Category: Extras (page 3 of 37)

A new recurring King Cricket feature!

Sometimes it’s good to introduce another voice. It’s not just about presenting alternative opinions, it’s also about changing the dynamic. Another viewpoint can make you see things in another way and that can bring a sense of freshness to proceedings.

The mainstream cricket media relies on a wide array of voices. Different players bring different areas of expertise or the perspective borne of having played in a different era. TV and radio commentary sees batsmen thrown together with bowlers and older players teamed up with those who have more recently retired. Most obviously, players from other Test playing nations are brought in to deliver greater insight into the touring team.

Here at King Cricket, we also thought that it would be interesting to bring an alternative perspective to the site. While many of you contribute via match reports or in the comments, there is a certain degree of like-mindedness inherent in being a regular reader of this site. We therefore sought out someone rather different.

It struck us that the easiest way to get an unusual perspective – one not really seen in other cricket publications – would be to speak to someone who doesn’t particularly follow cricket; someone who perhaps even actively dislikes it.

Tomorrow morning (Friday), we will bring you the first instalment of our new recurring feature, ‘I Don’t Like Cricket, I Hate It.”

It’s basically just us asking someone who hates cricket about cricket. That, to us, seemed infinitely more interesting than hearing the opinions of someone quite well-informed on the subject.


The Periodic Table of Cricket by John Stern – book review

We own a periodic table. Mostly it’s a footrest, but periodically – typically when we have visitors – it reverts to being a table. Apparently there’s another kind of periodic table too which lays out all the chemical elements according to atomic number and whatnot.

The Periodic Table of Cricket attempts to do something similar with cricketers. John Stern, the former editor of The Wisden Cricketer and current editor-at-large at All Out Cricket, has tried to put all of the most significant cricketers into groups and then slotted it all together to create a rather nice pull-out poster thing on the inside cover.

The main categories are:

  • Defenders and pragmatists
  • Stylists and entertainers
  • Mavericks and rebels
  • Innovators and pioneers

Needless to say, not everyone easily fits into one category and some players might have suited different parts of the table at different stages of their career, but Stern cheerfully admits that there’s occasionally a touch of forceful shoving into a given pigeonhole. That’s half the point. The table is a great place to start if you fancy a pointless cricket argument with someone – and who doesn’t enjoy a pointless cricket argument?

The meat of the book comprises profiles of each of the players. In length and tone, they’re not unlike the ones you see on Cricinfo player pages. You probably wouldn’t sit and read a whole series of such things ordinarily, but we found the fact that they’re organised according to style of play rather helpful in this regard. It can be hard to get a feel for players from the distant past, but seeing someone as part of a lineage of obdurate openers or Fancy Dan middle-order stylists helps commit them to memory.

You could probably predict most of the players who have been included, but the innovators and pioneers section in particular allows for the inclusion of more leftfield names such as Mohammad Nabi and Bernard Bosanquet.

The Periodic Table of Cricket isn’t really a book you’d sit down and read cover to cover, but we rather suspect it is one with a long lifespan. At any mention of a largely unfamiliar great player from yesteryear, you can have a quick check and get a feel for who they were. The profiles tend to tick off all the major aspects of a player’s career but the text isn’t dry. The Ricky Ponting pull shot is described with reference to his “thick, hairy forearms” for example.

Think of it as a kind of great player reference guide with the periodic table thing an oddly helpful way of slotting cricketers into your memory. You can buy The Periodic Table of Cricket from Amazon.


Mike Selvey leaving the Guardian

The Guardian’s cricket correspondent, Mike Selvey, is to part ways with the newspaper at the end of September. “Guardian no longer want 50 yrs intimate knowledge of cricket, cricketers and how game is played for future coverage,” he said in a tweet – later adding the hash tag #abitshitreally to leave us under no illusions that he would have preferred to continue.

This news may seem of no real interest to many of you, but it does raise questions about the changing nature of written cricket coverage. In the absence of any comment from the Guardian, we can only guess why they might have made the decision. In all honesty, nothing especially obvious comes to mind.

History repeating?

In 2008, Selvey was given the boot by Test Match Special. At the time, there was a reference to wanting to make use of ‘more recent Test cricketers’. Since then, they’ve added people like Graeme Swann and Michael Vaughan. Phil Tufnell is from the previous generation and then there is the continued presence of Geoffrey Boycott, who is for many people synonymous with the ‘in my day’ view – despite also holding a number of progressive opinions.

But a newspaper is different. There’s only so much space, so you’re never going to offer such a broad palette of voices. Instead, you pick someone who can write and who knows what they’re talking about and who will find angles that are perhaps unexplored by writers on other newspapers.

Selvey’s writing

We’ve long enjoyed Selvey’s articles. He can occasionally be prone to overloading sentences with far too many clauses, but time pressures can bring wonkiness out in all of us. The content itself was generally intriguing, especially when talking about the mechanics and mentality of bowling.

