Stuart Law’s contract has not been renewed. Partly because he’s associated with the ICL, partly because he called Lancashire’s members gin-swilling know-nothings, but mostly because he’s 40 this week.
The gin outburst came when Lancashire decided to do away with Dominic Cork and we always suspected that it was as much to do with seeing the writing on the wall as any intrinsic admiration for the endearingly irritating former England all-rounder.
How do we feel about this as a Lancashire supporter? Indifferent really. Stuart Law’s one of the great batsmen of his generation, but a few weeks ago we used him as a symbol of something that’s wrong with Lancashire’s batting line-up.
He’s been good for Lancashire, but they were only the latest of a number of sides he’s played for, so we’ve no sense of loyalty. It doesn’t feel like an old, great Lancashire player’s being dispatched without fanfare, because Law made his reputation long before he arrived at Old Trafford.
It’ll be good for the county, although we’ll be quite interested to see how they manage to rustle up enough batsmen. We don’t know of any who are really clamouring for inclusion.
No, wait. We’ve got that all wrong. Batsmen don’t clamour for inclusion – they knock on the door. This is why we’ll never make it big in cricketing circles. We just can’t master the language.8 Appeals
Here’s a quote from raving metrosexual, Shane Watson:
“It’s a good way to challenge them [the Indians], physically and mentally. Not sledging but having an aggressive persona about you – and that’s the way I play my cricket.”
Watson’s always saying things like this about how he plays aggressive cricket. So why does he always look so frightened?
For a big, muscly albino, he’s got a real timid air about him. When he’s batting, he always looks terrified, as if he thinks the umpire’s going to tell him off at any minute.
Plus there was that whole thing during the 2005 Ashes series, when the Aussies stayed at Lumley Castle in Durham. Watson thought there was a ghost and had to go and sleep in Brett Lee’s room.
This gave rise to the greatest on-field ribbing of all time, when Darren Gough did a pantomime ‘wooh – a ghost’ thing when walking back to his mark while Watson was at the non-striker’s end.
We’re not totally sure, but we think Watson might not have any eyelashes. Do we use eyelashes to make ourselves look aggressive? Maybe he just looks fearful the whole time because he’s at constant risk of getting dust in his eyes.6 Appeals
‘I’m gangly, awkward-looking and appear to be halfway through swallowing a Rubik’s cube – how could I make myself look worse?’
This, presumably, is the thinking behind Ishant Sharma’s strange, effeminate mane. Good bowler, great slower ball, but it’s a dire situation indeed when going back to a mullet would be a wise move.10 Appeals
There are two articles. One says Twenty20’s clearly going to kill Test cricket. One says that probably, on balance, that won’t happen. Newspaper editors will tend to publish the first one.
The former’s punchier and it provokes debate, so we get to read a disproportionate number of articles about how Test cricket’s in mortal danger. Our feeling is that it’s a testing time for the longer format, but that basically everything will work out fine (and we call ourself a pessimist – we should buck our ideas up in that department).
We tend to think that Twenty20 could function as a ‘gateway’ format, leading people into the game. Let’s be honest, Twenty20’s fun, but if you’re going to get into the sport properly, Tests are just fundamentally better, aren’t they? There’s just more to pore over.
There are international Twenty20 games going on at the moment. Pakistan played Sri Lanka on Saturday. Is anyone – even Pakistanis or Sri Lankans – more interested in that match than the India v Australia Tests?
Okay, India v Australia is a biggie and okay, Twenty20’s more of a club/franchise thing than an international thing – but still. We’re not saying there’s no danger and that the huge sums of money aren’t going to play a part, but we do get the feeling the whole threat thing is a bit overstated.
It’ll be fine.5 Appeals
‘Give me the runs’, he says. Michael Hussey feasts on dodgy bowling and then he has the runs. At the end of the day, he’s exhausted with it all, but he can still muster a weak smile, because that’s how much he likes having the runs.
You’ve got to make your own fun when it comes to Mike Hussey. Great batsman – a phenomenon even – but not a hugely interesting person really.
We do like him though. You’ve got to like someone who’s so relentlessly single-minded about the simple matter of scoring runs in every form of cricket. It shows a certain devotion to his craft.
