The Azhar Ali answer to Pakistan’s top-order woes

October 2, 2015

The Azhar Ali answer to Pakistan’s top-order woes

S Rajesh
In Pakistan’s Test history, no player batting in the top three positions has scored 4500 runs; Azhar Ali is well on course to becoming the first.
Only three Pakistan batsmen have scored more Test runs than Azhar Ali when batting in the top three slots © AFP

Since Test cricket began, 31 batsmen have scored 5000 or more runs when batting in the top three positions, from Kumar Sangakkara (11,916) and Rahul Dravid (11,331) to Richie Richardson (5142) and Don Bradman (5078). (Bradman’s aggregate is the lowest among these 31, but his average of 103.63 is obviously the best by far.) Of these 31 batsmen, there are eight each from Australia and England, four each from South Africa and West Indies, three each from India and Sri Lanka, and one from New Zealand.

That covers all major teams except one. There’s no one to represent Pakistan in this list. A country that has produced outstanding fast bowlers throughout Test history has struggled to produce as many batting luminaries, but the vacuum is especially glaring in terms of top-order batsmen. In the middle order, starting at No. 4 or lower, Pakistan have four batsmen who’ve scored 5000-plus runs – Javed Miandad, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf and Saleem Malik – plus Younis Khan who has an aggregate of 4759, but in the top three positions the highest is only 4055, again by Younis. None of the others have even touched 4000, with Saeed Anwar next at 3976 runs from 89 innings. Anwar opened the batting in 86 out of 92 innings he played in Tests – and batted at No. 3 three times as well – but he played relatively few Tests given his class – 55, compared with 247 ODIs.

The good news for Pakistan is that their current incumbent at No. 3 could well break those records and surge past the 5000-run barrier as well. The 30-year-old Azhar Ali has been around Test cricket for five years, is firmly entrenched at No. 3, and has racked up more than 3000 runs at that slot. His average when batting in the top three is a respectable 44.28, which is third among Pakistani batsmen who’ve scored 2500-plus runs at these slots. With his best years as a batsman still arguably ahead of him, there is a fair chance that his average will go up as well over the next few years.

Pakistan’s top run-scorers at Nos. 1-3 in Tests
Player Inns Runs Ave 100 50
 Younis Khan  83  4055  51.32  13  12
 Saeed Anwar  89  3976  45.70  11  25
 Mudassar Nazar  109  3787  36.76  9  15
 Azhar Ali  77  3233  44.28  9  19
 Mohammad Hafeez  84  2970  39.07  8  10
 Taufeeq Umar  83  2963  37.98  7  14
 Majid Khan  70  2801  41.19  6  13
 Mohsin Khan  78  2671  37.09  7  9
 Hanif Mohammad  66  2666  41.65  7  12
 Aamer Sohail  78  2654  35.38  4  13
 Saeed Ahmed  60  2503  43.91  5  12

Recently there has been a fair amount of uncertainty over the No. 3 slot for a number of teams: Australia have pushed Steven Smith to that slot after experimenting with Shane Watson and a few others, England have ditched Gary Ballance, Sri Lanka are searching for Kumar Sangakkara’s replacement, Hashim Amla has dropped to No. 4 to shore up South Africa’s middle order after Jacques Kallis’ retirement, while India are playing a merry-go-round around that position with Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane (with Cheteshwar Pujara in the mix as well).

Amid all these movements, Azhar Ali has become one of the most well-entrenched No. 3s in Tests, along with New Zealand’s Kane Williamson. Since his debut in July 2010, Azhar has batted at No. 3 74 times in Tests; no other Pakistan batsman has batted there more than four times. In fact, since July 2010, only Sangakkara has batted more often at No. 3 (80 innings) than Azhar. In terms of averages he isn’t among the top five in the list below, but there is a good chance that he will climb up there over the next few years.

Batsmen at No. 3 in Tests since Jul 2010 (Min 25 inngs)
Batsman Inns Runs Average SR 100 50
 Hashim Amla  45  2654  66.35  58.17  11  10
 Kumar Sangakkara  80  4763  65.24  52.46  17  20
 Gary Ballance  25  1169  50.82  48.30  4  6
 Kane Williamson  56  2605  50.09  46.97  8  12
 Cheteshwar Pujara  39  1814  49.02  48.36  6  4
 Jonathan Trott  62  2670  46.03  47.43  6  15
 Azhar Ali  74  3153  45.04  40.97  9  19
 Darren Bravo  31  1190  41.03  44.88  2  7
 Rahul Dravid  40  1554  40.89  42.17  5  5
 Shane Watson  27  987  37.96  56.14  2  6
 Kirk Edwards  25  781  32.54  46.07  2  5

One aspect of his game that Azhar needs to work on, though, is his strike rate: among the 20 batsmen who have faced at least 5000 deliveries since July 2010, which is when he made his Test debut, Azhar’s strike rate of 40.72 is easily the lowest; the next-lowest is Alastair Cook’s 44.98. His dot-ball percentage of 77 is the highest – marginally higher than Jonathan Trott – while he has only scored 39% of his runs in fours and sixes, which is also the least among all batsmen. (Chanderpaul is next at 40%.) The combination of those two factors – high dot-ball and low boundary percentage – means Azhar tends to get stuck more than most other batsmen.

