Author: King Cricket (page 1 of 313)

Hales and Roy

Completely missed this. Personally, we blame those who call for and schedule public decisions on matters of national importance for distracting us from the chance to witness a spectacular England run-chase.

Except where the opposition for some reason fold, 10 wicket England one-day victories come around, what, once every thousand years?

It’s almost like England are a proper one-day side these days. Odd how quickly things can change.

Oh and England have won the Super Series, no?

Super.


England cricket greats to be reclassified as “bad immigrants” in wake of referendum

Large numbers of England cricketers, both past and present, will be recategorised as non-England players as a result of plans being drawn up in the wake of the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

A member of the Leave campaign explained: “One thing this referendum has told us is in no uncertain terms is that the British public have no time for nuance in the matter of national identity. We are therefore looking to impose a clear definition of who can and cannot represent the England cricket team.”

Asked what this would entail, he continued: “We all know that there are only two kinds of immigrants – the good kind and the bad kind. We need to distinguish between these and the obvious place to start is with a person’s place of birth. We all know that British people are born in Britain and, ideally, in England.”

Under the proposals, current England cricketers including all-rounder Ben Stokes and current one-day captain Eoin Morgan would be immediately excluded from the team. However, players born overseas who have represented England in the past would also be expunged from the records.

The Leave spokesman demanded the immediate resignation of England’s director of cricket, Andrew Strauss, who was born in Johannesburg, and listed a number of other players born outside the UK who would be struck from the history of England cricket. One of the players mentioned was Basil D’Oliveira, about whom the spokesman said: “He should have represented his own country.”

It seems highly unlikely that the project will stop there, however. The spokesman said that birthplace would merely be the first of a number of criteria that would need to be met to ensure eligibility. “Take someone like Moeen Ali,” he said. “Moeen was born in Sparkhill in Birmingham, so if birthplace were the only criterion, he would be considered English – which is plainly ridiculous.”


Mop-up of the day – in, out and not out

An inadvertently topical but quite possibly inaccurate-by-the-morning headline for UK readers.

In

Anil Kumble’s… well, he’s not exactly back. He’s back in the public eye, we suppose. He’s India’s new coach.

Kumble is a hard, smart and determined man. Coaching India demands more than those qualities, but it’s a fair start.

Out

Poor Nick Compton. For 20-odd years he’s worked towards being an England cricketer. Last week he was just such a thing. This week it seems rather obvious that he is not – and nor shall he ever be again.

That kind of thing is not easy to take. It’s the nature of top level sport, but to have played and been found wanting is nevertheless a crushing blow for the individual. Understandably, he isn’t quite sure what he’s doing any more. He’s taking a break from the game and who knows whether he’ll find a reason to return.

Not out

Earlier this season, we mentioned that Durham’s Keaton Jennings might have been one to watch this year if we still did such things. Today he denied Yorkshire what had seemed a highly likely win by making 221 not out in the second innings.

In fact, that score was sufficiently large that it was actually Durham who were pressing for victory towards the close, despite having conceded a sizeable first innings deficit.

Fortunately for Yorkshire, Tim Bresnan and Jack Leaning remained not out. Wonder whether the nation will follow their lead.


England v Australia at Edgbaston – day two match report

Ged Ladd’s smartphone, Ivan Meagreheart, writes:

It can be quite exhausting being Ged Ladd’s smartphone; day one of the Edgbaston Test had been such a day. Normally a good rest overnight and I recharge my batteries without difficulty, but I had a bad night and in the morning I felt even more run down than I had the night before.

Ged went to put the kettle on and the cause of my low energy was revealed to him.  Although the lights were working, the sockets around the walls were all dead. Ged spoke to a member of staff and the problem was sorted very quickly. Ged let me lie in for 90 minutes or so before we set off for the ground and promised that I’d be allowed to rest for most of the day. Ged certainly wouldn’t need me to look up the cricket score today.