You might question just how many stories one can wring out of a three-Test career, but it’s presumably decidedly more than can be wrung out of the zero-Test careers enjoyed by the majority of cricket writers. The point is that Selvey’s international playing experience is just one aspect of a longer career that has also included 278 first-class matches and a lifetime spent following the game.

Impartiality

Selvey sacrificed a lot of goodwill among the Guardian readership during “the KP affair.” It was an oddly confrontational time among followers of the sport, but it wasn’t so much for his opinions that Selvey got people’s backs up as for being unable or unwilling to express why he held them.

It was frustrating for the reader to read bold assertions without knowing how they were arrived at. Questioning sorts of people like to see your workings out. Selvey then compounded this disconnect by being slightly tetchy and thin-skinned in the comments section and on Twitter. There will always be someone slagging off your writing online and everyone has their breaking point, but managing that is a vital skill for a modern journo.

We thought of all of this again recently when Selvey made a few dismissive comments about Chris Woakes at the start of the summer and followed that up with a piece talking up Steven Finn after the last Test.

Finn plays for Middlesex, as did Selvey, so we initially felt a bit uncomfortable about his position – but the points made in that article about confidence and implicit messages sent by a captain’s field settings were pertinent and gave ample food for thought. It was a top piece; exactly the kind of thing we’d want to read.

Cost

It’s proabably just this, isn’t it? Selvey has written for the Guardian for 31 years. They probably pay him more than they’ll pay his replacement.

No-one pays to read about cricket in the internet age. Not enough people read about cricket full stop to financially justify the volume of writing we have at present. Something has to give.


A Rob Key themed cryptic crossword

Almost certainly the finest Rob Key themed cryptic crossword you will encounter today.

Compiled by Bert.

As ever, there are no fantastic prizes.

You can also download a PDF version here.

Click here for the answers.

Rob Key Crossword


Test Cricket by Jarrod Kimber – book review

Full disclosure: We went to Jarrod’s wedding and were also sent a free book to review. However, we did also have to pay £3 in bail money to release said free book from a Royal Mail prison after it had been charged with insufficient postage, so we pretty much balance out as impartial.

There is a need for this book, you will learn from it and you will enjoy it. We can pretty much guarantee all of those things, so in many respects the review ends here. That is all you need to know. Buy it now before you forget and then read it whenever. If you for some reason need a bit more convincing, read on.

Warts and all, but with more focus on the warts

You will not struggle to find books about the history of cricket. Where this one stands out is that most of those books sand away rough edges whereas Jarrod’s inclination is to seek them out and preserve them. It makes for a truer account of the sport and one which is way more readable. At times, it has an unsettlingly authoritative air about it. To offset this, we pretended that Jarrod had stuck a line break in after every frigging sentence like he always used to, and then we felt okay again.

What’s it about? It’s about the history of Test cricket; all the most significant characters and events that have brought it from where it started to where it is now. It’s the kind of subject matter that in other hands might lead you to glaze over, but this book is light on stats and heavy on hyperbole, which keeps you interested and sneaks the facts into your brain as a result.

Asking Don Bradman to understand why people rated Victor Trumper above him is “like asking a calculator to understand a painting.” In the early days of cricket, a sticky dog was “a wet pitch that got a bit dry and behaved like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction.”

Those two lines are on consecutive pages. the book maintains roughly that tone from WG Grace to the three Ws to Imran Khan to Brendon McCullum.

In summary

Test Cricket: The Unauthorised Biography is a serious book. It’s an earnest story told colourfully, rather than a funny book that makes serious points. It’s not that Jarrod’s lost his sense of humour so much as that he’s looking to inform more than he was before; a shift in emphasis rather than an outright change in approach. Whether that’s an improvement or not is probably a matter of opinion, but if the alternative is knocking out the same sort of writing as he did way back when, it would be subject to the law of diminishing returns. This feels new and fresh and is as page-turny as anything else he’s written.

History books can be staid and tiresome and hard to engage with. This is anything but. If we had to pick someone to do the research and tell the story of Test cricket, we’d pick Jarrod. Fortunately, we don’t have to because he’s already done it.


Four things we learned from the 2016 World T20

We could have done more than four, but the article was starting to look a bit long so we just arbitrarily drew a line under things. It’s not even the best four. It’s just the first four that came to mind.

Darren Sammy can channel energy

Marlon’s upset with Shane Warne, Chris is upset because he got told off, everyone’s upset with the West Indies Cricket Board and with Mark Nicholas for saying they were short of brains. ‘Good,’ says Darren Sammy. ‘Use that.’

The Windies captain even managed to convince his side that the world was against them when they were playing England in the final and the cricket world was therefore most definitely with them.

Quarter finals aren’t for cricket

Upsets are still possible when international cricket tournaments have quarter finals, but when a sport generally has precisely eight teams that are noticeably stronger than the others, whittling the contenders down to eight doesn’t tend to deliver much in the way of jeopardy or excitement.

