Thanks to Sir Allen Stanford, England will play a West Indies XI for a £10 million prize every year for the next five years. Each player on the winning team will get £500,000. Wish we had the job of picking the England side.
“You’ll get half a million quid. You’ll get half a million quid. You? You won’t get half a million quid. Why? Well it was a close-run thing, but I think Player A’s in slightly better form. Okay? Any problems?”
Player A will get a duck.
Of course it won’t really be a problem for the team, because they’re all mature adults. You know how mature everyone is when it comes to money. No-one ever gets bent out of shape over money. Particularly not HUGE amounts of money.
No problem at all.12 Appeals
668 Neighbour Of The Beast sent us what can only be described as a monumental match report. You people are picking on us because we admitted that we felt bad when we had to edit stuff out.
Here’s the shortened version:
As part of this year’s getting out and seeing new grounds thing, I thought I would go and watch Durham at their most southerly fixture. Its always difficult for them this far south.
Despite the recent run of bad weather, ice cream stocks are still low. I couldn’t get either a blue bubblegum or a cherry ice lolly and had to settle for an apple one. I rode out my resentment by sitting in a deck chair. I found the blue stripy assembly and also the ice lolly rather soothing. I heartily recommend both.
Day two had all the makings of a disastrous day – time obsessed man was on my bus. I wasn’t prepared for him being around on a weekend 214 and had sat perilously close and within his firing line. Luckily for me some new-in-town Scousers had drawn the shorter straw by sitting even closer, cheerfully taking the full brunt of his continual circular time-based questions.
They have a WAGs enclosure at Hove (to exhibit them properly, or perhaps to keep them away from the knitwear fanatics?). It’s a wooden construction; a cross between a rabbit hutch and a Swiss-style chalet, with a garden furniture area. It reminded me of the time I spent a summer living in a similar wooden prefab – a ‘cricket pavilion’ as it was apparently described in the sales brochure.
Yesterday, Big Steve walked past, not looking grumpy at all and I told him I thought he was ‘just fantastic’. He said: ‘Thank you’. He must have held onto that thought because today he was just that – fantastic. I then went and visited the beach and the pier. I had several pisco sours for tea.10 Appeals
Two things struck us about India’s defeat of Pakistan today. Actually, no things struck us. Two things gently bobbed towards us after we’d stared at the scorecard blankly for what seemed like forever.
Firstly, India fielded quite a lot of youngsters. Yusuf Pathan’s 25 and most of his team mates probably envy his deep voice and lack of self-consciousness when wearing a cardigan. Kids admire people at ease in a cardigan, right?
Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Praveen Kumar are all 21, while Ishant Sharma and Piyush Chawla are both 19.
And then the second thing strikes you: They’re all REALLY good. It’s a more-than-decent international side that’s only unusual for the fact that none of the players have ever had a conversation about ‘whether it would be better to go with Nomadic Glow or Magnolia in the hall’.11 Appeals
We’d be very irritated if we were a New Zealand cricket supporter. We’re very irritated anyway. Admittedly, we get irritated by all of humanity on an hourly basis, but this is different. This is with reason.
Shane Bond would add fire to any attack and the sooner this ICL banning bollocks dies down, the better. The ICL haven’t banned bollocks, you understand. It’s not the female and eunuchs version of the IPL. We mean that it’s bollocks that Shane Bond isn’t being selected for his country because he played in the ICL.
Bond asked permission of the New Zealand board. They said yes, it was fine. India disagreed, so the New Zealand board did an about face and told Bond he should cancel the ICL contract he’d legitimately signed. Bond, quite reasonably didn’t. Voila. No-one’s a winner.
New Zealand’s remaining bowlers are dependable and we reckon the very same players would test opposing batting line-ups a great deal more given more runs to work with. There’s swing, bounce, turn and parsimony. They only lack pace.
