Not one minute of it. We logged onto the internet this evening, saw a headline about it, thought: “Ooh, that sounds juicy,” and then went and looked up the scorecard.
Top stuff. Top, top stuff. Well played, England.
We take it this is still the transitional period then? Not quite the new era yet, eh?
It’s funny how things change. Time was, England’s one-day batting started with a bang/Banger and then burnt out. Nowadays they light tinder, wait patiently while the kindling gently crackles and then chuck on some logs which have spent eight months marinating in petrol right at the end.
The first scenario refers, of course, to Marcus Trescothick, who made 133 not out off 129 balls in a staggering run chase against Durham this week. Even Paul Collingwood couldn’t get him out. His robust, thocking straight bat presents a marked contrast to Alastair Cook’s deflections and Ian Bell’s scything cuts, which is what we get now.
At the other end of the innings, things are rather cheerier these days. Morgan, Bopara and Buttler provide increasingly demented sloggery, but there’s a case for saying that Chris Jordan presents the logical conclusion to this. In Bridgetown, he hit four of the nine balls he faced for six. Today, at the Oval, his strike rate slipped from that high water mark, but only to 292 runs per 100 balls.
Then he did some bowling. We like him a lot.34 Appeals
After whipping the first division’s whipping boys, Northamptonshire, with their whipping boy whipping whip, Middlesex are now 19 points ahead of Yorkshire and 22 ahead of Sussex, both of whom have a game in hand. Yorkshire would need to win to go top. Sussex would need to really, really handsomely win to do so.
Yorkshire’s next match is against Lancashire, so all they really need to do is bat competently and the rest should take care of itself. Sussex’s next match is against Middlesex, so they won’t go top, but nor will they lose that game in hand.
A lot of Middlesex’s success thus far has been built on the work done by their openers. This is great news for England, in that Sam Robson is averaging about 50. However, it’s bad news for England, in that his opening partner, Chris Rogers, is averaging almost 50 per cent more and scoring almost 50 per cent quicker as well. Rogers even treated himself to a six at one point.6 Appeals
There have been times when we’ve thought we’d learn to come up with better headlines, but we’ve since concluded that it’s just one of those things we’re never going to be very good at. They say you should work on your weaknesses, but often this is just inordinately time consuming when you could get far better returns making a half-arsed effort to improve something for which you have a natural aptitude.
So Harry Gurney then?
Yes, we were getting to that.
Gurney has been on the fringes of one-day squads for most of this year, but we’re struck by the fact that he’s made the next step under Peter Moores. He likes a left-armer, does the guff-talking Maxonian.
Last time around, it was Ryan Sidebottom. Although he’d played once before, in 2001, Sidebottom started his England Test career proper a month after Moores started his first stint as coach. At the time, he was a reliable, highly regarded bowler, but definitely one who was flirting with journeyman status.
Sidebottom finished his Test career with 79 wickets at 28.24. In the last 30 years, only Angus Fraser has taken more wickets at a lower average. With hindsight, it was like someone had dropped in several years of Test cricket from a parallel universe because after Moores was sacked, Sidebottom played just four more Tests and went back to being a very good but largely unremarkable county cricketer.
So Harry Gurney then?
Yeah, sorry. That got away from us a bit. Like Sidebottom back when he came into the side, Gurney’s record isn’t especially spectacular, but he looked decent enough against Sri Lanka yesterday. There is of course a big difference between doing a decent job on your T20 international debut, when no-one knows who you are, and being Lasith Malinga, everyone knowing exactly how you’re going to bowl, and still doing the job anyway. But all the same, we’ve seen what we’ve seen and can’t judge beyond that.
We’ll be interested to see how this pans out. Has Peter Moores mastered some bizarre form of alchemy that turns stalwart left-arm seamers into world beaters? Only time will tell.16 Appeals
No, honestly. An actual spin bowler as well, not just a batsman specialising in round-arm dob. It was the second division, but these are desperate times – we have to make the most of whatever we can find. We’re basically Wombles.
