Paul Collingwood's captaincy comes on in leaps and bounds

The day before yesterday:

Aeroplane impressions. This is not good captaincy and England lose.


Proper finger captaincy. That's how you captain a side - it's all in the fingers. England win.

Labels: ,

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Thandi Tshbalala - a South African spinner (no, really)

South Africa are playing a spinner. The lines of communication must have been severed inside Castle South Africa (which is where the South African cricket team is controlled from) because South Africa never EVER pick a spinner.

Today, against India, they have. And he's got a cool name. He's called [copy, paste] Thandi Tshbalala and he's an off-spinner.

'What about Nicky Boje?', you ask. 'He was a spinner'.

No, he wasn't.

'Yes he was. Look at this page from Cricinfo.'

No... He wasn't...

'Okay. What about Paul Adams then?'

Was he? Was he really? We wouldn't like to venture what he was.

Even Kevin Pietersen was considered a spinner back when he was South African. Look. He even batted at nine like spinners are supposed to.

Picture from Cricinfo

Labels: ,

Friday, June 29, 2007

Paul Collingwood - a captain who can bat?

Batting average before the captaincy versus batting average while captain. It's every English cricket writer's favourite statistic. See: Mike Atherton, Alec Stewart, Nasser Hussain, Michael Vaughan, Andrew Flintoff and just about anyone else who's ever tossed a coin for this great nation.

"Oh no, please, this cumbersome captaincy has rendered me overladen", they all cry. "Deciding whether to post a second gully yesterday has led me to spoon my third ball to mid-off again. Oh for those carefree days when I could just hum Eric Clapton tunes while standing at third slip."

Hopefully Paul Collingwood's thumping 80 off 41 balls in the Twenty20 last night is a sign that he'll be different.

Labels: , ,

An appeal for no genitals

The little-known mode of dismissal 'no genitals' occurs when a member of the fielding side takes the field without their reproductive organs.

Shane Warne, having just bowled a delivery to Andrew Strauss, notices that Matthew Hayden has no genitals and consequently appeals. The other fielders join in, Hayden indicating that he is the subject of the appeal by thrusting his groin towards the umpire.

'No genitals' had been a rarely used mode of dismissal up until the 2005 Ashes series when it had to be withdrawn as the Australians came to rely on it as almost their sole means of dismissing opposing batsmen.

A certain amount of credit/guilt for this update should go to former Goodie, Tim Brooke-Taylor who described an appeal for LWB (large white baggies) in his book 'Tim Brooke-Taylor's Cricket Box'.

Labels: ,

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Luke Wright hits a Twenty20 hundred

About this time yesterday, Luke Wright of Sussex's Twenty20 batting average was seven and a half from 12 innings.

It was therefore something of a step up to come in at number three against Kent last night and thrash 103 off just 45 balls - but that's exactly what Luke Wright did.

Rob Key had earlier hit 62 off 46 balls, which is one ball longer and therefore better.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Worcestershire's ground, New Road, flooded after Severn bursts its banks

You could have as many mackintoshed men with pitchforks as you like, but it'll take a touch more to clear this.

Dragging the rope across the outfield's not going to do a lot either.

Labels: , ,

Surrey v Middlesex Twenty20 match report

The Scientician - he of Jaffa Cake fame - sent us a match report of the Twenty20 match between Surrey and Middlesex on Friday.

Here it is:

It was dark. It rained. The cricket didn't stop.

There were two Scooby Doos sat next to each other.

cricket fancy dress
I'd like to think that either:

(a) Each didn't know that the other would be wearing a Scooby Doo costume, much like the plot of an American teen drama - how embarrassing, turing up to the prom/party/cricket in the same dress/top/Scooby Doo costume in order to impress Todd/Jason/Rampers.

Or (b) They, like most other people in the crowd, had come straight from work, but at their work they have to dress as Scooby Doo.

The queue for the bar was very long, but a man talked to us about the Middlewich Folk and Boat, so it was okay.

Beer prices were okay, considering this was London. Rubbish beer though: Marston's Smooth and Foster's.

There were lots of chinless wonders too.

Cricket jaffa
The Jaffa Cake was my friend's idea. She thought it was hilarious. I'm yet to be convinced. I didn't bring the glove especially, I just happened to have it in my back pocket...

After we went to the pub and got really drunk. I got lost on the way home.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sri Lanka v Bangladesh - day one match report

Miriam put this in the comments of the previous post. We're nothing if not lazy, so we're republishing the report in its entirety as a post in its own right. Thanks Miriam:

I watched this day of play on telly. Here is my match report (I know match reports are meant to be from live attendance, but it was a bit far to go given that I'm meant to be back at work tomorrow):

1) Michael Vandort has dyed his hair a reddish colour. As the day went on, the colour started to run onto his shirt collar. That shirt is now ruined - there's no way that's coming out in the wash.

2) There were lots of big crows / rooks / whatever they are called, on the field, being noisy, and being really quite indifferent to the cricket.

3) At one point the ball ended up lodged against Vandort's, erm, box.

4) Russell Arnold was commentating. He was quite good, I thought.

5) Jayawardene complained about Shahadat Hossain's grunt when he bowls.

