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A cricket bat in a Danish nouveau-punk duo’s video

Ged writes:

PowerSolo are a wild and crazy Danish nouveau-punk duo. They mostly tour around Europe, not the UK. My old friend Pinball Geoff put me onto them recently – they are even more mad than his band, the Bikini Beach Band. Short story.

During the first twenty seconds of the video for Powersolo’s song, Frantic, one of the Danish duo is gratuitously roused from his slumbers with the use of a cricket bat. To add to the confusion, Clint Eastwood sort-of introduces the video. It’s all a bit cog-dis, especially the cricket bat bit.

Send your pictures of cricket bats and other cricket stuff in unusual places to king@kingcricket.co.uk

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England v South Africa at Trent Bridge – match report

Bert writes:

Whenever Ged goes to the Test, he is literally sustained by a succession of culinary marvels. My test match sustenance, on the other hand, is more metaphorical than literal, being largely a succession of pointless and asinine conversations. But just as when Harry Morgan’s closes its doors for the evening, the source of our interlocutory morsels occasionally fails, and uncomfortable silence falls. It is at moments such as these when the Times Saturday Review section comes to the rescue.

Aside from being very badly named (it is published on a Saturday morning, for god’s sake), its usefulness as a trigger for drunken conversation is unsurpassed. Not the least of its delights is the puzzle section, and the edition I grabbed on my way out of the house could not have been more appropriate. The Two Brains quiz comprised the following questions:

1. Which England cricket captains share their surname with a British Prime Minister?

2. Which first name is the most common among a) British Prime Ministers and b) England Cricket Captains, and how many times does the most common of the latter occur in the list of the former?

(This second question I interpreted as asking a numerical question, as opposed to the answer being “Gaz” or “Kev”.)

During an hiatus at the conversation, I asked the lads these questions. Several people in the locality overheard, and soon it became the main point of discussion in our part of the stand. Answers were flying in from all over the place. The first PM / Captain surname combo was knocked off quite quickly, but the others took some time. My suggestion of Derbyshire opening batsman Des Rayleigh was dismissed as made-up nonsense, which was true, but I didn’t think gave it sufficient credit. Therefore I repeated it a few times till it was at least acknowledged.

The captains’ first name question also didn’t take too long, but the prime ministerial version took a lot longer.

To finish, we did the Word Finder puzzle, to find as many words as you can from the letters Y, D, E, D, S, U, N, T, U, R, four letters or more, all containing the first of these letters (Y), no proper nouns, no conjugated verbs, no comparatives, superlatives or plurals. A ten-letter word does exist, we are told. Getting 13 words is described as “average”. 18 is “good”, 26 is “very good”, and 34 is “excellent”. We also added a rule that any word we could associate with cricket, however loosely, would score two points.

Our combined total of words by stumps, taking into account the double-points amendment, was coincidentally the same as that of England test wins in this series at that moment.

It wasn’t all pointless rambling though. We also asked and answered the question, “Is First Slip the most redundant position on a test match field?”, and debated whether or not the observation (made by one of us) that he preferred the South African whites was acceptable in this day and age.

Send your match reports to king@kingcricket.co.uk. If it’s a professional match, on no account mention the cricket itself. If it’s an amateur match, feel free to go into excruciating detail.

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A spider being conspicuously indifferent to cricket

Ged writes:

This plucky fellow was observed in the Lower Compton Stand at Lord’s, very close to the historic concrete step where King Cricket demonstrated his “Real World Skills” in 2016.

Perhaps this spider’s magnificent web is an arachnidian equivalent of a blue plaque, commemorating King Cricket’s astonishing feat…or merely the fact that King Cricket once sat there. A rotund specimen, this – a veritable arachnoid Dwayne Leverock. Take a closer look; magnificent.

If you’ve got a picture of an animal being conspicuously indifferent to cricket, send it to king@kingcricket.co.uk.

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Cambridge University v Arabs match report

Edwardian writes:

I arrived at Fenner’s just after start of play and exchanged a ‘hello’ with an Arab in a floppy hat on the boundary. I had to bone up on Arabs before the match. The team are a wandering outfit started by E.W. (Jim) Swanton back in the frozen to death.

There was a heavy throng of nine spectators in the pavilion which included Spike, myself, the two scorers and Marlene manning the bar. Marlene fought off demanding punters who asked for drinks at half-hour intervals. She skilfully decanted cans of lager, IPA and Old Speckled Hen and coped with the onslaught admirably.

