Big, Brutal, and Bold: Remembering Kevin Pietersen

“Generally, sporting legends end their careers on a tragic note. A tragedy is exactly what makes these legends even more iconic and memorable than they actually are. “

At present, these lines can be associated with veteran England batsman Kevin Pietersen. The 39-year-old spent the back end of his career on the fringes.

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Investment in youth the best way forward for Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich’s recent defeat at the hands of Hertha Berlin was quite a thunderclap. The club had some bitter pills to swallow after Ondrej Duda and Vedad Ibisevic scored to deny Bayern what many believed to be a straightforward win. This unlikely defeat broke Bayern’s nine-year-long undefeated over Hertha. Despite a few wobbles early on in the season, Bayern Munich is still in the race to win the Bundesliga is year around. Currently placed third in the points table, behind the likes of Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Monchengladbach, the lads from Munich certainly have the necessary firepower to turn the tables and reclaim the paradise.

A major reason behind the club’s sinister defeats has been the inconsistency ailing some of the club’s star players including the Dutch international Arjen Robben. Despite having rich cash reserves and adequate financial backing at their disposal, the club has refrained itself from making billion-dollar transfers of late.

Last summer, Corentin Tolisso’s transfer from Lyon to Bayern Munich attracted a few eyeballs. Acquired for a hefty sum of 41.5 million Euros, the transfer broke all records for a German club. At 24, the Frenchman comes into the side with a rich wealth of experience behind him. Going forward, he can certainly replace some of the bigger names in Bayern’s starting XI.

Similarly, German Right Back Joshua Kimmich was also signed by the club in 2015 in an attempt to strengthen the club’s youth reserves. Still, only 23, a player of Kimmich’s skill can be of immense value to Bayern Munich. Defender Jerome Boateng also joined the club as a 22-year-old in 2011 and, since then, has been a part of some of the most memorable victories in the history of the club.

Providing the right infrastructure

Bayern Munich’s strategy has also revolved around investing heavily in the youth system. Staying true to its essence of youth development, the club invested around 70 million Euros to establish a ‘Bayern Campus’ facility. The facility, located just 3 kilometres away from the Allianz Arena. The grand facility houses training areas, housing quarters, as many as eight football pitches, and a stadium as well. Money certainly can’t buy you everything, but investing such a heavy sum to streamline and nurture young players throws ample light on the club’s ideology of harnessing long-term prospects rather than spilling a billion dollars to acquire already established names.

Those who went searching for greener pastures

Whatever the club might think, but finding and nurturing players for a club as good as Bayern Munich happens to be a daunting task. Spanish star David Alba joined the club as a youngster and rose through the ranks to make a name for himself elsewhere. Tried and tested names in German defender Mats Hummels and mid-fielder Sandro Wagner began their careers at Bayern before moving to other clubs. Both of them returned to the club recently.

Not much Homegrown talent of late

Almost all of Bayern Munich’s star performers have been acquired from other teams. Polish national Robert Lewandowski was signed from Borussia Dortmund 2014. Since then, he has led the scoring charts with a tally of 111 goals in a 135 matches for the Bavarian giants. At 30, the star from Poland has entered the autumn of his playing career. With Lewandowski’s and Robben’s age running out, James Rodriguez would surely run out of midfielders in a season or two. Adding a few young midfielders into their ranks would not only provide them with a much-needed breath of fresh air but would also allow the club to nurture long-term prospects.

An eye on the future

Going by the popular notion football is a young man’s game. Investing in the youth might sound like a tedious process at first, but having some fresh and energetic raw material to work with gives you the liberty to carve legends out of talented youngsters. Thomas Mueller, the vice-captain is a roaring example of the club’s youth development system in the recent past. With manager Niko Kovak facing the heat of late because of some sinister defeats, the best way forward for the club is to invest heavily in the youth. This would allow the club to nurture a breed of players for the coming decade.

Problems aplenty for the men in blue before the World Cup

A shock defeat against a largely-depleted West Indian side in the third ODI has infused life into the series. Virat Kohli’s 38th ODI ton went in vain as the men from the Caribbean kept striking at regular intervals to deny the hosts a much-anticipated victory.

An unlikely defeat at the hands of the West Indies has once again given air to a few burning questions. India’s lack of batting depth was quite visible when Bhuvaneshwar Kumar came in at seven with the likes of Kuldeep, Chahal, Khaleel Ahmed, and Bumrah to follow.

Despite having the ‘favourites’ tag firmly attached to their chests, the men in blue need to answer a few burning questions before the marquee event begins in the UK next year.

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‘The Necklace’ by Maupassant Throws Light on the Middle Class’ Aspirations

The middle class (people), for centuries, have aspired to become rich and prosperous. They want all luxuries and riches one can possibly get. ‘The Necklace’ by Guy de Maupassant throws ample light on the never-ending aspirations of the middle class. With limited resources at their disposal, the middle class in the urbanized areas have been harbouring hopes to get rich and affluent in a short span of time. No matter how much one might end up earning, he or she is always looking to aim or a better lifestyle with each passing minute.

