We saw an article titled ‘Anderson wants to captain England’ and we immediately thought: ‘He’ll be lucky’.
We thought this for the exact same reasons that Anderson himself thought it:
“As a fast bowler and from the North, I suppose I’m very unlikely to get a look in.”
This is painfully true. There is a hierarchy of suitability for the position of England captain. If you can’t find someone who fits your first choice description, you move down to the next best. It runs like this:
- Public school educated southern batsman
- Southern batsman
- Public school educated northern batsman
- Northern batsman
- South African batsman
- Southern bowler
- Northern bowler
In reality, England never make it anywhere near the bottom of that list, so there might be a few other possibilities in there too. Anderson is probably less likely to be made England captain than Graeme Swann’s left batting pad, but he may just about rank above Matt Prior’s jockstrap.
Perennially sulky, team-mate-slapping off-spinner, Harbhajan Singh, played some demented shots in hitting 49 off 31 balls in a heroic but doomed bid to win the first one-day international against Australia. Praveen Kumar was a handy sidekick, hitting 40 not out off 32. Harbhajan enjoys batting against Australia.
If you’re due to bat at the lofty heights of number eight, you need to be half decent these days. In fact, you have to be half decent to bat at nine (like Kumar). In this same match, Australia had Mitchell Johnson at eight and Brett Lee at nine. Even England have a go at this with Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann occupying those batting slots of late.
However, the king of the lower order is surely Daniel Vettori, whose Test batting average at number eight is 42.64 with three hundreds.
We knew this.
Lee hit 48 off 31 balls, which went a long way towards helping New South Wales win the Champions League Twenty20. He took a couple of wickets too.
We’re not sure that ‘wanting him in Australia’s Test side’ is really acceptable, so we’re not going to tell you that’s how we feel. It will be a guilty secret which can nestle alongside ‘we fried and ate some chicken skin the other day’.
By all accounts the New Zealand players liked Andy Moles, who’s just resigned from his position as their coach. However, being liked isn’t really the whole job.
It was fairly obvious that Moles was going to have to go after Daniel Vettori was asked whether the New Zealand players were happy for him to continue as coach.
“I think we have to be.”
Considering Vettori’s a nice bloke who’s generally quite diplomatic, this is tantamount to a slap to the face. When you consider that Vettori said it while accepting an award during an awards dinner where he actually sat at the same table as Moles, it’s maybe more of a ro-sham-bo.
In the second Champions League Twenty20 semi final, Trinidad and Tobago’s Dwayne Bravo took 0-46 off three well-spanked overs against Cape Cobras. No matter. He promptly hit 58 off 34 balls to help T&T waltz home. The Dwayne Bravo off-side thock made a couple of appearances.
In many ways this was classic Dwayne Bravo. He approaches everything with such gusto that humiliations are shrugged off before they’ve had a chance to attach themselves to him.
Put Dwayne Bravo in a pair of clown trousers filled with custard and enter him in a 100m race and he’d win. He wouldn’t even notice.
If we let every wall of indifference we came up against stop us, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Admittedly we’re nowhere today, but we’ve got over more than our fair share of walls of indifference to get here.
We’re sensing a wall of indifference from King Cricket readers when confronted with our increasing obsession with the ECB Recreational XI and with that in mind, we’d like to talk about them some more.
How can you not love them? They’re a team of players who aren’t good enough to play in any of the sides they’ll be up against. Think of the crowds. And where’s their home ground? Is their home ground the home ground of whoever they happen to be playing against that week?
Our friend T suggested that it might have been an idea to have included a Legends XI instead. This would be an ever-changing side full of whatever old stars fancied a game that week. Despite our loyalty to the ECB Recreational XI, we have to concede that the odd person might actually want to go and watch a Legends XI.
The ECB Recreational XI are the 21st side involved in county cricket’s 40-over competition next year. They were needed because how else could you have three leagues of seven teams playing each other home and away with the winners of each league and the best second-placed side going through to semi-finals?
Well, we suppose that 20 teams would have been four leagues of five with the winners of each league going through to semi-finals. That could have worked.
The downside would be that each county would only play eight one-day matches and with fewer games and smaller leagues, too many of the games would be meaningful and keenly contested.
Better that after the first six matches most of the teams have no chance of going through and simply go through the motions for the second half of the league.
WARNING – This match report contains some mention of the actual cricket. Trust me, it’s relevant. Those who are easily upset should discard this report now.
Bert Jr and I returned to Old Trafford on day four. This time, we sat in the pavilion. At lunch some rather friendly old men helped Bert get to the gate, and the stewards helped him get some autographs. Everyone was most helpful and very nice. He got three England bowlers (Onions, Plunkett, and Anderson, who was doing some exercising), plus Mark Chilton and crucially, Mark Davies. Bert practically pushed Graham Onions out of the way to get to Davies, which probably put Onions in a bad mood – a mood not helped later by Mark Chilton throwing a bucket of water over him from the balcony, or by his subsequent dropping from the England team.
A chap behind us asked if he could see young Bert’s autographs and then did that perfect old man thing of being very excited about it. Bert loved it, although even this fellow couldn’t quite build up suitable enthusiasm about Mark Davies’ autograph. They discussed who had the best handwriting (Anderson) and who had the worst (Oni-squiggle).
Cricket Alert! – The match ended in a draw, with the umpires taking the players off for bad light in perfect conditions.
I mention this because I thought it was the perfect end to a young lad’s introduction to county cricket. A dull result, no exciting climax – and all for mystifying reasons. Bert made the valid point that he could still see perfectly well. I suggested that he make this point to Neil Mallender, but there was a queue of Lancashire members trying to do the same.
When we got home, Bert explained the ending to his mum, who was genuinely confused. This made Bert feel like he was in a special club; that club of people who understand why a four-day match can be allowed to dissolve into nothingness because some ex-England bowler couldn’t see properly. He told her that she would never understand and that therefore it was dad who had to take him to more cricket. Result!
Send your match reports to firstname.lastname@example.org – but on no account mention the cricket.
The ECB got all their figures wrong for next year’s 40-over tournament and found they were one team short. They’ve solved this by creating the ‘ECB Recreational XI’ – a provisional name for a side made up of cricketers without county contracts.
Being as the ECB Recreational XI is a crap name, they’re asking people to suggest a new one.
- The Dregs
- Fat Kid XI
- 12th Men
Or being as they’re subpar reserve players for the most part, how about ‘Sloppy Seconds’?
There’s a great interview with Lancashire’s new signing Stephen Moore on the ECB site. If you didn’t know anything about him, you’d come away thinking he was being unfairly kept out of the England side.
It’s littered with comments about how he’s ‘ready’. One of our favourite bits is the following slice of modesty:
“The more people you have got putting pressure on the England side, the better it is for English cricket. I’m thankful that I’m one of those guys.”
Moore also talks about why he’s abandoned relegated Worcestershire in favour of Lancashire. It’s because he wants to test himself against the best and he thinks first division bowling attacks are better. The stats back him up:
- Stephen Moore’s 2008 batting average in the second division: 55.80
- Stephen Moore’s 2009 batting average in the first division: 27.33
Looks like first division bowling attacks are more than twice as good.