Category: Extras (page 3 of 36)

How will BBC website’s Cricket World Cup highlights work?

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.

Why Test cricket is not about runs


Pit the same two teams against each other in different places or in different weather and you’ll get a different match. This is what makes Test cricket more intriguing than the upside-down picture of a crow with human legs in our local pub.

With such breadth comes varying levels of entertainment though. Efforts should be made to ensure Tests are played in different conditions to ensure that variety persists but some types of matches are quite simply more exciting than others. Sri Lanka v India at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground in 2010 was an example of a poor Test. Good players, skilled cricket, but when both teams declare, something has gone awry (okay, India didn’t actually declare, but it was hardly because they were skittled).

Compare that Test to the low-scoring thriller played out between Pakistan and Australia at Headingley a week before. That’s the kind of cricket that grabs us by the nostril hairs and yanks them repeatedly. It was impossible to ignore.

Runs and entertainment

Test attendances throughout the world are poor but a lot of Tests are poor too. Where run scoring is high, excitement is often low.

Perhaps some fundamental confusion has been brought about by one-day cricket and Twenty20. In these formats runs are all that’s needed for victory. You certainly need runs in a Test, but wickets are the meaningful currency. If wickets aren’t falling in the longest format, you’re not actually getting any nearer a result and the whole spectator experience hinges on that.

Declarations remain too common. In our opinion, a Test match should be about how many runs a team can score, not how many a team chooses to score. With swing and seam at Headingley, runs suddenly had more value. Rather than being methodically amassed and stockpiled, they were sought out like a valuable commodity. Singles mattered, twos were vital and boundaries were priceless. With runs worth more, field settings were more important. Most importantly of all, bowlers were a source of entertainment, rather than mere conveyor belts bearing sustenance for the batsmen.

When every aspect of the game has greater meaning, the viewing experience is intensified.

The value of a run

In that match, pretty much every ball was worth watching. You didn’t just think: “Partnership building here. I’ll pop out for a few hours and see if a wicket’s fallen when I get back.” If you went out at some point during Pakistan v Australia, you could have missed a match-winning, counterattacking hundred partnership or a whole innings. The game would have moved on. You’d have actually missed something.

An innings of 500 is not five times as exciting as one of 100. A target’s a target, so in reality they’re equally exciting. You could argue that a corollary of this is that each run is only one fifth as exciting in the high scoring match because it’s only one fifth as important. In the highly unlikely event that Test cricket pitches were consistently made a little more challenging for batsmen, maybe people would be five times as interested in each day’s play.

That’s a ludicrous statement statement, of course – but might there not be a sufficient rise in public interest to make up for the likely loss of a great many fifth days? What’s so great about day five anyway? A Test never ends in a draw on any of the first four days.

This post is an updated version of an article which first appeared on the website of what was then The Wisden Cricketer in July 2010. It has since been deleted, which is why we’re republishing it here.

Happy birthday to King Cricket

One of our old logos.

One of our old logos.

Our first reader got in touch with us this week – a man who once went by the name of The Scientician. Some of you may remember him from his shocking exposé of Jaffa Cakes as a sports snack.

The Scientician pointed out to us that we’re 10. We don’t mean in the ‘your mental age is 10’ kind of way – although people do say that kind of thing to us as well.

No, he meant that this website is ten. We started it in January 2006 (albeit at a different web address). That’s ten years ago. The site’s so old that people actually arrived at it via Ask Jeeves.

As The Scientician said in a follow-up email, which we’ll reproduce in full.


He’s got a point. On this domain alone, there’s been over 3,000 posts, over 40,000 comments and well over a million deleted spam comments (genuinely). We also knocked out over a thousand posts on the old Blogspot site in little more than a year. Them were the days.

So how did it all begin?

Er, we’re not entirely sure actually.

We’ve a vague notion that we’d sent The Scientician an email, or quite possibly even an actual letter, and that this had led him to utter the immortal words: “You should write.”

We’ve no real memory of what that particular missive was about. We’re pretty sure it included curlews, but beyond that it’s anyone’s guess. The important thing is that he told us to write and we listened to him.

We asked what we should write and where. He told us to start a website because that was what someone semi-famous had done and they’d got a job out of it.

So we started a website and soon enough we got a job and arguably even what passes for a career out of it.

The end.

Except it isn’t, because we’re just going to carry on the same as always.

A Nightwatchman for Christmas?

Send him in. Let him weather the marketing and do all the preparations and cooking. Then you can just swan in on Boxing Day to eat leftovers and get drunk.

