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Winning the Ashes isn’t shit

England's Ashes

That was nice, wasn’t it? Did you enjoy it?

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Jonathan Trott’s Test debut

Jonathan Trott wonders where the hell he can go next

By any stretch, Jonathan Trott’s Test debut has gone okay.

Making a hundred on your debut is generally considered to be satisfactory. Making a hundred when you arrived at the crease with the score reading 39-3 on a day when 15 wickets fell – that’s better than satisfactory. Doing all of this in an Ashes Test is a dream. Doing it in the deciding Ashes Test is the kind of fiction you wouldn’t have permitted yourself when you were playing in the back garden when you were 10.

Jonathan Trott has the odd technical flaw that will be explored by bowlers in future Tests, but the one thing he most definitely has – which is much harder to develop in the nets – is the relaxed frame of mind that allows a batsman to perform in Test cricket.

This now means that of England’s first choice top six, four were born in South Africa. No criticism in that, but it’s worth remarking upon.

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Ravi Bopara lowers himself from Test cricket to county cricket

There’s a big step up from county cricket to Test cricket, which means there’s a big step down when you get dropped. Ravi Bopara’s returned to Essex and has promptly made 201 against Surrey.

Essex play in the second division, so it’s no so much a step down as a jump. It’s a good job players are keen to cling onto their Test players by their fingertips as it means there isn’t as far to fall.

The Surrey bowling attack conquered by Ravi Bopara

  • Dernbach
  • Collins
  • Linley
  • Schofield
  • Meaker
  • Spriegel
  • Afzaal

If Bopara was quaking in his boots, it would only be from damage to his knees after falling so far.

If there were a third as many first-class teams, the bowling attacks would be three times as good and the gap wouldn’t be so great.

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Stuart Broad snatches the all-rounder baton off Andrew Flintoff

Stuart Broad about to dismiss another Aussie

Andrew Flintoff should keep a close eye on all his cricket gear. Stuart Broad will have his bats, his pads and even his box given half a chance. He’s not waiting until the big man’s gone before taking over.

When Swann got North, we yelped like a female coati. When Broad bowled Haddin, we went up an octave. It sounded like a baby Bongolava mouse lemur had been kicked in the nuts.

We’re far happier seeing an England all-rounder of the future scything through Australia like a laser through hot butter. It bodes well for the future.

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The team with no spinner should lose

This should be the case every time. Test cricket is about having players for all sorts of different conditions. It’s about anticipating how conditions will change as the match wears on.

Half the point of Test cricket is that you can have a guy standing around for three and a half days who then comes in and wins you the match. Not picking a spinner says spin bowling has no major part to play in the game. For that, you should be spun out and your fast bowlers should be worn into the ground.

Test cricket is broad, varied and rich and anything that goes against that is sacrilege.

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Ian Ronald Bell and his ‘stache

Ian Bell appears to have a bit of a moustache at the minute.

Ian Bell's worryingly right-wing facial hair

If there were such a thing as a “my middle name’s Ronald” moustache, this would be it.

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Are England annoying enough?

Not in the sense that they vex you with their occasional incompetence. We mean, are they annoying enough to truly challenge the opposition?

We’ve always been a great believer that you can achieve a lot through being really annoying and we don’t see why that wouldn’t apply in international cricket.

Here are some of our recommended tactics, many of which we employ ourself on a daily basis.

  1. Humming – Not just humming, but producing pretty much any sound that can carry a simple melody. The ‘dff’ sound that boys make when they’re pretending to hit a snare drum or when they’re miming a punch to the solar plexus is particularly good. We use it for the theme from Terminator 2 and for Ghostbusters.
  2. Not listening – Let someone talk at you at great length and then, a few moments after they’ve finished, look at them blankly and say ‘what?’
  3. Telling people to shut up – Ask someone a direct question and when they start to answer, say ‘shut up’. Alternatively, when they answer, use tactic 2 – ‘not listening’. At the point when you’ve said ‘what?’ and they’ve started to answer for a second time, say ‘shut up’.
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Are England going to win the Ashes?

The Ashes urn chilling on the lawn

What? It’s a simple enough question, isn’t it? Are England going to win the Ashes?

The players are all saying that they can. None are saying that they will and obviously none are saying that they won’t. The pundits are weighing things up and talking about pressure and weather and team selection.

All of this is bollocks.

You don’t want to dwell on history. You don’t want to evaluate conditions or individual players. You don’t want to investigate the psychology or the systems that produce the players. You don’t want to give an informed opinion – the Ashes isn’t about that.

Whichever team you’re supporting, the Ashes is like life. It’s about sitting there, basically just hoping that everything works out all right in the end. It’s about truly believing that if you sit around doing nothing for long enough, sooner or later everything will sort itself out.

Are England going to win the Ashes? Of course they are.

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Overly dramatic headline of the week

The BBC go with “Strauss makes Ashes rallying call”.

England’s captain is geeing up the troops with fist-pumping lines such as:

“You have to earn the right to be on top in a match and that is why what we did at Headingley was a bit of shocker. We have learnt our lessons. It’s vital we make sure we do the basics right.”

Struggling to restrain his adrenaline-fuelled team, he continued with:

“We can take a lot of confidence from the fact that we are at 1-1. There is no reason for us to be negative.”

It’s just like that scene from Braveheart.

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Andy Flintoff reinstated as Hero Number One

It’s his last Test, so we’re going back to calling him ‘Andy’. That’s what he always used to be, before the media started calling him ‘Andrew’ and then ‘Freddie’.

Andy is a good, functional name. It gets the job done. It’s the kind of name you’d be happy to buy a pint for, knowing you’d get one back next time you were a bit strapped for cash. It’s the kind of name that can help you out with the electrics because you’re scared of them, thinking you’ll kill yourself even when the power’s off.

We’ve reinstated Flintoff as Hero Number One for reasons unrelated to any of that though. We’re doing it because he said the following:

“You talk about momentum – it seems to be the buzzword of the minute – but this is a one-off Test match.”

Test cricketer renounces momentum. It’s a good day.

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