Member Interview : James


ODI Debutant
Apr 16, 2006
Post of the Week
26 April 2011

PakPassion.Net: How old are you and what are you studying in university?

I’m 21, nearly 22. I’m studying English Literature and coming to the end of my second year. My certification is going to be a 2:1 at least, but I do fancy a First-class degree, and hope to receive one. I also have to say that I love the student lifestyle and am going to miss it!

PakPassion.Net: Why the name "Whippy"? Is it because you are a gymnast?

It’s a very old username, one that I’ve been using on the internet for many years now. I don’t know where it came from – I can’t remember to be honest. It does seem to work for PakPassion though – the word itself is relevant to cricket, and my own dogmatic style of arguing on the forums provides this innocent little username with a sense of irony.

PakPassion.Net: Cricket vs Football - You decide.

They both happen to be compelling, difficult and incredibly good games that have the potential to provoke endless debate. I don’t think we realise how much the British community revolves around sport. Personally, I couldn’t live without either cricket or football.

PakPassion.Net: How much time do you spend in PP?

It varies. I’ve spent several hours at a time on PP on many occasions. However, at the moment, it’s not that much. Half an hour a day I’d say, due to the high volume of Uni work and the low volume of cricket involving England. But you’ll see a lot more of me in the summer.

PakPassion.Net: How do you rate PP comparing to other forums? What makes you come back?

PP is the only forum I visit these days, and one of the first websites I check whenever I go online. What keeps bringing me back is the relentless pace of the debate and the many classy, intelligent users that are present from day to day.

PakPassion.Net: Considering the huge number of interviews taken by the mods/members of former, current and future players on PP, what do you think of the job they are doing as freelancers and part-timers?

I’ve always been very vocal in my appreciation of the hard work that the lads put in, and I think they’re doing a superb job. Saj in particular is a very fine ambassador for PakPassion.

PakPassion.Net: You've been a member of this forum for a number of years now. Has it changed your views on cricket and has it changed you as a person? If so, how?

It’s been fascinating to see cricket and indeed life from a different perspective to my own. Rarely have I had the fact that there is a huge difference between white British agnostic culture and Pakistani Muslim culture made so crystal clear to me! It’s great, I love it.

PakPassion.Net: What has been your best post posted and the best post read by you in these long 5 years on PP?

That’s a tough one. The only disadvantage to being around for so long is that I can’t remember most of the posts that have been made! I can certainly name the stand-out post for me in recent times, though. It was OZGOD’s in-depth analysis of the present and future of Australian cricket in the wake of the Ashes debacle. With a bit of editing and promotion, that post would have become a small article, and could easily have received the wider recognition it deserved as a result.

PakPassion.Net: Which is your favourite band?

I like a lot of bands and a lot of music. But I’d find it hard to imagine any band in the rest of my lifetime surpassing Radiohead and Joy Division. I can’t put into words the impact that the music and lyrics of both these bands have had on me.

PakPassion.Net: What's your favourite food apart from Pizza?

Gosh, I do love pizza. If it was a socially and biologically acceptable thing to do, it’s all I’d eat. I do eat a heck of a lot of cereal too though.

PakPassion.Net: Do you have your 99 with a flake?

Two flakes, actually – and raspberry sauce!

PakPassion.Net: What are your views on North Korean nuclear weapons?

I’m worried enough by the fact that North Korea almost certainly possesses an arsenal of WMDs. But never mind the literal threat of the weapons. Deterrence is as powerful a weapon as any other, and provides this corrupt nation with solidity, and gives it a chance to grow further.

PakPassion.Net: What are your views on the current immigration laws prevailing in the Great Britain and the huge increase in the population of South East Asians in the UK?

Immigration is an issue that has been handled poorly by our government in this century, but the standing of Britain as a land of genuine opportunity does make me proud. I see immigration as a positive thing if the notion as a whole is controlled. After all, ‘multiculturalism’ is one of the societal phenomena that define the post-modern Britain.

PakPassion.Net: Do you believe in any conspiracy theories? If so, please share with us.

