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Article hidden at Cricinfo

With England winning the World Twenty20 at about the time it went live, we forgot to point out this article we did for Cricinfo about momentum.

We did two pieces for Cricinfo around that time. One we were quite proud of; the other we weren’t really. Having just read the momentum piece again, we’re not quite sure which one it is. Think the other one’s appearing this weekend so we’ll find out then.

We always get the dead weekend slot at Cricinfo. Hidden away like an asymmetrically faced teenager on a West Beverly Hills High School photo.

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Scotland v Kent match report

Dandy Dan wanted to include whispering to Amjad Khan that his was one of the worst debut performances for England that he’d seen, but felt that was far too much to do with the cricket.

Instead, he writes:

The day started with a feeling of the unknown. I’d invited a few people along but I had received no definite replies. Fortunately, at 10.15am, I received a text from a friend that said she was going to come. My girlfriend, Vicky, was planning not to come as she’s got an exam coming up. However, the thought of me and a friend spending the afternoon drinking in the sunshine was too much too bear. Jealousy reigned and she joined us, albeit with a textbook in her bag.

We met Becky at the gate to find she had already been in and acquired some rather good seats. Whilst the rest of the spectators were sitting on green plastic garden chairs, we had the front bench in front of the pavilion.

Somewhat suspicious of our placing, we sat down to admire the beautiful scene. A few minutes later my suspicions were confirmed when hearing a gentleman on the phone behind me say: ‘Tell him to bring his membership card, we’ve got the same seats as last year’. Realising we shouldn’t really be sitting where we were, we did the only acceptable thing: cracked open a can of cheap Australian lager and waited for play to begin.

King of virtually undrinkable Australia lagers

Liberal amounts of sun cream were applied. Factor 30 for the face and neck, factor 15 for all other exposed areas. Unfortunately this was not sufficient for my feet which were a bit burnt by the end of day. Vicky’s neck and back got slightly burnt as well but this apparently had nothing to do with the strength of the sun cream and more to do with my poor application of it.

As my ability to use skin related products was being called into question, I felt it was probably best that I turned down her repeated offers of applying after-sun on her back later in the evening. Didn’t want to get it wrong for a second time did I?

On the same bench as us, we befriended a couple of female Kent fans who appeared to be the only Kent fans who had made the trip. I engaged with them about how a certain member of the Kent playing staff was looking more svelte than he had done in previous years. They agreed.

We were also taken slightly aback by his apparent lack of knowledge regarding the rules. During the change of innings we heard him say in surprise to the umpire’s question regarding which roller he wanted: ‘We can have the roller on, can we?’

Like a panther in the field

(A hero amongst us mere mortals © Price via text)

Afterwards we went to another friend’s house for an enjoyable tuna pasta bake.

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Steven Finn should fall over in a lot of Tests

Steven Finn remains on his feet

If there’s one thing we like, it’s people who fall over a lot. With that in mind, we’re calling for Steven Finn to be inked into the England Test team for the forseeable future.

We already knew that Finn was an accurate bowler from what we saw in Bangladesh, but we only suspected that he could be fast. He topped 90mph once at Lord’s and given a year or so, injuries permitting, he should be pretty fearsome.

Steven Finn tells people that he’s 6ft7in, even though he’s actually 6ft8in, because “it’s embarrassing”. You’ve got to like someone who thinks an inch makes all the difference when you’re talking about those sorts of measurements.

  • “No officer, I wasn’t doing 155mph in a built-up area, I was doing 154.”
  • “No, I didn’t eat 17 bags of crisps in a row. I ate 16.”
  • “No, your Honour, I didn’t brutally murder 26 prostitutes, it was 25.”

Not that we’d like the people who might have said the above. That’s slightly different. Something to do with innocence.

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Should Tim Bresnan be in England’s Test team?

As a bowler, it’s hard to see what Tim Bresnan offers that no-one else can. He’s a bit of a poor man’s Jimmy Anderson: a fractionally slower, slightly less sophisticated swing bowler who’s not quite as fit as the Burnley Express. Set against that, he was England’s best bowler in trying conditions in Bangladesh. How quickly people forget.

Oscillate wildly

We’ve also sympathy with many people’s view that he’s not quite rid himself of the Twenty20 bowling approach yet. What were bad balls are now good balls and vice versa. It can’t be easy to flick the ‘Test bowling’ switch. More generally, with England oscillating between formats all summer long, it does beg the question as to whether we’re seeing the best cricketers playing at their best.

