County cricket news
Gloucestershire’s players are ACTUAL GLADIATORS. Who knew? We always thought Jon Lewis looked more like a musketeer, but what do we know?
Gloucestershire’s PR bod, Stephanie Keene, said:
“We recognised that our nickname provided the club with a fantastic opportunity to link with the powerful images synonymous with the historic Roman gladiators.”
You’d think they might have realised the link with Roman gladiators sooner, what with it being a totally made up nickname and therefore the only reason they’re called that.
Or maybe it didn’t derive from the Romans. Maybe Gloucestershire’s pyjama sides are named after the TV programme.
Whichever meaning, a less Gladiatorial-looking side you’d be hard-pressed to find.Appeal
Chris Lewis may or may not have said:
“4kg of cocaine? They told me it was a sandwich and a banana for the flight.”
Actually, they told him it was a load of tinned fruit. Or maybe they told him it was 4kg of cocaine disguised as tinned fruit. The courts will decide.
Whenever we hear a case where a cricketer’s been in some way involved with drugs – usually taking them, not smuggling them – our initial reaction is ‘who are you trying to fool?’.
Cricketers aren’t rock and roll. They can do the most rock and roll things imaginable and it’ll still sound feeble and embarrassing. Gambling we can take, drinking we expect, but drug use? You play a sport where people clap you when you’re out. You don’t belong in that world.3 Appeals
We got a text message yesterday. It said: “Giles Coren has written a shit piece in The Times about Wisden being owned by a new publisher. It’s really, really awful.”
We had to take a look and it doesn’t disappoint. As you perhaps know, The Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack has been bought by Bloomsbury, who publish Harry Potter.
Coren has done some Harry Potter referencing as a pallid, lifeless attempt at humour.
“With the 2009 Ashes series not far away, it is surely now time to reveal that Ricky Ponting is, in fact, Lord Voldemort, the most powerful dark wizard that has ever lived. That the green and gold of the Australians is but a fig-leaf for the green and silver of Slytherin. Surely Voldeponting’s Death Eaters will not be allowed to triumph?”
If you want to be bad at writing, this is how you do it. If you aren’t JK Rowling, you can’t possibly benefit from writing about Harry Potter. Making knowing references to anything to do with the books is weak, unoriginal and quite embarrassing.
Also look out for references to ‘TwentyQuid’ – a cross between cricket and quidditch, ‘the leg-spinner of Azkaban’ and ‘snitch-hitting’.
We’ve got to write something for The Wisden Cricketer this evening and we’ve got no ideas whatsoever. However, we’re feeling slightly buoyed by the knowledge that we won’t be producing the absolute worst piece of cricket writing this year. It’s just not possible.
Even if we just write the word ‘cricket’ and then follow it by repeatedly mashing the keyboard with our face, we’ll still okay.11 Appeals
There haven’t been a great many Danish cricketers. We’re not sure Amjad Khan’s exactly a great – but by Danish standards he can’t be far off.
Amjad Khan’s what we’d deem a solid practitioner, which smacks of faint praise, but isn’t meant to. It’s actually more an acknowledgement that England have called up a bowler who’s sustained a certain level of quality rather than a young scamp who’s the latest flavour of the month.
Is he Test standard? Not sure and that’s not important. What’s important is that he’s Danish.
Danish cricket facts… go!14 Appeals
Last time England toured India, Ian Blackwell was in the one-day side. He did all right as well.
As a batsman he’s usually described as ‘rustic’ or somesuch. A variety of adjectives might get used, but they all mean that he’s a fat slogger. He’s a good fat slogger, don’t get us wrong. We’re just filling you in on what the writers REALLY mean.
He never did anything with the bat for England, but he was surprisingly economical with the ball. He was abandoned though, because he didn’t take many wickets and didn’t score many runs.
Mostly though, you get the impression that he was discarded because he was fat. It’s not a crime, but England think it reflects a certain attitude – an attitude where battenburg is there to be inhaled and chewing food’s looked upon as wasting valuable time.
Ian Blackwell, Mike Yardy, Jamie Dalrymple – all showed a bit of promise, batting a bit and bowling some economical spin. Watch out Samit Patel. Watch out Graeme Swann.7 Appeals
VVS Laxman is a great player who doesn’t play one-day internationals or Twenty20 internationals. He’s been at Lancashire before and done extremely well and everyone like him.
It also bolsters Lancashire’s batting, which needs a little bit of enbolsterment right now. Hopefully the enbolstery brought by Laxman will spur his fellow batsmen into great feats of bolsteration as well.
This sort of talk presumably formed the basis of the contract talks.10 Appeals
Stuart Law’s contract has not been renewed. Partly because he’s associated with the ICL, partly because he called Lancashire’s members gin-swilling know-nothings, but mostly because he’s 40 this week.
