We’d say India have as good a claim as anyone to being the best Test cricket team at the moment.
Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Mahendra Dhoni. This is not shit. They’re all fantastic batsmen and they’re all different.
We mean they’re all different in terms of batting style, rather than in the sense of their being distinct individuals. Repeatedly using the same batsman but in different disguises is tricky to pull off with all the TV cameras these days. The downside is that some of those batsmen are approaching ‘let’s have a nice sit down’ age.
Spin bowling’s been better, but India rarely need to seriously worry about this part of the game. Pace bowling is as strong as it’s ever been and there’s depth to it too. You wouldn’t say that India have the best pace bowlers in the world, but no country’s really ahead of them either.
So are they the best?
If you want to write a crowd-pleasing cricket website, it’s all about the outlandish proclamations, so here’s ours: India are among the better Test teams in world cricket and for the moment probably have as good a claim as any to being the best, even if there’s not much in it.
We’re thinking about getting that put on a T-shirt.
Jarrod Kimber from Cricket With Balls has written another book. We’ve not actually read it yet, but we feel we’re on pretty safe ground recommending it. If you’ve read his site, you know the kind of thing to expect.
The book is about the 2009 Ashes series and being as Jarrod’s Australian, it must have been pretty tough for him to spend so long writing about what was a pretty humiliating defeat for his side. We think you should buy the book on that basis alone.
Plus, it’s only seven quid in hardback, which is a bloody good deal.
One to watch veteran, Mark Davies, has finally been called into the England squad. If he plays a Test, it is not acceptable to use mundane exclamations like ‘well bowled!’
The obvious substitutes are ‘hammer of Thor!‘ and ‘great Odin’s raven!‘ but if you tire of shouting those, here are three more to add to your repertoire:
- Heimdall’s trumpet!
- Sons of Ivaldi!
- Gullinbursti’s glowing mane!
This is quite unusual. We’re not usually right about stuff. Normally, you can ask us questions about things that have happened to us and we’ll get the answers wrong.
“Did Dan tell you he was moving to Australia?”
“No!” [Long pause] “Don’t think so.” [Another long pause] “Well, maybe…”
- Dwayne Bravo – 104 v Australia
- Mohammad Asif – 4-40 v New Zealand
- Mahendra Dhoni – 100 not out v Sri Lanka
Maybe we’re only wrong when being right relies on the retention of information.
Virender Sehwag is a bastard because he plays too many good innings to keep track of and there aren’t enough superlatives to spread among them.
Consider this: Sehwag’s last Test innings was 131. That was a failure.
His first four Test hundreds were all under 150; all failures. After that, he cranked out 11 successive hundreds in excess of 150. Five of those 11 were over 200 and two of those five were over 300. Can you remember them all? We can’t.
And what do you say about an innings of 195? It’s not ‘unsurpassed’ because it’s frequently been surpassed. It’s not magnificent because then what was the innings we always refer to as ‘the Virender Sehwag 201 not out on a shitty pitch‘?
Ordinarily, if a batsman’s well on track to hit the fastest 300 of all time, you’d feel it might even be acceptable to stoop to poetry. But you thought the same thing the last time Sehwag hit the fastest 300 of all time – he’s trying to break his own record. If you’d cranked out some flowery rhymes back then, where would you be now? You’d have no room for manoeuvre.
You have to reevaluate how you apply adjectives. We’ve a new system:
- 100 = okay
- 150 = good
- 200 = very good
- 300+ and feats of rapid scoring = special adjectives reserved solely for Virender Sehwag
To knacker up bowling figures and careers is one thing. To knacker up the English language is going some.
Virender Sehwag: 284 not out overnight. This was Test cricket.
The Sri Lankan players couldn’t just soak it up for 20 overs before seeing if they could do better. This problem wasn’t going away. But what they had to endure almost all day, the crowd got to enjoy all day – that’s the other thing about Test cricket.
We’re not hugely enamoured of matches where batsmen dominate. The other day we complained about the one dimensional nature of a Twenty20 match between South Africa and England. This wasn’t at all like that.
In the South Africa-England match, the batsmen only played the mow to cow corner. Sehwag’s innings has been completely different. Virender Sehwag’s batting approach is all about dominating, but it’s not a bludgeoning, repetitive domination. It’s sophisticated.
It’s the difference between dominating for 12 overs with one muscular shot and dominating for a whole day under a fierce sun, playing reverse sweeps, lofted drives, deft cuts, leg glances and every other shot that might steer the ball between the fielders.
It’s the difference between Twenty20 and Tests.
Not sure we’ve got Imran Khan or Garry Sobers on the cards, but it’s not looking bad.
