Check out these magnificent beer-carrying cricket bat devices

Ged spotted these in the beer garden bar of The Milk House, Sissinghurst, Kent.

He wasn’t sure whether they qualified for our regular feature Cricket Bats In Unusual Places or whether they might give rise to a whole new feature based on The Device. (Somewhat surprisingly, this is actually the second time someone has contacted us about another version of The Device.)

Ged said: “The bartender, who I think might have been Henry, claimed that the bats/devices are not as useful as they look, because the bar serves beer in tall glasses that don’t really fit in those holes.”

It’s not the bats/devices that are the problem here, Possibly Henry – it’s your glasses.

Why would any establishment seek out and purchase glasses that failed to work in conjunction with these magnificent objects?

Send your pictures of cricket bats and other cricket stuff in unusual places to king@kingcricket.co.uk


The India batsmen who aren’t making any runs are pretty much the same India batsmen who didn’t make any runs last time around

Murali Vijay gets out again (via Sky Sports)

India have had very much the worse of conditions in this match and they have also been facing some masterful swing bowling. All the same, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that they haven’t really made any runs.

Out of interest, we checked which batsmen had played in the Test matches the last time they toured so that we could judge who had failed to come up with a method for dealing with difficult conditions.

Turns out it’s everyone.

You may or may not (want to) remember that India were bowled out for not-very-much several times when they toured England in 2014. A couple of guys made hundreds, but this seemed to coincide with all the other specialist batsmen making nothing. Other times everyone made 30 or 40 but not much more.

By the end of the tour, they were very much batting like they are now with the captain (MS Dhoni back then) playing a lone face-saving hand as the world collapsed around him.

The batting line-up for the first three Tests was Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane.

The one thing you could say is that they didn’t get a huge volume of experience of batting in difficult conditions for the simple reason that they kept getting dismissed.


This is how to watch Test cricket

Only once you’ve had an experience like this can you be considered a true Test match viewing veteran.

What follows is a true story.

“I think it’s brightening up.”

rainy-1

“Yeah, it is. It’s definitely getting brighter. Look over there, the sun’s trying to break through.”

[Time passes]

“I think it’s got worse again.”

rainy-3

“Let’s give it another hour though, I think it’s supposed to ease off.”

[More time passes]

“Well, they’ve done a pitch inspection. That’s promising. Apparently they’re due to make an announcement about when play’s due to restart.”

rainy-2

“Oh.”

For more of this kind of thing, see here.


12 questions about that 2019 Cricket World Cup video where Freddie Flintoff sings and a bunch of people follow him

Having consulted the calendar and seen that it’s 2018, the ICC have released a promotional video for the 2019 World Cup.

It stars Freddie Flintoff (definitely Freddie and not Andrew or Andy in this instance) and you can find it on YouTube here.

We have a bunch of questions about it.

  1. Is this what Fred does now?

Flintoff also did a song for the football world cup and it was both incredible and bad.

Apparently that was just practice, which explains why this particular world cup music video is incredible and slightly less bad.

  1. How long would it take for the Daily News to fold?

Daily News (all images via YouTube)

The front page is weather, which is good, strong UK tabloid fodder. The back page is “CRICKET WORLD CUP IS COMING.”

This is (a) a woeful headline and (b) hardly a sudden and newsworthy development.

We’d suggest that the kind of newspaper that runs ‘cricket tournament that has been scheduled for years is shortly about to start’ as its main sports story is not one that is going to earn a huge and profitable readership.

The only way this makes sense as a back page headline is if there are about 15 different editions of the newspaper every single day – and if that’s the case, they’re going to go bust almost instantly.

  1. Who the hell are these needy tag-alongs and what the hell is going in their heads?

We’ve seen Andrew Flintoff several times in real life. We have never once felt an urge to follow him.

Now we like Fred very much, but if we saw him and he suddenly broke out into song, we would honestly be physically repelled by this. We would rapidly begin to move in the opposite direction without hesitation.

What can possibly be happening in these people’s lives that they instead think: “Well this is unbelievably weird. I know – why don’t we not just follow, but actively join in.”

