In a recent comment, Bert revealed that he had something of earth-shattering importance to say about Ravi Shastri arising from this week’s Cricket Badger (sign up here). Unfortunately, he didn’t have a place to say it.
Let this be that place.
It also occurred to us that many of you will have something you wish to express regarding the bombastic microphone holster cum BCCI mascot because – somewhat surprisingly – we’ve never actually written about him before.
We’re quite interested to hear what you all think…29 Appeals
The Pennines have long separated good from bad, but there’s been an odd inversion in county cricket this year.
White Rose good
Nottinghamshire were the only team who could have prevented Yorkshire from winning the County Championship. Being as Yorkshire are positively monstering them with just one more game to go, the title is basically theirs. The flat-capped monophthong favourers made 532-9, which was already enough even before they reduced Notts to not-many-for-six.
Considering they’ve spent most of the summer without their two best batsmen, Yorkshire have batted well this year. Adam Lyth has scored way more runs than anyone else, continuing a rich tradition whereby players we suggest you watch finally come good many years after we’ve tipped them. His alphabet-straddling opening partner, AZ Lees has also averaged over 40, meaning Yorkshire have frequently benefited from strong starts.
Red Rose bad
Lancashire, however – their batting has not been so crash-hot. Here are Yorkshire’s batting averages for this season and here are Lancashire’s. Compare and contrast. Then weep softly for a bit. Then imagine what Lancashire’s would be like without the two overseas imports. Then bawl uncontrollably for a bit.
Lancashire’s 320 all out against Sussex in their current fixture doesn’t sound so bad until you realise that they were 192-8. Sussex should top 400 which should pretty much relegate Lancs. Frankly, they deserve it. They’ve batted badly for years now with few signs that anything might improve.
Kemar Roach then?
He took 4-64 as West Indies beat Bangladesh. He also said things on Twitter, which we’ve included in our latest Cricinfo round-up. Roach comes across as being… an interesting chap.23 Appeals
A quick thank you to Childish Things, the guys who make International Cricket Captain, for agreeing to sponsor the site for the next month (although the hours we’ve lost to the game over the years, frankly they owe us). If you’re not running ad-blocking software, you’ll see a big, long ad for the 2014 version of the game just to the right. If you are running ad-blocking software, you may not – but you will see this post.
We’ve not played this latest version yet. We’d expect it to be some way more sophisticated than the 2009 instalment, which is the last one we did a proper review of. They say the match engine’s been refined to ensure greater realism, although the below screenshot does feature an Alastair Cook hundred.
You can buy the game from the Childish Things website.
Advertising on King Cricket
If anyone else wants to sponsor the site, get in touch. You can have an ad for a month and a thank you post as long as you’re a proper company with a proper product and not just some 19-year-old emailing people asking for links because you work in SEO.30 Appeals
Well this is news. Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal has been banned from bowling.
Ajmal was tested once before and had his action cleared. But not this time. This time he has been found guilty of the greatest crime in cricket.
People will whisper the word whenever he is near and he will have to use the special toilets reserved for his kind whenever he is at a cricket ground. Whenever his name appears in on-screen statistics, it will always be accompanied by an asterisk. This is not to indicate that he was captain. That asterisk says just one thing. People will hiss the words, rather than say them: “Saeed Ajmal was a straightener.”
A thousand parallel Ajmal-less universes have opened up to bitter fans of other nations. In ours, an entirely different Pakistan spinner keeps taking five-for-spit against England in the UAE in 2011. Probably a far less likeable one.15 Appeals
England finally found a modicum of limited overs success. They’ve analysed the stats and apparently scoring hundreds and making big totals will give them a better chance of success in the World Cup. Common sense might also tell you such a thing.
The fifth one-day international
Joe Root became the first England batsman to survive spin bowling in the middle overs. He made a hundred, allowing the the lower order to do what they’ve always been perfectly capable of.
The Twenty20 international
Eoin Morgan remembered that he wasn’t terrible at cricket while the selectors remembered that Ravi Bopara played cricket. Even more strikingly, Virat Kohli finally passed 50 and totally vindicated being retained in our All Out Cricket fantasy team for the entire summer.