Gah. It’s too ugly to contemplate. Brendon McCullum’s great in his own way, but is better kept down the order. Oram’s peculiarly schizophrenic, veering from thumping, front-foot solidity to quivering, back-foot terror. Daniel Vettori’s the best number eight batsman you could ever hope for.
Of the specialists, Jamie How’s worth persevering with at the top of the order and Ross Taylor’s going to be a terrifying prospect one day, when someone’s lent him some sense. Ross Taylor is Ross Taylor’s bunny. No-one else gets him out quite so much. You want to grab him by the shoulders and ask him just what the hell he thinks he’s doing half the time.
And there’s the problem. Who’s going to do that? Those two batsmen should be surrounded by some older, more experienced players. They should be learning from the non-striker’s end.
Stephen Fleming, Scott Styris and Craig McMillan are pretty much in their prime and are the last New Zealand batsmen with notable Test experience. New Zealand are playing less and less Test cricket. Three Test series are becoming two Test series. Those players need to be around – not only for the runs they’d bring.9 Appeals
On the face of it England’s bowling’s strong, but New Zealand’s batting’s been occasionally dire and the last six Test matches have been in home conditions or in New Zealand – which is hardly the land of dust bowls or steepling bounce.
It’s increasingly evident that England can rely on Ryan Sidebottom. Monty Panesar should thrive in most places. The other pair we’re not sure about.
James Anderson will win matches when the ball swings, but when it doesn’t or when that first over goes wrong, he can still be a liability. We reckon he can bowl when the ball doesn’t swing, in which case being assured of his place should calm his nerves. If it isn’t that, then maybe he should spend some time with Matthew Hoggard learning some cutters and slower balls or something.
Stuart Broad’s equally irritating. Clearly a good bowler. Clearly a fixture in the England side for years to come, but not actually taking rucks of wickets. It’s been fine thus far. England have won both series in which he’s played, but he can’t contribute so little with the ball against better batting line-ups.
Andrew Flintoff will want to play when he’s fit. Simon Jones isn’t doing much wrong and nor’s Matthew Hoggard. These are perhaps more reliable bowlers in the short-term and maybe offer more in less familiar conditions, but Broad and Anderson will improve by playing.
Hopefully the two youngsters will sweep South Africa aside with aplomb and we can stop worrying. Who’s got aplomb going spare? Anyone? Can you post it to Peter Moores if you track some down. What’s in that old ice cream tub in the garage? Isn’t that a tub of aplomb? No?6 Appeals
Winning a Test by an innings is not to be sniffed at. What exactly would you expect to smell? England didn’t exactly dominate the series like they dominated this last match though.
Overall, the team looks okay, but there are quite a few flaws, the most glaring of which is the middle order batting of Bell and Collingwood.
Ian Bell looked like England’s best batsman in Sri Lanka but didn’t really influence proceedings. In New Zealand he hit a hundred when it was least needed. In this series he’s been virtually absent.
Bell will stay, but Paul Collingwood is currently Mark Knopfler (he’s in Dire Straits). Like Bell he’s rather prone to the ineffectual fifty. He’s not been dreadful until this series and if he does get dropped it’ll be for a lack of hundreds.
We can’t escape the feeling that Tim Ambrose isn’t ‘the answer’ either.
England v New Zealand, third Test at Trent Bridge, day four
England 364 (Kevin Pietersen 115, Tim Ambrose 67, Stuart Broad 64, Iain O’Brien 4-74, Kyle Mills 3-76)
New Zealand 123 (James Anderson 7-43)
New Zealand 232 (Brendon McCullum 71, Jacob Oram 50, Ryan Sidebottom 6-67)
England win and take the series 2-0
And batsman. Who knew?
Well, we all knew about the swing bowling. Trent Bridge might be the home ground of Ryan Sidebottom and Stuart Broad, but Jimmy Anderson’s the best swing bowler in this England side and he duly played a blinder, taking all six of the New Zealand wickets to fall.
