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A picture of a massive cricket bat

Michael sent us this:

Look at that massive cricket bat - it's massive

Can you imagine the excitement? A bat that massive and seemingly no fielders – cricket doesn’t get any better than that.

Scores would be massive! There’d be boundaries every ball!

As we understand it, this is what The People want.

We need to brand this form of cricket immediately. What shall we call it?

Update: This has reminded The Times’ Patrick Kidd of The Monster Bat Incident of 1771.

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Eoin Morgan: reverse sweeps and keeping calm

Eoin Morgan stonewalls

Of all the many eye-catching features of Eoin Morgan’s batting, it’s one of the least noticeable which is perhaps the most significant. He’s very, very calm.

Eoin Morgan is the England one-day batsman you most want to watch, but he’s increasingly the one you most rely on as well. He’s like a Paul Collingwood Deluxe.

If you pieced together a one-day batsman from bits of other ones, you’d have something not dissimilar to Morgan. Chris Gayle’s power, wrists that put Murali’s to shame and the coolness and eye for a run-chase of Michael Bevan.

Most of you are English. Don’t let us down here. Let’s work out how it’s all going to go wrong.

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Lalit Modi’s thoughts on Test cricket

People won’t watch Test cricket unless there are day-night matches

Time zones, Lalit. Time zones.

At least half the matches your team plays aren’t in your country. If it’s all about broadcasting rights then one nation’s day-night match is the opposition’s daytime match.

We’ve got to admit that day-night Test matches make sense in a lot of countries though. Not all of them, but a few. Not in England because people are actually looking for an excuse to get out into the sun because warm days are such a rarity over here.

People don’t have the time for Test cricket

This is one of Modi’s beliefs. This is one of the main reasons why he thinks Twenty20 will ultimately be the dominant format (but not the sole format, it’s worth noting).

Lalit Modi works an 80-hour week or summat like that. He’s never even managed to watch a whole IPL game – only fragments. This is his world. He doesn’t realise that most of the rest of us are lucky if we put in eight hours of actual work in an entire working week.

A Test match, played during the daytime, is the best way of avoiding work that there is. That is the modern world, Lalit; a world that revolves around the internet and finding ways to slack off.

Test cricket’s survival depends on the way it’s marketed

It doesn’t. Test cricket’s success depends on the way it’s marketed, but Test cricket offers something unique that sporting followers can’t get anywhere else, so it shouldn’t die unless it is utterly neglected.

Even if Twenty20 were to become as popular as football, we’d imagine that many of the fans would start to appreciate elements of Test cricket over time.

We’re still with Test cricket because it’s got more depth; because it offers more to think about and more to talk about. It’s not marketing that’s kept us watching the sport for 20 years.

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Freddie Trueman Yorkshire Ale from Copper Dragon

Copper Dragon have made a beer in honour of the great Yorkshire and England fast bowler and shite Test Match Special commentator, Freddie Trueman.

Dickie Bird has fallen on hard times

Having had a pint on Saturday night, we’re sorry to tell you that not all pints of Freddie Trueman are pulled by Dickie Bird, which is a bit of a disappointment.

On the plus side, it was the best beer we had all night – and we sampled somewhere between ‘several’ and ‘many’. If we had to give tasting notes, we would describe it as ‘very nice’.

We imagine it is just the kind of isotonic drink Freddie would have partaken of back in the day in order to replenish his electrolytes.

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Naeem Islam and his high-step

You win this time, Naeem Islam!It’s a great era for run-ups. As well as Friedel de Wet’s bunny-hop, we also have Naeem Islam’s high-step.

Just as he’s about to enter his delivery stride, his right leg suddenly tries to knee him in the face. It’s ace.

We can only assume that Naeem Islam learnt to bowl on a pitch inhabited by a mole who would leap from the ground from that exact point and always at that exact moment. Naeem Islam would thus have developed the high-step as a means of bypassing the mischievous subterranean mammal.

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Andy Flower motivates England’s openers and wicketkeepers

It’s tricky motivating people. Trust us on this, we’re pretty clued up on the psychopathology of apathy.

Earlier in the year, Graeme Smith subtly dissed Dale Steyn because he didn’t think he was pulling his weight, even though Steyn was only just returning from injury. Smith didn’t care about that. ‘You play for South Africa, you have to perform’ was the message.

Andy Flower’s currently attempting to do the same thing with the England side. Jonathan Trott and Joe Denly have been told that their opening has been bobbins and Matt Prior can’t take a crap without Flower saying Craig Kieswetter did a bigger one.

England would like the Comfort Zone to be some sort of room full of bean bags and pyjamas rather than a state of mind for their first team, but this kind of mental prodding is tricky to pull off. You want your international cricketers resilient, but in reality they’re just as likely as anyone else to spend full weekends sleeping or to look upon a rain shower as being an invitation to covertly weep.

Flower is inviting mental fragility from England batsmen. That’s like misquoting Star Wars in a room full of computer programmers.

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How good is Sachin Tendulkar?

If Sachin Tendulkar hits exactly 100 and another batsman hits exactly 100, Sachin Tendulkar is top scorer.

