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Mop-up of the day – the batsmen in and out of form

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Australia drew with India, but let’s not focus on how admirably they’re performing. Who the hell wants to read about that? Let’s instead concentrate on tangentia.

David Warner has said that “it will turn around” for him with regards to his recent poor form. We agree. If he keeps being disciplined and preparing assiduously, pretty soon he’ll find himself playing in Australia again and everything’ll be fine.

Virat Kohli has called Cheteshwar Pujara “priceless” and “the most composed player we have in the team.” What he didn’t call him was India’s best batsman.

Elsewhere, the ECB seemingly have plans to play World Cup matches at the imaginatively named London Stadium, which was built for the 2012 Olympics. While there’s a certain jaded “seriously?” quality to this news in light of their having encouraged counties to invest heavily in their grounds for the last however many years, it’s equally true that it would be great to have 60,000 people attending a cricket match in Britain.

Finally, take a look at our latest Cricinfo Twitter round-up, in which we flirt with the sack by devoting around half of the column to Charles Dagnall’s attempt to repair a brick shed. The critics have been calling it nothing at all because hardly anyone’s felt moved to read it.

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Steve Smith’s brain fades still further, Bangladesh do the reverse

Bangladesh have won nine Tests and we make this their second win.

The convention is to remove matches in which Bangladesh feature from all Test statistics. This seems unduly harsh at the best of times, but it seems even more so when it’s them who you’re measuring.

Nevertheless, in the spirit of omission, we’ve stripped away all of their Test victories that might be disregarded for one reason or another and we’ve been left with their win over England last October and this one against Sri Lanka. Truly, it is Bangladesh’s Golden Era.

For the record, the Tigers’ other seven wins comprise five against Zimbabwe and two against one of those stand-in West Indies teams, which on this occasion featured luminaries such as Omar Phillips and David Bernard.

Meanwhile, over in Ranchi…

Steve Smith has suffered another horrendous brain fade, leading to grave concerns about his long-term mental health. Smith calmly held his bat out of the way of a ball pitching outside leg, only for it to hit his off stump.

If this brain fadery continues at its current rate, it will be but weeks before he’s entirely forgotten how to execute his magnificent double-elbowed chicken dance bowling action. As this is the only aspect of Steve Smith’s cricket in which we take any pleasure, we’d be keen for him to seek psychiatric treatment post-haste.

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The South hit the North and the great flattener

Hit the North cover

One of the few things that people agree upon about the lyrics of The Fall’s Hit the North is that one of the first lines is “my cat says eeeeee-ack”.

So what can we agree upon about the South’s hitting of the North’s bowlers today? That it was more successful than the North’s hitting of the South’s bowlers, we suppose.

As for the relative northern- and southernness of these supposedly representative sides, we remain unimpressed. The birthplaces of the North’s batsmen – Hong Kong, Kent, Transvaal, Cumbria, Shrewsbury, Bristol – don’t hint that too many of them would pass our patented ‘butter-bath’ test.

Because what is the supposed North-South divide about, if not monophthongs?

Elsewhere, SHAKIB AL HASAN earned himself a bit of impulsive upper case usage after making a hundred and giving Bangladesh a first innings lead over Sri Lanka. He’s one to watch. Mark our words.

New Zealand and South Africa are also Testing each other. Looking at the scores so far, we’re hoping the pitch is hinting that it might be the kind of flattener on which Nathan Astle did his thing. You never know.

 

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Remember what Test cricket in India used to be like?

Big innings, bigger innings, small innings, smaller innings. That used to the be the sequence for a Test match taking place in India. Declarations happened a lot.

Australia just made 451 and it seems a good score, but it wasn’t so long ago you’d be thinking that a team had been skittled if it had only made 451. These sorts of matches still happen, of course. England made over 400 in the first innings of the fourth and fifth Tests last year and lost both by an innings.

Surveying the third Test between India and Australia, it seems like a reversion to the archetype. But how can we be sure? Those old Magic Eye pictures never revealed themselves when you tried to will them to. You just had to chill out and wait and hope that your Zen-like staring-into-the-middle-distance state would do the job before you.

So we’re going with that. We’re adopting a Zen-like, coffee-drinking, reading other news, maybe popping out for a couple of pints later and possibly buying some fried chicken state. All will become clear.

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Video: Steve Smith tries to counter Wriddiham Saha’s ball-delving

Day one of the third Test between India and Australia. Glenn Maxwell played cricket and made runs, Steve Smith uglied yet another hundred and Wriddiham Saha went snuffling around in the Australian captain’s crotch in an attempt to pluck out a ball.

Here’s a video.

Got to admire his persistence.

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I Don’t Like Cricket, I Hate It – the North v South edition

A semi-regular feature in which we ask Prince Prefab about cricket – even though he hates cricket. We are in bold. Prince Prefab is not.

Anything you want to know about this week’s North v South cricket matches?

Is this real? Is it really North versus South? Are they trying to drum up interest in this manner?

Absolutely real. I don’t know about interest up-drumming being the primary aim. It’s a kind of pre-season taking-a-look-at-people thing mostly, but I think they’re maybe hoping it’ll become “a thing” too.

Balls to that. I know this is barely related but I hate the whole north/south thing. Northerners are hard and friendly salt of the earth folk, southerners are soft and unfriendly. I’m a northerner and I know loads of soft and unfriendly bastards up here.

And, in a country where you can basically walk from the top to the bottom of it in an afternoon or so, we are supposed to believe that there are different characteristics between the people who live about half an hour apart. Balls, balls, balls. Dog balls, cat balls, lion balls. Balls.

Yeah, if a southerner told you that Lancashire and the North had nothing going for them compared to the South, you’d just shrug it off, wouldn’t you?

They’re just being a colossal ball bag. But the fact they are being a colossal ball bag has nothing to do with the fact that they’re a southerner.

Even when they’re saying the New Forest pisses all over the Forest of Bowland, say?

Well, if they’re referring to pure ‘woodage’ they’d be spot on. The Forest of Bowland has relatively few trees, the ‘forest’ in its name, being used in its traditional sense meaning ‘royal hunting ground’. If they mean the New Forest is just generally better than they are, of course, talking balls.

Let’s steer this back towards another kind of balls. Would we be right in saying that you are unlikely to be won over to the sport by a North v South match played in the United Arab Emirates then?

That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard. I’d rather go on a stag do in Blackpool than watch that.

What about a stag do in Margate?

At this point Prince Prefab sent us a surprisingly long, detailed and sweary work of fiction focusing on the bitter personal rivalry between Terry Bardane and Tony Abercrombie, two competitors at the Blackpool and Fylde Annual Veteran’s Pole Vault Championship at Stanley Park. The story climaxes with one of the crowd being impaled by a pole after describing this website as ‘shit’. We deduced from this response that our North v South discussion had probably run its course.

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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 king@kingcricket.co.uk

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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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