If you envision the next Chanderpaul, the first thing you picture is a younger version of the current Chanderpaul – a crabby, left-handed batsman who has Chanderpaul’s face and Chanderpaul’s oversized cricket gear. What you don’t picture is a two metre tall right-hander who’s actually a bowler. Nevertheless, Jason Holder delivered a Shivnarine Chanderpaulesque performance to save the first Test. It was fully admirable.
There are other bowlers who’ve never made a first-class century before who’ve danced their way to their first in a Test match. Holder’s team-mate Jerome Taylor is one. He made 106 off 107 balls against New Zealand and that’s generally the way it works: a few lusty hits in fairly unchallenging circumstances; the opposition rolling their eyes or getting frustrated.
Holder’s effort was very different. Holder played an innings. It was beyond responsibility. It was nothing less than a blunt refusal to allow the opposition to win – this in a team that has frequently folded like junk mail forced through one of those powerfully sprung letterboxes that only opens about 8mm even when you apply maximum force.
As for England, the players who played played well enough. Even Cook’s captaincy was pretty decent. Pretty much all of the bowlers were controlled and disciplined, but control and discipline are secondary qualities on a flat, slow pitch when wickets are all you care about. What you want then is an injection of chaos. Five bowlers who deliver chaos is too many but you need at least one.
But this is why you play a Test series. The new ball didn’t swing for long, reverse swing was hard to come by. Armed with these facts, we’ll judge England based on how they line up and perform in the second Test.17 Appeals
We feel moderately confident naming it this, because it doesn’t seem so likely that there’ll be another such day when not just one, but both of these players have a sizeable impact on a Test match.
James Tredwell, for one, might never play another Test. This is sad and if you think that’s hypocritical being as we were calling for the inclusion of Adil Rashid in his stead, remember that hypocrisy is built into our England support mechanisms. If you’re playing, we’re behind you. You’re our guy.
Tredders is a man who plays both second XI cricket and also for England. As he whangs in his round-arm slattery, he seems more like the former. He looks less like an elite athlete and more like an electrician or a maths teacher. This is, unquestionably, a good thing and only makes his wickets (winkled, cajoled or stolen – never taken) all the more pleasing.
As for Jermaine Blackwood, the mania side of his bipolar batting approach encourages the notion that he might not have a long career, but the gleeful hitting might actually be less relevant than the depression that generally engulfed it.
If the kind of man who carts his second ball for six can smother the impetuous part of his brain to such an extent that his 112 not out takes 220 balls, he has some kind of willpower. There were quite a few where-did-that-come-from larrups but he was skilled enough to get away with most and may need less luck in the future when further synapse smotheration has taken place.
Hindsight is everything. Maybe in years to come we’ll look back on the lows of this innings as being indicators that Blackwood wasn’t cut out for Test cricket, or perhaps we’ll simply see them as rough edges. Who knows, maybe he’ll find himself up against wily old James Tredwell again in 2019, two careworn masters carrying underperforming sides, engaging in one more epic individual battle.18 Appeals
He’s this guy. And here’s his Cricinfo page which currently features a spectacularly poor headshot (and we of all people know one when we see one). It’s rather as if the photographer has instructed the Antiguan: “Make a sad face. Now do some mouth-breathing. Perfect!”
According to Tony Cozier, Rahkeem Cornwall is a decent prospect. Excellent name, excellent girth – let’s hope he can get into the West Indies side before too long.
This is semi-relevant because England are of course in the Windies at the minute. Most articles we’ve read about the series seem to almost instantly flit to the tours of New Zealand and Australia in the summer, adopting the Colin Graves attitude that England should easily win and that Test matches against the West Indies are barely worth talking about.
What’s your take on that? We feel much the same as we did about all those columns that stated that England would qualify for the quarter finals of the World Cup. In cricket, presuming something is the finest way to negate that very presumption.31 Appeals
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.9 Appeals
We’d say that Chris Gayle’s biggest achievement today was looking like a relatively small person. The route to achieving this wasn’t easy. He first had to hit a double hundred and this then allowed him the opportunity to stand next to Ian Bishop at the post-match press conference.
Bishop appears to have spent his time since retirement growing, such that he now looks like a bigger than life-size version of a human – all in proportion but built to completely the wrong scale. We’re desperately hoping that England get to play the Windies and that James Taylor puts in a match-winning performance.
Shortly after Gayle had exited the pop-up stage, Jason Holder made an appearance. Miraculously, he was taller than Bishop, but looking at his spindly physique, it was obvious what had happened: someone had stretched him.
Also today, Shane Warne used the phrase ‘absolutely salmon trout’ to mean ‘out’. Combine this with all his talk of cherries, poles and globes and it’s obvious that the man is somehow entirely unfamiliar with the language of cricket.15 Appeals
He’s kind of like a McBride, but saltier. With all of one first-class match and three one-day internationals to his name before today, he delivered the stupid figures of 0-26 off 10 overs against the West Indies – this in a match in which Ireland chased down 305 inside 46 overs.
We’d recently been thinking that the main problem with the Cricket World Cup is that there are always eight teams with a much better chance of progressing to the quarter finals than any others. No matter how you organise what precedes that stage of the competition, there will always be something of a tension shortfall.
