It has to be. Unable to fly and never allowed to play more than three Tests in a series, it has to adapt quickly if it isn’t to be devoured by cats or beaten by Pakistan.
Captains and coaches always talk about learning from a defeat, but you rarely see any evidence of this. It’s just a thing you say – yet New Zealand appear to have actually improved as their tour of not-Pakistan has progressed.
First Test: Beaten so soundly you might have mistaken them for second-rate tourists, such as Australia or England
Second Test: A very creditable draw
Third Test: Almost certainly a win – and by a huge, huge margin
They even got Younus Khan out for a golden duck. Just think about that.
It’s almost as if it would be worth everyone’s while to have New Zealand play more than six Tests a year; as if having more than three teams in the world might somehow enrich the sport.
Thankfully, this will never happen. New Zealand will play two Tests against England this summer AND THEN IT’S THE ASHES AGAIN. You can’t argue with the law of supply and demand – the more of something you have, the more valuable it becomes.6 Appeals
The ECB media cheat sheet will have been passed around again after today’s performance. All this running talk of attacking batting is understandable, but England repeatedly show a worrying lack of aptitude for walking the full 50-over distance (actually only 45 in this instance). Six times in their last seven matches they’ve been bowled out.
There are many interlinked problems and it goes beyond team selection. That said, we’d actually be tempted to drop Eoin Morgan on recent form. We’ve no idea what’s wrong with him, but he appears to need some form of arse-kick and James Taylor surely needs to get a few games before the World Cup.
As for Alastair Cook, we’re not going to start laying into his batting just yet – but only because it’s a seven-match series and there’s another long one-day series and World Cup to come. Cook ain’t going anywhere, so we’ve got to pace ourself. If we give full vent to our anger now, what are we going to do when he makes a 32-ball duck against Scotland in February?8 Appeals
It’s never easy to cover serious news on a website like this because whatever we write will have to stand alongside something stupid. Our usual way of dealing with this is to just let the serious story completely pass us by. But you can’t write a cricket site and not comment on the death of a cricketer who was killed while playing cricket. Where are you if you start doing that anyway? The modern world is a disconnected, unfeeling place at times. Ignoring a person’s death is not acceptable.
However, the first thing we’ve noticed is that even if people can feel distanced from major events nowadays, the cricket world – and that includes you and us – seems to remain healthily responsive. We’re writing this because it’s a struggle to read. Phil Hughes’ death seems to have rinsed all the cynicism away so that even trite words are making us teary.
That’s one of the things about cricket. A day’s play is six hours; a Test match five days; a tour can last months – it’s a lot of time to get to know someone. We don’t see players in every situation in their life, but we do see a hell of a lot of them. We take in the ups and downs that shape them – ups and downs which can be very personal and unrelated to the fortunes of their team. Cricket’s like a huge, freakish family and when a cricket family member dies, we all feel a sense of loss.
Quite a few of the obituaries are saying that Hughes was destined for greatness, which is the kind of fortune-telling revisionism which often takes place when someone dies at an unacceptably young age. We don’t much care whether he would have been great or not. What we’ll miss is Hughes’s career, however it might have panned out. That was the fascination – in seeing things unfold.
And Hughes was a truly fascinating player. We’d have loved to have seen how things went from here. He could look – and we’ll not mince our words here – outright bad at the crease. He could look like a bad batsman. But he could also look good and more than anything, he could perform in a way that made him impossible to ignore. He bounced between those extremes like no-one else and that is what we’ll miss. All players are unique, but Hughes was a high profile, potentially-alter-your-entire-way-of-thinking unique.
His career seemed to constitute an experiment as to whether really obvious shortcomings could be completely negated by sheer brilliance. Hughes would pick up a whole string of ducks and you’d think it was an open-and-shut case and then he’d score hundreds when no-one else could get off the mark. That was the quality we picked up on in his early days and he only became more interesting when we later discovered that his was a qualified brilliance.
