Younus Khan, the world’s oldest 39-year-old, might yet play on

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Ain’t no retirement like a Pakistan cricketer retirement, because a Pakistan cricketer retirement is highly conditional.

For a man who’s already resigned, quit, been rested, stood down, walked and been banned for life, Younus Khan is still strikingly present.

He is due to call it a day (again) following this Test series against the West Indies, but has now floated the possibility that he might play on if someone – anyone – asks him to.

“If they request me or people want me then why not?”

Well we’d quite like you to play on, Younus.

It’s worth mentioning at this point that not only is Younus 39, he’s also the world’s oldest 39-year-old, having been born in 1975.

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Video: How Ben Coad takes his wickets

The ECB doesn’t get everything right when it comes to social media. Earlier this week, they captioned an Alastair Cook highlights reel “Terrific to watch!” which is palpably untrue.

But at least they do sneak out nice bite-sized chunks of County Championship footage these days.

Here’s Ben Coad taking ten wickets against Warwickshire last week. You can learn a surprisingly large amount about a player in 24 seconds.

We can also draw some conclusions about the nature of the County Championship compared to the IPL from this video.

In the Championship, the crucial action typically takes place behind the batsman, whereas in the IPL it is more common to see significant moments occur in front of him.

The IPL also has more cameras.

Other than that, everything’s exactly the same.

Exactly the same.

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Laurence Elderbrook embarks upon a career as a ‘cricketer errant’

Previous instalment from Laurence Elderbrook

It strikes me that if I am to become a cricketer errant, I will need a squire. I walk next door and ask to speak to Darron-with-an-O. When Darron appears, I inform him that he is my squire. We immediately depart in my motorcar.

We swiftly settle on a routine. I steer the motorcar and Darron directs me. Whenever we arrive at a cricket club, he exits the motorcar and heads inside to ask whether they are short of a player for the day’s fixture.

We try five different clubs before I am needed. Darron retrieves me from the motorcar and I introduce myself to the captain. I inform him that my name is Laurence Elderbrook and that I will be batting at three. He mutters something about gift horses and curses a man called Alan for dropping out at the last minute. You will not miss Alan, I tell him. You will not miss Alan.

My team is batting first and I do not have long to wait before I am needed. The cricket is of a relatively high standard and the bowler is both fast and accurate. His second ball splays the opener’s stumps. He cannot expect to experience such success with his third ball. It is time.

As the ground falls silent in anticipation, I emerge onto the field of play. Resplendent in my cream flannels, I look immaculate. I take guard.

As the bowler approaches, I ponder the morality of my situation. As a freelance batsman, is it right for me to play to the full extent of my abilities? Would such an approach embarrass my team-mates, highlighting their inadequacies, or is it my duty to deliver all that I can to those who are in need of my services?

Just as I conclude that it would quite simply be a crime to deny the world an opportunity to see what is possible in this great game, I realise that the bowler has released the ball. My lightning quick reflexes immediately kick in, but the area where a player of my standard transcends others is by picking up length early, straight from the hand. My attempted leg glance is therefore a fraction out and as the bat face closes, it evades the ball which sadly goes on to hit my stumps.

I am nothing if not reserved, so I take the only option available to me. I let fly a huge bestial roar and march off the field, whereupon I gather Darron and immediately drive home.

More Laurence Elderbrook

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Great performances from Shiv, Coad, Footitt and no-one from Warwickshire, no-one whatsoever

Champo table

Screen-grabbed Championship table. Ain’t you a bunch of lucky basts.

Surrey v Lancashire

Surrey remain top of the table despite not having done anything of consequence. Mark Footitt continued being worth watching by again taking five wickets, Lancashire’s Shivnarine Chanderpaul continued being a majestic agglomeration of elbows and knees, and three other players also made hundreds while being far less interesting cricketers. Match drawn.

Hampshire v Middlesex

Middlesex still look well capable of gnarling out a load of runs and so will probably do well this season on that basis. Hampshire performed similarly, but only batted once so maybe they would have folded second innings. Kyle Abbott took a five-for in Middlesex’s second innings. He should probably be reserve seamer for South Africa. Match drawn.

Warwickshire v Yorkshire

Did Warwickshire make the most of home advantage? What if the answer’s yes? 77-7 in the first innings was, it turns out, a pretty tidy start because they were at one point 54-8 in the second. Ben Coad – which is also the name of a hill in Scotland – took five wickets in each innings for Yorkshire, which is pretty bloody good from anyone. Bres the Bat hit a fifty. Not entirely surprisingly given all of these facts, Yorkshire won.

