Yuvraj Singh, India - World Cup player to watch

It would be a spineless dereliction of duty if we abandoned Yuvraj Singh now. We once called him the best one-day international batsman in the world.

If we didn't name him as a player to watch and then he had a great World Cup, we'd be kicking ourself as much as that time we rolled through a red light outside the police station because we'd got side-tracked watching a cat cross the road (this is a true story - we're occasionally a bit oblivious to the world around us).

He can hit sixes and he can work the ball around. We always end up repeating ourself on updates like this, because we're effectively summing up stuff we've already written. No more. We're naming him. He's good*. Let's leave it at that.

* We've recently developed an aversion to any positive adjective stronger than 'good'. This does not bode well for our World Cup coverage.

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Nine World Cup players to watch

Being as nothing's really going on other than the odd player getting injured and being as the World Cup's about to start, we thought we'd do a World Cup equivalent of our Ones To Watch feature. Should fill in a day or two at least.

Unfortunately, we wanted to do a fairly reasonable job of this and as a consequence almost all of the nine World Cup players to watch are really predictable. Sorry about that. If we'd picked Peter Fulton and Mushfiqur Rahim we'd have just looked like an idiot though and you'd never listen to anything we said ever again.

Having said that, we just started writing the post for our first entrant and then realised that he wasn't actually one of the ones that we'd selected, so maybe there will be some surprises. We should really start writing things down.

Yuvraj Singh
Justin Kemp
Shahid Afridi
Mike Hussey
Shane Bond
Upul Tharanga
Saqibul Hasan
Chris Gayle
Ian Bell


Abdul Razzaq to miss World Cup

The world's oldest-looking 27-year-old, Abdul Razzaq, has injured himself in training and will miss the whole of the World Cup.

We're a great fan of Razzaq's schizophrenic batting - either blocking for hours or repeatedly launching giant sixes - and we're as sad that he's missing the World Cup as we are that Brett Lee will.

But, as ever, this gives someone else a chance and who could be more deserving than Azhar Mahmood? No-one's quite sure why Pakistan's selectors turned against him, but now here he is going to the World Cup out of nowhere. We bet he's right chuffed, or whatever the Pakistani equivalent is.

Returning to Razzaq, as he says himself: 'I am simply devastated. One moment we are practicing and planning for the big tournament and next moment doctors tell me I am out of it.'

There are some crushing lows when you're an international sportsman. What's the worst that can happen to us prior to the World Cup? The telly goes on the blink? There's always the pub.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A really lame update because it's been a long day and we're willing to do anything other than work right now

Alternatively, you could look on it as the worst job application for the role of BBC Sport proofreader that's ever been made: 'Look how crap you are', it says.

The bit we're on about is the caption 'McGrath has played for Yorkshire for the past 121 seasons'.

Yes, we've read the BBC's cricket website pretty much every day since they first started it and the worst mistake they've made is a single numeral typo. We've probably got more mistakes than that in one paragraph of this update.

Let's not laugh at us and our worthless station in life though. Let's laugh at the idea that Anthony McGrath's well over a hundred. Hilarious.

Update: Immediately after publishing this, we went to the BBC's cricket page and immediately saw a far worse error - the omission of the word 'he'. It's a dark day for the BBC. A dark day indeed.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Old Trafford post-renovation

It's going to be in London, apparently. Either that or they're going to recreate London's skyline as a backdrop.

*OR* Gamebience, Cricket Life 2007's Canadian developers, have confused Manchester with London, which is a very big mistake to make where we live (Manchester).

On the left is an interpretation of London's skyline in 2012. On the right is a detail of a Cricket Life screenshot of Old Trafford.

Dear Canada,

Please try and control your videogame developers. We know that you are aware of more than one British city - you're not the US, after all - so please don't attempt to pass off the future skyline of London as that of present-day Manchester.

Don't let it happen again or we'll ask all of your residents what part of America they're from whenever we meet one. We don't want to do this, but if you can not control your videogame developers, we refuse to be held responsible for our actions.

Yours sincerely,
The United Kingdom

Some kind of special award goes to The Scientician for spotting this. We're really going to have to give him a job or something if he persists in making a much better fist of creating updates for this site than we do.

