41

Suresh Raina v England – what this means for the World Cup

Bowled on 27th August, 2014 at 19:14 by
Category: England cricket news, Suresh Raina

Before today, Suresh Raina had made three ODI hundreds in 193 matches. He made them against Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Hong Kong.

But Raina bats in the middle order, so that doesn’t tell us a lot. Let’s look at fifties instead.

Against New Zealand, he has one in 11 innings; against Pakistan, one in 14; against South Africa, one in 11; against West Indies, one in 26 and against England 12 in 26, including six of his top ten one-day scores.

At this point we have to ask ourselves whether there’s something he particularly likes about a tired white ball delivered at fast-medium pace.

Let’s look at his strike rates against each of today’s bowlers.

  • Anderson: 25 off 12 balls – 208.33
  • Woakes: 23 off 11 – 209.09
  • Jordan: 13 off 15 – 86.66
  • Stokes: 20 off 10 – 200
  • Tredwell: 19 off 27 – 70.37

Oddly, Jordan’s efforts to become the world’s foremost ‘angling down the leg side’ bowler probably saved him.

Extrapolation’s what you need

One-day cricket in England is a bit different because you get more movement early on. However, the passages of play later on – once the ball stops doing owt – aren’t so dissimilar from what might be expected in Australia come the World Cup. If anything, Australian conditions merely mean a greater proportion of those sorts of overs.

In today’s match, England did the early, irrelevant bit well and then the later, relevant bit shitly. Their bowling simply isn’t tall enough, fast enough, slow enough or weird enough to keep batsmen guessing on a flat pitch. It’s samey. Four fast-medium right-armers is two – if not three – too many.

Is this the end of the world (cup campaign)?

Steven Finn’s taller and often quicker; Stuart Broad will be back to offer the same qualities; Harry Gurney’s a left-armer, should he prove reliable; and Ravi Bopara’s neither-one-thing-nor-the-other wobblery does offer something different. There are always options that would desameyise a bowling attack.

As for the batting, England remain poor chasers of anything over 250, which is all the more reason to get the bowling right.

41 Appeals
8

Middlesex Second XI v Essex Second XI at Radlett

Bowled on 26th August, 2014 at 20:46 by
Category: Match report

Ged writes:

It seemed like an excellent plan when the idea was hatched.  In the absence of first class cricket between Middlesex and Essex for the foreseeable future, Charley “The Gent” Malloy and I would take in a day of second XI cricket between our two teams.  As luck would have it, the day that suited me and Charley for this cricketing purpose also suited Daisy and Mrs Malloy for an evening meal at the Daisy House. Charley and Mrs Malloy had still not seen the house, although Daisy has now been in situ there for nearly three years. The Malloys were especially keen to see the garden.

The only problem with that superb plan was, of course, the English weather. As the appointed day approached, the forecast got worse and worse. Indeed, the night before the event, I wrote to Charley saying, “not even my relentless cricket-watching optimism imagines that we’ll get to see any cricket tomorrow. Let’s take stock in the morning just in case, but I’m going to spend the rest of this evening building an ark and guess that I’ll see you tomorrow evening at the house!”

It was pouring down when I woke up on the day and the forecast suggested that it would pretty much rain all day. I did a bit of work and sorted out some of those domestic things I never normally quite get around to sorting out unless/until they are emergencies. Naturally, just before I set off for the house in the early evening, the rain stopped and the sun even started to peep through.

At least the better evening weather enabled us to show Charley and Mrs Malloy the garden in the sunshine.  In preparation for the day at Radlett, Charley had bought a cricketing gingerbread man, which we admired for its aesthetic but all decided not to eat.

A gingerbread cricketer who looks a bit like Samit Patel?

Instead, we enjoyed Daisy’s superb Alaskan salmon baked in a banana leaf, with new potatoes, home-made tartare sauce and leaf salad.

After dinner, I played my baritone ukulele. Charley and Mrs Malloy listened like aficionados at a music concert – a little unnerving given the novelty of my hobby and my general lack of dexterity. “You don’t move your fingers quite as much as, for example, Albert Lee did at the concert we went to the other week”, said Charley. “Shhh, Charley”, said Mrs Malloy, who then joined in when I sang I Guess It Doesn’t Matter Any More. Charley stifled his coughing a couple of times and I saw tears welling up in his eyes at the sound of Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne and Neil Young’s Out On The Weekend.

Then Charley said: “I read a review of the latest Neil Young album the other day; it said that Young now sounds like an old man in a retirement home singing to himself before medication time.” I took that comparative comment as a great compliment.

Send your match reports to king@kingcricket.co.uk and on no account mention the cricket itself.

8 Appeals
7

Mop-up of the day – demons and barometers

Bowled on 25th August, 2014 at 11:45 by
Category: Mop-up of the day

First, some links:

Now let’s spend the rest of Bank Holiday Monday in classic fashion by moaning about rain.

