Author: King Cricket (page 1 of 339)

So Kumar Sangakkara’s in form then (and not even put off by snapping his bat in half)

Kumar Sangakkara’s last five County Championship innings have been 136, 105, 114, 120 and 200.

Today’s double hundred came in a team total of just 369.

And he wasn’t even put off by snapping his bat in half.

It’s hard to avoid the sense that he’s playing completely the wrong standard of cricket.

We know it’s only mid-season and there are plenty of matches to come, but form like this demands only one thing: that Kumar Sangakkara’s dad get him a Transformer as a reward.

But will he get him one? We doubt it.

Kshema Sangakkara described his son’s four hundreds in four matches at the World Cup as “a good achievement” and went on to outline the yardstick against which he is measured.

“For me, Don Bradman was the ultimate batsman. He scored a century once in every three innings. If you truly consider yourself to be a world-class batsman, you should be able to do that. Kumar did well, don’t get me wrong. But did he achieve his true potential? I don’t think so.”

Tough crowd.

But on the off chance that Kshema’s softening in the twilight days of his son’s playing career, we’re going to recommend that he invest in Ultramagnus as a gift for him.

In vehicle form, Ultramagnus is capable of carrying his mates, so he seems an appropriate choice.


Cambridge MCCU v Middlesex CCC – match report

Edwardian writes:

Cambridge is heaving at the best of times, but taking the quiet back streets from the station to Fenner’s was very pleasant. A few ‘good mornings’ and I was there by 10.30am.

I was there to meet my wife’s uncle Spike who said he would do his best to get there before eleven, having had to help his wife set up her vegan demo on the market place.

I had prepared German salami sandwiches with Stoke’s Dijon mustard. The pavilion was pretty much empty save for a few sterling souls roaring the tea urn to life and preparing lunch no doubt.

I bought a water from the bar and was asked whether, ‘I was in or out?’ With all the Brexit shenanigans in mind I was reluctant to say ‘out’ but I had my sandwiches after all.

Spike strolled in with his usual, ‘hello chief’ and we settled down for the day’s play. The pavilion got a bit livelier, so much so that we comprised a heavy throng of perhaps 15 people.

Spike proposed a beer and we sank a couple of Old Speckled Hens. As the sun rounded on the pavilion everything went a bit hazy and my scorecard went a bit nuts. I gave up on it.

Spike decided that Akil Greenidge was a cricketer to look out for in the near future. At lunch the players came in and began to wind in a lunch that was spicy, I think. Spike had designs on lunch in his car, so we ambled across the outfield and worked our way through the salami sandwiches, Spike’s neat smoke salmon numbers and a half-bottle of Italian white wine.

We talked about cricket in Italy, Zambia and Warsaw. Back in the pavilion before 2pm I needed to loose off the beer and wine and found myself next to Steven Finn at the urinals.

Play started again, and as keen as I am, the world went hazy again in a very nice way. Three of my companions were already asleep and I was drifting off too before one old chap said to no-one in particular, ‘Poulson, now that’s a very interesting name.’

Everyone was awake now and waiting for the punchline. Five minutes or more passed before he said, ‘I went to school with someone called Poulson.’

I had dinner priorities, so had to leave at 5pm, I have to say, reluctantly.

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.


South Africa have already choked

chris-woakes

We were quite keen to be first off the mark in using the word “choked” to mean “lost a cricket match” in reference to South Africa this summer.

Hopefully we have achieved our aim. When you see the term deployed by others in the weeks to come, be sure to let them know that we were there first.

England’s victory again hinged on their conviction that they should be trying to take wickets throughout the innings.

Chris Woakes was the most wicket-takery bowler on the day, as he quite often is these days. He deserves it for his bowling action alone.

A lot of people coo over the aesthetics of a perfectly executed cover drive. These people have clearly never seen Chris Woakes bowl. He’s like one of those finely calibrated production line robots, only made out of honey.

South Africa choked on honey. It can happen.


A featherbed of Roses – The County Championship round-up

They bothered playing some of the County Championship this week. Need they have?

The Roses match

After little more than a day, Jimmy Anderson had succumbed to groin knackage, Jack Brooks had made a hundred and this match already seemed like it was no longer a going concern. All that was really left was for the liquidator to confirm it and Shivnarine Chanderpaul duly obliged. He took what runs he could and the fixture folded. It will be revived next week in a different location.

Middlesex v Surrey

Usually when someone’s got something to prove, it’s a big deal to them; a real “See! I can DO this,” kind of thing. For Kumar Sangakkara it’s more of a gentle little hobby; a few little details he’d still like to fill in around the edges of a large unarguable point made long ago. Kumar made a hundred in each Surrey innings of this match and maybe someone somewhere thought fractionally more of him as a result. Match drawn.

