14

Should Jos Buttler bat at five?

Bowled on 12th March, 2014 at 09:57 by
Category: Jos Buttler

We've already seen one 'the Buttler did it' headline

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
14

A bit of housekeeping

Bowled on 11th March, 2014 at 16:57 by
Category: Extras

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
15

Vivisection on England’s World T20 squad

Bowled on 10th March, 2014 at 20:41 by
Category: England cricket news

It’s not dead yet, but let’s take our cleaver and dice it anyway. It’s only a matter of time.

Batting

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.

Bowling

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
14

StraussCat being conspicuously indifferent to Graeme Smith’s retirement

Bowled on 7th March, 2014 at 08:45 by
Category: Animals being conspicuously indifferent to cricket

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.

Possibly a hint of distaste?

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 king@kingcricket.co.uk.

14 Appeals
20

South Africa aren’t exactly easy to beat

Bowled on 5th March, 2014 at 16:34 by
Category: Graeme Smith

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
2

Ashes 2013/14 crossword

Bowled on 5th March, 2014 at 09:45 by
Category: Extras

It's a crossword

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.

Bert writes:

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
19

Shahid Afridi is still in form

Bowled on 4th March, 2014 at 19:28 by
Category: Shahid Afridi

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
27

Graeme Smith’s not had the best series

Bowled on 3rd March, 2014 at 20:56 by
Category: Graeme Smith, Retirement

Graeme Smith not leaving something

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
8

Rolling the Shahid Afridi dice

Bowled on 2nd March, 2014 at 23:48 by
Category: Shahid Afridi

'We need 12 off the next two deliveries, right?'If there is a point to Shahid Afridi – and really, his genius is all about absolute commitment to joyous, unfocused, futile pointlessness – then it is that he should mishit sixes to win matches. That is what happened today.

India and Pakistan have much in common, but they also have their differences – you may even have heard about this. In cricket, the most striking difference is in their respective ‘finishers’.

For India, Mahendra Singh Dhoni typically fills this role. Dhoni is one of the finest one-day batsmen of all time and utterly, utterly reliable. In 214 innings, he appears to have learnt everything there is to know about closing out a 50-over innings and he’s so cool that anyone else on the field of play is at risk of frostbite and hypothermia.

Pakistan field Shahid Afridi at seven. Afridi is basically one last roll of the dice. These dice have just one side that doesn’t say ‘wicket’ and it says ‘six’. In approach, he is as cool as the fires of Hell and in 348 one-day innings, he has learnt precisely nothing. If anything, he has shed knowledge. Certainly, his first innings remains his best.

Today?

“The captain told me to take my time and I did that.”

He hit 34 off 18 balls.

8 Appeals
14

David Warner’s good, isn’t he?

Bowled on 1st March, 2014 at 17:30 by
Category: David Warner

Most runs by an arsehole in 2014

Nobody’s happy about that fact, but we might as well get used to it because when he shuts that toolish mouth and plays cricket, he can score some runs.

Diversity

One thing we really like about this Australian team is that it’s a lesson to everyone on the importance of having diversity within your team. Australian wickets tend to herald change, whereas an incoming England batsman is typically ‘much like the last guy, only more so’.

You need to mix things up. If blocking and leaving isn’t a valid strategy, England tend to gradually move towards ‘really, really blocking and leaving’. In contrast, Australia have one opener trying to split the leather every chance he gets and another who basically just likes standing at the non-striker’s end.

Sometimes obduracy is the better approach. Sometimes giddy pummelling is the way to go. Australia’s opening partnership is almost like a fact-finding mission, allowing the rest of the team to gather information on how they should approach things. Whichever opener’s out first, do the opposite.

The perfect team

Good sides are rarely one-dimensional. That goes for batting and bowling. The perfect cricket team would be a sickly mélange of top chaps and bell ends of all shapes and sizes, boasting a troubling array of mental health problems and physical abnormalities. It would be like a cross between the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons and my local pub on days when a herd of idiots decide to stop in after the football.

14 Appeals

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