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Loots Bosman and Graeme Smith should play on ‘hard’ now

Loots Bosman plays his default shot

Loots Bosman and Graeme Smith today batted in international cricket as if they were playing an overfamiliar cricket computer game on easy setting. Simply aim at cow corner and press the six-hit button.

It was astonishingly clean hitting. Almost robotic. Alastair Cook erred hugely in not positioning a fielder on the grass banks on the other side of the rope.

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Eoin Morgan is the England Twenty20 batsman you most want to watch

We’d rate Eoin Morgan’s 85 not out off 45 balls as the best Twenty20 performance we’ve seen from an England player.

The six that he ever-so-gently placed onto the roof of a three-storey building outside the ground would ordinarily have been the most remarkable shot played in the match. We were going to devote a whole post to it until a few overs later he did something pretty much indescribable.

There were three balls of the innings remaining and Graeme Smith had set a smart field with one conspicuous gap down towards fine leg. Clearly the ball wasn’t going to be bowled where it could be hit there. The puzzle for Morgan was how he could somehow engineer a four. He went one better than that.

There are a lot of unusual shots these days. Eoin Morgan is responsible for an increasing number of them. Earlier this year, the Eoin Morgan reverse-backhand-nurdle-for-one was a staggering shot for little reward. Today’s chip shot sweep played with his back to the bowler was a staggering shot for full reward.

He didn’t even move his bloody arms. Eoin Morgan hit a six with the full face of the bat directly behind the wicketkeeper and he did it using only his wrists. Some cricket writers use the adjective ‘wristy’ when they actually mean ‘Asian’. If they want to learn what the word means, they should watch this man.

Paul Collingwood was deceptively brilliant today. Eoin Morgan was blatantly exceptional.

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No Ashes on Sky means no money for English cricket

This seems to be the crisis facing the ECB as it seems increasingly likely that home Ashes series will be shown on free TV from now on.

We’ve a few thoughts about this.

Sponsorship of the England team

If we were sponsoring England, we’d pay more if we thought four times as many people were watching. This could offset a fraction of the losses.

The ECB are playing the grassroots card

They’re saying that 23,000 coaches will be put out of work if they can’t sell the Ashes TV rights to Sky. Why does the money have to come out of grassroots cricket? Why can’t it come from the counties? (Because the counties run the game, but they shouldn’t.)

Some counties could go to the wall

A lot of the counties only survive because of ECB handouts. Frankly, if they need a £1.5 million gift to stay afloat, fuck ’em.

And yes, we would still feel the same if one of those counties was Lancashire. The England team comes first by a long way.

If the breeding ground that is county cricket would be even slightly worse for the loss of half a dozen counties, we might think differently. But actually, it would work far better.

  • More concentrated talent = good
  • Fewer fixtures = good

So take the money off the counties and keep the grassroots the same. With the Ashes on normal TV, more people would take up the sport. You’d be throwing more people at the same grassroots system and only the most talented and determined would get to play for the few counties that remained.

England then pick the best of those. How many fully professional cricketers does the nation honestly need?

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Younus Khan resigns, quits, rests, stands down, walks

Younus Khan has had another captaincy wobble. It seems half the team think he’s a tool and won’t do what he says. This is a bit annoying for Pakistan supporters, because when Younus has been in charge and the players have made half an effort to follow him, the team has been really good.

It seems the stropping in the ranks reached its nadir with what are thought to be some deliberately gash cross-batted shots by the batsmen during Mohammad Aamer’s match. If you’re going to deliberately play badly, then your captain’s bound to have a tough time.

Presumably it’s not lack of confidence in Younus that has caused this though. More likely he took Shoaib Malik’s juice from the team fridge, even though it CLEARLY said ‘Shoaib Malik’ on the side of it in black felt tip.

You live by the sword…

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Reviews of No Boundaries by Ronnie Irani

At what point does a book become so bad that you actually find yourself wanting to read it?

There are some great reviews of Ronnie Irani’s book, No Boundaries, on Amazon:

“I once bought a Man United shirt with the name of Keith Gillespie on the back days before the club swapped him for Andy Cole. At the time I was skint and devastated by the wasted cash. I thought nothing could top that… In the last 14 years nothing has. Until now.”