Freakishly heavy scoring is hard to ignore and if Australians still talk about Shaun Marsh as being some great white hope, it’s worth noting that Hughes made over twice as many first-class hundreds despite being six years younger. He was 25. We hadn’t even started this website when we were 25. We hadn’t even thought about doing the thing that we do when were the age at which Phil Hughes has died. We know a sportsman’s career starts and ends earlier than most, but it isn’t meant to end this early.39 Appeals
That’s okay. That’s what these tours are for. Moeen will have learnt from this. From now on, he’ll know that 119 off 87 balls simply isn’t enough and he’ll instead score 180 off 110 balls or whatever.
Other than that, one of the great joys of the first one-day international between Sri Lanka and England was in seeing Alastair Cook being given out three times – at one point off two successive deliveries. Did England’s mighty stuttering captain let this stop him? Did he heck. Well, okay, he let the third one stop him, but he’d already rollicked his way to 10 off 17 balls by then so it really didn’t matter. That’s really not a bad strike rate when you consider that three of those 17 deliveries were dismissals.
Ravi Bopara was the most economical bowler, so he was limited to just four overs. James Tredwell finished his spell with sixes and then outs – a pair of each. Harry Gurney bowled six wides. Sri Lanka also played.18 Appeals
Justin Langer has a philosophy. It’s changed the culture of the Western Australia cricket team and made them successful. Central to his philosophy are the following three rules:
- Use common sense
- Keep things simple
- No mobile phones at training
This revelation comes from within an almost transcendentally nauseating interview. Other highlights include his Christian faith (“I’ve probably got about 15 to 20 sets of rosary beads at home”); how he and his wife dedicate an hour to each other every morning (or at least they do when he’s in town); and his habit of scrawling trite quotes on the walls of what is now his daughter’s room…
“The words on the wall are just scriptures and quotes. They’re just reminders. Every now and then I go up and lie on her bed and just surround myself.”
Try as they might, this current generation of Australian cricketers just can’t quite muster the same level of exceptional loathesomeness as that 2005 outfit.
It’s the same kind of guff that Matthew Hayden comes out with. All this belief, self-improvement and relentless positivity – it’s almost like a cult. “My name’s Justin and I believe in successfulnessment.”
It’s hard not to picture Warnie sat in the corner of the dressing room, gawping at them with a cheese toastie in his hand. The sad fact is, Warne’s actually not much better these days. At some point the fat idiot must have been infected by it all – it’s just that the disease just took a decade to gestate thanks to all the cheddar clogging up his synapses.34 Appeals
Sticking with World Cup songs, Bert writes:
All proper World Cup campaigns, no matter what the sport, need a World Cup Song, but in the past I think teams have made a tactical mistake. All these songs tell of hope and excitement, of the chance of winning, no matter how small. But after the inevitable humiliation in the tournament the hubris associated with this approach affects the way the song is viewed. Nobody wants to hear a song about how we’re bringing the cup home when we’ve gone out in the preliminary round.
So, for England’s World Cup 2015 team, I’ve written a song that more accurately reflects the state of affairs. Because this one is accurate and truthful, I can well imagine that it will be sung from father to son and mother to daughter for generations to come, rekindling the spirit of those far off days of 2015. As next year’s World Cup is in Australia, it has to be an Australian-themed song, and as the list of acceptable Australian songs has been somewhat reduced by recent criminal cases, there is really only one that will fit the bill (a-bong).14 Appeals
Howe drew our attention to another official song, saying: “Perhaps deserves a post of its own.”
You’re not wrong, Howe.
Our favourite line is: “Everyone can win it. From the team of PNG to someone else.”
Who says the East Asia-Pacific region hasn’t made its mark on the cricket world?12 Appeals
First up, tail-enders. They’re ace, but they’re a dying breed. Blame professionalism.
Now we love lower-order shenanigans as much as the next person, but the key word there is ‘shenanigans’. A textbook forward defensive stroke is not a shenanigan. These are shenanigans.
A tail-end innings should bring all the fun of the fair (actually more fun than that because fairs aren’t really considered unusually fun in this day and age). Sadly, what we typically get from nine, ten and jack nowadays is basically just mediocre Test batting.