Among these batsmen who have faced at least 5000 deliveries since July 2010, Azhar’s average of 44.06 ranks 16th, but in terms of balls faced per dismissal, he is ranked eighth, which again indicates he doesn’t always convert time spent at the crease into runs. Joe Root, for example, faces three fewer balls per dismissal compared to Azhar (105 to 108), but he averages 10.6 runs more per dismissal (54.66 to 44.06). That’s because Root has a much higher strike rate of 52.28, compared to Azhar’s 40.72.

The good news for Azhar fans is that he is clearly showing signs of improving on that front too: since 2014, he has increased his strike rate to 44.45, and in 2015 alone it’s 48.17. That’s also a function of him showing better form and scoring more runs – he has averaged 57.04 during this period, with five centuries in 13 Tests. Also, he has found success as an ODI batsman too in 2015, scoring 664 runs at an average of 55 and strike rate of 86 from 12 matches. All of these numbers indicate a batsman whose graph is on the upswing, and a batsman whose best is yet to come.

Highest balls per dismissal for batsmen since Jul 2010 (Min 5000 balls faced)
Player Inns Runs Ave Strike rate 100 Balls/dismissal
 Shivnarine Chanderpaul  65  2898  59.14  45.04  8  131
 Misbah-ul-Haq  67  2992  56.45  45.76  6  123
 Younis Khan  68  3554  61.27  51.06  14  120
 Kumar Sangakkara  86  4851  61.40  52.22  17  118
 Hashim Amla  61  3387  62.72  54.88  13  114
 AB de Villiers  57  3374  63.66  56.63  11  112
 Angelo Mathews  79  3422  54.31  48.67  7  112
 Azhar Ali  82  3393  44.06  40.72  9  108
 Alastair Cook  112  5133  48.42  44.98  15  108
 Joe Root  58  2733  54.66  52.28  8  105
 Steven Smith  63  3095  56.27  55.83  11  101
 Kane Williamson  75  3199  45.70  45.67  10  100

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

Australia No. 1 in ICC rankings for women

Women’s cricket news October 1, 2015

Australia No. 1 in ICC rankings for women

ESPNcricinfo staff
Australia and England are the no. 1 and 2 ranked women’s teams © Getty Images

Australia’s dominance in all three formats has resulted in them taking first place in the new ICC rankings for women’s teams. England are second with 124 points, ten behind Australia.

The women’s ranking is a combined Test, ODI and T20 ranking, whereas the men’s teams have a separate ranking for each format.

“The innovative new system treats results from Test, ODI and T20I cricket equally,” the ICC said. “This means there will be rankings points to play for in every international match, while the volume of matches will ensure the table is a credible reflection of overall performance.

“The rankings table is based on results between three and four years, but with the first two years being weighted at only 50 per cent. Currently, results from October 2012 to September 2014 are weighted at 50%, while results since October 2014 are weighted at 100%.”

Australia’s standing was a result of their victory in the 2013 World Cup in India and the 2014 World T20 in Bangladesh, and their lead position in the ICC Women’s Championship.

“It’s certainly nice to be recognised as world number one. We’ve done a lot of hard work in the past few years to win the ICC Women’s World Cup and ICC Women’s World Twenty, as well as the Ashes recently,” Australia captain Meg Lanning said. “We are looking forward to staying at the top of the tree for a long time, which is going to be a big challenge but we have the players to do that.”

Pakistan news September 2, 2015

PCB seeks clarification on India series in December

PCB chief Shaharyar Khan believes an India-Pakistan series will help reduce tensions between the two countries © AFP

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has, in a letter to the BCCI, sought clarity on the mooted bilateral series this December, pointing out that it was part of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed last year by the two boards. The letter, written on Tuesday by PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan to BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur, comes in the wake of a growing sentiment in India – and echoed by the BCCI – that bilateral cricket ties should be suspended given the current political tensions between the two countries.

The MOU, for a total of six series between 2015 and 2023, had been agreed to during the ICC meeting last year and was the basis of Pakistan’s conditional support – after initial opposition – to the ICC’s organisational revamp.

However political events in the recent past have cast doubts over the revival of the India-Pakistan series as planned. Thakur himself scotched the possibility of cricket resuming till political equations had stabilised. In his letter today, Shaharyar called Thakur’s statement a “negative shadow” on the PCB-BCCI relationship.

“I am much hopeful that the Indian government will give its go-ahead to our series regardless of any routine border tension,” Shaharyar wrote. He said the series would help both countries reduce the tension, referring to the series in 1999 when Pakistan toured India despite issues caused by fringe political activists, as well as the return tour by India to Pakistan in 2003-04 despite security concerns.

The letter also addressed the issues surrounding Ten Sports’ deal with the PCB. The PCB had recently signed a five-year deal with the broadcaster, but its ties to the Essel Group, which has threatened to form a breakaway international league, had caused issues.

ESPNcricinfo understands that some cricket boards had been reluctant to play any series in which Ten Sports is the host broadcaster, leading to a delay in firming up the plans for a series between England and Pakistan.

Shaharyar said in the letter that the issues had been resolved and ICC and Ten Sports had agreed on an MOU in which the broadcaster stated that it has no intention of being part of any rival league. Shaharyar met Subhash Chandra (the owner of Ten Sports) in London last month to clear any doubts on the matter. The MOU between the ICC and Ten Sports is, however, reportedly yet to be reviewed by the BCCI.

India have not played a bilateral Test series against Pakistan since 2007, though they did host them for two T20Is and three ODIs between December 2012 and January 2013.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent. @kalson

Pakistan v Bangladesh, 2nd women’s T20I October 1, 2015

Bismah Maroof leads Pakistan to series win

Pakistan women 114 for 6 (Maroof 44*, Akter 2-27) beat Bangladesh women 80 for 7 (Siddiqi 2-9, Dar 2-15) by 34 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Pakistan women beat the visiting Bangladesh women by 34 runs to win the series 2-0 at Southend Club Cricket Stadium, Karachi.

