The Shire Horse will be holed up inside the stables for the winter months and so we’re doing a series called King Cricket’s Kings of Cricket in its place.
The first cricketer to be so honoured is Brian Lara. There’s also a bit of a preamble relating to the King Cricket name for the few of you who weren’t around when we started the website back in January 2006 (i.e. all of you).36 Appeals
It’s our latest piece for Cricinfo. Here’s what the critics are saying about it:
“Ultimate ROFL… Next in line is Misbah?” – The Sunday Times
Now, if you’ll excuse us, we appear to have one million things to write today and very few hours in which to do it.13 Appeals
We rarely feel moved by events in the second division, but it’s hard not to feel a twinge of excitement at the prospect of Northamptonshire and Leicestershire playing out a draw next season to extend their respective winless streaks.
We’ve reported on both of these clubs in our latest Shire Horse column for All Out Cricket – plus some other stuff.10 Appeals
Bad news for Slovakian handball goalkeeper, Maros Kolpak, whose name has apparently morphed into a racist insult. Yorkshire’s Andrew Gale has been charged with a level three offence for firing the word at Lancashire’s Ashwell Prince.
A level three offence involves “using language or gestures that offends race, religion, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin.”
We suppose Kolpak refers to non-British national origin so in that sense the charge fits.
We’ve written more for Cricinfo – although if you’re expecting a serious dissection of the issue, be warned that the article features Giles Clarke crouching behind a desk.14 Appeals
We’ve written a rather hefty piece for Cricinfo about overtraining in cricket. We think it’s a big deal, but we get the distinct impression that no-one else really does.
It’s partly that people don’t really understand the concept. Understandably, they think it just means training too much, but overtraining is actually a label for a physiological condition that tends to come about as a result of a whole range of factors of which physical training stress is just one.
It hinges on whether or not an athlete is ever fully recovering and so it also involves all those little things which have an impact on that.
Most people don’t understand recovery
And this is simply because they don’t live a lifestyle where it’s any kind of an issue. Even if you play a lot of sport in your spare time, chances are you’re still in overall credit when it comes to recovery. You might struggle in one particular week, but it’s not something that persists for a month or a year.
An alternative title for the Cricinfo article could have been ‘a plea for an off season’ because it strikes us that international cricket seems to be actively courting overtraining. The way the sport is run seems specifically geared towards hampering recovery, enhancing mental stress and most importantly of all, engineering a situation where players define themselves by their performance. When you reach that point, things really get out of hand.
While speaking to Dr Richard Winsley for the article, we pointed out what happened to Jonathan Trott. Thinking about what Trott had said at the start of the summer, about how he’d basically lost the ability to switch off, it struck us that this might be an example of overtraining. Winsley agreed to the extent that he is now going to use Trott as a case study.
If the Trott example tells us anything, it is that such an implosion has no single cause. Rather, it is a perfect storm of multiple, related factors. It is also pretty clear that the environment inhabited by international cricketers is one where such an outcome is increasingly likely.
An extraordinary proportion of a modern international cricketer’s time is spent with colleagues. Have you ever been on a work night out and been struck by how much you talk about the job? Imagine that all day every day. It’s not healthy. People need balance. Now imagine that this environment is all you’ve known for your entire adult life and then suddenly, in your early thirties, it’s gone. How would you adapt to that?
Fred bowled more overs
Measuring bowlers’ workloads in terms of overs is reductive. There’s far more to overtraining than that. England are playing at least one match a month from November of this year until September 2017, so anyone playing multiple formats is rarely going to be more than a week away from another flight and another hotel.
There’s an awful lot appended to a modern international over, whereas a 1950s county over is delightfully unencumbered. They’re not equal.
They’re well paid
This is the most infuriating argument of all – that players should stop moaning because it’s their job and most people would love to be in their position.
Firstly, most people would love to be in their position simply because most people are idiots and only imagine themselves raising their bat or holding aloft a trophy. Nobody plays a game for a living, because as soon you do, it ceases to be a game.
The reality is that you spend years building towards something that might be taken away from you in an instant by a slight divot or a dodgy call. You then get to spend endless hours ruminating on it. The cricket in the middle’s the tiniest fraction of your time and the majority is spent trying to address all your myriad flaws.
Whose problem is it?
