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When and where is AB de Villiers at his best?

Photo by Sarah Ansell

AB de Villiers is very good. We’re pretty sure most of you will agree with that insightful assessment. But where do we  see him at his best?

We can think of five immediately obvious environments in which AB de Villiers might be seen.

  • In a music video
  • Just sort of milling around in public, at an airport say
  • In T20 cricket
  • In one-day cricket
  • In Test cricket

Let’s quickly run through each of these to try and work out where AB de Villiers is at his best.

Because if you want to see a thing renowned for its very-goodness, ideally you want to stand a reasonable chance of having the very qualities that define that very-goodness displayed to you, otherwise what’s the point?

In a music video

In a music video is a place in which AB de Villiers appears to be a below-average person. In a music video does not show AB de Villiers at his best. (More on this subject here.)

Just sort of milling around in public, at an airport say

AB de Villiers may well attract a certain amount of attention when he’s just sort of milling around in public, at an airport say, but we’d argue that this is merely residual attention resulting from his feats in other environments. AB de Villiers is no better at just sort of milling around in public, at an airport say, than anyone else. In fact he’s arguably worse, because he no doubt has a tendency to flee back indoors what with all the attention and whatnot.

In T20 cricket

AB de Villiers will often make slightly more runs than other people playing in the same T20 cricket  match and he will generally make those runs slightly more quickly. AB de Villiers looks very good in T20 cricket.

In one-day cricket

We would argue that AB de Villiers looks slightly better in one-day cricket than he does in T20 cricket. Given more time to make runs, the difference between himself and other batsmen playing in the same match will generally become more apparent.

In Test cricket

In Test cricket, with no real time constraints, batsmen can go about making their runs however they damn well choose. They needn’t feel rushed into playing shots they don’t necessarily feel comfortable with. They can play how they want.

Despite this, there are times when even mere survival is beyond most batsmen when AB de Villiers not only survives, but also scores runs, and not only scores runs, but does so at a rate utterly beyond most people even on a day when survival is not a seemingly unattainable goal.

We would therefore argue that ‘in Test cricket’ is the environment where AB de Villiers is at his best.


You’ll never dismiss Jonny Bairst- oh…

Jonny Bairstow had made 104 runs off 59 balls when this happened.

Jonny Bairstow (via Sky Sports)

Two things to note.

One, the bail is illuminated. Two, the position of Bairstow’s back foot.

Pondering the former with reference to the latter, you might like to consider the path his bat took.

Still, the job was done by this point. Bairstow had helped England secure a breathtakingly impressive 3-2 series triumph and so averted a woeful 3-2 series catastrophe.

Recalibrate your forecasts. England should now attain overconfidence at some point this summer, meaning the traditional World Cup self-immolation will most likely occur at some point the following winter rather than during the tournament itself.

Having missed this final match, Ross Taylor took his own private series 2-1.


Two reasons why squad rotation in county cricket is a very bad thing

Ravi Patel (via County Championship Twitter)

County cricket doesn’t get enough media coverage that it can get away with resting players. That’s the two-second version of the point I’m making over at Wisden.

Whether they say as much or not, counties rotate their squads. There are two problems with this.

1. It makes teams shitter

There are currently too many matches for a county to have its best XI playing at its best every game. Players need time off and when the best players are given time off, the matches they miss become of a lower standard. Cricket also has few big names and pitting eleven blokes no-one’s heard of against eleven other blokes no-one’s heard of doesn’t help win people over.

2. Players end up specialising

The triple format nature of cricket means that in practice player rotation tends to equate to specialisation, whether the player wants to do so or not. There is already far too much of this shit. Enough.

Conclusion

There should be way fewer county matches such that it becomes physically possible to play and perform in every match in every format.

You can read a longer, better-argued version of this here.

 


Breaking down David Warner and Nathan Lyon’s run-out of AB de Villiers – one of the most disrespectful dismissals in recent memory

AB de Villiers (all images via Sky Sports video)

Many things happened during Australia’s first Test win over South Africa. Some of them were cricket, some of them were David Warner falling out with people. The thing that interests us the most – AB de Villiers’ second innings run-out – fell somewhere in between.

