For the last Test we used reasoning for precisely one of the questions and got it right. Michael Vaughan has scored bucketloads of runs at Lord’s, so we bet on him to be England’s top scorer. This might lead to the conclusion that ‘thinking’ is the way forward. Or at least it might do if we were using thinking to reach these conclusions. Which we’re not.
For our tips for the Old Trafford Test, we instead waited until we were in a faintly delirious state of mind. We can’t remember most of what we said. We think we may have used thinking at one point though.
The Old Trafford pitch is usually as hard as the thick-skulled inhabitants of our fair town. It’s kind to quick bowlers and spinners, while fast-medium bowlers tend to get carted. In addition to this, we haven’t had rain in these parts for about three weeks, so the surface should be like compressed adamantium right now.
Being as there aren’t really any proper fast bowlers in either team, we’ve tipped Daniel Vettori and Monty Panesar to be the top wicket-takers. If we turn out to be correct about this, we will be forced to embrace reason. If we’re wrong we’ll carry on pretty much like we’ve always done.4 Appeals
It’s been a while since anyone was interested, so what the fudge is going on over there?
Well, everyone’s played either 11 or 12 matches out of 14. Rajasthan Royals are top for whom Mr Ego, Shane Warne, is both captain AND coach. Two points behind them are Kings XI Punjab, who are ‘our’ team.
Being a dyed-in-the-wool, through-and-through Kings XI Punjab diehard FANATIC, we’ve ignored about their last ten games, although we do know that they won their last match by a single run, which must have been pretty exciting.
Once all the teams have completed their 14 matches, a whopping four teams out of the eight are discarded and the remaining four contest semi finals and a final, which pretty much flies in the face of the whole ‘league’ concept. Knock out matches? That’s a cup.
Sohail Tanvir‘s probably the pick of the bowlers. He’s got one of the lowest averages and he’s only gone for six an over. Of the batsmen, Benevolent Uncle Sanath and Virender Sehwag are the ones who’ve scored a good number of runs at the necessarily ludicrous pace to draw attention.
The end. Check back here in about October if you want news on the knock-out stages, because that’s probably when we’ll get round to covering them13 Appeals
The Atheist from Are You A Left-Arm Chinaman? writes:
I was excited about going to see my first match of the season. This would be a perfect opportunity to wear my sun-hat without the usual sense of shame associated with over-keen headgear. Although its powers are potent, it didn’t prevent pre-match embarrassment on the trains.
I caught the eye of a busker at Monument Station. The hat could not prevent the subsequent blushing and awkwardness. I also saw three grown men play with a remote control car in a car park. They were displaying the sort of dedication that the building of mighty, pink beer-bellies requires.
I also attempted to buy a pair of cheapo sunglasses in the Kennington Tesco. It failed me. I suggest you boycott Tesco when purchasing your fashionable shades in the future.
I noticed that many previous correspondents voiced a preference for pies. I was determined not to eat pie. It was summer; it was sunny; it was hot. This was not pie weather. Maybe a salad? Or an honest sandwich even.
The Oval disagreed.
“I think you’ll find that climactic conditions favour the pie” said the ground, “so that is all you shall have.”
Bloody know-it-all stadiums.
The one saving grace was the pie-monger’s resemblance to an old work colleague. Every Monday morning, we would gather around her office with our plastic cups of coffee as she regaled us with stories of her weekend’s sexual adventures. Her tales, if matter-of-fact in their delivery, were vivid and precise in their detail.
“He did this, which I didn’t like. Then he did that, which I did like.”
We would all try to empathise as we reflected on our own weekends of half-completed DIY projects and trips to the supermarket.
We used to wonder whether there was a bloke, in some other part of London, providing an equally meticulous account.
“She did this, which I didn’t like. Then she shut up, which I did like.”
He was probably sitting behind me. He shouted a lot. “Eh-ssex! Eh-ssex! EH-SSEX!” he would say. Sometimes, he would forget the rest of the words. Those moments were like buttered bliss.
