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Why did Tymal Mills go for so much at the IPL auction? Because he’s fit for purpose

Tymal Mills

Tymal Mills has been signed by Royal Challengers Bangalore for £1.4m. In response, many have felt inclined to ask what Ian Botham, Viv Richards or Ian Austin might have gone for. This seems to us to be somewhat missing the point.

In the UK, the phrase ‘Twenty20 specialist’ still has a faintly pejorative hue. Some do indeed come to focus on the shortest format as a result of shortcomings in the longer ones while Mills himself had the decision made for him by his own spine. But no matter how you arrive there, as far as the IPL sides are concerned, a player who is 100 per cent focused on the finer points of T20 can only be a good thing. A desirable thing. A thing they’d pay money for.

It’s not just that Mills is likely to be available for the entire tournament, it’s more that T20 is his whole professional life. Last season he described how he and his Sussex team-mates would practise yorkers with a white ball for a period. Then, when everyone else moved on to bowling four-day lines and lengths with a red ball, Mills would just carry on bowling yorkers.

To ask why Mills should sell for over a million when he hasn’t even played Test cricket is to overlook why that’s a good thing. Ben Stokes sold for £1.7m  and while he is unarguably a better cricketer (if nothing else, he can bat) then Mills will surely prove the better investment. If Stokes’ adaptability is a key strength, then he is nevertheless pulled in many different directions. Mills doesn’t need to be especially adaptable. He can just focus.

Like Stokes, Mills has also profited by being two players in one. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but he does possess two qualities that are always in demand in the IPL auction. Firstly, he is a left-armer and secondly, he can bowl at 90-odd mph. Combine those two qualities with his unwavering focus on Twenty20 cricket matches and then subtract Mitchell Starc from the auction and see the bids roll in.

For the record, had he been around today then Ian Austin would have sold for six weeks’ supply of meat-and-tatty pies and a year’s subscription to the Racing Post – but it would have been a hell of a bargain for whoever saw fit to splash out on him.


Innovative T20 scorecards – new ways to tell the story of a cricket match

We were talking T20 scorecards on Friday and this led to a discussion about whether the traditional form is actually fit for purpose. Our point was that in a T20 match, it’s not just ‘how many’ and ‘how quickly’ – it’s also about when runs are scored and when wickets are taken.

We were subsequently directed towards Mihir Vasavda on Twitter. Mihir writes for the Indian Express and they have apparently been presenting IPL matches rather differently. You can see a sample page here.

Of obvious relevance to our ‘what happens when’ line of thinking is the overs-runs graphic at the bottom, which presents an overview of runs and wickets in each innings over-by-over.

overs-runs-t20This, in our opinion, gives a better overview of the respective teams’ performances, although it lacks the detail about which players contributed.

For that, it’s back to the traditional scorecard, but even here there are a couple of innovations. For a start, the team totals are immediately followed by tallies of sixes, fours and dots, which gives you a feel for how each side went about its task.

sixes-fours-and-dots

There’s also a chunk of editorial placed at the relevant chronological point within the scorecard proper.

scorecard-editorial

Other informative little segments in the same sidebar include one allowing you to compare performance across the three main phases of the innings…

scoring-phases

… a Zero/Hero section focusing on dot balls…

zero-hero

… and ‘Swing Period’ which seems to be about shorter phases of play where each side appeared to be taking the initiative.

swing-period

Now this is obviously all supplementary to a traditional scorecard, but it does tell the story of the match in a simple and intuitive way – which a traditional scorecard doesn’t.

You don’t have to read a full report, you can just quickly scan for key information and we’re sure that the more familiar you become with this way of presenting the information, the more quickly you can pick up the key details.

Hat tips to Marees and Whistling Dogs for steering us towards Mihir and more of a bow to the Indian Express’s Daksh Panwar who is apparently responsible for coming up with much of this.

We’re sure other newspapers have their own great ways of presenting and elaborating on T20 scorecards, but this struck as being a particularly good example worth sharing.


Do you click through to T20I scorecards?

Still taken from Sky Sports

We’ve just realised we quite often don’t.

Unlike some, we’re actually into Twenty20 cricket. Its formulaic nature means that a team’s strategy is easier to perceive and assess. But at the same time, unless we’re actively following a series it seems we don’t have any interest in looking at a scorecard just to see who’s done well.

Every Test scorecard will earn at least a casual glance. For T20 we’re more inclined to piece together a fragmentary picture of what’s transpired via a few headlines.

Context and meaning and all that shit

The last couple of editions of Cricket Badger have unsurprisingly contained references to Australia’s impending comedy tour of India. Because of that, we’d perhaps understandably come to think of this as being the Aussies’ next international engagement. We completely forgot that they’d deployed the shoe-horn and crammed in a T20I series against Sri Lanka.