Having chosen to bat, Pakistan were struggling at 61 for 4 in 13 overs, with Bangladesh left-arm spinner Nahida Akter affecting a run-out and taking two quick wickets, including that of Marina Iqbal for 33.

Like she had done in the first game, Bishmah Maroof steadied the innings with 44 off 38 balls, and with Aliya Riaz, steered Pakistan towards the modest total of 114.

Bangladesh once again chased poorly, losing their first five wickets for 12 runs in 12 overs. Rumana Ahmed was the top scorer with 27 off 33 balls, but there was no momentum and the innings finished on 80 for 7.

Pakistan v England 2015-16 October 1, 2015

England series looms as Misbah’s swansong

Misbah-ul-Haq: “Sometimes it’s not about fitness, it’s about how much interest you have in the game.” © AFP

The series against England in the UAE is shaping as the last for Pakistan Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq. Although he had initially hoped to continue until next year’s tour of England, the forthcoming contest is looking increasingly likely to be the final chapter of an international career which began in 2001.

“I have come to a certain stage of my career where I have started considering [retirement],” Misbah, 41, told ESPNcricinfo. “I was thinking that the upcoming India series would be the point when I will decide what to do. But since I don’t see the India series happening so the next one-and-half months will be important. I am giving second thoughts whether I can extend my career until the 2016 England series.”

The series against India, scheduled to take place in the UAE at the end of the year, now appears unlikely to happen due to the tense political landscape which would mean an eight-month gap before the series against England next July. Since Misbah has already retired from ODI and T20 cricket he will have little chance for competitive cricket after the Pakistan domestic season concludes in February.

“I have been considering so many factors as it’s a very hard decision, in fact one of the toughest ones to take,” Misbah said. “So in the next one-and-half months I will be analysing myself as to how far I can go. I will see how much I can contribute in for the team, I will see if my passion remains the same or I start losing interest in the game. Sometimes it’s not about fitness, it’s about how much interest you have in the game and I don’t want to be a liability. So whatever the decision you will know soon.”

For the upcoming series, starting with the first Test in Abu Dhabi on October 13, Misbah said he will be guarding against the team being over confident after they whitewashed England in 2012. Misbah, along with Azhar Ali, Younis Khan and Asad Shafiq, will form the same middle order which featured in that series. He, along with several other Test players, are currently having a conditioning camp at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, while the one-day side is in Zimbabwe, before leaving for the UAE on October 4.

“Within our mind we are confident,” Misbah said. “But at the same time creating a perception about our past victory against them by 3-0 doesn’t make any difference. This is fresh series. England are a much-improved side and are coming after playing their best cricket back home. They are a far better side in terms of playing spin and this is the reason I stand guarded against us being over confident.

Misbah-ul-Haq is well aware of the different class of spinner England are bring on this tour compared to 2012 Gareth Copley / © Getty Images

“Having won 3-0 previously doesn’t mean that they are still a soft target and we can wrap them up easily. No, it’s not that simple. We have to understand that setting the expectation level based on the previous series isn’t a fair call. We simply have to work very hard and play at our full potential to win. I don’t think that previous series victory is going to help us and we don’t need to put undue pressure on us with it. It’s not that we can’t win, but I just want to insist that you can’t ride on the past to make your future.”

In 2012, England arrived in the UAE following a lengthy lay-off from Test cricket having not played a match in five months after beating India, at The Oval, in August 2011 to go to No. 1 in the world. But this time they have flown in having won the Ashes less than two months ago, although they only have two two-day warm-up matches before the first Test which Alastair Cook has admitted is not much preparation.

While Misbah reiterated his belief that England now play spin better than when they previously faced Pakistan, it did not escape him that their spin bowling resources are significantly ‘weaker’ than in 2012 having lost both Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar.

“They are in good form, so are we, but we have to play good cricket,” Misbah said. “There is a difference in their squad as many of their players have started to play the spin very well. They have changed their game, as we have seen they are using their feet and sweeping all over so we have to be on our toes to get their wickets.

“Their fast bowling is the same but their spinners are weaker this time in the absence of Swann and Panesar. We have answers to their experienced fast bowlers, we understand we have to work hard to negotiate the new ball and later the reverse swing. Their bowling never gave us the chance to score big runs in 2012, but we have plans this time and in the UAE it’s all about scoring big runs.

“In the UAE conditions runs on the board are very important and then the spinners play the vital role. When Australia came we had answers so is it’s the same this time. Australia had Nathan Lyon, England have Moeen but what is important is who is going to bat well in these conditions.”

England played their cricket very aggressively against Australia, with none of the five Ashes Test going into the fifth day, but Misbah suggested it will very different in this series.

“You can’t just go all out aggressively like the cricket England have been playing back home. It’s different in the UAE. You can’t just be defensive either, though. As I said, you need to have big runs on board and that requires patience as pitches here change their behaviour on a daily basis especially on the fourth and fifth day. So there are a lot of factors that mean you need to have a balanced approach. And that is the key.”