The two on the right are definitely on their lunch breaks, in which case this free time should be incredibly valuable to them and surely not to be frittered away on ex-cricketer-following wild goose chases.

  1. What were these three guys doing before they joined in?

‘Just hanging around in town in my England clothes with my entirely normal hair.’

  1. Is Charlotte Edwards the greatest facial actor in history?

Look at Charlotte Edwards’ face here and try and tell us this face doesn’t somehow crystallise all of the many conflicting emotions you simultaneously feel while watching the video.

Either (a) Charlotte Edwards is the greatest actor in history or (b) they didn’t warn her and this is just her genuine, honest reaction.

  1. Why is there a police officer?

The opening gives the impression that this is one of those impromptu celebratory parades that often seem to occur in music videos and nowhere else.

If that’s the case, where did this guy come from?

What kind of impromptu celebratory parade has a police escort?

Maybe this isn’t an impromptu celebratory parade. Maybe we should stop thinking of it as one.

  1. What is the guy at Mani’s Greengrocers doing?

This guy.

At first we thought he was a customer and that was maybe his rucksack in front of him.

But then we noticed that he has bright blue hands.

Either he’s wearing a luridly coloured disposable latex glove, like they use at crime scenes or he’s bagged something up.

The second option seems more normal, but it looks more like a glove to us, in which case who is he? Does he work at Mani’s? Is he Mani? (He’s certainly not Mani from the Stone Roses.)

If he’s just a customer, why is he putting a glove on and where is he putting the fruit? If he’s an employee, what is he doing? Also, why doesn’t he so much as bat an eyelid at the demented torrent of people pouring past him.

Maybe this one isn’t all that important in the grand scheme of things, but it’s bugging us all the same.

  1. Who are these people and how did they know this parade would happen?

Did they have 4 and 6 signs lying around? Do they attend Tests annually but retain their signage from one year to the next? Did they see the parade coming on CCTV giving them time to dig out the signs and display them at the appropriate moment?

We’re pretty sure the guy’s not a proper cricket fan because a proper cricket fan would always wave the 6 as a 9. (We’ve no idea why this is the case, but we’ve seen it happen enough times to know that this is 100 per cent true.)

  1. Is this one of the Currans?

Kind of looks like one.

Maybe not one of the current ones, but we assume there are more Currans still to come.

  1. How long is this parade?

They start somewhere urban, they end at the Oval, but then at one point they’re here.

Is this one of those bits of London where they leave a field surrounded by big trees to try and trick you into thinking you’re not in London? (Nice try London, but we can still hear you.)

It’s also worth noting that going off the background, Charlotte Edwards’ bench is in this area but then when Fred acknowledges her, he’s back in suburbia (or possibly urbia (why does no-one say ‘urbia’?)).

This is a very slow response time. Fred’s reactions have deteriorated markedly since he was a professional cricketer.

  1. In terms of famous cricketers, does the video mostly just feature people who happened to be in and around the Oval on the day that they were filming?

Fred obviously got the train down especially, but other than that you kind of feel like they just roped in whoever stumbled past.

Other than Edwards, we get Phil Tufnell (obviously) and Kumar Sangakkara (less obviously, but also totally obviously if we subscribe to the ‘in-and-around-the-Oval’ theory).

Greg James is there too. A Venn diagram pretty much demanded his presence because this is both music and cricket.

  1. Where do you go after this last bit?

The problem with climactic moments like this is that everyone has to do something immediately afterwards and you’ve honestly got no room for manoeuvre. It’s all downhill from here.

We’re guessing that everyone looked around awkwardly; no-one really spoke; a bunch of people checked their watches and hurried back to work; and the Saint George’s Cross person got the Tube home, leaving little deposits of tinsel and ticker tape here there and everywhere.

Fred’s probably still there, pratting about with the beach ball or something.


Is Ollie Pope poised to go papal on India? Does anyone know what that would involve?

Ollie Pope (via ECB)

We found ourself talking about Ollie Pope quite a bit early this season, way back when they played County Championship cricket semi-regularly.

