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Rishabh Pant is not India’s wicketkeeper – what possible reason is there for this?

Wriddhiman Saha is injured. India’s selectors said it was too early to hand a debut to Rishabh Pant who is still only 19 years old. They instead picked Parthiv Patel, a 31-year-old who made his Test debut against England in 2002.

In seven innings this season, Pant has made four hundreds. One was a triple, two were made in one match and he has generally scored at around a run a ball. For the second of those twin hundreds, against Jharkand, he upped his pace to two runs a ball.

He is also called Pant. He should be selected if only to see whether he shouts “Pant’s!” should an England batsman accidentally sky one.

Such an exclamation would serve as both a means of claiming the catch and also as a blunt appraisal of the batsman’s performance.

 

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Somerset v Glamorgan, Royal London One-Day Cup match report

taunton

Sam writes:

It rained on the drive from Cornwall to Somerset. We had left our 18-month old son at home, and brought along our 34-year-old friend instead. He turned out to be slightly lower maintenance.

The seating rules were not clear, so we plonked ourselves behind the bowler’s arm underneath the new pavilion.

Taunton has a lot of pavilions.

Before leaving the house, my wife had asked if I had washed the strawberries. I said yes. Mistake number one. As noon approached, she turned to me and said ‘Well done on washing the strawberries’. I told her I hadn’t actually washed them. Mistake number two. A mini argument ensued. I decided to sulk by not eating my lunch until 2pm.

Our friend suggested we “do a circuit”. My wife didn’t know what that meant. We explained the concept of doing a circuit. We left it until the break between innings. Mistake number three.

There were lots of pictures of Ian Botham and Sir Viv Richards on the walls. “How are we going to cope when Sir Viv Richards dies?” I asked. Nobody seemed to know.

We visited the shop to buy a mini cricket set for our son, then the bookshop to pick up a cricket-themed romance novel for £1.

sams-son

I discovered a programme from the 1992 England v Pakistan Test at Edgbaston. I once owned that programme, aged seven. Leafing through, it brought back some overwhelming emotions. If I had a therapist, I would have been straight on the phone to him.

I had brought along some Waitrose Country Slices, to much ridicule. “They look vile,” my friend said. All the more for me, I thought gleefully. I ate all six.

In the afternoon we started feeling sleepy and went in search of refreshment. I ordered a latte and discovered a tea bag hidden inside. “That can’t be right”, I said. Nobody seemed to know.

Marcus Trescothick was wandering around the perimeter. “Must be nice to walk around like you own the place,” my wife said.

Back in Cornwall, we went for a curry. We skipped starters and poppadoms. I had prawn saag and lemon rice. My wife offered to drive the rest of the way home so I could have another pint.

We finished the day scrolling through YouTube trying to find footage of that time Gareth Batty and Peter Trego had a fight. We couldn’t find it. We ended up watching a video of Jade Dernbach showing off the contents of his kitbag.

Send your match reports to king@kingcricket.co.uk. 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.

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Mop-up of the day – guilt, great promise and grey trivialities

‘Du Plessis found guilty’ reads the Cricinfo headline. We don’t really feel it necessary to add much to your likely response to reading that. The effect of imposing black and white morality on the sport’s grey trivialities could barely be clearer.

Here’s something we wrote last time Du Plessis buggered about with a cricket ball. It’s still relevant.

Shot!

“If he does come in I think he’ll give it his best shot,” said Trevor Bayliss about the likely inclusion of Jos Buttler in England’s third Test team instead of Ben Duckett.

We’re rather hoping to see plural shots, but England are in no position to impose such lofty expectations on a man who presumably thinks of red cricket balls as being exclusively reserved for use in the nets.

At the same time, Buttler is a player for whom his first-class record appears to tell but the smallest fragment of the story. We’re excited about his return.

Had England brought him back into the team for a home Test match despite almost no first-class cricket in recent times, there’d had been an outcry. Plucked from an emaciated touring squad, his inclusion can more easily be justified.

Perhaps it was always a deliberate ploy to take Gary Ballance on tour only to instantly drop him.

Series appraisal

Basically still what we said after the first day of the second Test: “On pitches that deteriorate over the course of a five-day match, England are capable of having the better of things when they bat first. When India bat first, they are good enough that they seem almost certain to dominate. That appears to be the difference between the sides.”

Given a pitch that deteriorated quicker, England could have won the first Test. Given a pitch that didn’t deteriorate so much, India could still have won the second. The tourists need a lot more things to go their way than the home team to win Test matches here.

We’re going to stop writing about grey trivialities now.

