Cambridge University v Arabs match report

Edwardian writes:

I arrived at Fenner’s just after start of play and exchanged a ‘hello’ with an Arab in a floppy hat on the boundary. I had to bone up on Arabs before the match. The team are a wandering outfit started by E.W. (Jim) Swanton back in the frozen to death.

There was a heavy throng of nine spectators in the pavilion which included Spike, myself, the two scorers and Marlene manning the bar. Marlene fought off demanding punters who asked for drinks at half-hour intervals. She skilfully decanted cans of lager, IPA and Old Speckled Hen and coped with the onslaught admirably.

Spike had already ordered his lunch of gammon and new potatoes. I had brought my own docky bag comprising a chilli scotch egg (about ¾ the size of a cricket ball) and haslet slices in a roll with salad and mustard.

I thought 12.30pm was a sensible time for a beer so went for a Hen, pinched a knife from the tuck shop and halved the scotch egg. Spike was gearing himself up for the in-house lunch and refused the other half. I ate the other half. The Scotch egg was a great combination with the beer but putting chilli in a scotch egg I thought was a bit of a novelty not worth repeating.

I lost track of the scorecard. Spike managed to get his nosebag in ahead of the players at 1.30pm. He lost track of the scorecard.

As the players came in for lunch I contemplated the pros and cons of another pint and decided that thinking in general is a dangerous occupation.

I ate the haslet roll. The bread roll had olives embedded in it. I gave myself a good talking to.

Spike thought that the Cambridge spinner N. J. Winder was someone to look out for in the future and mentioned something about Wackford Squeers and windows.

The match wound up at about 3.30pm and Spike and I sank the beer I was contemplating earlier. Two players strolled to the bar making the floorboards strain at 11 occupants.

I got the feeling that the Cambridge middle-order batsmen were begrudging not having enough time out in the middle.

‘It’s only April,’ was said at least three times. This is cricketing-speak for, ‘It’s only April.’

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 ad-hoc match, feel free to go into excruciating detail.

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Tigger being conspicuously indifferent to Toby Roland-Jones

Mike writes:

Try as I might, I was unable to get Tigger to show the slightest interest in To-Ro-Jo’s debut destruction of the Saffer top order – in fact she positioned herself as far away as possible from the action, atop a throne of recently used but as-yet-unputaway guest bedding.

She may have realised it’s only the highlights, or perhaps it’s because, as a Scottish cat, she considers cricket a sport for southern faeries. Perhaps she’ll spring to life should we catch a glimpse of Vermin Philander or Catgiso Rabada…

If you’ve got a picture of an animal being conspicously indifferent to cricket, send it to king@kingcricket.co.uk.

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So the County Championship’s over then

Essex take the field (via Twitter)

Honestly, you take the trouble to inform people how things stand in the County Championship and the damn thing only goes and gets itself decided five minutes later.

Essex won their match by an innings and let’s not bother getting too mathematical about what Lancashire would need to do to to draw out what is clearly inevitable. Let’s face it. Essex are going to win.

After the first round of matches, we said we couldn’t see them winning many games this year. “They don’t seem to have enough bowlers,” was our reasoning.

After two matches, we revised this view. “At some point Essex’s wafer thin attack is going to be too knackered to achieve anything. We’re adamant about this.”

By the end of May, we were saying: “We may have to stop thinking of Essex as being inked in for relegation what with their currently being top of the table and all.”

They’ve pretty much stayed there every since.

We still think they’ve got a wafer thin attack, but it is apparently a very robust wafer and rather more effective than we knew.

Jamie Porter was the big surprise to us – he has taken 64 wickets at 17.85. Simon Harmer has also done way better than expected and has picked up 63 wickets at 20.19.

Lancashire will doubtless be wishing that they’d managed to retain the services of The Great Neil Wagner as he is Essex’s next highest wicket-taker with 24 (albeit at 41.37). His locum, Mohammad Amir, took 14 wickets in three matches at 13.50.

Who else? Um, Ravi Bopara has 12 wickets at 40, some fella called Samuel Cook took six wickets – as did Matthew Quinn and Aaron Beard – while a bunch of people have taken three.

