Our latest Cricinfo piece has been a huge hit. Here’s what the critics are saying about it.
“Assume someone eats 10 apples per day and wants to reduce the number of apples he eats per day. He decides to counts two apples as one(or one as half) and claims that he has reduced the amount of apples he eats by half. This is total nonsense.”
To have half an idea what the bloody hell he’s on about, start by reading the article.18 Appeals
A guest review of KP: The Autobiography by Dandy Dan.
Having met KP and most of team, I feel I’m very qualified to review this book – especially as he came across to me as actually being all right. I didn’t buy it. I got it out from the library. I didn’t even pay the 50p charge (or however much it is these days) as I know the librarian. It’s not what you know…
It’s a bit boring really. The problem isn’t really all the sections released in the media when it came out. It’s that he’s never really been shy in saying how he feels throughout his career so we all know the stories anyway. The only thing that came to a real surprise to me was his dislike for Flower. Flower gets a pasting throughout the book, even during the successful times. Now I had come to the conclusion at the end of the last Ashes series that Flower must be to blame for the whole debacle, so taking this one sided view of things I feel smugly content in being right.
Essentially, each chapter follows the same path with a different tour/story thrown in.
In bullet point format:
- Yes, I’ve made mistakes, I realise that now (But he doesn’t realise he’s still making them).
- The IPL is great, not enough people in England realise this.
- The ECB is made up of incompetent buffoons (This was a particularly startling revelation).
- I had an injury and wasn’t playing well.
- I played well.
The most interesting part of it to me (well one which wasn’t covered by the media that I could tell) was his apparent dislike of authoritarian coaches, yet the fondness he holds for his strict childhood experiences. Flower (and to a lesser extent Moores) get a slagging for being too controlling, yet he reminisces about his time at school where the juniors had to say please at the end of every sentence they spoke to a senior. Apparently this taught him that respect has to be earnt. I’m not sure I understood the idea of earning someone’s respect just because they were older than you. He obviously has a lot of respect for his father who he says showed him little emotion, but then criticises Flower for not putting an arm around him. If there’s a source to the idea that KP just wants to be loved there it is. Pop psychology over.
The whole Matt Prior/Big Cheese stuff starts off quite funny, gets a bit tiresome, then goes back to being funny again. It’s particularly amusing when he takes the piss out of him for thinking he’s in Team Sky. Swann doesn’t get laid into as much as I thought he would for leaving the tour early.
He does make a good case for the IPL and reading his book has changed my mind about it a bit regarding its importance and the engagement the ECB should have with it. I’m still not interested in actually watching it though.
Following this revelation that the newspapers didn’t actually republish every last word of KP’s book, you might like to buy it. If so, you can get it from Amazon here.16 Appeals
We appear to have been struck down by lack-of-altitude sickness or summat, so here’s a perfunctory ticking-the-boxes, phoning-it-in update linking to something we wrote for someone else.
Aggression and aggressive batting – we covered it here on King Cricket fairly comprehensively, but yet still felt moved to write something for Cricinfo. This is that thing.
If you really want to entertain yourselves, why not try adding some Cricinfo-style missing-the-point comments below because the ones on that article are disappointingly sensible. The best effort will earn a weary ‘heh’ from us. It’ll seem sarcastic, but it isn’t. It’s just tired and lifeless.26 Appeals
We could do the same Kohli, de Villiers, Johnson list as everyone else or we could pick out 10 players who you’ll actually have to make some effort to watch.
So, in no particular order…
40 years old and ostensibly a plodder, Misbah recently matched Viv Richards’ record for fastest Test hundred. He was also an unusually accomplished finisher back in the 2007 T20 World Cup. Averages 42.99 in one-day internationals (ODIs) without even once having made a hundred. Being as he’s from Pakistan, we fully expect him to win the World Cup by scoring five on the bounce.
James Tredwell, England
Will he play? Probably not, but here’s why he should.
Mohammad Hafeez, Pakistan
At present, he isn’t allowed to bowl, but he’s due to have his action tested later this week. If he passes, brace yourself for some Tredders-style inexplicably economical bowling. If he fails, maybe his batting will improve beyond measure for no clear reason.
