There are some things you just have to do and making a ‘pink balls’ joke is one of those things.
Pink balls are going to be tested in second XI matches next year with a view to using them in Twenty20 cricket the following summer and in one-day internationals after that.
The MCC’s head of cricket John Stephenson said: “Paint tends to flake off white balls. The challenge is to produce a ball which retains its colour.
“If the white ball is not working, let’s look at another colour – and pink was a pretty good compromise.”
If white paint flakes off a cricket ball, it’s not the colour that’s at fault, but the paint, surely. Or is pink a fundamentally more resilient colour?3 Appeals
The Count Of Montetwisto writes:
“One merry summer’s day I was out walking m’ whippets, as one does, and happened across a field of golden crop. I drew a hearty toke upon my pipe and took in the halcyon vista and thought to document it for you all.”
What relevance is this, you ask? Well if we enlarge the pie, we can clearly see the face of Our Lord:
The Count continues: “All shall cower before his image, unless it’s a match day when all shall cower yet cheer – at the good bits.”2 Appeals
Strauss has at least got the basics right, but he has neglected to correctly align himself with the recipient of the five.
Nixon, for his part, has fived himself in a last ditch attempt to salvage the five. His anguished expression betrays his true emotions however.11 Appeals
The BBC called it ‘an easy win’ for Australia, but since when has beating Sri Lanka by an innings been easy?
It’s not easy getting Michael Vandort out, certainly. Michael Vandort – or Michael Graydon Vandort as we might start calling him from now on (because that’s his name) – isn’t a particularly well-known Test cricketer, but when we saw him against England a couple of years ago, we were impressed. He’s a good old-fashioned blunter of the new ball with no interest in getting out and not a great deal of interest in scoring runs either. More of that please. We like to see bowlers earn their wickets.
Australia won by a mile though. All the new boys did well. New boy Phil Jaques scored a ton; new boy Mitchell Johnson took four wickets for not very much; and new boy Stuart MacGill took his 200th Test wicket.
However, the highlight of the match was undoubtedly Marvan Atapattu calling the Sri Lankan selectors “muppets headed by a joker”. What’s Marvan’s first language, because this seems a very colloquial turn of phrase to us?3 Appeals
Most reports of the third one-day international between India and Pakistan seem to have Yuvraj Singh down as the match-winner. In any report there has to be one guy who won the match, but that’s never the full story.
All eight Indian batsmen who came to the crease got into double figures and six Indian bowlers took a wicket, plus there were two run-outs. Having said that, Yuvraj top-scored for India with 77, took one of those wickets and was also responsible for one of those run-outs, so we suppose he had the largest impact.
Why are we trying to talk him down, anyway – Yuvraj is our guy.4 Appeals
Yes, they stand on the beach, hurling a boomerang round a bemused kangaroo with Men At Work blaring out in the background, all the while continually telling you how rubbish everything is in England.
No, it’s the other thing, grinding cricket opponents into miserable submission.
242-3 overnight becomes 551-4 declared with all the long, insufferable predictability of a typical day at work. ‘Maybe if we could get Mike Hussey or Michael Clarke out we could have some success against the new batsman,’ you think. But you NEVER get them out, so you just end up thinking that all day.
Actually, Mike Hussey was eventually out, but all this means is that Andrew Symonds comes in and wallops a quick fifty with a big goofy grin on his face.
Then you have to bat and you’re so deflated after nigh-on two days with barely a wicket that you just can’t concentrate. So even ordinarily-profligate Brett Lee can wind up with figures of 2-4 off five overs.
It’s no fun playing against Australia. We’re not even sure it’s that much fun playing FOR Australia. You’re winning, but it’s almost drudgery.7 Appeals
You need two runs a ball. Who do you want at the crease?
Of course only one nation are lucky/unfortunate enough to have the unusual, though not inconsiderable, talents of Shahid Afridi at their disposal: Pakistan.
Midway through this match, we were thinking to ourself that this Pakistan side aren’t what they used to be. Their bowling lacks dynamism for the most part and there are still a number of batsmen whose greatest attribute is ‘promise’. Old Pakistan sides could win (or lose) from just about any position. This one seems almost predictable.
No, no, no. This is Pakistan. There’s a state of emergency back home, opposition party leaders are being arrested, Imran Khan had to jump over a wall to escape policemen and the Pakistani cricket team are carrying out the ninth-highest one-day international run-chase of all time.