But even if we make allowances for that, what makes Tim Bresnan the Test bowler stand out? He doesn’t bowl swing as well as Jimmy. He’s not as quick as Stuart Broad. He’s not as tall as Steve Finn. He doesn’t bowl every ball at the stumps like Graham Onions. He does look like a cartoon baker in a children’s TV programme, but that’s not really a strong selling point when it comes to Test selection.

Letting the other bowlers bowl at their best

We can’t see Tim Bresnan as one quarter of a Test bowling attack, but we can see him as a fifth of one. With five bowlers, you can afford to have a defensive bowler who can switch to attack when conditions favour them. Ashley Giles used to do this job, but in Graeme Swann, England have an attacking spin bowler, so the defensive role can be filled by one of the pacemen instead.

This could be Tim Bresnan. He can attack when the ball swings and do a job the rest of the time. He’s also been hitting a few hundred runs at an average of 30-odd for each of the last few seasons in county cricket and is probably good enough to be one of three number eights occupying slots seven, eight and nine in the batting order, along with Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann.

Fit for the workload

England have been favouring four bowlers recently, but Stuart Broad loses 10mph over the course of a day and Steve Finn can’t have too much of a workload if he’s picked. Five bowlers might make more sense.

Bresnan could be the new Ashley Giles. Bet he’s delighted with that verdict.

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Tamim Iqbal is in good Test form

Tamim Iqbal has passed 50 in nine of his last 11 Test innings. Considering how he tends to start his innings – hacking away at every ball like he’s a Thracian gladiator de-limbing adversaries – that’s pretty remarkable.

Virender Sehwag is probably a role model, but with Sehwag, you rarely feel like he’s going to get out. It’s clinical destruction. Tamim Iqbal has a lot of shots, but he’s also got a bit of Steve Harmison the batsman in him.

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Jonathan Trott hit a hundred against Bangladesh – what does it say?

Jonathan Trott pulls the trigger until it goes 'click'

A few people will say that Jonathan Trott‘s 175 not out at Lord’s means nothing, because it’s against Bangladesh. Slightly fewer people will say he’s proving he’s a Test batsman after an ordinary winter.

Why go to extremes? Jonathan Trott’s guts and technique could have been tested more, but his concentration and shot selection were bang on. The thing about a hundred is it’s big enough that it can say more than one thing.

We’re still waiting for one that says: “Yeah? Well. You know, that’s just, like, errr, your opinion, man.”

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Tibet v England match report

Ged Ladd writes:

When you arrange to go on holiday to Yunnan Province in South West China, you don’t expect much in the way of a cricket experience.

Daisy and I ended up in a village named Ringha in the high hills of Yunnan, otherwise known as Greater Tibet. There, we discovered that our guide, Palchen and his trusty friend Yunden were Tibetan folk who had been educated in India for several years and had acquired the cricket bug while there.

Delighted to learn that we are also cricket nuts, they challenged us to a match as we trekked from Ringha to Zhongdian (or Shangri-La as the tourist-marketing-obsessed Chinese tend to call it, or Gyalthang as the local Tibetans prefer to call it) across Rutapo Hill.

An altitude of 3,500 metres held no fear for us, neither for six hours of trekking nor for a couple of impromptu cricket matches. How those wimps who play at the Wanderers can describe merely half that altitude as “the rarefied atmosphere of the High Veldt” beggars belief.

This is me bowling to Palchen in the first impromptu game.

Watch the ball, Palchen

At that juncture, we had only found a rather rudimentary branch to act as the bat. The choice of ball came down to either zho dung or what I can only describe as a rather silly sod of earth (probably hoofed up by a zho). We went for the silly sod.

Daisy’s photo has captured said sod in flight. You might choose to blank out the sod and use this photo as a “spot the silly sod” competition, but I think you’d need to be very specific about the competition playing conditions.

I told Palchen in advance that I was sending him a full-bunger, as I did not anticipate much in the way of bounce from that particular sod. Despite the warning, he didn’t play the low full toss very well, so I cleaned him up on the full with that delivery.

Later, we found a rather more impressive branch for the bat (a Mongoose by comparison with the first “bat”) and a stock of pine cones to use as balls. It took a bit of getting used to, but I did manage to connect properly with one delivery and send it hurtling over extra cover further than the eye could see. At 3,500 meters, if you hit something, it really stays hit, believe me.

