It’s the last over of a long day. The West Indies are bowling. Must be time for Fidel Edwards to bounce the shit out of someone.
This isn’t the first time Edwards has done this during this series, but it was perhaps the best example. Edwards rarely lacks for effort, but he does seem to save his best for the end of the day.
Paul Collingwood got a couple of short balls, but his single a couple of balls from the end was good news for the crowd, because Kevin Pietersen was already a marked man.
Edwards had already ripped one into Pietersen, making the batsman rear up and spazz the ball away from his face in a bid for survival, but the final ball of the day was something else.
It was obviously going to be a bouncer and this is what made it even more special. There was no surprise here. There was no catching the batsman on the front foot. There was simply a perfectly directed 93mph bullet with ‘Kevin Pietersen’s head’ daubed on the side in a virgin’s blood.
Pietersen’s seen his share of short-pitched bowling because half the world thinks he’s a turd. He’s used to it, but he couldn’t do a damn thing about this bouncer. The best he could manage was to turn his back on it, which isn’t exactly textbook. It hit him and went for four.
The scorebook says it hit his bat. Looked like his head to us.4 Appeals
At one stage South Africa were 6-3, effectively 6-4, as Graeme Smith had been hospitalised. The man who did this was Mitchell Johnson and he forced Jacques Kallis to retire hurt shortly afterwards.
Johnson provided bounce, swing and crucially, pace. Mitchell Johnson is a fast bowler. We’d say a ‘genuine’ fast bowler, but in our eyes, you either are or you aren’t.
A month ago, England could at least comfort themselves that Australia were matching them shambles for shambles. Now the Aussies have Phil Hughes set for 15 years of Test destruction and they’ve got Mitchell Johnson scaring the hell out of a top drawer South African batting line-up.
Meanwhile, England have a glut of fast-medium bowlers waiting for the ball to swing and the team changes after every Test. We seem to be returning to the Nineties at a rate of knots.
Younger readers might not fully appreciate the concept of the Nineties. They might think it’s just another decade. In English cricket terms, it’s actually a form of purgatory.
The Ashes was rather like India against Zimbabwe, only there was no chance that the ICC would take pity on England and ban them from Test cricket. They couldn’t even get away with two or three match series. Because it was the Ashes, they had to play five or even six Tests.
It might be time to officially start hating Mitchell Johnson. Shall we put it to the vote?27 Appeals
Andrew Strauss has hit five hundreds this winter. Having done extensive statistical analysis, we have deemed that ‘acceptable’. We went out to canvass public opinion about the England captain.
Malcolm Rathbone, 48, said:
“That Strauss is a symbol of all that’s great about Britain. This is the kind of thing we’d get if we didn’t allow all those damned immigrants into the side.
“Like that South African chap – what does he know of British values? Coming over here, taking our jobs. We should keep the foreigners out. It’s the England cricket team, not the United Nations.”
We pointed out that Andrew Strauss was born in Johannesburg.
“Well it’s pretty obvious that he’s one of them; taking our money but giving nothing back to British society. What’s playing cricket going to achieve? Maybe he’d be better off trying to do something about the yob culture that’s blighting our towns.
“He’s just a drain on the honest, working British public. He’ll be making us eat sauerkraut and forcing us all convert to Islam before you know it. Keep Britain British, that’s what I say.”
As we edged away, Malcolm was muttering about how he’d drive round to Strauss’s house and burn it down if he hadn’t lost his licence after killing that kid while drink driving.3 Appeals
Well he might want to consider scoring a hundred on a weekday. People do stuff at weekends and his runs might not get as much attention.
On a weekday, people come back from their lunch breaks and spend half an hour or so easing back into work by reading cricket news on the internet. It’s not work, but it’s not visible slacking off. It’s a happy compromise.
This part of the day is when cricketing reputations are made. Phil Hughes should target it.17 Appeals
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Here is a cricket bat in some unusual places. Specifically, here is the cricket bat signed by the Sussex team that I won through King Cricket, from a lingerie website, around my house.
1. The cricket bat is enjoying a relaxing lie-down in my drinks cabinet.
It is being protected from marauding children by a barrier of small alcohol miniatures.