Somerset v Essex

At some point Essex’s wafer thin attack is going to be too knackered to achieve anything. We’re adamant about this. However, for now they have The Great Neil Wagner running in hard, hitting the deck hard and taking wickets… hard. Plus they have Alastair Cook unencumbered by anything at all really. You can get a long way in life/cricket with both The Great Neil Wagner and Alastair Cook at your disposal. For their part Somerset have Roelof Van Der Merwe. Somerset lost.

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Roll up, roll up for our last ever Twitter round-up on Cricinfo

If there’s one thing we can say for our Twitter round-up column on Cricinfo, it’s that it clung on.

But no more. This week’s edition is the last.

Of all the cricket writing we’ve done, the Twitter round-up was the strangest. We can’t begin to explain the psychological impact of the trawling and sifting that was required to produce it. You’d also be surprised at just how long it took.

Then there was the readership. Normally when we do something that’s even relatively long-running, it builds a group of followers – people who check in each week. That never really seemed to happen. The majority of the few comments the column attracted were typically angry or quite obviously missing the point.

We honestly expected it to be binned ages ago, but it survived the death of Page 2 (Cricinfo’s satire section) and while we thought its days were numbered when it was made a fortnightly column, it turns out that happened all the way back in March 2013.

We honestly didn’t even know we’d been writing it that long.

The first issue actually appeared in April 2012 and it’s interesting to read it and contrast it with the latest.

We prefer the early format with subheadings, but it still suffers from the same problem we’ve always had in that the subject matter is fundamentally disjointed. In recent times, we’ve really tried to link the tweets together so that there’s some sort of thread running through them, but it’s tough-to-impossible. You’re totally at the mercy of what other people have said (and most of what’s said is either a retweet of an inspirational slogan, some none-too-subtle marketing, an unfunny in-joke with a friend, or a link to a photo on Instagram).

So unlike the much-loved Wisden Cricketer newsletter – which was reborn as Cricket Badger after it was cancelled due to something approaching popular demand – we’re not going to be reviving the Twitter round-up.

We will however pass on what we’ve learned, which is that Jimmy Neesham is pretty much the only cricketer worth following. Tino Best, Umar Akmal and Charles Dagnall have their very different moments. Also David Gower, when he can be bothered.

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County Championship Round Two – not even going to pretend to pass this off as a preview

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

We had at least one dissatisfied reader last week who seemed to be labouring under the misapprehension that we might have been looking to offer “insight”.

There’ll be none of that here.

Surrey v Lancashire

Surrey, just 22 points above the relegation zone, would do well to focus on gaining a few bonus points against unbeaten Lancashire.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul will be playing for Lancs and if Dane Vilas can somehow resist the temptation to call him through for a single that’s never there for the first week in succession, the Guyanan should secure victory for his side. Weirdly, Liam Livingstone will be captain.

Surrey should field Mark Footitt plus ten other blokes. If they even so much as look like winning, keep an eye out for those “it could be Surrey’s year” articles.

Yes, it could. Of course it could.

Hampshire v Middlesex

Middlesex have endured a diabolical start to the season and are currently propping up the table. Hampshire will also be playing.

Somerset v Essex

After cowarding out of a confrontation with Jimmy Anderson last week, Alastair Cook has recovered from his sore hip. Providing he doesn’t come down with the sniffles or an acute need for a bit of a lie-down, he will presumably open the batting.

Marcus Trescothick will open for Somerset. We’re keen to see whether he looks even more like a cuddly supply teacher this year, as this seems to be a look he’s moving towards (albeit a cuddly supply teacher who can crunch straight drives like no-one else).

Warwickshire v Yorkshire

Both teams lost last week and no-one else has, so this is officially Battle of the Losers.

Warwickshire currently boast one point from one match, which is the kind of form that second division Durham, who are currently on minus 48, can only aspire to.

Our analysis of Yorkshire’s first match of the season is that they made a bollocks of it.

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Laurence Elderbrook finds a new way to share his gift

Several seasons have passed and I fear that if I leave it much longer, my skills might begin to wane. I could spend another summer at my gentlemen’s club, laying wagers and sharing brandies with other Renaissance men, but there will be plenty of time for that later. Now, while I am in the prime of life, I owe it to the world to exhibit my skill at the noble sport of cricket.

