Thus far scores in the Stanford Super Series have been heading south faster than Boris Johnson after being offered chips and gravy by a whippet in a flat cap. Scores, in order, have been 146, 124, 121 and 109.
These aren’t the scores Twenty20 marketers want. They want sixes to all parts and bowlers getting humiliated.
The pitch appears to be made out of plasticine and one man who’ll be happier than most will be Graeme Swann, who didn’t look like getting a game before the series started, but who must be increasingly confident of a spot with the pacemen’s bouncers only endangering the batsmen’s ankles.13 Appeals
No win, no fee cricket starts today in the shape of the Stanford Super Series, which culminates in a $20million winner-takes-all match between England and the Stanford Superstars next Saturday.
We ordinarily support England, so we suppose that we’re supposed to follow them here as well. But why?
They won’t be facing a genuine international side. They’ll be facing ‘the Stanford Superstars’ who feature internationals, but are really just a contrivance. Do we really care if England win or lose to the Stanford Superstars? Are England going to win respect from the world if they win? Not really. It’s all a bit inconsequential.
Are we meant to care more because there’s $20million at stake? Why should we give a toss about that? It’s not like we’ll see any of the money. The only people for whom the money makes any kind of difference are the players.
That money might draw in non-cricket fans too, but they won’t be interested in the game. They’ll be interested on a purely voyeuristic level; not caring who wins, just how that win comes about. This match isn’t for cricket supporters. There’s no supporting going on here.
It might be good for the players to remember that fact. People say there’ll be more pressure on them for this match, but the pressure that comes from having other people’s hopes resting on your actions is greater than the pressure that comes from doing something for yourself.
Don’t sweat it, lads. No-one really cares.6 Appeals
If you’ve a question for Laurence Elderbrook, email us.
May I start this email by telling you how much I admire your restraint.
After being run out by an inferior colleague who failed to make any kind of call, I left the crease (with my dignity preserved, of course) informing my former batting colleague he was a ‘c*nt’.
So I ask, should I wait for an apology or shall I march round to his house and insist on one?
If I need to tell you the answer to that, you won’t get far in this world.
As the old saying goes: ‘You can’t get a grovelling apology without first letting them know how wrong they are.’2 Appeals
Quick recap of our submission guidelines for match reports:
(1) Don’t mention the cricket.
Ged Ladd writes:
The weather forecast for day three had looked far from promising all week and so waking up to rain and a dismal forecast came as a disappointment but no surprise.
My guest, Charley “The Gent” Malloy and I had a contingency plan. We’d go about our own business in the morning, then meet for a late dim sum lunch at The Royal China on Queensway, to be followed by a cursory weather inspection.
My morning passed swiftly, as did a very tasty dim sum lunch. A special duck cheung fun was probably my highlight, although I also particularly liked the prawn with coriander dumpling, the fried pork bun and the spicy chickens’ feet.
We emerged from Royal China to the very enticing sight of sunshine. “Is it possible?” we asked each other. How often do cricket nuts phone the ‘prospects of play’ line to find out what’s going on? We thought 15 minute intervals was suitably restrained.
At 4.05pm we learnt that the umpires had inspected and would inspect again at 4.30pm. The radar picture looked encouraging. We left.
Just one problem – Charley loves the pavilion but, expecting no play, had come out without a tie. Charley always admires my ties, which then turn out to be ones that my mum has given me. So it simply had to be one of mum’s choices.
Play was scheduled to start at 5pm, so we got ourselves some drinks in the upper terrace bar and took up prime seats under the south canopy of the sun deck.
A flurry of rain at 4.45pm and the hover cover returned. Then out came the roller as they started up the hover cover again to remove it.
I decided to count the crowd from where we were sitting. I ignored a few hospitality boxes. Upper Compo six, Mound three, Tavern six, Warner one. I couldn’t see the Allen Stand.
There were seven pigeons clustered about four pitches north of the Test strip. I realised, given my spectator count, that that was the largest spectator cluster other than members and hospitality boxes. The seven pigeons seemed to be walking in along with the fielders.
Soon the rain returned, but as far as we were concerned, 40 minutes of cricket had been better than none. So it was farewell to Charley “The Gent” Malloy, who wandered off into the distance before I realised that he was still wearing that tie my mum gave me.12 Appeals
VVS Laxman is a great player who doesn’t play one-day internationals or Twenty20 internationals. He’s been at Lancashire before and done extremely well and everyone like him.