We'd also like to point out that he's contributed to about three updates on this site in the time he's done precisely NONE for his own site, so maybe he should get his own house in order before stealing all the glory and limelight round at someone else's.

This may sound like faint praise for someone who's made a frankly world-class spot and offered it to us for free, but bear in mind that we've just had to spend half an hour cropping photos and remembering bits of XHTML that we'd long since forgotten when really we should have been working.

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More Cricket Life features

We like writing about Cricket Life. Apologies to all of our readers who are grown-ups and can't play video games because all the other captains of industry down at the squash club will think they're simpletons if they admit as much.

For the rest of you who aren't held back by weighty burdens such as friends or 'being mature', read on.

We've previously listed some of the greatest features of Cricket Life 2007. Here are some more:

  • Gamers may choose to use media, intelligence and strategy to defeat opponents. We're 'media'. You could use us. We could wage a petty-minded war against Matthew Hayden if you wanted. This game is JUST LIKE REAL LIFE.
  • Gamers can invest hard-earned, in-game money in business and property. This is NOT just like real life. In real life we invest money in DVD box-sets of The Wire and electricity bills. We certainly don't have enough to invest in 'business'.
  • Gamers can add more countries through add-ons. We're not too sure what this means. Either you can gather up all of the world's bears and give them their own republic in northern Canada, or the developers just haven't bothered with any of the non-cricketing countries, like Greenland, Mexico or Zimbabwe.
Most of the other features revolve around being rich and clever, so we can't really identify with them. Also, we're supposed to be working and should really stop getting distracted, otherwise we won't be finished by the 7th of July, 2007.

To finish, here's a picture of Old Trafford looking less decrepit than usual and also featuring rather more skyscrapers than we remember in the background.

Update: We're not sure if we were first, but we DID beat Gamebience in announcing the release date of the game - and they're the ones who made it.

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Cricket Life 2007 release date

We're not allowed to publish this until Monday the 26th of February, which is odd, because we only got it today. It might be that we received it in the early hours, UK time. If everyone in the States is still sitting on this, then does that make it a WORLD EXCLUSIVE?

Oh, right, all those hundreds of countries that are east of the UK - they're all ahead of us, aren't they?

Cricket Life 2007 will be out on 07/07/07, which shouldn't be too hard to remember. It strikes us that that doesn't leave an awful lot of 2007 within which the game can look up-to-date. Could it be that this game has been delayed a bit. The press release says:

"Gamers and cricket-lovers around the world will have an opportunity to continue the cricket fever within the game even after the world cup is over. As July is a holiday season in many countries around the world, we thought this would be the right time to release the game."

This rather backs us up. 'Continuing the cricket fever', sounds rather like putting a brave face on missing the World Cup boat. Also, July's only really a holiday season in countries where it's summer and therefore everyone will be outdoors. Still, what were laptops made for, if not enjoying indoor pursuits outdoors?

We're still quite excited about Cricket Life. Hopefully we've not lost our review copy by insinuating that the developers have been slow and lazy.

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Brett Lee out of World Cup

WE'RE disappointed and we're English. Australian fans must be gutted. Brett Lee must be inconsolable.

There are always going to be players who miss out on the World Cup through injury. From a fan's point of view, regardless of allegiance, you just hope that it isn't the most exciting players.

One man's loss is another's gain, however and Stuart Clark will get the call. Fantastic as his fledgling Test career has been thus far, he's no replacement for Lee who's got that all-important one-day knack of making a huge difference in a short space of time.

You can't stifle the batsmen with repetitive length in one-day cricket. It's actually a weakness to be too predictable. Stuart Clark's a great bowler, but his strengths contrast markedly with Lee's.

Brett Lee will have to pass the time with sponsored fun, as in the picture. Wow. He's clearly having a fantastic time, isn't he? We wish someone sponsored our fun. We'd earn pence.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

We saw someone who looked like Rob Key

It wasn't Rob Key, but it still put us in a good mood. We were going to get some milk. We've never been so glad to run out of milk before.

The picture on the right's probably the best example of Rob Key looking like the person we just saw, only this person was more startled looking; more red-faced; smaller; and he was also wearing a motorbike jacket, even though he was just walking down the road, nowhere near a motorbike.