6) Shakib Al Hasan top-scored for Bangladesh, but it was a very qualified success as his score was 16, out of a total of 89.

Labels: , ,

Monday, June 25, 2007

Five wickets for Murali

It's like someone's hacked out a big lump of our brain. We're thinking about what we're about to write and we're trying to come up with a title but nothing's happening.

We've forgotten how to use our mind. We just don't know how to get it moving. It doesn't come with any instructions or anything, so there's nothing to fall back on. Thinking's supposed to just happen, but what do you do when it doesn't just happen?

We also appear to be suffering from a touch of tunnel vision. If anyone thinks these symptoms add up to something serious can they let us know. We'd like to get comfy in time for rigor mortis to set in.

Now we've forgotten what we were going to write. Something about how Muralitharan's bowling figures against Bangladesh today (5-15) were the kind of figures you could be proud of.

It was something along the lines of: If they were your bowling figures, you could actually tell other people about them, unlike everything else you've ever done, which has been pathetically feeble and embarrassing.

Then we were going to say something about taking the bowling figures out for dinner, but that's when we started getting confused. Then our eyelids went all heavy.

Now we're really lost. This was actually even more confusing to write than it was to experience. Reading it through to check we'd written what we thought we had was more confusing still and re-reading this current sentence is probably going to break us.

Maybe we'll just click publish and hope that everything's okay. Hoping that everything's going to be okay worked for about an hour at some point in 2002 so we're sticking with it.

Labels: , , ,

Jonathan Trott of Warwickshire gets very little written about him at King Cricket

It's been a couple of days since Jonathan Trott was named in England's one-day squad. We did a little thing about the other new boy, Dimitri Mascarenhas, but nothing's come to us about Jonathan Trott.

It's ironic because of the two of them we'd rather write about Jonathan Trott, because you don't have to really concentrate when you write his name. His first name ends '-an' not '-on'. That's all you have to remember.

Anyone got anything to proffer? Anything interesting that is - don't just go to Cricinfo and quote his average or something. We can do that. It's 41.48 in one-day cricket.

If you're Jonathan Trott and you know some facts about yourself make a bit of an effort. Just because you've been picked for England, you think you can just sit around on your arse all day. Well you can't. Pull your finger out and tell us what your favourite cheese is or something.

Labels: ,

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Dimitri Mascarenhas of Hampshire finally gets an England call-up

We're not someone who claims to have a history of being right about stuff. Not unless consistently pronouncing the letter H correctly adds up to as much. But either way, we think the selection of Dimitri Mascarenhas for the England one-day squad is a masterstroke.

Dimitri Mascarenhas has been one of the very finest one-day players in county cricket for bloody years now. His one-day bowling record stands up to anybody's. His average is 24 and he concedes runs at about four an over - which is good these days (Ian 'Fatty' Austin would have wept into his meat and potato pie if he'd conceded that many).

Dimitri Mascarenhas is 29. You might think that's a bit old for a bowler if you're building towards the next World Cup, but that's the best part. Dimitri Mascarenhas is a bowler who attracts terms like 'canny' and 'wily'. We dare say he varies his pace, but his range starts at 70mph and descends from there. Loss of pace isn't really going to be an issue. Loss of pace isn't really possible.

In addition to this, he's a handy middle to lower order batsman - something that England have been crying out for - and he's a razor sharp fielder.

Labels: ,

Friday, June 22, 2007

England's one-day squad for the 2007 series v West Indies

It's exciting stuff. It's the first series since the World Cup, so there's the time-honoured cull, in addition to which there's a new coach and captain. It all adds up to some fairly major changes.

1. Paul Collingwood (Durham) (Captain)
2. James Anderson (Lancashire)
3. Ian Bell (Warwickshire)
4. Stuart Broad (Leicestershire)
5. Alastair Cook (Essex)
6. Dimitri Mascarenhas (Hampshire)
7. Monty Panesar (Northamptonshire)
8. Kevin Pietersen (Hampshire)
9. Liam Plunkett (Durham)
10. Matt Prior (Sussex)
11. Owais Shah (Middlesex)
12. Ryan Sidebottom (Nottinghamshire)
13. Jonathan Trott (Warwickshire)
14. Michael Yardy (Sussex)

We'll write something about a couple of the new guys later on.

One thing that strikes us is that Alastair Cook's the only specialist opener. Most people will presume that Matt Prior will be his partner. Prior's previously said that he doesn't really like opening and last time, when England were in India, he was crap at it - which may go some way to explaining his thoughts on the matter.

Ian Bell and Alastair Cook would be too World Cup 2007 surely, so maybe Owais Shah or Jonathon Trott are being considered. Both are pretty aggressive batsmen.

Confusing phrases we've coined today:

'World Cup 2007' as a way of highlighting occasions where there are two slow-scoring opening batsmen.


Twenty20 - a hit not a giggle

Twenty20 cricket has been a massive success since its inception, but is still quite widely regarded as populist fluff. 'Hit and giggle' is the dismissive term of choice for the thoughtless. But with the grounds full and large amounts of TV coverage, it's deadly serious stuff for the players.

It tends to be characterised as a slogathon, but that's massively unfair. Matches aren't generally won in the fours and sixes columns, but through sneaky singles and clever twos.

