Page 5 of 349

Henry ‘Blowers’ Blofeld to retire from TMS

Henry Blofeld (CC licensed by ramograph via Flickr)

Henry Blofeld, the long-serving Test Match Special commentator with the extraordinary accent and a strong proclivity for getting players’ names wrong, is calling it a day at the end of the season. It’s safe to say we’ve always had mixed feelings about the man.

If we were to try and sum up those feelings, we’d say that we like the idea of there being a commentator who works in a similar way to Blowers – we’d just maybe prefer it if that person wasn’t Blowers himself.

“A lot of our audience are people doing housework wanting a comfortable voice,” he said, announcing his decision to stand down. “I talk about pigeons, seagulls, policemen and the girl in the red dress in the grandstand. It’s all that, I think, which attracts people along with the cricket.”

You may think that. But not everyone will entirely agree.

If you’re trying to follow a match, this kind of thing is not always endearing. Sometimes it’s just irritating and maybe even a bit embarrassing – but then at times Blowers becomes such a self parody that it actually becomes endearing again.

It’s a tricky one and no mistake.

The issue, as we see it, is this. Test cricket ebbs and flows and commentary must ebb and flow with it. There are definitely times for talking about irrelevant bollocks, but there are also times where you need to focus on the action.

Blofeld isn’t bad at conveying excitement and he certainly understands cricket. He does however seem to have been taking less and less of an interest in touring players and what they might have achieved outside of the English summer.

Maybe you think that’s unfair, but we can’t really recall him saying anything about a player that we didn’t already know. Getting people’s names wrong can also derail things when listeners are trying to follow a crucial passage of play.

That said, we’re not delighted about Blowers’ departure, as we perhaps would have been a few years back. There was a period when the narrow array of TMS accents made us embarrassed to listen to cricket in the back garden as it sounded like coverage of some niche upper-class pursuit.

Nowt wrong with a plummy accent, but there was a lack of diversity in the commentary box for a while there. As someone who is essentially a cricket evangelist, this frustrated us enormously as it reinforced a widely held perception of the game that we have always thought unfair.

TMS accents are less of an issue these days and it’s pleasing to see that the programme’s commitment to diversity belatedly extends to gender too. Maybe at some point soon they’ll feel there’s a significant gap and find themselves actively seeking out a rambling Old Etonian to put in the occasional shift.

Share this article...Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+

AB de Villiers plays decisive innings to win first T20 for England

Photo by Sarah Ansell

A real man of the match performance from AB de Villiers won England the first T20 international against South Africa. The greatest sportsman who ever lived ate up 58 balls in making an unbeaten 65.

If the innings hinted at a two-paced pitch, England’s batsmen only noticed one of them and weren’t unduly troubled by the other.

For all the adulation, it’s worth remembering that de Villiers isn’t actually all that good at T20, one of the two formats he still deigns to play. Nor has he done a right lot else in recent times.

De Villiers’ last Test hundred (do we mean ‘most recent’ or ‘final’) came in January 2015. His most recent one-day international hundred came in January 2016.

This isn’t to talk him down. He’s been an extraordinary batsman, but we’re starting to wonder whether he ever will be again. He’s supposedly fully focused on the 2019 World Cup, but in the Champions Trophy he looked like a man short of cricket. You wonder whether he might want to broaden out his tunnel vision a tad.

In this match he looked like a man playing with a hollow bat.

Jason Roy isn’t in great form either. His body is – as one stout over of straight-batted thonking proved – but his brain is not.

Refusing to stick to the methodology that had started to reap rich dividends, Roy for some reason backed himself to play someone else’s natural game and unfurled a suicidal reverse sweep.

Clearly Roy feels he has something to prove. That proof will probably only come once he feels differently.

Share this article...Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+

England play South Africa in a pretty meaningless T20 international and Bob isn’t playing

Bob from Twin Peaks (via YouTube)

We said you were going to start noticing everyone going mental about Mason Crane. Today marks an obvious step-up in mentalgoing as it seems highly likely the leg-spinner will make his international debut.

Indirectly referring to him, AB de Villiers grappled with the meaning of the word ‘unknown’.

“A few of our guys have played with the unknown guys in the English side. There’s really good information shared over those meetings and there’s also video footage and analysis of all of those players so it’s not completely foreign to us – we know more or less what to expect.”

There was also good news regarding more familiar players. Speaking about Jason Roy, Eoin Morgan observed: “He is still the same fella.”

