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Looking too far forward to the Ashes

'I think we'll win two, then we'll turn shit for no reason and lose one, then we'll get good and win the last two'

If England are playing cricket, we’re supporting them. That’s the rule. However, if it came down to it, we’re wondering whether a Pakistan win in the third Test might not be the worst thing in the world. Why? Because of the Ashes.

It’s almost Monday

We know someone who sometimes starts getting miserable about going back to work halfway through Saturday. You can look too far ahead and miss what’s happening today.

Cricket only has a handful of sides. Every time your team is playing one of them, it’s a special occasion. We’re currently midway through a Test series against Pakistan and half anyone says is about a series that hasn’t even started yet. What about now?

But Pakistan are shit

No, Pakistan aren’t shit. It’s easy to say that Pakistan are shit when they keep getting bowled out for double figures, but what happens when the ball stops swinging and the momentum of an unfolding batting collapse wanes? They put on 200 with their last four wickets even though one of those batsmen is injured. Imagine if specialist batsmen had been in then.

Similarly, their catching.

Make efforts to position hands near to ball

So they put down 426 chances at Edgbaston. They still bowled England out for 251 in their first innings. That’s actually terrifying.

Maybe Pakistan will fold again, but it’s worth watching and it’s worth paying attention in order to find out. The first two Tests have been hugely absorbing and have probably featured more excitement than the first three Ashes Tests will later in the year.

People in England only care about the Ashes

No, no, no, no, no. Shut up. Get out. We don’t care what the public think. The public are idiots. The public lap up Chris Moyles and Coldplay. You could put a lump of human excrement in front of them and they’d find it entertaining as soon as it became familiar.

Don’t pay attention to what the public want because you end up in Idiocracy where you can only remember a time when

“… people wrote books and movies – movies that had stories so you cared whose ass it was and why it was farting.”

You actually have to point out good stuff to the public because they’re too stupid to identify it themselves.

So what’s good?

Variety is good. Different opponents are good. Different match situations are good. Not knowing what’s going to happen is good.

Pakistan are not Australia and that is actually a good thing. There is no cricket team in the world less predictable than Pakistan and that too is a good thing. Despite the success of the Premier League, sport isn’t actually about watching groups of players go through the motions when you know what’s going to happen in the end. It’s about watching a match develop and occasionally being surprised. Pakistan will give you that.

So?

To talk about Alastair Cook’s form in terms of the first Test at Brisbane is disrespectful to Pakistan and also misguided. To talk about James Anderson’s swing bowling in terms of Kookaburra balls and less helpful conditions in Australia is missing the point.

And to ask England’s players what they think about Ricky Ponting saying it’s ‘possible’ for Australia to win the Ashes 5-0? Well, that’s even more mindless than asking the Australian cricket captain whether his team are capable of winning cricket matches, because if you can win one, you can win five.

So why would a Pakistan win not be so bad?

Because then people might realise that something significant is happening right now.

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Graeme Swann, his cat and drink driving

The cat engineered this situation as revenge for being forced to eat dry food

Another day, another cricket story where all the most important facts are being omitted. Graeme Swann’s defence for being caught driving while slightly under the influence at 3am was that he had to go and get some screwdrivers from Asda because the cat was caught under the floorboards.

So many questions unanswered:

  • Does the cat piss in his kit bag to claim it as its own?
  • Why doesn’t Graeme own any screwdrivers? What does he use to ruin screw heads so that no-one can ever get them out again?
  • Why does he drive a sportscar?
  • What had he been drinking?
  • Has the cat apologised for being an idiot?
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Twenty20 Finals Day 2010 match reports

Apologies to all of you in the match report queue, but we’ve for once decided to publish a report at roughly the right time. If you’re worried that we’ve changed, we’d like to emphasise that this step has been taken purely because we can’t be arsed writing anything today.

Mel writes:

Following the result of the first semi-final, the four despondent Essex supporters sitting in front of us tried to think of ways in which they could pass the time for the rest of the day. Their team had been eliminated and their incessant heckling of the Hampshire supporters sitting around them had backfired in a rather spectacular fashion.

They therefore got stuck into the beers and came up with a cunning plan – ‘celebrity lookie-likies’. They awarded themselves one point each for a lookalike spot, but an extra point if they could get that person to wave back at them. This cheered them up immensely, and they threw themselves into the game with gusto.

“Frank Butcher!” cried one of them as a portly, balding and bespectacled gentleman walked back to his seat. “Rickayyy…get off my car lot!” he added as the gentleman looked up nervously. The beered-up celebrity spotter waved enthusiastically and was delighted to receive a tentative wave back. “Two points!” he screeched – almost spilling his beer in delight – before being upstaged by one of his companions, who had spotted a ruddy cheeked ginger lad a few rows below them.

“Prince Harry! Your Royal Highness!” came the cry – accompanied by an exaggerated bow – as the lad’s cheeks burned even brighter. He turned and waved (rather limply for a royal, I thought) but that was enough for a two pointer and the game was on.

During the Notts v Somerset semi-final, our stand was transformed into the pages of Hello! magazine with Kylie Minogue, George Clooney, Noel Edmonds, Billy Connolly and the bloke from the Go Compare adverts all spotted, although shouting ‘Cleo Laine! Give us a doo-be-doo-be-doo!” at Ryan Sidebottom failed to get the wave required for the extra point.

The irony was that the two actors who play the Weasley twins in the Harry Potter movies were sitting fewer than ten seats away from them and weren’t spotted once. Not sure if this is a reflection on the increasingly blurred eyesight of the Essex fans or an indication of the celebrity status of the Hogwarts pupils.

Send your match reports to king@kingcricket.co.uk and on no account mention the cricket itself.