This is the best day since Tuesday, November the 14th, when there was still an outside chance that Rob Key might appear in the Ashes. Then the selectors selected Ed Joyce on Wednesday, November the 15th.

Previous Rob Key post | Next Rob Key post


Stuart Broad bowls out Bangladesh A

Well, he took 3-35, which was better than anyone else. Everyone knows that this England A tour is all about Stuart Broad anyway. Stuart Broad and maybe model cricketer, Nick Compton at a push.

Mathematical novice, Graham Onions, took 2-32. We're only mentioning that because the post we've linked to is better than this one.

Bangladesh A were all out for 209. Does the writing continue below the picture yet? That's all we're aiming for. It's not a big cricket news day.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Matthew Hayden slanders Inzy

Matthew Hayden, speaking to the press about breaking his toe during his Australian one-day record innings of 181 not out said:

"I felt like Inzamam-ul-Haq, with a runner."

This is a foul slur. Everyone knows that Inzy always runs himself out. He never has assistance.

Hayden went on to add:

"It was tremendous. I don't know why I haven't pulled this card earlier."

Which is a joke. From Matthew Hayden. This is highly disappointing. It makes him seem human. Agreeable even. Thank the Lord for the whole slagging-Inzy-off thing, otherwise we'd be terribly conflicted.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Saqlain Mushtaq signs for Sussex

This could be a BIG signing. See, we've even put 'big' in big letters. That's how big it could be.

Sussex's success over the last few years has been based around Mushtaq Ahmed - an ageing, yet gifted spinner who is able to play throughout the season due to a lack of international commitments. Who else might fit this description?

Well Saqlain Mushtaq, of course. But he also has some other plus points. Firstly, he's 30, so he's got many years of cricket ahead of him. Secondly, he's married to an English woman, so technically he could qualify as English in April, meaning that Sussex can happily select other overseas players.

But at heart what Sussex are getting is an absolutely top-drawer spin bowler. 208 Test wickets at under 30; 288 one-day international wickets at 21.78; and 775 first-class wickets at 23.25. Saqlain's been suffering with a range of injuries over the last few years. It's actually been nearly three years since he played a Test, which surprised us. He's talented enough that he'll bounce back and Sussex will reap the rewards.

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Jaffa Cake shame deepens

Following our revelations about the astounding quantities of fat contained within England's official sports snack, the Jaffa Cake, we've received further horrifying news on the subject.

Goldenarm contacted us to add the following:

"As I discovered recently to my shock and revulsion, Jaffa Cakes contain no orange whatsoever. The filling is apricot jam with tangerine oil. Surely these confectionary impostors should be banned from our cricket fields for the sweet-biscuit equivalent of chucking?

"Note: The packaging, I am told, describes them cunningly as "orangey" rather than making any loose claims to their actually being orange biscuits..."

Is there no depth to which the Jaffa Cake will not plumb? How can it possibly bear the shame?

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National Twenty20 club cricket

There are still those who disparage Twenty20 cricket, describing it as 'nothing more than a bit of a hit and giggle' or something similarly disrespectful. In reality it's a totally valid version of cricket.

In his seminal book Beyond A Boundary, C L R James describes the prerequisites for success in 20 over league cricket. Don't think that these matches were of a low standard. Lancashire league cricket was a robust creature back then.

"Not fast bowling and brilliant quarters of an hour, but absolute accuracy and meticulous field placings were the conditions of consistent success for the player who took his job seriously."

This paragraph is really a response to that other great cricket writer, C B Fry, who had described Learie Constantine, erroneously in James' view, as a player who was ideally suited to 20 over league cricket on the grounds that he could win a match with 15 minutes of speed bowling or unorthodox hitting.

James thought Constantine to be a superlative cricketer. He felt that Fry was underselling him and the art of 20 over cricket with this evaluation. It's a close relation of the 'hit and giggle' view. It hints that fortune is a powerful influence on the results of these games. Luck played no greater part in deciding these matches than in any other form of the game.

Cricket's about scoring runs and taking wickets. Twenty20 isn't about slogging, because slogging gets you out. And just because a player gets caught on the boundary, doesn't mean he hasn't been out-thought by the bowler. A false stroke is a false stroke. If the bowler deduces that a batsman will go for a certain shot under a circumstance and can make something of this, fair play to him.