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England fans: redouble your pessimism – your country needs you

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

When they’re not favourites, sides will often talk about proving people wrong. This is all well and good, but it can leave them susceptible to the viewing public’s fickle mood swings.

At the start of this India tour, plenty of us thought England could lose every match. In the first Test, they proved people wrong.

Having proven that they could compete, the mood changed. England then set about proving people wrong once again by conceding a 200-run first innings deficit in this Test.

‘Well, this match is basically over,” many of us concluded.

‘We’re not having that,’ replied England and promptly set about having a stupendous fourth day.

Towards the end of that fourth day, many of you England supporters may have just begun to harbour faint hopes that some sort of outlandish victory could be achieved. Go on, admit it. Against your better judgement, it crossed your mind.

England duly countered.

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Jayant Yadav seems a nice bloke

The second Test is progressing pretty much as you’d imagine, so this is what we’re passing off as insight today: India’s new off-spinner Jayant Yadav seems a decent sort.

We’re basing this exclusively on one interview with Sky Sports’ Ian Ward. This may be misleading because Ward’s genial curiosity does seem to get the best out of people. But even so, Yadav seemed cheery and thoughtful, which is never a bad combination in an interviewee.

He gave considered, informative answers which were underpinned by the kind of slightly giddy, faintly intoxicated demeanour which Ward himself always seems to project. We won’t go into specifics. He just had a likeable air about him and that is pretty much the full extent of the point we’ve seen fit to put forward today.

Yadav’s cricket seems half-decent too. He got a few runs, took a wicket and secured the run-out of Haseeb Hameed with the kind of turn and throw that England could have done with producing at some point during their 129.3 overs of first innings toil in the field.

This article may feel worthless and irrelevant right now, but it’s worth noting that this is just the kind of flimsy basis on which most of our cricketing obsessions are born. In years to come, you may be able say that you were here when we first started boring people with this particular hobby horse.

Okay, obviously he’s not going to be another Rob Key, but he could become a Mominul Haque or Neil Wagner kind of figure. To a great extent it’ll depend on how much he gets to play. There’s a chance he could just be the next Burt Cockley.

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Snapped stumps and pitch predictions – day two at Visakhapatnam

Alastair Cook
“Cook in particular had lived dangerously in his 11-ball stay,” reports Cricinfo. You wonder how he found the time. At least he went out in style, his off stump halved by Mohammad Shami.

Ben Duckett was also bowled. “Here are my stumps,” he seemed to say. “Snap one if you can!” R Ashwin correctly deduced that merely dislodging the bails would be sufficient.

Haseeb Hameed was run-out moments after Prince Prefab had goaded us by saying that the young opener was “unjinxable” and destined for a hundred.

Joe Root whopped one to a deep fielder. Moeen Ali came down the pitch and padded up – which didn’t work.

There were pitch-related challenges, but it was probably England’s response to pressure which played the greater role. We predict that this rapidly deteriorating pitch may improve markedly in time for the next innings before then falling completely to pieces. Depends who bats next really.

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Why England could match India in this Test and still lose

James Anderson watching the ball in much the same way that he doesn't when bowling

Photo by Sarah Ansell

We were going to start this piece: “Not to be defeatist, but…”

We then realised that this would be entirely misleading. Defeatism is precisely what we are about to deliver.

This doesn’t mean being a naysayer. It’s just our honest ‘on the balance of probabilities’ assessment of India and England based on recent history.

To engage in defeatism based on the likelihood of different outcomes…

On pitches that deteriorate over the course of a five-day match, England are capable of having the better of things when they bat first. When India bat first, they are good enough that they seem almost certain to dominate. That appears to be the difference between the sides.

If the respective scores after day one of these two Tests have been near-identical (311-4 for England in Rajkot, 317-4 for India in Vishakaptnam) you’d say India have arguably had to play a smidge better to achieve that.

This was Cheteshwar Pujara’s third hundred in his last three Tests. Virat Kohli made 99 runs for once out in the last match and made a double hundred in the one before. Insofar as it’s possible, these two batsmen don’t look like they’re going to make mistakes when presented with a pitch that starts off pretty decent to bat on.

James Anderson transcended conditions, but sadly for England that isn’t going to be enough. Even if he manages to bowl India out on his own, it’ll take him 50 overs of toil. Sometimes even brilliance requires a fair whack of hard labour.

So can England still win?

Of course they can, but even if they match India in terms of skill, they could still lose because they will have to bat in more difficult conditions.

