Rob Key - season verdict

Two hundreds and an average of 36.76 isn't up to Rob Key's high, high standards. Rob Key's standards are higher than Godzilla climbing a ladder at the top of Everest. On the other hand, he did give us more joy than any other player all season with one of those hundreds. More of that please Rob.

He's in Australia when the Ashes are being played and in our head - where real life is scripted purely for our benefit - Rob will be given a one-time chance to prove his worth through unexpected good fortune and will WIN ENGLAND THE ASHES. The odds will be stacked against him. England will be chasing 500 to win and Rob will hit 350 of them in what all cricket experts will unite in saying is 'the greatest innings of all time'.

Then the ECB will reward Rob by purchasing the moon for him. Rob will thank them, say that he's happy enough and give the moon to charity. Charity will sell the moon to someone really minted, who for some reason didn't make an offer when the ECB were bidding for it, and the world's problems will be over. All because of Rob Key.

In a word: Rubies.

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Tom Smith - season verdict

The most personal of the Ones To Watch, being as he won us over on the first day of the season. We're glad that we went for him as a result of that, but it was probably a little premature.

Tom Smith took 35 wickets at 30.65, which is okay, but maybe not worth looking out for. He got into the Academy though. That's a pretty big thing in our opinion, although you probably aren't that impressed. Well just what would impress you, eh? Do you want Tom Smith to sprout wings and swoop around in the outfield? Do you want him to give you free gold during the lunch break?

You people will crush the young cricketers of this nation with your stellar expectations.

In a word: Parkin.

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Ones To Watch - how did they fare?

We did a half-term report on each of our Ones To Watch, but now it's time for the final verdicts. Instead of giving each player a grade, we're instead going to give them a single word and the word will be an item that somehow sums up their entire season. This rating system is quite open to artistic licence.

Graeme Swann
Will Jefferson
Sajid Mahmood
Bilal Shafayat
Mark Davies
Mark Butcher
Matt Prior
Rob Key
Tom Smith

Links to the original Ones to Watch posts

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Monday, September 25, 2006

We saw James Anderson

We went to watch Lancashire's Pro40 match against Glamorgan yesterday. It was a great victory for Lancashire, although the downside was that it was pretty much over as a contest after about four overs of Glamorgan's innings. Still, you can't complain if your team hammers someone, can you?

Dominic Cork set the tone of the match when he came in to bat at three. He's in form with the bat at the moment and he's still the kind of player who can have an impact that goes further than his own contribution. Nathan Astle outscored him, but it was Dominic Cork's presence that first got him going.

The biggest moment came when the teams were announced. There was one change to Lancashire's side and James Anderson was playing. James Anderson is loved without exception at Old Trafford and an actually quite decent crowd made sort of pleased murmuring sounds for a bit.

Later on, he came out to bowl and he immediately looked a class above anyone else, although maybe that's unfair on Kyle Hogg. Regardless, James Anderson didn't bowl a bad ball and if he wasn't 100%, he still seemed dangerous as he took a couple of wickets. He's not really one for emotions, but he celebrated quite noticeably when he took his first.

He'll probably be used to it by the Ashes and will barely crack a smile when he takes 10-12 in the first Test.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Anwar Ali Khan video - Under-19 final

Apologies to those of you with slower internet connections, but this is quite interesting. It's Anwar Ali Khan, playing for Pakistan in the final of the Under-19 World Cup against India. As well as bowling three no-balls, he also took three wickets.



We've read quite a bit about both Anwar Ali Khan and his partner opening the bowling for Pakistan Under-19s, Jamshed Ahmed. By all accounts Jamshed Ahmed is the more refined of the two, with the ability to move the ball both ways, but watch this video - Anwar Ali Khan swings the ball an enormous amount. An ENORMOUS amount.

Jamshed Ahmed's a left-armer, by the way, so you've got a wily left-armer moving the ball both ways and a quick right-armer bowling prodigious inswingers. Sound familiar?

Here's a link, if the video doesn't play here for whatever reason.