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The Important Thing for the Foxes is to Keep on Improving

Division 2 of the County Championship saw Kent and Warwickshire being promoted to Division One. Lancashire and Worcestershire have taken their places in Division 2 now.  Despite having a mixed season this year; things are looking better than before for the Leicestershire Foxes. With some of the lowest ranked sides in the county circuit ‘decorating’ the Second Division table, things are bound to improve for the Foxes, given an influx of ‘Kolpak’ and local talent into the team.

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It’s all about Surrey this summer

Essex’s rise to glory was well documented last summer. The club had won its first County Championship since 1992.  This year, Surrey has ended a 16-year-long County Championship drought. The county’s success is being hailed as the beginning of a new era. Joy and jubilation engulfed the KIA Oval in London after Surrey were crowned County Champions for the 20th time Continue reading “It’s all about Surrey this summer”

Lightning has struck Lancashire this summer

Lancashire’s relegation to Division 2 has come as a big shock to many. The side that finished 2nd in Division 1 last year witnessed its fortunes declining at a rapid pace. The club, known for giving English cricket some of its finest players such as Jimmy Anderson and Andrew Flintoff, has struggled immensely to win games this season. With just three wins in 14 Championship games this season, Lancashire’s season was marred by frequent batting collapses, failure to capitalize on crucial moments, and a severe dearth of cohesion.

Paper-thin Batting Order

A major reason behind the team’s dismal performances this season has been the batting order’s inability to score big runs. The likes of Keaton Jennings, Jordan Clark, Dane Vilas, and Alex Davies have all shown glimpses of their potential, but a severe lack of significant contributions at the top of the order have adversely affected the team’s ability to win matches. Lack of cohesion has hindered the team’s chances to put up strong first innings totals.

Also, a major problem faced by the side during the season was the inability of the senior pros to step up during crunch moments throughout the tournament. The spectators at the Old Trafford witnessed several glimpses of brilliance from the likes of Dane Vilas and Liam Livingstone, but a severe lack of consistency hit the team’s chances quite drastically.

The Bowling Line-up Has Been a Silver Lining

Lancashire’s bowling line-up has performed reasonably well. English cricket has found a gem of a player in Tom Bailey, this season’s leading wicket-taker. Tom Bailey showcased his ability to dismantle the opposition’s batting order. e veteran seamer

Graham Onions, the veteran seamer, who joined Lancashire from Durham lead the team’s pace attack on quite a few occasions this year. With 57 scalps in 12 Championship matches this year, the 35-year-old has been in the best of forms during the fag-end of his career. With the bowling line-up sharing the honours on a regular basis, Lancashire’s team management can at least be assured that the side’s bowling reserves don’t need a significant transformation.

The Overseas Recruits

With no dearth of financial resources, Lancashire had the luxury of signing proven international quicks in Joe Mennie (Aus) and Keshav Maharaj  (SA).  Both these overseas recruits performed reasonably well. Mennie was impressive with his lines and lengths, and took 28 wickets in seven Championship games. Keshav Maharaj, with his clever variations, troubled the batsmen and took 17 wickets in three games.

The Highlight of the Season

The highlight of the season was Lancashire’s splendid fightback against Somerset. The match, played from 10-13 September saw Lancashire clawing back from the jaws of defeat to bundle out Somerset for 77. The victory, in all fairness, was set up by the bowlers, with Maharaj finishing with match figures of 11 for 102. The autumn sunshine at Taunton witnessed one of the biggest cliffhangers in the history of English domestic cricket.

In the Limited-overs Format

torrid times continued to haunt the Red Rose County in one-day cricket as well. The club failed to qualify for the knockout stages ( North Division). The Lancs were placed sixth in a division comprising nine teams. The team won just three of the eight games it played. It lost four games while the game against Warwickshire could not yield a result.

Misery with the bat continued for the “Red Rose” County as frequent batting collapses kept on hampering the side’s chances to post strong totals.

Twenty 20 Blast

The shortest format of the game saw Lancashire restoring some pride. The club performed well during the Vitality Blast and won eight of the 14 matches it played. The club qualified for the knockout stages. It even defeated the Spitfires from Kent in the Quarter-Final clash, but were defeated by the Worcestershire Rapids, who eventually ended up winning the title. Reasonably good performances by the likes of Liam Livingstone, all-rounder James Faulkner, and Keaton Jennings meant that the fans at the Old Trafford had something to cheer and rejoice.

All in all, the ‘Red Rose’ county had some really dismal outings this year. Witnessing a club as illustrious as Lancashire being relegated to the bottom division has come as a shock to many. It would be interesting to see whether or not the team is able to bounce back next year.