The ability to counter green pitch dobblery in April may not be wholly relevant to the challenge of facing India at the back end of an arid British summer in which the grass has turned beige. Fortunately, Pope has managed to squeeze in four more Championship innings since May and they have gone okay. He made 41, 117, 69 not out and 30 and almost certainly faced a few overs of mediocre spin during that time.

Given a choice between him and James Hildreth, it makes sense to go for the younger guy who is in better form. And make no mistake, Pope is a great deal younger. He was born a year after Face/Off came out. (We use Face/Off as a reference point largely because we watched about 40 minutes of it the other night and the overacting was even more incredible than we remembered. Nicolas Cage simultaneously whooping and crying shortly after kicking Frank Sobotka in the nuts is a particularly fine moment.)

The BBC reports that Pope played for Campbelltown-Camden in Sydney grade cricket last year, living with club secretary Jason Ellsmore.

Ellsmore said: “When it came to laundry, he didn’t realise that in Australia we let our clothes dry outside. He asked me where the dryer was. His first life lesson was how to use a washing line.”

Setting aside the suggestion that washing lines are somehow a uniquely Australian innovation, it’s an interesting gauge of a young man’s life that he would never have really encountered one (or at least would assume that using a machine was ‘normal’).

We don’t exactly know what it says. Maybe it’s just a damning indictment of the energy wastefulness of modern Britain. Consider this revelation ‘colour’ ahead of the second Test.

As for what Pope will deliver in that match, all that we can be certain of is that it will by definition be papal. We’re very much interested to see what that means in a cricket context.


England v Australia ODI at Cardiff – an overview of food, beer and men in odd shirts

Tom writes:

Having not been to Sophia Gardens before, I was a little unsure what to expect. However, having been to international matches before, I knew that I would be at least £60 less well off before I started.

Nevertheless, we got in, only to find out they can’t serve until 10am. There was a man with a watch there to enforce it.

We made the mistake of going to the first bar we found: Foster’s or Strongbow. I wanted something vaguely resembling beer, so cans of John Smith’s it was.

£5 each, plus £1 glass deposit.

What?

We mooched around the ground and found bars that sold a better standard of drink (more fool us).

We came across the team playing 5-a-side. That clearly meant a late start – not that anyone bothered to announce it.

A glance at the Guardian site informed me that the toss was delayed because of the rain. Why do you need to delay a toss? It went ahead shortly and Australia elected to bowl – as you would unless your surname was Hussain or Ponting.

I avoided the food because it was ridiculous – right up until I seriously had to eat. I bought a hot dog which was a shade under the £6 everything else was. It was just about edible.

A man had an odd shirt on who sat on the steps.

We won with plenty to spare and so back we went to our conveniently located hotel.

I had to go to Brussels the next day so other than a couple of pints round Cardiff, hoping to run into Gladstone Small, Mike Gatting or anyone, I called it a night.

Send your match reports to king@kingcricket.co.uk. If it’s a professional match, on no account mention the cricket itself. If it’s an amateur match, feel free to go into excruciating detail.


Was that really a good Test match?

Virat Kohli out LBW (via Sky Sports)

There’s this odd belief in cricket that people want to see fours and sixes. They don’t. They want to see jeopardy.

What is jeopardy? It’s when wickets matter. It’s when everything you see has an impact on the outcome of the game.

When one team makes 400 and the other makes 500, every run is less valuable because everything derives its value from the result. Runs are just a proportion of a win and the more of them there are, the less significant each becomes.

The story is everything and the story needs to corner. If it turns like a barge, there’s nothing.

At Edgbaston, England reached 216-3 in their first innings; progress was becoming stately. Then Virat Kohli ran out Joe Root. England were all out for 287. India were going to win.

Soon afterwards, India were 50-0, at which point Sam Curran swanned in like a scale model of the world’s greatest left-arm swing bowler. Ben Stokes thought he too would swing it and suddenly the score was 100-5. England were going to win.

That became 182-8, but delusional Virat Kohli was surging. The closer England got to the end of India’s innings, the faster he seemed to move away from them. What was happening? Which team had that most precious of all cricketing commodities, momentum? Who was going to win now?