Rangana Herath, Sri Lanka
Most of the best spinners are banned or pseudo-banned and finger spin has traditionally always been a brand of cannon fodder Down Under, so let’s pick three conventional spin bowlers in a row. Herath is mint. That’s all there is to it.
More finger spin, but a bit of batting as well. Shakib’s been site pet for almost a decade now so we couldn’t leave him out. He’s currently ranked the 34th best one-day batsman in the world and the sixth best bowler, but strangely, most cricket fans still don’t really know who he is. Here’s hoping he puts everyone straight over the next few weeks.
Quinton de Kock, South Africa
Have you seen this picture? Why is his head so tiny? South Africa have a fairly classy, adaptable batting line-up, but de Kock is the one-note drone that kicks things off. He throws the bat in somewhat guileless but effective fashion. There’s definitely a place for that.
Daniel Vettori, New Zealand
Still playing cricket even though he moves like an 80-year-old whose bones are made of lead. Vettori has had a weird twilight to his career inhabiting some sort of semi-injured limbo. But he’s back. In five matches this year, he’s taken one wicket and that was Shahid Afridi holing out. It therefore makes perfect sense to include yet another conventional spinner who probably won’t have an enormous impact.
Samiullah Shenwari and Mohammad Nabi, Afghanistan
Included together because they’re similar players – effective middle to lower order batsmen who also bowl effective, reasonably economical spin. Nabi bowls off breaks and is therefore perfectly at home in this article. Shenwari bowls legspin and possesses a face which says ‘I can handle myself. Try me, I jeffing dare you.’ Only it doesn’t say it in English, it says it in Pashto.
Glenn Maxwell, Australia
A bit obvious, but come on – you’ve got to watch. People think he’s exciting because he scores hundreds off eight or nine balls, but his real selling point is his glorious unpredictability. He’ll try and reverse cut a bouncer for a single. He’ll turn backwards and try and play a ramp-style slap back over the bowler’s head. He’ll run down the pitch and leave a ball which then hits the stumps.
If you enjoy the boring middle overs of watchful consolidation/keeping it relatively tight, then THESE ARE THE PLAYERS FOR YOU (plus a couple of others).21 Appeals
We come back from a week away and it’s all kicking off. Cricinfo’s changed so that you can’t tell what’s going on in the world; Nick Knight’s photographing Victoria’s Secret models (“Should be an innovative, eye-catching shot suitable for an ultra-glossy magazine cover… Is an innovative, eye-catching shot suitable for an ultra-glossy magazine cover.”); and Bishan Bedi’s tweeting links to your articles.
Old Bish-Bed was drawing attention to our latest Kings of Cricket piece in which we make a somewhat futile attempt to put Sachin Tendulkar’s achievements into some sort of perspective. Have a read while we go through our emails and just generally try and catch up on everything.12 Appeals
Some years ago, one of this site’s regular correspondents set what I imagine he thought would be an all-time altitude record for match reporting. He claimed that the match was taking place at an altitude (and I quote) of 3,500m.
Now there is something rather strange about this, don’t you think? What are the chances of that altitude being exactly 3,500m? Given that there are 100 possible combinations of digits for the final two places, what are the chances of them being zero-zero? In other words, what are the odds of this one thing happening out of 100 chances? I’ve done some calculating, and I can tell you that the odds are less than one in a billion, which is therefore zero.
What this means is that the reported altitude of 3,500m is almost certainly a rounding (or as it is also known, a lie). Now nobody would round down, so it is virtually certain that the actual altitude was less than 3,500m. Given that there are far more numbers less than, for example, 3,465m than there are between 3,465m and 3,500m, the odds heavily favour the actual altitude being lower than 3,465m.
So, to business. I’ve just been on my holidays, and I took this photo of Kapil Dev playing cricket at the Jungfraujoch, at an altitude of 3,466m. This is therefore the new altitude record for cricket match reporting on this website. Thank you very much.