I’m looking forward to all the investigative work into the assassination of JFK being made public. I also believe that we have come closer to contact with extraterrestrial life than most people are prepared to accept, and that the American government studies these encounters at Area 51 and other installations.

PakPassion.Net: Have you ever been to Lord’s? If so, what’s the atmosphere like?

Lord’s is an amazing ground. The atmosphere during a test match in St John’s Wood is both unique and endearing. I would recommend to any cricket fan, especially those who are not around for the annual Lord’s test match, to take the guided tour at some point, which is a lot more affordable than a match, and also memorable in its own way. You can take it on almost any day of the year.

PakPassion.Net: How and when did you get into cricket?

I watched the ’99 Cricket World Cup with my dad, and I’ll never be able to forget THAT Australia v South Africa semi-final. The interest I had in the match, and how the fine lines counted for so much, soon developed into a fascination with the sport as a whole. The next logical step was obsession, and I’m still yet to really move away from that step.

PakPassion.Net: As you live in Headingley, have you been to the Brudenell Social Club?

Certainly have. Wicked little place.

PakPassion.Net: If you could be a spectator in the crowd in any game in history anywhere in the world - which will you choose and why?

Day three at Edgbaston in 2005, England v Australia. There can’t have been more of a roller-coaster day in the history of test cricket.

PakPassion.Net: What do you think was the main reason for England's poor show at World Cup 2011?

The main reason was that the team were not good enough. The squad selection was far from ideal, the injuries in the lead-up to the tournament did not help players with their form, and the fatigue levels of the key players must have been at breaking point, after the ridiculous schedule that they braved throughout that season. But the team’s performances, for whatever reason, were just not good enough to win the World Cup – nothing close.

PakPassion.Net: In the ODI format, do you see England heading back to the dark old days of the 90s?

No. England have had some very good results in ODI cricket under Andy Flower – a few awful ones, yes, but some very good ones too – and this is why they are still ranked in the top five in the world after the recent tournament. The group of players we have now are also better-suited to limited-overs cricket than the group we had in the nineties. Trott, Bopara, Morgan, Swann, Shahzad and Broad would be my choice as a backbone to a new side, as we rebuild in preparation for the next World Cup.

PakPassion.Net: Was the T20 championship a "moment of pride" for you and English people in general?

For me, it was a pleasant surprise. It was probably a better feeling – and a more significant happening – for England to batter Australia in the final than it was for England to actually lift the trophy. I doubt the rest of the country even realised any of this had happened, though, which is not good news!

PakPassion.Net: Do you think England can become the number one team in the only thing that really matters - TEST cricket?

Absolutely. England’s next eighteen months of test cricket promises Sri Lanka at home, India at home, Pakistan in Abu Dhabi, Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka, West Indies at home and South Africa at home. Given our very formidable home record of late, not to mention the recent Ashes success in Australia, the expectation should now be to win pretty much every test series we play. I’m no expert on mathematics, but succeeding in this set of fixtures should elevate us to the top spot at last, or close to it. Then again, things could also go horribly wrong in this time. Let’s wait and see.

PakPassion.Net: What's the best and worst thing to happen to the England team in the last decade?

The best would still be the 2005 Ashes series. It gave English cricket the shot in the arm it had been crying out for since the disaster of the 1999 World Cup, and turned this most indifferent of nations into a cricket-mad one, if only for a couple of months. The hubbub was everywhere you went, and it was infectious. I still remember the manner in which the whole country seemed to come to a standstill on a Sunday night in August, when the England batsmen were battling Shane Warne and Brett Lee in the run chase at Trent Bridge. And I remember watching Kevin Pietersen’s innings in a jam-packed Harrogate pub on the final day of the series, joining in the collective roar whenever the big man sent another ball crashing into the boundary ropes. I’ve never felt so happy to be a cricket fan as I was that summer. That series undoubtedly created a lot of new cricket fans and I like to think that many of them are still with us.

