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Boxing Day Test through the night thread

Ah, the magic of WordPress scheduling – giving anyone interested a Boxing Day Test post on which to comment without the author having to interrupt his Christmas drinking.

We wrote this in advance because Coachhouse’s Posthorn will have got the better of us by now. We’re staying away from the internet until at least tomorrow.

For everyone else, the Christmas arguments are over; the apologising on behalf of various courier companies is complete; the drinking continues and the Boxing Day Test begins. Comment away if you’re there.


Happy Boxing Day Test Eve

The thought that anyone might visit this website on Christmas Day is, frankly, horrifying.

However, Christmas Eve is just the sort of don’t-know-what-to-do-with-yourself kind of day it was made for, so we’ll wish you a happy Festivus now.


Wishing Ricky Ponting’s finger all the best

Bit undignified having a 'pinky' isn't it, Ricky?This is a slightly weird feeling, but we really want Ricky Ponting to play at the MCG.

Much as we want England to win easily, beating a side captained by Michael Clarke just wouldn’t be right. Ricky Ponting is the most significant player on either side and it brings the occasion down a notch if he’s not there.

To be clear, this is nothing at all to do with the fact that we want Australia to have a number three batsman who was having trouble scoring runs even when his fingers were intact, because if he plays, we reckon Ricky’ll get runs.

When there’s a crowd the size of the one expected at the MCG, everything changes. Young pretenders go all wobbly and your old gnarl dogs take advantage. Compared to everyone else, Ricky Ponting will be largely unarsed by tens of thousands of people staring at him on Boxing Day.


England v Pakistan 2010 Oval Test, day two match report

Bradders writes:

One year on from my wedding, I was again confronted with the prospect of missing more cricket. This year, however, we had decided to have our anniversary in London rather than Ireland, therefore enabling us to go to the Oval for day two of the third Test.

Technically, it was the imbibing of several glasses of wine and Bulmers on the evening of the 18th that allowed me to persuade Pauline that a day at the cricket was not to be missed – but nevertheless, on the morning of the 19th, we set off confidently and willingly to the Oval.

Arriving slightly hungover, we purchased our tickets and then, in swift succession, two litres of water and two large bacon sandwiches. Settling down in our seats we were overjoyed to discover that we were seated in between two very large men who would keep us warm and provide all the necessary padding that the tiny and hard Oval seats are normally lacking.

Pakistan were batting, but due to the realisation that these two large men were very sweaty and the sun was hot, coupled with the arrival of a stag party of about 20 lads who took up residence in front of us, we didn’t watch much of the match.

Indeed as the lunch interval came around, Pauline turned to me and said “when is something going to happen?” Having explained that this was actually the format for the rest of the day, she subsided into silence only to be reawakened by the delivery of a pint of Pimm’s moments later.

As the day progressed, the stag party got louder discoursing on various topics including:

  • The various ladies that the groom had slept with (few and far between apparently).
  • The unfortunate nature of the best man’s moustache (a very ‘Hitler’ style affair)
  • The merits of Disney versus MGM cartoons (Tom and Jerry was adjudged the best)
  • Whether the groom had spent sufficient money on the wedding ring. (At this point I was roped in to deliver a verdict, although hastily claimed ignorance of the customs of the UK as I had done all my marrying and buying of rings out of the country (Ireland and Dubai).

Over the course of the afternoon, we gradually lost our cushions on either side of us and then eventually our sobriety as the Pimm’s and lager took hold.

By the end of the day, Pauline proclaimed that it had been ‘good fun’ although there were not enough sixes hit to make the cricket itself interesting. Our next game is likely to be a Twenty20 between Pakistan and South Africa in Dubai. Whilst we will be gaining the sixes, we will also be losing the alcohol.


Do the English not enjoy winning?

This sort of thing is just fine by us

Sometimes we feel utterly disconnected from this great nation. The attitude towards beating Australia at cricket being a case in point.

A week or so ago, it seemed like a number of England fans were feeling sorry for Australia. This is mental. Never feel sorry for Australia. Now there are people saying they’d rather have a close series than a resounding England win.

Sorry?

Given a choice between an easy win for England and an exciting, narrow win for England, we’d go for the latter because close matches get the heart racing. But that’s not the choice. There are no guarantees. If the choice is between an easy win for England and the possibility that they might lose, we’d wish for the former every time.

