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Mop-up of the day – Sweet, sour, bitter, savoury

A bitter-sweet mop-up of the day today, like someone’s spilt a honey-and-lemon sore throat remedy.

Actually, maybe that’s sweet and sour.

A sour-sweet mop-up of the day today.


James Anderson is out of England’s tour of Bangladesh and probably won’t be back until halfway through the India tour. No non-international fixtures are scheduled for that trip, so it’s not easy to see how the management will be able to convince themselves he’s fit to play a Test. Squinting at him and crossing your fingers isn’t really acceptable these days.

They’ll probably find a match for him somewhere or other, but a greater concern is the frequency with which he’s missing matches at the minute.

Anderson’s never been an injury-prone Mark Wood type (Wood will also miss the Bangladesh tour), he’s always been pretty resilient.

It’s quite obviously the beginning of the end, but hopefully, like in the Lord of the Rings, the end will go on for bloody ages.


Nabi! Love Nabi.

Mohammad Nabi took 2-16 off ten after opening the bowling against Bangladesh and he then made 49 as Afghanistan bobbled to the win. England can probably learn from this ahead of their tour. The main thing they should learn is that Nabi’s ace, although they should really have known this already.

We feel like the cricketers we particularly like need to be branded in some way. It’s awkward to say ‘cricketer who we’ve written about a handful of times and hold in high regard’. We thought we might instead start referring to them as ‘Cricketers of the Realm’.

We could call them knights, but cricketers are better than knights.


The latest Cricket Badger’s out on Friday morning. It’s got Shoaib Akhtar in it.

Sign up here:

You’re really missing out if you don’t. Honestly. Even from an unbiased point of view.

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A cricket bat in a real tennis place


Ged writes:

I know what you are thinking, dear reader: “That real tennis workshop must be at Lord’s; how can Lord’s be an unusual place to see a cricket bat?”

Well I’m here to tell you that the real tennis area at Lord’s is a relentlessly cricket equipment free zone. Indeed, I had a great deal of trouble getting the tennis professionals even to admit that the object in question was a cricket bat. “Oh, that’s what it is, is it? Never seen one before. Don’t know how on earth that got in here. Perhaps we should call security…”

Send your pictures of cricket bats and other cricket stuff in unusual places to

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Why Durham probably won’t be relegated following a points deduction


Winsford Rock Salt Mine (CC licensed by Rhodian via Wikimedia)

Cricinfo are reporting that Durham face relegation if the ECB decides to impose a points deduction for their financial troubles. We can’t see it happening.

It’s not that we don’t expect them to be docked points. It’s just that they finished 45 points ahead of Hampshire in the top half of the table. We’re not sure what the going rate is for points deductions, but 45 would seem a lot in a sport that’s generally wedded to minimising ripples through compromise.

It would seem strange to do this retrospectively as well. Surely it’s more likely they’ll impose a fine for next season. In that eventuality, Durham might well have issues what with most of their top order having caught a train to Surrey at the end of the season.

Then again, giving everyone a whopping great head start while shorn of two of his best batsmen should elicit maximum grit from captain Paul Collingwood. If that’s how things pan out, the wiches of Cheshire should be able to slow production ahead of next winter.

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Why Indian pitches offer an excellent exchange rate

Remember when India’s batsmen used to make double hundreds all the time? Captains routinely doubled up as doctors in the first innings, declaring the innings closed and the pitches dead (even if a certain zombie joie de vivre often manifested itself in the form of turn on day five.)

It’s not like that nowadays. Indian fans no longer find themselves spending four days explaining to irate foreigners that a match isn’t destined to be a draw; that things might move on swiftly when the pitch starts to crumble. Nowadays they have to defend their pitches for doing too much, too soon.

Someone, somewhere apparently imposed some standard where only Australian-style pitches were considered acceptable for Test cricket. Everything else was wrong, evil and ‘doctored’. It seems this game that is defined by variety could only properly be showcased on one particular type of pitch. Diversity painted from the narrowest of palettes.

Is a turning pitch a bad pitch? Of course not. It is good to see batsmen having to work for their runs – and if more were available in the recent Test between India and New Zealand than some others on those shores in recent times, then a least no-one reached three figures.

That, to us, can often be a sign of a good match. Runs retained their value against the more meaningful currency of wickets. Everything mattered.

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Middlesex County Championship-winning hat-trick video – what a way to snatch a MacGuffin


At one point today, Middlesex and Yorkshire ceased slithering against each other and began to slither together. Working independently, neither would reach the MacGuffin. Working together, they could get close – at which point it would become ‘every man for himself’ in a bid to wrest the prize from Somerset’s less-than-vicelike grip.

The joint slither manifested itself as Yorkshire’s two opening batsmen dobbing the ball up in the expectation that each ball would be clubbed to the fence. The fact that Middlesex lost three wickets during this heap of bollocks passage of play did at least mean the crowd had something to laugh about while they waited for a declaration and the recommencement of hostilities.

When that moment came, Yorkshire managed to produce little more than a light slapping. With nothing to lose, they persevered with this approach long after it made sense. Middlesex dispatched them with a Toblerone Jones hat-trick which allowed them to saunter over to Somerset and snatch the MacGuffin.

Here’s the hat-trick ball.

At the bum end of the table…

Hampshire utterly failed to bowl out Durham, lost the match and got relegated. Mark Stoneman and Scott Borthwich were the run-chase heroes, which is great news for Surrey, who have flashed the cash and signed them both.

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Yorkshire don the special MacGuffin gloves


We can’t help but feel that our coverage of the denouement of the County Championship is getting a little niche.

In the previous instalment of our four-day mud-slithering analogy, Yorkshire had lost ground to Middlesex and Somerset because they for some reason needed to go and pick something up before making their way towards the MacGuffin. We hypothesised that the something might be a pair of gloves with a special MacGuffin grip on the palms. What else could it possibly be?

