When a sweaty-palmed Jade Dernbach bowled a wide with West Indies needing seven to win off one delivery, it was easy to forget that his opening spell had been sort of all right.
It’s not a big thing, but it’s definitely progress. Someone seems to have persuaded Dernbach that variations are only such when they vary from something. His first delivery took a wicket, his first over was a maiden, but the real achievement was that those six balls were all roughly the same as each other.
Clearly they’re going to keep picking him – there’s nothing we can do about it – so we might as well try and support him, at least for the next few weeks. If that means refraining from commenting on embarrassing, dry-humping wicket celebrations which are entirely out of proportion for a dead rubber in a warm-up series, then so be it.20 Appeals
That’s not a chant. There are too many syllables. You’d have to rush through the ‘Test cricket’ bit to make it work and Test cricket ain’t for rushing through.
No, ‘more Test cricket for South Africa’ actually comes about because it looks like there is going to be more Test cricket for South Africa. They’re looking to extend series against Australia to four Tests and there also seem to be plans to do the same in series against India, which will be excellent right up until the point that the BCCI suddenly decide they want to do something different.
On that subject, the IPL’s going to start in the UAE next month. They decided that this week.16 Appeals
Let’s overlook all the trivial details, like the omission of England’s best Twenty20 batsman and the retirement of their best-ever Twenty20 bowler (one name in particular crops up very frequently in this list) and instead focus on whether Jos Buttler should emerge with England 26-3, 32-4 or 38-5.
It might seem like quibbling with someone’s use of indicators as they fly down the wrong side of a dual carriageway, but set it aside. Let’s just, for a moment, assume that everything else is fine and pretend that this is a really big issue.
This is troubling us because we internally contradicted ourself. We’ve always thought that Twenty20 batting orders should be pretty much best-to-worst from one to eleven. With so few overs available, you might as well make the most of what you’ve got. Then, when Jos Buttler came in at five yesterday, we thought: “No! What are you doing? Jos Buttler should come in with four overs to go to do whatever the hell he likes.”
Does this make sense? Surely if he comes in earlier he can hang around a bit, play normally and then still do whatever the hell he likes with four overs to go? It’s just that we don’t really want to see him build an innings. He’s so spectacularly good at pulling one out of his arse in an instant that earthly innings construction seems to miss the whole point.
Also, it’s reassuring to have a wildcard down the order. Look at DJ Sammy‘s performance yesterday.14 Appeals
Just to let you know that the answers to the Ashes 2013/14 crossword are now available. The link’s at the bottom of the page and there are explanations as well so that you can see how you’re stupid as well as how stupid you are. If you think that’s insulting, bear in mind that we had to read the entire thing.
This second paragraph was going to be about something else we’d been meaning to say for a while but hadn’t got round to saying – possibly something to do with the website, its ‘direction’ or what you might expect to see in coming days and weeks. As it turns out, we have nothing to share about the website beyond the fact that the crossword answers are available and we’ve covered that above, so…14 Appeals
It’s not dead yet, but let’s take our cleaver and dice it anyway. It’s only a matter of time.
No Kevin Pietersen, the man of the tournament the only time England won a big competition, so who’s going to pick up the slack?
Well not Joe Root. He’s got a broken thumb. Since breaking it, he’s scored a hundred and taken a wicket in his first over while opening the bowling, but you really don’t want to risk valuable young cricketers when they’re injured. That leaves us with something like:
- Michael Lumb
- Alex Hales
- Luke Wright
- Eoin Morgan
- Jos Buttler
- Ravi Bopara
- Ben Stokes
Of those, we are very, very happy with Morgan, Buttler and Bopara, but anticipate flakiness from the other four. Hales is in credit, but seems happier against fast bowlers, who might not be so plentiful on Bangladesh’s pitches. It’s a similar story with Wright. After 44 T20 international innings, he averages 18 and his four fifties were scored against New Zealand (two), Afghanistan and the Netherlands. He doesn’t inspire confidence.
This is where things look really wonky. In fact, most of the bowlers aren’t actually bowlers – they’re all-rounders. We know that it’s all about having ‘options’ but you also want things to go well once you’ve taken one of those options. Where are the specialists?
Well there’s James Tredwell, whose one-day economy doesn’t seem to translate so well to the shortest format and there’s Chris Jordan whose economy rate in domestic T20 is a worrying 8.59. There’s Tim Bresnan, who’s nice and sensible and there’s Jade Dernbach, who we’re not even going to bother passing comment on. Finally, there’s Stephen Parry who’s the non-spinning spinner no-one’s heard of who will probably outbowl everyone. England like to find a new one of those for each World T20 tournament.
There may or may not be Stuart Broad. England’s captain is out of the current series, but they’re giving him a knee injection. He doesn’t seem certain whether it’s his fourth or fifth.