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent. @kalson

Zimbabwe v Pakistan, 1st ODI, Harare October 1, 2015

Zimbabwe v Pakistan, 1st ODI, Harare October 1, 2015
Pakistan batsman Imad Wasim (L) plays a shot as teammate Mohammad Rizwan prepares to run during the first in a series of three One Day International (ODI) cricket matches between Pakistan and hosts Zimbabwe at the Harare Sports Club, in Harare on October 1, 2015. AFP PHOTO / JEKESAI NJIKIZANA (Photo credit should read JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images)
Pakistan batsman Imad Wasim (L) plays a shot as teammate Mohammad Rizwan prepares to run during the first in a series of three One Day International (ODI) cricket matches between Pakistan and hosts Zimbabwe at the Harare Sports Club, in Harare on October 1, 2015. AFP PHOTO / JEKESAI NJIKIZANA (Photo credit should read JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images)

Yasir six-for leads Pakistan to 131-run win
Pakistan 259 for 6 (Rizwan 75*, Wasim 61) beat Zimbabwe 128 (Yasir 6-26) by 131 runs
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball-details
Pakistan cruised to a 131-run win over Zimbabwe in the first one-day international at Harare Sports Club, the match following what has become a familiar script during this tour. Pakistan’s lower middle order rallied their side to a good score, and their spin attack, led by Yasir Shah’s 6 for 26, then systematically dismantled Zimbabwe’s line-up. Yasir’s haul was the second best by a Pakistan spinner, and the best ever by a spinner in Zimbabwe.

Asked to bat first, Pakistan’s top order stumbled against a spirited Zimbabwean bowling effort before Mohammad Rizwan’s career-best 75 not out and Imad Wasim’s 61, which was his maiden international fifty, boosted the visitors to a challenging 259 for 6. Rizwan and Wasim had added 124 for the sixth wicket, but no Zimbabwean partnership came close to matching them as the hosts crumbled under sustained pressure.

Once again, the batsmen struggled to rotate the strike and then inevitably offered Pakistan chances as they sought to ease the pressure with a big shot. The 35-run stand between Sean Williams and Sikandar Raza was the most substantial of the innings, and legspinner Yasir collected his first five-for in ODIs with Zimbabwe having no answer to his combination of turn, bounce and guile.

Pakistan had been reduced to a wobbly 35 for 3 in the morning as Zimbabwe’s new-ball bowlers found seam and swing on a slightly resher wicket before Sarfraz Ahmed and Shoaib Malik combined to take the score to 100. When they were both dismissed attempting to attack spin Zimbabwe surged once again, but Rizwan and Wasim weathered their best efforts.

Rizwan marshalled Pakistan’s effort from the halfway mark of their innings, starting watchfully against Zimbabwe’s spinners before he broke free with what was perhaps the shot of the day; a checked loft off offspinner John Nyumbu that soared over long on. With Nyumbu, Graeme Cremer and Sean Williams all included in Zimbabwe’s XI, Rizwan faced spin for much of his innings. He certainly showed that he had the aptitude to counter these bowlers in helpful conditions, milking the gaps and finding the boundary with a sweep off Cremer and a deft late cut off Nyumbu.

A particular feature of Rizwan’s stand with Wasim was their running between the wickets: something which had been highlighted as an area of concern for both teams after the Twenty20s. Eight twos came off Rizwan’s bat during their stand, while Wasim added seven. This ensured that the score kept ticking over even when boundaries were not forthcoming, and set the platform for Pakistan’s charge at the death.

Pakistan added 88 runs in the last ten overs as the big hits became more frequent, with Rizwan bringing up a 61-ball fifty in the 46th over. Wasim brought up a maiden international fifty of his own two overs later, reaching the mark with a superb reverse sweep off Tinashe Panyangara. Wasim had been given a life thanks to Williams’ drop at long-on earlier in the over, and there was a ragged edge to Zimbabwe’s effort at the death. Tempers also flared in Panyangara’s final over, from which Pakistan plundered 22 runs, as the bowler took offence to what he saw as Rizwan’s intentional obstruction of his fielding efforts. The batsman stood his ground as Sikandar Raza played peacemaker, and closed the innings on an emphatic note with his second six, straight over the bowler’s head.

Pakistan carried that bellicose attitude into the field, and both Zimbabwean openers were given a thorough working over with the new ball. Yet all 10 wickets fell to spin. Chamu Chibhabha averages 19.72 in matches in which he has been dismissed by a left-arm spinner, and has collected more ducks against this type of bowler than any other – three. He had opened his account by the time Wasim was brought on in the ninth over, but then fell immediately, trapped in front by the left-arm spinner’s first ball.

Yasir then took centre stage, nipping one through the yawning gap between debutant Brian Chari’s bat and pad and skittling Hamilton Masakadza with a ball that kept a touch low and rushed on. Raza and Elton Chigumbura fell on the drive, failing to cover Yasir’s prodigious spin, while Richmond Mutumbami’s dismissal came via a stunning reflex catch, low to the ground, by Hafeez at slip. When Panyangara gloved one to slip Yasir had his sixth, and Zimbabwe had crashed from 101 for 4 to 128 all out.

Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape TownZim v Pak, 1st ODI, Harare October 1, 2015

Pakistan’s second-best and all ten to spinners.

6/26 Yasir Shah’s bowling figures today – the second-best by a Pakistan spinner in ODIs behind Shahid Afridi’s 7 for 13 against West Indies in 2013. Yasir, however, did better Ajantha Mendis’ 6 for 29 in 2008 to record the best haul for a spinner in Zimbabwe.