Here's another quote that's perhaps relevant. This time from Sir Frank Worrell:

"The conditions [in league cricket] vary so much from match to match that if you set yourself to master each one, you maintain your standards and gain in experience."

He doesn't just mean the pitch and weather conditions here. More importantly, he means the match situation. 20 over cricket rewards the most talented players because you must always find a way to score or take wickets. You must innovate, but also you must execute these innovations.

All of this is because of a recent email we received from David drawing our attention to the upcoming national Twenty20 club league.

This is a fantastic idea and we've no doubt whatsoever that C L R James would approve wholeheartedly. We certainly do.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

New Zealand fight back to prove their superiority

An awesome performance from New Zealand once again. Australia made 346, then New Zealand fell to 41-4, yet somehow still won.

Is Hamilton a small ground? I know that some of New Zealand's grounds feature rather tempting boundaries. The fact that there were 26 sixes rather backs this up. Our favourite Australian opening batsman with the surname Hayden and the first name Matthew, Matthew Hayden, hit ten on his own.

Credit where it's due though - even if it does wring our innards and tie them in knots to write this - Hayden's was a good innings. He hit 181 off 166 balls. No. We can't add to that. Our mind won't permit us to think anything positive about the man.

In any case, as the top-scorer for the losing side and being not out at the end, he certainly should have scored more. It was selfish batting of the highest order to not throw the bat with abandon in the search for those extra few runs that would have made the difference between victory and defeat. Matthew Hayden is solely responsible for Australia's defeat.

Hayden broke his toe too. We're sad about that. We don't want him hurt. We want him playing and failing.

New Zealand were without their two best bowlers, Shane Bond and Daniel Vettori, so they were always likely to concede a few. However, they can't have banked on losing those four early wickets.

One of the Kiwis' strengths is the depth of their batting, but also the firepower in their lower order. Craig McMillan was batting at six and he hit 117, which is fair enough. Number seven, Brendon McCullum hit 86 not out. However, we can now add the name of Mark Gillespie to the ranks of New Zealand's unexpected big-hitters. His 28 off 15 balls, batting at ten, was vital for the run-chase.

In the end, New Zealand got home with nine wickets down and three balls to spare. A blinding match.

We should really tag this update with 'Matthew Hayden' but we don't want to sully our page of Matthew Hayden updates with any positive words - even if we do essentially retract them in the following paragraph.

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Nick Compton: Model cricketer

Can anyone confirm whether this is actually the same Nick Compton who just scored 152 not out for the England A team against the Bangladesh Academy? This one appeared in Durban's Model of the Year Show 2004?

We know that he was born in Durban and it certainly looks like him.

Here he is on his own. This is how we dress on a night out. We're joking of course: We don't go out. Especially at night time.

'Nick Compton: Model cricketer' is going to be reproduced as a headline interminably if this proves to be true. We'd just like to underline that we were first. Being first in this will make up for everything else we've not been first in, ie, everything.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Australia fail to defend 336

No wonder Ricky Ponting wants more six-hitters - Australia's bowlers can't defend any kind of total at the minute.

If your batsmen manage to tot up a score in excess of 300, you should always feel pretty confident of defending it, even in this age of flat pitches, powerful bats and minuscule boundaries.

Shaun Tait lived up to his reputation with 0-64 off nine overs. We should probably stop pointing out things like that with the World Cup just round the corner and sod's law hovering impatiently.

Bet the Kiwis are delighted that both their recent victories have so consistently been described as Australian losses, as if Australia were the only team involved. New Zealand are playing, you know.

We do realise that we've fallen into exactly that trap, but it's a Sunday and we're not in the mood for writing more than one update. The first series of The Wire won't watch itself, after all.

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Yuvraj Singh's back in form

Remember when we called Yuvraj Singh the best one-day international batsman in the world? He was at the time, but he's been off the boil of late.

Today he hit 95 off 83 balls as India, playing Sri Lanka, chased down 260 with ease. We hope he's the best player in the World Cup, because then we'll have been right about something and the spell will be broken...