It’s hard to avoid the feeling that Essex have won the County Championship with half a bowling attack.

The moral of the story is that if you’re going to rely on two bowlers, make sure they’re bloody effective and just hope to hell that neither of them gets injured.

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What in the name of all that is good and pure is going on in the County Championship?

Nice bit of SEO there. Anyone searching “what in the name of all that is good and pure is going on in the County Championship” is now highly likely to end up on this page. In your face, Google algorithm. [Watches the ad revenue roll in.]

Yes, it’s the time of year when we all return our gaze to the County Championship having been momentarily distracted by Test matches, holidays and the like. Many people will be finding themselves asking “so what the hell’s going on then?”

Yes, what the hell IS going on?

There are three matches to go, including the ones currently underway.

Essex have a bit of a buffer over Lancashire in that they could go wholly pointless in one match and still remain top of the table. Hampshire are another good chunk further behind in third.

At the bum end of the table, Warwickshire haven’t yet hit triple figures. Two teams will go down.

Is that table above accurate?

No. It’s out of date. We think it’s from just before the latest round of matches.

Actually, we screengrabbed it midway through the afternoon session. We don’t imagine they’d have updated it with bonus points from the latest round of matches, but you never know.

Any big matches to watch out for?

Essex are currently playing Warwickshire in a head v bum match. Somerset are playing Lancashire in a similar sort of match that doesn’t lend itself to anatomy in quite the same way.

Other than that, no match is obviously more important than any other, which actually means that most have something riding on them.

Any players to watch out for?

We went with these guys earlier in the season.

If we’re talking about those who’ve helped their team to near the top of the table, little-known young bucks Alastair Cook and Shivnarine Chanderpaul have been making plenty of runs. (We presume Cook will play another couple of games for Essex.)

Bowling-wise, Jamie Porter and Simon Harmer – both of Essex – are the top wicket takers, while Ryan McLaren has been doing the heavy lifting for Lancashire.

Oh, and Neil Wagner’s back is back for Essex, along with the rest of him.

Anything else?

No, not really.

So why did you go to the trouble of including the subheading?

Don’t know.

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Half a dozen cricket balls in an unusual place

This is how you do home décor people.

Marking the other strand of our other writing life, our bike is also in the kitchen. In contrast to the cricket balls, its decorative worth is still the matter of some debate.

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

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Stuart Broad’s batting has peaked

Stuart Broad slapping one into the off side (via ECB)

Stuart Broad’s batting just gets better and better. Maybe not by the traditional metric of batting average, but there are far more sensible ways of assessing a cricketer’s worth.

Once upon a time, Broad was a good batsman: high left elbow, great timing and solid defence. Then he top-edged a Varun Aaron bouncer into his own face and everything changed. (We were there when it happened but apparently didn’t think to write anything about it.)

The after-effects were enormous. Speaking to the BBC seven months later, he said: “If I have two glasses of wine I have black eyes.”

Weird. And it affected his batting too.

For a while, Broad became a bad batsman; a (justifiably) cowardly tail-ender who backed away from even the full balls. But then gradually he started piecing his game back together and rebuilt it so that it was even better than before.

The sweetly-timed drives remain, but the defence is gone. There is now a glorious fragility to every innings, a feeling of impermanence that makes you savour every boundary.

He’s also introduced some new shots. Rather than dodge the short ones, he’s instead resolved to flail at them like a cornered madman. Woeful shot selection, panic and unusually good hand-eye coordination don’t half make for an exciting stroke.

As Broad contorts himself, unreeling those long arms in a hard-to-predict parabola, no-one can truly know what will happen next. Even if he middles it, you can’t say for certain at what height the ball will be travelling – although you can be sure that it will be airborne.

So anything can happen, but no innings is likely to last too long. As such, Broad is rapidly becoming our favourite batsman. This new improved version might even rank right up there with Steve Harmison and Murali.

