If you want to see the technology of tomorrow, today: go to Japan. If you want to see the cricketing fixture lists of tomorrow, today: look to India.
India have never played a home Test against Bangladesh, despite the latter being a Test team since 2000. They don’t want to, because it won’t earn them much money, so they don’t. It’s really not supposed to work like that, but it does.
This winter, England are touring India. We’ve already moaned about how there are seven one-day internationals and only two back-to-back Tests. We hate back-to-back Tests. When it’s two of five Tests, we can just about cope, but when a whole series is being whisked before your eyes in under a fortnight, it’s hard to avoid the feeling that it’s a commitment joylessly ticked off – like New Year’s Eve.
India tour New Zealand in 2009 and it goes without saying that that’s a bare minimum two back-to-back Tests as well. But India don’t hate Test cricket. Don’t think that. Australia arrive shortly for a four Test series, with all the accompanying fanfare and cash.
But for the ultimate potential signal as to what matters and what resolutely does not, you have to return to the England Tests. The first Test is due to start on the 11th of December. The Twenty20 Champions League finishes on the night of the 10th. Mahendra Singh Dhoni is ‘likely’ to be released from the later stages of the Champions League. We can only hope that does happen.12 Appeals
The team decide that they need a more experienced batsman to bat with the tail. The current number seven doesn’t protect the batsmen below him properly, so this is where I, Laurence Elderbrook, come in.
It’s an overcast day and our batsmen struggle. Before long the fifth wicket falls. The time has come for Laurence Elderbrook to take his stage.
Before I walk out, I take a moment to compose myself in the mirror. Resplendent in my cream flannels, I look immaculate. It is time.
As I turn away to pick up my bat, I catch a brief glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye. I point my elbow towards the mirror. It sports a horrific, green grass stain. This will not do.
I reach into my kit bag and calmly select a second shirt. I examine it thoroughly. It looks immaculate. I discard its soiled predecessor and don shirt number two.
As I pull it over my head I realise that the top button is fastened. Alas, too late. I have rushed into my attire with undue haste and the button has come off. I survey the garment with a considered eye. It is far from immaculate. This will not do.
Suddenly I hear a noise from outside. Are my crowd growing rumbustious at my prolonged absence? Apparently not. A team mate pops his head round the door and delivers the fateful news: I have been timed out.
It is at this point that I take the only option available to me. I let fly a huge, bestial roar and decimate the mirror with a blow from my forehead. In order to more thoroughly underline my profound dissatisfaction I strike the mirror thrice, at which point I am overcome by an unusual light-headedness.
I walk outside, catch the umpire’s eye and flick the Vs with the serene dignity afforded to only the very few.
Everyone admires my restraint. They admire me.14 Appeals
Ed (33 and a half) writes:
My sister’s broadband had stopped working so I rang her ISP’s help desk. After 30 minutes of stupid, obvious questions they said they’d have to send a BT engineer to have a look. When they told me it was going to cost £180 I told them to get stuffed and decided to have a go at it myself.
Anyhow, it was Twenty20 finals day so I thought it’d be a grand idea to have the telly on so I could catch the mascot race. When I first switched on there was some other game on from a couple of years ago so I got the BT master socket wiring diagram out and studied it.
It turns out that only two of the BT drop lines have to be connected (orange and white). Furthermore, only three wires need to be connected for the extension sockets (the fourth is only connected for neatness).
The first semi-final had started, so I had a cheese butty and a well-deserved sit down. Once I’d washed my first food of the day down with a cup of tea, I popped out for a ciggie.
Halfway through chasing the first extension cable through the kitchen wall I heard the commentators say that Napier was in. By the time I got to the telly he was out.
My sister came home with her two kids. They had been to some other child’s party and Chloe (my niece) gave me a piece of sponge cake. I don’t really like cake but I had to humour her. They then left to go to another party.
I was just about done with the phone socket for the Sky box when the mascot race came on the tube. I downed tools, got a beer from the fridge and parked myself on the couch. It was an epic, dingdong battle. Despite my loathing of the giraffe, I had to support him.
The giraffe lost. It was disgraceful.
I finished up and put all their furniture back in place. I had another beer and a packet of smokey bacon crisps.
I went home and watched the final while I had fish finger butties for tea. I had some more beers and went to bed.28 Appeals
6-1 off three overs? That’s a win.
We need to be more decisive about things like this. We can’t just say that there was ‘no result’ because there wasn’t much cricket. That’s just laziness. There was plenty of cricket.
Three overs is plenty and what we saw was clearly an England win. Steve Harmison put in an awesome performance walking in, whereas Mark Boucher was dire sitting in the dressing room.
There was, quite simply, a huge gulf in class between the two sides.7 Appeals
We learnt a lot through Graeme Hick. We learnt that nothing’s preordained. We learnt that heroes can let you down. We learnt that huge talent isn’t the sole ingredient for Test success and we learnt that if you mess about dropping and reselecting players it doesn’t help them one bit.
If you’re a bit too young to know all that much about Graeme Hick, during the period that he was qualifying for England he was quite plainly the best batsman in the country and quite possibly the best for several generations. At the time he qualified, he was 25 and he’d hit 57 first-class hundreds with a top score of 405 not out. Michael Vaughan’s 33 and he’s still only scored 42 first-class hundreds. Andrew Strauss is 31 and has 26.
In his first two Test matches, Hick made six, six and nought and never looked back.
Actually, that’s grossly unfair. For three years he averaged over 45 in Tests, back when that was actually quite meaningful, but after such a colossal initial disappointment, he could never win people back round.