England’s first innings lead was an almost meaningless 13 runs and when R Ashwin chipped out the top three with the lead barely 50, it was still hard to gauge the value of a run. However, after a percussive intervention by Ishant Sharma and with the scoreboard now reading 87-7, the scarcity principle could confidently be applied. When Sam Curran hit some fours and sixes, it was like stumbling across a massive great savings account you’d totally forgotten you had.

India’s target ended up being 194 – a total that for almost the entire innings felt both entirely attainable or wholly unattainable depending what had happened the previous ball.

A massive great outswinger would beat the bat and you’d envision more edges than a d20 and an England win. A solid punch for four and you’d imagine a growing torrent of runs and an India win. When did a four become such an extraordinary volume of runs, you’d think? When did one shot start to have such an enormous impact on the outcome of a Test match?

Every time there was a wicket, there’d be a clunk as you shifted down a gear and adjusted to the new mental cadence. When Kohli was dismissed after his 200th run in the match, it felt like dropping down from the big chain ring to the little one. It wasn’t an incremental shift. It was a step change.

But still the number of runs required came down and still the value of each run scored went up. 40 to win and a bosh to the ropes became a tenth of the match. With two wickets remaining, a long drawn-out LBW review became half the match.

One wicket to go and all of this – all of the runs; all of the wickets; all of the reviews and appeals and drops and leg-byes; all of the time spent plotting dismissals; all of the hours spent diligently countering bowlers; all of it, all of it – was bound up in whether that wicket would fall or whether those priceless few runs were scored.

Was that really a good Test match?


Virat Kohli’s elite levels of obliviousness and delusion

Virat Kohli expressing joy (via Sky Sports)

There were three phases to Virat Kohli’s hundred. There was the bit where he kept being beaten by the bowlers; there was the bit where the ball wasn’t doing quite so much but he was still shaken up; and there was the bit where everything went back to normal and he played like he was going to make a hundred all along.

Far and away the most interesting of the three was the bit where he was shaken up. This is because it didn’t particularly seem to exist.

Have you ever had a near miss on the road?

Like a scary near miss. Someone pulling out on you or moving into your lane on the motorway without looking. Maybe some absolute knobsack in a 4×4 towing a trailer went to overtake you while you were flying downhill on your bike but then instead of actually passing, he just sat there alongside you, trapping you within an 18 inch wide strip of tarmac as you both approached a bend at speed.

Something like that happens and you know about it. Your body carries a memory of it and if anything remotely similar occurs within a certain span of time, your vital systems take a shortcut directly to full-on panic.

This is quite often what happens to batsmen. It’s not so much the one ball with their name on it that gets them as the accumulation of all the balls with very similar names on them. Misses, edges, wrong shots – even just failing to score – eventually batsmen get nervy and then they do something stupid. Maybe not even stupid. Maybe just something less than excellent because that can quite often be enough to get you out in a Test match.

Improving his odds

Doing something wrong (or not quite so well) because of a bunch of stuff that happened previously is one of three main ways in which batsmen get out. (The two that bookend it are unplayable deliveries and getting too cocky.)

Kohli seems to have all but negated the effects of near-misses though; the reverberations just don’t seem to touch him. This is pretty weird because getting freaked out by things that almost result in your (cricket) death is a very natural human response. The elite level of obliviousness being displayed by Kohli is therefore almost literally inhuman.

Forget about it

People talk about shrugging off those moments when you almost lose your wicket, but while many batsmen appear to do so, few move from a close call to complete conviction that it’s going to be their day quite like Kohli.

Such a move requires a great fat tree trunk of confidence; the kind that’s fed by thousands of little tendrilly roots, so that if you cut a few off, it barely even matters. It perhaps also demands [looks shiftily from left to right, lowers voice to a whisper] a certain amount of delusion.

Delusion is very much a strength in sport. If things fall your way, it can be rebranded as confidence after the fact, whereas lack of confidence will pretty much always see you fall before luck can even become a factor. Certainty is good, no matter where you get it from.

This seems to us to be the area where Kohli has an advantage over most people. He’s not invincible. He has weaknesses and periods where he’s vulnerable. It’s just that immediately after he’s threatened, he denies that it ever happened with such absolute certainty that he even convinces himself.