Soon enough several other Heavy Rollers turned up. There would be 10 humans this year, perhaps a record number. First to arrive was Big “Papa Zambezi” Jeff and his charming pal Biff (possibly the best Northamptonshire batsman never to represent Northants in first class cricket). Soon after that, Harsha Ghoble, famous for getting barracked by the Indian supporters for holding the Indian flag upside down, vintage Trent Bridge, 2002. Then David and his son Dan Peel, chauffeured to our meeting point by their delightful wife/mother (respectively), Lemon. One more, Peter Doubt, would meet us at the ground, so we were ready for the off.

Dan Peel, a local lad, offered to lead the trek from Hagley Road to the ground.  2.1 miles by my reckoning – I have an app for that. Ged insisted that I rest and that we could manage without apps or use other people’s smart phones. Dan took us a fair bit further east into Birmingham than was necessary – which is why humans should never be trusted with directions. The Boy Malloy kept pointing out that his app was suggesting a different route, while Charley “The Gent” Malloy was happily counting his footsteps using his exercise app, delighted that a bit of route confusion was increasing his footstep count.

Eventually we got to the ground, which was heaving with people, but we were in very good time for the start of play. I know – I mustn’t tell you about the cricket. I’m a machine. I can do rules.

To avoid the sorts of Edgbaston shopping confusion described in the final paragraph of the piece linked here, Nigel and Charley had, between them, brought masses of “man nibbles” with them for the outing. Pork pies, sausage rolls, cheese and onion rolls, chocolate marshmallow sandwich biscuits, jaffa cakes – that sort of stuff. And Doritos, naturally. Most of the group washed this feast down with copious quantities of beer, but Ged is off beer these days, so he drank buckets of water instead.

Soon it was time to walk home. The Boy Malloy took charge and insisted that we follow his app home. Even Dan Peel admitted it was a shorter, quicker route.  After changing/charging respectively, Ged and I joined the group for a drink in the hotel bar early evening (Ged imbibed, I didn’t) and most of us went out for a light Italian meal across the road, which was a popular choice with all other than Harsha, who referenced the Bland Food Sketch, but came along anyway and seemed to enjoy his bland evening.

When we got back after dinner, Ged’s power sockets had gone down again, but this time he got someone at reception to put a shilling in that particular meter before bedtime.

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.


The next Ben Stokes

England have long been on the lookout for someone who might one day fill the gigantic, timeless boots of Ben Stokes. Ever since the combative all-rounder suffered a knee injury in May 2016, they have yearned for a frontline bowler who can also play memorable major innings.

In many ways, it is an impossible quest and player after player has buckled after being unfairly labelled ‘the next Ben Stokes’. Chris Woakes is the latest to attract that unwanted description, but in the first one-day international against Sri Lanka, he gave further evidence of the quality we saw in the preceding Tests.

He may never become the next Ben Stokes – not least because he’s older than him – but maybe the public can one day come to warm to him as the first Chris Woakes.

The match was tied. It was tied because Liam Plunkett mullered a six off the final ball. Liam Plunkett was able to tie the game because Chris Woakes had made a frantic three of the penultimate ball. Woakes set himself up for that vital three with another 92 runs before that.

It’s not often your number eight top scores with 95 not out. Good knock, Woakes-o.

 


England are eight up with 12 points still available

Is that the score in the Super Series? Cricinfo helpfully – and somewhat surprisingly – provides a points table for Sri Lanka’s current tour, but you then have to check the fixture list and guess at each match’s value to work out what’s still to come.

We’ve said that a format-spanning points system can only work if people buy into it. This most definitely hasn’t happened yet, but we suppose nothing much has been on the line in that regard yet. Maybe people will start to notice it as the one-dayers wear on.

Considering it’s near enough the longest day, it feels rather like cricket’s in a bit of a lull at the minute. Or is it us?


Following the protagonist through the formats – players and audience in the T20 era

We had an interesting (to us) chat to Charles Dagnall of Test Match Special (TMS) via Twitter yesterday. At one point he said something closely related to a number of our recurrent themes/hobby horses on this site and we were faintly annoyed with ourself for not having put the thought into words ourself.