The other match

Jonathan Trott went big for Warwickshire and despite Marcus Trescothick leaving his counter-hundred for Somerset undaddified they ran out of time for anything else to happen.

The other other match

Now this one went somewhere. An Alastair Cook fuelled Essex made a moderately good score and then Jamie Porter took five Hampshire wickets for spit. They won by an innings. We may have to stop thinking of Essex as being inked in for relegation what with their currently being top of the table and all. Surrey are a full point behind.


Which cricket mobile apps do you use (if any)?

ICC mobile app

As the Champions Trophy rolls towards us like the wooden wheel that we made each week in Craft, Design and Technology at school (having always lost the previous week’s wheel at some point in the interim) it seems a decent enough time to pay a visit to the subject of cricket apps on smartphones.

We’ve always maintained our distance from these things up until now, generally having found them to offer much the same information as the internet only in a much less accessible form. However, we’re giving the ICC one a go at the minute and at first glance it seems okay. It’s not too massive and the scorecards feature a little more information than we see on the BBC site.

But what do we know? Nothing, give or take. Do you use a non-rubbish cricket app? What do you get out of it? Leave a comment on the site and let’s see if a consensus magically emerges.


Laurence Elderbrook benefits from the gift of time

For once the normally laborious aspect of cricketer errantry was swift. My squire, Darron-with-an-O, secured a slot for me with a local club within minutes of our setting off in my motorcar. I had anticipated a long morning roaming from club to club and so this development was most welcome.

An added advantage was that early arrival gave me more time to properly prepare. I asked the captain to give me ten minutes’ notice of when the match was about to start. This would give me enough time to complete my exercise regimen, allowing me to be perfectly prepared for my innings. With everything in place, I now spent my spare time relaxing with a small glass of gin.

At the appointed hour, the captain gave me the nod and I moved into the car park where I embarked upon my standard routine.

As I was essaying my twenty to thirty mad gambols, a small crowd formed, doubtless keen to pick up some tips. They seemed a band of merry souls, but their mood unexpectedly turned when I made to embark on a series of naked frisks.

Several of their number appeared to take issue with my approach and when I attempted to explain that it was impossible to satisfactorily complete frisks without exposing one’s rarities, they refused to believe me.

A somewhat fractious debate then took place after which I took it upon myself to depart, for the good of all involved. After instructing Darron to deliver my immaculate cream flannels to the motorcar, I headed inside to claim some victuals before exiting the scene with the serene dignity afforded to only the very few.


The pressure builds – a four-Test story of two opposing batsmen

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

One is English, one is Pakistani. One is young, one is old – or at least he is in cricketing terms. For much of last summer’s Test series between England and Pakistan, Alex Hales and Younus Khan trod a similar path. Come the last Test, their journeys diverged markedly.

Hales was relatively new to Test cricket and still struggling to make an impact. Arriving at The Oval, his scores in the series read 6, 16, 10, 24, 17, 54 for an average of 21.16.

Younus was coming to the end of his career. His scores were 33, 25, 1, 28, 31, 4 for an average of 20.33.

Different situations but similar pressure. Both faced the prospect of losing their places in their respective teams.

What happened next feels significant.

Hales’ tale

Hales’ fourth Test scores – 6 and 12 – do not tell the story. In the first innings, he hit the ball in the air towards Yasir Shah – a man seemingly possessed of those precious fielding utensils, the safe pair of hands.

It was a contentious catch. Yasir said he took it. After being given out, Hales said plenty of things himself.

Nor did it end there. Hales continued to express himself to the full during an uninvited visit to the third umpire and then delivered a ‘boo hoo hoo’ mime to Azhar Ali when Pakistan were batting.

What can we glean from Hales’ Portrait of the Artist as a Petulant Young Man? The main thing all of his actions have in common is that they are targeted at other people. He appeared to blame Yasir for claiming the catch, the umpire for making the wrong decision and Azhar Ali for playing for the wrong team. Seemingly unable to control his own batting, he embarked on a futile quest to influence the world around him.

Younus calm

Contrast this with Younus. In the words of Mohammad Azharuddin – the man whose advice ultimately rescued him – Younus was batting “like a joker” during this series. That’s an unusually accurate use of the word, because the batsman was indeed a laughing stock.

As he jumped around the crease, people flitted between labelling his performances as either comical or sad.

Younus was on the way out and he was on the way out leaving an inadvertent trail of excrement. However, while Hales seems uncertain of his place in the world, Younus is not. Younus wasn’t going to let a trivial little thing like everyone else in the entire world thinking he’d had it put him off. He knew it didn’t look it, but he reckoned he was only  a whisker away from playing as well as he normally does. And so it proved.

“Stay in your crease,” said Azharuddin. “Wait for the ball to come to you.”