2. The cricket bat is, as befits a bat won from a lingerie website, in my underwear drawer.
It’s in my “everyday” underwear draw, not my “special” underwear drawer. I am aware, by the way, that my sash window needs painting, but that’s really a summer job. I’ve also been meaning to change the handles on the chest of drawers for, like, forever.
Typical, isn’t it. You leave these things for ages and then it’s only when someone asks for pictures of a cricket bat in an unusual place that you think about them again. And now I feel inadequate. Great. The bag is not made of a real leopard, by the way, girls, so please don’t come round and throw paint at me. Unless, of course, you’d like to throw white paint on the window frame with a brush.
3. The cricket bat is now sitting up in my bed, as if it owns the place. It doesn’t. I do. Well, the bank mainly does.
If I were a cruder person, I’d make a joke about that being the longest, thickest, hardest piece of wood that I’ve ever had between my sheets. Luckily, I’m not that person.10 Appeals
When Owais Shah leaves a ball, it stays left.
He plays his most elaborate leaves at relatively full deliveries outside off stump. He doesn’t just get his bat out of the way, he swings it over and then straight down towards the ground in front of him.
It’s like he’s suddenly seen a devious leprechaun just in front of him in the middle of the pitch, so he ignores the ball and pans the gold-loving bastard on the top of its head.
Take a look during the next Test. The Shah leave is a thing of rare splendour.7 Appeals
The ECB have released a statement announcing that Samit Patel has been dropped from England’s one-day squad. We’ll paraphrase for you:
Samit Patel is fat.
We’re glad our employers don’t make press releases about the personal flaws that affect our work.
It would be disconcerting to open a newspaper and find an article about how we only ever put in the bare minimum effort and frequently waste time daydreaming about flamingos playing Connect 4.27 Appeals
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We arranged to meet for an after work drink and watch the third day of the re-arranged test at the ARG at a pub somewhere in north Surrey.
I drove from my office to my friend’s office. I turned off the A3 too early but eventually found my way to Waitrose, where I took advantage of their two hours free parking.
I entered my friend’s office, whereupon all of his work colleagues promptly left. I put this down to coincidence.
He had a foam rugby ball and two plastic pigeons on his desk.
We looked at the score on Cricinfo and decided it was almost tea.
We then found a pub that was showing the match on a plasma screen without commentary. The pub had uncomfortably high seats and we were sat at such an angle that we couldn’t see the TV very well.
My friend had three pints of ale and I had three halves of Coke, as I was driving. We discussed what he should do about a girl who keeps asking him to go to the ice hockey with her, but he doesn’t really like her.
When England declared we took separate trips to the toilet and then watched two overs of the West Indies innings before heading off.
I drove my friend home and then got lost on the way back, listening to TMS on the radio.12 Appeals
We’ve long had a problem with Mike Hussey’s ludicrous batting average. Finally, after a long wait, South Africa have started dragging it back towards being something more sensible.
Hussey now averages 57.11 after 35 Tests, which is still offensive, but not as offensive as hearing the general public give opinions on something, which is the astounding level of offensiveness his batting average was approaching before.
His recent innings against South Africa have been 0, 8, 0, 2, 30, 45 not out, 4 and 0.
Is Mike Hussey ‘all that’? No. Mike Hussey is only ‘part of that’.9 Appeals
Our initial reaction was to worry that one of the Sri Lankan cricketers had been killed, as if their lives were somehow more important than the lives of the policemen who were escorting them. Such is the way of thinking after something like this.
We’ve always felt that cricketers were being just a little bit precious not touring Pakistan. Sadly, their fears appear to have been justified. You worry what the long-term effects will be, not just in terms of touring Pakistan, but in terms of touring any country that’s had a history of violence – and let’s be honest, that’s a good deal of the cricket world.
Nothing was ever resolved by creating divisions and the more the world is fragmented, the worse off we all are. The Sri Lankan cricket team were bravely leading the way in touring Pakistan, indirectly making a statement that the country wasn’t a no-go zone. This is the thanks they get.18 Appeals