People are always saying this. It drives us mental. They say it like it’s a fact. Stuart Broad’s the latest.
“I think Test wickets should be flat, no doubt, because the crowds want to come and see runs scored.”
No we don’t. The most boring days we’ve ever seen have been when batsmen have been piling on the runs on a flat pitch. It’s mind-numbing.
Sat in the ground, we have to watch for six hours or more. The more accurately we can predict what the score will be at lunch, tea and at close of play, the duller it is for us. Runs are not remotely a sensible unit of measurement when gauging the value of the ‘product’.
People want to see the unpredictable. Test matches need corners.17 Appeals
There is more than one thing to celebrate regarding Andrew Flintoff’s return to competitive cricket, but surely this is the greatest. A county match report which doesn’t go on and on about how some no-mark is ‘pushing for selection’ is a rare thing indeed.
Okay, so in this instance the focus is on a somewhat showbiz comeback instead, but it’s still a refreshing change. And can anything in county cricket ever truly be considered ‘showbiz’?
We’re pretty sure we saw Flintoff in the supermarket the other day, but we can’t for the life of us work out which aisle it was in. We suspect that it was ready meals, but that would be really weird because we never go down that aisle except as a thoroughfare when either fresh meat or milk and yoghurts is blocked by dawdlers.12 Appeals
Apparently Andrew Strauss has been caught calling Kevin Pietersen ‘the C-word’ during a commentary stint. He thought he was off-air, but they were actually still broadcasting in Australia.
Being as this is Strauss, we’re presuming that the word used was ‘cad’. We’re quite taken aback by this. Our guess would have been that he would consider Pietersen a ‘bounder’ or possibly a ‘rogue’.24 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
Should they pick the batsman who bowls slippery fast-medium (Ben Stokes), the fast-medium bowler who can bat (Chris Jordan), the faster fast-medium bowler who can bat (Liam Plunkett) or the fast-medium bowler who really can bat (Chris Woakes)?
All are good players, but even an eskimo may from time to time find it unnecessary to distinguish between different types of snow. Sometimes it’s just snow and it ain’t doing a lot.
A mischievous thought – and not an entirely heartfelt one – but might a selector feel a little safer selecting an all-rounder over a specialist, feeling this brought two chances for vindication, not just one. You could consider this the “clearly we picked the right spin bowler – he made a hundred” mentality.
Unarguably, runs and wickets are both important, but taken to the nth degree, would you really expect to win many Test matches with a bowling attack comprised entirely of Andrew Halls?
Perhaps these are the best bowlers available to England, or perhaps we are about to see what you end up with when you place great emphasis on three-dimensional cricketers and ‘the all-round package’.15 Appeals
Over Easter, the Lancastrian nephew-in-law, Escamillo Escapillo (EE) and I schemed to meet up for the Middlesex v Lancashire fixture at Lord’s this year, even if we could only manage half-a-day off during the working week.
In the flurry of subsequent e-mails and texts, I said that I could do day three (Tuesday) and he agreed wholeheartedly that the afternoon of the 12th would be splendid. So we agreed to meet at the Grace Gates at 3.30pm, entirely unaware of our miscommunication.
So, on the Monday afternoon, I was quietly minding my own business when I received a text from EE: “At the gate – where are you?…”
“…elsewhere – we agreed day 3 tuesday, no? – really sorry – cannot get there today…”
“…and I cannot get there tomorrow, might be good for wednesday though – depends on work”
“yes – should be fine for me – try for that,” I texted.
That Monday evening, Daisy remarked that such a diary confusion was a pretty poor show, “coming from two seemingly competent businessmen.” I thought that was a bit rich, given that she and the niece, Lavender, two seemingly competent professional women, are constantly getting their meeting times and locations messed-up.
By good fortune, my working week was, for once, really quite rejiggable. Equally by good fortune, it turned out that we’d have seen little (rain-interrupted) cricket, had we met up on either Monday or Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday, however, was set for glorious weather. By not such good fortune, though, Escamillo texted me on Wednesday morning: “No chance of cricket today – big deal on – see you saturday”.
