For some reason I am being asked to bat at nine. I don’t know why.
I sit and watch our innings with the haunted air of the disenchanted. After what seems like weeks, it is my turn to bat. The time has come for Laurence Elderbrook to take his stage.
Before I walk out, I take a moment to compose myself in front of the mirror. In my creased, off-white flannels, I look dishevelled. But still, it is time.
I don’t bother to take a guard. I just blink slowly and await the bowler. My captain is at the other end. I fix him with a languid, surly gaze before returning my attention to the ball. It pitches on middle and straightens. I leave it.
The pitch is hard and the ball whistles over the top of the stumps. It is at this point that I take the only option available to me. With a huge backswing, I knock middle stump clean out of the ground.
I watch it cartwheel away and then discard my bat. I pull out the two remaining stumps. With one in each hand, I drop to my knees and hit them against the floor in unison. I do this repeatedly. I do it maybe 20 times until they’ve made dents in the pitch. As everyone looks on in admiration, I toss the two stumps away, throw back my head and let fly a huge, bestial roar.
Pausing only to lower my trousers and moon my captain, I depart with the serene dignity afforded to only the very few.
Everyone admires the stand I have taken. They admire me.7 Appeals
Lancashire’s bowling has been acceptable, if little more than that. Lancashire’s batting has been as embarrassing as the thought of Henry Blofeld calling someone a ‘dude’.
We’ve done the statistics about Lancashire’s batsmen already, but here are some updates. Mal Loye had previously scored 103 runs from 12 innings – now he has 103 runs from 13 innings. Also, to be fair, Mark Chilton has now hit a hundred.
We’re going to use Mark Chilton as an example though, along with Stuart Law. They’re emblematic of Lancashire’s batting woes. Chilton is an okay batsman, but with a first-class average of 32, he should find it harder to get into the side. Stuart Law is ageing and deteriorating year after year and would fit in well at Surrey. This is Lancashire’s batting line-up in a nutshell.
Many years ago, Lancashire used to spew out batsman without pausing for breath or to wipe their mouths. They didn’t even clean their teeth between the heaves. Neil Fairbrother, Graham Lloyd, Mike Atherton, John Crawley – it was all so easy.
The thing is, once Lancashire had retched themsleves dry, there was a period where no-one noticed. Most of those players were still in the team and it wasn’t until they retired that everyone suddenly panicked.
At that point, they did the only thing they could do. They signed Mal Loye and, er, Iain Sutcliffe and bolstered the middle order with a series of overseas pros. They’ve been doing this ever since.
Stuart Law’s 39. Mal Loye’s 35. Brad Hodge has no reason to be loyal. It’s not like this season’s batting abominations were unforseeable and it’s all the worse for the fact that it had happened before.
In Paul Horton and, surprisingly but increasingly impressively, Steven Croft, Lancashire have a top opener and an all-rounder who can actually bat rather than just chip in. Under no circumstances should these two be separated by ageing, deteriorating ‘stars’ in division two. There shouldn’t be any need for it and it would be a continuation of the short-term view that’s been taken.
There’s been some robust paper over these cracks, but paper’s still paper.8 Appeals
We’ve made an unbelievable discovery. The F5 key on our keyboard is a shortcut that leads to the fall of a Lancashire wicket.
Go and look at the scorecard for their current match and give it a go yourselves. See if you too have the power.
We have honestly just done it four times in a row.11 Appeals
Lemon Bella writes:
Indian Skimmer and I went to see South Africa against the England Lions at Grace Road. Upon arriving at the ground, we spent twenty minutes trying to find a cup of coffee. Eventually we had to ask someone else who had a cup. In retrospect, we should have also questioned the quality of the coffee, as we could have saved ourselves the bother of walking three quarters of the way around the ground for a cup of lukewarm brown water with milk.
Garnett Kruger sat in the same stand as us. We found it quite disappointing that an international cricketer didn’t have anything better than us to do in his spare time. He did pay four eleven-year-old boys to go and buy him a Twister ice lolly though, so there was a hint of the glamorous life we would expect.
During the interval, Kruger played cricket with the four eleven-year-olds. He got the shortest one out for a duck with a spectacular caught and bowled but the chubby one hit him for three Flintoff-esque straight sixes.
During South Africa’s innings, we mostly watched Graeme Smith do paperwork on the balcony. There were white envelopes and brown envelopes and three different piles to put the envelopes in. At one point, Micky Arthur had to be consulted. We never realised that being an international cricket captain involved so much paperwork. From now on, when we’re in our respective offices we’re going to pretend we’re actually international cricket captains.14 Appeals
LancsTV do one minute interviews with the players. Oliver Newby was interviewed by Mal Loye.