Shakib Al Hasan, Bangladesh, age 22
As a cricket-writer, we’re worried there’ll be no words left in a few years time, because they’ll all have been eaten by Bangladesh criticisers. Shakib Al Hasan will make people backtrack until they’ve returned to the womb. He is the best one-day all-rounder in the world and he is 22. He is not going to get any worse at any point in the next decade. Dwell on that.
Dwayne Bravo, West Indies, 26
Played a bit. Been solid. Time to push on, Dwayne.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India, 28
The most dangerous batsmen are those who can destroy an attack but don’t feel that they have to. For Dhoni it’s all about the runs. He’ll get them in singles, he’ll get them in ugly works to leg. He doesn’t care. He also doesn’t care about his average. He just wants to win matches.
Matt Prior, England, 27
No, seriously. Matt Prior has been one of the best batsmen in England for quite a while and being as everyone seems to have gone a bit quiet about his keeping, that must be acceptable as well. Despite his hairline, he’s actually 27. He could prove a very important player in the next few years.
Stuart Broad, England, 23
Don’t talk him up? Tough shit. We’re starting to believe that he can bowl, which is the main thing, while he’s got bags of time to sort out the batting, which has largely been okay anyway.
The BBC are reporting that Sussex are furious with Surrey because the latter approached one of their players.
Sussex chairman, Jim May, was red-faced with fury, ranting:
“The approach is unwelcome and the timing very unfortunate.”
Peppering the interviewer with flecks of spit and bile, May’s rage later reached its zenith with the following outburst:
“This is a complex situation as we have absolutely no wish to lose a player of Rory’s potential and we will consider our response carefully before any further communication.”
Don’t cross Sussex or you’ll feel their wrath.
Dapper Dan writes:
My day began as most of my days have begun recently:
- Girlfriend’s alarm goes off at 6.15am, she gets up, goes in shower, I go back to sleep.
- Girlfriend leaves for work approximately 7.15am, wakes me up to say goodbye, I go back to sleep.
- Sunlight in bedroom wakes me up approximately 10.30am. Turn on TV and check which Top Gear is being shown on Dave ja Vu. Realise I’ve seen this one at least 50 times so decide to watch This Morning instead. Still coming to grips with the idea of seeing a reasonably attractive, young lady presenting it with Phil instead of the motherly natured Fern. Think I prefer Fern at this time in the morning.
Receive text from Price telling me it was a good thing I laminated the Bat for the Draw cards I’d made for him for his birthday as they’d just been through the wash. I sent him a reply reminding him of the value of checking your pockets before doing a wash.
Checked the post and opened a letter telling me that my unemployed status was to be no more in a few weeks. Therefore decided I should use what time I had left wisely.
After going for a very pleasant ride on my bike, I caught the end of the Twenty20 Champions League opening ceremony. Made me wonder what the world has come to. I missed the very first ball because I was making a cup of tea, but then sat down with said tea and the last piece of apple cake I had made a few days previously to watch the team in the stupid gold helmets bat. I also pondered whether we should really spend all that money on the curtains in John Lewis that we’d seen.
As with most limited overs forms of the game, I quickly got distracted and went to do the dishes. Girlfriend returned home and slyly changed the TV to watch Neighbours and then Home and Away (I was still listening, but didn’t notice her act). Was made aware of her sneakiness when the Home and Away theme tune blared out. I politely asked her if my previous listening could be resumed.
Sat down and watched with an unexplainable amount of enjoyment the South African team win. Then decided I was hungry so went to make burgers for dinner. They turned out to be delicious which wasn’t a big surprise as I make excellent burgers.
After this I baked another apple cake:
Send your match reports to email@example.com – but on no account mention the cricket.
We were supposed to review this ages ago. Note to publishers: don’t push cricket stuff during the Ashes. We know it’s the cricket Christmas, but everyone’s a bit busy.
Ask Bearders is subtitled Answers to the World’s Most Challenging Cricket Questions. It’s a compilation of Bill Frindall’s columns for the BBC where he answered mostly statistical questions posed by readers.
We expected not to like it, because questions like ‘who were the first 10 bowlers to bowl a thousand maidens in Tests?’ leave us cold. While there is a lot of that, there are also a fair few decent questions and Frindall’s answers often lighten up some of the drearier ones.
To a question about an innings played by Test Match Special’s Jonathan Agnew, Frindall’s response starts: ‘No-one in their right mind should remember anything about the batsmanship of Jon Agnew.’
The book also taught us that David Lloyd’s nickname is ‘because his profile, involving a prominent probscis, is not unlike that of animation characters called ‘Bumblies’ featured in one of the late Michael Bentine’s children’s television programmes’.
Because of its format, you can’t read much of this book in one go, but it’s good to dip in and out of. We recommend keeping it in a place where you might regularly find yourself sitting down for five or ten minutes at a time with nothing to keep you occupied. We won’t name that place.
Get Ask Bearders from Amazon here.