10 Wickets to Pakistan’s spinners in this game. Besides Yasir, Shoaib Malik chipped in with three and Imad Wasim took one, making it only the sixth time in ODI history that spinners had taken all the 10 wickets in a match. The last instance was also by Pakistan, in 2011, when Mohammad Hafeez, Abdur Rehman, Saeed Ajmal and Shoaib Malik combined to topple Bangladesh in Chittagong.

124 Runs added by the sixth-wicket pair of Mohammad Rizwan and Wasim, making it Pakistan’s highest against Zimbabwe in ODIs. It was also their second century stand against Zimbabwe for that wicket, after the 116-run stand between Misbah-ul-Haq and Shahid Afridi in Multan in 2008.

8 Times that Pakistan’s sixth wicket has added 100 or more runs after having lost their first five for less than 150 in an ODI. Today, Pakistan had 128 on the board when they fifth batsman fell. The partnership between Rizwan and Wasim is also Pakistan’s third-highest for the sixth wicket when they have lost their first five for less than 150.

131 Margin by which Zimbabwe lost this match, their third-worst defeat against Pakistan when fielding first and the worst against them at home. The last time Zimbabwe lost by a bigger margin to Pakistan was in 2004 when they were beaten by 144 runs in Multan.

2005 The last time Pakistan’s Nos. 4 to 7 each scored 30 or more runs in an ODI. Including today’s instance, this has happened only three times for Pakistan. It was also the ninth time both Pakistan’s No. 6 and No. 7 had made fifties in an ODI.

75 Runs scored by Rizwan in this match – his highest ODI score and his third fifty-plus score in eight innings. He has made 295 runs at an average of 59.00.

3.12 Chamu Chibhabha’s economy rate in this match – his second-best in an ODI. Chibhabha bowled eight overs including a maiden and gave away 25 runs. Mohammad Irfan’s economy rate of 1.75 was also his second-best in an ODI. Irfan bowled just four overs including two maidens and conceded just seven runs.

Shiva Jayaraman is a senior sub-editor (stats) at
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

11 moments in cricket which made the fans cry in pics

11 moments in cricket which made the fans cry in pics: Cricket is a sport which rules the heart of millions of people who are in love with this game. From the moments of joy and excitement to the point when the hearts of the fans are racing fast, this game has the capacity to surprise us in uncountable ways. Sometimes, it gives us a smile while at the other leaves us in tears. Such is the level of closeness and association that this wonderful sport enjoys. Today, we will take you back in time to the moments which brought about tears in the eyes of the fans, sometimes out of happiness while at the other in grief.

Let’s have a glance at the 11 moments in cricket which made the fans cry in pics:

1. When Sachin Tendulkar who is hailed as a divinely figure in cricket retired from the game in 2013, then not only the people at Wankhade but the whole cricket universe couldn’t stop their tears.


2. When South Africa lost the semi-final match against New Zealand in World Cup 2015, the heart-broken AB de Villiers was left teary eyed. Millions had their eyes numb along with the champ.


3. There are certain players like Kumar Sangakkara who are loved by everyone. Sanga’s retirement and his emotional farewell speech captured the raw emotions of most of the people.3.-Kumar-Sangakkara

4. When the Aussie cricketer Philip Hughes passed away after a fatal injury on his head, it got the whole cricket fraternity emotional and the fans couldn’t bear the sight of losing a player as promising and young as Hughes.


5. When people got to know that the hero of the World Cup 2011 Yuvraj Singh was suffering from Cancer, it got all the die-hard cricket fans very emotional as only a man of Yuvi’s heart could have played the tournament carrying a tumor.









6. The Bangladeshi all-rounder Shakib-Al-Hasan was dejected after Bangladesh lost the Asia Cup final in 2012. The tears in his eyes reflected the emotions of the millions of Bangladeshi fans.

(Photo Source:



7. The English player James Anderson was seen in lot of agony after he couldn’t help his side draw a Test match against Sri Lanka. The pain was ever so evident in his eyes as well.


8. When the glorious career of Mark Boucher came to a shocking end due to an eye injury, it ignited a lot of remorse throughout the cricket universe.


9. When India won the World Cup 2011 after 28 long years, it gave a glittering smile on the face of the Indian’s though they also shed tears as it was one of the greatest moments of India’s cricket history.


10. When the former Aussie skipper Michael Clarke announced his retirement at the Trent Bridge Test, the tears in his eyes turned into one of the most emotional moments of the year.


11. After losing the Adelaide Test in 2006, the star English all-rounder Andrew Flintoff got very emotional which reflected through his eyes.




Secrets Unraveled: Managing a High Traffic WordPress Site

A couple of days ago, we looked into how you can drive more web traffic to your WordPress website, so this isn’t it. We also ventured into starting your own freelance business with WordPress, so this isn’t that as well. In today’s post, we will not show you how to start a WordPress business or drive more traffic. Instead, we will take you through a step by step guide on setting up your WordPress site for when you finally hit the pot of gold as far as traffic goes. This we do in a bid to ascertain that your site doesn’t break when you start getting more and more visitors. Enjoy and don’t leave without sharing your thoughts in the comment section at the end.

Here’s a quick breakdown of this serving:

  • How to prepare WordPress for high traffic
  • Case study of high traffic WordPress sites and… What do they do to make good of the high numbers?
  • Essential plugins and tools for high traffic WordPress Sites (Juicy)
  • Acquiring WordPress traffic (uh-oh, we just said we won’t be going into traffic generation but just had to, because, well, we’re talking traffic)

How to Prepare Your WordPress Site for High Traffic


Out of the box, WordPress is built scalable, allowing it to adapt to any task, hard or simple, and/or any amount of traffic you throw at it. But there are a couple of considerations you have to keep in mind when scaling for more traffic to ensure your site is performing at its best. What are these considerations?