The second rebuttal to the ‘they should just bloody well get on with it’ argument is that this is precisely what they are doing. It’s not generally the players who are suffering the most – it’s us, the fans. Most people who read this website – obsessive cricket people, for the most part – would be more than happy to see far fewer games being played. They’d love to see more fast bowling and fewer meaningless fixtures.
Players and coaches are just getting on with it, but that isn’t to say that everything’s fine. Rotation’s pitched as being a cure-all, but that assumes there is someone in charge who can enforce it. Is that the head coach, who needs his best players, the player fighting for his spot, or some sort of head medical officer keen to become a lightning rod for disappointed fans’ hatred?
Fatigue accumulates over time, but as often as not a decent period of rest sees it dissipate. A defined off season would be no bad thing.36 Appeals
The first is the unflappable maestro, Mahela Jayawardene, who is giving up the five-day game. Fun fact, stats nerds: his first innings hundred in the ongoing Test against South Africa has tipped his average over 50. He’s actually got another series after this one yet though, so don’t get too excited.
At the other end of the spectrum, the angriest county stalwart there’s ever been, Steve Kirby, has called it a jeffing day. We’ve written about him in our latest Shire Horse thing over at All Out Cricket.15 Appeals
We’ve produced a valuable guide just in case any England fans aren’t overreacting sufficiently. It can be found over at Cricinfo. Tick all the boxes and you too can call yourself a true England supporter.
Andy Caddick’s ears
Sam was greatly disappointed that they didn’t get a mention in another recent Cricinfo piece of ours which focused on the 2000 Test series between England and the West Indies. The article’s about hope really.
The Kingdom conquers
The Kingdom, this website’s mini-league in the All Out Cricket fantasy league, is supplying the first and seventh ranked sides in the whole competition. Balladeer’s Bhangra-Morris Fusion side have danced their way to the top spot, while Patrick’s p = mv are seventh.
We feel this reflects on us well, but as we said in the comments section yesterday, we can do better. Come on, everyone! Accurately predict cricket within the fantasy game’s defined parameters!
Cryptic crossword news
Those of you who read all of the comments will have known about the above. Those of you who receive the email and never actually read the comments, you’re missing out – they’re the best bit.
For example, you also missed a link to Bert’s Tour de France cryptic crossword. It’s nothing to do with cricket, but we know quite a lot of people who read this site enjoy his efforts and so thought we should draw attention to it.
Sri Lanka v South Africa
Dale Steyn’s class, isn’t he? We were worried he was on the wane a bit, but after taking 9-99 in the first Test, he’s doing it again in the second. Or at least he was at the time of writing. Those Sri Lankan pitches, hey? They’re no place for quick bowlers.10 Appeals
We were at the Test yesterday. It was… steady. Or at least it was until Stuart Broad came in.
The main thing we gleaned from our side-on vantage point is that Ishant Sharma has two different running styles during his approach to the crease. First, he jogs normally. Then, halfway through his run-up, with no discernible change in speed, he suddenly starts kicking his arse with his heels. We’ve no idea why.
We did a thing for Cricinfo about Alastair Cook being a weary middle manager. We just get a sense that things are getting fractious at home.13 Appeals
Can we just remind you that we also write a Tour de France website. The race starts tomorrow and the first three days promise to be ‘a big deal’ because they’re in the UK. Stage two on Sunday is the one we’re most looking forward to, but we’ll be covering the whole race.
Unsurprisingly, it’s not a particularly serious website and we try and write for more casual followers of the race as well as those who are a bit more into it. We’re not looking to get all evangelical about bike racing, but if you’ve an idle interest, hopefully you’ll get more out of the Tour if you follow it with us. Or maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll just get completely sick of us.
If you’re at all interested, please sign up for the email. The email only contains the most recent post, so you don’t need to do this, but it makes life easier because it means the articles come to you. Plus there’s great swathes of downtime on that site because we rarely feel it necessary to report on Zellik–Galmaarden or the Tour of Limburg. Being signed up to the email therefore means you won’t completely forget about us.11 Appeals
Over the weekend, Cricinfo published an article of ours about the English hatred of ‘giving it away’ and how it gives rise to a way of batting which is fundamentally unproductive.
It’s called Why so passive, England? and it’s another angle on the whole proactive batting thing we’ve been so obsessed with recently. Don’t worry, we think we’ve got it out of our system now. We’ll go back to doing whatever it is that we normally do now.10 Appeals