If you're in the middle, the puzzle's the same as it is in Test cricket. The batsman's trying to hit runs, the bowler's trying to stop him and take his wicket. Perhaps the batsman's more keen to strike out, but that's just the context of the game.

Don't grumble about bowlers taking cheap wickets or batsman hitting quick 20s. You're making the mistake of evaluating the game in terms of the longer format. It's a different context. You need to compare like with like.

Because the matches are only 20 overs a side, runs are at more of a premium. So a misplaced fielder or an expertly angled leg-glance could prove the difference between victory and defeat. Every ball counts. Twenty20 never coasts.

The best players in the world - in any form of the game - are the ones who can adapt to the match situation and the playing conditions and find a way of either scoring runs or taking wickets. That's what will win the Twenty20 Cup.

Go and see a game. Beneath the razzmatazz is a format of great merit.

More Twenty20 stuff via Harrow Drive


Kevin Pietersen declares himself unavailable for the England one-day captaincy

We'd like to go on record, throwing our full support behind our number one man, Paul Collingwood.

We always said he was the best man for the England one-day captaincy.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, June 21, 2007

KP for captain

As a long term admirer of Paul Collingwood's, we immediately thought he was the best man to take over the one-day captaincy from Michael Vaughan. Having actually thought about it a bit, we've changed our mind.

It's because of the way that Kevin Pietersen plays the game. We don't mean aggressively or flamboyantly, although those could be positives. We mean how he's a proactive batsman rather than a reactive one.

Rather than adapt his game to the field set by the opposing captain, Kevin Pietersen sets out to change that field through his actions. He plays some odd shots, but they're usually played for a reason. You'll notice that if the field permits, KP plays orthodox strokes.

This all shows that he thinks about the game and that he wants to influence proceedings. That's a captain's role.

He's very clear-headed, he'll be 30 at the time of the next World Cup and what many people overlook is that he's massively, massively professional.

Our only real reservations are how this will work with Michael Vaughan and how the players might react to him. The second point could be a plus though. Despite his self-conscious 'team' behaviour, Pietersen's always been slightly adrift. You can't be 'one of the lads' and captain, so maybe this will solve that particular conundrum.

If Paul Collingwood gets the job, it's no bad thing either. England are fortunate.

Labels: ,

Liam Plunkett holds his nerve

A cracking match at the Riverside. The Friends Provident Trophy semi final between Durham and Essex was proof that you don't need a glut of sixes and fours for excitement in the one-day game.

After Essex were bowled out for just 71 this was a low-scoring classic, with a single worth half a dozen fours in any other context. In the end it came down to a test of nerve. Fortunately for Durham and most promisingly for England, Liam Plunkett held his.

Of 19 batsmen who appeared at the crease, four got into double figures, two passed 20 and only one, Liam Plunkett, reached 30. This in addition to taking 4-15 with the ball.

Both teams fell to 38-7 and it was at this point that Plunkett came in for Durham. That was the difference. Plunkett scored at a run a ball while Ottis Gibson's five off 27 balls in support was the third-longest of the match.

We're delighted. There's no way that Liam Plunkett isn't going to play a part for England in the future and this was a fantastically gutsy effort that shows he's undaunted by pressure. Perhaps Plunkett will be a player who 'puts his hand up' when he's really needed.

We're putting our hand up now. It's no use to anyone - least of all ourself as our typing speed has diminished considerably.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Dwayne Bravo should aim higher

By the standards of this West Indies side, Dwayne Bravo has had a decent series, but those standards aren't good enough.

Five times in seven innings he's been out between 40 and 60. At least one of those should have been a hundred. The stage was set yesterday when West Indies were trying to save the game and he was batting alongside Shivnarine Chanderpaul - a man who likes getting out as much as he likes being kicked in the balls.

For some reason, Dwayne Bravo started playing a load of shots after lunch England hadn't felt like they could remove either batsman before the break, but now they were given hope. That hope was justified and once Bravo had departed, the procession began. Bravo was as culpable as anyone for the West Indies' defeat. He was actually in a position to prevent it.

If someone else other than Shiv starts taking some responsibility, perhaps some of the other players might follow suit. Dwayne Bravo seems the most likely to lead the way.

Despite never quite making the most of his chances, Dwayne Bravo will have learnt a lot on this tour. He's only 23 and this was his second Test tour to this country. On this occasion he spent a long time batting with Chanderpaul throughout the series and we dare say he'll learn more from that than any coaching or theoretical exercise.

We're presuming that Shiv actually shares information at the crease. If he does, then Bravo will have benefited hugely. Shiv knows what the bowling side are trying to achieve at any one time and he knows how to foil them.

Shiv hasn't really had the opportunity to pass on any knowledge to the likes of Runako Morton who didn't stay at the crease long enough to acknowledge a 'hello'. If Chanderpaul retires without helping at least one player, then the West Indian batsmen will be totally cut off from a line of communication that supports every Test side.

