That’s Chris Gayle’s reputation. We’ve been reading it all week as people say they didn’t know Gayle had it in him to bat the way he did against Australia in hitting 165 not out off 285 balls.
Really? You didn’t know that? Are you sure you weren’t just making a lazy stereotype of the man from his ‘Test cricket is dying’ pronouncements and the fact that he’s awesome at Twenty20?
His strike rate (runs scored per hundred balls) in that Adelaide innings was 57.89. Let’s compare that to his last three Test hundreds.
- 60 in his 102 v England at Port of Spain
- 53.88 in his 104 v England at Kingston
- 49.74 in his 197 v New Zealand at Napier
Cats are surprised by someone yawning within 20 feet of them. Sheep are surprised by the sun coming up each morning. Cricket followers shouldn’t be surprised that good batsmen aren’t one-dimensional caricatures.
At first he was all sixes and flowing locks. Now he’s all nudged singles and hair that should be in charge of train timetables; hair you’d happily lend £20 to, safe in the knowledge that it would be returned promptly and possibly even with interest because it had been invested with such wisdom.
The more sensible he becomes, the more we like him. To wilfully court accusations of being boring when you can hit the ball into next week while you yourself are airborne says that this is someone who really, really cares about winning above all else. You want players like that in your side.
If you’re relatively new to cricket, you might think Kevin Pietersen came to prominence because of a shit haircut and an Ashes-winning hundred. You’d be wrong and not just because cricket series are won by bowlers and not by batsmen ensuring a draw in the final Test of a series.
No, Kevin Pietersen came to prominence because some of his first international matches were in a one-day series against the country of his birth and they booed his arse off. These weren’t coy, knowing, silent boos, but big, full-on, red-blooded-South-African-man boos. These were boos that could skin a gazelle and dry its flesh into sticks of dried salted meat. Duncan Fletcher called the crowd reaction ‘abnormal’.
Pietersen promptly hit 22 not out, 108 not out, 33, 75, 100 not out and 116. That last innings had an alarming change of gear. After hitting 34 off 73 balls up to the 35th over, Pietersen then hit 82 off the next 37. England still lost. Obviously.
But as he left the field, the South African crowd actually gave him a standing ovation. If you can go into that situation and not just endure it but win those people over, that’s quite something.
Asked about the booing this week, KP said it was ‘nothing personal’ which is the most inaccurate comment ever made. It is 100 percent personal. That is actually the only reason behind it.
An ECB statement describes how they’re going to try and persuade the government that the Ashes should remain on subscription TV.
“In the coming weeks we will set out to them the hugely detrimental impact the panel’s recommendations would have on our successful community projects as well as the potential impact on international cricket, the England teams and the county game.”
Note what would feel the impact. ‘Community projects’ would come first, then international cricket, then the county game.
Currently, the ECB’s spending is £12 million on grassroots cricket, £17 million on England and £38 million on the counties. You’d think that maybe a reduction in income would come out of the ECB’s costlier outgoings, but no, those figures represent priorities, so in reality all the grassroots money would go before a penny of the spending on county cricket was withdrawn.
The ECB quote above is worded as if the Government are going to kill grassroots cricket, yet it’s the ECB who are in charge of where the money goes.
If there were a fierce drought, the ECB would conserve drinking water by killing all of their children so that they could continue watering the geraniums. Then they would accuse the water board of murder.
Maybe it’s all the seasonal ales that we knocked back over the weekend, but we’ve lost a bit of enthusiasm this week. Christmas beers are always about three times as strong as normal beer – presumably because you need to be completely leathered to endure the festive period.
So, because we can’t be arsed and because most of you hate everything we write anyway, here’s a picture of Freddie in some socks instead.
Some celebrities have designed some socks and they’re being sold with the proceeds going to various charities. Not sure how these things work, but we might be obliged to say they’re being sold by MandMDirect.