And here are the final standings for the King Cricket one-day mini league. Bailout won. We apparently didn’t come second, but sixth.26 Appeals
We’ll come to England’s latest one-day exploits later. For now…
The upskilling of one-day skillsets
This was the other Cricinfo article of ours to be published yesterday. Apparently we were to be found at both ends of the cricket writing spectrum on the 4th of September, 2014. This particular article’s that old staple, the fictional meeting between captain and coach. The bit we’re most proud of is the final sentence.
Living for the city
Our latest Shire Horse column for All Out Cricket is quite Bears-centric, which will satisfy as many as one of this website’s readers. Yorkshire get a mention too. Plus there’s some other stuff.
Kyle Hogg’s had to retire
Let’s end how things always end – with some bad news. At the start of the season, we suggested that you watch out for Lancashire’s Kyle Hogg. Unfortunately, this has meant watching him retire from cricket early due to chronic back knack. For one reason or another, he’s never seemed to manage a long run in Lancashire’s first team and we thought this was about to change but sadly his body felt otherwise.32 Appeals
We’ve written a rather hefty piece for Cricinfo about overtraining in cricket. We think it’s a big deal, but we get the distinct impression that no-one else really does.
It’s partly that people don’t really understand the concept. Understandably, they think it just means training too much, but overtraining is actually a label for a physiological condition that tends to come about as a result of a whole range of factors of which physical training stress is just one.
It hinges on whether or not an athlete is ever fully recovering and so it also involves all those little things which have an impact on that.
Most people don’t understand recovery
And this is simply because they don’t live a lifestyle where it’s any kind of an issue. Even if you play a lot of sport in your spare time, chances are you’re still in overall credit when it comes to recovery. You might struggle in one particular week, but it’s not something that persists for a month or a year.
An alternative title for the Cricinfo article could have been ‘a plea for an off season’ because it strikes us that international cricket seems to be actively courting overtraining. The way the sport is run seems specifically geared towards hampering recovery, enhancing mental stress and most importantly of all, engineering a situation where players define themselves by their performance. When you reach that point, things really get out of hand.
While speaking to Dr Richard Winsley for the article, we pointed out what happened to Jonathan Trott. Thinking about what Trott had said at the start of the summer, about how he’d basically lost the ability to switch off, it struck us that this might be an example of overtraining. Winsley agreed to the extent that he is now going to use Trott as a case study.
If the Trott example tells us anything, it is that such an implosion has no single cause. Rather, it is a perfect storm of multiple, related factors. It is also pretty clear that the environment inhabited by international cricketers is one where such an outcome is increasingly likely.
An extraordinary proportion of a modern international cricketer’s time is spent with colleagues. Have you ever been on a work night out and been struck by how much you talk about the job? Imagine that all day every day. It’s not healthy. People need balance. Now imagine that this environment is all you’ve known for your entire adult life and then suddenly, in your early thirties, it’s gone. How would you adapt to that?
Fred bowled more overs
Measuring bowlers’ workloads in terms of overs is reductive. There’s far more to overtraining than that. England are playing at least one match a month from November of this year until September 2017, so anyone playing multiple formats is rarely going to be more than a week away from another flight and another hotel.
There’s an awful lot appended to a modern international over, whereas a 1950s county over is delightfully unencumbered. They’re not equal.
They’re well paid
This is the most infuriating argument of all – that players should stop moaning because it’s their job and most people would love to be in their position.
Firstly, most people would love to be in their position simply because most people are idiots and only imagine themselves raising their bat or holding aloft a trophy. Nobody plays a game for a living, because as soon you do, it ceases to be a game.
The reality is that you spend years building towards something that might be taken away from you in an instant by a slight divot or a dodgy call. You then get to spend endless hours ruminating on it. The cricket in the middle’s the tiniest fraction of your time and the majority is spent trying to address all your myriad flaws.
Whose problem is it?
The second rebuttal to the ‘they should just bloody well get on with it’ argument is that this is precisely what they are doing. It’s not generally the players who are suffering the most – it’s us, the fans. Most people who read this website – obsessive cricket people, for the most part – would be more than happy to see far fewer games being played. They’d love to see more fast bowling and fewer meaningless fixtures.