The worst thing, in the short-term, would be the decision to appoint Andrew Flintoff as captain for the 2006/7 Ashes series. In one fell swoop, the heart was ripped out of the young team that Andrew Strauss had been building in the English summer. This group had not suffered the disruptive dressing room presence of the absent Flintoff, and Strauss had led them brilliantly to a convincing test series win over a very good Pakistan team. Under Flintoff in Australia, things started to go wrong very quickly. The batsmen couldn’t buy a run and the bowlers couldn’t buy a wicket. Duncan Fletcher was struck down with migraines of stress and worry. Marcus Trescothick suffered a relapse of his psychological problems. Andrew Strauss looked a shadow of the player that had just recently scored a fantastic century at Headingley. Monty Panesar was shunned and demoralised. Stephen Harmison, who had just come off the back of one of his best series for England, taking twenty key wickets against Pakistan, proceeded to fall apart once more. I have no doubt that this massive drop in performance was at least partly due to the absurd internal politics of the time. It took until the 2007 World Cup for the ECB to finally acknowledge what a liability Flintoff was as a leader, but by then it was too late. Another Ashes and World Cup winter had been ruined.

That said, this abysmal season led to the inquiry that eventually stimulated some of our successes down the line, and allowed Andrew Strauss to take the captaincy on a permanent basis later in his life, when the timing was better for this. It just goes to show that things happen for a reason, even the bad things.

PakPassion.Net: Do you think the ECB did a disservice to English cricket by opting for the Sky money over terrestrial coverage?

I’d love for the home test matches to be on the BBC or Channel 4 again. Not for me, because I’m a Sky subscriber, but for everyone else. The interest would undoubtedly be higher amongst the general public if this was the case. Unfortunately, everything objective that I have read suggests that the Sky deal was the only viable financial option for all concerned.

PakPassion.Net: Do you think England is not supporting Ireland enough?

You know, English cricket has no duty or obligation to Irish cricket. ‘The England and Wales Cricket Board’ is what we are. Ireland is a republic. What I will say is that we have been one of the few test-playing nations who regularly try to arrange fixtures in Ireland; that English cricket has been very humble in its recent defeat by Irish cricket; and that Irish players who dream of making their careers in England, such as Eoin Morgan and George Dockrell, are totally complicit in their actions – they are not ‘stolen’. Irish cricket should be getting a more challenging and busy set of fixtures, but that’s down to the ICC as well as the individual cricket boards. And Ireland is nowhere near ready for test status, no matter what anyone says.

I do think the exclusion of the likes of Ireland from the 2015 World Cup is a vile, stinking decision, but you should ask the Bangladeshi, Zimbabwean and West Indian cricket boards about that one. I imagine the ECB would be very happy to see Ireland in the next World Cup.

PakPassion.Net: How relevant is the "Tebbit" test, especially when it comes to England playing one of India or Pakistan in England? Does that bother you that there are significant groups of Pakistani or Indian supporters who call England their home yet support teams from their or their ancestors' motherland(s)?

I’ve got absolutely no problem with Pakistani and Indian supporters who live in the UK following their Asian roots, and I doubt any reasonable England supporters would have a problem with this either. I see Norman Tebbit as a bitter Thatcherite, and his words have thankfully slipped into irrelevance as this country has progressed.

PakPassion.Net: Are you in favour of cricketers migrating to other lands and then playing for national teams?

Absolutely. The career of a professional sportsman is a short one and in this period, he wants to experience as much as he can, and earn as much money as he can. As long as England players hold a British passport and are committed to the cause, then I am not bothered by where they were born or raised.

PakPassion.Net: Match/spot fixing saga - what was your first reaction and do you feel that Pakistan have done enough to stop this from happening again?

All the experience of living in Britain and consuming our media let to my first reaction. The moment the story broke, I knew that it was not a fabrication. As a piece of investigate journalism, the evidence was comprehensive and the story was a devastating one. The convictions of the three accused players will ensure that the spot-fixing sting will go down as one of the News of the World’s most significant achievements, and my respect for what is essentially a nonsensical Sunday tabloid has increased due to the strength of this story.