Spike had already ordered his lunch of gammon and new potatoes. I had brought my own docky bag comprising a chilli scotch egg (about ¾ the size of a cricket ball) and haslet slices in a roll with salad and mustard.

I thought 12.30pm was a sensible time for a beer so went for a Hen, pinched a knife from the tuck shop and halved the scotch egg. Spike was gearing himself up for the in-house lunch and refused the other half. I ate the other half. The Scotch egg was a great combination with the beer but putting chilli in a scotch egg I thought was a bit of a novelty not worth repeating.

I lost track of the scorecard. Spike managed to get his nosebag in ahead of the players at 1.30pm. He lost track of the scorecard.

As the players came in for lunch I contemplated the pros and cons of another pint and decided that thinking in general is a dangerous occupation.

I ate the haslet roll. The bread roll had olives embedded in it. I gave myself a good talking to.

Spike thought that the Cambridge spinner N. J. Winder was someone to look out for in the future and mentioned something about Wackford Squeers and windows.

The match wound up at about 3.30pm and Spike and I sank the beer I was contemplating earlier. Two players strolled to the bar making the floorboards strain at 11 occupants.

I got the feeling that the Cambridge middle-order batsmen were begrudging not having enough time out in the middle.

‘It’s only April,’ was said at least three times. This is cricketing-speak for, ‘It’s only April.’

Send your match reports to king@kingcricket.co.uk. If it’s a professional match, on no account mention the cricket itself. If it’s an ad-hoc match, feel free to go into excruciating detail.

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Tigger being conspicuously indifferent to Toby Roland-Jones

Mike writes:

Try as I might, I was unable to get Tigger to show the slightest interest in To-Ro-Jo’s debut destruction of the Saffer top order – in fact she positioned herself as far away as possible from the action, atop a throne of recently used but as-yet-unputaway guest bedding.

She may have realised it’s only the highlights, or perhaps it’s because, as a Scottish cat, she considers cricket a sport for southern faeries. Perhaps she’ll spring to life should we catch a glimpse of Vermin Philander or Catgiso Rabada…

If you’ve got a picture of an animal being conspicously indifferent to cricket, send it to king@kingcricket.co.uk.

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So the County Championship’s over then

Essex take the field (via Twitter)

Honestly, you take the trouble to inform people how things stand in the County Championship and the damn thing only goes and gets itself decided five minutes later.

Essex won their match by an innings and let’s not bother getting too mathematical about what Lancashire would need to do to to draw out what is clearly inevitable. Let’s face it. Essex are going to win.

After the first round of matches, we said we couldn’t see them winning many games this year. “They don’t seem to have enough bowlers,” was our reasoning.

After two matches, we revised this view. “At some point Essex’s wafer thin attack is going to be too knackered to achieve anything. We’re adamant about this.”

By the end of May, we were saying: “We may have to stop thinking of Essex as being inked in for relegation what with their currently being top of the table and all.”

They’ve pretty much stayed there every since.

We still think they’ve got a wafer thin attack, but it is apparently a very robust wafer and rather more effective than we knew.

Jamie Porter was the big surprise to us – he has taken 64 wickets at 17.85. Simon Harmer has also done way better than expected and has picked up 63 wickets at 20.19.

Lancashire will doubtless be wishing that they’d managed to retain the services of The Great Neil Wagner as he is Essex’s next highest wicket-taker with 24 (albeit at 41.37). His locum, Mohammad Amir, took 14 wickets in three matches at 13.50.

Who else? Um, Ravi Bopara has 12 wickets at 40, some fella called Samuel Cook took six wickets – as did Matthew Quinn and Aaron Beard – while a bunch of people have taken three.

It’s hard to avoid the feeling that Essex have won the County Championship with half a bowling attack.

The moral of the story is that if you’re going to rely on two bowlers, make sure they’re bloody effective and just hope to hell that neither of them gets injured.

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What in the name of all that is good and pure is going on in the County Championship?

Nice bit of SEO there. Anyone searching “what in the name of all that is good and pure is going on in the County Championship” is now highly likely to end up on this page. In your face, Google algorithm. [Watches the ad revenue roll in.]

Yes, it’s the time of year when we all return our gaze to the County Championship having been momentarily distracted by Test matches, holidays and the like. Many people will be finding themselves asking “so what the hell’s going on then?”

Yes, what the hell IS going on?

There are three matches to go, including the ones currently underway.

Essex have a bit of a buffer over Lancashire in that they could go wholly pointless in one match and still remain top of the table. Hampshire are another good chunk further behind in third.

At the bum end of the table, Warwickshire haven’t yet hit triple figures. Two teams will go down.

