What Jason Gillespie taught us as Yorkshire coach

Jason Gillespie looking all serious at Scarborough (via Yorkshire CCC Twitter video)

Jason Gillespie looking all serious at Scarborough (via Yorkshire CCC Twitter video)

Jason Gillespie’s leaving Yorkshire at the end of the season. Disappointingly, he never picked up the accent.

We always thought that Gillespie would make a terrible coach on the grounds that he did a really bad job of explaining his nickname in a TV interview in about 2003.

He has turned out to be a brilliant coach. We have learned from this.

What we have learned, specifically, is that Jason Gillespie is a brilliant coach.

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A new low for cricket – a new low for the world

This represents so much of what’s wrong with the world.

You can’t even see the full horror from that. We saw it because it had been retweeted by Michael Vaughan.

‘Look, England’s cricketers like footy! They’re playing footy! They’re having pens!’

And just look at them all. Just look at their gleeful footy-playing faces. Just look at their footy-playing attire.

Jos Buttler has a cap on backwards. Other players are wearing hi-vis tabards – sponsored hi-vis tabards, no less.

For pens.

For footy.

If some dark-minded warlock felt moved to create the physical manifestation of ‘banter’, this would be it.

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Warwickshire v Middlesex match report

You may or may not know that the one quality we always look for in a piece of writing is brevity. If you have submitted a match report and seen it hacked to a skeleton, you will know this.

Ged has submitted countless match reports. We semi-regularly tell him to keep them short.

Last time we told Ged we like short writing, he responded by producing a 2,500 word report on a match between Warwickshire and Middlesex, told from four different perspectives.

To save innocent homepage visitors’ scrolling fingers, we have published it here.

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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The ins, outs and merits of England’s one-day plan

Liam Plunkett

It’s not an elaborate plan. It’s not particularly intricate. It is however consistent and that is perhaps of greater importance than anything else.

Previously, England seemed to pick 11 players before deciding how to play based on what they ended up with. This led to an ever-changing formula from which no-one really benefited (other than the opposition).

England’s current plan basically boils down to having a diverse bowling attack and plenty of batsmen. Whether that’s right or wrong, they’re sticking with it – which at least means the players know their places in the world.

Take Adil Rashid for example. England want a leg-spinner and he is the best available, so he can relax, knowing an imperfect match won’t see him dropped for Stuart Broad.

Pace bowlers like Broad and James Anderson are, in fact, accorded little value. They aren’t seen as two of England’s most successful bowlers so much as they’re seen as just two more right-arm fast-medium bowlers – one of the least valuable commodities in one-day cricket. The two of them aren’t being preserved for Test cricket. They’re being omitted from the one-day side because the one-day side doesn’t want them.

The point here is that while taken in isolation some of England’s decisions might seem odd, they make sense when you consider the overarching philosophy.

Pakistan are different. Pakistan change their team frequently, but there doesn’t seem to be a framework underpinning these decisions. In the first one-day international they included two slow left-arm all-rounders and omitted their leg-spinner. No-one was quite sure how this decision was arrived at. Nor does anyone have any confidence that they will both remain – including the players themselves.

If nothing else, the inclusion of both Imad Wasim and Mohammad Nawaz (or as Cricinfo would have him “Mohammad Nawaz (3)”) smacked of a play-off. Whether that was true or not, that was surely how two near-new players would have taken it. This seems a cruel and ineffective way of gauging their worth.

For as long as the Pakistan plan revolves around selection of two slow left-arm all-rounders, Wasim and Nawaz (3) can be confident of their places in the side. Should one or the other of them have a poor game however, they can fully expect that grand strategy to change.

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Typical Pakistan: magnificent one day, diabolical the next (according to the format)

Pakistan have actually achieved an even more impressive feat than becoming the top-ranked Test side. It takes a particular kind of artistry to become the top-ranked Test side while also maintaining ninth position in the one-day rankings. Hats off.

So what’s the difference? An obvious answer would be ‘Misbah-ul-Haq and Younus Khan’ but the truth is Pakistan weren’t actually that good even before that pair retired from the format. Aside from two series against Zimbabwe, a 3-2 win against Sri Lanka last year is all they’ve really had to celebrate in 50-over cricket since beating the same side in 2013.