When Sachin Tendulkar gets bowled, it is only because he can hear the thoughts of wood and one of the stumps has insulted him. The wood only insults him because it is bitter that Sachin didn’t choose to use it for his bat.

Sachin Tendulkar doesn’t play across the line. He decides what path the ball was taking.

If you stand on top of Everest and look up, you will see Sachin Tendulkar’s left elbow if he is playing a cover drive at that moment.

Sachin Tendulkar doesn’t take guard. He puts his bat down and the stumps just move into line.

The Duckworth-Lewis method takes into account Sachin Tendulkar’s presence at the crease.

Sachin Tendulkar can never be timed out. Everyone is willing to wait.

Sachin Tendulkar doesn’t need to keep his eye on the ball.

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Sachin Tendulkar hits an ODI double hundred

Sachin Tendulkar adds a mere 200

Due respect to Saeed Anwar, but from the minute Zimbabwe’s Charles Coventry equalled his world record ODI score of 194 against Bangladesh, someone needed to go past it.

That someone was Sachin Tendulkar. There are some pretty ordinary batsmen making big scores these days, but Sachin is not one of them. 200 not out is never a bad knock, but in a one-day international, it’s unique. South Africa were given a profound hiding.

Tendulkar lost his technique somewhere around 160 as his body started to cave in, but he didn’t let it stop him. He didn’t even let it slow him. He manipulated his calf muscles and punched himself in the back, trying to physically persuade his body into working order. The grimaces said that he wasn’t succeeding.

After passing the 194, Tendulkar found himself on 199 for what seemed like an age as Mahendra Dhoni monopolised the strike and repeatedly hit sixes. Given a ball to face in the last over, the crowd noise went up to 11. Tendulkar was sufficiently unarsed by the significance of the moment to take his chance and everyone saluted the finest one-day international batsman there’s ever been.

Sachin Tendulkar: 20 years of batting like this is beyond comprehension.

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Brett Lee’s Test career

Brett Lee cautiously makes an enquiry

Like Andrew Flintoff, Brett Lee’s had to jack in proper cricket because his body’s had it. Fast bowling’s a mug’s game, but anyone who’s seen our Too Cool mug or our robot mug knows that we love mugs.

In many ways, Brett Lee was the perfect Australian fast bowler. He was a proper, 96mph, charge-to-the-crease, rip-your-shoulder-out-of-its-socket fast bowler who was stunning to watch, yet when he played England he barely took any wickets. Perfect.

Quick bit of stats – skip this if you want

He took more Test wickets against England than against anyone else bar the Windies, but he took them at an average of 40, which is toss. In England, he averaged 45 and went at over four an over. England fans could watch his electric bowling and yet be comforted by the fact that their side were cracking on at pace.

How fast was Brett Lee?

Yeah, past tense. He might still be available for one-day internationals and Twenty20s, but when you stop playing Tests you’ve already got one foot in a slipper and you’re reaching for the RHS Encyclopedia of Gardening.

Brett Lee was proper fast. He generally bowled around 94mph/150kph and the key part is that he maintained this. He wasn’t a bowler who put in the odd surprisingly quick ball. He wasn’t a bowler who got over 90mph on a good day. He pounded in and on a good day he was heading up towards 100mph. He crossed that line where batsmen go from worrying whether they can react quickly enough to outright shitting themselves.

10/10 for effort

We can’t imagine how much it must have hurt. Not just when he was bowling, but when he was 32 and trying to come back and bowl as quickly as he ever did. Fast bowlers are cussed bastards.

That cussedness showed in his batting as well. It’s easy to overlook, but he played as big a part as anyone in the creation of the greatest passage of cricket that we can remember – the climax to the 2005 Edgbaston Ashes Test. In getting tenderised like cheap meat by Andrew Flintoff, he showed that he could get as good as he gave, but nothing would sway him from his impossible task. It was as impressive an innings as we’ve ever seen; the mental fortitude better highlighted by his limitations as a batsman.

Whatever the result of that match – no matter how England supporters fetishise that climactic moment – that morning showed why Test match cricket is the greatest sport on earth and we have to thank Brett Lee for that.

Probably not one of Brettles' favourite moments

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Craig Kieswetter – yes or no?

Craig Kieswetter gets yet another article about him

We might as well do our usual thing of formalising our fence-sitting position.

Our initial feelings when Somerset wicketkeeper, Craig Kieswetter, started eating up column inches was: ‘No, not another one. Too many wicketkeepers!’

Everyone’s got a favourite wicketkeeper to push and we hate it. No-one can make an informed decision when eight different players are being championed by various people. It’s the same with seam bowlers. Just how many 85mph seam bowlers who can supposedly bowl reverse swing does one nation need?

Anyway, Matt Prior’s batting and keeping well in Test cricket. Let’s leave him be. In one-day internationals, we kind of see the benefit of Kieswetter, because Prior’s never got to grips with that form of the game.

There you go. There’s our official stance in all its muddy, inconclusive glory. Really, we should have a cull of England-qualified wicketkeepers and save everyone from a lot of boring arguments.

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