That was a one star review. In all there are 19 one star reviews, two five star reviews and nothing in between.

Here’s another one star:

“This is by some margin the worst book I’ve ever read.”

And another:

“I would rather read the back of a crisp packet.”

It’s not all bad, though:

“Although devoid of any real content, interesting anecdotes, humour etc you don’t get his voice grating on you.”

After reading all of the reviews, we find that Irani’s book has gone beneath being so bad we want to read it, so we’re going to give it a miss.

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England losing warm-up matches at the start of a tour

Seasoned England watchers know that England losing warm-up matches is just an unpleasant fact of life.

It’s like that gnawing sense that something’s very, very wrong when you wake up in the morning. Just reach for your bottle of supermarket brand gin that you keep on the bedside table and it’ll all seem to matter so much less of a problem in a bit.

We used to think that England needed to win all of their warm-up matches and look strong going into the main series, but over time, we’ve just come to accept it.

Paul Collingwood’s comments were good though:

“We’re not going to win many games losing seven for 20. That’s an area we need to look at.”

Yeah, the losing seven wickets for 20 runs side of the game probably does need a bit of honing.

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We went to the Sky offices

We popped into the Sky offices last weekend to go and see some people from The Wisden Cricketer.

Where are Sky’s offices?

The address is the not-at-all-made-up-sounding 123 Buckingham Palace Road. We were confronted with a large glass wall with a small glass revolving door in the middle of it. Sky like glass very much for some reason.

Phase one

We entered the glass revolving door successfully enough, but then attempted to exit about two feet too early and walked into some glass. There is a vast reception desk along one wall in the foyer/antechamber. The two girls manning it kindly ignored our embarrassment, largely because they sit at a giant desk and are above laughing at other people’s embarrassment.

We told one girl who we were going to see and she gave us a plastic card. As we remember it, she looked away from us and rolled her tongue around her mouth as she slid it across the desk. This may in fact be a lie, but it’s how we remember it.

Phase two

The next obstacle was a sort of high-tech turnstile. We guessed that it worked how the Tube works. For the one and only time on this short trip, we got something right. We went through to the main part of the building.

The inside of Sky’s offices is built according to the principles of the Panopticon, where you can look into all the offices from the centre. There’s a pointlessly oversized middle bit which contains a couple of lifts and a lot of wasted space. Around the outside, every office on every floor is glass. You can probably stand by the lift on the middle floor and see everyone in the whole building. It’s overt surveillance-tastic.

Where it differs from the Panopticon is that every person in every office can also see you. Therefore, if you’re a cretin – like we are – you can easily be identified as such, long before you reach any particular office.

Phase three

We got the lift to the correct floor and walked the shiny Gattaca-style gangway to the office door. There was only one thing on the whole of this floor other than the lift – a small pillar which was positioned a few yards away from the door to an office. We walked up to it and it was a swipecard kind of thing. As a focal point for an entire floor of a vast, futuristic office block, it was something of a disappointment. It said: “Don’t use this. Knock on the door instead.”

We walked up to the door. There was another reception desk with a woman sitting at it on the other side of the glass. She had presumably seen us hovering around like a complete numbnuts for the last few minutes, so we figured we didn’t need to knock and just tried the door. It was locked.

At that point a cleaner materialised out of thin air. In true cinematic fashion, she wanted to go through the same door as us. She used her card on the ‘do not use’ pillar and we nipped through the door while pretending that we were in fact merely trying to hold it open for her.

Getting out

After learning so much on the way in, we felt pretty confident when it came time to leave. However, apparently you don’t just scan the card on the way out of the turnstile and hand it in at reception. You actually insert it in an entirely different way and the turnstile keeps it. The receptionist must have somehow conveyed this to us when she had looked away with that bored look on her face.

In summary: we can’t do anything; not even walk into and then out of an office.

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Mohammad Aamer becomes a fully-fledged Pakistani cricketer

Mohammad Aamer hopefully not having kneed someone in the ballsNot many countries can pick 17-year-olds to open the bowling for them, because not many countries have 17-year-olds who can scythe the ball past international opening batsmen and swing it both ways. Even that’s not enough to make Mohammad Aamer a fully-fledged Pakistani cricketer though. There’s more to it than that.