Virat Kohli ran out Joe Root and then he did a good thing and then he did a bad thing

Joe Root getting run out (via Sky Sports)

We don’t know if the following is fair or not. You could probably prove it one way or the other using ‘statistics’ or ‘facts’. It certainly feels true though and if modern politics tells us anything, it’s that what feels true is of far greater significance that what actually is true.

What we feel is this: that Virat Kohli has always been very much a ’10/10 for effort’ kind of fielder.

Just like all the great fielders, Kohli dives around a lot; but unlike all the great fielders, he also seems to quite often throw the ball nowhere near the stumps.

What Kohli does do extremely well is he follows up all of his fielding efforts – both good and bad – with a very intense facial expression. This is designed to convey his unparalleled determination and commitment and gives people a way to say ‘ooh, good effort’ because everyone loves a trier.

(We suffered the grave misfortune of watching one of England’s football world cup games in a pub, surrounded by the kinds of people who watch England world cup games in pubs. Let us tell you now that no-one in the world admires triers more than those guys. They will barely bat an eyelid at beautifully-weighted pass, but give them a full-blooded tackle and a scruffy hoof-out-for-a-corner and they’ll roar their approval at deafening volume.)

Halfway through the first day of the first Test between England and India, Virat Kohli ran out Joe Root with a really good turn and throw. We’ve no idea how much we should recalibrate our Kohli fielding expectations based on this development.

By way of celebration, Kohli mimed a ‘mic drop’, in reference to Root’s embarrassing move at the end of the one-day series, and then said “fuck off”.

This move was, in our opinion, perfectly justified. You don’t dismissively drop your bat/mic after hitting a hundred and winning a series to underline your superiority over the opposition without those people feeling some sort of need to tell you to fuck off a little further down the line.

After the mic drop/fuck off move, Kohli then went for the finger-to-lips ‘shush’ move and, in our opinion, this was not justified – if only because the ‘shush’ move is never justified. The ‘shush’ move falls into the same category as wagging your finger at someone to indicate that they are in some way incorrect.


To celebrate England’s 1,000th men’s Test match, we ask: which one was the most mediocre?

Cricket at the Oval (CC licensed by John Garghan via Flickr)

It’s England’s 1,000th Test match. In honour of this inevitable round number, we thought it would be nice to pick out the most mediocre Test they’ve played.

Not poor. Mediocre. Just middling and neither here nor there really.

Method

We went through all of England’s 999 men’s Test matches and evaluated each of them using criteria far too extensive and complex to outline here.

When we found the most mediocre one, we put it in the results section below.

Results

The fifth England v West Indies Test match of 1988 was the most mediocre Test England have ever played.

Discussion

First of all, look at that bowling attack: Neil Foster, Phil DeFreitas, Derek Pringle, David Capel and John Childs. That is something. Or rather it isn’t – that is very much the point.

We were adamant that the team should field a spinner, but not one who ever made an enormous impact in Test cricket. Childs took two of his three Test wickets in the match.

Neil Foster finished his Test career averaging 32. DeFreitas averaged 33, Pringle 35 and Capel 50.

The batting was also very excellent in this match, just about breaching 200 in both innings. The two players of class – Graham Gooch and Robin Smith – both made fifties. No-one else did.

England lost the match and lost the series 4-0.

Finally, the match was played at the Oval, which is the most mediocre of all England’s Test grounds because they play there a lot but it’s not Lord’s.

While Lord’s is really just an average cricket ground, many people labour under the mistaken belief that it is more than that and while the logic is faulty, this is nevertheless enough to render the ground ‘not mediocre’.

Disclaimer

Okay, while we said above that we’d looked at all 999 Test matches played by England’s men’s teams, the truth is that we actually only looked at three (all of which involved Phil DeFreitas – sorry, Phil).

Also, we didn’t really measure the matches against lengthy and exacting criteria. We actually just picked out a couple of minor details after happening across a match that sort of felt like it had the vague air of mediocrity.

With these factors in mind, we’ll concede that there is a 1-2% possibility that the fifth Test against the West Indies in 1988 was not England’s most mediocre Test match.


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