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What is a good cricket pitch?

Don’t be alarmed, but we’re taking a stance on something. It’s to do with semantics though, so we’re not overstretching ourself.

In cricket, what people describe as a good pitch is invariably one that is good for batting. It is flat, offers even bounce and little spin. Batsmen score hundreds with ease and the cricket is boring.

It might not seem like a big thing, but calling such pitches ‘good’ is symptomatic of an attitude that cricket is all about scoring runs. Cricket isn’t about scoring runs. It is about taking wickets.

Why the misuses of ‘good’ matters

This attitude is a problem. People who don’t know about cricket see the game in terms of runs and completely miss the whole point of the sport. They think it’s boring because they don’t understand what they’re watching.

Describing pitches that are easy to score on as ‘good’ is only a tiny part of this, but we’re taking a stand. From now on, if we talk about a ‘good pitch’ on this website, it will be cracked, grassy, uneven or a sharp-turning monster. If a batsman makes 50 on it, he will be a bloody good player. These sorts of pitches show you the worth of a cricketer, because a run has more value.

Ideally, we’d like to see the widest variety of pitches, but for the minute, the flat ones rule. So, until that changes, ‘good’ is bad.

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Chris Schofield produces a little bit of magic

'Get Stowfield on'

All those who’ve had the privilege of watching the Lancastrian long-hop machine turn his arm over will be not in the least bit surprised to discover that this magic involves cards and not cricket balls.

There is a video of Chris Schofield doing a magic trick on Surrey’s website. It is perhaps unnecessarily long, so we’ll talk you through it.

  1. Chris struggles manfully in his attempts to shuffle some novelty, oversized playing cards
  2. Him and some other bloke put the cards on the table in a big, messy pile
  3. Chris separates them into a pile of black and a pile of red without looking at the faces of the cards

Chris comes across as being nicer than we imagined him. Judged solely on looks, he’s always struck us as being the kind of person you always see in the pub but who you never want to find yourself talking to.

We were right about his charisma though, we’ll say that much.

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What is it like inside Shahid Afridi’s head?

Shahid Afridi 'smelling' the ball

Very few cricketers combine stellar brilliance with all three major types of retardation.

Update: We’ve done some slightly lengthier writing on this subject for The Wisden Cricketer.

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England v Australia 5th Test match report – day four

Dandy Dan writes:

This match report has been written some months after the event so apologies if the details are a little hazy.

Whilst holidaying at my friend Ben’s parent’s house this August, in rural France, about two hours east of La Rochelle, we decided to have a Test of our own whilst listening to the final day of some inconsequential game back in Blighty via a TV sitting in a barn window.

Live streaming via Windows

I should probably point out that this was a free holiday for me, as I had taken the place of Ben’s now ex-girlfriend on the trip. A somewhat messy break-up was no doubt lightened by my presence.

The day’s play started well. I won the toss and decided to bat to make good use of the clear overhead conditions that made batting favourable and to try and pile on some big runs in my first innings before the alcohol we had begun to consume took hold and made me make a few rash shot choices.

Looks like a day five pitch already

A patio chair was used as the wicket, a tennis racket used as a bat substitute and the barn walls as the boundaries. Behind me in this photo you can see a bank that was decided to be the slip cordon.

Walking in, lads, walking in!

Large stones, a separate patio chair, patio table and selected trees were fielders. In my first innings I scored 122 all out, finding easy runs by pulling into the on-side and making good use of the short boundary. It took Ben a surprisingly long time to realise where I was getting most of my runs, but he did eventually move the patio chair to a short-leg position to cut off this option. However, by this time the damage had been done.

In reply, he made 98 all out, failing to come up with an answer to my yorkers, although he became quite proficient in hitting it back over my head into one of their neighbours’ vegetable patch (see photo below, although that’s him about to bowl).

The drinks break is looming large

As I had predicted, I slumped to an inebriated 75 all out in the second innings, finding the edge of the racket too many times to the soil slip cordon.

Ben was all out for a figure less than was needed to beat me. So I won. Not long after this another slightly less important game was won, so more very cheap French booze was drunk in celebration.

Send your match reports to On no account mention the cricket itself, unless it’s this kind of a match, in which case we want every detail.

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What to think about Mickey Arthur not being South Africa coach

John Michael 'Mickey' Arthur - that's just greedy

Did he really resign? Was he pushed? Was it Graeme Smith? Was it political pressure? Was it to do with quotas? Was he marginalised by the use of Duncan Fletcher?

So many questions and you’ve come here for the answers. We will tell you what to think, so you don’t have to come to any conclusions yourself.

There is one thing to know. While almost anyone who has had anything to do with Mickey Arthur will say that he is a nice bloke, the fact remains that he has two first names and no surname. People with two first names and no surname upset the natural balance and should be ostracised.

