Category: Extras (page 1 of 36)

Even if you’re not normally much into this sort of thing…

It’s worth pointing out that David Gower makes an appearance in our latest Cricinfo Twitter round-up.

Yes, that’s right – Gower.

David Gower.

On Twitter.

His contribution is every bit as wonderful as you would imagine.


Unguarded by Jonathan Trott – book review

Sam writes:

My shelves are groaning under the weight of cricket autobiographies.

The best – among them Coming Back To Me by Marcus Trescothick and Nasser Hussain’s Playing With Fire – are well-thumbed.

The others tend to blur together. Tales of pushy parents, age group potential, Test debuts and tearful retirements can almost be written by numbers.

If you’re feeling particularly masochistic, give Michael Vaughan’s A Year In The Sun a whirl. Bet you won’t make it to the end without chewing your own face off.

When Jonathan Trott’s new effort appeared on my doormat, I raised a sceptical eyebrow. Would this tell me anything I didn’t already know?

I needn’t have worried. Unguarded is a wonderfully honest, brutally painful account of how one of England’s most reliable batsmen decided he could bear the pressure no longer.

As a long-time Warwickshire fan, I have followed Trott’s progress since his county debut but never entirely warmed to him.

Regular readers will know all about my obsession with Trott’s middle order colleague, a chap named Ian Bell.

While Bell flashed, dashed, posed and perished, Trott was the guy at the other end. A solid plodder, quietly getting on with the job.

Needless to say, as the years went by he became a firm favourite. He proved you don’t have to be a show-pony to win the hearts of England fans; you just need to score runs. Lots and lots of runs.

Most sportsmen and women sit in press conferences and burp out platitudes about how their chosen discipline has come to define their very existence.

“It means the world to me,” they gush. “I’ve worked so hard to get here.”

This is the story of a man who became so consumed by cricket that it swallowed him whole.

King Cricket once wrote an amusing piece of fiction in which Trott plays his kids at table-tennis for two whole weeks, relentlessly refuses to let them win a game and “feels immense satisfaction with his performance.”

Reading that again now, it takes on a whole new perspective. Living every second for cricket is all very well when you’re churning out the hundreds. When things started to go wrong, there was nowhere else to turn.

The book is structured in an odd way – it might have made more sense to tell the story chronologically rather than jumping around – but there is no disputing its power.

Wisely, he decides not to spend too much time on his childhood and dives straight into the beginnings of what was later diagnosed as situational anxiety.

Unusually for such a self-centered genre, each chapter features contributions from Cook, Pietersen, Ashley Giles, Andy Flower, and Trott’s wife Abi.

The other voices only serve to reinforce Trott’s fundamental character traits: decency, modesty, determination and a hard-won sense of self-awareness which was perhaps lacking during his international career.

You can buy Unguarded from Amazon here.


What is the cost of a drop? Are ‘chances’ a better way to measure bowlers and wicketkeepers?

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

The Cricket Monthly has a wonderful article on how dropped catches impact a Test. It’s a fascinating subject for how poorly it’s currently understood.

Two of our favourite facts from the article are:

  1. That Wavell Hinds was once dropped twice en route to a duck – surely a candidate for the worst Test innings there’s ever been
  2. James Tredwell suffered 10 missed chances in his two-Test career

The second brings to the fore an obvious point. Except for caught-and-bowled opportunities (which accounted for three of Tredwell’s missed opportunities), at the moment at which a catch is there to be taken, the bowler has done all they can.

In many ways it makes more sense to gauge a bowler’s worth by how many chances they create rather than how many wickets they take. Everything beyond that is out of their hands (and quite often out of the fielder’s hands too).

Tredwell still managed to take 11 wickets in those two Tests, incidentally. It’s intriguing to ponder how his figures could have looked given less buttery fingers among his team-mates.

The cost of a drop

To produce the article, Charles Davis spent Godfrey Evans knows how much time logging dropped catches. He found that roughly a quarter of chances are grassed.

It strikes us that if you take the average number of chances in a match and the average number of wickets and runs in a match, you can arrive at some sort of standard value for a wicket-taking opportunity.

