England have been taking a more individual approach to player development in recent times and we’re all in favour.
Monty Panesar’s going to spend some time playing for the Bloomfield club in Colombo. He’ll get more experience of bowling in subcontinental conditions, but more importantly he’ll be dumped there on his own and might turn into a better-rounded human being.
Now we’re not picking on Monty here. We’d never do that. All we mean is that the man’s 26 and has been led by the hand his entire career. He’s played for Northamptonshire, he’s played for England and that’s it. It’ll do him no end of good to play and live abroad and have the responsibility of being the big player in a side.
He’s not going to suddenly master the doosra or the carrom ball, but he might develop a slightly different attitude – one where he’s more self-sufficient.
Quite apart from that, it’s interesting that the ECB also consider this arrangement to be useful practice before the Test series in India. We thought warming up before Test series was passé. We thought modern cricketers could just turn up on the day and perform at their very best. That’s why they have these constricted tours, right?9 Appeals
All aboard the Rob-Key-fielding-different-foodstuffs bandwagon. Sam sent us this in response to Vin’s exquisite piece of Rob Key art.
We asked Sam if he had anything to add that might enrich our enjoyment of the picture.
Sam said: “Not really, I think the picture speaks for itself. He’s fielding a burger.”9 Appeals
The four Test series between the West Indies and England will feature the umpire challenging system, whereby batsmen can remove one of their gloves, slap the umpire across the face with it and call for lbw shouts to be decided by a duel.
Either that or you get a few chances to have batsmen reinstated when they’re out to a low catch. Because even though everyone knows they’re out, you can’t really say that for definite from what you see on the telly. The batsman gets the benefit of the TV doubt.10 Appeals
Stuart Law’s contract has not been renewed. Partly because he’s associated with the ICL, partly because he called Lancashire’s members gin-swilling know-nothings, but mostly because he’s 40 this week.
The gin outburst came when Lancashire decided to do away with Dominic Cork and we always suspected that it was as much to do with seeing the writing on the wall as any intrinsic admiration for the endearingly irritating former England all-rounder.
How do we feel about this as a Lancashire supporter? Indifferent really. Stuart Law’s one of the great batsmen of his generation, but a few weeks ago we used him as a symbol of something that’s wrong with Lancashire’s batting line-up.
He’s been good for Lancashire, but they were only the latest of a number of sides he’s played for, so we’ve no sense of loyalty. It doesn’t feel like an old, great Lancashire player’s being dispatched without fanfare, because Law made his reputation long before he arrived at Old Trafford.
It’ll be good for the county, although we’ll be quite interested to see how they manage to rustle up enough batsmen. We don’t know of any who are really clamouring for inclusion.
No, wait. We’ve got that all wrong. Batsmen don’t clamour for inclusion – they knock on the door. This is why we’ll never make it big in cricketing circles. We just can’t master the language.8 Appeals
Here’s a quote from raving metrosexual, Shane Watson:
“It’s a good way to challenge them [the Indians], physically and mentally. Not sledging but having an aggressive persona about you – and that’s the way I play my cricket.”
Watson’s always saying things like this about how he plays aggressive cricket. So why does he always look so frightened?
For a big, muscly albino, he’s got a real timid air about him. When he’s batting, he always looks terrified, as if he thinks the umpire’s going to tell him off at any minute.
Plus there was that whole thing during the 2005 Ashes series, when the Aussies stayed at Lumley Castle in Durham. Watson thought there was a ghost and had to go and sleep in Brett Lee’s room.
This gave rise to the greatest on-field ribbing of all time, when Darren Gough did a pantomime ‘wooh – a ghost’ thing when walking back to his mark while Watson was at the non-striker’s end.
We’re not totally sure, but we think Watson might not have any eyelashes. Do we use eyelashes to make ourselves look aggressive? Maybe he just looks fearful the whole time because he’s at constant risk of getting dust in his eyes.6 Appeals
‘I’m gangly, awkward-looking and appear to be halfway through swallowing a Rubik’s cube – how could I make myself look worse?’
This, presumably, is the thinking behind Ishant Sharma’s strange, effeminate mane. Good bowler, great slower ball, but it’s a dire situation indeed when going back to a mullet would be a wise move.10 Appeals
There are two articles. One says Twenty20’s clearly going to kill Test cricket. One says that probably, on balance, that won’t happen. Newspaper editors will tend to publish the first one.
The former’s punchier and it provokes debate, so we get to read a disproportionate number of articles about how Test cricket’s in mortal danger. Our feeling is that it’s a testing time for the longer format, but that basically everything will work out fine (and we call ourself a pessimist – we should buck our ideas up in that department).
We tend to think that Twenty20 could function as a ‘gateway’ format, leading people into the game. Let’s be honest, Twenty20’s fun, but if you’re going to get into the sport properly, Tests are just fundamentally better, aren’t they? There’s just more to pore over.
There are international Twenty20 games going on at the moment. Pakistan played Sri Lanka on Saturday. Is anyone – even Pakistanis or Sri Lankans – more interested in that match than the India v Australia Tests?
Okay, India v Australia is a biggie and okay, Twenty20’s more of a club/franchise thing than an international thing – but still. We’re not saying there’s no danger and that the huge sums of money aren’t going to play a part, but we do get the feeling the whole threat thing is a bit overstated.
It’ll be fine.5 Appeals
‘Give me the runs’, he says. Michael Hussey feasts on dodgy bowling and then he has the runs. At the end of the day, he’s exhausted with it all, but he can still muster a weak smile, because that’s how much he likes having the runs.
You’ve got to make your own fun when it comes to Mike Hussey. Great batsman – a phenomenon even – but not a hugely interesting person really.
We do like him though. You’ve got to like someone who’s so relentlessly single-minded about the simple matter of scoring runs in every form of cricket. It shows a certain devotion to his craft.
But can he justify that ludicrous Test batting average of his (68.38 at present)? Well, yes he can. He’s scored all those runs and he hasn’t got out much. That’s the way averages work. You can’t really argue that they’re unjustified.
Mike Hussey has played 25 Tests now, which we think is sufficient to form a proper opinion on his worth. He’s scored a hundred against every side he’s played. You keep wanting him to have a bad run, to bring that average down, but he keeps on hitting hundreds. It’s very, VERY impressive.7 Appeals
“Daniel Vettori, Brendon McCullum, Jacob Oram – this is the cleaners. The washing powder’s over there. It’s a quid for a full cycle and 20p for the dryers.”
Mashrafe Mortaza’s 4-44 today set up Bangladesh’s win. Mashrafe now has 116 ODI (one-day international) wickets at 31.78. He’s very important to Bangladesh’s continuing bid not to be laughed at.
We don’t laugh, but that’s more to do with our relentlessly pessimistic outlook on life rather than anything to do with our belief that Bangladesh will one day become ‘a force’.
To be more specific, we believe that one day Bangladesh will become ‘friction’.8 Appeals
The thing people often fail to understand about batting averages is that they only describe what’s already happened. Ricky Ponting’s average in India was famously bad, but yet he hit a hundred. That’s the thing about historical precedents – they only tell you about the past.
The Australians came up with some innovative tactics to help address Ponting’s record. He’s previously been vulnerable to Harbhajan’s spin early in his innings, so the Aussies hit upon the idea of having Matthew Hayden get himself out to the third ball of the day. Ponting was thus ensured a few overs of pace bowling and could therefore play himself in. It worked a treat.
Rumours that coach, Tim Nielsen, has given Ponting a voucher allowing the latter an hour’s one-on-one time with Pat Farhart as a reward for hitting a hundred are currently unsubstantiated.5 Appeals