Conversely, while having two surnames and no first name is even more ridiculous, there is currently a worldwide shortfall of surnames, so this is acceptable. And no, we haven’t worked out our stance on Mitchell Johnson yet. Could go either way.

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Worcestershire sign Avatar director, James Cameron

James Cameron looks forward to pre-season trainingAn exodus of playing staff has led Worcestershire to make some unusual signings. Their latest recruit is 55-year-old Canadian, James Cameron, who recently directed the hugely successful film, Avatar.

“I have always dreamed of being a professional cricketer and I am thrilled to take up this opportunity with Worcestershire.”

Cameron only bothers making a film about once every five years or so, so he should have plenty of time to work on his gentle outswingers.

Suggestions that the film director’s multi-million dollar wealth will create ructions in the changing rooms have been rubbished by the playing staff, including by batsman, Ben Smith:

“He may have amassed a sizable personal fortune through creating the two most successful films of all time, Titanic and Avatar, but we’ve dealt with these problems before.

“Last year, Alan Richardson got his loft converted and those skylights aren’t cheap, you know. But there was no jealousy from the other players. We just got on with it.”

Richardson himself concurs:

“He’s just an ordinary bloke. For every Titanic and Avatar, there’s been something relatively unsuccessful, such as Aliens, Terminator or, er, Terminator 2…”

It seems that so long as James Cameron gets his share of runs and chips in with a few tight overs, he will be welcome at New Road.

Incidentally, if anyone tells you that it is in fact a different James Cameron who Worcestershire have signed – one born in Zimbabwe, say – if anyone tells you that, just deck them.

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Latest news from the Bangladesh-aren’t-shit camp

Over the years, we’ve firmly positioned ourself in the Bangladesh-aren’t-shit camp. This is partly because there are fewer people in this camp and that always appeals to us. Mostly it’s because the Bangladesh-aren’t-quite-as-shit-as-you-say-they-are camp doesn’t exist though. You’ve got to pick a side and we’ve chosen ours.

Our normal approach to covering Bangladesh is to big them up when they’re good and to write about something else when they’re bad. Sometimes, it’s difficult to find something else to write about and today we’ve been landed in it. Bangladesh have been poor since the second day of the series against India, they’re showing no signs of improving and pretty soon we’re going to have to acknnowledge that fact.

Will someone please send us a picture of a cricket bat in an unusual place or something. If nothing comes in, we’re going to be left with two choices: writing about Bangladesh being shit in contradiction of our official editorial stance on the issue, or writing about David Sales feeling a bit better and maybe playing cricket again this season.

We’re pretty sure the second one doesn’t count as news, even on a website that’s previously reported on Jim Foat about 30 years after he retired.

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Mohammad Yousuf given the slow boot

Mohammad Yousuf does a bit of a half-arsed job for the last couple of matches because, you know, why not?Despite the fact that there are still a few matches to go on the tour of Australia, Pakistan Cricket Board chairman, Ijaz Butt, has already confirmed that Mohammad Yousuf will not be captain when it finishes.

Having to do a job when you already know you’re being made redundant is bloody awful. It feels like digging your own grave. Unlike when it happened to us though, Yousuf probably won’t find that his job is being outsourced. You can’t really outsource the Pakistan captaincy.

He won’t suffer another insult which we endured either: having to shave because you’ve got to go to job interviews.

Hopefully the PCB will be generous in turning a blind eye if he steals a load of carboard boxes and batteries as well. You’ve got to get something out of the last few weeks when you’re basically just going through the motions.

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Cricinfo appearance with Andy Zaltzman and an article

Some of you may have heard us being interviewed on Andy Zaltzman’s World Cricket Podcast over at Cricinfo. We were going to direct you all towards Andy’s excellent fortnightly podcast a few weeks ago, but we knew that we were due to appear and it seemed reasonable to assume that we would be shit.

Andy kindly edited out all the shit bits though, including our favourite moment where he asked the seemingly quite enticing question: “Some people are saying that Strauss, Trott, Pietersen and Prior were functioning as South African double agents during this series. What do you make of that?” To which we left an eight minute pause before saying “no” – which doesn’t even make sense.

Also on Cricinfo recently was our article about the importance of being unwatchable, which we thought was okay. Certainly better than next week’s effort which probably isn’t even going to get a link if we’re honest.

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Dheeraj Jadhav does the decent thing

And turns rubbish as soon as we draw attention to him. Dheeraj Jadhav, playing in the quarter-final of the Duleep Trophy, was dismissed for 28 by Sanjay Bangar today.

You may remember Sanjay Bangar from decades such as ‘the Eighties’.

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