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Brett Lee chasing the birds

From the BBC:

“Liam Plunkett was cleaned up by Lee for a breezy 34. The dismissal sparked a bizarre incident when a seagull swooped on one of the dislodged bails, escaping with its plunder with Lee in hot pursuit.”

Many people would let the bird have the bail and gone and got another one – but not Brett Lee. It’s a matter of principle.

Never let it be said that Brett Lee is soft on avian crime.

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Charles Coventry has an ODI world record score

Zimbabwe’s Charles Coventry hit 194 not out against Bangladesh. Zimbabwe lost. This equals the world record individual one-day international score. How do we all feel about that?

The original 194 not out was scored by Saeed Anwar against India 12 years ago. Even in these days of tree-sized bats and four yard boundaries, Anwar’s score has still never been bettered. Does Coventry’s knock warrant equal billing though? It pushes Viv Richards and Sanath Jayasuriya down a spot in the list of top ODI scores.

It’s common for people to effectively disregard Test scores against Bangladesh, but how do you feel about ODI records? Do they count? And does it even matter? Is the game played to establish a list of records or is it played against eleven opponents for victory in that particular match?

We haven’t seen him bat, but we’re fairly certain that Charles Coventry is a worse batsman than Viv Richards and this record in no way disproves that.

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Dwayne Smith makes use of his beach cowboy expertise

Arses who aren't Giles Clarke spotted at the cricket

The theme of Twenty20 Finals Day 2009 was The Magnificent Seven on account of it being the seventh Twenty20 Finals Day.

They played music from westerns, there was a bucking bronco thing and there were cowgirls. Between the second semi and the final, the entire Edgbaston crowd recreated the campfire scene from Blazing Saddles.

So Dwayne Smith was very much at home. Okay, so he wasn’t on a beach and there was no merry-go-round steed to bring him to the wicket, but having put in the hard yards earlier in the week, he had an advantage over everyone else and promptly hit many runs off no balls to win the Twenty20 Cup for Sussex.

It was also good to see the beeftain in action. Everyone thinks he’s fantastic, which is underselling him enormously.

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Response to England’s fifth Ashes Test squad

Jonathan Trott, who is being dropped into a deep end infested with piranhas from a great height for his debut, said:

“I’m chuffed.”

Mark Ramprakash, writing on Twitter, (genuinely) said:

“Defecating in a package to send to Geoff Miller.”

Quite bizarrely, Trott seemed to echo Ramps’ thoughts when speaking about how he’d deal with the pressure:

“I’ll try to stay relaxed and let nature take its course.”

It’s the Ashes decider. Of course everyone’s crapping themselves.

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Chris Adams commentating on Twenty20 Finals Day

We’re not convinced.

“He’s doing exactly what it says on the tin. Bowling straight; wicket to wicket.”

You can’t use ‘does what it says on the tin’ wherever you like. There are rules.

You can’t say: “I’m doing exactly what it says on the tin: I’m stopping in with a bottle of red wine and watching a film.”

You can’t say: “He did exactly what it says on the tin: He stole a Ford Mondeo, put it through the front window of Comet and took a load of plasma screen televisions.”

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Fourth 2009 Ashes Test match report

SW writes:

It was agreed that The Australian and myself would enjoy a weekend of camping up at Peterborough with our acquaintance Price and some other lycra-clad rowing folk. There was rumour of naked rowing, pole climbing and general debauchery being on the cards, so this seemed like a good way to spend a weekend instead of being glued to a very important international cricket match that might happen to have been taking place at the time. At least we had my trusty wind-up radio to keep us in touch with proceedings.

As we left the M25 and headed towards the Fens, it transpired we were losing radio reception. Gone was TMS and Radio Two. All we had was Radio Banjo (it may or may not have really been called that). This station brought us many rock classics such as Holding Out for a Hero, ZZ Top’s Gimme All Your Lovin’ and Crazy Horses by The Osmonds.

Once at our camping plot we debated how to erect our newly purchased tent, myself favouring the military precision attainable only from Duke of Edinburgh Silver, whilst the Australian seemed to prefer the more lackadaisical approach associated with his homeland. It’s fair to say the tent took a while to put up.

Total absence of radio reception meant that we were forced to find other forms of entertainment for the weekend. This took the form of doing some racing in boats, drinking cider, shouting at people doing racing in boats and playing cricket with a children’s mini set we took along. This was the highlight of the day. I recommend having a set at hand to placate any persons bored of racing in boats.

Later that evening one of our number decided to twiddle some firesticks, which was a most impressive spectacle. Upon sober reflection the next morning, it may have been safer to have played with Price’s KC Top Trumps as a way to pass the time in such close proximity to highly flammable tents.

The following morning The Australian cooked me and Price some sausages on the barbecue, which was very nice of him.

The Australian barbecuing - again

We had lent Price our spare tent. He had spent the evening watching a naked midget climb a marquee pole, then retired to the tent to be to be gently spooned by a hairy Liverpudlian called Dave.

Sunday continued in much the same vain as Saturday, but with less excitement, so we headed home after lunch, looking forward to catching up on the weekend’s progress and to watching the evening session of play.

Send your match reports to – but on no account mention the cricket.