Not that they’ve played series against West Indies, India or South Africa in that time. Haven’t we had this conversation already?

Sticking with those unarguable arbiters of worth, the rankings, it’s interesting to look at Pakistan’s individual batsmen and bowlers too. Mohammad Hafeez is their highest-ranked one-day batsman in 22nd place, followed by Ahmed Shahzad in 35th and Azhar Ali in 49th.

Somewhat unexpectedly, their bowling rankings are just as bad. While Mohammad Irfan is 10th, next best is Wahab Riaz in 45th and Yasir Shah in 49th. Perhaps this is a product of the ever-changing nature of their attack and perhaps their overall underperformance results from this too. Perhaps underlining that, Irfan has been dropped for this series.

Umar Gul’s back though. People have been talking a lot about Pakistan defying stereotypes this summer, but bowlers don’t come much more Pakistani than Umar Gul. He’s played for Pakistan over 200 times and we still can’t work out whether he’s the world’s shittest fine bowler or the finest shit one.

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Pakistan are slightly number one

If there is one great benefit to the ongoing turmoil at the top of the ICC’s Test rankings, it is that it is slowly starting to dawn on people that rankings are relative. Top can mean ‘out on your own, everyone else trailing in your wake’ or it can mean ‘hurray, it rained in Port of Spain’.

Pakistan being top does at least provide a better narrative than any of the alternatives. These itinerant cricketers have had more to conquer, so their narrow superiority seems less offensive to the somewhat unhinged types liable to get upset about the rankings.

Unusually for the current cricket world, Misbah ul Haq’s Pakistan also seem to possess the capacity to learn. After arriving in England early, because they were hugely inexperienced in these conditions, they got to grips with how to go about things and drew the series. Similarly, a year ago, they turned a second Sri Lanka tour into an opportunity to make amends when it could so easily have ended up as more of the same.

Their 2014 tour saw Rangana Herath doing the Rangana Herath thing, plodding his way to 23 wickets in two Tests to take Sri Lanka to victory. “We’re not having that,” said Pakistan and second time around they allowed him just two wickets and he was dropped for the third Test.

Compared to other modern sides, Pakistan are unusually disposed to fighting back. Let’s say it’s something to do with being forged in adversity. If nothing else, that at least allows us to characterise Australia, England and India as pampered prima donnas in comparison – and who wouldn’t want to do that?

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What are they feeding them in Northamptonshire?

It must be very calorifically dense. Earlier in the year, we pointed out that Rory Kleinveldt’s nickname could never be Kleinsvelte, but the South African doesn’t appear to be an outlier. He plays in a muscular-yet-flabby team that appears to be getting most its protein from pork belly and fried chicken.

But great weight is better able to carry that most vital of all cricket commodities – momentum. Despite the efforts of the frequently-mentioned-on-this-website-this-season Keaton Jennings, they swanned to the T20 Blast title with aplomb. Shit trophy though. Seeing Alex Wakely hold aloft a big metal Natwest logo seemed odd in the extreme.

We missed much of the final. Our abiding memory of Finals Day will therefore be the contribution of Durham’s Mark Wood in the semi-final against Yorkshire. Joe Root – a handy batsman – was beaten multiple times, while his England colleagues Jonny Bairstow and Gary Ballance were both comprehensively dismissed.

Northamptonshire aren’t afraid of Wood fire though. Anything but. All it did was encourage them to think of their victory pizzas.

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I Don’t Like Cricket, I Hate It

Welcome to ‘I Don’t Like Cricket, I Hate It,’ our innovative new feature in which we ask someone who hates cricket about cricket.

How do you feel about becoming King Cricket’s largely uninformed cricket correspondent?

Don’t care. I only did it because you said I definitely wouldn’t. Now I’m a bit annoyed because I thought it might be fun but have since realised it’s going to be a pain in the arse. Every time you send an email I’ll be thinking, ‘Oh God, I bet this is about cricket.’

So, ‘bit annoyed’ is the most accurate answer.

We’ve ended up being called King Cricket on the site. Do you want a pseudonym?

Yeah, I don’t want my real name used. You can name me if you can think of anything.

Prince something, Viscount something?

Prince Prefab.

Name a cricketer, Prince Prefab.

I will name all the cricketers I know the names of. No google cheating. Just so you know what you are dealing with.