On Pakistan, my opinion is mixed. Ijaz’s Butt’s initial reaction was bizarre, and I was pleased to see him perform a public u-turn on it, though I have serious doubts over his credibility in general now. The continued presence of some of the more suspicious characters in the side has also been uncomfortable to see at times. However, that is all speculation on my part. The pleasing and real evidence has been seen on Pakistan’s tour of New Zealand, and during the World Cup, when the team looked totally honest and together, and reaped the rewards with series wins and an impressive run to the semi-finals. So maybe, just maybe, corruption can be stamped out of Pakistan cricket one day.

PakPassion.Net: Who is the best LOI spinner in the world right now (after Swann of course)?

After Shahid Afridi bowled brilliantly throughout the World Cup, and Saeed Ajmal bamboozled Sachin Tendulkar in the semi-finals, there is definitely an argument for them being hot on the heels of Graeme Swann for the title of the world’s number one spin bowler. However, Swann’s outstanding record in all formats of cricket cannot be forgotten. With the retirement of Murali, it’s difficult to see past the Nottinghamshire man at the moment. What I’ve been saying for some time is that Swann’s performances against Sri Lanka and India this English summer, arguably the batting lineups that play spin the best, will be very telling. We’ll readdress this question in September.

PakPassion.Net: What do you think about Adil Rashid as a player and his prospects in the future?

Adil Rashid has been handled surprisingly well. He has been protected from the rigours of international cricket in his youth, and is very much up the sleeve of the selectors. He is highly rated by the powers-that-be at Yorkshire and numerous ex-players. Certainly, for an English-born leg-spinner to take eleven wickets in a first-class game is a bit special. As I only live round the corner from the Carnegie, I’ll have to drop my twenty quid at some point this summer and go and watch the lad bowl.

Observers have noted how Rashid’s ego and his hunger have been gradually mounting as he waits for his England breakthrough, and that can only be a good thing in relation to the psychology of leg-spin bowling. Although Graeme Swann is an off-spinner, he will be able to provide Rashid with support and tutelage, as will, lest we forget, Mushtaq Ahmed, our spin bowling coach. The plan will be to bowl Rashid in partnership with Swann across the three formats, until Swann retires, at which point England fans will be pinning their hopes on Rashid as the premier spinner in the team. I hope he succeeds. An English-born leg-spinner of international quality would be very exciting for the fans.

PakPassion.Net: Who was the best all-rounder in your view - Ian Botham, Kapil Dev, Richard Hadlee, Imran Khan or C Rice?

Imran Khan is the greatest all-rounder of all-time in my view; he managed to succeed as a captain whilst maintaining a very high level of all-round performance over a long period. I’d put Botham in third place behind Imran and Gary Sobers, partly because of my English bias, but also due to Beefy’s outstanding bowling record and fourteen test centuries. Hadlee, meanwhile, certainly has a claim to being one of the greatest bowlers of recent times, though maybe not one of the greatest all-rounders.

PakPassion.Net: Who is your pick for the leading batsman and bowler of the 2000s?

Batsman – Ricky Ponting. There is pretty much nothing that this man did not achieve as a batsman or a captain.

Bowler – Shane Warne. He was literally and figuratively destroying teams right up until the moment he retired. He could and should have played test cricket for much longer. If the selectors had recalled him to play England in the 2010/11 Ashes, I’m sure he would have had a lot of success.

Given the status of Ponting and Warne – and also of Gilchrist, McGrath, Langer and Hayden – it’s no surprise that Australia were by far and away the team of the 00s.

PakPassion.Net: Which foreign cricketer would you have loved to see playing for England if you had the choice to get any?

Well, we are already welcoming foreign-born cricketers into our team on a regular basis. Ha! However, in terms of players that have played for other countries, I’d choose Rahul Dravid. For many years he was exemplary in protecting his castle and accumulating runs in the top order. He is the sort of player that England have lacked for many years. We are beginning to reap the benefits of having a rock-solid number three batsman in Jonathan Trott, but he’s still relatively new on the scene. Dravid is one of the best batsmen of the last twenty years.

PakPassion.Net: Which Pakistani player would you like to see in County cricket?

The wonderful Mohammed Yousuf, who has just arrived!