Is that table above accurate?

No. It’s out of date. We think it’s from just before the latest round of matches.

Actually, we screengrabbed it midway through the afternoon session. We don’t imagine they’d have updated it with bonus points from the latest round of matches, but you never know.

Any big matches to watch out for?

Essex are currently playing Warwickshire in a head v bum match. Somerset are playing Lancashire in a similar sort of match that doesn’t lend itself to anatomy in quite the same way.

Other than that, no match is obviously more important than any other, which actually means that most have something riding on them.

Any players to watch out for?

We went with these guys earlier in the season.

If we’re talking about those who’ve helped their team to near the top of the table, little-known young bucks Alastair Cook and Shivnarine Chanderpaul have been making plenty of runs. (We presume Cook will play another couple of games for Essex.)

Bowling-wise, Jamie Porter and Simon Harmer – both of Essex – are the top wicket takers, while Ryan McLaren has been doing the heavy lifting for Lancashire.

Oh, and Neil Wagner’s back is back for Essex, along with the rest of him.

Anything else?

No, not really.

So why did you go to the trouble of including the subheading?

Don’t know.

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Half a dozen cricket balls in an unusual place

This is how you do home décor people.

Marking the other strand of our other writing life, our bike is also in the kitchen. In contrast to the cricket balls, its decorative worth is still the matter of some debate.

Send your pictures of cricket bats and other cricket stuff in unusual places to king@kingcricket.co.uk

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Stuart Broad’s batting has peaked

Stuart Broad slapping one into the off side (via ECB)

Stuart Broad’s batting just gets better and better. Maybe not by the traditional metric of batting average, but there are far more sensible ways of assessing a cricketer’s worth.

Once upon a time, Broad was a good batsman: high left elbow, great timing and solid defence. Then he top-edged a Varun Aaron bouncer into his own face and everything changed. (We were there when it happened but apparently didn’t think to write anything about it.)

The after-effects were enormous. Speaking to the BBC seven months later, he said: “If I have two glasses of wine I have black eyes.”

Weird. And it affected his batting too.

For a while, Broad became a bad batsman; a (justifiably) cowardly tail-ender who backed away from even the full balls. But then gradually he started piecing his game back together and rebuilt it so that it was even better than before.

The sweetly-timed drives remain, but the defence is gone. There is now a glorious fragility to every innings, a feeling of impermanence that makes you savour every boundary.

He’s also introduced some new shots. Rather than dodge the short ones, he’s instead resolved to flail at them like a cornered madman. Woeful shot selection, panic and unusually good hand-eye coordination don’t half make for an exciting stroke.

As Broad contorts himself, unreeling those long arms in a hard-to-predict parabola, no-one can truly know what will happen next. Even if he middles it, you can’t say for certain at what height the ball will be travelling – although you can be sure that it will be airborne.

So anything can happen, but no innings is likely to last too long. As such, Broad is rapidly becoming our favourite batsman. This new improved version might even rank right up there with Steve Harmison and Murali.

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“You don’t see Alastair Cook drop too many”

Alastair Cook drop (via ECB)

So said Michael Vaughan after Cook had shelled an easy one early on. Where has he been looking? We’ve always felt like he drops a fair few – although maybe not by Vaughan’s own almost criminally low catching standards.

We wouldn’t go so far as to say that Cook’s a bad slip fielder. If we were called upon to deliver a one-word appraisal of his ability, we’d go with ‘serviceable’.

Maybe people have now seen him catch so many that they forget all the misses and assume he’s some sort of bucket-handed Flintoff figure. He’s not though – and it’s not just a feeling.

When Charles Davis counted up all the drops in Test cricket from 2000 to 2016, no non-wicketkeeper had dropped more than Cook. If plenty were perfectly forgiveable short leg snatches, the opener was nevertheless responsible for 62 non-catches in that time. Vaughan must have seen at least a couple of these. He was Cook’s captain in 18 Tests, after all.

Fortunately for Cook, England’s bowlers created a veritable barrage of opportunities on day one at Lord’s which allowed him to secure his 152nd and 153rd catches by the end of the day. (If you feel moved to compare that with the incomplete tally of Cook drops above, it’s worth knowing that around a quarter of chances are grassed in Test cricket.)

Ben Stokes, in particular, made even jaded old seen-it-alls leak oooohs, such was the swing he mustered. The misses were so near and so frequent that at one point even the umpire did a sharp intake of breath and a ‘how did that miss?’ face.

It was all rather glorious for England until the West Indies came out and did exactly the same thing only without dropping any.

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