England v West Indies, fourth Test, day five at Chester-le-Street
West Indies 287 (Shivnarine Chanderpaul 136 not out, Ryan Sidebottom 5-88)
England 400 (Paul Collingwood 128, Andrew Strauss 77, Matt Prior 62, Fidel Edwards 5-112)
West Indies 222 (Shivnarine Chanderpaul 70, Chris Gayle 52, Monty Panesar 5-46, Matthew Hoggard 3-28)
England 111-3

England win the series 3-0

Labels: , ,

Michael Vaughan can't be arsed captaining the one-day side or summat like that

Michael Vaughan has resigned England's one-day captaincy. It would seem that there's a fair chance he won't appear in the team at all.

That would be quite sad, because it would mean that he had failed in one-day cricket and the vast majority of England supporters don't want that. They want Michael Vaughan to be a success in one-day cricket, as he is in Test cricket.

Many people, us included, still kind of think that Michael Vaughan could be a one-day success, but the evidence has been stacking up solely on one side for years now. It's just wishful thinking to believe otherwise and wishful thinking has no place in sport at this level.

Trust us. Wishful thinking's never got us an England call-up. Maybe the selectors will be swayed by the dynamite case we presented in our previous update.

Wishes that we're still waiting on:
Being picked for England
Finding a fiver
Never having to speak to anyone on the phone ever again
Magic poncho
Thinking about something other than death during the winter months

Labels: , ,

Monday, June 18, 2007

Paul Collingwood hits a hundred at home

It was Paul Collingwood's first Test on his home ground of Chester-le-Street and he hit a hundred - which is only right. We all hit hundreds at home.

Of course Paul Collingwood had to deal with other people when he made his hundred at home. He wasn't either of the umpires, other people bowled at him, they actually tried to get him out and even more terrifyingly, there were multiple ways of getting out - not just by breaking the greenhouse, which was the ONLY way of getting out when we played at home.

All-in-all Paul Collingwood's 128 was perhaps superior to our own 507 not out from back in 1987. On that occasion we had cleverly used a sponge ball in order to combat the only potential method of dismissal.

That gargantuan innings was only cut short when, following a rain break, the sponge ball started spattering us with dirty rain water when we tried to hit it for six. Its super-absorbency had also rendered it heavy enough to threaten the greenhouse, so we felt threatened enough to declare.

England v West Indies, fourth Test, day four at Chester-le-Street
West Indies 287 (Shivnarine Chanderpaul 136 not out, Ryan Sidebottom 5-88)
England 400 (Paul Collingwood 128, Andrew Strauss 77, Matt Prior 62, Fidel Edwards 5-112)
West Indies 83-3 (Chris Gayle 52 not out)

Labels: , ,

Mark Davies wows in an understated way

Steve Harmison's still busy with England, but with Liam Plunkett having been banished to county cricket, Durham have got quite a seam attack.

There's Plunkett himself who'll be watched with interest. There's also Graham Onions, the cricketing cognoscenti's young pace bowler of choice for this season. He's the man whose name crops up whenever anyone's asked 'what other young bowler is doing well in county cricket at the moment?'

The third member of Durham's pace bowling unit is never mentioned in this way. It's Mark Davies and he's currently outbowling both Plunkett and Onions. As usual.

In Durham's current county championship match, Mark Davies took 2-32 in Hampshire's first innings. This is classic Mark Davies. Not many wickets, but very few runs. In the second innings he took 4-48. A better wicket haul, but crucially one wicket short of being newsworthy.

Against Lancashire last week, Davies took 4-62 and 3-34. You can see how cheaply he gets his wickets, can't you? Graham Onions went wicketless in that match, but he'll get a five-for at some point and hit the headlines.

Labels: , ,

Sir Ian of Beef

Ian Botham's finally been knighted.

When we grew up, Ian Botham was THE sportsman. Not just THE cricketer, but THE sportsman. In childlike arguments about who the 'best in the world' was - because things are so black and white when you're young - Ian Botham was the best batsman in the world and he was the best bowler in the world.

If nothing else that was a mark of his achievements, to be that well regarded by kids is the ultimate accolade in many ways.

Ian Botham has also raised the small matter of 10 million pounds for charity - primarily leukaemia and cancer charities.

Leukaemia mortality rates have fallen from 80% to 20% during the period that Botham's made this money. Obviously, budgets are huge, but 10 million pounds could support a particular research project for years so Ian Botham has undeniably made a tangible difference.


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Will Jefferson and Stuart Broad selected for England A

Only it's not England A. It's 'England Lions'.

Ian Brown once said: "There are no lions in England". Now he's been flatly contradicted. There will be 11 Lions and Will Jefferson and Stuart Broad will be among their number.

Stuart Broad lists 'growing taller' among his hobbies. Perhaps Will Jefferson's presence will inspire Stuart to ever greater heights.

They should have renamed the side 'England Brobdingnagians'.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, June 15, 2007

Why don't they play cricket in the rain?

Because the ball's rock hard and it digs into the soft ground, bouncing weirdly.

So this happens:

And then this:

This is Mark Vermeulen. He has a fractured head. Nobody wants a broken head.

The first one's not Mark Vermeulen. It's Dave Mohammed. Everyone loves Dave Mohammed.


