Category: Extras (page 3 of 35)

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.


Next week on King Cricket

Brace yourselves. We’re taking a week off. Apparently it’s not just fast bowlers who need to recharge from time to time.

As ever, we’ve got stuff lined up for next week: match reports, summat about New Zealand and stuff we’ve done for other people that you may have missed.

Those of you who aren’t reading this particular post, please ensure you leave outraged comments about how we’re not covering some major news story or other (as if we ever actually report on anything).


Geoff Boycott to star in Triffids remake

Here’s a moment from the final scene when Geoff finds himself surrounded by a gang of maize.

Boycott in the maize

Okay, we’ll admit that’s a lie. Boycott’s Triffids film is being kept closely under wraps and they would never give away crucial plot information like this.

The photo is actually from a press release we received last July about York maze. We’ve only just got round to reporting on it because, well, you know, that’s just how we do things round here.

Obviously you’ve missed it now, but it seems that in 2014 they made a big old Geoff face maize maze.

Here it is.

Boycott aerial

And here’s a picture of Geoff with his two best friends shortly after tackling the maze. These are genuinely his best friends and it’s entirely coincidence that they both happen to be maize.

Geoff Boycott with Sweetie and Kernel

Join us tomorrow for something.


Tony Cozier’s notebook

Clearly the highlight of this weeks’ Twitter round-up. (Yes, we do still write that.)

Our other favourite bit is Tino Best’s caption to a photo of himself where he claims he was bowling ‘thunderbolts’ and suggests that everyone nearby is looking on ‘in amazement’. To be totally clear, this is a caption written by Tino Best, about Tino Best.

It’s hard not to love him.


The man who wrote his own textbook in illegible handwriting

Nurdling the shit out of every bowling attack

Our final King of Cricket appeared on the All Out Cricket website a couple of weeks ago. We didn’t link to it at the time because we thought it would get lost amid all the World Cup stuff. We didn’t want that to happen because it’s Shiv and you all know how we feel about Shiv.

Rickets, Chomsky, Shane Watson talking bollocks and the art of persisting for long enough that eventually the world changes shape to accommodate you. It’s all in there.


Four men outside the circle – should the 2015 World Cup fielding restrictions be changed?

In this World Cup, the fielding team was allowed four men outside the thirty-yard circle. It’s different in Powerplays – it’s two outside in the first one and then three in the second – but let’s not worry about that. For the purposes of this article, we’re focusing on what happens in the other 35 overs.

Before 2012, you were allowed five men outside the circle and there seem to be two main schools of thought about the impact of the change.

  1. More boundaries! Hurray!
  2. Okay, this is getting a bit silly now.

The main issue seems to be that when the batting side start looking to hit boundaries in the final 10 overs, it’s now very hard to stop them. There’s usually at least one big gap for the batsman to aim for where he’ll probably be safe even if he mishits it. There’s also the fact that where the boundary fielders are placed tends to inform the batsman what sort of a delivery he might expect.

Put these two things together and you get a lot of runs.

Is this a bad thing?*

It’s easy to be a bit cricket hipstery about this, saying the best matches are those with low totals and whatnot, but runs aren’t intrinsically bad. What is bad is if the game becomes one-dimensional and all we see is some sort of boundary-hitting competition.

You look at some matches – often those featuring AB de Villiers – and it feels like that’s what we’re getting. But look at who did well in this tournament. The best teams didn’t thrive because of the runs they scored so much as because of the wickets they took.

Shifting the emphasis

We’ll not write about Mitchell Starc again, suffice to say that he’s been a revelation and with Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Johnson in the side, he had incisive support. New Zealand too attacked with the ball and so too, weirdly, did India. South Africa reached the semi-finals after bowling Sri Lanka out for 133 and Pakistan might have done better had they had even a middling batting line-up to support their wicket-taking bowlers.

The sides that did badly were generally those with defensive approaches to bowling. Before the tournament, much of the talk was about how England would need to make 350 consistently to be in with a chance of competing. If this was intended as a message to the batsmen, it was the bowlers who listened. They seemed resigned to damage limitation from the outset and achieved nothing. West Indies too fielded a somewhat insipid attack and suffered.

The potential for free scoring at the death saw sides place greater emphasis on earlier overs and the aim was to get batsmen out. If you didn’t leave the opposition in an at-least-moderately-fragile position by the 40th over, you were going to be on the receiving end of a hundred hand slap.

Then and now

Is this so bad? Taken in isolation, the late innings near-free-hittery does seem unfair, but it also seems to have encouraged sides to attack with the ball and that, in our eyes, is no bad thing at all.

Think back a few years and the one-day game seemed to be spiralling downwards into some sort of Hades almost entirely populated by part-timers ‘keeping it fairly tight’. No-one went for wickets at any point. You balanced attack and defence at the start, bowled Suresh Raina for seven overs in the middle and then tried to keep things manageable with wide yorkers and slower ball bouncers at the death.

It was shit.

Compare the top-ranked bowlers on 31st March 2012 under the old rules with the top-ranked bowlers now.

Back then: Lonwabo Tsotsobe was the number one bowler and the top ten contained plenty of spinners – Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Hafeez, Graeme Swann, R Ashwin, Dan Vettori and Shakib al Hasan.

Now: Mitchell Starc is number one and the spinners that remain are wicket-takers – Imran Tahir, Ajmal, Sunil Narine and Shakib.

Spinners?

There is a concern in that spinners do seem to have been marginalised at this World Cup, but two things to note are that Australia and New Zealand aren’t famously spin-friendly countries and, more importantly, several of the most effective spinners from over the last few years (Ajmal, Narine and Hafeez) weren’t here.

Vettori, Tahir and Ashwin also hinted that there is still a place for spinners under these fielding restrictions, provided you’re good enough, so overall we’d consider ‘four fielders out’ to have resulted in a net gain.

There is sometimes chaos at the end of an innings, but chaos isn’t bad. And set against that is how bowling sides approach things at the other end of the innings. Respectable fast-medium seamers deliver little of consequence, while fast bowlers who can properly bounce people and hit the stumps are proving invaluable. It isn’t perfect, but that seems an improvement to us.


Bowlers still exist

That’s the surprising conclusion we’ve drawn from the last few weeks of cricket. More on this and a review of Australia’s win yesterday in our final World Cup column for the Mumbai Mirror.

We’ll maybe have a few points to make about the tournament as a whole in coming days (not today, we’re taking a day off), but we’d just like to say that in general we’ve really enjoyed it. Some of it was flat, but it didn’t seem as lifeless as a few of the previous instalments and in New Zealand, Mitchell Starc and India’s bizarre surge in seam bowling ability, there were some great stories to follow.


Mitchell Starc never was soft

He just had a bad day once upon a time. Seems a long time ago. We just about managed to remember that far back for our Mumbai Mirror World Cup final day piece, in which we also expressed the hope that the team with no spinner should lose.

We started typing this with New Zealand needing 10 wickets. We were going to say something about how we hoped that turned out to be a very specific moment in time, when lo! Aaron Finch was dismissed…


How to bat your way to a World Cup final

This World Cup really hasn’t turned out as batsman-centric as people imagined. Batting-centric, maybe, but not batsman-centric.

Australia have Steve Smith and a whole bunch of minor contributors. New Zealand have four overs of Brendon McCullum and then everyone’s a little too shell-shocked to really know what’s going on after that. More on this at the usual place.


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