So I wandered over to Lord’s on my own with a good book and some journal papers to read. I found a very quiet spot in the pavilion for the morning session. Sky had erected its camera platform on the middle balcony slightly to one side, leaving just a few unwanted seats on the wrong side for this match – north – right beside the Lancashire players’ balcony. No-one else would choose to sit there. The book was about the financial/money system and whether alternatives might be better. Given the mess we’re in, “better than the current system” seems a fairly low benchmark, so I think the answer is yes, although some of the suggested alternatives were quite daft.
After lunch, when the shade hits even that north side of the pavilion, I wandered around to the Mound Stand to continue my cricket watching and reading there in the sun. I ran into one of the old diehard fans who used to be a regular “Middlesex Till We Die” (MTWD) reader/contributor back in my day. We chatted a bit – agreeing that neither of us have visited MTWD for years. We also chatted about the internet radio commentary, which the nice fellow said he doesn’t like much because they chat about all sorts and don’t focus enough on the cricket. I thought about recommending the King Cricket match reports to him, but decided against.
I thought about returning to the pavilion as the end drew nigh, but it was so pleasant sitting in the early evening sunshine in the Mound Stand, I decided to stay put and make a speedy exit once stumps were drawn.
Escamillo and I got some serious ribbing from Lavender and Daisy about our temporal mishap, when the young couple came around for dinner shortly after. I tried to get my own back by playing my rendition of And It Stoned Me by Van Morrison on the baritone ukulele, but it must have been a truly beautiful sound because it brought tears to young Lavender’s eyes. Escamillo Escapillo suggested that I try some Oasis numbers instead. Typical.4 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
Sperm whales have pretty small brains. If you saw one, it would look massive, but they’re small brains in relative terms because sperm whales are massively massive.
In Moby Dick, Herman Melville makes the case that the small brain is compensated for by the whale’s giant vertebrae, the first few of which are almost the same size as the skull and filled with the same brainy gloop. Needless to say, this rather odd argument made us think of the current New Zealand team.
It’s not that the Kiwis are brainless. It’s that they seem lacking up top. For as long as we can remember, New Zealand have struggled to find openers and this has contributed to a batting fragility which for a long time saw the lower order outscoring the specialist batsmen on a regular basis.
It’s reached the point where it just seems futile to hope for much up top, so New Zealand are compensating for this with the first few vertebrae. It’s going rather well for them. In Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum and Jimmy Neesham, they have a cracking spine.
New Zealand have had one or two decent middle-order batsmen in recent years, but having four makes a lot of difference. With four, it seems likely that at least one of them will score in any given innings and suddenly the lower half aren’t being asked to do all the running. Anatomically-speaking, you might think that running ought to fall under the lower half’s jurisdiction, but New Zealand are a sperm while, so they don’t run.
Kane Williamson has made 161 swims without being dismissed in the second innings of the third Test against the West Indies.11 Appeals
A bit of housekeeping. We’ve had some of our articles published on other websites.
First up, The Shire Horse, our fortnightly thing for All Out Cricket. This week’s edition makes fun of some things that England players have said, has a bit about Lancashire’s batting and then there are the regular segments ‘Collapse of the Week’ and ‘Dot of the Week’.
We also didn’t get round to linking to the previous instalment. It makes fun of some things that England players have said, has a bit about Lancashire’s batting and includes the regular segments ‘Collapse of the Week’ and ‘Dot of the Week’. Never let it be said that we don’t plough a furrow.
Over at Cricinfo, we’re looking at England’s new era and pointing out that eras don’t actually have to be good.
Finally, Cricket Badger went out today. You’ve missed this week’s, so sign up now in time to receive next week’s. If you don’t, you’ll be missing out on what critics are calling ‘an email’.10 Appeals
Will Alastair Cook learn his lesson? Most people know that it’s incredibly unwise for the England captain to demand that critics be less critical.
But not Cook, apparently. He recently said that “something needs to be done” about Shane Warne’s relentless criticism of his captaincy.
The headline of Warne’s latest column?
“Alastair Cook’s captaincy was the worst I have ever seen.”
Over to you, Alastair. Which highly inflammable material are you going to use to try and extinguish the flames this time?15 Appeals