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Brett Lee’s Test career

Brett Lee cautiously makes an enquiry

Like Andrew Flintoff, Brett Lee’s had to jack in proper cricket because his body’s had it. Fast bowling’s a mug’s game, but anyone who’s seen our Too Cool mug or our robot mug knows that we love mugs.

In many ways, Brett Lee was the perfect Australian fast bowler. He was a proper, 96mph, charge-to-the-crease, rip-your-shoulder-out-of-its-socket fast bowler who was stunning to watch, yet when he played England he barely took any wickets. Perfect.

Quick bit of stats – skip this if you want

He took more Test wickets against England than against anyone else bar the Windies, but he took them at an average of 40, which is toss. In England, he averaged 45 and went at over four an over. England fans could watch his electric bowling and yet be comforted by the fact that their side were cracking on at pace.

How fast was Brett Lee?

Yeah, past tense. He might still be available for one-day internationals and Twenty20s, but when you stop playing Tests you’ve already got one foot in a slipper and you’re reaching for the RHS Encyclopedia of Gardening.

Brett Lee was proper fast. He generally bowled around 94mph/150kph and the key part is that he maintained this. He wasn’t a bowler who put in the odd surprisingly quick ball. He wasn’t a bowler who got over 90mph on a good day. He pounded in and on a good day he was heading up towards 100mph. He crossed that line where batsmen go from worrying whether they can react quickly enough to outright shitting themselves.

10/10 for effort

We can’t imagine how much it must have hurt. Not just when he was bowling, but when he was 32 and trying to come back and bowl as quickly as he ever did. Fast bowlers are cussed bastards.

That cussedness showed in his batting as well. It’s easy to overlook, but he played as big a part as anyone in the creation of the greatest passage of cricket that we can remember – the climax to the 2005 Edgbaston Ashes Test. In getting tenderised like cheap meat by Andrew Flintoff, he showed that he could get as good as he gave, but nothing would sway him from his impossible task. It was as impressive an innings as we’ve ever seen; the mental fortitude better highlighted by his limitations as a batsman.

Whatever the result of that match – no matter how England supporters fetishise that climactic moment – that morning showed why Test match cricket is the greatest sport on earth and we have to thank Brett Lee for that.

Probably not one of Brettles' favourite moments

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Craig Kieswetter – yes or no?

Craig Kieswetter gets yet another article about him

We might as well do our usual thing of formalising our fence-sitting position.

Our initial feelings when Somerset wicketkeeper, Craig Kieswetter, started eating up column inches was: ‘No, not another one. Too many wicketkeepers!’

Everyone’s got a favourite wicketkeeper to push and we hate it. No-one can make an informed decision when eight different players are being championed by various people. It’s the same with seam bowlers. Just how many 85mph seam bowlers who can supposedly bowl reverse swing does one nation need?

Anyway, Matt Prior’s batting and keeping well in Test cricket. Let’s leave him be. In one-day internationals, we kind of see the benefit of Kieswetter, because Prior’s never got to grips with that form of the game.

There you go. There’s our official stance in all its muddy, inconclusive glory. Really, we should have a cull of England-qualified wicketkeepers and save everyone from a lot of boring arguments.

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Last ball thriller between India and South Africa

Didn’t watch it.

Don’t much feel like reading about it.

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A toucan taking guard in a Test match

If you want to hear our latest failed attempt to get our words out without laughing, listen to Andy Zaltzman’s World Cricket Podcast. It’s a war we’ll always wage, but will seemingly never win.

This week’s highlight that was left on the cutting room floor was Andy going to answer the door halfway through. Don’t know why he cut that.

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Shakib Al Hasan’s first Test hundred

Shakib Al Hasan is ace at cricket

Four years after we tipped him for greatness, Shakib Al Hasan hit his first Test hundred. New Zealand were on the receiving end and while they won the match, their bowlers took some stick.

