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A cricket bat in the back of a van

Edwardian writes:

Here’s a conspicuous cricket bat in the back of a van.

Send your pictures of cricket bats and other cricket stuff in unusual places to king@kingcricket.co.uk


A report from a 2016 Lord’s match between Middlesex and Lancashire

Ged writes:

I was joined for the afternoon by Escamillo Escapillo. Actually, the fact that we were together watching Middlesex v Lancashire was a noteworthy matter in itself, as our previous attempts to do so had been thwarted:

Inevitably, the conversation soon turned to the matter that pretty much everyone must have been talking about around that time.

“The pitch seems a bit flat,” said Escamillo.

“More than a bit low and slow,” I concurred. “It’s been getting this way for years. Strip probably needs a complete relaying, but I think Mick Hunt wants to leave that potential banana skin to his successor.”

“At Old Trafford,” said Escamillo, “we turned the whole square around 90 degrees. That did a grand job of it. Have thee thought of trying that here at Lord’s?”

We were sitting on the front terrace of the pavilion. I looked around sharply to check if any of the gentlemen might have overheard the remark. There were none within hearing aid range, mercifully.

I quietly asked Escamillo, “I take it you are aware of the hoo-ha our nation has just been through with the Brexit referendum?”

“Yes?” said Escamillo, quizzically.

“Around here, your square rotation idea would be far more controversial than Brexit.”

Send your match reports to king@kingcricket.co.uk. If it’s a professional match, on no account mention the cricket itself. If it’s an amateur match, feel free to go into excruciating detail.


Steve Smith the ball-eater and other stories: England’s ODI series win over Australia in old-school stats

Steve Smith fails to get stumped (via BT Sport)

Remember averages and strike-rates?

We do.

Let’s take a look at some of the meat and potatoes stats for England’s 4-1 one-day series win over Australia.

Steve Smith ate balls

The Australian captain ate up 148 deliveries over the course of the series and yet paid his team back with just 102 runs.

Steve Smith is a greedy ball-eater and not at all generous to his team-mates in his approach to run-scoring.

This is the danger when a one-day batsman’s defence is too reliable – he can actually fall back on it.

Australia took wickets

England had just three bowlers who averaged less than Chris Woakes’ 39. Adil Rashid averaged 29.90, Liam Plunkett averaged 30.00 and Tom Curran averaged 7.50.

In contrast, six Aussies averaged less than Woakes, and of those, five averaged less than 30.

Moral of the story: up until the tenth and final one, wickets have little intrinsic value in one-day cricket.

Plenty of batting to come

Steve Smith says that England’s habit of absolutely caning it until they run out of batsmen is risky – but it’s less risky than for most teams because of how they pick their side.

England’s batsmen are more disposable and each of their wickets is therefore less valuable to the opposition. With big biffer Liam Plunkett – a man with three first-class hundreds to his name – at number 10, the top order can afford to chance their arm that bit more.

The benefit of the approach (quicker run-scoring throughout the innings) is generally greater than the cost (greater likelihood of losing wickets) in large part because of the point made in the previous section.

Chris Woakes averaged 170

And scored 117 runs per 100 balls.

Chris Woakes bats at eight.

England won the run-outs 4-1

The same as the series score. Coincidence?

(It’s quite possible we just added this up wrong, because life’s too short for double-checking.)

Moeen Ali was economical, Adil Rashid was expensive (but took 10 wickets)

Different bowlers who go about things in different ways. It’s good for a captain to be able to call on both.


Do England attack too much? (and other questions) – mop-up of the day

Steve Smith (via BT Sport)

Steve Smith says England’s one-day international (ODI) tactic of ‘going really hard the whole time’ is risky because sometimes they might get bowled out.

He doesn’t seem to acknowledge that England play this way because they pick 10 batsmen. Nor does he seem to realise that his hypothetical scenario in which England have a bad day in the semi-finals of a World Cup isn’t exactly a cold sweat nightmare for an England ODI side.

As for his own team, Smith said of Australia’s poor performance: “A lot of it comes down to poor decision making, and execution out in the middle.”

So basically the main issues are deciding what to do and also doing it.

India in England this summer

Shortly after England have played yet another five-match ODI series against Australia in July, they’ll square up against India in Big Man Cricket.

Last week we floated the idea that India might outpace South Africa in the third Test and this proved to be the case. We now predict that they will bother England greatly later in the year.

It’s not so much that they have a whole bunch of fast bowlers. Nor is it that they are consciously refusing to complain about pitches (and really, they’ve been deafeningly non-critical even when there’ve had good reason to moan). It’s more that Virat Kohli’s side’s seemingly accepted its limitations but then cracked on without ever once subsiding to defeatism.

