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Mark Footitt and some other stuff: a review of the first round of the County Championship

The first round of the County Championship is over. Here are some of the things that happened.

Hampshire beat Yorkshire

This match was one for true connoisseurs of momentum in cricket. Hampshire had all the momentum when Yorkshire fell to 152-7 in their first innings, but momentum being momentum, it wasn’t long before the home team had recovered to 273 all out.

From there, Ben Coad made Hampshire be losing at the cricketings, bowling them out for 141. The momentum was clearly now with Yorkshire. Or at least it was until Kyle Abbott did a Ben Coad and bowled them out for 187. Hampshire then sashayed to their target for the loss of just six wickets.

Marks Stoneman and Footitt v Jonathan Trott

Ex-Durham batsman Mark Stoneman made 165 for Surrey and then ex-Derbyshire bowler (and one to watch) Mark Footitt doused Warwickshire in petrol and lit them. After that, Jonathan Trott killed some time by making a hundred but Warwickshire still lost by an innings and a run.

The result means that a certain corner of the cricket press has leapt into “this could be Surrey’s year” mode. This happens a lot. The last time there was a groundswell of excitement, they got relegated. Technically, it could be their year though.

Lancashire may or may not have beaten Essex

We were going to wait until seeing the result before writing our review. That seemed to make sense. But then we suddenly decided we didn’t want to.

Dane Vilas ran Shiv out. That was the main thing that happened in this match. He partially made up for this by making a load of runs, but unforgiveable acts are unforgiveable, so we won’t be forgiving him.

Lancashire’s wicketkeeper Alex Davies made a second innings hundred opening the batting. This probably means that Jos Buttler will return to the side later in the year in a charity case sort of a role, batting at seven and not keeping wicket, purely so that Lancs don’t get told off by England for not picking him.

We can’t see Essex winning many games this year. They don’t seem to have enough bowlers.

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Who is Ben Coad, Yorkshire’s new strike bowler?

Earlier this week, Ben Coad was just some dude; some dude called Ben Coad; a young bowler whose Cricinfo profile page has him down as a ‘workhorse seamer’.

A couple of days into the county season and he’s Ben Coad, strike bowler.

He finished the first day with 5-18 off eight overs as Yorkshire’s wobbly start receded from memory in precisely the way things rapidly recede from memory in this day and age.

He continued, albeit slightly less spectacularly, on day two and finished with 6-37.

Coad is from the miniature city of Ripon and from what we’ve read seems disinclined to concede runs. The only other fact we’ve managed to glean is that his nickname is Coady – and quite frankly, we could have guessed that.

Suggested nicknames for Ben Coad:

  • Coad Breaker
  • Coad Red
  • Coadeine
  • Bar Coad
  • Coadependent Personality Disorder
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A preview of the first round of County Championship matches?

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Don’t expect us to ever do this again – and not just because the competition will, by definition, be moving onto the second round of matches next week.

Essex v Lancashire

This is the only one anyone really cares about, because everyone supports Lancashire. That’s what our empathy tells us. It tells us that if we were in your position, we’d support Lancashire. Why would we support someone else just because we were in your position? What would that change?

The big news is of course that The Great Neil Wagner will not be playing for Lancashire this season, which will be a tremendous loss. The situation is compounded this first week by the fact that he’s playing for Essex instead. All of Essex’s wicket-taking bowlers have retired due to acute old age, so they’ll need him.

Lancashire meanwhile might have Jimmy Anderson at their disposal. We can’t remember. We read which matches he was likely to be playing somewhere, but honestly, who can keep track of that stuff?

Prediction: Lancashire can’t lose because Shivnarine Chanderpaul is playing for them.

Yorkshire v Hampshire

Yorkshire may or may not have Australia’s Peter Handscomb playing for them. Honestly, who can keep track of these things?

South Africa’s B-team have some Hampshire players making up the numbers. They may or may not have George Bailey playing for them too. Honestly, who can keep track of these things.

Prediction: Either team could lose as neither has Shivnarine Chanderpaul playing for them.

