Category: Associates (page 1 of 3)

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.


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.


Sick of winning hearts, Afghanistan win a match

With West Indies needing 10 to win off four balls, Carlos Brathwaite whopped one high into the legside outfield. Najibullah Zadran sprinted, dived, took the catch, broke his neck or something when landing, but never let go of the ball.

Of course he didn’t let go. Why would he let go? His team-mates seemed largely unconcerned about his wellbeing because the main thing – the catching of the ball – had gone okay. They knew Zadran would be happy when he regained consciousness because Afghanistan were a sizeable step closer to beating one of the top sides in the World T20. That was the main thing. They all understood that compared to that a broken neck or a snapped arm or a lost knee was trivial.

Afghanistan are pretty talented – some of the spin bowling, in particular – but at heart there’s a lot to be said for simply enjoying the game of cricket and just really, really wanting to win.

If Afghanistan have a superpower, it’s that losing matches appears to give them strength. Bigger teams get downhearted when beaten. Afghanistan are still on the rise, so they sort of expect to lose and shrug it off in an instant, but then at the same time assume the defeat will make them better come their next match. At that point, they give it everything.

They look casual and the physiques of some of the players have that distinctive part-time cricketer look often seen in players from the less-established nations, but their commitment to their cause is at a level you can only attain when you’re grasping for every advantage you can get.

At one point, Mohammad Shahzad and one of his team-mates celebrated a wicket with some sort of airborne arse-bump. At another point, he threw down the stumps as if they’d assaulted his daughter.

Afghanistan really, really want it and they really, really enjoy it. They’re really, really fun to watch.

After the match, Mohammad Nabi said: “I think so we have had enough of winning the hearts of cricket fans so this time we won the match.”


Afghanistan are pillaging England’s tile improvements

England appear to have sold you a dummy. Just when you thought they might be transforming into some sort of competent modern T20 side, they conspire to lose three wickets in an over against Afghanistan. Masterful stuff.

The bowler was Mohammad Nabi, one of our ten World Cup players to watch. Different World Cup, but come on, we do this for free you know. If we came up with ten players for each and every World Cup, we wouldn’t have time to drink coffee and play Civilization.

Next time around, we’re going to play that game as the Afghanistan civilisation. Mohammad Nabi will be their leader. We will seek out the English and pillage their tile improvements. That is what is happening today.


Just a reminder that Afghanistan are playing in this World T20

Regardless of how they’re performing, it’s worth taking a moment to ponder that anew. Afghanistan are playing cricket. Afghanistan.

And indeed cricket. The sport hasn’t exactly gone viral. Most of the time it seems hell-bent on playing out behind some sort of paywall, yet somehow Afghanistan has barged its way into the private party and is busying itself having a fine old time. Perhaps it’s the only country to have built up the sheer endurance needed to jump through the ICC’s endless line of hoops.

There is of course no optimal time to take to cricket. The sport became established at a time in British history when loads of toffs were dicking about playing all sorts of different games because they had sod all better to do. Afghanistan came to the game much more recently. They paused, took a look around, thought: “Well, everything seems to be going pretty much swimmingly here now. Seems about the right time to take up the gentlemen’s game of cricket.”

Or not. In actual fact, it’s previously been claimed that cricket might be a means of helping Afghanistan rebuild society.

For a bit more background about cricket in Afghanistan, you could do a lot worse than watching Out of the Ashes. We’re going to watch it again ourself at some point in the next few days.


Somehow Afghanistan have qualified for the World T20

The ICC are calling this ‘the group stage’ of the World T20. Everyone else is correctly referring to it as the qualifiers.

Afghanistan have qualified.

Despite the best efforts of the organisers, someone had to.

Afghanistan did of course have the good fortune to be in Group B. It’s not that it’s an easier group; it’s that Group B matches are actually being played. The teams in that group are playing in Nagpur, where it isn’t raining. Group A matches are failing to take place in Dharamsala where it’s been slatting it down.

Due to the rain, there’s actually a very real possibility that Oman could play one match, win it, and fail to qualify. Someone at the ICC will doubtless be able to claim that they failed to take the opportunity presented to them. We’re not quite sure how they’ll do this, but we’re excited to find out.


Will Porterfield has been annoyed

Our latest column for the Mumbai Mirror is about the unextinguishable rage of Ireland captain, Will Porterfield. You may notice that the column is titled ‘Bowzzzat!’ and they used the same line when flagging our piece on yesterday’s front page.

For clarity, our name is Bowden as in ‘bow tie’ and not as in ‘bow down’ so that title doesn’t really work. It’s too late now though. It’s out there.

For anyone skipping these pieces in the assumption that they’re ‘proper journalism’ – don’t worry, they’re not. They’re pretty much the same stuff we’d write here, only longer.


Samiullah Shenwari really was worth watching

Afghanistan have won their first World Cup match. It was only the fifth one wicket win in the history of the tournament. With Ireland beating the UAE by two wickets yesterday, it doesn’t need saying that the Associates have provided more than their fair share of entertainment. But we’ll say it anyway. The Associates have provided more than their fair share of entertainment.

Afghanistan were at one point 97-7 in reply to Scotland’s 210. That isn’t so much sniffing defeat as gnawing at it, covering it in spit. At this point, Samiullah Shenwari from our bizarre list of World Cup players to watch raised his hand and requested permission to attend the party. After making 96, he exited the party and left numbers 10 and 11, Hamid Hassan and Shapoor Zadran, to do all the clearing up.

This match alone would make a wonderful extra chapter to Out of The Ashes. The sequel – Back To The Ashes With You – would then see them sitting at home watching India repeatedly playing Australia in the 2019 World Cup.


Who is Andy McBrine?

He’s kind of like a McBride, but saltier. With all of one first-class match and three one-day internationals to his name before today, he delivered the stupid figures of 0-26 off 10 overs against the West Indies – this in a match in which Ireland chased down 305 inside 46 overs.

We’d recently been thinking that the main problem with the Cricket World Cup is that there are always eight teams with a much better chance of progressing to the quarter finals than any others. No matter how you organise what precedes that stage of the competition, there will always be something of a tension shortfall.

But then there’s Ireland. You need 300 chasing in a World Cup and they’re your guys.


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