No, this is Nightwatchman with an upper-case N. The Wisden cricket quarterly is doing gift packages.

If you don’t know what it’s all about, they’ve helpfully provided a few samples – a Select XI to be precise.

The point is that it’s cricket writing that isn’t so time-sensitive. They’re longer musings on the game and its effect on people. The samples include a piece by Gideon Haigh about cricket writing and a piece about the psyche of the nightwatchman (lower-case N) by Jon Hotten.

There’s also a poignant piece by our friend Sam Collins about making his film Death of a Gentleman while simultaneously trying to cope with the slow death of his mother. We knew that this was the backdrop to the film for Sam, but having read the piece we might now go and watch it again with that in mind. We daresay the whole thing’ll take on a different hue.

Each year’s Nightwatchman is £30, but if you put in the code XMAS15 you can get the 2015 Collection for £25 plus postage and packing.

Cricket books for Boxing Day Test Eve

We know that many of you like to pass the time on Boxing Day Test Eve by giving people presents. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the better cricket-themed books on offer this year.

These are just some of the newer ones. Take a look at the book review section of the site to find older stuff.

Fire in Babylon by Simon Lister

In an unusual inversion of the normal rules governing adaptations, this is the book of the film. Inspired by the documentary of the same name, it focuses on the West Indies during the Seventies and Eighties. The Guardian describe the book as a ‘near definitive’ attempt to describe and understand one of the finest sports teams ever. Buy it for someone young who thinks the Windies have always been crap.

Kevin Pietersen On Cricket

We wonder how much the score-settling previous book will put people off this one. If you’re able to forget about KP: The Autobiography, this one seems much more interesting as a cricket fan. There was an extract in The Guardian which gave a good idea what it’s all about.

It’s about cricket.

We don’t mean in the sense that it’s all ‘then we played Australia and I made 158’. Presumably there’s a bit of that in there, but it’s more about the mechanics and psychology of the sport – you know, the timeless, interesting stuff. That extract about Warne picks apart the bullshit and the bluster, but also sees the value of those things.

Actual analysis is something you don’t often get in a sporting autobiography. This genuinely seems quite promising and reviews have been broadly positive.

Test Cricket: The unauthorised biography by Jarrod Kimber

We’ve not read this yet and in fact only found out it existed the other day. We’re assuming Jarrod wouldn’t have written something rubbish, so definitely worth a look.

Last in the Tin Bath by David Lloyd

Essentially a straightforward sporting autobiography, but with the benefit that the subject has seen cricket from more angles than most. Quirky enough to be genuinely amusing in places as well. Here’s a full review.

You can find more of our cricket book reviews and recommendations here.

If you’ve any recommendations of your own, stick ’em in the comments and we’ll maybe try and add them to the article before the daily email goes out later on.

Last in the Tin Bath – a review of David Lloyd’s autobiography

Back when we reviewed Start the Car: The World According to Bumble, we suggested that rather than majoring on Lloyd’s zaniness, they might have been better off writing a traditional autobiography. Well this is what they’ve done. The result is indeed a better book.

For those that don’t know, before Lloyd was a TV commentator, he was variously county captain, Test cricketer, first-class umpire and England coach, all while maintaining strong links with Accrington CC in the Lancashire league. If you want a rounded perspective on cricket, he is perhaps uniquely qualified.

That’s very much the strength of the book – the various vantage points on the sport. That breadth of experience combined with Lloyd’s many years in cricket means the book transcends most modern autobiographies in having plenty of subject matter to tackle.

We also prefer reading about eras we don’t know so well. It means you’re less likely to find yourself enduring yet another account of a story you already know too well featuring characters who are all-too-familiar. We’d rather learn something new, like that Vanburn Holder was nicknamed ‘Hosepipe’ due to certain physical attributes.

One concern you may well harbour is that rather than trying to sell this book on wackiness, they’re instead trying to sell it on salt-of-the-earthiness. Look! There he is on the cover in a tin bath! He’s from Accrington, you know!

It’s a legitimate fear and while it’s occasionally justified, the relatively straightforward nature of the book means moments like this are rarely gratuitous. When we learn that he was last in the queue for said tin bath, it really is just to give some sense of what his upbringing was like and you then see how that upbringing informs many of his decisions later in life.