Chris Gayle to captain Windies in one-dayers

Brian Lara was captain at the end of the World Cup, then Ramnaresh Sarwan was captain for a Test and a half, then Darren Ganga for two and a half Tests. So it's Chris Gayle's turn now.

Gayle's caricatured as laid-back, cool and disinterested. We think the last one's harsh. No-one gets to where he is without a bit of passion, surely.

We know where he's coming from. We're not one for 'smiling' when we're happy or 'talking' when we're upset about something. Better to remain expressionless, like the man in the Hong Kong Phooey annual we owned as a child, who could look like anyone, but was later revealed to have no face of his own.

The front of his head was just blank. No features at all. Doubtless it was meant as a joke, but it chilled us to our very core as a child. How would someone with no mouth or eyes or anything live their life?

Hong Kong Phooey seemed unfazed by the phenomenon. That's canine martial artists for you.

Labels: , ,

Nick Compton tips the cup of runs

Nick Compton hasn't appeared to be as run-thirsty as usual so far this season. He's taken a couple of sips of runs, but no large mouthful and certainly nothing approaching a quaff.

Yesterday, he hit his first hundred of the season, 110 not out, as Middlesex lost to Sussex in the catchily-named Friends Provident Trophy. The cup of runs has been tipped and Nick Compton will drink.

Drink, Nick. Drink! May your pull shots wet your lips. May your leg-glances fill your mouth. May your cover drives nearly drown you.

Drink! Drink from the cup of runs until it appears almost empty, then produce a second, slightly larger cup of runs and drink from that. When that runs dry, reveal to us that you have taken the opportunity to refill the first cup while you were drinking from the second. Drain the first cup once again.

Surprise us with a third cup of unusual dimensions and with an embossed design - drink from that. Attempt to drink from all three cups of runs simultaneously in a conspicuous attempt to persuade Peter Moores of your unquenchable thirst for runs.

Drink, Nick Compton! DRINK!

Labels: ,

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Benevolent Uncle Sanath signs for Lancashire

Lancashire have signed Benevolent Uncle Sanath for the duration of the Twenty20, which is not a bad move at all. We're especially pleased, not just because Jayasuriya's so good, but because he seems like a really nice bloke.

We like it when Lancashire's overseas players are nice. It makes us feel warm; like we don't live in a world where people will steal the front wheel of your bike if you don't chain it to a policeman.

Apparently Benevolent Uncle Sanath retired from all forms of international cricket after the World Cup. We thought he would, but managed to miss the announcement anyway. We were probably busy staring into space and humming.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Bob Woolmer died of natural causes

That Bob Woolmer wasn't murdered isn't good news as such - it's the absence of a very bad element of some bad news. Not cause for rejoicing, but everyone in cricket will appreciate that Woolmer's death has become something more commonplace. Now it's just very, very sad.

Mark Lawson (not the Yorkshire leg-spinner) wrote an interesting article about the media's increasing impatience and lack of need for demonstrable facts. To be fair, the police did say that it was murder. However, anything beyond that was pure supposition - and there was a lot beyond that.

We used to work for a local newspaper and even at that level reporters were very responsible about ensuring that anything published could be proven. We're always astounded by how more mainstream outlets weave great swathes of opinion within a factual report.

As a general rule of thumb, if a reporter says 'probably', 'possibly', 'perhaps' or 'maybe', just ignore anything to which this word relates. Unfortunately, many don't bother with such qualifiers any more, creating a certainty in their output that isn't warranted.

Labels: ,

Graham Ford makes the right choice

Miriam emailed us after Kent's director of cricket, Graham Ford, turned down the chance to become India's new coach:

"Graham Ford has chosen to remain at Kent with Rob Key rather than going to work with the likes of Dravid, Tendulkar, Dhoni, etc. Was there ever better proof of Rob Key's Power?"

In one regard, she's clearly right: Graham Ford has weighed up the players of India against Rob Key and the Indian squad has been found wanting. However, there is better proof of Rob Key's Power (upper-case P).

He emits a faint hum when he walks out to the crease. This is the sound of pent-up brilliance trying to escape. He can also hover inches from the floor, enabling him to get to the pitch of the ball more easily when facing spinners on a wearing pitch. There's also the ethereal glow that emanates from his being once he's seen the shine off the new ball.

Graham Ford would know these signs better than anyone.

Previous Rob Key post | Next

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Could Monty Panesar become England's top wicket-taker of all time?

Mike Atherton wrote in the actually-pretty-good Opening Up: My Autobiography that Phil Tufnell often felt the pressure when conditions were in his favour and he was expected to take wickets. He was hampered by this and often disappointed on the final day of Test matches.

Monty Panesar doesn't appear to suffer this affliction. Panesar took six second innings wickets to end up with ten for the match in the third Test at Old Trafford.

Panesar seems to expect wickets whenever he bowls, so perhaps there's no additional pressure when conditions favour spin - Panesar's own expectation is already sky-high.

We have an alternative method of dealing with expectation here at King Cricket. Rather than rise to meet it, we publish loads of dross to keep it manageable.

Labels: ,

Shivnarine Chanderpaul's hundred not enough for him

We've just got back from day five of the Old Trafford Test. We've never been to the Monday of a Test before. It's the missing link between county cricket crowds and Test match ones. It had the attendance of a Test match, but everyone was watching intently.

