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A bit of advice for Joe Root

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

If there’s one thing the England captain generally lacks, it’s advice from random members of the public. Fortunately for Joe Root, we are prepared to step in and fill that void.

It’s a little-known fact that our critically-acclaimed Club Captain’s Handbook for All Out Cricket was originally penned as a guide to being England captain. Tweak the headline and standfirst and replace the phrase ‘everyone at the club’ halfway down the page with ‘England fans’ and that’s it – job done. You can now see the piece as it was originally envisaged.

If you’re Joe Root, pay close attention to our words. Feel the anxiety well up in you as the scope of what you must now master dawns on you.

Everyone else, settle down with your halloumi and tomato Staffordshire oatcakes (which were inspired by last week’s café barmcake) and enjoy our wisdom free from the pressures of having to captain England yourself.

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I Don’t Like Cricket, I Hate It – the new England Test captain edition

A semi-regular feature in which we ask Prince Prefab about cricket – even though he hates cricket. We are in bold. Prince Prefab is not.

Joe Root said he was ‘humbled’ to be named England Test captain. We vaguely remember you moaning about people’s use of this word. It basically means to be made to feel less proud, doesn’t it? In which case this is surely the exact wrong word to use in this context.

Yes, lots of people insist they are ‘humbled’ when something really good happens to them at the moment. And I think you are right about humble meaning sort of less proud, or workaday or very ordinary or something like that. The phrase that springs to mind is ‘a humble abode’.

And in sporting terms if you’ve been ‘humbled’ at something you’ve been embarrassed at it haven’t you? ‘The Premiership team were humbled by the non-league team when they lost three nil’ – that type of thing.

Is humility even a quality that one can assign to oneself?

I don’t think you can describe yourself as humble because that’s the opposite of what a humble person would do. The act of saying ‘I am humble’ isn’t humble. A humble person wouldn’t be so forthright as to describe themself as humble, would they? It’s for others to decide.

But, having said all that, I try not to be a colossal idiot and shout at the internet about it too much because we know what he means. He means he’s grateful, pleased and that it’s an important job and he takes it seriously – that sort of thing. And that’s nice. And nobody wants to be the person who is always correcting everyone’s grammar, do they? Apart from you and look where that’s got you.

We said on Twitter that what people are trying to say when they say that they’re humbled is: “I’m still normal despite this. In fact I’m going to redouble my humility to counteract my inarguable greatness.”

Yeah, in a way they are sorting of saying they are even greater than you thought. Mate, that’s not humble.

It’s kind of like they’re constantly fighting back the pride lest it burst forth and make them look like a show-off. In cricket terms, Root hasn’t even got all that much to be humble about. Using your in-depth knowledge of cricket captaincy and your carefully-researched insight into his character, do you think he’ll be just as successful as a captain as he is as a batsman?

Based on my in-depth knowledge of cricket captaincy and my carefully-researched insight into his character, I think Joe Root is going to be the greatest England cricket captain of all time. Why not? Someone has to be and it might as well be a blond lad called Joe from Sheffield and he stands more chance than Joe Elliot.

Interesting. Do you think he’ll also one day have a case for being named Sheffield’s Greatest Joe?

Doubt he’ll ever topple Joe Cocker. Not many men will ever cover a Beatles song and have it set as the theme tune to a cloying sentimental American sitcom about adolescence.

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People are streaming live cricket online via Kodi

Kodi logo

If you don’t know about online TV streaming software, Kodi, we’ve written a bit of an explainer. As well as taking a quick look at the software itself, we’ve also looked at what sort of content’s available, the legality of streaming and what this technology might mean for the future of cricket broadcasting.

More and more cricket is being televised, but it’s spread across ever greater numbers of channels. It’s a complex landscape and things aren’t always straightforward even when you subscribe to a particular broadcaster.



For example, our Sky Sports subscription only seems to cover Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2. This means we generally can’t watch Test match highlights/discussion show The Verdict on weekends because it tends to be broadcast on Sky Sports 4.

If you want to watch all of this year’s England matches, you would also need a subscription to BT Sport because they’re the ones covering the Ashes.