Surrey v Warwickshire

It’s a surprising-but-true fact that Surrey remain a first division side. They have signed Durham’s top order to try and extend that unlikely record for another year.

The Warwickshire side increasingly comprises high-achieving available-for-all-matches county stalwarts like Keith Barker, Rikki Clarke, Jeetan Patel, Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott. You’d think they’d win more than they actually do.

Prediction: Either team could lose as neither has Shivnarine Chanderpaul playing for them.

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There’s a King Cricket County Championship fantasy league after all

As with so many things, we sort of half-floated the idea with no real enthusiasm and then someone else went ahead and sorted it out.

Mike has set up The King Cricket CBA Cup within The Telegraph’s county fantasy league thing. CBA stands for ‘can’t be arsed’ to reflect the spectacular levels of enthusiasm underpinning the venture.

You’re all welcome – even those of you who are cricket journalists. We know as well as anyone that such an occupation will provide no advantage.

You can find the league by picking a team, paying EIGHT JEFFING QUID and then going to ‘my leagues’ whereupon you can search for ‘King Cricket CBA Cup’. The PIN to gain access is then 8124380.

If we were to set rules for this league, we’d say ‘no transfers’. You just pick your side and then fate has its say.

However, you’re paying EIGHT JEFFING QUID, so do what you want. We daresay no-one will have strong enough feelings to rigorously enforce the ‘no meddling’ law. In fact it remains to be seen just how many people can muster strong enough feelings to part with EIGHT JEFFING QUID in the first place.

The deadline for entry is 11am on Friday. Sorry if that’s relatively short notice. Sorry also that it’s The Telegraph. And sorry yet again that it costs EIGHT JEFFING QUID.

Of course there aren’t any prizes. Don’t even ask.

Update: You can also get three teams for FIFTEEN JEFFING QUID if you happen to be a billionaire.

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As the IPL and County Championship loom into view, which fantasy cricket game is best?

telegraph-fantasy-cricket

If there’s one thing we like about fantasy cricket leagues, it’s eking out our few remaining fantasy points/doubloons over half a dozen all-but-unknown cricketers to complete our XI after going a bit overboard with our first two selections and an unsuccessful attempt to rein things in a bit with the next three.

If there’s one thing we don’t like about fantasy cricket leagues, it’s paying close attention to how our team is getting on as the season progresses. We don’t want to feel any sort of obligation to do ‘transfers’ to maximise our point-scoring. We just want to pick a team and then passively monitor them, checking in on them about once a fortnight and perhaps bemoaning the fact that our entire bowling attack is either injured or performing so poorly that they are no longer playing first team cricket. This to us is the whole point – the helplessness and underperformance.

That’s what we’ve been on the lookout for today: a kind of hands-off fantasy game that will if not exactly reward inactivity, then at least not punish it. They don’t really do this. They seem to want to you to repeatedly log in and do stuff. It’s almost as if that is the very thing they’re striving for with these games.

So, in summary, the best fantasy cricket game is all of them, right up until the point you submit your side. Our tactical withdrawal game-playing strategy also brings with it the benefit that you don’t have to pay anyone any money or give them your email address or owt.

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County cricketers to watch 2017

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

We stopped doing this in 2014 because we always seemed to end up picking much the same bunch of players as the year before with perhaps one or two replacements. In short, it had become a bit boring and whenever we threw a leftfield selection into the mix to liven things up a bit, all we ever succeded in doing was making a mockery of the whole enterprise.

But after a couple of fallow years, we now feel like we can return afresh, so here’s a bunch of names to kick around.

Liam Livingstone, Lancashire

Has been pretty much monopolising the pre-season going-to-be-an-England-player-by-the-end-of-summer columns off the back of a strong Lions tour and the coaches’ knowing winks to journalists. Looks toss, but makes runs, which as you all know, is precisely what we look for in a batsman.

Nick Gubbins, Middlesex

Makes loads of runs.