Players and coaches are just getting on with it, but that isn’t to say that everything’s fine. Rotation’s pitched as being a cure-all, but that assumes there is someone in charge who can enforce it. Is that the head coach, who needs his best players, the player fighting for his spot, or some sort of head medical officer keen to become a lightning rod for disappointed fans’ hatred?
Fatigue accumulates over time, but as often as not a decent period of rest sees it dissipate. A defined off season would be no bad thing.36 Appeals
Aside from batting all day at one run an over to save Test matches, Faf du Plessis’s other thing is getting hit in the balls. You might say that he’s a specialist.
In the video below, he talks you through the countermeasures he has been forced to take. Here’s a link to the video as well because we’re 95 per cent certain that it won’t show up for email subscribers.
Moeen Ali made 44, 10 and 55 in his first three one-day internationals (ODIs). He was opening the batting. Then they dropped him. Today he made 67 batting at seven.
Chris Woakes opened the bowling at Cardiff and took 4-52. He also opened the bowling in Nottingham. Today he was the fourth bowler used.
Harry Gurney took nine wickets at 22.55 in the series against Sri Lanka. He was dropped for the first match of this series.
Gary Ballance was England’s number three for that Sri Lanka series. He was clearly in form after the Tests. He too was dropped for the first match of this series.
James Tredwell has been the team’s most reliable bowler. He also made his highest ODI score in the last match. Today he was dropped.
It’s hard to avoid changing the team when they’re this bad
But it’s hard to avoid being this bad when the team is changed this much. We know ODIs demand a certain amount of squad rotation, but the players being rotated aren’t ready for it. They’re new to the side. They’re insecure. You rest stalwarts because they can cope with it, but England don’t have any of those because everyone’s tweaked out of the first XI long before they’ve had chance to settle.
Even Steven Finn, who’s played 40 times, said that he was nervous coming back into the side. Well why not prolong that nervousness by dropping him for the next game? Or why not change his role in the side so that he still feels new, even when he’s played several matches on the trot.
There are plenty of things wrong with England’s one-day side. This is another.25 Appeals
The main criticism of England’s one-day batting approach recently has been that they lack the dynamic hitting which is supposed to characterise the modern game. While that’s true up to a point, we actually don’t think that it’s the worst of their problems. There’s something else going on during the non-Powerplay overs – that sizeable chunk of a 50-over game when no-one’s really paying much attention.
Alex Hales is a hefty biffer once he gets up and running, while Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler are more than capable of clearing the ropes later on. What the team often lacks is the subtly different ability to find anything other than singles in the middle overs. This is especially true when steady spinners are bowling. Even Xavier Doherty managed to get away with 10 overs for 28 against them back in January.
Good middle over batting might mean fours or it might just mean twos – it could even involve the odd six. Yesterday England found themselves having apparently negotiated some sort of singles-only pact with India. The tourists were happy with this because at worst they conceded four or five an over and any wickets were a bonus on top of this.
And wickets did ensue – generally when the batsman made some sort of effort to escape from binary purgatory.
English batsmen really seem to struggle with the boring overs. A few singles an over are always available because they’re basically being handed to them by the fielding side. However, as soon as an English batsman becomes more ambitious than that, he seems to get out. It’s like it’s an aspect of cricket with which they’re wholly unfamiliar.
Perhaps it’s something spawned by all those years of 40-over domestic cricket. This low key consolidatory period of a one-day game is the one that’s curtailed in a 40-over match so arguably English batsmen have less experience of this part of the game. There also aren’t as many relentlessly accurate bowlers in county teams. When there is one, a batsman can simply settle for the freebie singles and then score off the more frequent bad balls at the other end.
Boring for whom?
What’s supposed to happen between overs 15 and 35 is for the batting side to make over five an over and lose one or maybe two wickets. What actually happened against India is that England lost all five of their specialist batsmen during this period.
Never mind hitting more sixes in the powerplays. How about some canny twos and fours during the boring overs?30 Appeals