Are you attending the day-night Test at Edgbaston?

Fella changing a few floodlight bulbs (via ECB)

With its short surges of action and long playing hours, cricket is an unusual sport to watch in person. This is why we started publishing match reports from our readers that don’t actually mention the cricket.

We’ve always been interested in other people’s live cricket experiences. A day at a Lord’s Test is unlike a day at an Old Trafford Test, and a day at any Test is unlike a County Championship game, which in turn is unlike a T20 match. It’s not so much about the on-field action as the demeanour of the crowd and the things people do to fill the gaps in play.

The day-night Test at Edgbaston seems likely to present a new experience again, but the exact vibe is as yet unknown.

Fortunately, it sounds like a number of you are going, so we’d like to request, perhaps even demand reports from you all.

We don’t want endless paragraphs. It doesn’t even have to be funny. Just send us a few thoughts and if there’s enough submissions we’ll collate them into a little snapshot of the experience of watching day-night Test cricket in England.

We know we have a well-earned reputation for publishing match reports about a year after the match in question has taken place, but in this instance there might be a bit of queue-jumpery. If there’s early submissions, we might even publish while the match is in progress for the benefit of those attending on subsequent days.

Was it cold? Did everyone get too drunk? Were you confused about the breaks in play and did you end up eating more meals than you normally would? Could you see properly?

What else? Let us know at king@kingcricket.co.uk

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Cricket is getting used to pink balls

Day-night cricket in whites (via Sky Sports)

Pink balls have been around for a while. We were making jokes about them a decade ago, but interest really spiked when they held the first day-night Test in Australia in 2015.

The weeks and months leading up to that match were characterised by endless versions of the same two interviews. Players either said that the ball was the same, only pink; or they talked at great length about how it was so different from the red one that day-night matches shouldn’t be considered cricket and this was in fact the birth of a new sport.

We enjoyed both of these extremes immensely – and indeed ran Pink Ball Watch in Cricket Badger for a time. We’re therefore gravely disappointed by the relative lack of kerfuffle in the lead-up to the first day-night Test in the UK. What little comment there’s been has been measured. If we had to sum up, pretty much everyone has said that the pink ball will be “sort of different but hey-ho”.

We can only conclude from this that cricket’s kind of got used to the idea of day-night cricket and if the breaks in play still aren’t satisfactorily-named, then at least everyone’s happier with the colour of the ball they’ll be using.

That does of course leave the tricky question of whether or not it’s worth bothering with day-night cricket in a country where it tends to be both cold and light in late evening. Our thoughts are that it’ll be a great success this year but that this is basically meaningless as everyone who attends may just end up feeling that they’ve learnt their lesson.

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The best part about Jack Leaning’s catch

Yorkshire’s Jack Leaning took a cool catch.

It went like this.

But this was the best part.

Also this guy.

Yorkshire fans.

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Mark Stoneman took the long way round

Mark Stoneman (via Surrey Twitter)

We’ve done this one already. Mark Stoneman has finally turned up in an England squad about a month after we expected him to. He’s a patient man though – the oldest something-or-other to maybe do something, according to a piece we read earlier.

We’ve covered Mason Crane too, so you’ve no excuse for not being ahead of the game on this one too. In contrast to Stoneman, he will be the youngest something-something who might be about to something. Probably.

We haven’t actually read anything about Crane’s call-up yet, but he is very young, so it seems safe to assume that he can lay claim to at least one ‘youngest to…’ type thing. Youngest double-surnamed leg-spinner to carry the drinks for England, say.

Poor Adil Rashid. He appears to have been deemed too flakey for Test cricket.

Also, Chris Woakes’s back! As in ‘returned’. He hasn’t got ankylosing spondylitis or anything.

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England should think about playing their main spinner

Photo by Sarah Ansell

When Moeen Ali was first labelled England’s second spinner, it was widely assumed that Liam Dawson must therefore be the first spinner. It stood to reason.

However, Moeen supposedly remained the second spinner even when he was the only one of the two selected, which raises the possibility that Dawson was actually the third spinner all along.

So who is England’s main spinner? No idea, but they should seriously consider picking him. If the second choice fella can take 25 wickets at 15.64 in a four-Test series – including a hat trick – then just imagine what kind of an impact the first choice guy would have had.

It also seems highly likely that England are failing to pick their best five specialist batsmen, so they might want to address that one too.

But back to Moeen, because we have a theory to posit. Our theory is this: Moeen Ali is engaged in an ongoing post-modern joke that no-one else is in on. We believe he is actively going out of his way to give the most boring answers to post-match interviews.

We finally saw through his ruse while watching Channel 5’s highlights of the fourth Test. Mark Nicholas tried to corner him with a leading question that positively demanded an interesting answer. He asked whether Jimmy Anderson had been getting any stick from his team-mates for having an end named after him.