Difficult overseas tours rarely climax with hard-fought wins for the touring side. It’s not a feat to be overlooked.

This is where you’ll find us

We imagine you’ll have one of two responses to that headline.

Half of you will immediately think “passed out on waste ground” or “rummaging in the bins round the back of Aldi”.

The other half will think “we find you here at King Cricket – what on earth are you talking about?”

What we’re talking about is other places where you can find us. We thought it was time for a recap.

But in addition to all of that…

We recently started a Twitter account for our film and TV writing.

This is new. We’re wholly reliant on editors agreeing that our ideas are good before articles can actually come into existence, so don’t expect great swathes of stuff to appear any time soon. Hopefully there will be a steady drip feed though, so please follow, retweet etc.

Secondly, our pro cycling website still exists – and it too has a Twitter account.

Finally, there’s Cricket Badger, an irreverent weekly cricket newsletter that you’ve probably already signed up for. If you’re not a subscriber, this is where a fair chunk of our cricket writing ends up, so maybe take a look.

P.S.

Thanks for reading and paying some degree of attention to our work. It’s very much appreciated.


Nuwan Thushara’s bowling action (+ video)

Nuwan Thushara (via YouTube)

When is a one-off not a one-off? When he inspires a copycat.

Lasith Malinga is not unique. We happened across this video of Sinhalese Sports Club’s Nuwan Thushara the other day.

Nuwan has clearly thought to himself: “That bowling action of Lasith Malinga’s looks really logical and easy to reproduce. I’ll bowl exactly like that.”

We first wrote about Malinga’s action back in 2006 and that page is still attracting anonymous comments from people who are convinced that he’s a cheat.

Our response is the same as it ever was. He bowls with a straight arm, so no problem there, and if it’s such a massive advantage, why isn’t everyone doing it?

The answer is because it’s not a massive advantage. Unless you absolutely perfect this technique, it’s actually a monumental disadvantage.

If you were to try and build a wide-bowling machine, you’d build it with this action. (Either that or you could just point a normal bowling machine slightly to one side.)

At the time of writing, the 23-year-old Nuwan Thushara has played three first-class matches and two T20s. He took 2-24 on his T20 debut two years ago, but is yet to take a first-class wicket.


We checked who bought Rishabh Pant and it reminded us of something about the IPL

Rishabh Pant is a player we keep an eye on. We don’t write about him much at the minute, but we get the sense that we will. We were therefore interested to see where he ended up in the IPL auction and whether the teams valued him as highly as we do.

Delhi Daredevils bought him for $2.34m (about £1.65m).

“Great,” we thought. “Now what?”

Because this doesn’t lead us anywhere. We’ve never really felt much affinity with any particular IPL team and this is unlikely to change simply because one of them is now blessed with a Pant.

The Indian Premier League is, it seems to us – and bear with us if this seems a rather obvious statement of fact – an Indian competition.

What we mean by this is that with players going back into the hat once every few years, geography seems just about the best reason for latching onto a particular team.

If you live in Bangalore, support Bangalore. If you live in Delhi, support Delhi. Those of us who live in Manchester and have visited five of the eight cities housing teams don’t really have an obvious route in.

In many respects, the tournament is best viewed as an academic exercise, a resource allocation competition in which various groups spend their money and deploy their resultant playing staffs and whoever has the best plans wins.

We can get behind that. We rather like it. The mechanics of the various strategies and the way things will eventually pan out are very intriguing to us. Except without any sort of bias or hopes for one group to triumph over the others, it also feels a little flat.

What we’re left with is lab sport of the mind: valid and worthy, but sadly lacking the power to truly delight us or to really piss us off.


Joe Root goes big, Australia fall short

Before the fourth one-dayer between Australia and England, the at times nauseatingly partisan BT Sport Twitter account asked which of three England batsmen would “go big” – Jason Roy, Joe Root or Jos Buttler.

After 6.2 overs, the answer was clear – Joe Root, whose seven-ball duck was significantly larger than the two-ball ducks notched by Roy and Buttler.

‘Plenty of batting to come’ is a commentary cliché that can be deployed almost throughout an England one-day innings, but even they couldn’t afford to lose half their wickets for eight runs.

Australia did at least try and make a complete balls-up of their chase, but sadly couldn’t finish the job.

Update: It’s since been pointed out to us that the BT tweet is actually a tick list, not a series of options. We’re not editing this though. We’re going to leave our idiocy on full display because by this point in life we no longer care that we’re stupid.


