“The spirit’s been good but maybe we need to draw on each other a little bit more.”
We used to draw on Chris during maths. At first we pretended to draw on the back of his neck. When he caught on that we were only pretending, we actually drew on him and in his ignorance he didn’t stop us.
Chris got his revenge when he and Tim took it in turns to write footballers’ names over the top of our homework. It was the one, solitary occasion when we’d actually done it. Mr Williams just sighed. He didn’t even shout.
We think Mr Williams might have given up on us prior to footballers-names-on-homework-gate.15 Appeals
“If it happens again, then things have to change. But those are three isolated incidents over three years, so it is not as though it is happening every week.”
If England bat okay in the first innings of the next Test but are then skittled again in the second, is that an isolated incident? Is it isolated by a single instance of competence?
Is ‘every week’ the frequency with which things have to go wrong in order for there to be a problem?13 Appeals
In the first Test, Kevin Pietersen was again dismissed in the nineties going for a big shot to reach his hundred. He did the same against South Africa over the summer.
There are a number of people (Nasser Hussain’s one) who are angry at Pietersen for this. They say he could be losing England matches.
We’re of the opinion that in an ideal world, he wouldn’t play those shots. We also think that maybe – just maybe – Kevin Pietersen getting out in the nineties isn’t the greatest of England’s failings right now.
You can almost look on this tendency of his as a mark of his quality in a strange sort of way. If Alastair Cook got out for 97, we’d think: ‘There’s a chance of a hundred gone begging’. When Pietersen’s out for the same score, we think: ‘Oh well, he can always get one in the next match if he feels like it.’
It seems like no big deal. For most players the difference between 97 and 100 is monumental. Hundreds are commonplace for Pietersen so the difference is just the three runs.
Pietersen has actually been dismissed in the nineties four times now. He could quite easily have 19 hundreds and eight fifties. Bearing that ratio in mind, it’s not unreasonable to assume that his two unbeaten fifties might have become hundreds as well, which would make it 21 hundreds to six fifties.
Look at it like that and you realise he’s on another level (he’s not on Another Level though – that would be hideous). Maybe a batsman of that ability should be making sure he doesn’t get out in the nineties after all.2 Appeals
Jerome Taylor routed a batting side. You have to like someone who does that, even if they do it against your team. Given a choice between England ‘bowling with discipline’ again or Jerome Taylor taking 5-11 again, we’ll go with Taylor’s display thank you very much.
Taylor’s not ludicrously fast, but he’s fast enough and he actually pitched the ball up, which was something of a novelty in this match. The pitch was slow and the shorter you bowled, the more time the batsman had. They still couldn’t score easily, but it was no way to take wickets.
England’s lanky bowlers all bowled fairly short. They all bowled fairly sedately as well. It was by-the-book stuff and was unsuitable for the conditions. Jerome Taylor negated the pitch by barely letting the ball bounce at all. He wasn’t going to get anything much out of the surface, so why bother with it at all?
The ball he bowled to Kevin Pietersen was better than The Wire, evading KP’s bat as he played to leg before leaping into the arms of off stump as if it hadn’t seen it in years. Not many people can bowl balls like that, although Jimmy Anderson is one who comes to mind.7 Appeals
“Possibly we didn’t play Jerome Taylor in the right sort of way.” Andrew Strauss
The bat-on-ball to ball-on-stump ratio would tend to indicate a flaw in your collective approach, yes.
England love to take the positives and they did that here. Unfortunately, they took all the positives from their second innings, put them in a bag and flushed them down the toilet just prior to going out to bat.
The innings also coincided with a dressing room game of ‘see who can stare directly at the sun for the longest,’ meaning each batsman emerged onto the field of play virtually blind.
So it would seem.4 Appeals
“I don’t think it’s going to go away, the technology. I really don’t.”
Now we’re a massive, massive fan of primitive flint tools. We’d welcome a return to their chiselled, sedimentary perfection more willingly than anyone.
But we’re still inclined to agree with Sir Ian on this one.
The technology probably is going to stay. On balance.7 Appeals
Ramnaresh Sarwan is a batsman who’s tended to do well when we’ve been looking the other way. Early in his career, he was mighty. After that he alternated between injured and mediocre. Now he’s having a bit of a resurgence.
Sarwan has an uncanny knack of not doing anything when he bats. He doesn’t maintain this state indefinitely, but it does last an abnormally long time. The ball gets to within an inch of him and you’ve still no clear idea as to whether he’s going to leave it or pan it to the boundary.
On the downside, he has a creepy lack of eyebrows. If we didn’t have eyebrows, we’d damn well make the effort to grow some.5 Appeals
Simon Katich went for Michael Clarke in the dressing rooms after Australia beat South Africa at the SCG last month.
You can’t blame him. If we were in the same team as Michael Clarke, we’d probably have drawn up some sort of schedule as to which days we were going to punch him square in his smug face. The punch-in-the-face days would be the ones when we could bear to be in the same room as him.
The argument was a hugely worthy one. Michael Clarke wanted the team to sing their team song earlier than usual. Simon Katich presumably didn’t.
Clarke wanted the song sung by 11pm, but only The Custodian Of The Song can decide when it is sung. Mike Hussey currently holds this sacred post and he decided that the song should be sung at nearly midnight. We’ve suddenly warmed to Mike Hussey.
All this is true, by the way. We should make that clear. We’re not averse to making stuff about the Australians, but on this occasion we’re innocent and they’re mental, rather than vice versa.16 Appeals
We just popped into our local Co-op. Two of the staff were looking at a new takeaway menu. One said: “It sounds nice, that chicken and chips.”
We’ve got that menu. It waxes lyrical. It says: ‘One portion of chicken and chips.’
Mmm. That does sound nice.
If we can be bothered, we’re going to have jerk chicken tomorrow while watching day three. We always tell you to eat jerk chicken. You always ignore us. We’re not letting that stop us from doing it again though. Our feelings about embracing each different cricket tour are quite strong.
The concept of the tour is what makes cricket what it is. Tours are what raise the sport above its closest challengers – the biathlon and boules. With a cricket tour you get weeks or even months to get to know opposition players and as long as England are away, you keep getting whiffs of an alien culture as well. It’s ace.
Mostly it’s just an excuse to eat curry or jerk chicken or whatever though.15 Appeals
A lot of people hate Ian Bell – England supporters mostly. Given a choice between his playing crap and getting dropped or his playing well and averaging 55, a lot of people would choose the first option.
We’d choose the second. For all his flaws, 26 year-olds who can average 40 in Tests for England aren’t that common. Despite evidence to the contrary, we think he can push on and become a hardened Test batsman. We’d prefer him to do this from further down the order though.
We’ve no great love for Ian Bell. We’re not pro-Bell. We just think that if you’ve got an experienced Test batsman with a lot of years left in him, you should make the most of him.
But he is a bit irritating. His affected puffed-out chest strut is frankly embarrassing for one thing. He developed it because he decided he needed to have more presence at the crease, but it doesn’t work.
If Bell genuinely swaggered, that would be fine, but he said that this was a conscious ploy when he started doing it which entirely negates the exercise. It looks like what it is – a bluff.
Score a load of runs in tough situations and you’ll have presence whatever you do. Look at Shivnarine Chanderpaul. You can’t swagger when your manufacturer has attached all your joints the wrong way round.7 Appeals