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Is the Australian team better?

Certainly Australian cricket is better.

Look at the players that aren’t even playing: Phil Jaques, Test average 47; Brad Hodge, Test average 56; David Hussey, first-class average 55. That short list can quite easily be extended.

The English system produces the odd exceptional player and that’s being generous – more likely it’s just chance and nothing to do with the system. We don’t produce large numbers of high quality cricketers which would create competition for places (as well as better competition in county cricket). Most counties don’t feature a single player you’d want to pick for England.

Is the Australian team better? Let’s see next week. However, if we took a wider sample and pitted the respective second XIs against each other, it’s pretty obvious which nation’s cricket is stronger. Until that’s addressed, England will continue to rely on the stars aligning for their occasional victories.

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Rob Key’s sanguine outlook

Maybe not the most appropriate picture, but it IS brilliantRob Key’s greatest strength is his don’t-give-a-toss-ishness. It’s the main reason we originally warmed to him, back in the winter of 2002. It’s also why he makes a great captain.

We know what you’re thinking: what about that bat-flinging hissy fit on Twenty20 finals day in 2007?

That was a serene strop of poise and elegance and when his bat flew majestically over the rope, the volley of cussing that followed it sounded like a lullaby sung by a chorus of angels. Rob’s red-faced huffing that day was grace personified and anyone who disagrees is an Australian in disguise, bringing down English cricket from within.

Will Rob play in the fifth Test next week? Dunno, but he won’t jellify if he does.

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Man dresses as cowboy for money

It’s Dwayne Smith and it’s one of the half-hourly Mongoose cricket bat press releases we receive.

Dwayne Smith is the world's finest cricketing beach cowboy

We have a friend who had to be photographed as a cowboy once. We won’t say why. Not because it’s sinister, but because it sounds sinister if we leave the reason to your imagination.

Dwayne Smith's dignity is now available for purchase

Unlike Dwayne Smith, our friend had to do it in Manchester city centre when people were leaving work.

'This shot'll be the cool one Dwayne, honestly - now grin inanely and wink'

Dwayne Smith can count himself lucky.

We’ve put this as part of the ‘cricket bats in unusual places’ feature, because beach cowboys rarely use cricket bats as guns when they’re on merry-go-rounds.

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Old Trafford Twenty20 match report

Mahinda writes:

It was a grey day in Manchestie when my motley crew headed to Old Trafford for an evening’s Twenty20 – Lankyshire versus Zummerrrrrrzet in a T20 Cup quarter-final. I’d organised a work-subsidised social. Workmate Andy had even brought his mother and two of his daughters along.

We’d all spent the afternoon glued to the weather forecasts with a sense of impending doom.

5pm We got to the creaky old ground and picked out some choice seats towards the long-on side of cow corner. I’d brought some onion bhajis, crisps, bread and cheese (Afterburner – a delectable cheddar with flaked chillies, purchased in rage at Altrincham market after I’d discovered that someone had STOLEN MY DOUX DE MONTAGNE from the office fridge) and lastly, some “interesting” cloudy apple juice that tasted surprisingly like scrumpy.

5.10pm Some people were on the pitch, playing some practice strokes and biffing balls into the crowd. Some old dear got hit in slow motion, despite much shouting. Play was due to start as scheduled. The mascots were out, Lanky Giraffe joined by something called “Stumpy”.

It took us quite some time to work out that Stumpy was in fact a dragon. To go with the Somerset Sabres moniker, we’d expected some sort of fierce-looking sabre-toothed tiger. But no, it was a rather floppy purple dragon. There was also a bright green crocodile, which turned out to be something to do with an U11 team who was there for the day.

5.20pm The umpires and various others gathered on the square… and then the rain started in earnest. Spotting turned to that peculiarly Mancunian light drizzle, which in turn evolved into a refreshing shower… then rain. Proper soak-you-through-from-the-shoes-up rain.

Old Trafford Cricket Ground at its most mediocre

Brollies were up, hopes were down. My two-tier black and white golf umbrella was well and truly trumped by Andy’s mum’s sunflower number. Very cheerful. The folk huddling together in the lower tier of K stand looked smug.

6pm The umbrellas bobbed like sea-tossed beachballs as people left, either for shelter in the bar area, or home altogether. An announcement was made that the latest the match could start was 8.07pm. No sooner, no later. The disappointment was palpable.

Basking in the permafrost at Old Trafford Cricket Ground

6.30pm By now, we’d had a few beers. And scrumpy. Rollers were being employed to squeeze the water around. When one nipped over to the boundary to get rid of its yellowish watery load, it looked as though its driver was urinating mightily. Andy’s daughters were impressed.

7pm The game finally got called off. We finished our drinks and left. Five of us got a tram into town for consolatory drinks. We’d started, so we may as well finish!

8pm The City Arms. Kebabbage was discussed.

9.30pm (approx) The Waterhouse. Which, we found, would serve us mixed grills at 10pm. Hurrah! £6.99 including a decent pint. Double-hurrah!

11pm (ish) Three of us left, clearly talking rubbish. We staggered home, via tram (Mark) and bus (Mike and I).

All in all, a rather successful evening out.

Send your match reports to – but on no account mention the cricket.

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