But then there’s Ireland. You need 300 chasing in a World Cup and they’re your guys.27 Appeals
Rahul Bhattacharya’s piece about Shivnarine Chanderpaul in the November issue of The Cricket Monthly is full of highlights, not least because a man who is himself one of our favourite cricketers also seems to revere exactly the same players we do.
He describes how Brian Lara would sometimes put spin on the ball with his shots to evade fielders and then at other times wouldn’t, depending on where they were positioned.
There’s also a fantasic quote about the challenge of facing Wasim Akram:
“After looking for swing-swing-swing all of a sudden I saw a ball on my face.”
However, our favourite moment is the way he tells another Wasim Akram story and more specifically how he punctuates it.
“Wasim bowl a few that went across him. Hooper normally play bat-and-pad, but he left a little gap just enough for the ball to pass through. Wasim had a look at him. Then Wasim had one go back through that little gap and hit them stumps. That is how good this guy is. Wasim is an unbelievable bowler. Wasim Akram.”
That’s how you end a cricket anecdote. You say the name of the player as if you’re ending a prayer.
That Shivnarine Chanderpaul, he’s one hell of a guy. Shivnarine Chanderpaul.10 Appeals
We consider the Spirit of Cricket – the branded, upper-case initial letter creation of the MCC – to be a nebulous pile of bollocks. You can quote us on that. However, that isn’t to say that there is no such thing as the spirit of cricket.
The Spirit of Cricket (branded) is all about fair play and doing the right thing. The spirit of cricket (unbranded) is the way the game really works; the unspoken rules of the sport as they have naturally evolved. As such, the West Indies abandonment of their tour of India is most definitely in contravention of the spirit of cricket.
The board’s argument is that they had no choice but to call the tour off once the players had announced their intention to return to the Caribbean. What utter, utter horseshit.
Since when have cricket matches demanded that both sides have their best players, or indeed sufficient players, available to them? Cricket in its purest grassroots form demands only one individual to represent his or her side. That person phones round available players in a vain attempt to drum up an eleven – any eleven – for the next match. If they fall short, the team either plays short-staffed or the opposition provides a few spam-handed incompetents to supplement their numbers.
On no account is the match called off.
A West Indies XI… or VIII or IV or whatever
Obviously, as this is international cricket, the West Indies cannot make use of Ajit Agarkar or any other Indians as they are the wrong nationality and therefore ineligible for selection. That’s fair enough, but surely they can still get a few blokes out onto the park?
Richie Richardson’s there; he’s a decent bat. Stuart Williams is assistant coach; he can open. Clive Lloyd’s knocking about and Curtly Ambrose has been working as bowling consultant. You’ve already got a half decent side there in our opinion. Rope in a few physios and management figures for fielding duty and they could still beat most sides in the world.
Stop your bleating and get on with it.25 Appeals
Let’s take a day off from the office politics and instead take a look at some cricket. The West Indies beat India today.
One of the most interesting things in the run-in to the World Cup – often more interesting than the tournament itself – is that we can compare the different approaches of the various nations. England’s strategy will change precisely five more times before the tournament starts, but most teams have a fair idea by now how they’re going to try and win the precious few 50-over matches that really matter.
One-day cricket is very formulaic, but the rules change rapidly and no two squads are the same, so we don’t really know for certain the best approach at present. We’d slotted the West Indies into the second tier of teams behind Australia, India and South Africa, but looking at their team, we think we might be doing them a disservice. Also Sri Lanka now that we come to think about it.
What are they doing?
They’re hampered by the absence of Sunil Narine and who knows whether he’ll be back for the World Cup. But despite this, they have a lot going for them. Their most obvious strengths are a plethora of all-rounders and a surfeit of might in their lower order batting. Obviously, the two are linked.
If Denesh Ramdin seems at least a place too high at number five, a six-seven-eight of Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell and Darren Sammy gives them three shots at death-over carnage. With Dwayne Bravo currently opening the batting and three specialist bowlers, they also aren’t short of options with the ball. One-day cricket has shown us time and time again that if you don’t have one Wasim Akram, you may still be able to get away with a motley assortment of Chris Harrises and Sanath Jayasuriyas.
What are their chances?
It seems a rather fragile strategy – light on batting, light on out-and-out bowlers – but we can see it working. It’s almost a case of carrying maximum ammunition and then just firing indiscriminately hoping something hits the spot. It’s a funny sort of numbers game, but perhaps it fits the current fielding restrictions and whatnot.
King Cricket rating: Daniel Day Lewis in Gangs of New York
A few sound fundamentals, but mostly just throwing all sorts of stuff out there in the hope that some of it sticks.21 Appeals
Do you get the feeling that there are a number of dead men walking at the minute? It’s like one mob family has ordered a series of hits on a rival family and now capos and crew members are being picked off as they go about their daily business.
Sunil Narine is the latest to be visited by Paulie Walnuts, but he’s only been wounded, not killed. He’s been reported for his action when bowling his quicker ball, but unlike Saeed Ajmal, he’s not been suspended.
An uber-cynical prediction would involve him playing the rest of the Champions League for his IPL side before somehow being banned ahead of the World Cup.6 Appeals