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Jaffa Cakes as sports snack - a shocking exposé

As you're all aware, Jaffa Cakes are the official sports snack of the England cricket team. In promoting the humble Jaffa Cake as a sports snack, the ECB cited the fact that each Jaffa Cake contains only 1g of fat.

We wondered out loud whether this was actually a significant percentage, as Jaffa Cakes aren't all that big. Well now we have our answer - thanks to SCIENCE!

Special correspondent, The Scientician has carried out an actual, real-life, scientific experiment. He has found out 'how heavy' a Jaffa Cake is. Once we know 'how heavy' a Jaffa Cake is, we can calculate the percentage of it that is fat, because we already know that a Jaffa Cake contains 1g of fat.

This is the England-branded packet of Jaffa Cakes. There's Paul Collingwood on the left. We bet he likes Jaffa Cakes, otherwise why would he agree to appear on the packet?

Here's one of the Jaffa Cakes being extracted in scientific fashion. Rule one of science: Always wear gloves.

Here's the first Jaffa Cake. It's 11.78 grams. Maybe it would be 12 if it weren't for that tweezer mark. In terms of the experiment, that tweezer mark is 'not significant'.

Here's the second Jaffa Cake. It's 11.79 grams. In scientific terms that's 'very close to the other one'.

Here's the third and final Jaffa Cake. It's a whopper. It's 13.13 grams.

Here's a picture of no Jaffa Cake at all. We're not sure why The Scientician took this picture. Perhaps he's showing us that his 'how heavy' device works correctly. Or perhaps he's showing us that he has consumed 3g of fat via the Jaffa Cakes.

So the mean mass of these three Jaffa Cakes is 12.23 grams. That means that a Jaffa Cake is 8.2% fat. That sounds a lot.

If England fail to win the World Cup and appear sluggish and oversized, you know who to blame.

Shame on the rest of you for not; working in laboratories; always carrying cameras; coincidentally having a packet of Jaffa Cakes; flouting laboratory health and safety; and having nothing better to do.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Shane Bond canes Australia

When even the BBC are reduced to colloquialisms such as 'caned', you know it's been a resounding defeat.

Australia have been caned. Shane Bond took 5-23. Australia were all out for 148. They didn't manage to take a single Kiwi wicket in attempting to defend that total.

Are Australia just trying to lengthen their World Cup odds with these displays of ineptitude? That wouldn't be the Australian way. We're not entirely sure whether there's an Australian alive today who can come up with justification for losing at anything.

Shane Bond loves playing Australia. His one-day record against them now reads 33 wickets at 13.12.

More of that please.

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Jaffa Cakes - official energy snack to the England cricket team

We're no nutritionist, but are jaffa cakes really recommended for sportspersons?

According to the ECB's press release:

"Jaffa cakes ... are often eaten by sports men and women due to the high-energy credentials and the fact each cake has only 1g of fat."

Well, considering that Kevin Pietersen settles his pre-innings nerves with about eight cans of the ludicrously over-caffeinated drink, Red Bull, maybe World Cup drinks breaks may feature the Jaffa Cake. England's cricketers maybe aren't as diet conscious as they might be.

We rather suspect that the Jaffa-Cake-as-sport-snack line was the only way they could link cricket to Jaffa Cakes though.

They should have said that Jaffa Cakes are widely used to mark out the fielding restrictions during the power plays. Or that bowlers use them for marking the start of their run-ups.

Also, while we think about it, 1g of fat? Just how heavy IS a Jaffa Cake? That sounds like a fair percentage to us.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Jaffa Cakes reveal their target market following link-up with England cricket team

"This on-pack promotion with the England cricket team will prove really popular with Jaffa Cake-loving cricket fans." - Mark Sugden, customer marketing director at United Biscuits.

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Brett Lee is a World Cup doubt

Brett Lee badly twisted his knee in a warm-up and is unlikely to play any part in the three match series against New Zealand.

'Hurray', some of you say. 'Australia are even weaker'. No, you're wrong. The best part about the World Cup is that all the best players are in the same place at the same time. Brett Lee's one of the world's best players.

Every missing player weakens the competition. We want to see every single side at full strength and in top form. That's never going to happen, but that's got to be the ideal.

Watch him take six wickets against England in the semi final. We've got a lengthy history of going back on things we've said, so we're not bothered.

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