Processor & Memory Limitations

To have your WordPress site online, you need a capable web server. You need sufficient server resources to run your site without hassles. Two server resources you absolutely need are adequate processor power and memory. Now, high levels of traffic can be incredibly taxing to your web server, which in turn causes your site to slow down or break.

Which is exactly what we don’t want happening, especially when you’re receiving tens of millions of visits and page views. What to do? Firstly, ensure your web host has the server resources required to provide sufficient memory and processor power. And since WordPress runs on MySQL and PHP, make sure your host provides the latest stable versions of these platforms to create a favorable environment in which to run your WordPress site.

Speaking of MySQL, did you know you can rig your MySQL settings to permit many simultaneous database connections? Oh yeah you can. It’s called replication, which – among other things – ensures users won’t encounter the “connection timed out” error when accessing your busy site. On top of that, you can improve MySQL performance by proper indexing, and using query caching. Further, you can create a read-only slave of your master database in order to separate read requests from insert/update queries, which results in a faster and sturdier environment for your high traffic WordPress site.

But as a beginner, this might sound all too alien to you, which is why the Core WordPress team built the HyperDB plugin to help you out. If you’re one bit curious, HyperDB, “…is an advanced database class that supports replication, failover, load balancing and partitioning.” It’s the kind of solution you need when your traffic numbers start racking up. Moving on…

Burst Data

Some web hosts will allow you to exceed a pre-set transfer speed limit – something known as bursting data – when demand for yout content is high. Some servers are automatically configured to allow this service. Other web hosts will charge you for the service, while others don’t have the service at all. It’s your duty to check with your service provider.

Limit Graphics and WordPress Plugins

Let’s assume your WordPress site calls upon five graphics and four WordPress template files to create the design of your site. For 1,000 web visitors, these files will be loaded 9,000 times resulting in a huge demand on your site. WordPress plugins are called by your theme as well, and to function, they make queries to your database. This just means the more plugins you have, the more the database queries, and the heavier the activity on your server. What to do?

  • Reduce the number of graphics needed to create the design of your WordPress site. You can do this by eliminating unnecessary graphics, and editing your style.css and template files.
  • Turn off WordPress plugins that you can live without even if it’s for the few days you have a spike in traffic. Look into hard-coding some of the features you need directly into your theme.

Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

To avoid traffic overages (exceeding your allotted bandwidth) and maximize the performance of your WordPress site, you should consider using a content delivery network aka CDN. This way, your site’s files are served from a data center closest to the web visitor. This reduces load on your server significantly since copies of your files are stored on multiple data centers around the globe.

When there is a huge demand for your content, your server won’t be the absolute receiving end of the spike in traffic – CDN servers will act a shield. There are many pay-as-you-go CDN solutions out there, so you ought to set up in no time. If you have no idea where to start, we recommend CloudFlare (a personal favorite) and MaxCDN.

Upgrade to Better Web Hosting

Sure enough, shared web hosting is great for new blogs with low levels of traffic. This, however, will become a problem when your traffic increases to tens of thousands of views per day. If you’re currently on a shared hosting plan and you notice poor performance when you have traffic spikes, consider migrating to VPS. If you’re facing traffic problems with your VPS plan, migrate to a dedicated server and so on and so forth.

There are a couple of managed WordPress hosting companies out there that offer you great managed WordPress hosting packages. They include WPEngine, Flywheel and Media Temple among others. These companies provide a whole range of features from automatic updates and backups, CDN, caching layers, top-of-the-drawer security, dedicated infrastructure and great support among others. The prices may not be beginner-friendly, but for the peace of mind and the assortment of awesome features you get, they are worthy every single penny.

Use a Caching Plugin

A caching plugin could be the tool that saves your site from collapse when the number of visitors go up, up and up. How so? Glad you asked. A caching plugin usually creates HTML versions of your pages, which reduces the number of times WordPress needs to invoke PHP to serve pages. With a great caching plugin, you can increase the speed of your WordPress site, while shielding yourself from the negative effects of a downtime.

You want to go for a caching plugin that supports features such as page caching, database caching, CDN and minification just to mention a few. Great examples of awesome caching plugins include W3 Total Cache, Varnish Cache, and WP Super Cache among others.

Take Advantage of Service-Oriented Architecture

Most basic hosting plans will host your WordPress site and MySQL database on a single machine. Unfortunately, this kind of configuration favors not resiliency or site speed when your traffic spikes. What to do?

You can split your WordPress into multiple parts, and serve each separately. What does that even mean? (So sticky) By taking advantage of a service-oriented setup, you will take more load, run faster, and easily identify stress-points that need ironing out. Here’s an example of service-oriented architecture:

  • MySQL database to host your master/slave WordPress database
  • Nginx/Varnish proxy layer to handle all initial request from users
  • Nginx/Apache2 web server to handle page rendering and site administration
  • Image server or CDN to serve media files

Note, the above set up is just an illustration, yours may be different depending on your needs. With a great architecture in place, you can scale in/out any layer independently depending on your traffic levels. All the same, don’t sweat the details, if you don’t understand service-oriented architecture, please consult your web service provider for instructions on how to set up your design.

Case Study: High Traffic WordPress Sites


In this section, we will quickly look at some high traffic WordPress sites, and how they cope with high volumes of traffic. First, here’s the list of the candidates that made it to our case study today. Oh by the way, they pull the kind of stats that we only dream of:

Now, let’s see how they cope with huge amounts of traffic.