We used to be mental about Graeme Hick. We believed he’d be better than Viv Richards for a long time after it was clear that was never going to happen. We’d check his average for every Test series. If it was above 40, it was proof. If it was below, we’d look forward to the next series. Hope was more important than facts during the Nineties.
Graeme Hick, despite his barely-even-mediocre overall Test record, has been an exceptional cricketer. It’s not hotly-contested, but he’d get into England’s best ever one-day side and he’s scored so many first-class runs it’s not even comprehensible.
A thousand runs in a season is considered ‘successful’. Graeme Hick has hit 41,112 first-class runs. Just think about that. He’s hit 136 centures and 158 fifties. He averages 52.
We don’t know how he’d know, but Steve Waugh thought Hick was the best 18 year-old in the history of cricket. Hick couldn’t maintain that level of overachievement, but he still ends his career a phenomenon.10 Appeals
He’s been playing in division two, which of course doesn’t count. That’s what Steven Davies has been doing.
He has had a good time recently though. Worcestershire are in the first division of the Pro40 league and played two matches last week.
Against Somerset, Davies hit a quarter of the balls he faced for four and finished with 92 off 60 balls. The match was tied. Against Gloucestershire he did even better, hitting 119 off 87 balls. Unfortunately, his keeping’s not getting rave reviews. We say ‘unfortunately’ but it isn’t really fortune, is it? It’s to do with concentration, co-ordination, athleticism and stamina.
At least Worcestershire should find themselves in the top division next year, so Davies, along with team mates Kabir Ali and Simon Jones, can give a truer indication of how good they are.5 Appeals
We mean that how you think we mean it. He’s not been going on about Kookaburras or whatever.
Talking about Andrew Flintoff Peter Moores said:
“When it gets tight he takes a deep breath and delivers his skills.”
Maybe that doesn’t bother you, but all sorts of alarm bells started ringing when we read it. After we’d turned them all off and returned to the computer, his choice of words sank in and we were MASSIVELY HORRIFIED.
‘Delivers his skills’ is, unfortunately, not Maxonian dialect. It’s cricket lingo. It just means ‘plays well’ and nothing more than that. It’s one of those phrases where people just seem to be trying too hard to sound professional or something.
We heard it first a couple of years ago when John Buchanan was Australia coach. At that time the whole Australia team had been brainwashed into speaking in this mindless way; forever going on about executing their skills like they were frigging robots or something.
It’s a bad sign. Mark our words.10 Appeals
All is not right with the world. England are dominating another side at one-day cricket. Wins are expected and are being delivered.
We are in equal parts delighted and utterly horrified that some fundamental element of existence has been reversed. It’s as if gravity were making objects roar skyward or as if well-balanced high achievers were deserving of friendship.
As a dyed-in-the-wool pessimist, we’re not going to really start believing in this England one-day team until they’ve done something against a second opponent. One nation isn’t a particularly large sample size and the players from that one nation quite blatantly don’t know why they’re here.
However, what has impressed us is that England have minced opponents who aren’t much up for it. That’s exactly the kind of ‘never take our foot of their throat’ attitutude that England always, always talk about and never ever produce.
For all that we’re unconvinced, that fact combined with the style with which they’ve been playing adds up to quite a lot in our book – and our book’s entitled: ‘You call that glass half empty? It’s a small half at best and what there is probably tastes disgusting – and if it isn’t disgusting it’ll probably poison us anyway.’3 Appeals
Andrew Symonds has been sent home from Australia’s one-day series against Bangladesh IN DISGRACE after missing a team meeting because he was out fishing.
It’s a fairly minor misdemeanor in itself, but it seems there were other incidents which led the Australian hierarchy to question Symonds’ attitude.
Unconfirmed rumours emanating from the Australian camp indicate that Symonds had stopped brewing up. One senior Australian cricketer quite possibly said:
“Ever since he got that huge IPL contract, he’s been a complete bell-end. He thinks he’s too good to brew up – like putting the kettle on’s beneath him. He says: ‘No, I’m not making the tea, I did it last week – but tea two sugars if you’re offering’. He’s just got a bad attitude.”
Another team mate described Symonds as ‘a total rod’.20 Appeals
One of our batsmen has fallen sick, so I am asked to fill in at the pivotal number six position. Nobody else feels up to the task, but I, Laurence Elderbrook, step up.
Our top order find the pitch difficult and while they manage to keep wickets in hand, they score slowly. Finally the fourth wicket falls. The scoring rate will now rise, because Laurence Elderbrook is about to grace this match.
I don’t rush. I take a moment to compose myself in front of the mirror. Resplendent in my cream flannels, I look immaculate. It is time.
As I advance on my stage, I loosen my arms and warm up. I exude calm authority. This drama will unfold according to my script.
My first ball is full-pitched and I aim a drive. I pick out the cover fielder, who collects it on the half-volley. He has the gall to appeal, even though it clearly didn’t carry. However, the ignorant umpire raises his finger. I am astonished – outraged even.
I take the only option available to me. I calmly discard my bat, draw one of the stumps from the ground and make my way towards the offending fielder’s car. As I approach the vehicle the players and the crowd are rapt. I can feel everyone’s gaze upon me.
I arrive at my destination. I turn to face the car’s owner. I look him in the eye. Then I turn and make my point in emphatic fashion, by spearing the stump straight through his windscreen.
I return to the middle to collect my bat. As I pass the open-mouthed cheat who has offended me I turn and let fly a huge, bestial roar. Right in his face.
I collect my bat, tuck it under my arm and make my way off the pitch with the serene dignity afforded to only the very few.
Everyone stares. They admire my restraint. They admire me.12 Appeals