The gin outburst came when Lancashire decided to do away with Dominic Cork and we always suspected that it was as much to do with seeing the writing on the wall as any intrinsic admiration for the endearingly irritating former England all-rounder.
How do we feel about this as a Lancashire supporter? Indifferent really. Stuart Law’s one of the great batsmen of his generation, but a few weeks ago we used him as a symbol of something that’s wrong with Lancashire’s batting line-up.
He’s been good for Lancashire, but they were only the latest of a number of sides he’s played for, so we’ve no sense of loyalty. It doesn’t feel like an old, great Lancashire player’s being dispatched without fanfare, because Law made his reputation long before he arrived at Old Trafford.
It’ll be good for the county, although we’ll be quite interested to see how they manage to rustle up enough batsmen. We don’t know of any who are really clamouring for inclusion.
No, wait. We’ve got that all wrong. Batsmen don’t clamour for inclusion – they knock on the door. This is why we’ll never make it big in cricketing circles. We just can’t master the language.8 Appeals
Kent don’t look like a second division side to us. Quite apart from the Rob Key factor – which decides the matter and draws a line under it in itself – there are so many other decent players and so few poor performances.
Kent won four matches this season – one more than Somerset who came fourth. A combination of draws and bonus points has dispatched them to the near-worthless second tier. It doesn’t seem right.
The championship format is toss
We have two issues. The first is bonus points. You get 14 points for a win and you can pick up eight bonus points in a match. Eight bonus points is too many. It wields too great an influence. It’s also ridiculous that you can get five bonus points for batting, but only three for bowling. It encourages conservatism.
The second issue that we have is with the two-up, two-down nature of promotion and relegation between the two divisions. Two teams changing places is okay some years, but not every year. Look at it this way: are Worcestershire better than Kent? We might be wrong, but we suspect not.
It would be better if there were a play-off between the runners-up in division two and the second from bottom side in division one. That would be fair and it would also be quite an intriguing occasion at the end of the season.
Division two is toss
As for Kent specifically, we now have to consider Joe Denly achievements with the sneeringly aloof tone that we reserve for division two and we’re not happy about that. We much prefer to get carried away about things.
We can also reveal why Kent got relegated, by the way. It’s because of coach Graham Ford’s sub-moronic maths. He’s been keeping this flaw concealed, the devious little innumerate, but we can finally out him after this quote about how his players will respond next season:
“I know they’ll be giving 120% to get back to First Division status.”
They haven’t a chance. They’ll be declaring for seven and thinking they’re top when they’ve got no points if this is how the man deals with numbers.8 Appeals
Durham’s bowling attack is getting all the attention, but don’t forget that they’ve prepared pitches to suit it and their batsmen have had to bat on those very same tracks.
Not many of Durham’s batsmen have prospered. Most of their 2008 averages aspire to mediocrity. Of Durham players who’ve played more than a couple of games, only four average over 30.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul – 411 runs at 37.36
Shiv’s currently ranked as the best Test batsman in the world. You would hope for runs from him. As Lord Megachief of Gold, you would positively demand them.
Dale Benkenstein – 783 runs at 43.50
Players hit more runs at better averages for other counties, but these runs were more valuable. We move that Dale Benkenstein be nicknamed ‘Benkensteino’ from now on.
Michael Di Venuto – 1,058 runs at 46
No-one else made more than 1,000 runs for Durham. Australian batsmen who aren’t quite good enough for the Test side are so important in county cricket, it’s obscene. We move that Michael Di Venuto be nicknamed ‘Dio Venuto-o’ from now, on the grounds that it’s so catchy and easy to say.
Will Smith – 925 runs at 51.38
Will Smith is perhaps of most interest. He’s scored half of his first-class hundreds (three) this season and we’re not giving much away if we say he’ll be one to watch next season.8 Appeals
County champions are sometimes garlanded with caveats in the wake of victory, but Durham deserved their win. Regardless of weather and the occasionally misleading influence of bonus points, Durham were the best side.
Quite simply, they won more games than anyone else and that’s what the game’s about, isn’t it? You don’t want champions who’ve picked up full bonus points and ‘earned’ lots of draws. You want the champions to prepare spicy pitches, safe in the knowledge that their bowling attack is better than their opponents’.
Durham’s bowling attack was the best. You can’t consistently leave out bowlers like Liam Plunkett and Graham Onions without having some firepower. Detractors might point to a general lack of spin, but we quite like that Durham have won the County Championship while practically ignoring that side of the game.
Over the last few years, the County Championship has been decided by spin more often than not. More specifically, it’s been decided by Mushtaq Ahmed. Now, it seems, there’s more than one way to win the title.12 Appeals