Yorkshire’s opening batsmen, Yorkshire

The ALs – Adam Lyth and the alphabet-straddling AZ Lees – have taken different routes to nondescript competence. Lyth averaged 40.46 in the County Championship last year, Lees averaged 40.17. We can’t imagine either of them will play for England any time soon, but we’re interested to see them jockey for position. Surely someone has to nose ahead.

Tim Bresnan, Yorkshire

He made fewer runs, but a compelling case can be made for Tim Bresnan having been a more effective batsman than either of his top order colleagues last season.

Bres the Bat, who was last sighted before his England career even began, seemed to make a return in 2016 and if he only made the one hundred, we described his bonus point securing knock in the final match of the season as “a quite majestic innings of sturdy clomping.”

So yes, Tim Bresnan is one to watch in 2017 – on the basis of his batting. If he continues as he did last year and bowls as he can, we truly believe he could become a County Titan – whatever the hell that might mean.

Closer scrutiny means we may also be able to draw some sort of conclusion regarding whether or not he’s a bellend. We’re still erring on the side of ‘not’ – but let’s see.

Jack Leach, Somerset

We couldn’t for the life of us work out why we couldn’t find the article we wrote last year about how Leach isn’t some sort of saviour. Then we realised that it was because we’d for some reason decided he was called Joe. We’ve since reversed this decision as there’s already a cricketer called Joe Leach and things will only get confusing if we insist on calling Jack Leach by someone else’s name even though he’s got a perfectly serviceable one of his own.

Ollie Rayner, Middlesex

Rayner and Leach are both spinners who take sizeable hummocks of wickets at a decent average and may or may not be really good.

Mark Footitt, Surrey

England people don’t seem to think Mark Footitt is quite good enough for England, yet e bowls quickly using his wrong hand and his career average is 25.51.

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I Don’t Like Cricket, I Hate It – the ‘is Tim Bresnan a bit of a bellend?’ 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.

Is Tim Bresnan a bit of a bellend?

Never particularly struck us as one. Why?

Saw him interviewed on the news wearing shades and a cap and he looked like a colossal bellend.

Was he in the UAE? To be honest, cricketers wear shades and a cap most of the time. He may even be contractually obliged to wear the cap when he’s not on the field. Dunno.

I don’t think it was an official cap but I may be wrong. It’s just, you’re on the news, it doesn’t look bright, you’re talking to a camera and a person and they’ve not placed you directly in front of the sun. Don’t be a bellend and take your sunglasses off.

I hate people who wear sunglasses unless absolutely necessary. In my life it has been necessary twice. Once in France with you when it was so bright my eyes hurt, once when I was driving into a setting sun. What’s wrong with squinting?

You can achieve a lot with squinting.

There’s a photo of Steps walking into a hotel yesterday where the press pack were waiting for someone more famous. All of ’em wearing shades. That sums up it up for me. Sportsmen and shit people wear sunglasses. (People with eye conditions are exempt.)

Tim Bresnan has a serious eye condition.

That must make life as an international cricketer tricky.

Bressy Lad wishes he were still an international cricketer.

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Cricket recipe: Ged Ladd’s “Home Of Cricket” Glazed Drunken Prawns

King Cricket was one of my guests the first time I cooked and served this dish. Although he praised the dish, KC also described the glaze as “less of a glaze, more of a gelatinous gloop”.

Well I can assure you, King Cricket, my original attempt at Throdkin was gloopy, whereas the sumptuous, high viscosity sauce for the drunken prawns is glazy.

If you want an artificially shiny glaze, then add cornflour, like a cheap Chinese restaurant.  But don’t listen to KC (or me) – try it yourselves.

Ingredients

  • 8oz raw Nicaraguan jumbo prawns (other varieties of large prawn would do, but surely part of the purpose is to enable remorseless prattle at the cricket about your recent holiday in Nicaragua)
  • One clove of garlic, crushed
  • One large spring onion, finely chopped
  • A little bit of fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • A splodge of sesame oil
  • A splash of good, honest, light soy sauce
  • A dash of decent white wine (cheeky Riesling ideal, but not essential)
  • A smidgeon of five spice (fresh ground if possible, otherwise any good brand of powder)
  • A teaspoonful or two of the finest Manuka honey (ok, ok, in truth any honey will do)
  • An ounce or two of sesame seeds
  • Four large rolls or bagels, but ideally Paul Rhodes breakfast muffins
  • A squeeze of fresh lime (optional)

Method

Heat the sesame oil, then add the garlic, spring onion and ginger. Once the oil is seasoned with those ingredients (don’t cook them), add the prawns and cook the prawns thoroughly.

