Even beyond our own knee-high standards, our 2009 county cricketers to watch have come good.
Liam Plunkett is in England’s winter Test squad and has therefore proven himself an obdurate and pleasing stain on the second-favourite T-shirt that is England cricket – possibly a turmeric-based stain that could be around for some time. That may sound disparaging unless you read the article linked to from his name. Plunkett was also representing Sajid Mahmood to a degree and Saj is in the one-day squad.
Steven Davies is in England’s Test squad and might one day get a post where we don’t liken him to a spreadsheet.
Things other than spectral badger visitation have happened to Adil Rashid already this year and he’s also in both England squads.
Tim Bresnan is taking tiny steps towards making his surname convey all sorts of emotions when used in isolation after getting selected in England’s one-day side.
If you’re starting to think that we know what we’re talking about, you can get that idea out of your head right now. Knowing what you’re on about is resolutely NOT what this site is about. This site is actually about repeatedly picking Will Jefferson as a player to watch almost solely because he’s very tall.
Those writing about cricket bandy the word ‘experience’ around until it ceases to have any meaning, but it’s easy to overlook the significant role it plays in terms of how a player performs.
Experience isn’t just a statistic. It isn’t how many games someone’s played. It’s different conditions, different environments and different situations. Player A might average 50 in county cricket, but it’s not just as simple as bunging him in the national side.
If he’s 22 and hasn’t played a Test before, he’s likely to do worse than Player B who’s 34, has 70 caps, but only averages 40 in first-class cricket.
A Mitchell Johnson quote about the Ashes explains this pretty well.
“I didn’t take in the fact that their home crowd was right behind them all the way and I wasn’t used to that feeling and obviously taking on the role as leader of the attack all got to me a little bit. I’m glad I recovered from it. It has definitely helped and is something you need to go through. It was a learning experience for me.”
For a long time, Australia’s Test side had more Test experience than England’s. As talented as the Aussies were, there was also a greater likelihood that those players would perform at their best.
What conclusions can we draw?
International experience is a valuable commodity and is not to be frittered away on players you hope will come good. Selectors should identify the players they are most certain about and stand by them.
It would be a damn sight easier for them if English domestic cricket actually clarified such issues to some degree.
When we were younger and interested in both cricket and football, we thought that cricket could learn from club football. Now, having pretty much completely forsaken football due to it having become an earth-rattling shodfest that’s part soap opera and part corporate dick-swinging contest, we’re a bit worried that cricket is showing signs of following the same path.
On the face of it, the Twenty20 Champions’ League could be a lot of fun. There are good players and it’s potentially a punchy little tournament with a handful of underdogs in the mix. However, if the rich, powerful sides start manipulating the cricket world to ensure their continued success in such tournaments, we’re not so far away from non-news articles about Mahendra Dhoni maybe thinking about switching clubs. And that’s where we exit.
Shoaib Akhtar is going to get himself mended by Andrew Flintoff’s surgeon.
“I hear that he is like an artist with knees and that his expertise is second to none.”
Don’t most artists have knees? It’s not an occupation specifically reserved for the fixed-legged is it?
Before the Champions’ Trophy began, ICC chief executive, Haroon Lorgat, gave it the big sell:
“This is short, sharp and exciting. We have also created a winner’s jacket.”
He didn’t say he’d created MULTIPLE winners’ jackets.
You know you’re good at something when you get given a jacket to wear over your tracksuit.
How can we possibly have found ourself wanting Shane Watson to get a hundred. He was on 92 and Australia needed eight to win the Champions’ Trophy. Why on earth did we want him to reach three figures?
Seriously, why? This isn’t rhetoric. We actually want an explanation. He’s ridiculously gym-bodied, blonde and always looks like he’s about to cry. We’re not massively keen on any of those qualities. Put them on an Australian cricketer (normal Australians are quite likeable) and that should be a Michelin-starred recipe for loathing a man.
That’s an exaggerated version of the kind of headline that’s been cropping up after Kevin Pietersen’s interview with the Observer.
It’s a shame that’s the angle that’s taken, because actually Pietersen’s got a lot of sense in him and it gets washed away by all the indignant, semi-xenophobic spitting that results from his continued portrayal as something of a cartoon figure.
Elsewhere in the article, Pietersen talks about the lack of fast bowlers in county cricket, pointing out that the heavy scheduling basically eradicates them. He points out that this isn’t really the best preparation for Test cricket where facing fast bowling is pretty much a batsman’s main challenge.
“You need to play each match like a Test match, instead of up and down the country, playing every day.”
No-one’ll listen to a fine batsman who has an outsider’s clarity in his views on county cricket though, because of the one-note caricature of him that’s always presented.
Riding on the crest of the Ashes wave and generally high both in spirit and days of annual leave to take before September, my good friend Thomas and I decided to go and enjoy the last days of English summertime in a most traditional way; watching men in traditionally brightly coloured pyjamas alternately throw and hit a traditional white ball under the traditional floodlights at Lord’s. Traditionally, Tom would have brought a few tinnies with him, but he had a job interview the next day with a well known manufacturer of Post-it notes and so he brought his revision notes instead. What a guy.
Arriving at Lord’s we took a moment to enjoy the rain that was lashing down and took turns to remark on how nice the weather had been just a few hours previously and how glad we were that we had an umbrella between the two of us (mine).
VVS Laxman came out to warm up, but dropped two skied catches and went back in again with his hands in his pockets. Tom and I started on our sandwiches. Him, a curious mix of red Leicester and dressed salad on thick white, and I, a continental splash of chorizo and rocket in a bagel.
As the rain continued to sheet across the home of cricket, I took leave of the Grandstand in order to find warmth in the club shop. I was loaned a jacket belonging to Chris Silverwood which was much too big for my slight frame, but certainly helped to keep out the wind.
On returning to the Grandstand, I found Tom deep in thought, transfixed by the piece of rope tied between a tractor and a quadbike being dragged across the outfield to eliminate rainwater collection. We spent the next half an hour designing an excellent system of hovercover drainage and rainwater recycling, utilising the natural slope of Lord’s and the average rainfall rate in the South-East of England, finally concluding that with the requisite financial backing, our system could be in place by 2011 and save the MCC millions of pounds each year. However, we later used the sheet of paper to mop up spilt tea and couldn’t remember how it had all worked by the time we got home. A real shame for all concerned.
Having eaten all our picnic treats, including the soggy custard slices, we returned Chris Silverwood’s jacket to the shop and walked to Warwick Avenue to catch the Tube home. On our journey, we awarded on honorary win to Lancashire, as they have a cooler nickname and nice red trousers.
No-one was quite sure what it was, but everyone agreed that it was very clear that the stumps suddenly seemed like they were going to explode.
Billy Bowden backed away. Monty Panesar attempted to protect himself with his oversized hands and AB de Villiers just threw himself to the ground.
You don’t often see cricket bats at weddings. It should happen more often.
This wasn’t a normal wedding though. This was the wedding of Miriam and Jrod of Cricket With Balls.
They were married at The Oval and the groom wore cricket whites.
Send your pictures of cricket bats and other cricket stuff in unusual places to firstname.lastname@example.org