In the last 10 years, 441,749 runs have been scored and 12,841 wickets have been taken. Of those wickets, 8,026 have been catches.

If we assume that a quarter of chances are dropped, that equates to 10,701 chances for those catches, so an additional 2,675.

In other words, to take 12,841 wickets, you would need to create 15,516 chances.

This means that for 441,749 runs, each wicket-taking opportunity is worth 28.47 runs.

What does this mean?

Doubtless there’s more than a soupcon of wonk in those calculations – mathematics isn’t our strong suit – but surely someone with more time and a better brain can arrive at a reasonably accurate means of measuring the run value of every ‘chance’.

Yes, there’s an obvious difference between the value of a Wavell Hinds drop and a Brian Lara drop, but who’s to say what might happen next in any given situation? The whole point of averages is to take such things out of the equation.

We’re particularly interested in what this means for wicketkeepers. The trend at present is to place great emphasis on batting and someone likely to average 10 runs more an innings (20 runs a match) will pretty much always get the nod.

However, if each wicket-taking opportunity is typically worth 28.47 runs, that run-scoring difference amounts to significantly less than a single dropped catch more than your rival per Test match.


Mop-up of the day – Sweet, sour, bitter, savoury

A bitter-sweet mop-up of the day today, like someone’s spilt a honey-and-lemon sore throat remedy.

Actually, maybe that’s sweet and sour.

A sour-sweet mop-up of the day today.

Sour

James Anderson is out of England’s tour of Bangladesh and probably won’t be back until halfway through the India tour. No non-international fixtures are scheduled for that trip, so it’s not easy to see how the management will be able to convince themselves he’s fit to play a Test. Squinting at him and crossing your fingers isn’t really acceptable these days.

They’ll probably find a match for him somewhere or other, but a greater concern is the frequency with which he’s missing matches at the minute.

Anderson’s never been an injury-prone Mark Wood type (Wood will also miss the Bangladesh tour), he’s always been pretty resilient.

It’s quite obviously the beginning of the end, but hopefully, like in the Lord of the Rings, the end will go on for bloody ages.

Sweet

Nabi! Love Nabi.

Mohammad Nabi took 2-16 off ten after opening the bowling against Bangladesh and he then made 49 as Afghanistan bobbled to the win. England can probably learn from this ahead of their tour. The main thing they should learn is that Nabi’s ace, although they should really have known this already.

We feel like the cricketers we particularly like need to be branded in some way. It’s awkward to say ‘cricketer who we’ve written about a handful of times and hold in high regard’. We thought we might instead start referring to them as ‘Cricketers of the Realm’.

We could call them knights, but cricketers are better than knights.

Savoury

The latest Cricket Badger’s out on Friday morning. It’s got Shoaib Akhtar in it.

Sign up here: sportsbadger.com

You’re really missing out if you don’t. Honestly. Even from an unbiased point of view.


A cricket bat in a real tennis place

crickers-meets-realers

Ged writes:

I know what you are thinking, dear reader: “That real tennis workshop must be at Lord’s; how can Lord’s be an unusual place to see a cricket bat?”

Well I’m here to tell you that the real tennis area at Lord’s is a relentlessly cricket equipment free zone. Indeed, I had a great deal of trouble getting the tennis professionals even to admit that the object in question was a cricket bat. “Oh, that’s what it is, is it? Never seen one before. Don’t know how on earth that got in here. Perhaps we should call security…”

Send your pictures of cricket bats and other cricket stuff in unusual places to king@kingcricket.co.uk


This is not about the England squad for the Bangladesh tour

We can’t remember what time our own email goes out. Is it 11am? We could just check the timestamp on an old one, we suppose – but who’s honestly got time to do that? We suspect it’s actually 10am, but on the offchance it’s an hour later, here’s a link to our latest Twitter round-up for Cricinfo.

This counts as Thursday’s post. We’ll do something about the England squad in a bit. Email-receiving folk will have to visit the website proper if they want to read that today. Of course they won’t know to do that until tomorrow (Saturday) if we’ve missed our own email deadline.

Time pressures, eh?