Of course he has. Everyone knows he has. All Moeen had to do was say one of the things that had been said. Instead, he chose to answer a different question; a blander question. He said that it was a great honour for Jimmy to have an end named after him and everyone in the team was happy for him.

Moeen is fundamentally smart, self-aware and interesting. He is doing this on purpose. Next time you’re watching him being interviewed, entertain yourself by playing “how the hell will Moeen get out of saying something interesting this time.”

It is a game that will hopefully run and run.

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The more batsmen England pick, the fewer they have

The big question before this fourth Test was could England’s batsmen start making some runs and maybe win a few more Tests?

When the answer revealed itself to be “no and yes” it became apparent that these were actually two separate questions.

England somehow cobbled together a half-decent first innings score while simultaneously making their batting appear even less solid. The second innings was more of the same.

In Top Gun, Maverick’s “hit the brakes and he’ll fly right by” trick is a neat one, but probably not a ploy on which to base a career. We feel similarly about England’s current approach to building totals.

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Old Trafford’s Anderson End

Few initially remarkable features, but you often get nice swing.

If Jimmy has an end, Cricket Badger readers will soon be aware that Vernon Philander has two – a top and a bottom.

This week’s Philander ailment is a light case of back knack. Violent full body convulsions can do that to a man.

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Keith Pont benefit match report, Ongar Cricket Club, 1986

Chas and Nick write:

Back in 1986, sister/auntie Susan worked in public relations for Rhône-Poulenc (now part of Aventis), in Ongar, Essex. She was asked by one of its cricket-loving executives to organise a cricket day for Keith Pont‘s benefit year at Ongar Cricket Club.

It’s worth remembering how popular and funny Keith Pont was with the Essex team and supporters. For example, on one occasion during a county match against Derbyshire, Keith borrowed a bicycle from a supporter and cycled across the ground while fielding for Essex during a major chunk of the Derbyshire innings. (We hope this memory doesn’t break the golden King Cricket rule by describing the cricket from a professional match.)

The match against the Ongar Representative XI was a fun match. The highlight was Graham Gooch bowling in the style of a number of famous international players. The best spoof was Bob Willis style; just with considerably less pace, less talent, less height but more body weight than Willis.

Lunch came around. Susan organised us all to a marquee in the next field.

We were about to enter the marquee when we became aware of ‘The Monster Muncher’ in action. It was the legendary Derek Pringle. He was moving with such speed and determination around the tables we were almost too scared to enter. We were also dazzled by flashing light, which might have come from the jewellery in the Marquee Monster Muncher’s ears.

When we finally plucked up the courage to enter the marquee, we quickly realised the need to establish eye contact in order to regain control of the situation. Pringle gave us a few shifty looks, but eventually we established contact. I (Chas) asked him if he would be long, as there was a queue starting to form outside. He grunted, “just getting a bit of food.”

An unkind rumour did the rounds after lunch, suggesting that a dustbin had been knocked over by the entrance to the marquee and that the Marquee Monster Muncher was seen using the dustbin lid as his plate. We are happy to put the record straight in that regard; Derek Pringle was merely piling it high on a conventional large plate.

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.

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A cat moved from indifference by Toby Roland-Jones

Tom in Keynsham writes: “I know it’s not the usual thing, but it was noteworthy that our cat Olive took note of the cricket for the first time in her two-and-a-bit years on this planet during the emergence of Toe Roe-Joe.”

Don’t worry, we’ve already commended Tom on providing a photo that includes not just a cat and some cricket, but also Prosecco and a table saw.

If you’ve got a picture of an animal being conspicously indifferent to cricket, send it to king@kingcricket.co.uk.

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Moeen Ali, England’s second spinner, takes a hat trick

Photo by Sarah Ansell

We’ve told you before how we once saw a story in the local paper where a woman had come second in some sort of vegetable growing competition despite being the only person to enter something in that particular category. The judges decided that her entry was only worthy of a silver medal, despite it having zero competition.

So it is with Moeen Ali. Speaking before the second Test, England coach Trevor Bayliss asserted that the man we like to call Bowling Ali was the team’s second spinner.

England promptly dropped their first spinner, but who’s to say that Moeen isn’t still second in a hierarchy of one?

People don’t call Moeen a part-timer quite as much they once did, but the all-rounder is still short of the respect he deserves.

Perhaps it’s a matter of perception and expectation.

As we’ve been saying for three years now, Moeen Ali is not a spinner to tie up an end – nor is that something he should particularly aspire to. Maybe if people accept this and realise that defensive bowling lies down a different road to attacking bowling, England’s best player might be acknowledged as precisely that.

Failing that, this hat trick should at least buy him a couple more matches.

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