One question was: ‘What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done in cricket?’
“Slept with Mal Loye and Gareth Cross.”
Other highlights include: ‘What’s the worst thing you ever did at school?’
“I once came in after lunch and put a johnnie in someone’s ham sandwich and they ate it.”
You could interview most sportsmen every day for a year and get nothing half as good as that.5 Appeals
Ever since he was sent home from Australia’s one-day series against Bangladesh, speculation has been rife about Andrew Symonds. Specifically, that speculation has centred on exactly what kind of aquatic creature molested him as a child.
Some say it was a turbot, some say a merman. Taken as a whole, the evidence seems to point towards it being an in-season dugong or manatee.
In the past week, Symonds has shrugged off this lifelong scar and has now declared himself ready for Test cricket again.
We’ve written something for The Wisden Cricketer where we actually end by saying that we hope Symonds DOES return to the Test side. Honestly.8 Appeals
Tim May, chief executive of the Federation of International Cricketers Associations, explains why Australia are likely to tour India, but wouldn’t visit Pakistan (like usual) for the Champions Trophy:
“Pakistan has had 66 suicide bombings within its country over the past 12 months with over 3,000 people killed and 17 of those attacks had been in the venues of the Champions Trophy. There was no security assessment that there was the likelihood of any further bombs going off in Jaipur.”
It’s unfortunate that May chose to mention the numbers of lives lost, as if there were some limit at which point cricket tours couldn’t happen. We don’t think he meant that though. He was really citing the frequency of Pakistani suicide bombings.
But how much worse is that than the situation in India? Five bombs went off in New Delhi yesterday, which means Australia will be playing matches in four cities that have suffered bomb blasts this year: New Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Jaipur.
You would think that Jaipur would worry Australia most. Jaipur is a major tourist town and there were ten bombs there in May – although fortunately four didn’t go off. The security assessment says there’s little likelihood of any further bombs going off, but how exactly do you reach such a conclusion?
The situation is worse in Pakistan, but there’s a suspicion that there are other reasons why Australia and the Australian players fundamentally want to play in India and fundamentally don’t want to play in Pakistan. Matches against India are higher profile and there would be knock-on effects for the rather lucrative IPL.
Are there any holes in the security assessment that might indicate priorities? It only takes one bomb to endanger lives. How are they drawing this line that falls so that Pakistan can’t be toured, but India can?8 Appeals
Is broad and pudgy and malleable like plasticine. It’s an amorphous, wobbling built-in cushion so he can lie down anywhere and feel comfortable.
It’s also a trap. When Jesse Ryder needs to take all that weight off his feet, he plonks himself down and leans into his back’s exquisitely welcoming blubber. It may offer excellent lumbar support, but from this position he’s unable to rise again. He flails around like an upturned beetle until a passing forklift spies him and rescues him from his plight.
In other news, Jesse Ryder is in New Zealand’s Test squad for the tour of Bangladesh.8 Appeals
We’ve long suspected Andrew Symonds of being a five-year-old trapped in the body of a hirsute cow. That opinion is being reinforced of late.
From The Australian:
“Stung $3000 for missing the team bus, he became what one person described as “the rule Nazi” and would ensure he was on the team bus five minutes before it was due to leave.
“At the exact time of departure, Symonds’ watch would beep and he would announce that the doors had to close and the bus had to leave and anybody left behind could walk or be fined because that was the way he was treated.”
We also learnt from that article that Symonds has an irritating habit when in bars. He regularly squares up to people for one, but it’s not that. He’s known to announce that certain areas are for ‘Test players only’.9 Appeals
Australia have called up an off-spinner called Jason Krejza as support for Bryce McGain in the upcoming Test series against India. How Australia’s spin resources have – well – evaporated. Even McGain (who we won’t say a word against) will be a debutant.
Other Australian spinners we know: Dan Cullen, Cullen Bailey, Beau Casson, Nathan Hauritz.
Presumably these guys were overlooked due to the fact that, to a man, they have absolutely diabolical names. Cullen Bailey? Get a first name, man. Beau Casson? Get any kind of name at all.
So what do we know of Jason Krejza? Well, according to the Aussie selectors, he had a good season for Tasmania last season – which is just as well, because his career record reads 43 wickets at 45.46.
His season return was… oh. It was 18 wickets at 47.11.
The other thing that we know about Jason Krejza is that he’s so Australian-looking it’s actually physically painful. (He doesn’t actually look like the above image any more, but a photo like that positively DEMANDS inclusion.)23 Appeals