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When South Africa were Stued

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Back in August, Stuart Broad tore Australia a new one. But that was last year. How many new ones had he torn in 2016? Not a single one. Disgraceful.

He doubtless wanted to address this grave situation in South Africa’s first innings, but was apparently struck down by the wild shits – or at least something approaching it. At the time, the commentators seemed uncertain what impact this might have on his performance. Even just asking the question indicated that they were preposterously ill-informed. Anyone who has experienced this notorious ailment knows that it is marginally more debilitating than having a broken spine.

Fortunately, recovery is rather more rapid and by South Africa’s second innings Broad was okay. Better than okay, in fact. Between his first and fifth wickets, he only conceded a single run. If you’re new to cricket and are only reading this article because you’re interested in sportsmen’s intestinal health, let us tell you that sort of performance is more than handy.

A word for James Taylor’s catching too. He may have only begun fielding at short leg as some sort of sizeist joke by some captain or other, but he’s clearly grown into the job (metaphorically speaking). He’s now so good that it can only be a matter of time before he’s considered a senior player and therefore removed from the position.

Hat tip to Nick Frost for today’s headline by the way. Other suggestions for that final word included ‘Broadsworded’ and ‘Broadsided’. Our own effort – ‘enbroadled’ – goes some way towards explaining why we should probably resort to crowdsourcing headlines more often.

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Root and Stokes – a certain chemistry

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Alchemy was when they used to try and turn base metals into gold. It was a load of cobblers. Tell you what isn’t a load of cobblers though – Joe Root and Ben Stokes batting together. Quite often when these two substances are combined, true magic happens.

In this year’s Cricket Badger awards, we gave Root and Stokes The White Rabbit Award for their slightly-unhinged efforts at Lord’s against New Zealand. This was when things changed. This was the moment when we all went down the rabbit hole and into Wonderland, away from the horrors we’d long been experiencing in the real world.

On that occasion, the pair delivered a barely-credible rebound, taking England from 30-4 in score terms, but far more importantly the lowest of ebbs in broader terms, to 191-5 – doing so with what should probably be described as something other than ‘panache’ if we could be bothered thinking about it properly.

But sometimes it’s not about being patient and selecting precisely the right word. Sometimes it’s about cracking on and vomiting out a load more words in the hope that the torrent as a whole somehow has more of an impact. Rough and ready, a little bit chancy. Just changing the rhythm and getting things moving really.

Today Root and Stokes were at it again. If Root will get the headlines for what was clearly one of his best hundreds on what so far appears to be a magnificent Test pitch, then credit should also be given for Stokes for being the rockets that launched the Root shuttle for its latest trip beyond the stratosphere.

The partnership was hugely entertaining and enormously valuable. Frankly, you can keep your gold.

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Steven Finn bowls well a lot

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Way back when, there was an advert for Lancashire theme park Camelot in which they made great play of the second half of the name. We can’t remember exactly how it went, but it was something like: “Laugh a lot. Scare a lot. Fun a lot. CAMELOT!”

Fun a lot?

Anyway, Steven Finn bowls well a lot. Seemingly. Hopefully. If true, this is a crucial change from days gone by when Steven Finn bowled well ‘fairly often’ or even just ‘sometimes’.

Consistency is one of those qualities that it’s impossible to see. You can only judge it over a prolonged period. Glenn McGrath was consistent. Wasim Akram was consistent. Dale Steyn is consistent. All the best bowlers are consistent. It’s basically what separates you from the pack.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad always had it in them to bowl well, but they have become much better in recent years precisely because they have gained consistency. There have been signs that Steven Finn may have made a similar step.

In many respects, he’s the same bowler he ever was. Same pace, same bounce, maybe a touch more swing. But while the highs remain much the same, they are arriving a little more frequently; the lows less frequently; and the bit in between is a little less mediocre.

These days Camelot is a creepy, desolate place where mannequins with tonsures litter the pathways. For many years people didn’t come a lot and it was forced to close. There were good days, sure, but attendance was inconsistent. Consistency matters. Perhaps Finn noted this and concluded that if he didn’t learn from the Camelot story then people would abandon him too and a bunch of scallies might set fire to his rides.

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AB de Villiers wants a cake-eating window

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

AB de Villiers wants to retain The Cake of International Cricket and also eat The Lucrative Cake of T20 Franchise Cricket. It doesn’t sound so ludicrous an ambition until you examine the bizarre cake-for-cake barter system that is currently in operation.

Under current law, The Lucrative Cake of T20 Franchise Cricket can only be acquired in full by trading in The Cake of International Cricket. ‘Up with this I will not put,’ says De Villiers. ‘This will not stand‘.

That’s the way we’re reading the recent comments of South Africa’s new Test captain anyway. He says Test cricket is “the main format” and that his focus is on international cricket – but he also says he’s playing too much cricket and that he “cannot ignore” some of the “big tournaments going on around the world at the moment.”

We’re absolutely in agreement that there is too much international cricket, but all his talk of needing a break could be a bit misleading. We suspect that what he actually wants is a whole wall of double-glazed windows in international cricket which would allow him to take part in the IPL, the Big Bash, The Caribbean Premier League and whatever else might pay well.

He wants to gorge on the The Lucrative Cake of T20 Franchise Cricket and then return to the still intact Cake of International Cricket, safe in the knowledge he isn’t missing out on anything.

He wants a cake-eating window.

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R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja want to go home

Probably. We wouldn’t blame them one bit.

Imagine being down the pub with your mates, talking about cricket. The company’s good, the beverages are exquisite: you’re in your element. The next day, you find yourself in an overpriced city centre drink hole along with some colleagues. They’re talking about potential comings and goings during football’s winter transfer window. You stand awkwardly, sipping some sort of acrid liquid which you’d assumed was the best option available to you. You’re not in your element.

In his last international match – a Test match against South Africa in Delhi – R Ashwin bowled 49.1 overs in the second innings, taking 5-61. He took 31 wickets in the series at an average of 11.12, conceding 2.09 runs an over. For his part, Ravindra Jadeja took 23 wickets at 10.82 and conceded 1.76 runs an over.

The pair were strike bowlers, holding bowlers and they barely took a break. They did everything.

But cricket encompasses a lot. Today, in a one-day international against Australia, Ashwin took 2-68 off nine and Jadeja 0-61 off nine. They were bit-part players and, but for Ashwin’s wickets, it could even be argued that they were liabilities.

So it goes. Sometimes all you can do is sip your Amstel and try and make the best of things.

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