Hot Air

After only 48 hours of launching, Mark Jaquith – the developer behind HotAir – had to migrate the site to a new server. Guess he didn’t anticipate so much growth in such a short period. And in order to keep up with the growing traffic, Mark invested in a CDN to deliver static content, a proactive caching solution, and a load balancer with multiple web backends. HotAir uses VaultPress for backups (and so do we – it’s pretty awesome), Google Analytics for the dets, News beat, chart beat and WordPress stats (for more dets).

Digital Trends

Digital Trends is no longer the baby it was at launch. With over 33 million pages views each month, it’s one of the fastest growing WP-powered site considering it started with about 1 million uniques per month. Here’s what Tom Willmot, the guy who brought us Digital Trends, has to say:

When I started work on the website, there were some pretty big performance sinks in the code base that needed ironing out…Coding well plus some persistent object caching are enough to begin with.

That’s right, clean your code kids. Moving on.


Unlike the other companies we are reviewing in this section, Slashgear had a scalability plan in place when they launched. Their plan was to grow their traffic by 30% each year. The only problem? Their plan did not account for sudden traffic spikes. You’re reading this part because their threshold was exceeded every time Apple made a huge announcement. The result? The site would struggle to keep up with the demand.

So how did Slashgear handle the upsurges? Firstly, they added Amazon EC2 to their infrastructure. They hosted the website over at SoftLayer, a dedicated cloud web host (much like Cloudways cloud hosting options). Then they adopted the Disqus comment system, which took the comment load off their servers. They have powerful caching in place, and advises you to use a trial-and-error method to set up your WordPress site.

The Next Web

The Next Web was launched when there were few large WordPress sites. As such, they weren’t really prepared for the sharp spike in traffic. All the same, they adapted and learned along the way. When the traffic shot up, Arjen Schat and Pablo Roman had to work fast. Went to work and found Memcached for heavy queries, Munin for monitoring and Varnish as a reverse proxy. They use W3 Total Cache and WPVarnish as well. (zing) started as on shared hosting but they were immediately kicked out because – high traffic. They moved to VPS hosting but were kicked out once again. So they moved to dedicated server and incorporated a CDN but that wouldn’t cut it. Finally, they settled on load-balanced servers and threw CDN to the mix.

With a service-oriented architecture, has survived high traffic levels since November 2011 with zero hassles. They use tools such as W3 Total Cache, WP Widget Cache, Plugin Output Cache, Recent Posts, Recent Comments and Similar Posts, Clean Options and WordPress Sphinx search plugin. They’ve adopted a responsive design to cater to mobile visitors.

Essential Plugins + Tools for High Traffic WordPress Sites

We have sprinkled this post with quite a number of plugins, tools and solutions meant for high traffic WordPress sites. As such, this section will just summarize the resources you might want to utilize:

  1. High traffic compatible hosting solution (such as WPEngine, Cloudways, etc.)
  2. Improved website caching (with W3 Total CacheWP Super CacheVarnish CacheMemcached and WP Widget Cache)
  3. Better comment management (Disqus
  4. CDN for improved performance (CloudFlare CDN & MaxCDN are both great)
  5. Frequent & reliable website backups (VaultPress, BackWPup, BackupBuddy etc.)
  6. Analytics & tracking tools (like MuninWordPress Stats, and Google Analytics)

Obviously you don’t have to use any of these, but they are helpful tools and resources that can make managing a high traffic website much more, well, manageable.

Acquiring WordPress Traffic

Perhaps you are a beginner without much traffic. Perhaps you’re reading this post to prepare for scalability unlike most of the people in our case study. While it’s great to be prepared, best would be to build your WordPress-based business and learn along the way. That’s the best way to learn. After all, experience is the best teacher. For your business to flourish though, you’ll first need to get more traffic to your WordPress site. Here’s a quick word by Mike to keep your motivated:

Creating a high traffic WordPress site is not as complicated as many would have you believe. Sure, it takes a lot of testing, failing and starting all over again, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll regret why you didn’t start earlier. – Mike Wallagher, How to Promote Your Blog and Get More Traffic.

At the end of the day…

Surviving traffic spikes and/or running a high traffic WordPress site shouldn’t intimidate you. In essence, you should enjoy the high traffic, and work towards growing your business. How do you manage traffic on your WordPress site? Had problems related to high traffic on your WordPress site? Please share your experiences with us in the comment section below. Adios!

  • Published on: September 11, 2015
  • Under: WordPress Tipss.

How to Make Money with WordPress


How to Make Money with WordPress.

Most webmasters will start building websites with WordPress purely for fun; however, after a while they may want to take their hobby more seriously and look for a way to make money from their website.

Now, most of you reading this will already have some basic knowledge of the WordPress platform, and we could all use a little extra cash, right?

Today I want to introduce some of the best ways you can make money using WordPress.

Developing Themes

One of WordPress’ main strengths is that it allows just about anyone to throw together a great looking website using one of the many themes available. The themes are built by developers, so WordPress users won’t necessarily need any technical knowledge themselves.

There’s a thriving collection of free themes available in the WordPress repository – 2,760 as of today – but WordPress users are increasingly turning to premium themes. Premium themes are often higher quality, feature-rich, and come with more customization options than the free themes available.

If you have the skills required to develop your own theme, you could cash in on this by developing your own WordPress theme(s). Because the theme is responsible for the appearance of a WordPress website, anyone capable of building great looking themes will be in very high demand – and this can be highly lucrative!