It makes sense considering:
“It’s just gradually got worse throughout the winter with the amount of bowling I’ve been doing – no real break – so it’s something I need to act on now to make sure I’m fit and firing for that World Cup.”
As we said earlier, sometimes you have to risk valuable young cricketers even when they’re injured. Wait. What did we say earlier?15 Appeals
Lemon Bella writes:
As is customary at times like this, cricketing greats of the past must come out of the woodwork to pass opinion on the breaking news of the day. Therefore I found it necessary to consult StraussCat regarding the retirement of Graeme Smith.
He wasn’t particularly interested when I told him the news, but his indifference reached a peak when I showed him all my match tickets from the summer Indian Skimmer and I spent following Graeme Smith around England.
Look! There’s even a South African lanyard he could have played with, but he chose to ignore it.
He got up and walked away when I told him that the Test match ticket was for the day before Graeme scored his awesome 154 to win the series.
If you’ve got a picture of an animal being conspicously indifferent to cricket, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org Appeals
It was nearly a fitting send-off for Graeme Smith from a team hewn in his image (and ‘hewn’ is the only appropriate word to use). This South Africa side are dogged, resilient, they bat for ages and they’re prone to fourth innings performances that defy received wisdom.
Fortunately for Australia, they had a massive, massive lead and absolutely ages to take 10 wickets. They just about managed it thanks to two spanking deliveries from Ryan Harris (and you wouldn’t bet against it being his last Test either).
After the match, while both teams shook hands, Shane Warne went further and hugged everyone. A frighteningly elated Mark Nicholas then said ‘magnificent full balls’ to Ryan Harris and it sounded horrendous. Mitchell Johnson didn’t sound elated. He sounded drab and depressed, but he was probably just tired.20 Appeals
We were waiting for an England win before we published this, or something like that. It absolutely isn’t that we totally forgot about it. Answers will appear
when we’re reminded in a day or so.
Life has lost its lustre. Things that were once shiny and bright are now dull and decayed. The sun is up, the sky is blue, there’s not a cloud to spoil the view, but it’s raining, raining in our hearts. Actually, the sun isn’t up, the sky is solid grey and it’s raining, raining on my head, but that’s not the point. The point is that things are pretty bleak for English cricket fans right now.
So how do we respond to this disaster? By whining and moping? By crying and moaning? By small-mindedly picking holes in the fabric of Australian cricket? Well yes of course, that all goes without saying. But also by LAUGHING in the face of adversity, by CHORTLING in the gaze of ill fortune, by STIFLING A SMIRK in the general vicinity of disappointment.
In short, by DOING AN ASHES 2013/14 CROSSWORD!
For you, for your catharsis, I have searched the darkest corners of my soul to bring you this crossword. There and the “Dreadful” entry on an online thesaurus. I must warn you, this crossword will chill you to the core, it will open old wounds and force you to confront the demons you hoped were buried forever. It will not be pleasant, unless you happen to be an Australian. In which case, happy days. You can sit on your porch in the deadly heat with a can of lager deliberately chilled to the point of tastelessness, desperately trying to jam some of the 97 words your university education has given you into the grid.
The answers and explanations are available here.2 Appeals
Every batsman suffers the ebb and flow of form. Most will alter their approach when out of form, taking fewer risks in the knowledge that they aren’t middling it. Shahid Afridi never alters his approach and being as his approach amounts to little more than essaying wild, body-convulsing heaves at pretty much every delivery he faces, form has a sizeable impact on his returns.
Out of form, Shahid Afridi gets out. And he gets out quickly. In form, he scores at almost unimaginable speed. On Sunday, he took his time and hit 34 off 18 balls. Today, he notched a half-century in the same number of deliveries, hitting seven sixes. After nine deliveries, he was on 35, after which he chilled out a bit.
It was the second-fastest 50 in the history of one-day internationals and it was the third time he’d scored one that quickly. He also has one off 19 deliveries, two off 20 deliveries, one off 21 deliveries and one off 22 deliveries.19 Appeals
We wrote this title in the hope that we’d have some really funny thoughts to share once we started staring at the great expanse of whiteness where the body of the article’s supposed to go.
Nothing happened, so we checked Twitter and apparently Graeme Smith’s going to retire. Let this be a lesson to everyone that sometimes all you have to do is make a half-hearted effort to do something, allow yourself to become distracted, and then everything will just sort of work itself out.
In his retirement statement, Graeme Smith confessed to having left everything out on the field over the course of his career. ‘Everything’ by definition includes poo. We don’t know why he would have done that, but he’s admitted to it now.
There’s an outside chance this isn’t the most mature, insightful retirement article we’ve ever written.27 Appeals