Kodi’s burgeoning popularity arises because users are able to bypass these complexities and without any subscription costs. If that sounds too good to be true then you might want to have a read.

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Bangladesh three long sessions away from Test series victory over India

Relatively speaking. Escape with a draw and that’s basically a win for the tourists, isn’t it? And being as it’s a one Test series, that would also mean a Bangladesh series victory. Again, relatively speaking.

Three sessions seems an awful long time when you’ve only got seven wickets left though. Three fifth day sessions. Three fifth day sessions with R Ashwin bowling at you. When you’re Bangladesh.

So, in other words India are seven wickets away from victory. In fact, being as most of you will read this on the daily email which won’t go out until mid-morning on Monday, check the scorecard – India have probably won.

It’ll be funny if they don’t though. All these big India tours this season and Bangladesh were the ones who stood the best chance of escaping with a draw.

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Virat Kohli dealing in daddies and doubles

Virat Kohli (CC licensed by James Cullen via Flickr)

Virat Kohli (CC licensed by James Cullen via Flickr)

Is ‘supersizing’ still a thing or did it die out after that Morgan Spurlock film? We’re old enough now that we should probably research our knee-jerk cultural references to see whether they still apply. Let’s not bother and just assume that this one’s still current.

Virat Kohli had never hit a Test double hundred until July 2016. He now has four of them. His other hundred in that period, 167 against England at Visakhapatnam, was a mere daddy – an innings so mundane, we didn’t even write about it.

We were in McDonald’s in York about 20 years ago. We’ve a vague notion that the cooker had broken but can offer no defence beyond that. There was an American guy ahead of us in the queue. He was one of those touring Americans who likes to enjoy his trip by loudly proclaiming how much bigger and better everything is in his home country.

“You see how there’s a medium and a large on the menu,” he said. “In the US, everything is large.”

Another person might have seen this as a lack of choice, but he could only see merit in it. Everything’s bigger, you see. And bigger’s better.

Virat Kohli currently gets his hundreds from a possibly fictitious 1997 McDonald’s somewhere in the Midwest.

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Were Alastair Cook (and his family) ‘let out to dry’ by the ECB?

Via ECB.co.uk

Via ECB.co.uk

Alastair Cook has said that the ECB “kind of let me out to dry a little bit” over Kevin Pietersen’s sacking and the ensuing brouhaha.

Being ‘let out to dry’ makes him sound like a cat who’s mistaken bubble bath foam for solid land and now needs the back door to be opened so that it can dry its soggy legs in the sun. But let’s fight back our natural inclination and not dwell on that minor slip of the tongue and instead focus on the more significant inaccuracy in that statement.

A little bit?

The ECB’s quasi-nepotistic public pronouncments seemed almost purpose-made to undermine Cook’s captaincy. As we wrote at the time, statements seemingly intended as props to support him became sticks with which the public and press beat him. This went on pretty much throughout his captaincy. Whatever his aptitude for captaincy, he is a very resilient man.

Giles Clarke’s comment that “he and his family are very much the sort of people we want the England captain and his family to be” may have become infamous as some sort of crystallisation of the outdated prejudiced views at the ECB, but it also made Cook – through no fault of his own – the embodiment of that attitude.

If it was a garland, it was a rubber one that was instantly set on fire. Actual support, in any tangible, pressure-alleviating sense, was conspicuous by its absence. Intead, Cook was just foisted up there as a figurehead with a big ol’ target across his chops.

We could go on, but you’re busy people and it feels like a ‘less is more’ kind of a day. Should you be in need of further reading, here’s three more links that we may or may not have included had we gone on.

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Eoin Morgan to be Ireland Test captain?

eoin-morgan

Photo by Sarah Ansell

“Even more than making it in Twenty20 or 50‑over cricket my real ambition has been to become a Test player,” said Eoin Morgan when England first gave him a shot at the five-day stuff.

After 16 Tests and two hundreds, it seems highly unlikely they’ll give him another go, but the ICC’s latest proposals would see Ireland become a Test nation. The country of his birth would surely give him a game, no?