Kapil Dev, being an international captain of much experience, had elected to bowl on a fairly green wicket. In a rather unusual move, he had set a field comprising almost entirely of extremely short mid-ons and mid-offs. John Embury was clearly finding it difficult to find his rhythm with such a field, as can be seen in this photo of him playing a rather flat-footed straight drive when nobody is bowling.
Chris Broad also played, hitting a six onto the glacier at one point. The six-over match was won by one of the teams – the one who scored more runs than the other.
Er, what else can I tell you. Oh, I know, Farokh Engineer was also playing. As were some other people.
Now I know that reporting of actual cricket is frowned upon in these parts, so some of you might have found the last few sentences somewhat disturbing. But never fear, because strictly speaking what I actually took was a photo of a photo of Kapil Dev playing cricket at the Jungfraujoch in August 2009, on a poster in the visitor tunnels. In 2009 I was on holiday in the Lake District, but I would certainly have been following the match closely if I’d known about it. In fact, I do recall having a vague feeling of slight cold one afternoon, which with hindsight can only have been due to a psychic connection with the crowd in the Berner Oberland.
These details in no way invalidate the altitude record, which is mine forever.13 Appeals
Stats. Stats! #Stats
But not weird, complicated stats. Big, bold, lumpen stats. They probably won’t change your thinking, but they’ll allow you to put a value to your opinions so that you can make them sound more credible and scientific.
This article stems from a series of predictions we made five years ago. We’ve already looked at how those went (mixed), but we thought it would also be interesting to see which players really did have most success in that period.
Let’s not get too fancy with this. Highest averages from a minimum of 20 Tests. For reference, the time period is from when we wrote our original article, so it’s not five years exactly.
- Kumar Sangakkara – 65.87
- Hashim Amla – 64.13
- Shivnarine Chanderpaul – 62.72
- AB de Villiers – 62.27
- Younus Khan – 60.13
So we basically got one right – De Villiers.
It’s interesting to note the age of these players: 37, 31, 40, 30 and 37. While three of these players are clearly towards the ends of their careers, Amla and De Villiers can legitimately expect to remain near the top of the pile in the next five-year period as well. Don’t listen next time someone tells you that a 32-year-old batsman’s on the slide.
Not quite sure how to balance this. Let’s do wicketkeepers first because that’s a bit simpler. Criteria: at least 20 Tests with the gloves. Sounds a lot, but we’re talking about a five-year period here so we can afford to be strict.
- AB de Villiers – 60.77
- BJ Watling – 44.00
- Mushfiqur Rahim – 39.82
- Matt Prior – 38.51
- MS Dhoni – 36.48
Good on BJ Watling and Mushfiqur Rahim, but it’s hard not to comment on De Villiers cropping up again. His average is different to the one given above because he only kept wicket in 21 Tests. For what it’s worth, our two selections – Prior and Dhoni – were the top two run-scorers out of that lot.
As for batting-bowling all-rounders, let’s say at least 20 matches, at least 30 wickets. Given those criteria, these guys are the only ones whose batting average exceeds their bowling average.
- Jacques Kallis – 57.92 and 44.52
- Shakib al Hasan – 43.19 and 33.10
- Mohammad Hafeez – 39.26 and 30.66
- Shane Watson – 37.93 and 32.05
- R Ashwin – 35.96 and 30.67
- Vernon Philander – 26.80 and 21.95
We got Shakib out of those. It’s hard to compare them properly though. For example, it’s worth noting that Ashwin and Philander both have over a hundred wickets to their name during this period, wheras Kallis took just 34 in 35 matches.
Pretty strict again, but best averages with a minimum of 100 wickets.
- Dale Steyn – 21.69
- Vernon Philander – 21.95
- Ryan Harris – 23.52
- James Anderson – 26.71
- Rangana Herath – 26.95
We got Steyn. Unsurprisingly, we didn’t get Herath. He comfortably meets the criteria as well. He’s actually taken more wickets (191) than both Philander (121) and Harris (113).
Damn straight.14 Appeals
Five years ago, we picked out five batsmen, four all-rounders and five bowlers who we thought would be the best over the next five-year period. Let’s have a look at how wrong we were.