Here at King Cricket we are glad that an assessment has been carried out as we were starting to fear that Roy had been possessed by Bob from Twin Peaks. This view was based on nothing more than our current habit of morphing everything we see on TV into one impossible-to-follow storyline featuring sportsmen and David Lynch characters – but it was still a concern.

Share this article...Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+

The Cricket Kingdom Champions Trophy fantasy league result

The King Cricket Champions Trophy fantasy league eventually attracted 74 teams – so many, in fact, that after a couple of games we started to think we might look bad if we didn’t get in amongst it and actually try and do well.

We eventually secured a top ten position, which seems respectable enough that we should be allowed to continue writing this website.

However, the winner of all the respect/resentment from their peers was Sesha, whose INDIAN XI positively walked it – unlike the Indian XI, which famously got battered in the final.

Maybe if it had been a fantasy knock-out, things would have panned out differently. But it wasn’t. It was a league and Sesha won.

Just as importantly, here’s the arse-end of the table – a full bottom ten, no less – where Deep Cower secured an almost equally impressive losing margin over (under?) Hippity, who is a green bunny.

Well played these people, particularly Alphamonkey who secured negative points from the final and so secured the highest step within the sunken podium trench.

Share this article...Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+

Peak Pakistan

Virat Kohli makes the least of his reprieve off Mohammad Amir (via ICC)

Scrape into a tournament through being ranked eighth in the world, throw in a few debutants, win the thing.

Quite often you get to play Pakistan. Occasionally you have to play Pakistan. India suffered the latter.

How in blazes?

If we were to imagine that winning a cricket tournament involved repeatedly writing the word WIN on a piece of paper, then Pakistan do not issue their players with pens.

The Pakistan approach is to take a whole bunch of magnifying glasses and then throw them into the air hoping to hell that the sun’s rays strike them at such an angle and at such a moment that the refracted beams scorch the letters into the page without incinerating it. This normally results in a lot of broken glass, but not always.

Fakhar Zaman, the opening batsman who made a devilishly effective hundred in the final, made his one-day international debut last week. Shadab Khan has played five first-class matches. Pakistan also managed to shrug off dropping the finest one-day batsman in the world in the time it took Mohammad Amir to walk back to his mark. Somehow it all worked out and India were not just beaten but positively monstered.

How do you win a one-day tournament in 2017?

The narrative ahead of this competition, at least in the UK media, was that modern one-day cricket is all about hitting sixes and making 400 on flat pitches. This storyline coloured perceptions to such an extent that the national team felt hard done by when they were asked to play a semi-final on a used pitch.

‘That’s not the way one-day cricket is supposed to be,’ they seemed to say, as if there were an official diktat about such things from the governing body. ‘Make the version of the game that we’re good at the only permissible version,’ they added.

But it turns out modern one-day cricket can be many different things.

In the end, the team that won the Champions Trophy was the one that cobbled together the most effective bowling attack, as is so often the case.

Pakistan may well have aspired to build their game around heavy run-scoring, but that never really became an option. A friend of ours maintains that using moisturiser makes your skin “lazy”. Similarly, we wonder whether Pakistan’s bowlers have actually benefited from knowing the value of a run.

Which isn’t to say the Pakistan batsmen didn’t switch it on in the knockout stages, despite suspicions that they lacked the switch, let alone a power source. The truth is that the team – the unit, if you will – did a lot of things well. This was a three dimensional win.

Share this article...Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+

Video: Virat Kohli dropped off Mohammad Amir… Virat Kohli caught off Mohammad Amir

Virat Kohli makes the least of his reprieve off Mohammad Amir (via ICC)

Pakistan often lunge enthusiastically towards the ridiculous in the firm knowledge that this is their best hope of rebounding to sublime cricket – but even for them this moment was something else.

There is a strong argument that Virat Kohli is the finest one-day batsman there’s ever been. He is not a man you can afford to drop in the final of the Champions Trophy.

Oh no, turns out you can.

Share this article...Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+

Nine things to watch out for when India play Pakistan in the Champions Trophy final

There are all sorts of India v Pakistan previews out there, but this is currently the only one on this website that goes up to nine.

1. Jasprit Bumrah’s bowling action

Jasprit Bumrah’s bowling action (via ICC)

Evidence, if it were needed, that the “hey, what’s that over there?” bowling ploy can work just as well at international level as it can in the back garden.

2. Jasprit Bumrah’s name

We’ll literally never tire of it. This is why.

3. Hasan Ali

Who’s been taking all the wickets and not going for runs? Hasan Ali, that’s who.