To be a Pakistani cricketer, you have to at some point do something demented. Mohammad Aaamer today obliged and can now be considered the genuine article. He hit 73 not out, batting at 10, after Pakistan had been 101-9.

Pakistan still contrived to lose the match by seven runs, because they never want you to think you know what’s going to happen. There is no plot when it comes to Pakistan, only a never-ending series of events that may or may not be connected.

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Australian cricketers are generally ready for international cricket

Australia have managed a cracking one-day series victory over India, particularly considering they’re down to Clint McKay and the likes. There’s a core of first-choice players, but if you were in the vicinity of the Australia side at some point recently and happened to be wearing a yellow T-shirt, chances are you’d have got a game.

This backs up our thoughts about Australian domestic cricket versus English domestic cricket. Newly capped Australian cricketers are more capable of coping with big matches. They’re brought up playing more competitive cricket, but more importantly, when they arrive in international cricket they’re more likely to play close to their best.

Consider one of England’s newcomers. Ravi Bopara’s easily one of the best batsmen in England. He’s not a third or fourth choice who’s forced to play when there’s a bout of injuries, he’s right up there.

Bopara’s actually played 50 one-day internationals already, but he’s only hit four fifties. He’ll be a good international cricketer – maybe even a great one – but England will have had to ease him through 60 or 70 one-day internationals to get him to that point. By the time Bopara can be relied upon, someone else will need to acclimatise to internationals. The Aussies always have 11 men who are good to go.

Ravi Bopara is an example. The same applies, more or less, to all of England’s young players. They’re rarely ready for international cricket and it’s not the fault of the selectors.

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Ashes Cricket 2009 video game review | PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Ashes Cricket 2009 is an action cricket game, as opposed to a strategy game. It’s probably the best cricket game going of that type.


Weirdly, batting’s actually better than bowling. In previous cricket games, batting has largely been about getting frustrated and smashing the joypad because your idiot batsman set off for a run when the ball was in the keeper’s gloves or because you finally missed a yorker after facing six overs of them. In Ashes Cricket 2009, there’s none of this. More importantly, it actually feels like real batting.

The biggest compliment we can pay this game is that it really helps if you know a bit about cricket. For any given delivery, you have three decisions to make:

  1. Front foot or back foot
  2. Defensive shot, attacking shot, lofted shot or ‘using your feet’
  3. Direction of shot

Your margin for error varies according to how sensible a shot you’re playing. Aim a drive at a wide outswinger or play against the spin and you’d better get your timing bang on. Play a straight half-volley back past the bowler and it’ll be much easier to time. The upshot is, you look at the field and weigh up the percentages. It’s like actually playing cricket, only you’re not unfit and uncoordinated. Not until you get to the tail anyway.

Equally important is that the game doesn’t automatically punish you if you play a crap shot. Edges might not carry, mishits sometimes evade fielders. It all adds to the sense of realism.

Poor footwork there - you can tell, because it says it in writing


To be honest, bowling is where Ashes Cricket 2009 falls down, which is a shame, because it promises a lot. There are loads deliveries on offer and it depends on the bowler and the playing conditions whether you can use them or not.

The bowling mechanism is good as well and at first you feel it’s just as good as the batting. It feels like you’re working the batsman over, trying to set him up. You’re bowling to your field and all’s going well. Then suddenly, it all goes mental.

I don’t know what it is, but after about eight overs, the opposition batsmen engage the long handle and switch off their brains. The ball flies to all parts, there’s a run-out every three overs and there’s NOTHING you can do about either of those things. At that point, it’s impossible to suspend disbelief and that’s no good.


We’re shite at it. For catches, the ball approaches a fielder in slow motion and all you have to do is press a key at the right moment, as indicated by a red, amber or green colour around the ball. We favour the red immediately after the optimum green.

Is it worth buying?

We’d say so, yes. Twenty20 matches are largely immune to the demented slogging when you’re in the field, so that’s not so bad. Plus, you then get to gauge a run-chase, which is where this game’s at its best, because you’re constantly balancing risk and reward; picking your times to go over the top and making sure you score off every ball.

You can get Ashes Cricket 2009 from Amazon for not a huge amount of money.

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