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Them North v South matches start this week

Compass (CC licensed by summerbl4ck via Flickr)

Compass (CC licensed by summerbl4ck via Flickr)

Or, you know, “those” North v South matches if you’ve got some weird dialect or other.

Rivalries are rarely more intense than between two groups of people who are all but identical when viewed with any sense of perspective. The rest of the cricket world will look on in amused awe on Friday as the two halves of the UK trade insults about weather and cuisine.

“It rains fractionally more often than on one day in three where you’re from,” says the person from a place where it rains fractionally less than one day in three.

“You can’t even get gravy on your chips where you’re from,” retorts the person from an area where they put gravy on their chips.

All good fun, and then, when the matches are over, we all go and buy a pint of room temperature beer and congratulate ourselves on not being Australian.

Needless to say, the North team has been necessarily compromised by the inclusion of players from a bunch of southern counties to try and even things out a bit. Ben Duckett, for one, will be redirected towards the other changing room should he be tested with the ‘butter bath’ shibboleth.

If you’re poring over the squads, it’s also worth pointing out that Lancashire’s S Mahmood is of course Saqib, not Sajid. The latter doesn’t really play cricket any more, outside of Unibet adverts. He is instead busying himself with his ‘urban streetwear’ brand, Baulla.

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Books to read at the cricket – A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

Ged writes:

This was a first for me in the matter of reading a novel while watching county cricket. In the past, at cricket, I have always gone for:

  • factual books (usually on economics, psychology, ethics or some mixture of those things)
  • plays
  • journal articles
  • and/or my general weekly reading (e.g. The Economist and/or The Week)

A Confederacy of Dunces is a great book. Most of it works fine as cricket reading, although some of the longer ramblings of the lead character, Ignatius J Reilly, are not ideally suited to the tempo of reading while watching cricket.

Walter Percy’s introduction to the book describes Ignatius as, “slob extraordinary, a mad Oliver Hardy, a fat Don Quixote…”. I suggest that the cricket lover imagines him as their least-favourite rotund cricketer. In my case, the cricketer in question was Fatty Pringle.

While watching Sam Robson nurdle the ball effortlessly off his legs and Nick Gubbins drive majestically through extra cover, I imagined “Ignatius” trying instead to hoik the ball to cow corner while emitting bovine styles of methane and noise.

But I digress. In summary, A Confederacy of Dunces is:

  • a cracking good read
  • almost certainly better read over a few days, not in chunks over a few months
  • entirely unconnected with cricket, except in your own imaginings
  • moderately suitable as cricket match reading. On balance, yes, go for it

Have you tried to read summat while at a cricket match? Let us know how it went at

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Jason Roy wants England to be worse at one-day cricket

Still taken from Sky Sports

Still taken from Sky Sports

It’s happened again. Jason Roy wants to do things that will make England worse at cricket.

Ahead of the World T20, Roy appeared to lose sight of his role at the top of the order, which we likened to tinder. He said he wanted to give himself time, apparently unaware that any time he took would have to be stolen from his team-mates.

Similarly, talking about the 50-over game this week, he said: “I want to be that solid guy at the top of the order. Yes, quick 50s and 60s every now and then but big hundreds are at the forefront of my mind.”

That’s all well and good for Jason Roy, but if the best way of shaping his individual innings would be to exercise a degree of restraint early on, that’s not often going to be the best approach for the team innings.

Sometimes it might be, but by and large we’d suggest that England’s cause would be best served by Jason Roy hammering it from the off. When he does that, he not only intimidates the opposition, he also buys time for his team-mates down the order.

That gift is often vital. If everything goes smoothly and the team manages to employ the long handle throughout the innings, Roy’s initial pongo can be the difference between their total and the opposition’s. If there are hiccups along the way and there’s a need to stabilise the innings, quick early runs from Roy mean the middle-order has room for manoeuvre.

It’s not like Roy has a poor individual record anyway. Three hundreds in 36 innings is perfectly acceptable when combined with an average of over 40 and a scoring rate of over a run a ball. Why strive for solidity if it’ll round off the very edge that makes you so useful to the team?

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The India players have started faking injuries

Cheteshwar Pujara (CC licensed by Naparazzi via Flickr)

Cheteshwar Pujara (CC licensed by Naparazzi via Flickr)

Pat Farhart news!

About time. It’s been almost a decade.

Farhart is of course the physio who not-all-that-famously helped Australia spinner Beau Casson’s groin “respond”.

He hasn’t got down to any of that sort of business with India yet, but he’s working towards it. Mark our words. He’s giving neck rubs and while we have absolutely no reason to believe that Che Pujara was faking the injury that led to this, we’re going to say that he was anyway.

Speaking after the second Test, Pujara said: “I would like to thank Patrick Farhart, our physio, who made it possible for me to bat, and bat at No. 3, because there was one stage where I felt I might not be able to bat No. 3 because my neck was really sore. But he worked on it and ultimately I achieved the goal for the team.”