If there’s a flaw, it’s in the tone. For the most part, it reads like any other autobiography, but there are occasional flashes of ‘personality’. Ghost writer Richard Gibson had an impossible task here in our opinion. People tend to think that it would be easier to capture the tone of someone like Lloyd who has a very distinctive way of speaking, but it’s the opposite really. Every time there’s a ‘flipping ‘eck’ or a ‘not on your nelly’ it’s not a natural, casual thing. As a reader, you’re aware that someone else has seen fit to write it and that it’s subsequently been passed by an editor. It makes these turns of phrase kind of laboured and awkward.

We enjoyed Start the Car, but it did manage the somewhat unusual feat of leaving us less certain of how much we really liked David Lloyd. This book redresses the balance a bit. Don’t buy Last in the Tin Bath for the zaniness or earthiness, buy it if you’ve a genuine interest in the career of someone who maybe wasn’t the greatest player, but who has been around and seen a lot. It’s a straightforward autobiography really, but in this instance that’s no bad thing.

Last in the Tin Bath: The Autobiography – £8.99 in paperback (Kindle and hardback versions also available)

Death of a Gentleman’s out on DVD

We’ve all bought films on DVD because we feel guilty about going to Croatia instead of attending the premiere, haven’t we?

To be honest, we’d have bought it anyway. It’s a great film. Weirdly lovely, despite the somewhat bleak subject matter. Plus, as an added bonus, owning the DVD allows us to publish screengrabs of Giles Clarke’s face.

Like this:


Or this:


We know that phrenology was debunked a long, long time ago, but surely a facial version of it stands up to scrutiny. Are you seriously telling us you can’t make an accurate judgement of Clarke’s character purely by looking at his pomplous, cloying, suety face?


Get Death of a Gentleman on DVD. It don’t cost much.

Some sort of meaningless century

We know what you all think. You think we spend our Thursdays sitting around eating flapjacks and watching old episodes of Airwolf.

Well you’re wrong. We don’t renounce cricket on Thursdays. Far from it. We actually put in a double shift, writing all the stuff that comes out on a Friday.

First of all, Cricket Badger. It’s the 100th edition tomorrow, so we’ll gratefully accept your warm applause. We’ll also overlook the fact that cricket demands people clap for everything, devaluing the whole hand percussion appreciation noise immensely. You can and should sign up here. There is nothing to lose but a small amount of whoever provides your email account’s server space. Also time.

Secondly, the Cricinfo Twitter round-up. Yes, that still happens. It happens like heck, whatever that might mean. This week’s should appear in a prominent position on the homepage soon, but you can also find it on our author page. It’ll remain accessible there even when it’s been demoted and replaced by an Ed Smith think piece about why form is a myth.

And now we have to go somewhere and eat things. Possibly drink things too. Who knows? Life is unpredictable.

Cricket needs to embrace independent governance rather than allowing itself to be run like some sort of 19th Century gentlemen’s club

A couple of months ago, jaynefrancis pointed out to us that large parts of our bleak dystopian episodic cricket story about cricket administration had actually come true.

As satire goes, it wasn’t the most subtle. Again and again, short term decisions are taken by caricatured men in suits with godawful long-term consequences. Their shitty choices all seem obvious, but yet they take them anyway. What’s astonishing is that this has actually happened in real life.

In the story – which we really should have given a name – the bigger Test nations ultimately cut the smaller ones adrift. There are echoes of this in what is now generally referred to as “the Big Three’s carve-up of world cricket.”

The story also envisions the euthanasia of Test cricket by a group of men who cannot appreciate that the format provides the foundations for the two other formats. They don’t get that T20 and one-dayers are enriched by the longer game and nor can they comprehend that Tests provide somewhere to go once people have grown weary of more formulaic, artificially-engineered forms of entertainment.

Which brings us to Death of a Gentleman. Doubtless you’ll have heard about the film by now. If you haven’t, take a look at the website. We were supposed to go to the premiere in Sheffield, but ended up popping to Croatia that week instead, so we still haven’t actually seen it. We don’t doubt its credentials though and we’re right behind the #ChangeCricket campaign it has given birth to.

For all that the issues are complex, the #ChangeCricket campaign has one fairly straightforward aim – to get cricket to embrace independent governance rather than allowing itself to be run like some sort of 19th Century gentlemen’s club. The petition itself is a bit wordy, but this is basically what it says. You can sign it here.

Cricket gold amid the everyday silt

All Out Cricket have a regular feature where a writer celebrates an especially glorious summer and all the great memories it brings back. We had to rewrite ours because the first draft was too depressing.

Our Golden Summer was 2000. Obviously it’s not. Obviously it’s 2005. But they can’t have everyone repeating the same bloody summer every month, so for the purposes of this feature, ours was 2000.

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