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The mascot race on Twenty20 finals day 2010

Do you think he's okay?

We missed Twenty20 finals day this year. We’ve read loads of reports, but we haven’t found the most important piece of information.

Who won the mascot race? How did Lanky do?

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Is this pitch spongy, Dhoni?

This pitch has got rice and crumbs stuck to it

MS Dhoni said that New Zealand beat India by 200 runs in a one-day game because the pitch was a bit spongy. We presume he meant it was like the sponge above, rather than being like those jelly creatures that race along the sea floor at speeds of up to 4mm per day.

Sri Lanka are playing New Zealand on the same pitch today. Let’s see how they fare. A spongy pitch isn’t so bad.

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Should they stop playing ODIs?

The 1999 semi-final wasn't bad

Martin Crowe says they should stop playing one-day internationals (ODIs). Do you agree?

We can’t honestly say that we pay much attention to ODIs – even England’s – but set against that, we do have great memories of 50-over World Cups. The Twenty20 World Cup is hugely entertaining, but we’re not sure that’s just because it’s a 20-over competition. We think it’s actually the fact that pretty much all the matches are meaningful.

There’s also the fact that we enjoyed the first Twenty20 World Cup more than the next two. Why was that? It was less predictable. No-one had a clue what they were doing and so you actually had to pay attention. If something of this could be injected into the 50-over World Cup, we feel like it would have a lot to offer. It would once again become ‘an event’.

So yes, do away with ODIs except for World Cups. Or maybe play odd exhibition matches as part of Test/Twenty20 tours. Also, don’t muck about with the rules. You only need to do that because everyone’s so wearied by familiarity. It’s not the rules that are the problem, it’s that matches have become formulaic through so much repetition.

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Durham 2nd XI v Surrey 2nd XI match report

668 writes:

I started at Newcastle station. “A day return to Seaton Carew, please”

“Why do you want to go there?” the ticket guy quizzed me, with genuine amazement and some concern.

“Umm, to watch some cricket.”

“So you’re not taking a kayak ride then?”

“No,” I said. “There is a clue there – I want a return.”

Seaton Carew: a station that is a barren wasteland, nothing on it, no map of where you are or where you might want to go. There was a sign to the beach. I had no idea if I needed the beach. Luckily Gordon Muchall’s Greatest Fan was just a text away and gave me a lift to the cricket ground.

The club ground is small and surrounded by the kind of ambience that only Teesmouth can provide. There was a faint smell in the air. I asked if it was from the Huntsman Tioxide plant, it being a working day, with plenty of white plumes drifting from the cracking towers. Gordon Muchall’s Greatest Fan said it could be the sewage works which was “just over there”. Luckily the smell seemed confined to the car parking area.

All the Surrey players had a variety of kit, so we really could have been down the park. There is a lovely vista of Hartlepool nuclear power station and the associated pylons give vertical landscape interest, usually only added by tall trees in most parks.

As Bert pointed out in April, you might need a house on Teesside to see some of KC’s ones to watch for 2010. So I shouldn’t have been surprised to find myself watching two from that very list – Smith, now Durham’s ex-captain and the Viking, not taken a wicket since being listed and down for a third ankle operation.

It was soon lunch. We went for fish and chips. The gulls by the seafront were conspicuously indifferent to chips – they may have been holding out for fish. I ate all my fish, it was top notch. I purchased a stash of coltsfoot rock.

After lunch, it was soon raining. There was no problem getting into the pavilion bar, as most of the ‘crowd’ swiftly departed. One of the players’ mates had a white sports car. Some of the players spent some time driving about in it. It made an impressive sports car type noise.

Time went by and all the players ended upstairs, playing darts. I did not even try to view this spectacle; I have an inbuilt sense of health and safety. They sounded like a herd of elephants, despite the fact that at least three of them have knackered ankles. Perhaps imitating trouping elephants is the cause of our injury problems? The physio was not on hand to stop this reckless behaviour.

I had another Jagermiester.

I decided against more time on Seaton Carew station and opted for Hartlepool instead – a good move as I was soon on a bus to Darlington. There were no trains due to a power failure at Stockton. Being near to a power station is no guarantee of power, people.

Send your match reports to king@kingcricket.co.uk and on no account mention the cricket itself.

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An eventful innings and some uneventful innings

We’ve covered both while whoring ourself out to other people this week.

The Cricinfo one features someone called MCG Gladlyaddled-Smeethington drinking brandy in the sixth tiffin break, if that makes the article sound a bit more intriguing.

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England bowling teams out – how do you feel about it?

Some England supporters seem upset when their team bowls a side out for double figures. Pakistan are our second favourite side and we want to see them become stronger, but frankly they can do all their run-scoring against other teams.

When England are taking wickets as greedily as Mark Cosgrove taking crisps at a buffet, that’s as good as cricket gets. You have to make the most of it as well, because now we’re in a position where England will be chasing 100-and-odd and could conceivably make a balls of it, making an equally big balls of all the despair about Pakistan being dreadful and not even putting up a fight.

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Salman Butt’s leave | Pakistan batting propaganda

Pretty sure propaganda has to be clearly labelled as such in order for it to be properly effective.

In the comments on our last post, Ceci suggested that the Pakistani batsmen believe what they read. With that in mind, we’d like to put this site forward as official Pakistani cricket team reading matter. Salman Butt leaves his way to gloryWrong language and all that, but never mind.

At one point in yesterday’s play, Salman Butt brought his bat inside the line of a James Anderson outswinger. Some experts were moved to comment that it was the finest leave they’d seen since Sunil Gavaskar against Garry Sobers in the fifth over of the first innings at Port of Spain in 1971.

This Pakistani batting can be quite exceptional at times.

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