We were discussing how people become cricket fans in the first place and more specifically where Test Match Special’s future audience will come from. In response to our comment that some people (not him) seem to think that it’ll arrive fully-formed, grey-haired in blazer and tie, Daggers said: “Much like the actual players who are playing tests via T20, expect audiences to do exactly the same.”

We immediately felt that there was a lot of truth in this; that a hypothetical fan might grow with a player and follow him/her through the formats. We’ve always felt that cricket’s shorter formats offer a route towards Test cricket and we’re also big on the following of a sport being about narrative and characters. Despite this, we’d somehow never taken this to the logical conclusion of one fan following one player to their five-day destination.

To provide some background to the conversation…

It came about after we had bitched and moaned about an article by Roy Greenslade in the Guardian. Roy basically thinks that cricket’s going to die because he sat a child down in front of a session of a Test match and they weren’t instantly enthralled.

He might as well have sat this kid down for episode seven of series three of The Wire. You need to work your way up to and then into these things and to draw conclusions without comprehending that seems almost wilfully wrong-headed.

This is almost certainly unfair, but it seemed symptomatic of the sort of person who became a fan of Test cricket by listening to TMS when they were 10 and who cannot comprehend that others may have arrived at the same destination via a rather different route.

There are many paths. As a 10-year-old, we struggled to sit and watch more than five minutes of cricket. We’d have much rather been doing something else. While that something was quite often cricket, it could also have been football or it may not even have been sport at all.

If that were today, there would doubtless be those who would despair at our impatience and lament modern society’s role in the slow demise of Test cricket. But it wasn’t today. It was 1988. In 2016 we write about Test cricket near enough daily and near enough for free.


How many players choose to become a one-format specialist?

eoin-morgan

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Stuart Broad wants to state his case for inclusion in England’s one-day side. Unfortunately for him, this is difficult as he doesn’t actually play one-day cricket. According to Ali Martin, Broad’s played one 50-over game for Nottinghamshire in the last 18 months.

The opposite applies to Jos Buttler, who is keen to return to the Test side. He somehow needs to make red ball runs to get back in, but the only way we can see that happening is if he paints one ahead of a limited overs game.

Then there’s Eoin Morgan, who’s basically just given up – he says he’s averaged three or four first-class games a year for the past six years and can’t see that changing. That’s not actually a huge amount more than we play and it’s a problem that’s doubtless compounded by being dismissed for single figure scores in the first couple of matches while he tries to remember what’s what.

Other than pigeons, few voluntarily enter pigeonholes. We’ve long had players retiring from one format to prolong their lifespan in another, but the specialist threshold seems to have shifted in recent times. If players in their prime are not exactly being forced to choose, then they are at least allowing themselves to be funnelled down a particular path because it’s so much bloody effort to do anything other than that.

The impact of this on fans is significant and appalling: it means we have to try and remember more cricketers. If we were interested in paying attention and remembering lots of things, we’d have gone and got a law qualification or something.


Alex Hales’ disappointed face after being dismissed

Alex Hales (Channel 5)

Alex Hales (Channel 5)

Yesterday Alastair Cook played far and away the most entertaining reverse sweeps and ramp shots we’ve ever seen. Proof, if it were needed, that context is everything. With 10,000 runs of back story, this was a proper plot twist.

In contrast, Alex Hales’ daddy fifties are a new story. This series the opener has made scores of 86, 83 and 94 and when he was dismissed for the third of those, he really did look like he was fighting back tears.

In coming years, it will be intriguing to see whether Hales or Joe Root has the most expressive hugely-disappointed-at-being-dismissed demeanour. Hales did good facial work, but Root’s hanging head and bat-dragging probably gives him the edge at this stage.

Root has had longer to find his feet at international level though. As Hales becomes more accustomed to the deeper emotions that come with a Test dismissal, we can surely expect to see more full body work. The bat over the shoulder, shielding his face from cameras was perhaps a taste of what’s to come.