It also bolsters Lancashire’s batting, which needs a little bit of enbolsterment right now. Hopefully the enbolstery brought by Laxman will spur his fellow batsmen into great feats of bolsteration as well.
This sort of talk presumably formed the basis of the contract talks.10 Appeals
Tell you which two players have scored most runs for Australia over the last ten or fifteen years: Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne. Stick with us on this.
Daniel Vettori took 9-133 in this Test. Shakib al Hasan took 9-116.
Daniel Vettori hit 76 in his second innings. Shakib al Hasan hit 71.
Daniel Vettori hit 55 not out in his first innings. Shakib al Hasan got five.
Daniel Vettori wins. New Zealand win. Shakib al Hasan loses. We say ‘balls’.
It was such a low-key match because of the teams involved and the Test going on elsewhere, but it seems unfair that Vettori’s performance should be so overlooked. Chasing down 317 when your side was bowled out for 171 in the first innings is no mean feat whoever you’re playing and Vettori’s contribution in every single innings was exceptional.
It’s the glasses. Even if you’re having a great day, every bad ball will be greeted with ‘nice bowling, Poindexter’ or somesuch.
Don’t try and tell us that Daniel Vettori isn’t a Poindexter. We should know. We can smell our own.5 Appeals
One thing we know about people: they love to get wound up about stuff.
People love getting irritated, even incensed by things they could so easily avoid. Nowhere is this more true than on the internet.
So if you’re one of those people, steel yourself for a good old fashioned red-faced rant at the following quote from Shailendra Singh, joint managing director of Percept Holdings. They’re no-one to you and he’s nothing to you, but are you going to let that stop you?
Well? Are you?
“Twenty20 is the glossier version of instant returns. It’s cricketainment at its best.”
And other such euphemisms. Whatever happens tomorrow, it’s been years since Australia were bossed about like this.
They’ve lost Tests over the last few years, but those losses have often been helter skelter, chaotic affairs. This is different. Australia are being dictated to.
Ever since Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly met up on the first day with the score at 163-4, it’s been all India. They’ve set about their task at first professionally and then, come their second innings, clinically.
That was the strangest moment for us. Australia may have conceded a 200 run deficit in the first innings, but when Gambhir and Sehwag were doing whatever they wanted with no response from the fielding side, that was totally alien.
Half the fielders were on the fence. The other half were saving one. There didn’t seem to be any wicket-taking method being used, but they weren’t stopping runs either. The batsmen were scoring at five an over. Ricky Ponting just seemed to be waiting. For what?
Australia have eight batsmen who average over 40 in first-class cricket. It doesn’t feel like that though, does it? It doesn’t feel like the opposition will have to bowl until Australia tell them they can stop.12 Appeals
In Sri Lanka, earlier this year, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh were outbowled to a frightening degree by Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis.
With their spin bowlers stumbling somewhat and Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma doing as good a job as all four Aussie quicks put together in the first Test, it was tempting to think that maybe India would have been better advised to replace the injured Kumble with a pace bowler.
Three quick bowlers or two spinners?
Over the last few years, India have firmly done away with any pace bowling frailties they once had. This is a nation who’ve had Sourav Ganguly open the bowling before now, which is like having Ashley Giles opening the batting. But these days there are seemingly dozens of young Indian fast bowlers who could do a job in Test cricket. But this would be wrong. This would be against all that Test cricket’s about. When you tour India, you face spin.
It’s not about tradition or anything pointless like that. It’s about the diversity and breadth of the game. Pitches are becoming homogenised and teams are too as a consequence. One of the most fundamentally intriguing elements of cricket is the fact that while on the face of it, you’re playing the same game in England as in India, in reality, entirely different skills are required. Different bowlers will be effective and different batsmen will prosper using different approaches.
India should always have a leg-spinner
So it was with a little relief that we saw India had stuck with two spinners and it was with delight that we watched Amit Mishra dismiss half Australia’s batsmen. Philosophical delight that all was well and everyday delight when Michael Clarke got nowhere near the googly.
Mishra is a proper leg-spinner. A conventional, slightly floaty leg-spinner who doesn’t just keep it tight. We’d anticipated Piyush Chawla would appear in the final Test, winning it for India, but we don’t mind him being further down the pecking order if there are other, better leg-spinners on offer.
We can’t say for definite whether Amit Mishra is the better of the two, but from what we’ve seen he’s very good. More importantly, if a side with a spin attack of Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra were to lose a Test in India to a side with a spin ‘attack’ of Cameron White and Michael Clarke, the cricket world would be almost as bad a place as the real world.7 Appeals