I Don’t Like Cricket, I Hate It – the city-based T20 edition

A semi-regular feature in which we ask Prince Prefab about cricket – even though he hates cricket. We are in bold. Prince Prefab is not.

We were talking about fat cricketers last time around. It was pointed out to us that the team that won this year’s T20 competition ‘likes a pint’. [At this point King Cricket shows Prince Prefab photographs of Northamptonshire’s Rory Kleinveldt and Richard Levi.]

They even have booze sponsorship.

They should run a campaign to get more fat kids into cricket.

“Like a McDonalds? Sweat when you climb the stairs? Out of breath after polishing your bannister? It doesn’t matter! Cricket: a sport for everyone – even you.”

There’s a feeling among some that what English cricket needs is a new Twenty20 competition where the teams are cities, not counties, and where there are fewer of them (eight cities instead of 18 counties). The thinking is that a lot of people don’t give a flying full toss about counties. They think having cities would bring in a new audience.

As a Lancastrian living in Manchester, what’s your take? Do you think they should have cities instead of counties? Would you personally be more interested in Manchester Mizzle than Lancashire Lightning?

It sounds like the first step to ‘footballising’ cricket and the one thing I could love about cricket is that it isn’t football. Cos you can bet your balls there would end up being two Manchester teams, two Liverpool teams, two Sheffield teams and we can all see where that would go: the wankers would get interested. This would feed into the cricketers who would wave their finger in a knowing way at the umpire when he made a decision they disagree with and nobody wants that.

So yes, it would probably bring in a new audience but is it an audience you want? Keep it county. Keep it sparse.

Well apparently as we speak, there’s been a vote and they’re going to do it. There won’t be two teams in each city though, just one – and only eight cities.

It’s a good point though. Round our way, childhood football support was defined by rivalries. You knew people who supported other clubs because City, United, Liverpool and Everton were all within legitimate supporting range. We can’t really see that you’d get that with this competition.

Leeds will presumably be Manchester’s bitter rivals, but we won’t know anyone who supports Leeds on account of the fact that we don’t live in Leeds.

As long as they don’t try and do what they are doing with snooker. Trying to make it snazzy. Cos it just ends up looking naff.

Although there is something delightful about Ding Junhui walking into the arena with Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars blasting out, only to be usurped by Rocket Ronnie’s genius entrance to Train’s Drops of Jupiter. In fact, cricketers probably have terrible taste in music too. They should each have a song of choice blasted when they score a century, bowl someone out etc.

Sorry, I’ve gone off track.

They do play music when a batsman walks out. Dunno whether they get to choose what it is though.

The new city thing’ll definitely be a snazzification exercise though. We sort of imagine it falling between two stools: the Full Snazz stool of the Indian Premier League – which is all napalm marketing, fireworks and cheerleaders – and the Village Fete stool that is county cricket grasping at the threads of modernity without ever quite catching hold of them.

The latter’s probably best exemplified by the mascot race on T20 Finals Day when a load of people dressed in giant foam animal costumes belt round an obstacle course in between cricket matches.

I was raised that the only extra excitement allowed at a cricket match other than the cricket should be a bottle of coke (with a straw!) and a bag of salt and vinegar chipsticks.

But maybe the problem is the sport? If they need all this snazz?

Well, obvious goading aside, there’s truth in that. Test cricket in particular is not exactly plug-and-play, easy to use straight out of the box. You need to study the instructions first – and who honestly wants to do that?

The idea with T20 and the city franchise tournament is that it’s sort of ‘My First Cricket Format’ – easier to sell to more people in itself, and perhaps also a route to the grown-up version.

I’m not sure they’re going about it the right way. As someone who doesn’t currently watch cricket I’m more likely to be drawn to Test cricket and the history and complications and nuances of that than a load of lads in yellow jumpsuits running out to Mr Boombastic and wellying a ball as hard as they can with cheerleaders shaking pompoms every time something happens.

Well you say that, but Test cricket hasn’t entrapped you in its vicelike grip just yet, has it? So maybe they’re thinking why not give Mr Boombastic a whirl.

Yes, I should have been clearer. I like the idea of Test cricket more. Still probably never go.

