Matthew Hoggard v New Zealand, 7-63 – ten great bowling performances

A swing bowler in our list of great bowling performances? Regular readers will know how unlikely this is. But wait. It’s not pace, per se, that we’re in awe of, it’s destructivity and given the right conditions a medium-pacer can become lethal.

Matthew Hoggard took 7-63 in Christchurch in a magnificent display of swing bowling that was totally and irreversibly overshadowed by the most staggering innings imaginable.

Hoggard also took 7-61 to win a Test against South Africa once. Everyone remembers this one though and anyway, it happened later. The Christchurch match was Hoggard’s arrival.

10 Great Bowling Performances.


Monday, August 28, 2006

Muttiah Muralitharan v England, 16 wickets in a match – ten great bowling performances

“Sri Lanka are rubbish,” said English cricket. “We’ll only give them one Test. They’re lucky to get that, quite frankly.”

“Whatever,” said Murali and promptly took 16 wickets as Sri Lanka kicked England’s arse so thoroughly that English cricket still sheds a tear when it so much as thinks about sitting in a nice comfy armchair.

Muttiah Muralitharan took 7-155 in the first innings and the British media said: ‘If only he had some support’. Muttiah Muralitharan then took 9-65 in the second innings as Sri Lanka won by ten wickets and the British media said: ‘Oh my God. Imagine if he had some support.’

Murali then went home and said: “Maybe when England have got a genius playing for them we’ll let them have a return match in Sri Lanka. But not before then.”

Of course Murali didn’t say that really. He’s too nice. Besides, he doesn’t need to stoop to anything like that because he’s clearly, eternally, unarguably SO MUCH BETTER THAN EVERYONE ELSE. Hats off.

10 Great Bowling Performances

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Friday, August 25, 2006

Andy Caddick v West Indies, four wickets in an over – ten great bowling performances

The West Indies’ tour of England in 2000 was a real turning point for us as a fan of both England and destructive bowling. Prior to this point, England had solid bowlers. Suddenly they had bowlers who could instigate collapses. With England at the time being no better than a middling side, the potential for batting collapses from the opposition played an important straw-clutching role for us as a spectator.

It was of course Andy Caddick and Darren Gough who were the destructors in this new fantasy land of ours. Earlier in the summer the two of them combined with Dominic Cork to bowl out West Indies for 54 in a fantastic match in which England were to come from behind to win by two wickets. However, we’ve plumped for Andy Caddick’s four wickets in an over as the defining moment of the summer.

West Indies did marginally better in this innings, making 61 all out, but the feeling of delirious chaos was more palpable while Andy Caddick was taking four wickets in seven balls (there was a no-ball). You just didn’t know where it was going to end. Our bowlers were unstoppable. When England next played Australia, we were going to bowl them out for a single run. It was amazing.

If we had to sum it up, we’d say: Full length, a good deal of swing and cartwheeling stumps. Bliss.

Apologies for the entirely inappropriate picture. It's just such a great photo. For those who might be wondering: Andy Caddick's the one WITH ears. Two of them.

10 Great Bowling Performances


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Ball tampering techniques

Following this debacle, we got to thinking about what constitutes ball tampering. It would be naive indeed to presume that there weren't widely used techniques for 'preserving' the ball which maybe don't quite fit with the laws of the game. At what point does accepted practice become unacceptable?

In order to explore the issue, we thought that we'd try and list techniques used by players of all levels to affect the condition of the ball. We're rather hoping that some of you will be able to contribute in the comments, but we're not too certain how many of you actually play. Also, you all seem like decent law-abiding sorts, so maybe you won't be down with all the nefarious acts which go on.

While there are many methods that have been described in print - bottle tops, sun cream, certain mints or throat lozenges - we can only offer one that we've heard of from a less public source. Special Correspondent Dad, whilst naming no names, described how a co-cricketer in the lower leagues, used to apply lip balm to his trousers. Subsequent shinings would thus create a sort of veneer, which could, potentially, aid swing movement.

We hope that you the reader can add to this in the spirit of documenting our beautiful game. Comment away.


Monday, August 21, 2006

Darrell Hair - not a diplomat, but he is quite fat

You'll probably all know the outcome of this bizarre situation by the time you read this, so we'll try and avoid making rash predictions. We've not reached many firm conclusions anyway.

Here's how we see it so far: Darrell Hair thought that the ball had been tampered with. He gave England five extra runs and allowed them to choose a replacement. For some reason, he didn't particularly liaise with Inzamam or any specific Pakistani player about this. It was presumably just a general sense of cheating that he got, rather than any specific evidence. Evidence is overrated. You might as well just accuse the entire side. There's hardly likely to be much of a fuss.

Following this, Pakistan refused to retake the field after tea as a protest. The umpires went back in and then came out again a bit later and took the bails off, presumably signifying that Pakistan had forfeited the match. After some behind-the-scenes shenanigans Pakistan eventually did take the field, but the umpires didn't. More behind-the-scenes shenanigans ensued.