‘Oh Pat, Pat. I can’t possibly field today because I’m suffering from some horrendous foot ailment and also a back spasm. Lend me your magical healing hands and I will be able to go and stand at mid-on for a bit.’

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Virat Kohli accuses Steve Smith of line-crossing

“There’s a line that you don’t cross on the cricket field,” said Virat Kohli, shortly after suggesting that the Australians had been looking to their dressing room for help when deciding whether to review decisions or not.

You realise what this is, don’t you? It’s an allegation of line-crossing.

This is serious stuff, because as you’re no doubt aware, the Australian cricket captain is the one who dictates the location of ‘the line’.

Any activity carried out by Australian players falls into the category of “playing hard but fair” while all other activities are by definition either “soft cricket” or “crossing the line”.

No-one fulfilled the role better than Michael Clarke, a man who fully understood the mobility and flexibility of the line. Clarke would no doubt agree with Steve Smith that seeking out the opinion of a third party when mulling whether or not to call upon the decision review system merely constitutes “a bit of a brain fade.”

It is, quite frankly, an outrage that Virat Kohli should slander the Australians in this way. It is surely obvious to us all that the Australians, with their poor faded brains, would never breach the line. The line is sacred.

Virat has crossed the line on this line-crossing thing.

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Did India give Australia a 1.4 Test head start?

It would seem a bit much to give the opposition a 1.4 Test head start in a three Test series. The finish line could be crossed with little more than a trip and a fall.

Apparently this is a four Test series though, so perhaps India aren’t quite as devil-may-care as we assumed they were when we first embarked on this article.

The home team allowed Australia the first Test and the majority of the first half of the second. Now they’ve tied their shoelaces and are lumbering into action.

As the rest of the series plays out, it’ll be interesting to see whether the gift of such a sizeable head start turns out to be complacent foolhardiness or entirely justified contempt.

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Nathan Lyon transforms into Australia’s Steve O’Keefe

Or at least it could be seen that way if Australia didn’t already have a Steve O’Keefe. Nathan Lyon still bowled like one though.

You know that classic Steve O’Keefe thing; the one where you go to India and spin them out for under 200? Lyon did that. You know this already because you pay attention to these things.

India seem like a team in need of a change. It feels like they’ve been playing home Test matches on an almost weekly basis since about October.

They’re usually good at it, but in an effort to mix things up a bit, they’ve now decided to be bad it. Perhaps it’s the only way they can quench their thirst for change.

Bit embarrassing though. Australia are to all intents and purposes one good innings away from securing the series. Australia!


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The hefty, graceful Inzamam-ul-Haq is slightly older

Apparently it’s Inzy’s birthday today. We know this because All Out Cricket linked to an old Kings of Cricket piece we wrote about him on that basis.

If recycling content on a Friday because it’s someone’s birthday is good enough for All Out Cricket, well it’s also good enough for us. Have you seen this week’s Cricket Badger? If you have you’ll realise that we’re not exactly desperate to pour heart, soul and time into something new as this week draws to a close.

So this is pretty much it. Today’s news is basically that Inzy’s a day older. As are you. Same as every day.

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A new source of images – so obviously we just went and found a load of Rob Key photos

Getty has got a thing that allows us to embed images. They say it’s free to use and entirely legal – although with Getty being famously litigious when it comes to unauthorised use of their photographs, we still feel a little nervous, like they’re luring is into a trap or something.

Nevertheless, we wanted to take a look at what kind of thing might be available, so needless to say the first thing we did was carry out a search for ‘Rob Key’.

The results feature a surprisingly heavy emphasis on this kind of thing.

However, don’t think for one minute that there’s nothing but Rob in whites looking a bit sad after losing his wicket against Essex.

Because sometimes he’s wearing coloured clothing while in the very process of losing his wicket against Essex.

And at other times he’s wearing coloured clothing, in the process of losing his wicket against Essex, but photographed from the opposite side.

But there are some truly spectacular moments too.

Take this photo of him in profile, for example.

And finally, here’s the Queen getting to shake him by the hand – the lucky bitch.

Can’t wait to see none of these photos show up in the daily email and for this post to make precisely zero sense to all our subscribers as a consequence.

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A poor pitch? And Australia won?

Cricket pitch (CC licensed by Anders Sandberg via Flickr)

Cricket pitch (CC licensed by Anders Sandberg via Flickr)

The Pune pitch on which Australia beat India was rated poor on the grounds that it gave too much assistance to spinners.

This is a paradox.

Australia made 260 and 285.

Australia did.


Australia, with their leaden hands and their be-aggressive-but-patient-and-show-a-bit-of-mongrel-and-play-in-this-one-specific-way-but-find-your-own-method approach to facing spin bowling. They managed to make more runs than the opposition and yet the pitch was rated poor.

How can this possibly be?

Chris Broad, the match referee, cited a loose surface at both ends with spinners’ deliveries exploding from the surface early in the match.

One can only presume that Australia’s random gameplan generator for facing spin bowling for once struck gold.

Seemed a good pitch to us.

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