In any case, I got very sunburnt. I also saw a nice aeroplane.24 Appeals
It never goes well. Matthew Hayden is very poor at executing his talking skills. Thanks to RC for pointing us towards Hayden’s latest attempt in an interview with Cricinfo.
Here are some highlights:
“I go to the middle, I mark the crease and I squat on the wicket. I feel grounded when I do that.” – a lesson for all young batsmen who accidentally launch skywards and orbit the earth when they’re supposed to be going out to bat.
“The zone to me is pretty much every time I go out to bat.” – Matthew Hayden will tell you that he’s the absolute best at modesty as well. ‘I am shit-hot at modesty’ he will say.
“As fine a cricketer as I am right now, I don’t think as a young player I had it right.” – See! Shit-hot at the modesty.
He also says that an opening partnership is like being in a couple. But we already know about Hayden and Langer.21 Appeals
Most teams struggle for all-rounders. In New Zealand they’re ten a penny. If only they could find a couple more half-decent specialist batsmen, they’d be a force to be reckoned with.
Now, with Daniel Vettori and Brendon McCullum, New Zealand are still well off for all-rounders. Then there’s Jacob Oram as well, who hit a muscly 101 as New Zealand easily saved the first Test. (Bloody weather. Bloody light-accepting batsmen.)
Why does Jacob Oram look so old? He’s only 29. Is it because he’s suffering from some kind of gigantism? Not only is he six-foot-many and burly, he’s also got a head that’s too big for an already gargantuan body. But not only that. He’s also got a face that’s too big for the head that’s too big for the body.
Somebody somewhere has made an almighty error of scale when constructing Jacob Oram. Mr and Mrs Oram, we’re looking at you.
England v New Zealand, first Test at Lord’s – day five
New Zealand 277 (Brendon McCullum 97, Ryan Sidebottom 4-55, James Anderson 3-66)
England 319 (Michael Vaughan 106, Andrew Strauss 63, Alastair Cook 61, Daniel Vettori 5-69)
New Zealand 269-6 (Jacob Oram 101, Jamie How 68)
It’s not often we agree with Mark Nicholas, if only because we don’t float through life spouting words like ‘divine’ and ‘exquisite’ every second sentence, but we think he had a point yesterday as he commentated over Channel 5′s highlights of cricketers walking on and off the field.
Nicholas reckons that cricketers can play in worse light than they currently do and most people who’ve been at a cricket ground on a faintly murky day will probably agree.
The magical thing about the human eye is that it responds to the amount of light available. Obviously there’s a limit and equally obviously it can get dangerous when there are lanky, demonic sociopaths flinging cricket balls at your face, but the point where bad light is offered to the batsman is too soon.
It’s May. Even under the heaviest cloud cover, it can never get that gloomy in the middle of the day, yet England and New Zealand went off five times yesterday. If Simon Taufel and Steve Bucknor had ever visited England in December, they’d have had their sunglasses on yesterday.
Maybe England’s fabulously white kit had sucked up all light in the vicinity. That use of ‘fabulously’ was brought to you by Mark Charles Jefford Nicholas.
Brendon McCullum recently found his feet. Now he’s putting them to good use.
If you’ve read the page we just linked to, this might sound kind of familiar. This is the Test version of that post.
Brendon McCullum’s had 52 Test innings. In his first 45, he managed two hundreds and six fifties. In his last seven, he’s added another three fifties – all against England. That in itself wouldn’t count for much if it weren’t standing unsteadily atop his form in the shorter forms of the game.
Brendon McCullum hit the record Twenty20 score recently and the Brendon McCullum one-day post mumbles on and on about how he’s started to come good in that form. He’s a batsman on the up and maybe yesterday’s 97 was a sign that he’s starting to think he can do the same in Tests.