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“You don’t see Alastair Cook drop too many”

Alastair Cook drop (via ECB)

So said Michael Vaughan after Cook had shelled an easy one early on. Where has he been looking? We’ve always felt like he drops a fair few – although maybe not by Vaughan’s own almost criminally low catching standards.

We wouldn’t go so far as to say that Cook’s a bad slip fielder. If we were called upon to deliver a one-word appraisal of his ability, we’d go with ‘serviceable’.

Maybe people have now seen him catch so many that they forget all the misses and assume he’s some sort of bucket-handed Flintoff figure. He’s not though – and it’s not just a feeling.

When Charles Davis counted up all the drops in Test cricket from 2000 to 2016, no non-wicketkeeper had dropped more than Cook. If plenty were perfectly forgiveable short leg snatches, the opener was nevertheless responsible for 62 non-catches in that time. Vaughan must have seen at least a couple of these. He was Cook’s captain in 18 Tests, after all.

Fortunately for Cook, England’s bowlers created a veritable barrage of opportunities on day one at Lord’s which allowed him to secure his 152nd and 153rd catches by the end of the day. (If you feel moved to compare that with the incomplete tally of Cook drops above, it’s worth knowing that around a quarter of chances are grassed in Test cricket.)

Ben Stokes, in particular, made even jaded old seen-it-alls leak oooohs, such was the swing he mustered. The misses were so near and so frequent that at one point even the umpire did a sharp intake of breath and a ‘how did that miss?’ face.

It was all rather glorious for England until the West Indies came out and did exactly the same thing only without dropping any.

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Haseeb Hameed might carry his bat

England are still very much in the market for a Test opener, you feel. Mark Stoneman is making a fist of things, but they’d quite like another top order batsman or two to take to Australia.

At the time of writing, Lancashire are four wickets down but Haseeb Hameed is still holding firm. We wouldn’t bet against him carrying his bat – although neither would we put much money on him breaching 20 even if he manages it.

When Shivnarine Chanderpaul makes 23 of the runs in a 24-run partnership, you can be fairly certain that the guy at the other end hasn’t really been looking to impose himself on the bowlers.

Doubtless this is the right approach though. Haseeb Hameed is not a blocker, so if he’s playing that way then it’s surely for very good reason.

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With the Ashes decided, England and Australia will look to determine which has the better ODI second XI

England v Australia ODI at the Riverside (CC licensed by Steve Parkinson via Flickr)

England and Australia fans who enjoy answering the question “so why isn’t this the Ashes then?” will be delighted to hear that the two sides are going to do that thing where they follow the Test series with five don’t-give-a-toss one-day matches six months later in the other country.

The news comes as part of the ECB’s announcement of England’s 2018 summer fixtures.

Pakistan will turn up first in a somewhat forlorn bid to try and breathe a bit of life into the springtime two-Test non-series.

After that, it’s a one-dayer against Scotland and then five against Australia, during which both sides will doubtless make an attempt to ‘blood some exciting new talent’.

Then it’s India for the main event. After three T20 internationals and three one-day internationals, the tourists will play five Tests: three in the South-East and two in the Midlands.

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2017 Twenty20 Finals Day – most of the story in scorecards

Notts win T20 Blast (via ECB)

We rather love Twenty20 finals day, which has always seemed to strike a good balance between elite sport and village fete.

A lot of short format competitions seem to be striving for the po-faced tribalism of football, but the annual climax of the original has always erred on the side of fun. It’s a day-long festival centred on cricket. There are worse things in the world. Like AIDS.

You probably didn’t need an example.

We only managed to follow this year’s edition via the intermittent checking of scorecards. In a world of video clips, Twitter and live blogs, it was a refreshing experience. There’s something to be said for telling the story to yourself based wholly on a bunch of numbers.

We see Samit Patel did well, which is never a bad thing, and so did Steven Mullaney. We’re afraid that no matter what he does in his career, the latter will always be the guy whose mum’s his biggest supporter.

We’re also aware that the Natwest lady jammed her angular trophy into Dan Christian’s eye at the post-match presentation.

The one thing we couldn’t find was a scorecard for the mascots race, so if someone could fill us in on how that one played out, we’d really appreciate it.

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