PakPassion.Net: What is your take on too many foreigners playing for England? Is there a lack of pure English talent?

There is certainly no lack of so-called ‘pure English talent’ (which is a very problematic term as it is). County cricket is stronger than it’s ever been, and I’m sure will continue to put the much-vaunted Sheffield Shield to shame for the time being. There are numerous middle-order batsmen, seam bowlers and spin bowlers coming through in this country, and yes, many of them were born in England! Opening our doors to the rest of the world has accelerated our progress and amplified our short-term success, but we will never underestimate or undervalue the strength of English-born talent, and you will continue to see it thriving in both the domestic sphere and the international arena.

PakPassion.Net: Is the IPL good for the game?

On the surface, the convergence of the world’s best players on a glamorous T20 tournament should be something special for the cricket fan. However, the increasing prevalence of T20 cricket and the IPL is already putting players off their international careers, and this mentality could lead to a catastrophic ripple effect, one that would endanger the very survival of cricket as we know it. Peter Roebuck said it best in his recent article ‘Cricket’s impending crisis’: ‘Exciting events tend to distract attention from broader truths. In some cases that is their intention; elsewhere it is a by-product’.

PakPassion.Net: In your opinion who is the best player to replace Colly?

Paul Collingwood cannot be replaced as such. He’s got ten cracking test centuries, he’s been one of the best fielders in the world for the last eight years, and he is well-known as a positive influence in the dressing room. He’s a great guy and he’s been some cricketer. All England can do now is look to the future. They could blood Ravi Bopara or Samit Patel as the next batting all-rounder, or have a closer look at a specialist batsman such as Eoin Morgan or James Taylor. There are always players waiting in the wings and we will soon find another middle-order star.

PakPassion.Net: Which will you prefer - Stuart Broad to become a brilliant bowler or an above average all-rounder?

Stuart Broad is one of the most talented cricketers in this side. You can sense this during one of his dream bowling spells, or when he is driving the bowlers with Gower-esque grace. However, I don’t think he’s freakish enough to be a brilliant bowler. He will end up as what I consider to be an above-average all rounder – a test bowling average of 28 and a batting average of 33, for example, would not be beyond him. Batting at seven and bowling at first-change looks like an ideal career path for Stuart Broad. He will also end up as one of England’s best ODI players.

PakPassion.Net: What is your prediction for the upcoming India and Sri Lanka tours to England?

In English conditions, if we perform to our potential we will beat both Sri Lanka and India.

PakPassion.Net: Do you think Strauss needs to step down as the ODI captain?

I don’t think so. He looked totally on-the-ball and fit as a fiddle throughout the winter season, and his 158 against India was really, really, really bloody good! He could continue until the 2015 World Cup when he will be 38, but I don’t think he wants to. Himself and Collingwood will soon step aside for a singular LOI captain, which I think should be Swann. Strauss will want to play as a test specialist and the test captain until at least 2013, when we will play two Ashes series.

PakPassion.Net: Do you see Alistair Cook taking over the captaincy anytime soon?

Unfortunately yes. It would be a dull and conservative choice in any format, and would put Alistair under unnecessary pressure – he’s been a terrific opening batsman for England, and I’d hate for his record to be gradually spoilt over time by the stress of captaincy. I consider Graeme Swann, Stuart Broad and Eoin Morgan to be far more positive and interesting options, but after all, what do I know?

PakPassion.Net: What can be done to make Team Pakistan better in all facets of the game?

Continue to work on the fielding which has improved a lot.

Continue to blood the excellent Azhar Ali and Wahab Riaz.

Place trust in Umar Gul as the country’s top seam bowler.

Send Umar Akmal into the top four and watch his average soar.

Work to minimise the ban of Mohammed Amir.

Forget about Salman Butt, Mohammed Asif and Shoaib Akhtar.

Use Mohammed Yousuf and Younis Khan as test specialists.

Forcibly retire Misbah Ul-Haq, Kamran Akmal and Abdul Razzaq.

Get Shahid Afridi back in the test whites and make him captain in all formats. He unites and galvanises the side, some feat for the captain of a Pakistan team.

