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Sourav Ganguly, man of a thousand spooky impressions (okay, two)

We could write about Mitchell Johnson’s Test retirement. We could write about some actual cricket. Or we could publish some tweets in which Sourav Ganguly looks frighteningly sickly.

Hey Sourav, do an impression of a zombie.


Top drawer.

Now do an impression of a ghost.


Not bad.

Note Murali’s T-shirt as well. Murali loves cricket so bloody much, he’s actually gone and got the T-shirt.

Murali’s the best.

(We’ll do something on Johnson tomorrow.)

Pics taken from Virender Sehwag’s Twitter account.

The Waca – fast bowlers’ graveyard

Ah, the Waca. Fast bowlers love it because it gives them an opportunity to bowl plenty of overs. Batsmen are terrified of it because of the humiliating possibility that they might not make a ton. The pitch has been so challenging in the second Test between Australia and New Zealand that only two batsmen have managed double hundreds. New Zealand didn’t even get to declare in their first innings.

We’ll stop short of saying that this pitch is unfit for Test cricket, having only recently made the point that you can only truly judge such a thing after the match has concluded. We will however admit that after four days, we’re starting to form an opinion.

Setting that aside for a minute, it’s good to see Ross Taylor making some sort of a comeback. He looked to be the next Kane Williamson back when there wasn’t even a first Kane Williamson, but seemed to have ebbed away a bit in recent times. He lost the New Zealand captaincy, looked a bit sad and appeared to be developing moobs. Things weren’t looking good, but flat pitch or not, scoring 290 against Australia in Australia is a reasonable knock. Maybe he’s been relaxing more and pursuing his other interests.

England – the world’s finest 50-over side

It’s the only conclusion to draw from recent history. The question is, what can other sides learn from the way England approach this format and can England stay ahead of them all up until the next World Cup?

In the second one-day international against Pakistan, Abu Dhabi played host to a magnificent show of strength from the tourists. Playing in unfamiliar conditions, they put together a sizeable opening partnership with Alex Hales going on to make a hundred, after which the sheer variety of their bowling attack told. Pakistan – who lest we forget had won their previous match – were brushed aside with consummate ease. It’s clear that no-one can match England at the minute.

Left-armers, wrist-spinners, explosive batsmen and a plethora of all-rounders giving extraordinary depth to the batting order mean it’s very hard to find fault with this current England side. Quite how Pakistan come back from this is anyone’s guess – all they can really do is try and forget about history, convincing themselves that they are able to compete.

It’s a tall order, but what else can they do?

England’s one-day cricket elicits jaded optimism

Not so long ago, we were in a public house with a friend when his neighbour turned up. This neighbour had been to watch Manchester City win five-nil earlier that day. She said it hadn’t been a good game; that City had seemingly lost interest in the second half.

How times have changed. Once upon a time, we went and stood in the Kippax (yes, stood – we’re that old) with our dad and felt positively elated that City had managed four goals against Barnet in the League Cup. During subsequent years, there were times when a 0-0 draw in a top flight fixture would have justified punching the air as if it were a street ragamuffin and we were Batman. In fact there were times when even a resounding defeat in a top flight fixture was many, many years away.

So a five-nil win? Not so bad, you’d have thought.

Where are you going with this?

This strange loss of perspective came to mind while watching the post-match analysis of England’s one-day defeat to Pakistan when a number of pundits took issue with the one-dimensionality of England’s attack. To outline the nature of this one-dimensional attack, it comprised two left-arm pace bowlers, a right-arm pace bowler, an off-spinner and a leg-spinner. Again, how times have changed.

The dimension that was lacking was of course pace – and this is indeed a fair criticism – but to call the England one-day attack ‘samey’ is merely to showcase your acute memory loss.

Also, no matter what its shortcomings, it’s hard to fairly assess a one-day bowling ‘unit’ which has been asked (perhaps ‘sentenced’ would be a better verb) to defend 216 on a flat pitch. All you can really conclude after it fails is that it’s not miraculously good. A few more runs, a few more risks taken, and like Sliding Doors without that Yank bint and with a lot more cricket, things could pan out very differently.

The batting

Nick Knight has improved as a commentator and interviewer, but like his batting, there are still times when you’d prefer that he didn’t employ an open face. One such moment came when he suggested to Eoin Morgan that we had seen ‘a familiar problem’ with England’s batting.

The problem, according to Knight, is a tendency to collapse at the top of the order and then again lower down. He rather implied that if England could somehow address this one small flaw, they’d be a decent side in both Tests and one-dayers.

If you collapse at the top of the order and again lower down, those aren’t aberrations – that’s the norm. In those circumstances, the weird bit’s what happens in between, when there’s a partnership in which runs are scored. England fielded ten competent batsmen and basically managed one decent partnership.

So where are we with England’s one-day side?

How are we supposed to feel about them at the minute? On Twitter yesterday, we asked whether people were still going with ‘brave new world’ optimism or whether we were all back to jaded cynicism now.

Two people answered. Both went with ‘jaded optimism’.

James Taylor is busy

Busy being described as ‘busy’ mostly. The word’s very quickly become a Taylor cliché and today it was used on Sky as early as his first ball – at which point he’d mostly been busy waiting.

What does ‘busy’ mean? As far as we can tell, it means the player in question scores runs without being reliant on a disproportionate number of boundaries or freaky improvised shots. It’s what used to be called ‘being good at batting’.

James Taylor is good at batting. He’s a good-at-batting cricketer. His unique, stand-out quality is apparently that he’s good at batting. Maybe if he could find a way of changing ethnicity, people might start suggesting that he was ‘wristy‘ instead.

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