If you want to hear some guy shout to another three rows in front of him: "Graham: Show us your tats. Graham, Graham, show us your - oh... you're not Graham..." then attend a Test on a Saturday. If you want to hear a heartfelt standing ovation for a magnificent fourth innings hundred, go on a Monday. Both are good in their own ways.

That magnificent fourth innings hundred was of course that of Shivnarine Chanderpaul. Any batsman could learn a thing or two from Shiv. He's got one of the clearest batting minds in the game. He's forever weighing up the field, the pitch, the state of the game and how many balls he can let his partner face.

It was no mean feat to pass 100 on a pitch where consecutive deliveries from Monty Panesar bounced over the wicketkeeper's head and ran along the floor, despite pitching in roughly the same spot.

After the last wicket fell, we glanced at the big screen. In the background, Shiv was walking off the field shaking his head vigorously. It could have been about that final wicket, but more likely he was dissatisfied at having fallen short in what would have been a world record run-chase.

If you've watched much of the West Indies' last two tours to England, Shivnarine Chanderpaul will be a familiar sight. He now averages 68 in 10 Tests in this country.

England v West Indies, third Test, day three at Old Trafford
England 370 (Ian Bell 97, Alastair Cook 60)
West Indies 229 (Shivnarine Chanderpaul 50, Monty Panesar 4-50)
England 313 (Alastair Cook 106, Kevin Pietersen 68, Darren Sammy 7-66)
West Indies 394 (Shivnarine Chanderpaul 116 not out, Runako Morton 54, Monty Panesar 6-137, Steve Harmison 4-95)

England win the Test and hold an unassailable 2-0 lead with one Test to go.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, June 11, 2007

Darren Sammy takes seven wickets

Darren Sammy must have the tallest head in cricket. He's quite tall anyway, but a good proportion of that's just his head. It's a very tall head. Take a look.

Ah, DJ Sammy, a shining light on a day of unrelenting shod from the West Indies. What a debut.

As far as we could tell from the stands, Darren Sammy bowled some good deliveries in taking his seven wickets. They weren't wild heaves from the batsmen, for the most part.

What worries us, however, is that he will now be undroppable for a period on the basis of this one good day. It seems that many of the West Indian players can hold their places on the basis of one-off performances when things went their way. Really it should require more consistent achievement to warrant more Test appearances.

The players aren't doing a lot, so it doesn't take much to stand out from the crowd, but if you're in the team, you can live off past (minor) glories, so the crowd remains. This is why sides always hanker after 'competition for places'.

England v West Indies, third Test, day three at Old Trafford
England 370 (Ian Bell 97, Alastair Cook 60)
West Indies 229 (Shivnarine Chanderpaul 50, Monty Panesar 4-50)
England 313 (Alastair Cook 106, Kevin Pietersen 68, Darren Sammy 7-66)
West Indies 22-1

Labels: , ,

Sunday, June 10, 2007

West Indian fielding

What was going on out there yesterday?

Three streakers, a batsman's helmet getting him out, a wicketkeeper getting hit in the face and fielding that made you want to cry for about a year, whether you were West Indian or not.

It was summed up quite well when Darren Powell came over to bring a drink to Fidel Edwards, who was fielding in front of our stand. The previous hour had contained a good percentage of the day's joke fielding. Someone in the crowd shouted: "Hey Darren. How do you get dropped from this team?"

Powell laughed, but it was a good question really.

The slow rolling ball that went straight between Jerome Taylor's legs and for four was our favourite. That happened immediately before lunch and the stand-in West Indies coach, David Moore, must have spent the next 40 minutes bollocking Taylor. In a fair world, Taylor wouldn't have reappeared after the break and Moore would still be bollocking him now, not having drawn breath at any point.

England v West Indies, third Test, day three at Old Trafford
England 370 (Ian Bell 97, Alastair Cook 60)
West Indies 229 (Shivnarine Chanderpaul 50, Monty Panesar 4-50)
England 313 (Alastair Cook 106, Kevin Pietersen 68, Darren Sammy 7-66)
West Indies 22-1

Labels: , , ,

Alastair Cook's appetite for runs

Shortly after reaching his hundred, Alastair Cook received a straight delivery and played yet another forward defensive stroke. We liked that.

It said that just because England were 400 ahead and he had his hundred, there were still days to go in this match, so Ali Cook was just going to carry on doing what he'd been doing all day: Staying in and scoring the odd run.

We admire professionalism. But only in others.

England v West Indies, third Test, day three at Old Trafford
England 370 (Ian Bell 97, Alastair Cook 60)
West Indies 229 (Shivnarine Chanderpaul 50, Monty Panesar 4-50)
England 313 (Alastair Cook 106, Kevin Pietersen 68, Darren Sammy 7-66)
West Indies 22-1

Labels: , ,

Strauss being conspicuously indifferent to Strauss

Lemon Bella sent us this:

Lemon Bella says: "Here is a photo of my cat, Strauss, being conspicuously indifferent to a copy of The Wisden Cricketer.

"That edition has Andrew Strauss on the cover too. So StraussCat is not only being conspicuously indifferent to cricket, but also conspicuously indifferent to his namesake's captaincy ambitions."