Only ‘probably’. That’s tantamount to an invitation. [Checks 2017 fixture list.]

2017’s chocka mate.


I Don’t Like Cricket, I Hate It – county attendances and world record scores

A semi-regular feature in which we ask Prince Prefab about cricket – even though he hates cricket.

As we speak, the team in first place in the County Championship has played 12 matches, won four and drawn eight. What do you make of that?

I know what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to draw me into a rant about how can it be possible for a cricket match to be drawn because I don’t understand how that is possible despite you explaining over and over in tedious detail.

But I have a sore throat and I’m feeling sorry for myself and I don’t want to talk about that. Instead, explain to me how the fuck can anyone earn money playing cricket for Hampshire? I’ve seen the grounds on match days and there’s no bastard there. There’s less people there than at an East 17 comeback gig, without Tony Mortimer, in Margate. How’s it viable? How does it buy takeaways and pay for mortgages? How do county cricketers pay for Netflix?

What’s the average attendance for a county game KC? 48?

By the way I’ve just realised I don’t know how many players are in a cricket team. Is it eleven? Like football?

I was actually posing the original question because I thought you’d be taken aback that the league leaders have only won a third of their games. Your answer’s better though.

Yes, there are 11 players in a cricket team. Football presumably thought that seemed like a decent number and copied.

I’m not actually this angry about county cricket I’m sure you are aware. More puzzled.

I was going to go on about how Lancashire weren’t winning. I was always told we were the best. Like Man Utd.

That’s probably a reasonably accurate comparison actually.


England just made the highest-ever score in one-day internationals. What do you make of that?

Not much to be honest. If you’re constantly doing the same thing day after day it’s bound to happen at some point. You know, that monkeytypewritershakespeare thing.

Also, a technical aside here, I just heard some expert on the radio say, ‘it’s easier with these modern bats and the lads are much fitter these days too.’ So basically they hit a few more runs than big fat lads with shit bats.

But, you know, well done.

Interesting point. Do you think cricket’s shooting itself in the foot trying to be all modern and elite? Do you think it needs to crack down on fitness and return to the age of the fatty?

There is far too much of the ‘elite’ about sportsmen and women these days. It’s boring. They’re boring. And they’re always tweeting/instagramming photos of their abs. Bring back Beefy. He never tweets embarrassing photos.

Look at you making knowing references about cricketers.

I only know cos it involved a cock on the loose.


A quite possibly harrowing development involving a car number plate

Bert writes:

It’s been months now since The Revered One departed this plane of existence and ascended to the Sky (Sports studio). Such elevation cannot but affect a man, but I must say I had thought that Robert the Great would be immune, that he would be able to maintain his humbility and humilness. After all, that’s why he is worshipped across the land.

So it was with considerable shock and disappointment that I came across this car parked just outside Wembley last Saturday. Surely not, I thought. Surely this is some sort of joke. But there it was, parked right in front of me, challenging my denials with its stubborn existence.

Rob Key's car

There are other possibilities, of course. Maybe this was some other Key, Derek Key for instance, a sales executive from Tring. Maybe this was un homage from a committed Keyist. Maybe this was just a random set of letters and numbers that only coincidentally represents the lad Rob. But the likelihood of any of these being true is extremely small. It was just my shipwrecked imagination desperately clinging to some driftwood of hope that came up with these nonsenses.

No, I fear we must accept the truth, that Rob Key is the kind of person who has a Range Rover with a personalised registration on which he describes himself as Boss. In other words, a wanker.


A new low for cricket – a new low for the world

This represents so much of what’s wrong with the world.

You can’t even see the full horror from that. We saw it because it had been retweeted by Michael Vaughan.

‘Look, England’s cricketers like footy! They’re playing footy! They’re having pens!’

And just look at them all. Just look at their gleeful footy-playing faces. Just look at their footy-playing attire.

Jos Buttler has a cap on backwards. Other players are wearing hi-vis tabards – sponsored hi-vis tabards, no less.

For pens.

For footy.

If some dark-minded warlock felt moved to create the physical manifestation of ‘banter’, this would be it.


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