Younis Khan got the bulk of the runs, 117 off 110 balls. It was only his third one-day international hundred in 157 matches, an astoundingly poor return for such a gifted strokemaker. With Inzamam-ul-Haq gone, Younis needs to sort out his act and maybe he started today.
Pakistan were always behind the rate though and runs needed to be scored quicker and quicker. Misbah Cricket (we’re never going to use that again) picked up the rate with 49 off 44 balls and then Shahid Afridi came out and he HAD to score quickly.
Considering that the whole point of Shahid Afridi (not just as a cricketer – as a man) is to score runs ludicrously quickly, he’s been in the position where it’s actually called-for astoundingly rarely. Now he was in that position and he did the job. Three consecutive fours off Zaheer Khan got the rate down and then a six in the penultimate over all but settled it.4 Appeals
No-one in the history of cricket – NO-ONE – has scored more international hundreds than Sachin Tendulkar. 78 times he’s got into three figures. 78! That’s loads! So why in the name of all that is good and pure is he suddenly getting out in the nineties all time?
In his last 18 one-day international innings, Sachin has been out in the nineties no fewer than five times. Three of those occasions he has been stranded on 99. Now there are precisely 99 scores that are worse than 99 (think before you comment), but the following run’s quite an important one.
Clearly he’s past it.
(We never get rage-fuelled, badly-spelt comments any more.)20 Appeals
There was one other Australian retirement last year, Justin Langer’s. There was no real worry about replacing him, however. That’s not to dismiss Langer, who was as tough as biltong at the top of the order, it’s just that great Australian batsmen seemingly DO grow on trees.
So Australia called Phil Jaques down from a nearby eucalyptus for the first Test against Sri Lanka and he’s promptly scored a hundred. He was dropped twice, but Jaques isn’t the kind of batsmen to let something like that bother him.
Last January, Phil Jaques made 94 on his one-day international debut, the highest debut score by an Australian. They dropped him for the next match.
At the very start of England’s Ashes tour, he battered 112 for the Prime Minister’s XI in a one-day game and knowing he still wasn’t close to the Australia side, he hit another hundred against England two days later, this time in a three-day match while representing New South Wales.
So overall we’re not hugely surprised by Phil Jaques taking to Test cricket like a depressive to gin.6 Appeals
This Australia v Sri Lanka series might only be two Tests long, but it’s one of the most intriguing series in ages. That’s largely because there haven’t been any series in ages, but it’s more because Australia have lost the handiest half of their bowling attack.
Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne were freakish rarities in their own rights, but to have both simultaneously was the most outrageous luxury for the Australian team, but now they’re gone and with this Test we’ll start to get an idea of how things might pan out.
It’s not like Australia are short of talent to call on. Unlucky Stuart MacGill‘s rather slyly taken 198 Test wickets at an average of 27, which is fantastic. We probably won’t precede his name with anything from now on, unless he’s REALLY unlucky and gets overlooked in favour of Brad Hogg. Then there’s the other Stuart, Clark, who’s currently got just about the lowest Test bowling average of all time, 17.80.
Who else? Shaun Tait’s a genuine fast bowler and Mitchell Johnson’s famously ‘a once in a generation bowler’ – although so’s everyone, aren’t they? It’s not like Bob Willis clones are born once every 20 years with exactly the same DNA.
Our feeling is that Australia will cope well enough to maintain their home invincibility, but that they’ll struggle in tougher matches abroad. Glenn and Shane’s replacements might be able to do exactly the same things as them, but will they be able to do them with such agonising predictability?
Mitchell Johnson might have a few outstanding matches, but when Yuvraj Singh or someone’s carting the bowling to all parts, will Ricky Ponting be able to bring him on almost knowing that the wicket will arrive? Glenn McGrath inevitably did that and if he didn’t Warne would.
Like we say, these new bowlers will mostly fare well – Australian cricket doesn’t tend to breed underachievers – but sometimes they’ll have an off day and sometimes the pressure will be on and they’ll crap themselves. They’re only human. We’re not so sure that McGrath and Warne were.
We’re overfacing you now. We’ll stop writing. Although if you’re really keen, here’s even more about the new Australia now that pair of bastards have gone. And the links from McGrath’s and Warne’s names are fairly sensible writing that we’re not ashamed of too. Don’t feel you have to, like.10 Appeals