I cannot promise that the following picture shows the actual precursor to that classic shot, but it might. In any case, Daisy came up trumps again with the delivery captured in mid air.

England engage the long handle

After my classic shot over extra cover, Palchen and Yunden naturally conceded the match, claiming lack of practice over the past 5-10 years as their excuse. A great victory for England over the might of Tibet.

Send your match reports to On no account mention the cricket itself, unless it’s this kind of a match, in which case we want every detail.

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Stephen Moore and Sajid Mahmood

A man with ambitions to play for Lancashire's second XIDurham aren’t the only team who are currently muddling by with about one and a half batsmen. Lancashire’s current mediocrity is largely due to a batting order that starts at six with Steven Croft and ends at seven with Glen Chapple.

Actually, that’s not fair. Sajid Mahmood has been playing a blinder at number nine. He may have only scored 273 runs to proper batsman Stephen Moore‘s 277, but he has had three fewer innings and his season average of 34 pisses on Moore’s 25. Mahmood’s four fifties piss on Moore’s two as well. And he scores faster.

Stephen Moore’s only been at Lancashire for a few matches, but we already know we’re not going to warm to him. Why? Because he’s employed a PR agency to send out press releases pushing his England claims every time he manages to wipe his arse without injuring himself.

New rule: If you’ve got international ambitions, shut up about them if your batting’s absolute dog-toss.

Here’s some more about Lancashire’s batting that still rings true even though we wrote it a couple of years ago.

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What’s happened to Durham this season?

Funny caption supplied by reader's brainAs we pointed out yesterday, Durham’s season isn’t a complete catastrophe. Two wins, two draws and a loss isn’t the end of the world. (The machines haven’t even managed to produce a single robot cricketer yet, so the end of the world’s months away.)

That said, Durham are increasingly prone to getting themselves into pretty ordinary positions in County Championship matches. Yesterday they were bowled out for 121.

Durham have always been prone to this kind of thing and the main reason why they won the County Championship in each of the last two seasons is because of their ‘anything you can do…’ attitude. These bad positions are more common this year though. Why?

Well, it’s basically because all their bowlers are injured. Graham Onions, Mark Davies and Callum Thorp are all out and Steve Harmison’s only just returned. Steve always returns in person long before he returns in impact as well, so you’d call that three-and-a-half injuries until the lolloping ganglotron of mental fragility gets back in the swing of things.

Durham’s batting’s heavily reliant on Michael Di Venuto and Dale Benkenstein. That’s normally okay, because if they don’t score, the other batsmen cobble together a nearly-mediocre score which is all the Durham bowlers need to go at. However, without the bowlers, a nearly-mediocre score is just that.

In conclusion: go Lancashire.

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Is Eoin Morgan a Test cricketer?

Eoin Morgan has been included in an England Test squad for the first time after excelling in the shorter formats. However, his first-class average is 36 – and that with a lot of second division cricket. Is he good enough to make runs in Test cricket?

We tend to think he is.

Can he cope with Test bowling?

Yep, although we’ll have to see how he copes when bowlers bounce the shit out of him, which is the first thing a Test team should do with any batsman who is seen as being a one-day specialist. Bangladesh won’t do this, so we’ll have to wait for Pakistan’s arrival later in the summer for our answers here.

Is he patient enough for a Test innings?

This is harder to gauge. He does have a double hundred in first-class cricket, but his average is pretty piss-poor. From what we’ve seen, he’s a batsman who always plays the situation, which is a good sign. He doesn’t just bat, he adapts. In the longer format, we reckon he’ll set himself for hundreds.

Does he have the right character and attitude?

You can’t fault Eoin Morgan on that score. This is why he’s in the Test squad. Judging by how successful he’s been for England, it seems like he might switch-on when he’s on the bigger stage. Perhaps he struggles to find motivation in the second division of the County Championship. We can’t even find the motivation to read the scores, so we’d understand that.

The King Cricket verdict

We’re definitely in favour. We’ve seen enough ordinary-looking batsmen scoring runs in Test cricket where technically accomplished batsmen have foundered to believe that it’s what’s in your ‘ead as counts. Eoin Morgan’s ‘ead is full of fist-pumping victories as far as we can tell.

Some cricketers are crippled by nerves. Others find they need nerves to get them going. We’d put Eoin Morgan in the second camp.

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