7 Appeals
9

Victory for a city in the summer

Bowled on 24th August, 2014 at 10:06 by
Category: County cricket news

Cities disappear in the summer. Winter has cities, summer has counties – or at least that’s the way it used to be. Now Birmingham have won a cricket tournament and we don’t know where we are. The weather has been unseasonably cool this last week. Even the climate’s confused.

Our viewing of Twenty20 finals day was limited to some of Lancashire’s semi-final, so we asked an entirely impartial and not-at-all fictional friend what went wrong for the Red Rose in the final. They said that Birmingham cheated.

We’re nothing if not conscientious when it comes to establishing facts. We know that one person’s word doesn’t amount to proof, so we asked a second friend whether this was true. They said: “Yes, it’s true, Birmingham cheated. They cheated really badly.”

It’s a sad day for cricket.

9 Appeals
22

England v India ODI fantasy league

All Out Cricket’s Test series fantasy league is over. Our mini league, The Kingdom, was won by… er… did anyone actually check before they deleted the league? We’d guess it was either Balladeer’s Bhangra-Morris Fusion side or Patrick’s p = mv, both of which were almost certainly in the top 11 overall as well.

We think we (The Courtiers) came third or fourth in the mini league, which is respectable enough. We anticipate doing far, far worse in the one-day league.

Here’s what you need if you want to join that:

We managed to get 40-odd teams in our mini league last time around with minimal warning. We’d like to see more in this one. If nothing else, it’s quite a good way of retaining interest in one-day cricket. You could also adopt our selection of strategy of picking players you don’t really like so that when they do well, at least you get something out of it.

22 Appeals
15

Fist forming and extreme hat retrieval

Bowled on 21st August, 2014 at 10:46 by
Category: India cricket news

It’s the fashion these days to look back on a losing streak and say that you were playing well in patches and that you knew all it would take would be a slight improvement and everything would be hunky-dory again. This always gets on our nerves, because of course you played well in patches. You’d be hard pressed to go through an entire Test match without having any decent patches.

But yet India seemed to just about manage it. In the third Test, they were widely considered to have lost every single session, but still they played well in patches – Ajinkya Rahane got a pair of fifties and they made over 300. Even at Old Trafford, they had one patch – MS Dhoni’s partnership with R Ashwin.

But at the Oval, there was nothing. Dhoni made more runs, but there was no good patch because his biggest partnership was with Ishant Sharma for the tenth wicket. Every run they scored merely enhanced the horror of what had preceded it.

Start by bending your fingers

We’ve thought and thought about India’s performance because we’re still not happy with the easy response that they’d simply given up. Watching their final innings of the series unfold, unravel and spontaneously combust, it seemed to us that it wasn’t so much lack of fight as having no real idea how to form a fist.

Watch the highlights again and they’re not peppering the slips cordon apathetically. They’re just displaying an almost frightening lack of adaptability; playing the same non-shots to swinging balls outside off stump as they had been doing innings after innings. It was as if they simply had no alternative.

Wicket-taking strategies in England are no great mystery and presumably India’s batsmen know what slips fielders are for, but yet most of them seemed to stick with doing exactly the things most likely to result in their dismissal.

What was it like?

It was rather like someone had said to them: “Could you retrieve my hat from this active threshing machine? You’ll just have to reach in with your hand and try and grab it.”

To which they said to themselves: “Oh well. Guess I’ll be losing my hand in the threshing machine,” rather than doing something – anything – different.

15 Appeals
9

No you can’t come up for air

Bowled on 20th August, 2014 at 12:20 by
Category: England cricket news

Tomorrow, a view on India’s Test series, but today let’s look at England’s – or at least at how it finished. Some of the later events are being ruled ineligible for analyss on the grounds that India were too crap, but we found England’s approach quite interesting.

178 all out, 152 all out, 161 all out, 148 all out, 94 all out

It’s easy to to avoid bowling sides out for less than 200. This much should be obvious. But even when you’re in a position to do so, things often go awry. Bowlers get overconfident, change bowlers spray it around, or everything’s going so gosh darned swimmingly that the whole team suddenly realises it’s eased off a bit and the moment’s passed.

England didn’t make those mistakes. There were times when they could have bowled India out for fewer runs, but in general we’ve been rather impressed with their lack of mercy. It’s not a quality that’s always associated with England sides. Maybe all the months of humiliation have bequeathed them an embittered remorselessness.

Don’t slip

Field settings were particularly noticeable. There were attacking oddities like a short slip, but the most impressive thing for us was the sheer number of conventional slips. Yes, it’s easy to attack when you’re miles ahead, but Alastair Cook clearly has no reservations about setting his men out as if the whole side’s queuing to keep wicket. This was impressive for the simple fact that we thought that he was precisely the sort of man who would have reservations about doing that.