In real life, it was the bonus point earned from reaching 350 inside 110 overs. Against the odds, they made it, thanks largely to a quite majestic innings of sturdy clomping from Tim Bresnan. Having been 32-3 and with a man who normally bats at seven or eight up at five, it was quite the performance.

Even better than that, the moments leading up to that 350th run were cricket in its purest form. Middlesex appeared to be bowling to deny Yorkshire the bonus point, even though it had precisely zero bearing on their own Championship hopes. If anything, it was in their interests for Yorkshire to get it as it would effectively prevent their opponents from ever settling for a draw.

A tense stalemate saw a number of overs eaten from the game with neither side benefiting.

And then they went off for bad light.

Marvellous stuff.

Come the restart, Yorkshire got their run and then added plenty more. After a couple of Middlesex wickets, it was hard to avoid the impression that they were, if not ahead, then at least slithering at greater speed than either of their rivals.

Somerset won their match in the end, so they basically have their hands on the MacGuffin already. The only question is whether they should have stopped to pick up a pair of gloves like Yorkshire did. They can’t go back now though. Their journey is over.

All of which means…

  • A Yorkshire win gives them the County Championship
  • A Middlesex win gives them the County Championship
  • A draw gives Somerset the County Championship

There’s a little more slithering in this season yet.

Meanwhile, at the bum end of the table

Warwickshire look likely to beat Lancashire barring a prolonged rearguard. However, both sides will be hoping that Hampshire fail to beat Durham.

The day started well in that regard. First of all it pissed it down, after which Durham scored more and more runs and took more and more time out of the game. A draw seemed increasingly likely – but that was to reckon without Hampshire’s desire for ‘quick runs’.

While quick runs also brought quick wickets, the likelihood of a draw has receded markedly.

The situation for these three times is something like…

  • Anyone who wins is safe
  • Hampshire almost certainly need to win to be safe
  • A Hampshire win would mean Lancashire go down if they lose and Warwickshire go down if the match is a draw
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County Championship Permutation Watch: Everyone needs to win


Pretty much. That’s the gist anyway.

  • If Middlesex beat Yorkshire, they will win the County Championship
  • If Yorkshire make 350 in their first innings and also beat Middlesex, they will win the County Championship
  • Somerset need to win as a bare minimum. They then need neither of the above scenarios to eventuate. In those circumstances, they would win the County Championship

A Somerset draw would open things up a bit, but that doesn’t seem too likely at present.

If we’re to update yesterday’s mud-slithering analogy, we’re not entirely sure who’s closest to the MacGuffin, but we’ve a fair idea who’s furthest away.

Yorkshire can still see it and they’re still moving, but having to pick up that extra item is a bit of a bugger for them. The extra item is bonus points in real life; in Mudland it would maybe be a pair of gloves with a special MacGuffin grip on the palms or something like that.

Whatever it is, if they’re to acquire it, they are almost wholly reliant on Tim Bresnan, a man who has only now, at the age of 31, finally reached the age that everyone always assumed him to be.

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Bum end of the table update


Can’t be bothered doing the maths, but it’s looking like Lancashire might be the ones slipping into second division invisibility and inconsequence next season.

Before this last round of matches, Lancs needed quite a lot to go against them to be relegated.

And lo, it came to pass.

They’re currently on the receiving end against relegation rivals Warwickshire and while it’s still early days, Hampshire are well-placed for a win against Durham. If things carry on like this, those two teams will join hands and perform a gleeful-yet-crushing leapfrog to safety.

Bad light in Birmingham is the only thing in Lancashire’s favour at the time of writing. Well played, clouds.


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Nick Gubbins claws at the filthy damp earth

A load of Gubbins

If Middlesex, Yorkshire and Somerset were represented by three individuals face down in mud, slithering towards a MacGuffin, we’d have the Middlesex bloke half a yard ahead after the first day’s play in the final round of matches.

Nick Gubbins has offset the pantsness of his team-mates and hauled his side to a fairly ambiguous score via a hundred. Ambiguous isn’t too bad for Middlesex. They’re already ahead of their rivals and Yorkshire have only picked four batsmen.

Somerset were slithering well but then Nottinghamshire (who have basically been cleft in twain and left waiting to die in this analogy) grabbed an ankle and dragged them back a bit. The Cidermen have still made what is ostensibly a strong start, but if they’re likely to pick up bonus points and have runs on the board, we can’t really conclude that things are going their way until Nottinghamshire have batted. That’s even before we start to ponder what losing seven wickets for 20 runs might say about them.

Things are also happening at the bum end of the table, but we’re hardly likely to report on that when we’re already struggling to stay up to speed with what’s happening up top – this despite the fact that it’s all taking place at slithering speed.

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Who needs to do what to win the County Championship?


It’s the last round of the County Championship and three teams could win it: Middlesex, Yorkshire and Somerset. We rather like the ‘there’s been a bonus point at Taunton which changes EVERYTHING!’ chaos of a close finish in this competition, but if you don’t enjoy the baffled-surprise emotion quite as much as we do, here’s a simple take on the state of play.

Let’s take things one step at a time. Put simply, if Middlesex beat Yorkshire, they will win the County Championship. Only if they fail to achieve this will ‘the permutations’ come into play.

We will go into ‘the permutations’ in detail only if it starts to look like Middlesex won’t win. We will however give you a couple of pointers which should help simplify things.

Yorkshire need to beat Middlesex to even be in with a chance of taking the title. Even with bonus points, a draw is not enough for them.

Somerset have to beat Nottinghamshire for them to be in with a chance.

Let’s start with that and then revisit what needs to happen for what outcome once they’re underway.

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