If even several of these points are followed, then Pakistan will be a force in LOI cricket going forward, and should climb their way back up the test rankings as well. I would not be surprised to see the England team embarrassed in the United Arab Emirates next year when they face Pakistan.

PakPassion.Net: Michael Vaughan or Nasser Hussain?

Nasser Hussain laid the foundations for a world-class team, and Michael Vaughan took the reins of this team with aplomb. Ultimately, I rate Hussain higher. His immense contribution to the complete transformation of our fortunes is impressive. We were ranked as effectively the worst test nation just twelve years ago, which is not a long time really, and we have Hussain to thank for dragging us out of that predicament. That said, I respect Vaughan as a batsman, and I really respect him for winning test series away in the Caribbean and South Africa, and for beating Australia in 2005, the team I rate as the greatest of all time.

PakPassion.Net: Hoggy or Goughie?

It’s close again, but I’d choose Hoggy over Goughie. The former is one of the most underrated test match bowlers that I can remember. Forget their respective home performances for a moment. I don’t recall Darren Gough taking six wickets in an innings in India, seven in an innings in Australia, or twelve in a match in South Africa! Hoggy was the man.

PakPassion.Net: Caddick or Harmison?

I rate Harmison higher. Stephen Harmison is one of the most gifted cricketers that England has produced in my time watching cricket, not only because he is a man that is blessed with the perfect build for fast bowling, but also due to his batting and his hand-eye coordination – when he could be bothered to make the effort, of course. It was Harmison’s laziness and homesickness that ensured his huge underachievement.

PakPassion.Net: Your favourite Pakistan player of all time and why?

That would be Inzamam-ul-Haq. In my opinion, he’s Pakistan’s greatest ever batsman, and one of the better captains they’ve had in recent times. History should be very kind to his fruitful partnership with Woolmer. Inzamam retired too early and he has been greatly missed since.

PakPassion.Net: What according to you was the real reason behind Marcus Trescothick's untimely retirement from International cricket?

Clinical depression related to fatigue, homesickness and family problems, just as media outlets and the man himself have put into print. His autobiography is uncanny and striking, and I would recommend it to anyone.

PakPassion.Net: Do you honestly think that England can retain the next Ashes?

Yes. We’ll be playing at home and hopefully still have the crux of a very strong team in place. Australia have got a lot of rebuilding to do if they want to regain the Ashes in 2013 – winning a series in England is a difficult task for any overseas side, and two years is not a long time in test cricket to improve to that extent. Nonetheless, Shane Watson, Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey are world-class players. You’d think that Ponting and Hussey will stick around for this tour, and they will be joined by the likes of Michael Clarke, Peter Siddle and Mitchell Johnson. These guys will have points to prove of their own. With a young, possibly talented side being assembled around them in the meantime, you never know what could happen.

PakPassion.Net: Duels to watch out for this summer in England against India and Sri Lanka?

I hope that Lasith Malinga plays a part in the England v Sri Lanka test series, as he always gives our batsmen a challenge.

Graeme Swann’s duels with Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakarra, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, and, above all, Sachin Tendulkar, surely one of the best ever players of spin bowling if not the best, are of paramount importance to the direction that these two series are going to take.

Kevin Pietersen has a very good record against Indian bowlers, particularly in English conditions. He is still comfortably the England batsman who plays spin in the most skilled and powerful manner, and he will be looking to get after Harbhajan Singh as the ball loses its shine. If Pietersen can be the dominant force in the English batting lineup that he used to be, then England will beat India.

James Anderson versus Virender Sehwag, amidst the cloud and humidity of our summer conditions, will be a crucial battle in the early overs of each and every Indian innings. So many of the fortunes of the Indian batting lineup revolve around Sehwag’s performance on the day.

Andrew Strauss will also have his work cut out at the top of the order against Zaheer Khan, who is a very good bowler to left-handers.

Whatever happens, the prospect of the two de facto best test sides facing each other in English conditions is a mouth-watering one. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a series for the ages, and I’ll be at the Edgbaston game to see events unfolding in the flesh. I can’t wait!
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