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India v South Africa at Eden Gardens – match report

D Charlton writes:

When myself and the soon-to-be Mrs D Charlton were enjoying a holiday in South-East Asia, I realised that it was the India-South Africa second Test at Eden Gardens. So, I decided to try and find the score.

I’ve had previous trouble finding the score in Italy and Lapland, so this time I came prepared. I brought my iPhone.

I took a second away from finding spiritual enlightenment at Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok, fired up the iPhone, and waited. It was then I saw the sign.


So I was being ware and I realised that my most valuable possession was my iPhone – and the temple was warning me away from its dangerously ambiguous scorecard. I did the only prudent thing in the face of such ancient, religious advice and ignored the iPhone.

Outside the temple, I still didn’t know the score. I thought I best ask someone. This one chap, in a smart cap, came past and asked if he could help. I told him I was looking for the score of the India-South Africa second Test at Eden Gardens.

He said, in perfect English, that his cousin was at the ground. He’d give him a ring and ask. He picked up the phone and started talking. It all seemed too perfect. And it was then I saw the sign behind him (that’s him on the left).

A potentially wily stranger

I made my excuses and left.

Later, bereft of any information, I realised that either South Africa or India or cricket was the winner. So, now in Vientiane in Laos, I decided to go to a victory monument – in honour of this great win. Here it is:

Okay for those who've had a victory in life

If King Cricket had a victory monument, we all agreed, it would look much like this, and the King would commission a helpful description underneath – much like this:

Monsters of concrete 2010

I also asked this Laotian pig what the score was. He didn’t seem too bothered and continued to look for roots to chew on. I have a feeling we may have chewed on him later.

Relatively indifferent

Finally, back in Thailand, I had run out of ideas as to where to find the score. And then, as if by magic, I saw another sign and I knew which website I had to visit:

We've actually got a bit of a cough at the minute

Send your match reports to and on no account mention the cricket itself.

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Project Free Test Match Tickets For Life Because Son Is England Captain

Bert writes:

A few days ago, I enrolled Bert Jr. (aged 7½) at our local cricket club. This is Phase 1 of Project Free-Test-Match-Tickets-For-Life-Because-Son-Is-England-Captain. The club was holding its junior indoor net. Eighteen kids, aged between 7 and 12, all being “organised” by two coaches (or, as I shall see them from now on, heroically misguided masochists).

As regular readers will recall, Bert Jr. is already a county cricket aficionado, having been to two days of the same match last summer. Keen therefore to become a fully rounded cricketist, he leapt at the chance to join a club. Obviously, Bert wasn’t without some knowledge of the basics of playing cricket. I had spent many a summer hour teaching him the fundamentals of a proper dead-bat defence, instead of his preferred pull for four over the patio table (and in one case his step-down-the-wicket lofted drive back over the bowlers head and, it must be admitted, over the house).

The session was all about running. As far as the coaches were concerned, this meant running between the wickets, carefully controlled by clear and decisive calling, aligning the body so as to maintain a view of the ball during the running and the proper technique for sliding the bat home. As far as the eighteen were concerned, it just meant running. Did I say heroic? The way they managed to keep going with the lesson to the widest possible distribution of children was truly magnificent.

“So you need to keep the bat in your left hand if the ball goes to the… Norman, sit down… goes to the leg… and you, Brian… side, so that you can… yes of course it meant you as well, Brian, why would you think it didn’t… can see the… stop throwing that ball, Derek… the ball at all… it’s your own time you’re wasting here, you know… times.”

The following morning, Bert Jr. elected not to watch CBBC while having his breakfast and instead tuned in to the last day of the first Test at Chittagong. He watched fascinated as the Bangladesh players put into practice (sort of) exactly what the coaches had said to do, stealing a yard or two as non-striker, clear calling and watching the ball. Bert’s mother came in, ashen-faced and clearly distraught at the turn our family life had taken. “But he’s learning,” I said, helpfully. “What can I do?”

Bert’s mother would consider a successful outcome to Project FTMTFLBSIEC to be the worst possible scenario. I’ve tried to warn her that it is inevitable and even more so with Bert’s younger brother, Ernie, who on top of having our family’s innate cricket skills was also born with David Gower’s hair.

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Churro being conspicuously indifferent to the status of Wisden

Miriam writes:

This is Churro, the kitten we were looking after for a fortnight.

Wisdens are not battlements!

As you can see, he isn’t conspicuously indifferent to cricket, as he is using the Wisdens as a protective wall from humans who try to stop him gnawing at books. He is obviously also ruminating on the lost years 1992-1995.

He is, though, giving Ceiling Cat a run for his money.

Stand back, Ceiling Cat, the Internet has a new overlord now.

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Andy Caddick’s Test career – awkward bounce from an awkward bowling action from an awkward bloke

We never wrote about Andy Caddick when he retired. We should have done.

Say what you like about Andy Caddick. Say that he was mad as pies; say that he got picked for England because people wanted him there to fix stuff while they were on tour; say he was a nutcase who thought he should get picked by England when he was 40; say that Nasser Hussain had to treat him like he was eight to get the best out of him. Say all of those things, but he was a fine bowler.

The defining statistic about Andy Caddick is that his bowling average was 37 in the first innings of Test matches and only 20 in the second. It says it all really. It says that he didn’t shape Test matches and it says that he should have done because he could run through a side like undercooked chicken through a digestive system.

His last Test performance was 7-94 against Australia (3-121 in the first innings), which isn’t a bad way to go out, but we’ll remember him most for his performances against the West Indies in 2000.