4. Azhar Ali

Azhar Ali plays a textbook wild hoick (via ICC)

No-one has scored more runs at a lower strike-rate in this Champions Trophy. Not too many people have scored fewer runs at a lower strike-rate either. Yet Pakistan are still in the final, so can anyone really quibble with his approach thus far?

5. Virat Kohli’s anger level

Misfield by team-mate – angry. Lack of effort by team-mate – very angry. Hugely pleasing individual or team performance – positively enraged. Never mind measuring bat speed or the distance covered by fielders, what we’d really like to see is some sort of videogame-style graphical representation of Virat Kohli’s fury levels; a sort of gradually filling bar that turns red and glows once it’s completely full.

6. Virat Kohli more generally

He’s only been out once in the entire tournament. For a duck.

7. Kedar Jadhav’s right-arm filth

Kedar Jadhav’s round-arm shod (via ICC)

This is quite simply what cricket’s all about. Please give him a bowl in the final. Please. Apparently Jadhav doesn’t practise his bowling much in the nets. You’d never guess.

8. Fakhar Zaman

Most teams are keen to groom players for major tournaments in the hope of maximising what they get out of them when it matters. Pakistan pick debutants and see what happens. Zaman has so far made 138 runs in his 117-ball one-day international career.

9. Pakistan pakistanning

Whether it’s a feeble batting collapse, a crazy four-over whirlwind of wicket-taking that decides the match, or Mohammad Hafeez suddenly deciding he’ll bat like Shahid Afridi, you’ll know the moment when Pakistan start pakistanning and it will be (in)glorious.

 

Share this article...Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+

India v Bangladesh goes pretty much exactly how everyone expected

Rohit Sharma tonks one (via ICC)

Rohit Sharma tonks one (via ICC)

Who would have thought this match would turn out exactly as everyone expected it to? What were the odds on that? Extremely slim, you’d have thought, what with the extraordinary wealth of alternative outcomes.

Tamim Iqbal played a good innings and there was reasonable support from one of Bangladesh’s middle-order stalwarts, but  they ultimately fell short of the mythical ‘par’. India’s top three then chased down the target.

It was all as predictable as the punchlines in one of those new sitcoms where they seem to have spent so much time trying to mimic the style of an old sitcom that no-one’s actually found a minute to write any jokes.

India will play Pakistan in the final. It seems unimaginable that it won’t pan out exactly how the group stage game did. Pakistan’s fabled unpredictability will make people think that this won’t happen, so Pakistan will of course feel moved to prove everyone wrong by ensuring that it does.

Share this article...Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+

There was a rumour that England had ‘solved’ one-day cricket

Ben Stokes finds a gap in the field directly above him (screengrab via ICC)

Ben Stokes finds a gap in the field directly above him (screengrab via ICC)

Not the case. It was perhaps true that they’d solved modern one-day cricket… but then they came up against Pakistan.

As we said the other day, Pakistan don’t care what year it is. They don’t care how other people are approaching one-day cricket these days, they just do their own thing. Pakistan’s thing is ‘bowling sides out for just over 200’.

England’s thing, by contrast, is buying wickets. They like inflation. With both bat and ball, they splash runs about with abandon and never really worry about the cost.

In the semi-final of the Champions Trophy, the purse strings tightened and England discovered that they had lost the ability to sniff out bargains.

The home team dropped 118 runs on Pakistan’s first wicket alone. Regardless of the opposition’s reputation for providing easily affordable wickets, from that point on they were only ever heading for bankruptcy.

Share this article...Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+

If Jason Roy is “due” what will happen to all those runs he saved up?

Jason Roy edges two cricket balls (ECB via Twitter video)

Jason Roy edges two cricket balls (ECB via Twitter video)

Just because someone’s due, it doesn’t mean anything’s actually going to happen any time soon. Trust us on this.

Referring to Jason Roy, Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur alluded to the concept of dueness, saying: “We had a discussion in the bus this morning. I was particularly worried that Roy hadn’t fired yet because I think he’s very close to something quite good.”

Arthur went on to question Jonny Bairstow’s credentials as an opener, so it seems fair to assume that the opposition are in favour of England naming an unchanged side. Such is the nature of pre-match bullshittery.

Eoin Morgan deployed all of the ifs in his armoury when floating the possibility that England might make the change. They all paled in significance beside the fact that he was entertaining the prospect at all though.

If someone’s a marginal selection, standard practice is to talk them up and bolster them. Failure to do so rather implies that the decision has been made.

Assuming Bairstow plays, what happens to the great stockpile of runs that Roy has been painstakingly hoarding now?

Share this article...Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2017 King Cricket

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