Some developers prefer to market their themes themselves, selling themes from their own website. They might charge visitors for a single theme, but increasingly, developers like to bundle their themes into a collection; they then charge customers a recurring monthly/yearly fee to access the lot – this is known as a WordPress club.

Other developers prefer to list their themes on a marketplace. Competition is high, but there is also a guaranteed stream of visitors, so the developer doesn’t have to worry about driving traffic to their website. ThemeForest is the most popular marketplace, with 4,522 WordPress themes currently available, and themes selling for around the $30 to $60 mark.

If you offer your theme exclusively on ThemeForest, they will take a cut of between 12.5% and 37.5% depending on the quantity of themes you sell. If you want to offer your theme elsewhere, too, they will take a 55% cut.

If you design great themes you can quickly build a name for yourself – and therefore an income – whichever route you go. WordPress clubs offer the potential for recurring income, but the sheer volume of traffic to the ThemeForest marketplace makes it highly lucrative. Some of the theme developers on ThemeForest do very well for themselves – top developers earn over $20,000 per month.

Developing Plugins

Like themes, plugins are another reason WordPress has become the go-to CMS for beginner and expert webmasters alike.

Plugins can be quickly and easily installed on your website, and generally support a very specific on-site function — for example, social sharing icons.

WordPress plugin developers are highly skilled programmers who are generally very good at identifying and solving problems. If there is something about the WordPress platform you don’t like, or you are struggling to find an existing plugin to add a specific function to your website, there is a good chance that other users are in the same situation.

If you can create a solution to these problems in the form of a plugin, other users can install it to solve their problems, too — and many will be willing to pay for this.

As with themes, there are both free and premium plugins available. Free plugins are uploaded to the WordPress repository, with 33,458 available at the time of writing.

Premium plugins can be found in a number of places. You have the same sales channels as with themes: you can sell them from your website individually, include them in a collection as part of a WordPress club, or sell them via a marketplace.

The most popular plugin marketplace is CodeCanyon, which is owned by the same people that run ThemeForest. There are currently 2,950 plugins uploaded there.

Plugins tend to be less expensive than themes, usually selling for between $10 and $30. However, plugins can be more lucrative, as users are likely to install a lot more plugins, and there is less competition as plugins serve very specific purposes.

WordPress Services

If you don’t want to sell something you’ve created, technically-proficient WordPress users can offer their expertise for hire to other WordPress users.

For example, non-technical users will only be able to use their theme as it comes, out-the-box. If there are aspects of the design they want to customize, they won’t know where to start. If you have an understanding of web design and can develop WordPress themes, why not let other WordPress users hire you to make the changes they want but are unable to make for themselves?  Presto, you’ve got yourself a WordPress theme customization business.

That’s just one example of a WordPress user exploiting their skillset to earn a living. Of course, there are plenty more options – think outside the box and you could have an entire market to yourself.

Complete beginners won’t know how to install WordPress on their website, add a theme, or know what plugins they will need. With a little information, you could help that person get started by recommending and installing a WordPress theme based on their requirements, configuring it correctly using the out-of-the-box customization options the theme supports, then pointing them in the direction of all the plugins they will definitely be needing. It sounds easy, but it isn’t for some people, and they will pay good money for your help.

WordPress Content

If you like to write, and you have a good grasp of the WordPress platform, you could make a living writing WordPress-based content – the path I’ve chosen for myself!

Many WordPress users will want to learn more about the platform, as well as save money wherever possible. In this scenario, they are more likely to search for information using Google than pay someone for help.

A number of fantastic WordPress resources exist online, Torque included, which educate visitors on how to use WordPress — technical discussions, plugin recommendations, theme reviews, and more.

There’s a lot to be said about the platform, and everyone has their own opinions on what works best. With this in mind, most of the well-established WordPress blogs are willing to pay WordPress experts to contribute to their website. Have a look around and send a few emails – even if a website isn’t advertising, they will usually be keen if the right person comes along.

Monetizing a Website

If you’re capable of building great looking WordPress websites and you’re a savvy marketer, there’s no reason why you can’t build your own website capable of generating an income for you.

There are a number of ways you can do this.

For a start, you can indirectly earn a WordPress income from your website using one of the other monetization options featured today. For example, selling themes is how a theme developer makes money, but they still need a website to sell them from; and, if you offer a WordPress-based service such as freelance writing, you will still need a website to promote your service.

There are also webmasters who build a website specifically with the intention of monetizing. This includes affiliate marketers, who promote products in return for a commission of any sales they drive.

Some webmasters will monetize the traffic they generate either by selling advertising space on their website or using a service like AdSense, which earns you money when a user views (CPM) or clicks (CPC) on an advert. The more traffic you get, the more money you earn.

Finally, there’s the option to build a website with the intention of ‘flipping’ it – in other words, selling it for profit. Those of you that are good at building traffic to a website quickly can then sell it on to anyone looking to buy an established website. Websites generally sell for around 6-12 months earnings.

Final Thoughts

These are just some general ideas for monetizing WordPress, but in reality you can sell any service/product a person is willing to pay for. All the ideas I’ve featured today are relatively mainstream ideas, which thousands of WordPress users make a living from every day.

Of course, as a result they can be quite competitive. The key is to use these suggestions for inspiration, then think outside the box to give it your own twist. If you can find a unique idea with strong demand, you can potentially do very well for yourself.

Do you make a living from WordPress? Share your experiences in the comments section below!