We're particularly impressed with how Strauss has found what looks like a small piece of paper and trained his gaze on that in order to underline his indifference to cricket.

More animals being indifferent to cricket

Labels: ,

Friday, June 08, 2007

Fidel Edwards shows what speed can do

Paul Collingwood took a fearful battering yesterday, getting hit on a number of occasions, but Liam Plunkett's wicket was the only reward for Fidel Edwards.

On Test Match Special, Viv Richards immediately perceived Plunkett as being intimidated. Viv's seen some of the greatest ever fast bowlers from a position in the slips. He can see a lack of stomach much sooner than less seasoned eyes.

According to Viv, Plunkett was making a subtle movement towards the leg-side. It wasn't even that pronounced when we watched the replays, but Viv was certain: Plunkett would rather the timber took the force of the ball than himself - at least to some degree.

A ball or so later, Liam Plunkett was as bowled as bowled can be. We mention this because it was perhaps an example of what we said about how a fast bowler can influence a batsman's behaviour. A quick ball at middle stump wouldn't have bowled Plunkett but for the balls that preceded it.

Later in the day, Fidel Edwards rang one on Steve Harmison's helmet. Steve Harmison loomed over Edwards, having run a bye and gave him the most evil of smiles. We hope that's a sign of intent for when he comes to bowl.

England v West Indies, third Test, day one at Old Trafford
England 296-7 (Ian Bell 77 not out)

Labels: , , ,

Ian Bell was very composed

Wasn't he? A lot of England's batsmen seemed to have forgotten that it was a five-day match. Kevin Pietersen, we're looking at you. Matthew Prior, your name's on the list. Ian Bell took bloody ages to get going, but he wasn't bothered.

The West Indies bowled well and most of England's batsmen gave quite a few chances. Bell played one moronic shot and was livid with himself. Other than that, he was mighty careful.

Are we striking Ian Bell's name from the 'may get dropped when everyone's fit' list?

England v West Indies, third Test, day one at Old Trafford
England 296-7 (Ian Bell 77 not out)

Labels: , ,

DJ Sammy makes Test debut

You do all realise that those are Darren Sammy's initials, don't you?

It's Darren Sammy's Test debut today. He's bowling quite well.

In tribute, we're humming DJ Sammy's cover of Don Henley's 'Boys Of Summer' over here in purgatory.


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Worcestershire v Warwickshire match report

Bitter local rivals Worcestershire and Warwickshire clashed in the Friends Provident Trophy on Sunday. There was bound to be a bit of edge to proceedings.

Chris reports:

"The toffee ice-cream was particularly fine. A highlight was a fat Warwickshire man with an enormous voice. His encouraging rants boomed across the field for two hours or so. He then shouted "rubbish" and was not heard again as Worcestershire marched to 230-odd for none.

"The broomwork of the groundstaff on the wicket after the match was exquisite and there was also an impromptu quiz: "Which players have reached 40,000 first class runs?" asked a man with Wisden resting on his stomach."

Thanks Chris. This report is even more impressive for the fact that it arrived within half an hour of our request for match reports.


Tell us about the cricket

It's the Old Trafford Test today - the highlight of the Mancunian cricketing calendar. What kind of calendar have you got? One with badgers on? Not us. Ian "Fatty" Austin's July. We can't wait.

We'll be attending the Test on Saturday (day three), so if there's an update on Saturday evening, er, it's not us. It's, er... we'll have been hacked or something. Definitely not us though.

If you're attending a Test or indeed any form of cricket this summer, why not send us a report.

However, under no circumstances should you actually mention the cricket itself. If you concentrate on the incidental and the downright mundane, that'll make us very happy indeed.

The only exception is if you're playing a game with your mate down the drive and the stumps are chalked on the garage door. In that situation, or a similar one, we really do want to know how the match went.


Fidel Edwards' progress

The West Indies should definitely play Fidel Edwards at Old Trafford. He's mighty quick and the Old Trafford pitch is rock hard. West Indies' other bowlers haven't looked like bowling England out. Wickets are sorely needed.

The West Indies have long been trying to relocate the line of great fast bowlers that seemingly ended when Courtney Walsh retired. When we watched Fidel Edwards bowl at Marcus Trescothick in the first Test of the 2004 series at Sabina Park in Jamaica, we thought they'd succeeded.

The first ball of Edwards' fourth over was an absolutely searing bouncer. It passed near enough to Trescothick's head for him to know about it, carried on rising and went for four byes. The next ball was full and quicker still - well over 90mph. It feathered Trescothick's bat before meeting his stumps head on, sending them spearing into the crowd, like homicidal javelins.

Okay, so we don't really remember where the stumps went. We do remember those deliveries however. It was classic fast bowling.

If you think that cricket's just a technical game that's all about bowling more consistently than the opposition and making fewer batting mistakes, you clearly didn't see how rattled Trescothick was.

The point is that you can influence your opponents and that's part of the game. That's why Shane Warne has so much to say when he's bowling and that's why fast bowlers can sometimes get batsmen out with bad balls.