Now what can we take from this? Assuming that Pakistan were in full possession of the facts, they were well aware that they were forfeiting the game when they refused to take the field the second time. If that was the case, they can't really argue about the outcome, but this misses two key points: Firstly, Pakistan now wish to play. The series is already lost, so it's not like they've suddenly realised that they cut off their nose to spite their face - they actually want to play. Both sets of supporters want the match to continue and it seems fairly reasonable to suggest that England want to play - they can't lose the series and were making a decent fist of fighting back. The only people preventing play are the umpires.

Secondly, and most importantly, this all stemmed from Darrell Hair's decision to have the ball changed. He accused Pakistan of cheating, yet gave them no right to appeal. He can do this, he's the umpire, but perhaps another umpire might have communicated with the accused a bit more. Whether his allegations turn out to be correct or otherwise, he effectively endangered the match and later, given the chance to return to the field, he refused on pedantic grounds, not recognising an expedient solution to a touchy issue. Billy Doctrove too, although we think he's probably just a junior partner in all of this.

Maybe Pakistan were tampering with the ball and Darrell Hair was right. It's just why is it always Darrell Hair? It's not coincidence. He's always at the centre of any umpiring controversy. And he's fat.

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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Darren Lehmann hits a hundred

We've probably made ourself clear by now about how much we think of Darren Lehmann. If you're in any doubt, it's more than we think of the miracle of life and slightly less than we think of sandwiches.

Darren Lehmann hit 172 out of Yorkshire's total of 310 against Kent. The next highest score was 41 from one of this season's most consistent performers, Anthony McGrath. What's most impressive about Darren Lehmann is that he's been doing this for years. Some players have a really good season where they stand head and shoulders above every other player, then they live off this for the rest of their careers. If they're Simon Jones, they promptly get injured immediately after their finest hour and no-one ever really works out whether they were absolutely class or whether they were just in a bit of a purple patch for a couple of weeks. There's no doubt with Darren Lehmann though because he's been doing it every single season since the invention of the lava lamp.

Rob Key's 7 not out in the same match, incidentally. If we've a high opinion of Darren Lehmann then...

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Friday, August 11, 2006

Shahid Afridi helps Pakistan win Twenty20 match

We feel that we should at least comment on Pakistan's victory in the Twenty20. Mike Yardy had a decent international debut, hitting 24 not out off 14 balls and taking 1-20, but the most newsworthy contribution as far as King Cricket's concerned was from Shahid Afridi: 28 off 10 balls.

We were going to write lots of 'ooh, imagine Shahid Afridi playing Twenty20' sorts of things, but then we realised that this actually conflicts with the reason why we love Shahid Afridi. The genius of Shahid Afridi is in his complete disregard for the match situation. He's not going to bat any differently for Twenty20. He's the one player in the world whose run-rate will probably end up much the same in Twenty20 as it will in Test cricket. In reality, Twenty20 is the worst place to watch him bat because everyone else is doing much the same thing. In Test cricket he's a man alone.

We have a cat called Afridi. Here he is:

Unfortunately, our hopes of his being the first non-human to play for England were dealt a bitter blow by his revelation that he doesn't have opposable thumbs. This means that he can't even grip a cricket bat, let alone play a cover drive.

His development as a leg-spinner is being hampered by his tendency to look bemused and then wander off during training. Also, given the choice between standing in the sink and performing fielding drills, Afridi inevitably opts for standing in the sink.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Another Rob Key hundred

A watched Rob never scores hundreds, as the old saying goes. We spend EVERY HOUR of EVERY DAY looking at Kent scorecards waiting for numbers to appear and subsequently increase after Rob Key's name, but nothing happens. We go away for the weekend and are cut off from the beautiful land that we call The Kingdom of Bat and Ball and what do you know: Rob Key hits a hundred - 136 not out against Hampshire (and therefore Shane Warne) in a stultifying draw.

Who'd have thought it was a whole month since our last Rob Key post. That's a sure sign of how miserable we've been. Our mind's been full of precisely nothing for the whole duration of that month. Occasionally we get a bit blank like that, but it's balanced out by the times when the fairies come and camp in our head. At those times we think lots of things and get really enthusiastic about the dullest stuff. The fairies seem to power us in some way. Either that or they're doing all the thinking and tricking us into believing that it's us. Or maybe they just come and stay when Rob Key does something good.

They're visiting today. We don't know how long they'll stay.

Rob Key posts:
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Monday, August 07, 2006

Tip: Adil Rashid, England

We tried to stay measured. We tried to hold back. We tried not to get overenthusiastic. We tried not to make ludicrous pronouncements. We failed.

Adil Rashid will take 300 Test wickets for England. Adil Rashid will hit 3,000 Test runs for England. Adil Rashid is officially one of our heroes, even though he's a decade younger than us and we haven't yet seen him play. He's a leg-spinning all-rounder and he's 18. We don't have the resilience to stand up to that.

Last month Adil Rashid made a splash by being a Yorkshire-born player of Asian origin who played a match for Yorkshire. That really shouldn't be news: A Yorkshireman playing for Yorkshire. It's a very sad fact that this was news. However, he took 6-67 in a match-winning performance against Warwickshire and that really was news.

In the current under-19 international between England and India, Rashid hit 114 batting at six (15 fours, three sixes) and followed that up by taking 8-157. The man/lad/boy's above this standard of cricket. He's the next Andrew Flintoff.

We haven't gone overboard, have we?

King Cricket's other tips.

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Saturday, August 05, 2006