We’ve written about Caddick’s four wickets in an over at Headingley before, so we won’t repeat ourself (it’s worth clicking that link though, if you’ve not read it before). What we haven’t written about is his 5-16 (1-58 in the first innings) at Lord’s a couple of Tests before that. That spell of bowling was right up there with anything we’ve seen for England. On his good days, in the second innings, Andy Caddick could produce a sublime blend of swing and seam that few have ever matched.

We can picture it now and it’s not something you ever really see from other bowlers. Maybe it’s because tall bowlers rarely swing the ball.

Caddick would run in robotically, all elbows, legs and ears. As he got into his delivery stride, the hand holding the ball would jag out sideways for some reason and that would signal an end to all the angular awkwardness. From there, the limbs would sort themselves out and the ball would arc through the air, swinging and making it difficult for the batsman to line it up. As it pitched, it would jag off the seam AND rear up towards the bat handle.

If the batsman was really good, he’d edge it.

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County cricket players to watch in 2010

We’re watching these guys when there isn’t an international match on, which is never:

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Ravi Bopara, Essex: first-class batsman to watch in 2010

No-one calls him RavBop - yetThe plight of Ravi Bopara makes an interesting case study. He’s trying to establish himself as a Test cricketer and only Test runs will really persuade anyone that he’s ready.

He gets a series of ducks in Tests in Sri Lanka and gets dropped. He promptly makes a one-day double hundred. He has a bad run in the Ashes and gets dropped. He promptly makes a first-class double hundred in the second division.

Too good for one level of cricket, not yet ready for the next one up. Ravi Bopara is in limbo. At least now he’s batting in the first division. Is that more meaningful? We think it is and we’re intrigued to see how he gets on.

Maybe he can actually try and make his case by playing cricket rather than having to resort to public pronouncements about being keen, but not too keen.

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South Africa v England, Centurion Test – match report

I hadn’t been feeling terribly well, having been off work for a couple of weeks with an ear infection, but had arranged to meet a couple of friends in London on the afternoon of the first day of the series.

It was very cold. I think it was snowing. I had a green hat on, and a scarf and fingerless mittens. We met under the clock at Waterloo. There were only two of us, so we adjourned to the pub in the station to wait for our third.

It can’t have been long gone 12pm but I decided to have a pint, knowing full well it would lead to a slippery slope.

I soon needed to visit the lavatory, but found the door shut and a security lock fixed to the outside. I turned to leave and an old man sitting in the corner told me the combination. I felt very privileged.

Our third member arrived and the pub began to fill with loud snotty city types on their lunch break. So we left.

One of my friends was developing an interest in mini golf so we headed to Devonshire Square, a temporary mini golf course near Liverpool Street.

A Santastically designed course

We had partaken of different courses a few times before and I’d never been any good, but on this particular day I played an absolute blinder. Everything I hit went in. It was the second greatest sporting moment of my life. The greatest involved a pub in Essex, a pretty girl and some darts. But that’s another story.

After the golf we had some chips in a pub and decided we fancied some football. So off we went to White Hart Lane for Tottenham v Manchester City.

We were a bit early and we wanted more food. We walked up and down White Hart Lane itself looking for an Indian restaurant, but settled in the end for Turkish and then went to the game.

It was still very cold. I think Spurs won 3-0. It wasn’t the most amazing game I’ve ever seen. But it was ok.

Send your match reports to and on no account mention the cricket itself.

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Phil Mustard: one-day wicketkeeper-batsman to watch in 2010

Phil Mustard clears the nostrilsSo much of what’s wrong with English cricket can be seen in the never-ending debate about wicketkeepers. First-class cricket’s too weak to show who’s best and because there are so many counties and therefore so many candidates, no player gets much of a run.

We are no better informed than anyone else about all of this, which is precisely our point – it’s nigh-on impossible to be well-informed with the information we have to go on. Nevertheless, one wicketkeeper we liked when he appeared in one-day matches for England was Phil Mustard.

Phil Mustard was the second-highest scorer in the Pro40 last year and it’s all 40-over stuff in 2010. Phil Mustard doesn’t know he’s supposed to be playing as an attacking opener in these matches; it’s just what he does. That’s what we like about him. Plus, wicketkeepers HAVE to open the batting in one-day matches.

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Paul Horton: first-class batsman to watch in 2010

Paul Horton in a rare 2009 bat-raisingLike Will Smith, Paul Horton’s another who had a 2009 season of less than unbridled success. He did hit 173 in one match, but didn’t do much else.

However, if there’s one thing we’ve learnt with these Ones To Watch, it’s that they’re devious bastards and always slip in a duff season just before they come good, thereby escaping from our one-watching claws at the crucial moment. Graeme Swann, we’re looking at you.

So let’s stick with Paul Horton through thin-and-thin, just like we did with that film that said it was going to be Knight Rider in the TV guide, but which didn’t feature a single car in it and was clearly a different film, but which the eight-year-old us watched anyway, hoping the whole of the first hour would turn out to be a Michael Knight dream.

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Will Smith, Durham: first-class batsman to watch in 2010

Will Smith was the one batsman who didn’t score runs for Durham last year, which might not immediately mark him out as being worth watching, but the year before that he was arguably their best batsman.

We’re putting the mediocre batting down to his being made captain in 2009. It’s like when someone’s knocking at the door while you’re trying to write about Will Smith of Durham: it’s a distraction and you can’t deal with both at once.

Actually, maybe it’s a bit different. Judging from the fact that Smith hit 150 in his penultimate match last season, maybe you learn to cope with both. In the other situation, eventually the knocking just stops – as does the writing about Will Smith of Durham.

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