If we’re watching cricket, we want it to be either really good or really bad – and preferably the latter. That middle ground holds little appeal. The modern tail-ender is neither good enough nor bad enough to be worth watching yet occupies a greater proportion of Test matches than ever before.
It’s a scandal. We wrote about happier times for All Out Cricket.
We’ve moaned about Michael Vaughan’s inexplicable obsession with the hashtag #justsaying before, but it seems we haven’t quite got it out of our system yet.
We’ve previously described the term as a beacon, warning you that the person who uses it really enjoys having arguments, is ready for one and will probably refer to it as ‘banter’. But it’s worse than that. There’s a smugness about it; an intimation that the person deploying it is a plain-speaking, calls-a-spade-a-spade type surrounded by fearful cowards.
We’re hoping that analysis of precisely why it infuriates us so much will somehow dissipate its impact, but the truth is our efforts are something akin to getting angry at a traffic jam. The rage builds so that you’re in a heightened emotional state where everything becomes annoying – which is of course a fine state to find yourself in when trying to pan for gold in the torrent of excrement that is cricketers on Twitter.
This week’s round-up features quite a lot of Michael Vaughan #justsaying things and a jaw-dropping effort from Chris Gayle which you’d hope would be tongue in cheek, but probably isn’t. Gayle’s Twitter bio has him down as ‘World Boss’. We honestly don’t know whether he’s joking with this stuff.
Strengthen those quads
You probably saw the news about Syd Lawrence last week. We missed it somehow. The man sadly most famous for his gruesome on-field knee explosion has apparently become a highly successful bodybuilder.
Oh, and Pakistan v New Zealand
New Zealand have impressed us, bouncing back impressively from the pannery that was the first Test. But Pakistan have impressed us too. They’ve not been disheartened when things haven’t gone their way.
We’ll not mention the score because it’ll probably be something completely different by the time you read this.14 Appeals
We try and avoid video-based updates because we always consider people skiving work to be our main audience. It’s hard to convince your boss that you’re working when they can hear a video playing on your computer.
That said, this is too good to miss.
Has rock ever come any softer?
This is how cricket songs are supposed to be. It’s specifically about the sport, even though that renders the lyrics utterly ridiculous; it’s got a shouted list of the main teams; the guitar solo’s what can only be described as ‘soaring'; and the whole thing’s cheesier than a stilton fondue/Matt Prior.20 Appeals
I sort of watched the T20 World Cup final. Here is roughly what happened.
A motley crew of myself, and myself’s pals William, Lottie and Millie assembled at my house for the purposes of watching something approximating cricket. This was convenient for me as it is closer to where I live than any of my comrades’ dwellings. However, I do not have Sky television and thus do not have the channel briefly known as Sky Sports Ashes, now referred to as Sky Sports 2, which broadcasts international cricket.
After much deciding it was decided that we would decide how to decide how to watch the cricket over lunch. I have the good fortune to live opposite a very nice pub called the Highwayman, so we went there to eat. They didn’t have Sky either. The Highwayman doesn’t have a TV – it’s not that sort of pub.
Three of us had roast beef and; I shan’t name any names, but Millie had something off the regular weekday menu. We ordered extra roast potatoes. Always order extra roast potatoes.
We returned to my house, thus far puddingless, to indulge in some fruit pastille ice lollies. ESPN Cricinfo reliably informed us (mainly just me and William) that fifteen overs of the first innings had already been bowled and that some runs had probably been scored. This meant, for unobvious reasons, that it was time to take my housemates Teasle and Moppet – who happen to be dogs – for a walk. We just went for a quick one up the road, because Teasle cut her paw recently and we didn’t want to aggravate the injury.
When we returned from the walk, we decided that it was such a nice day that we would have a drink in the garden. We had a drink in the garden (each, not between us). Between sips, the significance of the offside rule to cricket was explained for the benefit of some.
At the end of the day, some people went home, some people didn’t, and some people were already at home. I think Barcelona won after Kevin Pietersen scored the winner.
Send your match reports to firstname.lastname@example.org. If it’s a professional match, on no account mention the cricket itself. If it’s an amateur match, feel free to go into excruciating detail.10 Appeals