But can he justify that ludicrous Test batting average of his (68.38 at present)? Well, yes he can. He’s scored all those runs and he hasn’t got out much. That’s the way averages work. You can’t really argue that they’re unjustified.
Mike Hussey has played 25 Tests now, which we think is sufficient to form a proper opinion on his worth. He’s scored a hundred against every side he’s played. You keep wanting him to have a bad run, to bring that average down, but he keeps on hitting hundreds. It’s very, VERY impressive.7 Appeals
“Daniel Vettori, Brendon McCullum, Jacob Oram – this is the cleaners. The washing powder’s over there. It’s a quid for a full cycle and 20p for the dryers.”
Mashrafe Mortaza’s 4-44 today set up Bangladesh’s win. Mashrafe now has 116 ODI (one-day international) wickets at 31.78. He’s very important to Bangladesh’s continuing bid not to be laughed at.
We don’t laugh, but that’s more to do with our relentlessly pessimistic outlook on life rather than anything to do with our belief that Bangladesh will one day become ‘a force’.
To be more specific, we believe that one day Bangladesh will become ‘friction’.8 Appeals
The thing people often fail to understand about batting averages is that they only describe what’s already happened. Ricky Ponting’s average in India was famously bad, but yet he hit a hundred. That’s the thing about historical precedents – they only tell you about the past.
The Australians came up with some innovative tactics to help address Ponting’s record. He’s previously been vulnerable to Harbhajan’s spin early in his innings, so the Aussies hit upon the idea of having Matthew Hayden get himself out to the third ball of the day. Ponting was thus ensured a few overs of pace bowling and could therefore play himself in. It worked a treat.
Rumours that coach, Tim Nielsen, has given Ponting a voucher allowing the latter an hour’s one-on-one time with Pat Farhart as a reward for hitting a hundred are currently unsubstantiated.5 Appeals
We know that there are a number of English readers out there who are having trouble picking sides for this series, so we thought we’d help you out.
Normally this would be an easy one. You never want to support Australia, whoever they’re playing, because they’re the best. You usually want to support India because they’ve got Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag.
However, there’s more to it these days. India aren’t just India any more – they’re market-led commercialism as well. If a Test team can stand for big business, then it’s India. Big silent boo at big business, everybody.
So what to do? It’s a quandary and no mistake.
Well here’s what we’re doing. We’re supporting India when they play Tests against Australia, but supporting Australia in other forms of the game.
Test cricket can only benefit from everyone in India thinking its ace. Test cricket may well suffer if India loses interest in it because they prefer the shorter forms. Although Twenty20’s fun and one-day cricket can be half-decent, Test cricket’s actually mankind’s finest creation and that’s where our priorities lie.
It goes without saying that who we’re thinking we want to win inside our mind will have an enormous bearing on the future of the game as a whole.8 Appeals
“I’ve had [physio] Pat Farhart weave some of his magic and the groin has responded really well.”
We move that from now on Pat Farhart should be crow-barred into any conversation about Australia – whether it’s justified or not.
As far as Australian physiotherapists who take advantage of young spin bowlers go, Pat Farhart is our favourite.3 Appeals
The eagerly awaited official switching-on of our new floodlights.
Not enough rain to get rained off (unfortunately, given the eventual result) but enough to turn the match into a mutant spawn ThirtyFive25.
I arrived at half time (sorry, came over all 5Live there) and marvelled at the way that the sun setting behind the Fox Road stand made Trent Bridge look like Centurion Park. Our new floodlights are damned lovely and a darned sight sexier than those at both the nearby Forest and County grounds.
I sat in the New Stand (still unnamed due to the lack of a willing sponsor) to get the best view of the floodlights, which in retrospect was a mistake as my chips got wet during the downpour in the second innings.
The rain looked pretty spectacular when backlit by the lovely new floodlights. These are going to be six columns of perpetual electric joy and wonder.
Harmison S. signed a lot of autographs for the hoards of munchkins.
Harmison B. seemed to be on ball retrieving duty on the cover boundary and was conspicuously indifferent to no-one wanting his autograph.11 Appeals