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

James Anderson's Ashes

We never mentioned how delighted we are that James Anderson has been selected for the Ashes. We sometimes forget that some of you haven't read the whole site. James Anderson's mentioned relatively infrequently here at King Cricket and this is basically because we assume that you all know how we feel. But, of course, you don't.

We want James Anderson back in England's team as soon as humanly possible. The lad's magic.

England have selected a number of pace bowlers over the last couple of years, most of whom have shown promise. James Anderson didn't show promise when he was first picked for England. He just performed.

There was a one-day match against Australia in Adelaide during the last Ashes tour when the Australians couldn't get him off the square. It was 40 degrees and James Anderson bowled his 10 overs straight though. He went for 12 runs. This was back in the days when Australia crushed England without mercy. He was only 20 then.

Since then he's been mucked about, messed with, injured and moped around as twelfth man, but he's not gone away. And for anyone who says that he doesn't look where the ball's going after he's released it - so what? He can't do much with it once he's let go, can he?

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Friday, September 15, 2006

Rob Key is in the Academy squad - but that's not all

Despite his relatively crap recent form, Rob Key has again been selected for England's winter Academy squad. No surprise there. Rob's always in the Academy squad. His home address is at the Academy (and we should know). However, there are two fantastic plus points to his selection. Firstly, we get to write about him ALL WINTER LONG. That's right. The thought that Rob is there will comfort us in the depths of winter. His rosy visage will light our seasonal affective disordered mind.

Secondly, he's in line for an Ashes spot. He's not officially a member of the party, but he's right there in Australia. As soon as someone gets injured or gets bored and goes home, Rob's there. He's in with a chance.

Rob actually played for England on the last Ashes tour. The Australians apparently thought quite a bit of him. Seasoned cricket journalists always cite instances where Australians 'rate' an English player. The subtext is that Australians know the secret of cricket, whereas we Brits don't. If they think someone's good, it means that their special 'good cricketer' sense has come into play.

It's not true. English people know a good cricketer when they see one. How else would we have selected such modern day masters as Jason Gallian, Darren Maddy and Chris Schofield?

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Pakistan one-day blueprint

Despite their recent win, which we still haven't written about, England are absolute garbage when it comes to one-day cricket. They definitely give the impression that they don't know what they're doing. They certainly don't know who they want doing it. We can help on the first count, but as for the staff - England would do well to find players of the standard contained within our example.

We always thought that Pakistan's one-day side of a few years back had the game pretty much sorted. They opened with Saeed Anwar and Shahid Afridi. Two batsmen on the combustible side. One unparalleled for sheer six-hitting destruction, the other a certified master, who might not reach quite the same level of wild, thrashing abandon, but who could maintain top gear for much longer.

Following them were some batsmen. Probably three of Ijaz Ahmed, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Younis Khan and the then Yousuf Youhana. They would play the ball around sensibly for twenty-five or thirty overs, keeping wickets in hand for the final onslaught. Then whoever was batting with Inzy would run him out and the fun would begin.

Batting at six, seven, eight and nine would be the assault team: Azhar Mahmood, Abdul Razzaq, Moin Khan (or maybe Rashid Latif, depending on the politics of the moment) and finally Wasim Akram. These guys would attempt to double Pakistan's score before the end of the innings. They'd attempt this continually, so they'd still be trying to double the score off the final ball of the innings. It's not possible, but they had a damn good go.

Bowling-wise, Wasim and Waqar would decapitate the opposition batting line-up. Then Azhar Mahmood and Abdul Razzaq would keep it tight for a bit, followed by Saqlain Mushtaq and Shahid Afridi. The style of bowling kept changing and the batsmen could never settle. Wickets might fall, or if they didn't, the run-rate would climb. Then when the batsmen thought they were getting set and preparing themselves for a final fling, the coup de grace: Wasim and Waqar would return. Pakistan would win.

Now all England need to do is find 11 players capable of putting this into practice. We reckon they've got one: Paul Collingwood in the middle-overs accumulating role. Maybe Chris Read, actually. He's got a bit of the Moin Khan about him.

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Sunday, September 10, 2006