Fidel Edwards was 22 then. He's 25 now and he's made precisely no progress. The West Indies are currently picking Corey Collymore ahead of him - an opening bowler so slow that the wicketkeeper can stand up to the stumps.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Andrew Strauss needs a few runs

England's batsmen are scoring runs for fun. All except Andrew Strauss.

In his last 13 innings since the start of the Ashes, he's passed 50 once. In fact, he didn't pass it. He got a round 50 in the first innings in Melbourne.

Since that 50 his scores have been 31, 29, 24, 33, 24 and 15. These aren't the scores of an opening batsman being a victim of the new ball. These are the scores of a batsman not pushing on.

You've got to push on. If you're a batsman, this is the process in full: Play yourself in. Push on to 50. 'Convert' your 50 to a hundred. Get a 'big score' or a 'big hundred'. See it like a football.

We think you only 'see it like a football' once you've passed 150. Maybe it's after 158, which would explain KP's tendency to get out on that score.

Labels: ,

Lasith Malinga - cheat?

This is slightly apropos of nothing, but there's always someone moaning about Lasith Malinga's bowling action.

One of his critics' main points is that he breaks the rules and cheats. We don't actually think that Malinga does break the rules, but let's assume for a moment that he does.

What is 'cheating'? It's gaining an unfair advantage somehow, isn't it? Even if Malinga does break the rules, does he get an unfair advantage?

No. He doesn't get any advantage at all through the way he bowls. It's a disadvantage. It's a crippling disadvantage and it's miraculous that he's so effective. He succeeds in spite of his action, not because of it.

Have any of his critics attempted to bowl like him to see the true effects of his 'cheating'? When the first two deliveries get fielded by deep square leg and the third by cover, they'll realise that Malinga's round-arm action isn't cheating.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Heart of the Congos

We said that we had another suggestion as to how you can all Caribbeanise your lives for the summer. Our suggestion is Heart of the Congos by The Congos.

This record. Is fantastic.

We originally bought Heart of the Congos because we knew that Lee 'Scratch' Perry had produced it. We've always liked Lee Perry because he writes songs about 'public jestering' and buying fried chicken. He's a man who insisted people call him 'Pipecock Jaxxon' for a period.

But Heart of the Congos isn't like that at all - although Perry did wire a rake and do some furious gardening to record the rhythm track on one song. But don't let that put you off. We couldn't even tell you which track it was and we've heard the album a thousand times.

It's beautiful. It's slow and echoey, like all dub records, but it's got none of the quirky touches of Lee Perry's music (bar the raking). The songs are all great, but the album as a whole's even better.

Quite simply, nothing else like it has ever been recorded. We mean that literally. We don't mean it's the best record ever - maybe you won't even like it - we mean it's unique.

We could try and describe it better, but it's pointless. It's got a feel and the feel's the main thing.

Buy Heart of the Congos (if you're in the UK)

Buy Upsetter: Essential Madness From The Scratch Files for Lee Perry performing, not producing - including classics such as 'Cow Thief Skank', 'Bathroom Skank' and 'Bionic Rats'.

Or maybe get Super Ape, which is a proper Lee Perry album and not a best of.

Heart of the Congos is the main one though. That's the real recommendation.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, June 04, 2007

Want to win a cricket bat from a lingerie website?

Mio Destino are a lingerie website.

They've got a competition.

You can win a signed Sussex CCC cricket bat...

Enter here


Runako Morton makes a hundred v MCC

A West Indies batsman making a hundred on this tour should be a positive, but we feel that Runako Morton's hundred against the MCC is mighty unfortunate for their Test team.

From what we saw in the second Test, Runako Morton is exactly the sort of batsman that the West Indies don't want in their side. They don't need the most talented players. They don't need strokemakers. What they need is as many resilient, dogged cricketers as they can get their hands on.

They need players with clear heads who have at least some idea what they're trying to achieve. Runako Morton's second innings at Headingley was an exercise in almost criminal thoughtlessness.

The match was as good as lost, but there was still a hope that the weather could have saved them. Yet Runako Morton just kept aiming drive after drive at wide, swinging deliveries. Fortunately, he was largely too crap to latch onto any of them. It was almost like he was trying to get out.

He clearly hadn't modified his approach for the conditions when he arrived at the crease. That's just about forgivable. That he never learnt during his 62 ball stay was beyond belief. Idiot.

Labels: ,

Saturday, June 02, 2007

A mountain viscacha being conspicuously indifferent to Rob Key

We got this from Simon C very early on and have been saving it.

Simon says: "You will be delighted to know that your very own Rob Key picture actually contains an animal being conspicuously indifferent to cricket.

"Using image enhancement software, we can clearly see a mountain viscacha in the crowd, engaging in the mountain viscacha's normal diurnal behaviour of sleeping upright.

"It is completely unaware of Rob Key's century, although to be fair, Rob Key is completely unaware of the viscacha.

"I have given Rob a flaming sword for verisimilitude."

Rob Key, flaming swords, indifferent animals - unusual ones at that. It's a tour de force. We'll even overlook the use of the word 'verisimilitude'.

Thanks Simon C.

More animals being conspicuously indifferent to cricket

Previous Rob Key post
| Next Rob Key post

Labels: , ,

Friday, June 01, 2007