It’s tough to work on these things under the harsh and unremitting glare of the Test spotlight, but the best players always find a way.


England v Sri Lanka at Lord’s, day one – match report

Lord's Cricket Ground pavilion

We weren’t going to do this, but when we started writing something else we sort of felt obliged to ‘fess up that we’d actually been at the ground yesterday and by that point a match report seemed unavoidable.

New rule

We always include a brief italicised outline of what we want from match reports submitted to this site (send them to king@kingcricket.co.uk), but one thing we increasingly feel the need to mention is that you don’t actually have to be Ged Ladd to contribute one. Much as we enjoy the man’s offerings, it would be good to break the Ged hegemony because variety and fenugreek are the spices of life.

Ged doesn’t even have to be there.

Although he was on this occasion.

Ged

We know Ged through this website. A couple of years ago, we met Ged for a pint and we now know him in that sense. But we don’t know Ged. For example, until yesterday, we didn’t know that Ged was the kind of person who could tell you in what year you’d met him for a pint and Ged didn’t know that we were the kind of person for whom past, present and future are just one murky impenetrable dream state, meaning we rarely know if things happened yesterday, five years ago or not yet.

So this was not one of those we-always-meet-up-for-the-cricket things. It was a very kind invite from Ged which was completely unexpected. We were particularly struck by it because we would never even dream of inviting someone to something unless we’ve known that person for at least 20 years (a threshold which also increases by the year).

Be prepared

Ged told us he would take care of food and kindly reminded us that Lord’s Cricket Ground’s greatest attribute is that you’re allowed to take some booze in.

Going by the guidelines, a bottle of wine seemed the most sensible thing to bring. However, we have never drunk wine at a cricket match and what little we know of Ged also made us suspect that a bottle of SPANISH RED WINE in upper-case letters probably wouldn’t be to his normal standards, so we instead plumped for the two beers option.

At the same time, we didn’t want to be the northerner who turns up with two cans of Skol, so we opted for two bottles of Belgian beer as this seemed nicely ambiguous.

Real world skills

What we didn’t bring was a bottle opener. Fortunately, Ged’s front row seats provided us with a perfectly adequate concrete step in front of us and we were able to put this to use for the old ‘position bottle top on corner and hammer with side of hand’ opening technique.

We were somewhat taken aback when not just Ged, but also his two companions Charley “The Gent” Malloy (slight suspicion of a made-up name) and Big Al Delarge (slight suspicion of a made-up name) were astounded by this hitherto unseen method. When we employed it a second time later on in the day, people in neighbouring seats also looked on in awe. One guy, wearing a blazer, said: “That’s pretty impressive,” and really seemed to mean it.

We felt a little like we’d just cracked open a can of Skol, but mostly we felt proud to have helped spread a vital life skill which we had always taken for granted.

The Home of Cricket

While there certainly were a few beer drinkers in our stand, it wasn’t 98 per cent of the crowd as it is at the cricket grounds we normally attend. The most popular beverage was instead Champagne and the day was punctuated by popping sounds.

Surveying the patch of grass beyond the boundary, we put it to Ged that a more appropriate nickname for Lord’s would be The Home of Corks. He seemed to find this amusing. Acutely aware that we are nowhere near as witty in real life as people sometimes expect us to be, we made a note and repeated the joke hourly.

The Home of Real Tennis

At the end of the day’s play, Ged offered to show us the ground’s real tennis court. This was everything we hoped it would be – which is to say an almost entirely baffling experience. As far as we can work out, those who commit to real tennis from an early enough age must at some point hit some sort of sweet spot where they have had sufficient time to attain a rough grasp of the rules without yet having been consigned to a wheelchair through old age.

After that, it was time to shake hands and part ways. We politely reminded Ged to try and keep his match reports as short and pithy as possible and then the next day wrote 800 words about meeting him.

Did Ged make Lord’s throdkin?

Did he ever. Top man. Recipe 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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