This is how you write a match report: a week early.
England put on a staggering/staggeringly inept performance against New Zealand yesterday, after a topsy-turvy/one-sided contest in which English cricket/New Zealand cricket/cricket/the weather was the only winner.
James Anderson opened the bowling and delivered a virtuoso performance/a never-ending supply of juicy half-volleys.
England’s top order once again failed woefully/scored far too slowly.
Brendon McCullum hit five sixes before holing out/two sixes before holing out/a six before holing out.
Dimitri Mascarenhas hit four sixes/Jacob Oram with a brutish lifter/the dressing room wall in frustration/Ian Bell in frustration.
Paul Collingwood said after the match: “We’re a developing side and I’m confident we’re still moving forward. Some players are still settling into their roles and when that happens I’m sure we’ll be a difficult team to beat.”
Weird that there’s no options for that last one.2 Appeals
Is this the same West Indies side we watched letting balls through their legs at Old Trafford last year? With the honourable exception of Sir Shiv of Guyana they were a shower and were soundly beaten in the series by a rather flattered England side.
Australia seem to have had a few hiccups against them though. They were bowled out for 167 during the first Test, drew the second and are now 226-7 in the third. This isn’t very intimidating.
Australia will land in England this time next year. Come on everybody, there are only 365 days in which to pretend that things might turn out all right after all before reality ruins everything. Let’s make the most of this short halcyon period.6 Appeals
Unlike players in some other sports, cricketers quite often talk sense. They’re even capable of being interesting. That said, there have been some pretty ordinary thoughts expressed about this whole Stanford Twenty20 thing and about the IPL as well.
Monty Panesar’s a bright guy, but his comments are fairly typical: “Test cricket has always been the ultimate dream for every cricketer – that’s still going to be the number one.”
This is the kind of mindless blanditude most players have come out with when asked about the impact of Twenty20 on Test cricket. Is that really the case Monty? Why? Why should that situation persist just because it always has done?
Paul Collingwood yesterday offered a more considered opinion: “Twenty20′s blowing everything out of the water, but we must decide what we want in the future. The big picture is if Test cricket is going downhill because of it. We’ve got to keep Tests in the forefront.”
This is a man who’s in danger of being dropped from the Test team, but who as one-day captain is virtually guaranteed his Twenty20 place. It would be quite easy for him to spout the ‘great for cricket’ line, but no – this is a man who loves cricket and is worried about its future.
He goes on to say: “When I was a kid, all I thought about was playing in the World Cup or winning the Ashes. We don’t want kids growing up just dreaming about winning Stanford matches to earn some money or playing in the Indian Premier League. That dream is a massive thing for kids.”
He then finishes off by acknowledging that players might be economical with the truth about their level of fitness when there’s such money at stake.
We like Paul Collingwood. Paul Collingwood lives in the real world.12 Appeals
We’re going to the Twenty20 match on Friday, then we’re away for a week. As usual we’ve written stuff in advance, so you probably won’t notice or care that we’re gone.
(1) When we say we’re not going to be here – we’re not going to be here. If something monumental happens, it won’t be covered. There are no prizes for saying: ‘Hey, how come you haven’t written about Rob Key’s triple hundred/Mark Ramprakash’s hundredth hundred/Andrew Symonds’ sex change’.
(2) There’ll be no-one moderating comments. If you comment for the first time, it’ll be a week before it shows up.
However, if you’ve commented before, your comment appears straight away. With that in mind, maybe you should comment now. You know, just in case. We’ll moderate the comments this evening, give you the green light and then you can all enjoy yourselves while we’re away.
Presumably you’ve got nothing to say at this minute, so we’ve a commenting task for you. Name the county you support, only give them a better nickname than the crappy official one.
As you can see, we support Lancashire Lemurs or Lancashire Legomen. We like ‘Lancashire Lancastrians’ in a perverse sort of way too, but we suspect you’re ever-so-slightly less in thrall to really blunt stupidity, so we’ll play that one down.
See. See how we played it down.28 Appeals
Thanks to Sir Allen Stanford, England will play a West Indies XI for a £10 million prize every year for the next five years. Each player on the winning team will get £500,000. Wish we had the job of picking the England side.
“You’ll get half a million quid. You’ll get half a million quid. You? You won’t get half a million quid. Why? Well it was a close-run thing, but I think Player A’s in slightly better form. Okay? Any problems?”
Player A will get a duck.
Of course it won’t really be a problem for the team, because they’re all mature adults. You know how mature everyone is when it comes to money. No-one ever gets bent out of shape over money. Particularly not HUGE amounts of money.
No problem at all.12 Appeals
668 Neighbour Of The Beast sent us what can only be described as a monumental match report. You people are picking on us because we admitted that we felt bad when we had to edit stuff out.
Here’s the shortened version:
As part of this year’s getting out and seeing new grounds thing, I thought I would go and watch Durham at their most southerly fixture. Its always difficult for them this far south.
Despite the recent run of bad weather, ice cream stocks are still low. I couldn’t get either a blue bubblegum or a cherry ice lolly and had to settle for an apple one. I rode out my resentment by sitting in a deck chair. I found the blue stripy assembly and also the ice lolly rather soothing. I heartily recommend both.
Day two had all the makings of a disastrous day – time obsessed man was on my bus. I wasn’t prepared for him being around on a weekend 214 and had sat perilously close and within his firing line. Luckily for me some new-in-town Scousers had drawn the shorter straw by sitting even closer, cheerfully taking the full brunt of his continual circular time-based questions.
They have a WAGs enclosure at Hove (to exhibit them properly, or perhaps to keep them away from the knitwear fanatics?). It’s a wooden construction; a cross between a rabbit hutch and a Swiss-style chalet, with a garden furniture area. It reminded me of the time I spent a summer living in a similar wooden prefab – a ‘cricket pavilion’ as it was apparently described in the sales brochure.