This tournament, which went straight from the group stage to semi-finals, had a much better way of doing things. It meant the first phase of the tournament had actual hard-to-predict knockout matches.

The bigger the match, the more likely it is that a bit of part-time dob will buy you a wicket

Joe Root’s part-time offspin, while not technically dob, accounted for both of West Indies’ openers in the space of just three balls in the final. Virat Kohli’s rather more classical dob also reaped instant dividends in the semi.

Dob is much undervalued in professional cricket. Bowl it in the County Championship and there’s no real danger, but in a high pressure Twenty20 match, the batsman feels compelled to hit out. All that talk of targeting weaker bowlers means that when a captain brings on Alan McMilitary-Straight-Up-And-Down the batsman feels compelled to maximise his return on the next six deliveries. As often as not, this seems to involve him skying the first one to an outfielder.

There’s more than one way to win a Twenty20 match

Maybe this could replace that famous cat-skinning saying, which after all isn’t really very nice. A lot of people like to assume that whoever’s won a given Twenty20 match must therefore be playing the best ‘brand’ of cricket, but it’s clear from this tournament that all any result really means is that the victors were playing their brand of cricket better than the opposition were playing theirs.

New Zealand duffled – yes, duffled – their way through a series of matches by smothering the opposition with an endless rotation of spinners; England tried to score as fast as they could throughout their innings in the knowledge that there were always more batsmen to come; and The Windies dawdled about and then hit sixes. All were perfectly viable ways of setting about things. One day you could be watching Joe Root or Virat Kohli winning a match by refusing to face a single dot ball. The next day, Marlon Samuels faces 21 of them and the West Indies still win.


Where do things stand in the World T20?

Don’t know. New Zealand are yet to make any runs and yet have won both games, the Windies are also unbeaten, while everyone else has lost at least once.

England looked like the England of old in their first match. South Africa failed to defend a million. Sri Lanka have seemingly forgotten how to play cricket. India were skittled. Bangladesh and Afghanistan are yet to trouble the scorers.

Pakistan are a notch up from where they’ve been in recent months, which puts them at notch one. Australia actually won today, but still did a passable impression of losing for a portion of the game (which is no mean feat when they basically won easily).

It’s all been rather fun and with less than half the teams going through to the next round, there’s an unusual hint of jeopardy about proceedings. It all seems too good to be true.

They’re not even playing the final on a Monday lunchtime like they did in 2007. It’s on a Sunday. An actual weekend day. Like in a proper tournament in a normal sport.


What is pre-qualifying?

We’ve seen a number of people this week referring to the first phase of the World T20 as ‘pre-qualifying’. The word they are looking for is of course ‘qualifying’.

Yes, it takes place before the tournament – or pre-tournament if you will – but that’s what qualifying is. It’s qualifying for the tournament. You can’t really carry it out afterwards. The only way that could happen is if the ICC got its way and a new format saw no-one go through. At that point it wouldn’t really be qualifying at all though, would it – what with no-one qualifying and all?

So qualifying has to happen pre-tournament and even if there were another phase before it, that would still be a form of qualifying – it would just be a different phase of a larger qualification process.

So if you want to add an unnecessary prefix, why not go for post- instead? You could legitimately call the tournament proper ‘post-qualifying’ if you wanted. You’ll sound like an idiot at first, but it’ll soon catch on.


We wouldn’t call ourself a staunch defender of Twenty20 cricket but…

We were going to draw together a bunch of our articles about the nature of Twenty20 cricket for today’s update as a kind of ‘easy win’. However, when we started searching the site to put this together, we discovered we already had such a thing.

Hurray! Even easier win!

Then we looked at what was included and a lot of it was dated. Much as we’re all still fascinated by Rob Key chucking his bat on Twenty20 Finals Day in 2007, other stuff seemed of less interest, so we tried to sort it out. This took ages.

So here you go. It may look like little more than a list of links relating to Twenty20 cricket, but there’s stuff in the articles themselves should you click those links.

Failing that, follow this one. It’s about Twenty20 cricket darts.

 


A mankad prevents batsmen from taking the piss

Before the Asia Cup qualifying round, the Asian Cricket Council is said to have met with the four Associate teams and told them not to mankad. Oman’s Aamir Kaleem was having none of it. He did for Hong Kong’s Mark Chapman in precisely that manner. Oman won.

There’s now been a suggestion that teams playing in the first round of the World T20 – other than Oman – have agreed not to mankad. This way anarchy lies.

When asked about the Kaleem-Chapman incident the other day, Ireland captain Will Porterfield said: “That is not something that we will be doing.”

So there’s a clear message to opposition batsmen: Stroll down the pitch as far as you like. Do it every ball. There is nothing Ireland are going to do to stop you.

Because that’s what the mankad is. It’s maybe not a mode of dismissal to celebrate, but to condone it is to overlook its purpose. It’s one of the necessary checks and balances that keeps batsmen from taking the piss. It’s the community policing itself because even minor crimes need a deterrent.

 


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