It’s a big deal. Andrew Flintoff pretty much never manages it and he’s supposed to be the best bowler since the Bowlinator 9000 perfected the 95mph googly.
We don’t know for sure whether anyone ever followed our instructions as to how to help Graeme Swann into the England side from back in 2006, but it seems highly likely that someone did. Who says that persistent, mindless, entirely inappropriate shouting with no regard for the legal consequences never paid dividends?
Graeme Swann is bowling pretty well, batting a bit better, proving us right and acting as one of the better interviewees in Test cricket. We should be pretty happy, but the edge is taken off a bit because his presence constantly reminds us that Monty isn’t in the side.17 Appeals
It’s funny when billionaires get told off.
It was good that Sir Allen Stanford inadvertently instilled a sense of responsibility into the West Indies team through encouraging them to prepare properly for the cashtastic Super Series, but it’s also good that he’s being charged with fraud, because he’s a billionaire and billionaires have always done something wrong.
We don’t know what he’s done exactly, but on the grounds of his ludicrous wealth alone, we feel that he deserves it. Whatever ‘it’ might be.16 Appeals
If you’re Paul Collingwood, you have to do a little bit more than other batsmen. He’s hit three hundreds in his last nine Test innings, each in a different country and each against a different attack. People will accept that he can stay in the side for another couple of matches now.
Maybe it’s because he looks ill-acquainted with a cricket bat. It doesn’t move right in his hands. You imagine him opening his kitbag on the first morning of a Test. He looks down at the chunk of willow within and says: ‘What the hell is that?’
We like him that way. We like his awkward punching strokeplay. We like the nurdle, we like the chop and we like the hoist. Every time people say Paul Collingwood has to go because he’s not good enough, he comes back and scores some hundreds and really, that’s all that matters.24 Appeals
BUT THEY’RE NOT!
We should really have clarified this at the outset. We’d like you to send us pictures of real, actual, tangible cricket bats (or other cricket items) that are genuinely in unusual places. Send your pictures to email@example.com
Kate and Tom sent us this:
We have rather a soft spot for penguins and for the chap depicted with them, but we have a strong suspicion that this image may be doctored in some way.
We put this to Kate and Tom and they said: “We took this from our North Pole cruise ship last year. We were as surprised as anyone.”
We also got this from Ceci:
Ceci didn’t even try and claim that this was real.
These shall be the only fraudulent submissions for this feature. May they stand as a warning to you (in a way that is not entirely clear).13 Appeals
Alastair Cook, 52. What a Herculean effort. Ordinarily, you’d need 11 men to get anywhere near a score like that.
Owais Shah, 57. It’s a number beyond counting. We don’t know how many noughts 57 has, but it must be nearly a million. It’s the biggest number we’ve ever heard of.
Andrew Strauss, 169. This is, quite literally, more runs than have ever been scored in the history of cricket. It’s more runs than there are atoms in France – and France is chock-full of atoms at the minute.
England would have lost a match against a single, blind narhwal last week. This week they’re unbelievable and should have their DNA preserved for posterity.
There is no way we are overreacting about this. Nor have we overreacted about poor performance in the past. Measuring a side’s worth by how many runs they scored in their most recent innings is the most scientific approach there is and gives 100% accurate results.6 Appeals
Real, world-class incompetence in the organisation of an international cricket match is pretty funny to a degree. It makes you feel better about those occasions when you can’t quite manage to write a list AND take it to the supermarket with you. However, it being a bit funny is a pretty feeble plus point.
It sounds like Sir Viv Richards was a whisker away from doing a Kamehameha at anyone involved with pitch preparation at the stadium bearing his name – and rightly so. If you’re going to make a balls of something, at least do it in your own name.
The whole sorry episode reminded us of one of the saddest things we’ve ever seen. It was a documentary about two blokes who’d saved up to see a Test in the West Indies. They’d been saving a pound a week for about 20 years or summat. These poor guys had the monumental misfortune to organise their holiday around the Sabina Park Test of 1998 – the first abandoned Test in the history of the game.
Now granted, they probably could have saved more than a quid a week, but that’s partly the point. They’d been looking forward to this once-in-a-lifetime trip for 20 years. They were miners or some similarly masculine profession, but we can still see the tears in their eyes.7 Appeals
The first in our new series Cricket Bats In Unusual Places. Send your pictures of cricket bats in unusual places to firstname.lastname@example.org (it doesn’t have to be bats).