Yesterday, Big Steve walked past, not looking grumpy at all and I told him I thought he was ‘just fantastic’. He said: ‘Thank you’. He must have held onto that thought because today he was just that – fantastic. I then went and visited the beach and the pier. I had several pisco sours for tea.10 Appeals
Two things struck us about India’s defeat of Pakistan today. Actually, no things struck us. Two things gently bobbed towards us after we’d stared at the scorecard blankly for what seemed like forever.
Firstly, India fielded quite a lot of youngsters. Yusuf Pathan’s 25 and most of his team mates probably envy his deep voice and lack of self-consciousness when wearing a cardigan. Kids admire people at ease in a cardigan, right?
Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Praveen Kumar are all 21, while Ishant Sharma and Piyush Chawla are both 19.
And then the second thing strikes you: They’re all REALLY good. It’s a more-than-decent international side that’s only unusual for the fact that none of the players have ever had a conversation about ‘whether it would be better to go with Nomadic Glow or Magnolia in the hall’.11 Appeals
We’d be very irritated if we were a New Zealand cricket supporter. We’re very irritated anyway. Admittedly, we get irritated by all of humanity on an hourly basis, but this is different. This is with reason.
Shane Bond would add fire to any attack and the sooner this ICL banning bollocks dies down, the better. The ICL haven’t banned bollocks, you understand. It’s not the female and eunuchs version of the IPL. We mean that it’s bollocks that Shane Bond isn’t being selected for his country because he played in the ICL.
Bond asked permission of the New Zealand board. They said yes, it was fine. India disagreed, so the New Zealand board did an about face and told Bond he should cancel the ICL contract he’d legitimately signed. Bond, quite reasonably didn’t. Voila. No-one’s a winner.
New Zealand’s remaining bowlers are dependable and we reckon the very same players would test opposing batting line-ups a great deal more given more runs to work with. There’s swing, bounce, turn and parsimony. They only lack pace.
Gah. It’s too ugly to contemplate. Brendon McCullum’s great in his own way, but is better kept down the order. Oram’s peculiarly schizophrenic, veering from thumping, front-foot solidity to quivering, back-foot terror. Daniel Vettori’s the best number eight batsman you could ever hope for.
Of the specialists, Jamie How’s worth persevering with at the top of the order and Ross Taylor’s going to be a terrifying prospect one day, when someone’s lent him some sense. Ross Taylor is Ross Taylor’s bunny. No-one else gets him out quite so much. You want to grab him by the shoulders and ask him just what the hell he thinks he’s doing half the time.
And there’s the problem. Who’s going to do that? Those two batsmen should be surrounded by some older, more experienced players. They should be learning from the non-striker’s end.
Stephen Fleming, Scott Styris and Craig McMillan are pretty much in their prime and are the last New Zealand batsmen with notable Test experience. New Zealand are playing less and less Test cricket. Three Test series are becoming two Test series. Those players need to be around – not only for the runs they’d bring.9 Appeals
On the face of it England’s bowling’s strong, but New Zealand’s batting’s been occasionally dire and the last six Test matches have been in home conditions or in New Zealand – which is hardly the land of dust bowls or steepling bounce.
It’s increasingly evident that England can rely on Ryan Sidebottom. Monty Panesar should thrive in most places. The other pair we’re not sure about.
James Anderson will win matches when the ball swings, but when it doesn’t or when that first over goes wrong, he can still be a liability. We reckon he can bowl when the ball doesn’t swing, in which case being assured of his place should calm his nerves. If it isn’t that, then maybe he should spend some time with Matthew Hoggard learning some cutters and slower balls or something.
Stuart Broad’s equally irritating. Clearly a good bowler. Clearly a fixture in the England side for years to come, but not actually taking rucks of wickets. It’s been fine thus far. England have won both series in which he’s played, but he can’t contribute so little with the ball against better batting line-ups.
Andrew Flintoff will want to play when he’s fit. Simon Jones isn’t doing much wrong and nor’s Matthew Hoggard. These are perhaps more reliable bowlers in the short-term and maybe offer more in less familiar conditions, but Broad and Anderson will improve by playing.
Hopefully the two youngsters will sweep South Africa aside with aplomb and we can stop worrying. Who’s got aplomb going spare? Anyone? Can you post it to Peter Moores if you track some down. What’s in that old ice cream tub in the garage? Isn’t that a tub of aplomb? No?6 Appeals
Winning a Test by an innings is not to be sniffed at. What exactly would you expect to smell? England didn’t exactly dominate the series like they dominated this last match though.
Overall, the team looks okay, but there are quite a few flaws, the most glaring of which is the middle order batting of Bell and Collingwood.
Ian Bell looked like England’s best batsman in Sri Lanka but didn’t really influence proceedings. In New Zealand he hit a hundred when it was least needed. In this series he’s been virtually absent.
Bell will stay, but Paul Collingwood is currently Mark Knopfler (he’s in Dire Straits). Like Bell he’s rather prone to the ineffectual fifty. He’s not been dreadful until this series and if he does get dropped it’ll be for a lack of hundreds.
We can’t escape the feeling that Tim Ambrose isn’t ‘the answer’ either.
England v New Zealand, third Test at Trent Bridge, day four
England 364 (Kevin Pietersen 115, Tim Ambrose 67, Stuart Broad 64, Iain O’Brien 4-74, Kyle Mills 3-76)
New Zealand 123 (James Anderson 7-43)
New Zealand 232 (Brendon McCullum 71, Jacob Oram 50, Ryan Sidebottom 6-67)
England win and take the series 2-0