This series is a real who-gives-a-flying-Farokh-Engineer of an engagement. The two teams aren’t taking each other on in any other formats, there’s no ICC World T20 this year and Australia have a Test match scheduled on another continent within 24 hours of the third match finishing.

In short, it’s the kind of thing the ICC are going to try and sort out with their bid to impose some sort of coherence on international tours.

But even so…

We still don’t think we’d much care unless we’d properly followed the rest of the tour. Even then, if the T20s were at the end, we probably wouldn’t give a toss either. We’re fairly sure of this because we also haven’t clicked through to the South Africa v Sri Lanka scorecard as the bigger stuff’s already done and dusted.

So basically we like the World T20. There’s enough going on then that even losing performances seem pertinent and you also know that teams have tried to peak and are taking it seriously.

The ‘do you even click on the scorecard?’ test is an interesting one to gauge what does and doesn’t matter to you.


A bit of advice for Joe Root

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

If there’s one thing the England captain generally lacks, it’s advice from random members of the public. Fortunately for Joe Root, we are prepared to step in and fill that void.

It’s a little-known fact that our critically-acclaimed Club Captain’s Handbook for All Out Cricket was originally penned as a guide to being England captain. Tweak the headline and standfirst and replace the phrase ‘everyone at the club’ halfway down the page with ‘England fans’ and that’s it – job done. You can now see the piece as it was originally envisaged.

If you’re Joe Root, pay close attention to our words. Feel the anxiety well up in you as the scope of what you must now master dawns on you.

Everyone else, settle down with your halloumi and tomato Staffordshire oatcakes (which were inspired by last week’s café barmcake) and enjoy our wisdom free from the pressures of having to captain England yourself.


I Don’t Like Cricket, I Hate It – the new England Test captain edition

A semi-regular feature in which we ask Prince Prefab about cricket – even though he hates cricket. We are in bold. Prince Prefab is not.

Joe Root said he was ‘humbled’ to be named England Test captain. We vaguely remember you moaning about people’s use of this word. It basically means to be made to feel less proud, doesn’t it? In which case this is surely the exact wrong word to use in this context.

Yes, lots of people insist they are ‘humbled’ when something really good happens to them at the moment. And I think you are right about humble meaning sort of less proud, or workaday or very ordinary or something like that. The phrase that springs to mind is ‘a humble abode’.

And in sporting terms if you’ve been ‘humbled’ at something you’ve been embarrassed at it haven’t you? ‘The Premiership team were humbled by the non-league team when they lost three nil’ – that type of thing.

Is humility even a quality that one can assign to oneself?

I don’t think you can describe yourself as humble because that’s the opposite of what a humble person would do. The act of saying ‘I am humble’ isn’t humble. A humble person wouldn’t be so forthright as to describe themself as humble, would they? It’s for others to decide.

But, having said all that, I try not to be a colossal idiot and shout at the internet about it too much because we know what he means. He means he’s grateful, pleased and that it’s an important job and he takes it seriously – that sort of thing. And that’s nice. And nobody wants to be the person who is always correcting everyone’s grammar, do they? Apart from you and look where that’s got you.

We said on Twitter that what people are trying to say when they say that they’re humbled is: “I’m still normal despite this. In fact I’m going to redouble my humility to counteract my inarguable greatness.”

Yeah, in a way they are sorting of saying they are even greater than you thought. Mate, that’s not humble.

It’s kind of like they’re constantly fighting back the pride lest it burst forth and make them look like a show-off. In cricket terms, Root hasn’t even got all that much to be humble about. Using your in-depth knowledge of cricket captaincy and your carefully-researched insight into his character, do you think he’ll be just as successful as a captain as he is as a batsman?

Based on my in-depth knowledge of cricket captaincy and my carefully-researched insight into his character, I think Joe Root is going to be the greatest England cricket captain of all time. Why not? Someone has to be and it might as well be a blond lad called Joe from Sheffield and he stands more chance than Joe Elliot.

Interesting. Do you think he’ll also one day have a case for being named Sheffield’s Greatest Joe?

Doubt he’ll ever topple Joe Cocker. Not many men will ever cover a Beatles song and have it set as the theme tune to a cloying sentimental American sitcom about adolescence.


People are streaming live cricket online via Kodi

Kodi logo

If you don’t know about online TV streaming software, Kodi, we’ve written a bit of an explainer. As well as taking a quick look at the software itself, we’ve also looked at what sort of content’s available, the legality of streaming and what this technology might mean for the future of cricket broadcasting.

More and more cricket is being televised, but it’s spread across ever greater numbers of channels. It’s a complex landscape and things aren’t always straightforward even when you subscribe to a particular broadcaster.

For example, our Sky Sports subscription only seems to cover Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2. This means we generally can’t watch Test match highlights/discussion show The Verdict on weekends because it tends to be broadcast on Sky Sports 4.