Why not use the same approach? It’s been working for him. If anything, he could be even more successful. In Twenty20 and when opening one-day innings, you’ve really got to go after every ball. In Tests he’s got the luxury that he can leave some of the more dangerous deliveries while still flaying everything else.
In fact, he could leave even the semi-dangerous deliveries and maybe just work ones and twos off the bad balls. He could bat all day if he really minimises risk. Oh, wait. This isn’t using the same approach at all, is it?
England v New Zealand, first Test at Lord’s – day one
New Zealand 208 (Brendon McCullum 97, James Anderson 3-42)
A lot of people are asking whether England’s new Test kit is the whitest ever seen on a cricket field.
It isn’t. That honour goes to the outfit worn by Algernon Denby-Farthing in a match for Yorkshire against Kent in 1885.
Denby-Farthing was obsessive about the cleanliness of his whites, inspecting them for upwards of an hour prior to each day’s play and frequently changing mid-over.
On the day of this particular match, his clothing had attained such an extraordinary level of whiteness that the Kent bowlers were being blinded during their run-ups. The umpires finally resolved this by moving one of the sightscreens into the middle of the pitch, obscuring Denby-Farthing from the bowlers, who were forced to deliver the ball over the top of it.
Denby-Farthing was eventually dismissed for 42 after a fearsome straight drive rebounded off the sightscreen and into the hands of fine leg.15 Appeals
We pretty much know the teams. We pretty much know the tactics. What we don’t know is what the two teams will be feasting on during the first lunch break and who will fare the better.
It’s common cricketing courtesy to clap the players when they emerge for the afternoon session, but that’s not exactly what happens.
What you are in fact doing is clapping the players as they exit the luncheon arena. You are applauding them for the stunning eating performances they’ve put in during the previous 40 minutes.
Of course the whole event takes place behind closed doors, but seasoned cricket-watchers can judge a player’s performance from the look on his face and the distension of his gut.
Any inside information on the day one menu will be gleefully pored over.21 Appeals
Match reports are still welcome. Keep them fairly short and remember, don’t mention the actual cricket.
668, Neighbour of the Beast writes:
With weather set on sunny we set off for Essex with the hope of catching up with a few sub-Saharan migrants, chirping and exhibiting the usual seasonal territoriality.
It was our first time at Chelmsford – seems to be a nice ground full of singing greenfinches, trees, nice stewards. It also has a river next to it where you can picnic as long as you bring a rug. Dan did.
You could tell it was hot, in no time there was someone collapsed round the back of the stand, receiving medical attention.
Dan, who is new to cricket, liked Tim Murtagh’s batting. He scored more than most ‘good on paper’ batters, as did Nash, who had a runner. It’s nice to see that when there are three batsmen gathered together they still need to touch gloves simultaneously.
Nel was as quiet as a man given six disciplinary points tends to be. This was unfortunate, but he did get narked, where stumps were hit and there was some gratifying cap-snatching action after a foot fault over. The real Nel lurks still.
Several common terns flew across the ground (a cricketing bird ‘tick’). The Ford ground has a good selection of overflying birds, all conspicuously indifferent to the action below. It took Dan until tea to be happy with the scoreboard – a classic non beginner’s piece.
Danny Evans and Billy Godleman felt it necessary to wear jumpers. Philander ably took over Nel’s mantle of stroppy sub-Saharan bowler.
The ice cream stands were all closed at 4.30! So a big minus there for the ground. There were also no recycling facilities that we could find for our bottles. The post tea ground was rather quiet – no-one clapped the Essex captain on his return to the pavilion.
A sparrowhawk menaced the starlings who earlier had been conspicuously indifferent to the match while they foraged on the outfield. As for the other sub-Saharan migrants, the nightingales were in full song, and there was a grasshopper warbler at our campsite. It sang all night. What stamina these little scraps of fluff have. Have they thought of crossing them with fast bowlers?9 Appeals