Just because England have won two of the last three Ashes series, it doesn’t mean victories are suddenly so commonplace you can start being picky about what form they take. If you’ve been starving to death, you don’t throw away some jerk chicken because you think it could do with more allspice.

We don’t really care what the series ‘needs’. Frankly, the Ashes as a whole could do with an England series win in Australia for once.


England v Australia 2009 Oval Test match report

Bradders writes:

My wife Pauline and I were married on the 20th August 2009 in Adare, southern Ireland. Due to it being the first day of the final Test of the Ashes series, it was obviously a momentous day.

Having booked the wedding a year before (and prior to the Ashes schedule being announced) there was a moment of panic when I realised that I might miss something crucial in the cricket. However, with the careful use of modern day technology and a multitude of keen cricket fans in the wedding party, I was kept fully informed of the days happenings.

Here is a picture of the ushers checking the score:

The wedding score-check - we all know it

Exiting the church, we walked through an arch of cricket bats and hurleys (an Irish sport ridiculous in its violence and speed that Pauline plays).

This is a picture of the arch.

Most of us haven't seen this at a wedding though


Australia could get better or they could get worse

Ricky Ponting sets an 'innovative' field

Don’t come to this website if you don’t prefer inconclusive grey to black or white certainty.

Australia’s batting could certainly get better. At the minute, England will feel like dismissing Mike Hussey for under 50 would win them the series, so there’s room for improvement there from Australia’s perspective. Their bowling could get worse though.

Is anyone banking on Mitchell Johnson swinging the ball in the next match? That was the good bowling at the WACA, because England’s second innings was more like well-exploited bad batting, which can be addressed more easily by the tourists.

More interestingly, what if the Melbourne pitch demands a spinner? Australia’s attack would presumably then feature Michael Beer. Beer has played seven matches in his life and would find himself playing with the weight of the Ashes on his shoulders.

The literal weight of the Ashes would trouble no-one of course, but 60,000 or more fans packed inside the MCG would be a pretty obvious symbol of the metaphorical weight. In that position, Beer might well shit his pants – the literal meaning a distinct possibility.


Different ways to lose a Test match

Never write off the Aussies. They’re never down for long.

When England lose this Test match, the score will be 1-1, but you can lose a match in different ways. You can affect opposition players to the extent that they’ll have a different outlook in the next Test and a different outlook will make people play differently.

Take England’s bowling. With only four bowlers and two getting carted, the wheels could have come off, rolled down the hill and exploded, the ash later being worked back into the earth by rain and worms. However, Chris Tremlett stood unavoidably tall and Australia’s batting still feels like it’s pretty much just Mike Hussey as a consequence. England think that. Australia think that too.

Now England’s batting? Well, most of the batsmen opted to wave slightly fatiguely in their second innings, which is never a good tactic. Previously remorseless, after two collapses in two innings, the batting’s now taken on a fairweather hue.

Is 1-1 always the same?

If the opposition’s win seemed to come with joyful ease while your team had to slog and slave to inch over the line, how will you feel if you fall behind in the next match? You’ll feel like you can only compete when you’re at your best and you’ll believe that a slight drop in standards will see you overwhelmed.

Conversely, if you closed in on your victory enduring only the friction of a luge track, you won’t get dispirited by big batting partnerships or the loss of a couple of wickets. You know you don’t need to be flawless, so success seems so much more attainable. This keeps you buoyant and buoyancy keeps you determined. Without determination, you’re basically relying on blind luck.

The way you lose a Test match matters a lot.


Why does Shane Watson always get out in the 90s?

Shane Watson - just look at his tear-stained albino face

Why DOESN’T Shane Watson always get out in the 90s?

Would it be unfair to suggest that for some players personal milestones bring more pressure because the player in question is – how shall we put this – massively self-involved with an overinflated sense of their own importance?

It is funny that Watson always gets out in the 90s, but this one wasn’t anywhere near as funny as the run-out against Pakistan last year.


Never feel sorry for Australia

There are some English people who have had sympathy for Australia during the first half of this Ashes series. We won’t hesitate to call these people idiots.

Imagine being hunted by a carcharodontosaurus and then when you’ve somehow managed to trap it after spending 20 years digging an absolutely enormous hole, you go and stroke it. Why would you do that?

No. This is not the way to act. The correct approach is to mercilessly mock its selection policy by making reference to doors and hats. The analogy falls down a bit there, but you get the idea.


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