If you want to watch all of this year’s England matches, you would also need a subscription to BT Sport because they’re the ones covering the Ashes.

Kodi’s burgeoning popularity arises because users are able to bypass these complexities and without any subscription costs. If that sounds too good to be true then you might want to have a read.


Bangladesh three long sessions away from Test series victory over India

Relatively speaking. Escape with a draw and that’s basically a win for the tourists, isn’t it? And being as it’s a one Test series, that would also mean a Bangladesh series victory. Again, relatively speaking.

Three sessions seems an awful long time when you’ve only got seven wickets left though. Three fifth day sessions. Three fifth day sessions with R Ashwin bowling at you. When you’re Bangladesh.

So, in other words India are seven wickets away from victory. In fact, being as most of you will read this on the daily email which won’t go out until mid-morning on Monday, check the scorecard – India have probably won.

It’ll be funny if they don’t though. All these big India tours this season and Bangladesh were the ones who stood the best chance of escaping with a draw.


Virat Kohli dealing in daddies and doubles

Virat Kohli (CC licensed by James Cullen via Flickr)

Virat Kohli (CC licensed by James Cullen via Flickr)

Is ‘supersizing’ still a thing or did it die out after that Morgan Spurlock film? We’re old enough now that we should probably research our knee-jerk cultural references to see whether they still apply. Let’s not bother and just assume that this one’s still current.

Virat Kohli had never hit a Test double hundred until July 2016. He now has four of them. His other hundred in that period, 167 against England at Visakhapatnam, was a mere daddy – an innings so mundane, we didn’t even write about it.

We were in McDonald’s in York about 20 years ago. We’ve a vague notion that the cooker had broken but can offer no defence beyond that. There was an American guy ahead of us in the queue. He was one of those touring Americans who likes to enjoy his trip by loudly proclaiming how much bigger and better everything is in his home country.

“You see how there’s a medium and a large on the menu,” he said. “In the US, everything is large.”

Another person might have seen this as a lack of choice, but he could only see merit in it. Everything’s bigger, you see. And bigger’s better.

Virat Kohli currently gets his hundreds from a possibly fictitious 1997 McDonald’s somewhere in the Midwest.


Were Alastair Cook (and his family) ‘let out to dry’ by the ECB?

Via ECB.co.uk

Via ECB.co.uk

Alastair Cook has said that the ECB “kind of let me out to dry a little bit” over Kevin Pietersen’s sacking and the ensuing brouhaha.

Being ‘let out to dry’ makes him sound like a cat who’s mistaken bubble bath foam for solid land and now needs the back door to be opened so that it can dry its soggy legs in the sun. But let’s fight back our natural inclination and not dwell on that minor slip of the tongue and instead focus on the more significant inaccuracy in that statement.

A little bit?

The ECB’s quasi-nepotistic public pronouncments seemed almost purpose-made to undermine Cook’s captaincy. As we wrote at the time, statements seemingly intended as props to support him became sticks with which the public and press beat him. This went on pretty much throughout his captaincy. Whatever his aptitude for captaincy, he is a very resilient man.

Giles Clarke’s comment that “he and his family are very much the sort of people we want the England captain and his family to be” may have become infamous as some sort of crystallisation of the outdated prejudiced views at the ECB, but it also made Cook – through no fault of his own – the embodiment of that attitude.

If it was a garland, it was a rubber one that was instantly set on fire. Actual support, in any tangible, pressure-alleviating sense, was conspicuous by its absence. Intead, Cook was just foisted up there as a figurehead with a big ol’ target across his chops.

We could go on, but you’re busy people and it feels like a ‘less is more’ kind of a day. Should you be in need of further reading, here’s three more links that we may or may not have included had we gone on.


Eoin Morgan to be Ireland Test captain?

eoin-morgan

Photo by Sarah Ansell

“Even more than making it in Twenty20 or 50‑over cricket my real ambition has been to become a Test player,” said Eoin Morgan when England first gave him a shot at the five-day stuff.

After 16 Tests and two hundreds, it seems highly unlikely they’ll give him another go, but the ICC’s latest proposals would see Ireland become a Test nation. The country of his birth would surely give him a game, no?

A certain part of us would love to see Morgan up sticks and head home purely to see how forceful and obnoxious the “SEE! SEE! WE TOLD YOU HE WAS A TRAITOR!” response would be in those parts of the media that like to characterise him as a kind of national-anthem-scorning pseudo-Pietersen.

The truth is Ireland’s Test status wouldn’t be for another couple of years, even if it happens, and Morgan currently seems rather heavy-in with leading England’s short format sides anyway. A career-minded cricketer, you can’t really imagine him walking away from his current job.

This might be a possibility further down the line though. If nothing else, a Test match between England and an Ireland side led by a cold-eyed Morgan furious about media criticism would surely be well-attended. Even if they played it in April. Which they would.


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