running shorts. He stared at me, apparently willing me to take a picture and prove I was just another paparazzo desperate to get a sensational shot of the world's most famous athlete ahead of the Seoul Olympics.