The spinner in question is Monty Panesar and at the time of writing, he’s taken 4-18 in 14.2 overs. We’re taking this as confirmation that Panesar is the greatest spin bowler in the history of cricket. You don’t dismiss Daryl Mitchell, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Ben Cox and Jack Shantry on an unpredictable pitch without being in some way exceptional.13 Appeals
We’re not quite sure how to tackle the issues of the day, so in time-honoured tradition, we’re not bothering.
At one extreme, we’ve got the T20 Blast. We watched Friday night’s televised game and kind of felt we should say something about it, but then we didn’t because the weather was nice on Saturday morning when we would normally have put fingertips to keyboard. We’re kind of glad we didn’t, because the T20 Blast already promises to make a fool of anyone who reads anything into anything.
For example, on Friday, Lancashire’s batting was as ordinary as ever and they lost. A day later, they made 194-3 and won. Or how about Jade Dernbach? He failed to defend 15 off the final four balls on Friday and then secured a win for Surrey by conceding only three off the final over yesterday.
Clearly, events promise to oscillate wildly throughout the season and so commenting on them demands a complete lack of perspective. It feels like checking someone’s hazard lights are working and telling them that they’re ‘on, off, on, off, on, off…’
Then there’s the opposite extreme: match fixing and how Lou Vincent’s apparently going to rip the lid off of it. Cricket being cricket, decent information will doubtless become more and more devalued as an investigation wears on and the conclusion will be something like: ‘There is strong reason to believe that certain elements of a number of televised Twenty20 cricket matches have been fixed and there is an urgent need to crack down on this’.4 Appeals
We’ve another thing. It’s a fortnightly column for All Out Cricket called The Shire Horse. It’s non-serious, so you don’t have to sigh and roll your eyes at our making an attempt to ‘say something’.
We hope you’re okay with the fact that we’re increasingly linking to stuff we’ve written elsewhere. It seems to make sense to do that for a couple of reasons. Firstly, you, the reader, don’t miss owt that we’ve done; and secondly, as we’ve said before, we only have a limited number of things to say.
This site’s the centre of what we do, so it can serve as a kind of hub. We’ll link to what we do for other people and when there’s nowt appearing elsewhere, there’ll be summat here, same as ever.
On this subject, we’ve also got a thing in this month’s issue of The Cricketer about how to identify when your team’s turned shit. That’s on paper though, so no link.17 Appeals
“I believe it’s jogging – or yogging. It might be a soft J, I’m not sure. But apparently you just run for an extended period of time.”
Cricinfo today. We’ve written about anti-gravity for them. They seemed okay with that.
Needless to say, Graham Gooch’s moustache gets a mention as well. That bit’s not gravity-related though.8 Appeals
If you read about county cricket much, you’ll be familiar with this kind of thing. A player you hadn’t thought about a right lot suddenly starts worming his way into every second article, even though he doesn’t seem to have done anything especially eyecatching. In May 2014, that person is Liam Plunkett.
His record this season is okay – good even – but it’s not spectacular. He has hit 172 runs at 43 and taken 15 wickets at 27.33. So why the big whoop?
It’s that age-old obsession – pace. Apparently he’s recovered the half a yard he lost and added an additional proportion of a yard which no-one’s yet measured. He also seems to be the anti-Shaun Tait in that he can maintain this pace for more than two overs.
We’ve heard enough positive things from enough different sources to be slightly surprised that Plunkett isn’t being given the opportunity to reacquaint himself with the High-Visibility Tabard of Squad Membership worn by one-day international superfluosities. He did get an entirely unnecessary mention when they announced the squad though. Could he be in line for a Test recall?11 Appeals
We’ve done a non-satirical piece for Cricinfo. It’s about branding.
Or is it? Perhaps it would be more accurate to say it’s about propaganda. A lot of the focus is on how the Australian cricket team cherry picks facets of its game to talk up while saying very little about other, equally important elements. The inspiration for the article was the phrase ‘exciting/attacking brand of cricket’ which we hear so frequently these days. That in itself is a glittering generality – a common tool of propagandists.
If you’re still not sold, the piece also includes a Mark E Smith quote.11 Appeals