Swing bowling dismissals don’t come more satisfying than Aaron Redmond’s and Brendon McCullum’s. It’s all well and good trying to work a straight ball into the onside, but when your off stump goes racing towards the sightscreen like it’s a solitary spoke in an invisible wheel, you know you’ve made a bad choice – a swig of aged milk kind of a choice.
Jimmy Anderson has the sense to bowl his full outswinger again and again when things are happening with the ball. There’s no point getting too clever. Crucially, he bowls an inswinger about once every four overs. It’s not really his wicket-taker, but it means the batsman tends to play at wider outswingers ‘just in case’. Wickets ensue.
Jimmy says himself that his bowling can go either way though. If his first over goes well, he feels confident and all’s dandy. If it goes badly, he tries to work out what’s going wrong and from there what’s usually going wrong is that he’s trying to work out what’s going wrong and getting all awkward as a consequence. It’s like when someone watches you walk and you suddenly turn into a robot with too few joints that’s being controlled by a ZX Spectrum.
It’s like that bit in Jurassic Park where Jeff Goldblum explains chaos theory by dropping a spot of water onto the back of a peaked hand, only instead of there being a multitude of potential outcomes, in Anderson’s case there are only two. Either the droplet goes down one side, marked ‘conceding seven an over’ or it goes down the other side marked ’6-42′.
England v New Zealand, third Test at Trent Bridge, day two
England 364 (Kevin Pietersen 115, Tim Ambrose 67, Stuart Broad 64, Iain O’Brien 4-74, Kyle Mills 3-76)
New Zealand 96-6 (James Anderson 6-42)
We said that due to the swing-friendly conditions Kevin Pietersen’s hundred might prove handy. For similar reasons we picked James Anderson as England’s top wicket-taker and Kyle Mills to bowl most overs in this match. In the last Test, we picked Daniel Vettori and Monty Panesar to be the top wicket-takers.
It’s almost – ALMOST – like we know what we’re talking about. We’re not happy about it at all. If you wanted sense, reason and insight you wouldn’t be here.
We need to break this curse. Maybe we’ll start listening to Ian Botham and give his opinions some serious consideration. That should do the trick.5 Appeals
Are we right in thinking that James Anderson came in as a nightwatchman in order to protect Ryan Sidebottom? This is beyond reason.
Our feelings about nightwatchmen are perfectly clear, but this warrants further comment. If James Anderson is functioning as the nightwatchman, it’s been his job to protect Ryan Sidebottom from the horrendous peril that is batting in the evening.
Ryan Sidebottom, lest we forget, was the man entrusted with protecting Ian Bell from that horrendous fate during the last Test – a job he singularly failed to do.
James Anderson’s protecting the man who usually protects the batsmen from playing at a certain time of day. Got it. It’s totally justified.13 Appeals
That’s what Simon Hughes said on Channel 5′s highlights programme, so that’s what happened.
It’s probably wrong to mock commentators’ slips of the tongue when you yourself forget 98 percent of your vocabulary whenever you have to talk in front of more than one person, or to a stranger, or on the phone, or in public, or when you’re tired.
Kevin Pietersen managed to squeeze in a hundred before he slightly fatiguely waved at a wide one. He was at the crease when England were 86-5 and while there are any number of articles stating just how many matches it’s been since England scored 400 plus in their first innings, we’re not sure this was ever going to be the match where they put that right.
They say it’s the new stand that’s helping the swing, but the ball’s been swinging at Trent Bridge for ages. We were there in 2005 on the day that Matthew Hoggard and Simon Jones, England’s biggest swingers (in a good way), reduced Australia to 58-4.
So Kevin Pietersen’s hundred might prove pretty handy. We’ll have to wait and see how New Zealand’s innings goes.
England v New Zealand, third Test at Trent Bridge
England 273-7 (Kevin Pietersen 115, Tim Ambrose 67, Iain O’Brien 4-61, Kyle Mills 3-58)