How can you bat?

We all knew England could do steadfast batting. Also in their known repertoire were: patient, accumulative and boring. Turns out they can also bat with gay abandon.

Jos Buttler clearly brings gay abandon, but few people thought Gary Ballance would. It takes him a while to get going, but if circumstances call for it, the shirt comes off and the runs flow. Then there was Joe Root and Stuart Broad on the final day of the series. 101 runs in 11.3 overs was a sadistic demonstration of strength of which Kaiser Soze would be proud.

Kicking them when they’re down

Does all of this matter? Will all of this apparent remorselessness really add up to much when things aren’t quite so easy?

We’d say so. After all, capitalising when things are going your way is basically the way in which you turn any match in your favour.

9 Appeals
24

Shastri is the boss

Bowled on 19th August, 2014 at 10:10 by
Category: India cricket news

There have been some major revelations about Ravi Shastri this summer. Apparently, he can be interesting and insightful and also possesses a sense of humour. Who knew?

We learned this while watching Sky’s oddly watchable Test discussion programme, The Verdict, on which he has been a regular guest. Before that, all we’d really known of him as a broadcaster was that he was a relentless purveyor of booming cliché. In fact, he is so well-known for it that for a time there was a bot on Twitter which would reply to your cricket-themed tweets with lines of Shastri commentary.

It was painfully accurate, including gems such as: “Just what the doctor ordered”, “He’s given it the full Monty” and of course, “That went like a tracer bullet”.

But having finished on The Verdict, Shastri’s now taken on a new role. He’s been named India’s ‘director of cricket’ – surely a somewhat threatening job title for Duncan Fletcher, who remains as coach.

Fletcher might notice a few more Indians about the place. Trevor Penney, the fielding coach, has been ‘given a break’ according to the BCCI’s press release and R Sridhar will take up that role. Bowling coach, Joe Dawes, is also being given a bit of time off and Sanjay Bangar and B Arun take up positions as assistant coaches.

Will Shastri help India recover? Dunno, but they can’t do much worse and at least the standard of Indian commentary has been improved by this decision.

24 Appeals
25

Mop-up of the day – an unappealing slice of Beef

Bowled on 18th August, 2014 at 15:18 by
Category: Mop-up of the day

It seemed logical to assume that India’s batting at The Oval would be the most repulsive and upsetting thing any of us saw this week. Then Ian Botham put everything in perspective.

Sir Beef has a history of advertising meat. This morning he appeared to be promoting pork sword via his Twitter account. He says he was hacked. Not many people believe him.

If you’ve seen the horrifying image, why not answer the question that was posed alongside it: ‘What are you thinking…?’

He didn’t quite average 50

Mahela Jayawardene has bowed out of Test cricket with a win over Pakistan. He made a fifty in his final innings, but his first innings dismissal for four means he finishes with a Test average of 49.84. Still not bad though, is it?

Sri Lanka are fourth in the Test rankings and while they’ve been on an upward curve, we wonder whether they might now plateau. Jayawardene’s runs will be hard enough to replace, but his tactical shenanigans will also be missed. Rangana Herath is up to third in the rankings for bowlers, but Jayawardene has to be credited with at least a few assists.

Real Hales

Engand will announce their one-day squad at some point. Alex Hales will be in it. He will have seven or eight months of 50-over cricket in which to make some sort of case for Test selection.

We’d like to see him manage it because we reckon he’d be a decent foil for Alastair Cook’s nurdletastic relentlessness. Plus it’s been a while since England fielded an attacking opener and such a player can really add something to a side. Look at Marcus Trescothick’s 102-ball 90 on the first day of the 2005 Edgbaston Test – one of the great underrated innings. England have looked a little less passive of late, but we fear it’s still something they might revert to in tougher times.

Hales would certainly address that, but let’s see how he goes in the middle format first.

25 Appeals
21

Blood and panned

Bowled on 17th August, 2014 at 20:19 by
Category: England cricket news, India cricket news

Gautam Gambhir in happier times

We think you’ll agree that it’s been very difficult to watch England methodically pan India without concluding that they are vampires. If you see Alastair Cook in your neighbourhood, don’t invite him into your home.

While England have found ever greater vitality, India have been looking more and more tired. It cannot be coincidence that the changes have been proportional. The home team have clearly been exsanguinating the tourists. How else to explain India’s listlessness and painfully slow thinking versus England’s staggering rejuvenation?

Look at Stuart Broad’s innings in the fifth Test. Here was a nervy batsman with a broken nose, sitting on the back foot and awaiting the inevitable. Yet when the short ball came, it was so insipid that he could larrup it for six. Then India batted and eleven pale, ghostly, bloodless men repeated the same mistakes as always, simply because it was all they had the strength to do.

Apparently, a bloodless coup can still involve comprehensive destruction.

21 Appeals

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