That’s not to cry ‘unfair’. It’s the nature of Test cricket. Given the bat-first advantage in the previousTest, England couldn’t do enough to win. Conversely, we think it’s fairly likely that India will come out on top in this one.

So, in summary, why’s everyone so down on defeatism?

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Dog stopped play at Visakhapatnam

cc-licensed-by-melgupta-via-flickr

If you spend some time travelling round India, you are highly likely to see a fairly generic brown dog roaming around. Today, in the second Test between India and England, one such dog precipitated the tea break when attendants failed to halt its pitch invasion.

Here at King Cricket, we can exclusively reveal the identity of the dog.

You see these dogs everywhere from Amritsar to Aurangabad; from Varkala to Varanasi. As you climb off the train and see one scuttle past, it’s natural to assume that they’re everywhere.

This is not the case. As often as not, the dog is Graham. Graham wanders the nation, covering incredible distances just so that he can amble about in the background wherever you happen to me.

The pitch invasion dog was Graham.

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Middlesex v Yorkshire at Lord’s – day one match report

Ged writes:

This was to be my last sighting of live cricket this season; even though it was a day one at Lord’s, I knew I was to be busy working or otherwise not around for the rest of the match.

As tradition now has it, Charley “the Gent” Malloy joins me for a day during that last County Championship match of the season.

I was starting to run out of new ideas for picnic food for this season, but Daisy had started a new weekend fad of buying amazing smoked fishes from the Polish deli in Ealing.

The weekend before this match, in a fit of over-enthusiasm, Daisy had bought, amongst other smoked delicacies, a whole smoked eel. Smoked eel is one of my favourites as well as one of hers, but a whole smoked eel is a big fella. I suggested that Daisy might donate some of the smoked eel to the Ged and Chas Picnic Benevolent Society. She agreed wholeheartedly.

The night before, I mused about the picnic and decided to safeguard proceedings by procuring some nice juicy prawns as well, so that if Chas really didn’t go for eel, I could eat two eel rolls and Chas could eat two prawn ones.

An early trip to the bakers (Championship matches start at 10.30am in September, remember) secured a couple of particularly interesting breakfast muffins and two big bagels.

Of course Chas was at the ground in good time. Of course we nabbed a couple of prime seats on death row before the start of play. Naturally I outlined the proposed picnic. Chas exclaimed that he didn’t think he’d ever tried smoked eel before but that he’d enjoy giving it a try.

So, we enjoyed our prawn muffin jobbies late morning while still on death row, then the smoked eel bagels a bit later in the day.

Chas showed little emotion in the matter of the eel bagels at the time. I think he might have mentioned that his all-time favourite remains the wild Alaskan salmon, but that hardly needs saying. He did say that he liked it, so I thought that was a pretty successful variation on our picnic theme.

The next day, however, I got a kindly thank you email from Chas (as usual) that also included the following short paragraph:

“I think I have yet another phobia – you guessed it, smoked eel! What is completely ludicrous is I actually liked it but can’t mentally cope with eating it, I’m a little troubled with all of that!”

I responded with the following wise words and links on the matter:

“Eels are simply elongated fish; nothing weird about them.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eel

…unless you jelly them rather than smoke them, the former being kinda Essex weird…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jellied_eels

No doubt Charley and I will discuss the matter of eels some more when next we meet, which at the time of writing up this match report (April 2016) will be very soon indeed – like, next week. But I’ve taken the hint, so it won’t be “eel meat again” for the start of the 2016 season.

Send your match reports to king@kingcricket.co.uk. 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.

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Australia should probably stop doctoring their own pitches

Giant house of cards (CC licensed by Tjflex2 via Flickr)

Giant house of cards (CC licensed by Tjflex2 via Flickr)

Playing Australia is like playing Jenga with a house of cards when each of the cards is drunk.

Before they played Sri Lanka, David Warner spoke of batting “well into the next day” but the team repeatedly folded as if prepared by Miura.

Against South Africa at the Waca, they built a little first, almost as if they wanted to deliver a more spectacular collapse. As falling Lego bricks bounced off the carpet, it was hard to avoid the conclusion that this maybe wasn’t just a spin thing.

That has now been confirmed. In the second Test in Hobart, they folded like junk mail in the first innings before buckling like a belt in the second, losing their last eight wickets for 32 runs.

As you’re no doubt aware, Australia only ever collapse because the pitch has been ‘doctored’. Somehow the playing surface is always tampered with in such a way that the opposition can bat completely normally while the poor, honest, play-by-the-rules Aussies go down like round-bottomed skittles placed on an icy slope.

Quite why Australia have started preparing their home pitches in this way is beyond us.

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