“Okay,” said Younus. “I’ll give that a try.”

After a couple of overs, things felt better. “Yup, seems to be working,” he said. “Guess I’ll crack on and make a double hundred now.”

What is this reslience; this imperviousness to the views of the outside world? Is it a deep reservoir of confidence borne of years of success or is it innate? Which comes first? Do you earn the right to have that trust in yourself or is it the very thing that allows you to be so effective in the first place?

Perhaps it’s both. Batting is a fragile profession. On these fine margins the difference can lie.


Normal service not really resumed

There’s been a daughter!

Her name’s Niamh. She’s basically the best thing of all.

Obviously she’s not our sole creation, so please resist the temptation to assign her some sort of royal cricket title.

Niamh and her mother are the main reasons why we’ve been a trifle pressed for time this week. Shame on you for assuming it was a conviction for knife crime.

If you’ve been frustrated with the lack of updates this week, don’t fear, because we’ve been steadily accumulating a number of ploys which will free us up a bit in coming weeks.

To give just one example, we’ve taken to drinking black coffee because it’s one quicker than white coffee and two quicker than white coffee with sugar.

Just think of the time savings! Mostly this week we’ve been using all that extra time to roll down our eyelids for a few seconds. Without any completely overwhelming visual stimulation getting into our brain during that time, we’ve been able to file away some of what had got in before.

This, combined with eating most of our meals straight out of an open fridge and maybe a couple of other things should hopefully provide us with the time needed to carry out detailed tactical, statistical and psychological analysis of cricket matches.

Failing that, we may still be able to find time to knock out the usual toss only slightly less often.


An acceptable way to finish a cricket match and an unacceptable way to report on one

We’ve been having some absolutely belting weather for the last week or so in these parts – but only on the sly. The gale force winds that have been partially masking things finally abated today and the lull revealed one of those perfect spring days that make you slightly less annoyed about your inability to think straight on account of having been woken up at 5am.

What we’re trying to say is that we didn’t watch England v Ireland because it was sunny out. We didn’t even listen to the radio. We just repeatedly watched that demented scene from Hard Target where Jean-Claude Van Damme punches a snake in the face before turning it into a lethal trap until our phone battery ran out. After that we just sat there.

Returning indoors, we see that England won. Hurray! Only not a real roaring ‘hurray’ because it would actually be quite nice if Ireland did well.

Unlike the first match, today’s fixture seemed more like a run-scoring victory.

That said, it did end how all matches should end – with a Mark Wood yorker.

Yorker!

Of course if that were mandatory, it would be very wearying for Wood, what with the obligation to deliver yorkers on demand for hundreds of different teams all across the globe.

We have therefore come up with three other acceptable match climaxes.

Acceptable ways to finish a cricket match

  1. Mark Wood yorker
  2. Comedy run-out
  3. Overthrows
  4. Quietly shaking hands having accepted that you aren’t going to get the overs in

Footnote

Reportage is going to fall some way short of our usual atomic clock level of reliability this week.

If by some miracle it should hit the heights of ‘patchy’ then you should consider that a win.


England’s bowling and some clarification on the current condition of Aleem Dar’s lower face

Yesterday morning, our cat Monty did a more than passable impersonation of Mark Wood’s backwards press run-up as he exited the house. Despite his unutterably poor track record of predicting cricket matches, we took this as a clear sign that England would beat Ireland. And so it proved.

We’ve just moved into a great fat wodge of one-day internationals and after flitting between the County Championship, the IPL and the occasional Test match for the last month or so, this is actually something of a relief. There is some sort of narrative to the next couple of months with every nation moving into 50-over mode ahead of the Champions Trophy.

So what can we learn from England’s first foray of the summer? Well, it was very much a bowling performance kind of day, so we should probably focus on that. However, there’s one issue we should deal with first.

Beard or scarf?

If you’ve watched the grainy little highlights package of England’s wickets, this may have been a question you found yourself asking about umpire Aleem Dar.

Having resorted to a screengrab, we’re now confident that the answer is ‘beard’.

Aleem Dar

With that matter resolved, you can now watch the footage entirely liberated from difficult questions.

So basically, the big takeaways from this (mmm, big takeaway) are that Mark Wood pinged one straight through, David Willey swung one into the pads and then Adil Rashid sauntered in when people were trying to hit boundaries and encouraged them to mishit or miss the ball.

This is actually a pretty decent overview of England’s one-day bowling strategy. Every bowler has one main approach for taking wickets and Eoin Morgan tries to wheel them out at the best time to exploit it, whatever it happens to be.

‘Keeping it tight’ isn’t much of a thing any more. It’s really just a fallback.

Next match?

Against Ireland again – at Lord’s on Sunday.


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