We’ve never heard of them before, but the name MandMDirect needs some bloody spaces in it. We don’t care if it’s a web address as well, when did it become okay to do away with spaces? It’s not okay. Ask Pen Island or Experts Exchange if you don’t believe us.
On that subject, therapistfinder.com seems like a genuine website.
India have risen to be number one in the rankings and many people will say that the rankings are questionable. Are India the best Test cricket team?
A lot of people say the rankings are meaningless. When they make this criticism, they always do it according to a team’s position. The statement is usually something like ‘there is no way on earth that Australia are only the fourth best’.
Australia are actually third now, but these people should look at the points that the positions are based on rather than the positions themselves. It’s like batting averages. One run here or there doesn’t mean a thing (except to Don Bradman maybe). Similarly, one point in the Test rankings doesn’t mean a lot.
Back when Australia were clearly the best Test side, they were generally ahead by about 15 points. That’s enough. You’re definitely ahead there. Back then, being fourth meant you were a distant fourth. Not so long ago, when Australia were ranked fourth, they were fourth by about a point. That doesn’t really mean anything.
Test cricket’s hierarchy and why shades of grey are good
One of the best things about Test cricket is that the same two teams can produce wildly differing results if they play each other in different countries, on different grounds or even in different weather conditions.
It’s not like Team A are the best and they’ll always beat Team B, who’ll always beat Team C and so on. There are so many different factors that there’s frequently a healthy amount of grey to the answer to any ‘which side is better?’ question.
Look at the rankings in the same way. A point here or there means next to nothing.
We’d say India have as good a claim as anyone to being the best Test cricket team at the moment.
Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Mahendra Dhoni. This is not shit. They’re all fantastic batsmen and they’re all different.
We mean they’re all different in terms of batting style, rather than in the sense of their being distinct individuals. Repeatedly using the same batsman but in different disguises is tricky to pull off with all the TV cameras these days. The downside is that some of those batsmen are approaching ‘let’s have a nice sit down’ age.
Spin bowling’s been better, but India rarely need to seriously worry about this part of the game. Pace bowling is as strong as it’s ever been and there’s depth to it too. You wouldn’t say that India have the best pace bowlers in the world, but no country’s really ahead of them either.
So are they the best?
If you want to write a crowd-pleasing cricket website, it’s all about the outlandish proclamations, so here’s ours: India are among the better Test teams in world cricket and for the moment probably have as good a claim as any to being the best, even if there’s not much in it.
We’re thinking about getting that put on a T-shirt.
Jarrod Kimber from Cricket With Balls has written another book. We’ve not actually read it yet, but we feel we’re on pretty safe ground recommending it. If you’ve read his site, you know the kind of thing to expect.
The book is about the 2009 Ashes series and being as Jarrod’s Australian, it must have been pretty tough for him to spend so long writing about what was a pretty humiliating defeat for his side. We think you should buy the book on that basis alone.
Plus, it’s only seven quid in hardback, which is a bloody good deal.
One to watch veteran, Mark Davies, has finally been called into the England squad. If he plays a Test, it is not acceptable to use mundane exclamations like ‘well bowled!’
The obvious substitutes are ‘hammer of Thor!‘ and ‘great Odin’s raven!‘ but if you tire of shouting those, here are three more to add to your repertoire:
- Heimdall’s trumpet!
- Sons of Ivaldi!
- Gullinbursti’s glowing mane!
This is quite unusual. We’re not usually right about stuff. Normally, you can ask us questions about things that have happened to us and we’ll get the answers wrong.
“Did Dan tell you he was moving to Australia?”
“No!” [Long pause] “Don’t think so.” [Another long pause] “Well, maybe…”
- Dwayne Bravo – 104 v Australia
- Mohammad Asif – 4-40 v New Zealand
- Mahendra Dhoni – 100 not out v Sri Lanka
Maybe we’re only wrong when being right relies on the retention of information.