After dawdling along on nought for an age, Shakib Al Hasan suddenly engaged the long handle and walloped 40 runs in 13 balls. His hundred eventually took 127 balls, which is pretty remarkable considering the fact that he was on eight after 40 balls.

Playing conditions in New Zealand are as unfamiliar to the Bangladeshis as conditions can get, yet they’re scoring hundreds and improving with every match.

Bangladesh can score runs and take wickets and those two things are coinciding more and more frequently. In home conditions their performance will be a notch better and someone’s going to get it fairly soon.

We have watched our national side for long enough to know that if there’s an embarrassment out there for the taking, England aren’t the kind of side who are going to resist grasping at it. Even now, they’re probably fashioning some sort of net to guarantee they can collect it and add it to their already sizable collection.

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And the number one Test side is…

Two frigging Tests. Whose bright idea was it to have a two-Test series between India and South Africa?

Don’t tell us that originally there were no Tests scheduled. If you fancy a sandwich and there’s no bread in the house, you don’t go out and buy a single slice of granary. No-one in their right mind would sell it to you for a start. You know why? Because selling things in stupidly small quantities is demented.

Two slices is the bare minimum for a sandwich. Three matches is the absolute bare minimum for a Test series. If you want a top sandwich, get a good, crusty roll. If you want a top Test series, play five matches.

So now we have the situation where two fine Test sides will battle it out to see who’s best at one-day cricket. It’s like Ali and Frazier playing Ludo for the world heavyweight title or Bjorn Borg playing John McEnroe at shove ha’penny to win Wimbledon.

We’re pissed off.

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Harbhajan Singh defies his series bowling average

Harbhajan Singh doin' summatOn the first day of the second Test between India and South Africa, we were being fed series bowling averages. Harbhajan Singh’s was really bad. He was in dire form was the insinuation.

To be fair to Harbhajan, South Africa had only had one innings in the series up until that point, so his series bowling average was basically meaningless. He promptly proved as much by bowling a wicket maiden and then taking two wickets in his following over. In South Africa’s second innings, he took 5-59 off 48.3 overs on a pitch that wasn’t even spinning that much.

The campaign for statistically significant sample sizes to be used in cricket coverage starts here! Who’s with us?

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Pay attention everyone: breaking cricket bat sticker news

Bobby K’s been on. In a statement that raises more questions than it answers, he says:

“Just so you know, I opted for the blue stickers, because a mate of mine offered to cover the costs.”

King Cricket: The world’s foremost source of club-cricketer-bat-sticker-decision related news.

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Stan Johnson’s Ashes Tour

We don’t know Stan Johnson of Accrington, Lancashire, but any man whose will provides funds for 15 friends and family to travel the world, visiting various cricket grounds, on “Stan Johnson’s Ashes Tour” is all right by us.

Stan’s ashes will be scattered at 12 different grounds, from Sydney, Lahore and Colombo to Church and Oswaldtwistle Cricket Club, Lancashire.

Good man.

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Mahmudullah – Bangladesh number eight

Mahmudullah the mononymous master from MymensinghNumber eights have played on our mind in recent months. At Cricinfo, we pointed out that there are some serious batsmen at eight these days. At The Wisden Cricketer, we identified Bangladesh as being a prime culprit in this regard.

Bangladesh’s number eights have averaged more than the batsmen who’ve come in at two, four and six so far in their short history. Mahmudullah has been responsible for this of late. He’s only in his fifth Test, but he now averages a gnat’s pube under 50 and has played all his innings at eight or lower.

We’re particularly fond of Mahmudullah for the fact that he doesn’t seem to use his first name, Mohammad. You’ve got to like someone who thinks: “I’m Bangladesh’s number eight batsman. The time is ripe to join Prince, Madonna and the first six Mughal emperors in mononymous glory.”

A word of warning though, Mahmudullah: for every Akbar (one of our heroes), there’s a Sting.

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