But how? And where? Relationships soured at my old club, where I transcended my team-mates to such an extent that jealousy became inevitable. When the framed portrait of myself I had added to the wall of the bar was daubed with an unpleasant slogan, I took the sad decision to leave.

It strikes me that gratitude and appreciation fade with familiarity and this thought indirectly gives rise to an inspired notion. I will become a freelance batsman – a cricketer errant. I will wander the land and bat at three for any pitiful group in need of a calm, undemonstrative, yet domineering top order player with an extraordinary eye.

I look down at my handsome physique. Resplendent in my cream flannels, I look immaculate. But clothes hide a multitude of sins and I am aware that I am not quite in optimum condition. This will not do.

I immediately launch into my tried-and-tested regime. I essay twenty to thirty mad gambols followed by a series of naked frisks. Once complete, I am ready for action.

More Laurence Elderbrook

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Mop-up of the day – our 2017 IPL expertise laid bare

Cricinfo is running an IPL quiz called Wait, which team does he play for?

We can’t work out whether this is a joke about the inherently transient nature of many Twenty20 competitions or an acknowledgement that ever-changing squads are all part of the fun.

We scored two out of ten, a score that wasn’t helped by the crazy scrolling that meant we didn’t actually answer two of the questions. Even if we had, it’s clear that we’re not an authority when it comes to this year’s competition.

The only thing we know is that after the teams have played roughly two games each, Chris Lynn is top scorer.

And now he’s injured.

Our IPL tip

Gujarat Lions are definitely worth watching. Despite the presence of wily old Praveen Kumar, they’ve so far taken one wicket in two matches.

Later this week

With Championship matches now typically taking place from Friday to Monday, midweek is a bit quiet, county-cricket-wise. We’re therefore permitting Laurence Elderbrook a brief reappearance on this site, possibly starting tomorrow.

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Mark Footitt and some other stuff: a review of the first round of the County Championship

The first round of the County Championship is over. Here are some of the things that happened.

Hampshire beat Yorkshire

This match was one for true connoisseurs of momentum in cricket. Hampshire had all the momentum when Yorkshire fell to 152-7 in their first innings, but momentum being momentum, it wasn’t long before the home team had recovered to 273 all out.

From there, Ben Coad made Hampshire be losing at the cricketings, bowling them out for 141. The momentum was clearly now with Yorkshire. Or at least it was until Kyle Abbott did a Ben Coad and bowled them out for 187. Hampshire then sashayed to their target for the loss of just six wickets.

Marks Stoneman and Footitt v Jonathan Trott

Ex-Durham batsman Mark Stoneman made 165 for Surrey and then ex-Derbyshire bowler (and one to watch) Mark Footitt doused Warwickshire in petrol and lit them. After that, Jonathan Trott killed some time by making a hundred but Warwickshire still lost by an innings and a run.

The result means that a certain corner of the cricket press has leapt into “this could be Surrey’s year” mode. This happens a lot. The last time there was a groundswell of excitement, they got relegated. Technically, it could be their year though.

Lancashire may or may not have beaten Essex

We were going to wait until seeing the result before writing our review. That seemed to make sense. But then we suddenly decided we didn’t want to.

Dane Vilas ran Shiv out. That was the main thing that happened in this match. He partially made up for this by making a load of runs, but unforgiveable acts are unforgiveable, so we won’t be forgiving him.

Lancashire’s wicketkeeper Alex Davies made a second innings hundred opening the batting. This probably means that Jos Buttler will return to the side later in the year in a charity case sort of a role, batting at seven and not keeping wicket, purely so that Lancs don’t get told off by England for not picking him.

We can’t see Essex winning many games this year. They don’t seem to have enough bowlers.

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Who is Ben Coad, Yorkshire’s new strike bowler?

Earlier this week, Ben Coad was just some dude; some dude called Ben Coad; a young bowler whose Cricinfo profile page has him down as a ‘workhorse seamer’.

A couple of days into the county season and he’s Ben Coad, strike bowler.

He finished the first day with 5-18 off eight overs as Yorkshire’s wobbly start receded from memory in precisely the way things rapidly recede from memory in this day and age.

He continued, albeit slightly less spectacularly, on day two and finished with 6-37.

Coad is from the miniature city of Ripon and from what we’ve read seems disinclined to concede runs. The only other fact we’ve managed to glean is that his nickname is Coady – and quite frankly, we could have guessed that.

Suggested nicknames for Ben Coad:

  • Coad Breaker
  • Coad Red
  • Coadeine
  • Bar Coad
  • Coadependent Personality Disorder
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