A certain part of us would love to see Morgan up sticks and head home purely to see how forceful and obnoxious the “SEE! SEE! WE TOLD YOU HE WAS A TRAITOR!” response would be in those parts of the media that like to characterise him as a kind of national-anthem-scorning pseudo-Pietersen.

The truth is Ireland’s Test status wouldn’t be for another couple of years, even if it happens, and Morgan currently seems rather heavy-in with leading England’s short format sides anyway. A career-minded cricketer, you can’t really imagine him walking away from his current job.

This might be a possibility further down the line though. If nothing else, a Test match between England and an Ireland side led by a cold-eyed Morgan furious about media criticism would surely be well-attended. Even if they played it in April. Which they would.

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Alastair Cook finally works out that he doesn’t much like being England captain

Alastair Cook

After four-and-a-half years and 59 Test matches, Alastair Cook has finally thought to himself: “Wait a minute, this is a rubbish a job and I don’t actually have to do it.”

It sometimes seems like every England captain’s career is simply a long, slow deduction that the honour and prestige don’t remotely outweigh all the millions of negatives. By the end of the India tour, Cook had the downbeat, dejected air of someone who had finally attained clarity.

After all this time, we’re still not entirely sure what particular qualities Alastair Cook brought to the job. He wasn’t an innovator or a rabble-rousing public speaker. He progressed from ineptitude with the press to speaking honestly and fairly informatively by the end, but it was never what you’d call a strength.

As we wrote a couple of months ago, with one obvious exception all of the players seemed to support him, which was a pretty decent achievement. A decreasingly competitive England side remained on an even keel, despite that creeping mediocrity. His team didn’t implode. Would Cook have won a lot more with a few better players or did he prevent the team from fulfilling its potential? Hard to say for definite, but personally we’re inclined towards generosity on this one. We might get a clearer idea when Joe Root takes over.

Concern that captaincy will somehow undermine Root’s batting seems peculiarly British being as we only have to look back as far as the present day to find examples of players who’ve improved on already high standards after taking over as leaders of Test teams (Virat Kohli and Steve Smith).

Admittedly, Cook himself was the opposite. But then the corollary of this is that he might now revert to being one of the most effective openers in Test history, which is the kind of thing that might well come in handy.

To Alastair Cook! [Somewhat bizarrely toasts him with a halloumi and tomato barmcake due to time of day and an uncharacteristic selection at the café just now.]

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ICC horse design proposals approved to go before next committee

Boardroom table (CC licensed by Jonathan Baring via Flickr)

Boardroom table (CC licensed by Jonathan Baring via Flickr)

The Test nations are poised to rain an almighty storm of compromises down on the ICC’s proposals for the international cricket schedule.

We know this for a fact because in cricket ‘proposal’ means ‘thing that will never come about in any recognisable form’.

These latest proposals – for some sort of Test championship and a league for one-day internationals – are the product of the International Cricket Council’s chief executives committee. Now that they’ve agreed on them, the plans need to go in front of the ICC board.

The ICC board comprises representatives of each of the ‘full member’ nations, plus three blokes from the associate nations (not actually checked that they’re blokes, but we’re in real boys’ club territory here so it seems a safe assumption).

At the time of writing, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is being run by temps after the Supreme Court finally tired of the last president’s bullshit. The temps will doubtless be far too busy to approve anything significant.

They will be entirely preoccupied by three main concerns:

(a) Faxing their timesheets over to their agency
(b) Wondering why they hell they have to fax something in 2017
(c) Trying to sort out back pay after being paid a seemingly random amount last week

If they do find time to look at the proposals, all they will do is run them by the TV networks to see whether they would result in a contract featuring a bigger number.

When told that the proposals would result in a smaller number, they will make a few suggestions.

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Viv Richards has a chilli sauce

Or possibly had. Graeme Swann doesn’t make it clear in his tweet just how long the bottle’s been at the back of his cupboard.

More of this kind of thing in our latest Twitter round-up.

Unsure how to respond to this news? We’ll start you off with a trio of condimentary wicketkeepers: Jeffrey Dijon Mustard, Bruce French Mustard and of course, Phil Mustard.

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