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Muttiah Muralitharan retirement – knee jerk reaction

We’re certainly intending to do a proper Muralitharan retirement post – possibly after his last match – but for now, we can’t be bothered. These are the things that immediately came to mind when we heard he was retiring:

  1. Muttiah Muralitharan might just surpass Steve Harmison in our estimation as the finest batsman of his generation. Here’s why.
  2. Murali’s bowling technique: you try it if it’s so advantageous.
  3. The following Andrew Flintoff story.

Flintoff walked back into the Lancashire dressing room after getting out and everyone was staying out of his way because he was furious. Except for Murali.

Murali said: “What’s the matter, Freddie? Another crap shot, was it?”

He smiled when he said it and he got away with it. Murali and Flintoff are friends. You can’t teach good-natured cheek like that and only the tiniest fraction of the population can pull it off.

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Listening to Test Match Sofa via this site

Can we have some reader feedback?

We’ve added a Test Match Sofa player in the right sidebar so that you can listen to Test Match Sofa while you’re on this site. When there isn’t a match, it plays highlights.

One, will you use it? Two, does it affect the loading times for pages on this site? It’s fine for us, but if you experience a problem, can you let us know?

Update: Silence means you’re fine with it, by the way.

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Shaun Tait’s bowling speed

Insert shit joke about 'firepower' hereShaun Tait is unquestionably a fast bowler – probably the fastest around at the moment. You can tell because batsmen regularly ‘make room’ to play him – they’re getting their bodies out of the way, not freeing their arms.

A Shaun Tait delivery was clocked at 100mph at Lord’s in a one-day match against England. Did anyone catch what the other bowlers were bowling so that we know how seriously to take this measurement?

On Cricinfo’s Hawkeye tool, Tait’s fastest delivery for that match is recorded as being 97mph. Being as James Anderson’s is down as 95.4mph, we can probably knock that down to about 92mph, but how reliable are Cricinfo’s measurements? How reliable are one-day speed guns?

Shaun Tait clean-bowled three of England’s top four batsmen. That’s as good a measurement as any.

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Craig Kieswetter, Shaun Tait and marketing brave new England

When we suggested that Australia’s current one-day team wasn’t its strongest, people took this as making excuses on their behalf. We’re not a naysayer when it comes to this England one-day side. We’re just pleading for perspective.

For example, when Shaun Tait didn’t play, England lost 12 wickets in two matches. When he did, they lost 29 in three. It seems a lot of people find it easy to get carried away when England win a couple of matches.

Similarly, the talk of whether Craig Kieswetter should be promoted to the Test team is quiet at the minute. The flipside of building him up as the figurehead of ‘brave new England’ is that scores of 38, 8, 0, 12 and 11 take on symbolic importance. If he represents England’s ‘brand’ of cricket (and that word’s apposite because the English one-day revolution is in no small part a marketing exercise) then when he fails, so does the brand of cricket he represents.

But 3-2 against Australia is always a good result. England are unquestionably a better one-day team than they were, but they were pretty dreadful – they are probably no better than ‘good’ now. For his part, Craig Kieswetter’s hit one-day runs against Bangladesh and made his one Twenty20 international fifty in a World Cup final. It’s solid, but let’s not go mad.

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John Howard ICC vice-presidency bid – Mani reacts

To some people, Mani is Ehsan Mani, former president of the ICC and a man who once mistakenly shook hands with special correspondent Dad. To us and to many of our generation, Mani is ex-Stone Roses bassist, Gary Mounfield, now with Primal Scream and also working on Peter Hook’s hilariously-named Freebass project – so called because it features three (‘free’) bassists.

All of which is just our way of saying that we feel a little disorientated when we read quotes like this:

“I think the lessons to be learnt for Cricket Australia would be big ones after this incident,” Mani said. “Australia threw all their eggs into one basket over the last few years and it’s come back to bite them because they lost support from other boards while pursuing the BCCI.”

Wise words from the man who brought you the distinctive, timeless opening to I Wanna Be Adored as well as the rumbling threat of Kowalski.

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Vote for the Sidearm even though it should have a better name

Frank’s been on. He’s made a thing:

The Wangotron 9000

“It has been shortlisted in a business competition run by Barclays. If I beat the other two finalists in a public vote, I win 50 grand to help get the things on the market. I’ve had some great support from Goochie, two Floweries and Graysonny and we’re not far off ready to start production.

“Would you be kind enough to vote for us? And as I’m sure you have a wide cricket-loving readership, perhaps you could ask some of them as well.”

You can vote here. You might also want to suggest to Frank that he changes the product’s name from ‘Sidearm’ to ‘The Wangotron 9000’.

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A worrying Rob Key development

Thanks to Bradders for pointing us towards this:

Don't point that thing at us

But also not thanks. Pretending things are guns is never cool. Somebody will have told him to do it, but that doesn’t matter. Rob could have gone for bat-as-guitar or bat-as-snooker-cue even. Both would have been better than bat-as-gun.

There’s the sunglasses too. It’s all bad. We feel very disappointed today and we don’t quite know where we go from here.

We’re also wondering whether to move the ‘Rob Key’ child category out of the ‘England’ parent category and back into the ‘county cricket’ one. This really is a low moment.

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They’ve wedged in some County Championship fixtures

Shit! They’re playing County Championship matches. How did that happen?

We’d checked the fixture lists and had therefore been slacking off because it’s only the Twenty20 Cup and we can’t really be arsed with that until they’ve finished the crappy group stages. But knock our chicken and chorizo sandwich to the floor and call us mildly exasperated and a tad disappointed if they haven’t shoe-horned in a solitary four-day match slap-bang in the middle of it all.

If there’s one lesson we should have learnt by now, it’s to never think we know what form of cricket the counties are likely to be playing on any given day.

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Someone’s challenged Shiv to a crease occupation contest

Shiv celebrates a particularly well-judged leave outside the off stumpAshwell Prince’s 262-ball 78 not out effectively said to Shivnarine Chanderpaul: “You think you can bat time? Come on. Let’s see what you’re made of.”

Why would you do that? Shiv has now found himself in a situation where the West Indies are deep into their second innings, only a handful of runs ahead, with bags of time left. If someone could stay with him, he could bat for two whole days and get 61 not out. It would be a thing of rare beauty.

Sadly, Shiv’s best hope was Dwayne Bravo who’s already out. Bravo batted alongside Shiv in the last Test and scored a stunningly grindsome 215-ball 53 – an innings that somewhat ludicrously featured a six at one point. Never one to be outdone, Shiv weighed anchor upon reaching 150 in that match and crawled to 166 off a further 95 balls, as pointed out by Andy Zaltzman in his Confectionery Stall blog for Cricinfo.

Next week, Luke Wright dares Shahid Afridi to renounce shot selection completely.

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Ian Botham’s rich mahogany armpits

Now there’s a post title for you.

We’ve had another Sunday post at Cricinfo that you’ll all have missed. It’s about great English cricket embarrassments and we wrote it after England had nearly lost to Ireland in the World Twenty20. They’ve been great since then and we’re taking the credit.

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