Let’s break the moment down, because it’s really quite something. We’re struggling to think of a more disrespectful dismissal.

The context

The South Africans were near enough 200 runs behind on first innings and had then found themselves chasing 417 to win.

They quickly fell to 39-3 and so had basically lost. You wouldn’t think there was much left to get het-up about at this point, but then you’re not David Warner.

David Warner is, you suspect, the kind of man who snaps the remote in half in fury when the batteries start to get a bit low.

The run-out

Nathan Lyon dobbed one down the leg-side and South Africa opener Aiden Markram nurdled the ball towards David Warner.

As Warner scuttled round to get it, AB de Villiers set off down the pitch before doing a big U-turn when he looked up and saw only Markram’s back.

Sadly for de Villiers, he’d gone sufficiently far that the run-out was never in doubt. Warner was grinning even as he threw the ball.

At the bowler’s end, Lyon enveloped the ball with his Mekon hands and duly broke the stumps.

Nathan Lyon’s bit

What we didn’t mention was that AB de Villiers was on nought, having only faced one ball. Now here he was lying on his face, run-out in a match his team were about to lose.

Being run-out is always rubbish because to some extent it’s always self-inflicted. It’s worse still when you end up literally lying on your face in the dirt at the moment it happens.

Here’s AB de Villiers literally lying on his face in the dirt having been run out for a duck in a match his team is about to lose.

What happened next was that Nathan Lyon saw AB de Villiers literally lying on his face in the dirt having been run out for a duck in a match his team is about to lose and thought to himself: “This isn’t quite humiliating enough. I think I need to ramp this up a bit. I need to really emphasise the fact that AB de Villiers is literally lying on his face in the dirt having been run out for a duck in a match his team is about to lose.”

So Lyon ran past, looking down at him, and to emphasise that de Villiers was both literally and metaphorically fallen, he dropped the ball near him.

You’ll note that we italicised ‘nearly’ in that last sentence. As you can see, Lyon is looking directly at de Villiers even having passed him and is dropping/flinging the ball as he does so. You could maybe, if you so chose, argue that he dropped the ball at de Villiers.

David Warner’s bit

Lyon could not have executed his run-out and ball-drop without the assistance of David Warner. Warner too was hugely keen to emphasise the fact that his team was winning the Test match.

Presumably feeling that the surviving batsman had escaped lightly, he chose to convey his team’s supremacy to Aiden Markram.

Australia wicketkeeper Tim Paine said at stumps that there “wasn’t too much aggression” during Warner’s send-off (which technically wasn’t actually a send-off because Markram wasn’t going anywhere).

Here is Warner’s Hatred Face midway through said send-off. We’re pretty sure we have never been this angry with anyone about anything in our entire life.

Now we want you to understand something at this point because it doesn’t really come across in stills. Warner is aiming this face AT Aiden Markram. Aiden Markram is the subject of the hatred.

All of Warner’s team-mates came and mobbed him for doing the run-out throw and yet he physically struggled with them to ensure he retained a direct line of sight to Markram.

A direct line of sight to Markram was important to Warner because he didn’t want there to be any miscommunciation about just how much he hated him

It doesn’t really need stating explicitly, but obviously as well as making the face, Warner was  saying things at Markram.

And yes, ‘at’ is the right word here. David Warner was most definitely not saying things to Aiden Markram; he was saying them at him.


Define ‘dibbly-dobbly medium pace’

Paul Collingwood bowling (via YouTube)

We all feel that we know it when we see it, but what exactly is dibbly-dobbly medium pace?

Is it just non-spin bowling of a certain velocity (less than 75mph, say)? Or is it something more specific than that.

When we asked people to identify the greatest dibbly-dobbly medium-pace bowler of all time on Twitter, the vast majority of suggestions were batsmen who bowled a bit.