Beefy, Gower, Atherton, Monty Panesar, Rob Key, Pietersen, Joe Root, Viv Richards, Flintoff, Rodney Redmond, Boris Johnson, Boycott. That’s it.

We’re going to call bullshit on Rodney Redmond. Do you have a favourite cricket memory?

I have two.

My dad trying to teach me to bowl every summer despite the fact I grew worse annually. I once bowled a tennis ball over the roof of the garage after following his detailed instructions on how to bowl overarm. He gave up at that point.

The other one is being taken to watch a local match. He went into the bar after a few overs and brought me out a coke and salt and vinegar French Fries [he means the crisps ]  which I ate on top of a pile of gravel to the side of the pitch (ground?).

My mum drove past after taking my gran home from Saturday tea, saw me and, disgusted with him, took me straight home, leaving him to think I’d been kidnapped.

Good of the local club to provide a pile of gravel to ensure a better vantage point. When did you last watch cricket and was there a gravel seating area?

I watched the winning moment on the news when we won the Ashes a few years ago and they all went to Downing Street the next day and pissed on the flowers in the back garden.

My running route takes me past a cricket pitch and I glance over there during the summer months but either they’re so slow or I’m so fast that by the time I’m past usually nowt has happened.

Should Alex Hales be dropped?

The song he would have playing when he comes out to bat is Don’t You Worry Child by Swedish House Mafia.

Of course he should be dropped.

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A new recurring King Cricket feature!

Sometimes it’s good to introduce another voice. It’s not just about presenting alternative opinions, it’s also about changing the dynamic. Another viewpoint can make you see things in another way and that can bring a sense of freshness to proceedings.

The mainstream cricket media relies on a wide array of voices. Different players bring different areas of expertise or the perspective borne of having played in a different era. TV and radio commentary sees batsmen thrown together with bowlers and older players teamed up with those who have more recently retired. Most obviously, players from other Test playing nations are brought in to deliver greater insight into the touring team.

Here at King Cricket, we also thought that it would be interesting to bring an alternative perspective to the site. While many of you contribute via match reports or in the comments, there is a certain degree of like-mindedness inherent in being a regular reader of this site. We therefore sought out someone rather different.

It struck us that the easiest way to get an unusual perspective – one not really seen in other cricket publications – would be to speak to someone who doesn’t particularly follow cricket; someone who perhaps even actively dislikes it.

Tomorrow morning (Friday), we will bring you the first instalment of our new recurring feature, ‘I Don’t Like Cricket, I Hate It.”

It’s basically just us asking someone who hates cricket about cricket. That, to us, seemed infinitely more interesting than hearing the opinions of someone quite well-informed on the subject.

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The Nottinghamshire Nosedives – another fairly half-arsed County Championship round-up

17th August table

Some really important stuff to come on this site later in the week, so let’s crack on with this. First things first – what the hell are Surrey doing in third?

They beat Warwickshire

It’s not really happened for Warwickshire so far this year – and this with Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott playing nearly every match as well. Against Surrey, they cobbled together 247 in their first innings, which was fine because Surrey had made much the same, but then their cobbling skills departed and they were bowled out for 169 in the second dig. Surrey had made 390 in the meantime so that was nowhere near enough.

Sam Curran took 5-42 in Warwickshire’s first innings and made 62 in Surrey’s second. It was all a bit ‘everyone chipping in’ other than that.

Middlesex beat Durham

At Lord’s as well, which is quite unusual this season. Durham were oddly piss-poor and lost by an innings. Ollie Rayner took nine wickets, which is more than handy. Nicks Gubbins and Compton made hundreds.

Yorkshire drew with Lancashire

And in all honesty were on the receiving end insofar as that’s possible in a draw. The alphabet-straddling AZ Lees made a hundred but was comprehensively outdone by his Lancastrian opposite number, Haseeb Hameed, who made two. The lad’s obviously going to play for England at some point, but when? He wouldn’t be the first batsman to follow up a cracking debut season with a shonky second one.

Hampshire beat Nottinghamshire

Bad news for Notts who are now somehow bottom. They seem to have a lot of very good players who aren’t playing particularly well. Brad Wheal took six wickets for Hampshire in the fourth innings. He’s one of them Saffers with a British passport, like everyone else in county cricket.

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