Once the prawns are well on their way, add the five spice, soy sauce and white wine. Reduce.

Towards the end of cooking, glaze with the honey and toss in some sesame seeds for good measure.

Chill. (That’s an instruction to you, as you might be getting a bit stressy at this juncture. Don’t. It’s an easy dish; it pretty much cannot go awry. Anyway, if something has gone wrong, it’s too late now.)

Allow the dish to get cold. You can refrigerate it overnight and it should be good for a couple of days at least if you want to prepare it well in advance.

Makes reasonably generous portions for filling the four large rolls, bagels or muffins. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lime to balance the sweet with sour (optional – but that’s what I do).

Not convinced ‘cricket recipes’ will turn out to be a thing, but pretty much every match report we’ve ever received has devoted a great deal of attention to what was consumed, so maybe it will. Email us at king@kingcricket.co.uk if you’d like to contribute something. Maybe send a photo too. Everyone likes photos of food.

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Free-to-air cricket debate is short-sighted in the internet age

There’s been a few headlines about the possibility of some free-to-air cricket off the back of the ECB’s proposed new T20 league. People get excited about this sort of thing, but the whole point of free-to-air is that it opens up a larger market, yet this is a form of media which is of rapidly diminishing importance.

How many people will be watching conventional forms of TV by 2020, which is when the tournament is due to take place? Whatever free-to-air channel wins these rights may also broadcast via some sort of internet player, but it seems to odd to us that this is secondary and not the focus itself.

We saw one report on the tournament last night – which has since been edited – which floated the possibility of an online stream to which cricket fans could directly subscribe. We were briefly excited about the prospect, but then the end of the sentence revealed that this would only be available to overseas viewers.

Why?

Last month we wrote about how more and more people are streaming live cricket via Kodi or other online applications. It’s a mistake to think this is happening purely for reasons of cost. In many cases it’s because it’s more convenient, or because it’s literally the only way of accessing the matches you want to see.

The software is arguably not yet sufficiently mainstream to warrant serious consideration, but what will the situation be three years hence? The concept of a sport-specific subscription at reduced cost to the consumer – because they wouldn’t also be paying for darts, biathlon, motor racing or the broadcaster’s hardware – makes sense to us.

A broader cricket app could even serve as a hub from which individual matches could be ordered. That might typically be for a fee, but it could also be free of charge if the broadcaster in question could find a way of funding the broadcast through advertising or reduced outlay on rights.

The ECB seems keen to make at least some of their domestic T20 matches easily and freely accessible. Perhaps in 2020 the place where people will go looking for such a thing is in the ‘free sport’ category within their online TV application.

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Virat Kohli is basically livid about beating Australia

Virat Kohli must be the dictionary definition of hard-to-please, for no-one on earth is an enraged by their own success as he is.

When Kohli makes a hundred, he’s angry. When his team wins a series over Australia – even though he’s not actually playing – he’s positively enraged.

We’ve done detailed analysis of a grainy video posted to Twitter to prove that second point.

Somewhat unexpectedly, Kohli’s initial reaction to series victory is something that could, at a push, be construed as pleasure.

virat-1

It isn’t long however before that emotion starts to make way for something else.

virat-2

The eyebrows are starting to harden. The jaw is tighter. The fists are starting to clench.

virat-3

By this point it’s unmistakeable. Virat Kohli is decidedly pissed off about winning a Test series against Australia.

virat-4

This is where he ends up.

Livid.

Absolutely sick to the back teeth, the front teeth and tonsils of experiencing sporting success against his rivals.

Someone is going to pay for this positive outcome.

Big time.

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