These players were, almost by definition, not particularly effective, so it struck us that there were perhaps two distinct aspects to greatness in this particular field: (a) being the purest example of such a bowler, and (b) being the most effective practitioner.

You might think that being a part-timer is a key aspect of dibble-dobblery, but that doesn’t mean the player can’t still be effective. And at the same time, isn’t there something fundamentally awe-inspiring about a player able to carve out a successful career solely off the back of medium pace bowling?

Bowlers who fall into the latter category also raise another important question: does a surfeit of skill render you ineligible for inclusion in this category? Can a talented swing bowler like Praveen Kumar truly be considered dibbly-dobbly purely on the basis that he doesn’t unduly trouble the speed gun?

As you can see, this is an open-ended sort of question. Feel free to have your say.


A second Kane Williamson would have been handy

Kane Williamson (via Sky Sports)

“This game is not over until you get Kane Williamson out,” said Nasser Hussain when the New Zealand captain reached his fifty.

Entirely untrue. England never did get him out, but still won.

Kane Williamson scored getting on for a quarter of the runs in the match. No-one else passed 50.

Kane Williamson was Lord Megachief of Gold once.


Andy Flower’s review of the England Lions tour

Andy Flower (via YouTube)

“The Tour has allowed us to learn a great deal about the players….”

That’s good. Learning is good. Knowledge is power and all that.

“… but the results are obviously extremely disappointing.”

Imagine how you’d feel having Andy Flower express his disappointment in you.

Andy Flower strikes us as being a man who is highly capable of conveying his disappointment in a person.


The UAE briefly looked like they were going to beat the West Indies (and other stories) – mop-up of the day

It’s only a warm-up match, but it seems that like much of western Europe, the West Indies still have plenty of warming to do. They’re so cold that you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that they’ve suffered a burst pipe or two once they actually thaw.

They were bowled out for 115 by the mighty UAE today. Their path to World Cup qualification is covered with ice.

Update: After we risked deploying a headline implying they were likely to lose, the West Indies won by 32 runs. Of course they did.

England Lions don’t look smart

Apparently lions are the only big cats that can learn by watching others. We saw a thing the other day where they asked one lion to learn about opening a door towards herself to get some food. It took her a bit of time, but when they gave an onlooker lion a go at the same challenge, she immediately aced it.

England Lions should maybe spend more time watching each other bat. (Either that or less time because they’re only learning what not to do. We’re not sure.) They’re about to lose a long format series (they’re not Tests) to West Indies A.

It’s going to be 3-0; a 3-0 defeat to the guys who aren’t good enough to lose to the UAE.

Australia are playing South Africa

You’ll probably already know a more recent score than the one at the time of writing and you may have something to say in the comments section.

To be honest, we only mention this in a bid to prevent at least one “in other news…” despite knowing full well that stating this ambition explicitly is only likely to draw a greater number of such things.


England are back to loving 50-over cricket again

Stokes and Buttler (via Sky Sports)

In the wake of their victory in the second one-day international against New Zealand, England have forgotten about Test cricket again and are back talking about the 50-over World Cup.

Having officially changed policy after the first match, they’ve now officially changed back again.

Ben Stokes or someone may or may not have said: “Really, for the foreseeable future, it’s all about 50-over cricket for us, building up to that 2019 World Cup on home soil.

“There’s a lot of international cricket, and so we have to prioritise. Today we prioritised 50-over cricket and I can see us doing that quite consistently going forwards as individuals, as a unit, as a group and as a team.”


Reece Topley postpones overuse injury for a year

Reece Topley (CC licnsed by Kyle Andrews via Wikimedia)

Reece Topley’s not going to play first-class cricket this year. He’s been injured a lot – stress fractures mostly – so Hampshire asked the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) what they should do.

The ECB pretty much said that there’s altogether too much domestic cricket for a pace bowler recovering from serious injury to get through, so maybe pare back his workload a bit. It’s not entirely clear why they gave the impression that the injury is what tipped the balance.

Topley will play white ball cricket this year and then, all being well, will try and suffer another stress fracture next year upon his return to first-class cricket.


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