This account was written on the insistence of my counsellor. He says I have to face what I have done; to see my actions and their consequences for what they are. It is, to the best of my knowledge, true.
I am in Oxford on my holidays. I am surrounded by book readers, deep thinkers and philosophers – my kind of people. We smile at each other as we pass along the ancient streets, happy to be clever. I know for a fact that 87% of Oxford residents actively hate cricket – they did a survey. I am in heaven.
I stroll down North Parade. All is well, yet life is about to get even better. I walk past a lovely looking pub, The Rose and Crown, and hear the unmistakable, heavenly timbre of Paddy McAloon’s voice drifting out onto the street. He is singing: ‘Cowboy Dreams, you give me cowboy dreams.’ He is singing it 120 times better than Jimmy Nail sang it.
I enter and order a pint of Old Hooky. It is as soothing and comforting as the music. The pub is perfect. There is a real fire, books on a shelf and clever people sat at the bar. They have Prefab Sprout on the juke box. This is my kind of place.
And then I spot the cricket bat.
Pinned to the wall.
That’s how it starts.
The barkeep notices my eyes glance towards the bat. He is round the bar faster than Mark, Howard and Jason said ‘God, yes,’ when Gary asked if they wanted to give it another go. He takes the bat down and strides towards me. Jesus have mercy on my soul: he is going to talk to me about cricket.
“This,” he says, “was donated to the pub by a lad with the nickname Goochie. Look, he signed it.” He laughs in delight. “And then the real Graham Gooch came in one night and we got him to sign it too!”
I remain aloof. Underneath this facade, anger is bubbling.
“Have a hold,” he says. And pushes the bat towards me.
He shoves the bat underneath my nose. “Have a sniff!” he tells me.
Anger envelops me. There is only one thing can happen.
I take the bat from him and emit a roar. I brandish the bat above my head and start with my wanton destruction of the pub. People scatter. Grown men weep in terror. I become more animal than man. Five minutes later it is finished.
I tuck the bat underneath my arm, leave the destroyed pub and go on the hunt. I will find both Goochie and the real Graham Gooch if it is the only thing in life I achieve.
Nobody ruins my holiday. Especially not a cricketer.
I have to stop now. I’m getting angry again and my counsellor tells me that won’t help with parole. It’s lights out in five minutes anyway. Maybe soon I can become calm enough to write down the rest.17 Appeals
We’re starting a new feature. It’s called Cricket Bats In Unusual Places. We want you to send in pictures of cricket bats in unusual places. Send them to email@example.com
It doesn’t have to be cricket bats – that’s just the name of the feature. It can be anything cricket-related, but it does have to be in an unusual place. The more unusual the place, the better; and the larger and more unwieldy the item, the better.
A cricket bat leaning against Michelangelo’s David – 1 billion points
Points equal nothing, however. We don’t do prizes. Maybe if you do something unbelievably amazing we’ll send you a second-hand copy of a third-rate cricketer’s autobiography, but don’t count on it.
The first instalment of Cricket Bats In Unusual Places will appear tomorrow. Many of you will be delighted to hear that it’s from Brian. Future submissions don’t have to follow the same format as Brian’s. In fact it’s probably best if they don’t.6 Appeals
We support Lancashire. You might be wondering how we feel about this. If there’s such a thing as a positive ‘meh’ – then that. He did win the County Championship with Sussex after all. He does have a good track record.
Peter Moores’ has Maxonian origins, so this is a return to the North-West for him. We’ll all stand at the windows of the mills and doff our flat caps at him as he slopes back into town, hunched against the driving rain.
We’ll bake ‘welcome home’ meat ‘n’ tatty pies for him and call him a soft bastard for having something approximating a hairstyle. We’ll ask him if it’s true that you can’t get gravy wi’ your chips down south and then we’ll get on with the serious of business of buying him a pint so that he has to stand there and drink it while we tell him how shit he’s doing.10 Appeals
Because he looks like the kind of person who eats sandwiches with a knife and fork.
Because Rob Key’s on the wrong continent.
Because if international cricket were a cartoon where everyone were an animal, Ian Bell would be the excitable squirrel who doesn’t really accomplish anything.
Yes, why not. That was a rhetorical question, wasn’t it?
Opposition bowlers seem to have caught on that he isn’t a member of the groundstaff shovelling soil around; he’s actually got a bat in his hand, not a spade.
Actually knows the value of his Test place and is pleasingly prone to fighting to retain it.