Here’s who we picked. Let’s look at their records at the point at which we picked them and how they’ve fared since then. We’ll stick to Tests so that this doesn’t become too much of a statsfest.
Ross Taylor: 1,496 runs at 41.55 when we picked him. 3,135 runs at 47.50 since then.
JP Duminy: 389 runs at 48.62 when we picked him. 891 runs at 33.00 since then.
AB de Villiers: 3,558 runs at 43.92 when we picked him. 4,048 runs at 62.27 since then.
Michael Clarke: 3,693 runs at 49.24 when we picked him. 4,780 runs at 51.95 since then.
Gautam Gambhir: 2,553 runs at 56.73 when we picked him. 1,493 runs at 29.86 since then.
Three reasonable calls and two wrong ones you’d say. It’s notable that the two failures are the two who’d been in a particularly rich vein of form at the time of writing.
Duminy isn’t such a great surprise in that even at that early stage he looked a bit wobbly against the short ball, but we did expect more from Gambhir. He seemed to be a player who had to work hard to succeed so we thought he’d still be going well while those to whom batting came more easily might have grown complacent. However, if he was a fighter, he was a fairweather fighter and fairly or unfairly he’ll probably always be remembered for his ‘wait until you come to India’ type comments during a chastening tour of Australia.
Shakib Al Hasan: 715 runs at 29.79 and 48 wickets at 28.27 when we picked him. 1,814 runs at 43.19 and 92 wickets at 33.10 since then.
Dwayne Bravo: 1,856 runs at 32.00 and 73 wickets at 39.57 when we picked him. 344 runs at 28.66 and 13 wickets at 41.30 since then.
MS Dhoni: 2,176 runs at 40.29 when we picked him. 2,700 runs at 36.48 since then.
Matt Prior: 1,326 runs at 44.20 when we picked him. 2,773 runs at 38.51 since then.
Stuart Broad: 767 runs at 30.68 and 64 wickets at 35.78 when we picked him. 1,426 runs at 21.60 and 200 wickets at 28.02 since then.
Shakib Al Hasan’s pretty much held up his side of the bargain and that was quite a leftfield call back then. Dhoni and Matt Prior were actually the top-scoring wicketkeepers in that five-year period, even if their records seem nothing to write home about.
If Stuart Broad now seems a ridiculous selection, his bowling did at least improve, even if his batting means he shouldn’t be in this section. Dwayne Bravo, however, was an exceptionally bad selection. His Test career seemed to finish moments after we clicked ‘publish’.
Dale Steyn: 170 wickets at 23.70 when we picked him. 226 wickets at 21.69 since then.
Mohammad Asif: 70 wickets at 22.22 when we picked him. 36 wickets at 28.52 since then.
Ajantha Mendis: 44 wickets at 29.50 when we picked him. 26 wickets at 43.69 since then.
Ishant Sharma: 54 wickets at 34.42 when we picked him. 133 wickets at 38.47 since then.
Not for the first time, we’ll thank the cricket gods for Dale Steyn. Reading the original article again, we think we knew there was a bit of wishful thinking going on with these selections even at the time. Sad, bad and infuriating.
A mixed bag, but it strikes us that these results would make more sense when set alongside those who really did perform best over this five-year period. So let’s do that. Meet you back here tomorrow.23 Appeals
There’s definitely an opening for an opportunistic side to play a negative, attritional brand of cricket during this World Cup. That approach is so rare, the opposition won’t know what has limply and boringly hit them.
More about this in the form of a satirical news report over at Cricinfo.8 Appeals
Say what you like about Steve Harmison’s overall record, but he could lollop in and hit you on the elbow with the best of them. That uncanny ability to make the ball bounce considerably more than should have been physically possible brought him a bunch of wickets and England a bunch of wins, but far more importantly, it brought hope.
Fast bowlers are few and far between. English ones are rarer still. For a time, Steve Harmison was just such a thing and it was wondrous. Context is everything and that’s one of the main reasons why we named him our latest King of Cricket over at All Out Cricket. You can read all about him by clicking these words.12 Appeals