South Africa v India is not boxing, it’s racing

With wickets falling every 10 or 20 runs in the South Africa v India series, it’s tempting to resort to the heavyweight boxer cliché. This has the two combatants going toe-to-toe, knocking lumps out of one another with neither taking a backward step.

It’s odd to think of wickets as ‘damage’ rather than the primary aim of the sport. Unlike limited overs, which is a ‘most runs wins’ game, Test cricket is essentially a race to 20 wickets. Wickets are the meaningful currency. Batsmen are necessary impediments and the game only moves forwards when they are dismissed.

In this series both teams have been moving at a ferocious pace, with India thus far not quite able to keep up. This isn’t for lack of trying however, and you wonder whether sooner or later the home team might be the one to crack.

 


What does Lloyd Pope’s hair say about his leg-spin?

You may know by now that Australia leg-spinner Lloyd Pope took 8-35 to knock England out of the Under-19 World Cup.

This is Lloyd Pope’s hair. You may also notice something hanging off the bottom of it. That thing is Lloyd Pope.

Lloyd Pope’s hair (ICC)

You may feel that a man’s hair cannot possibly say anything meaningful about his leg-spin. We are here to tell you otherwise.

Look at Stuart MacGill with his ‘ruffled-yet-effective understudy’ cut. Look at the 20-something Shane Warne and his attention-seeking frosted mop.

Look at Anil Kumble with a haircut you could set your watch by, or Imran Tahir with his ever-changing locks betraying his unquenchable lust for experimentation.

Look at BS Chandrasekhar and tell us that haircut didn’t say ‘watch out for the googly’.

And so to Lloyd Pope.

That is not hair that just happens. You don’t just inch your way towards that hair without being fully conscious of precisely what you’re doing.

Lloyd Pope’s hair says: “I am my own man, ploughing my own furrow and I will not be easily swayed by others’ advice. I will face down your slings and arrows and rise above it all.

“Block me and I will rip it. Attack me and I will only rip it harder. I am central, I am here to be noticed and I am here for the duration.

“Leg-spin is my art and my craft and my calling and I am not here to keep things tight. Watch yourself, batsman, watch yourself – for I am here to take your wicket. Also, I am slapping back a little.”


We got someone who’s been off work sick to report on the Under-19 World Cup for us

Shivam Mavi is about to hit the stumps (ICC)

Budgets and time constraints being what they are, this seemed a smart way to go about things. The Under-19 World Cup is definitely a tournament where you want to hear the views of someone who’s had a very heavy cold – particularly if that person also happens to harbour an unusually deep-seated hatred of commentator Alan Wilkins.

Apropos of nothing much at all really, D Charlton told us that India have “a proper quick bowler” while England have “one great looking batsman”.

The England lad is Harry Brook, who sounds to us like a 1920s outside-left, signed for £3,000. According to D Charlton, “there was something about Brook that had stardust on it.”

We asked D Charlton who the Indian lad was. He said he wasn’t sure.

He later got back to us and said it was Shivam Mavi. No further details.

D Charlton also said that the tournament had provided awkward ground for the commentators, as they’re often left talking about people they really don’t know that much about.

“Alan Wilkins has repeated the same story about England’s wicketkeeper (that his grandfather kept for Glamorgan (Wilkins used to play for Glamorgan)) at least three times.

“He also has a habit of being surprised at the players’ ages. ‘Here’s the young Bangladeshi number four, and he’s ONLY 18 years of age…’

“He does this repeatedly. As does Mark Butcher who, otherwise, has been excellent.

“But the commentary exchange of the tournament so far went like this. Rob Key had a genuinely interesting fact about England’s opening bowler Ethan Bamber: his dad played Hitler in Tom Cruise’s film Valkyrie. Key reveals this, then…

Russel Arnold: What a character to play!
Rob Key: Not one for the method actor.
<cue furious producer shouting at them to stop talking about Hitler>
Arnold: So… what’s happening at Kent?
Key: I don’t know, I’m here, not in Kent.

“Who knew how easy it was to break the Golden Rule of Commentary: do not mention Hitler.”

In a later missive, D Charlton said: “Alan Wilkins made the usual comment when the camera showed a group of schoolkids at the cricket: ‘School children allowed in for free today – it’s great to see them doing that.’

“Mark Butcher said: ‘Anyone can get in for free. It’s not just you who has a special pass, Alan.'”

To ensure full clarity on his position on the matter, D Charlton added: “I hate Alan Wilkins.”


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