We once overheard one man say to another man: “I gave you the money and you ate the money.”
The background is that we were in a restaurant in Goa on Christmas Day. It was early evening and the proprietor was already absolutely shit-faced. A customer was buying a crate of beer off him to take away and when he handed over the cash, the sozzled restaurateur placed the rupee notes into his mouth. He then ate them.
A few moments later, having apparently forgotten that he had done this, he once again asked for payment. This elicited the immortal line above.
This is very high on our list of the most unlikely things we’ve ever heard a person say. However, a new addition to that list came earlier today when some dark, rarely-used part of our brain persuaded our mouth to utter the words: “England are actually quite good at one-day cricket.”
The ICC has realised that the ‘Big Three’ changes pushed through in 2014 were…
(a) taking the piss a bit; and
(b) liable to lead to the complete implosion of the sport in the long-term
They have therefore resolved to do something different instead; something a bit less shit.
In the first one-day international against South Africa at Bloemfontein, England, batting first, again failed to pass 400. In so doing they extended a barren run which now stretches all the way back to June. On a flat pitch, they would have expected to have done better.
South Africa, Australia and Sri Lanka have been making 400-plus totals since 2006. India since 2007. For all the financial investment and positive words, England remain a decade behind the times.
Fortunately, they can once again thank their bowlers (and the weather) for bailing them out. If Chris Jordan was a tad expensive in his first spell, that can be forgiven for he was obliged to bowl in search of wickets with a low total on the board. The rest of the attack, however, was near faultless.
David Willey and Reece Topley were both in the wickets, while Moeen Ali picked up three on a pitch offering limited assistance. Ben Stokes is as reliable as they come these days, while Adil Rashid was typically economical, conceding just seven an over.
The fielding was adequate – Stokes was the only player who could legitimately claim to have taken a screamer – and they would do well to improve. Stronger sides than South Africa will be quick to punish their shortcomings.
Despite being one up in the series, England head to Port Elizabeth knowing that they are exhibiting the same inadequacies as always. Is it their conservative attitude to the shorter formats which is holding them back or failings within the system. The answer is probably both.
The World T20 awaits and the rest of the world once again will once again be licking its lips in anticipation of another humiliating exit. On this evidence, it would be unwise to bet against it.
Apparently things don’t ‘hove into view’. They actually heave into view – it’s just that no-one says that. One thing’s for certain though, things that demand this verb are large and cumbersome. A cat never heaves into a view, for example (although it may well heave while in view, if it’s eaten something disagreeable).
The World T20 is currently heaving/hoving/heave-hoing into view. It will be played in India, but if you’re looking for signs of how it might pan out, all you currently have to go off are one-day internationals in New Zealand and South Africa.
Wrong format, wrong place, but some of the right teams. There are probably too many variables to draw any meaningful conclusions.
Nevertheless, it was striking that Australia have instantly reverted to losing after spending their entire home summer winning. This one-day series against the Kiwis also serves as their warm-up for the Tests, which seems like the kind of scheduling which demands punishment in a shrill, hectoring voice.
England are of course playing South Africa at this very moment. At the time of writing, a Jason Roy cameo had removed the slips, allowing Alex Hales to spank outside off with impunity. It’s possible that a sizeable total is heaving into view.
If you haven’t heard, the BBC’s secured the rights to publish video highlights of Cricket World Cups on its website. As with most things in our life, we can’t tell whether this is hugely significant or neither here nor there.
The way it’s described, it sounds like short video clips will be an add-on to other web content. A video of all the wickets to have fallen might accompany a match report or a particularly unusual shot might appear within ball-by-ball coverage.
At the same time, the BBC’s apparently allowed to show video clips of up to six minutes per hour of play. For a one-day international – which is what, seven or eight hours – that amounts to a fair chunk of footage. Throw in a bit of punditry and you could make an actual programme out of that. Could such a thing appear on the iPlayer?
Either way, it seems like a good development. We always think that cricket is a sport that lends itself particularly well to highlights. Even live coverage relies heavily on replays of the meaningful bits played between balls, overs and sessions.
In many ways this deal means the BBC will be able to offer the full ‘not really watching but looking up when something happens’ experience.