Month: October 2007 (page 1 of 4)

Duncan Fletcher’s crappy book

Turns out I was right about everything - Duncan FletcherIt is if the extracts are anything to go by.

Duncan Fletcher’s book is called ‘Behind The Shades‘ – a reference to his inscrutable public appearance. Fletcher didn’t care what the media said about him and he didn’t have a lot to say to them.

Well, it turns out that he did have a lot to say and he was bottling it all up ready for a massively juvenile autobiography. We’ve always held Fletcher in high regard for what he achieved, but the extracts from this book that have been appearing in The Daily Mail seem designed to strip away any dignity he had or any respect he earned.

If we could sum up Fletcher’s words, without reference to any specific incident, it would be as follows:

  • Dropping this player was wrong. You thought it was my decision, but it wasn’t.
  • You said omitting this player was wrong, but it wasn’t. And even if it was wrong, it wasn’t my decision, but it wasn’t wrong and mostly it was my decision.
  • So-and-so said I was a dick, but I didn’t even do anything, so who’s the dick, eh? It’s him. He’s the dick.
  • So-and-so once said something critical about me, so I decided I would never speak to him again. Then I shouted at him.
  • I was pretty much always right.

The overall tone is of a child being asked why they’d done something wrong and going: ‘Actually, actually, it wasn’t me, actually. Because actually…’ and then desperately reworking the facts to put themselves in a good light.

It also would appear that Fletcher thinks a discussion about selection can be dealt with by naming your preferred choice to England’s captain and chairman of selectors before walking away without another word and ignoring them when they try to call you back to actually talk about it.

We agree with him about Beefy though.

Duncan Fletcher on Ian Botham

Not literally. That would be hideous. That would be really, really, world-class, title-taking hideous.

No. This is the view of Ian Botham expressed in Duncan Fletcher’s book:

“‘Get rid of all the guys like Atherton, Caddick and Tufnell,’ he [Botham] told me.

‘Why?’ I asked.

‘Because they’re too old, rather go with youth,’ he replied.

‘Who then?’ I asked.

‘Graeme Hick and Robin Smith.’

‘But hold on they are the same age,’ I replied in exasperation.

‘But they are different,’ he said.”

We love this exchange. This is classic Botham. He’s not a man blessed with clarity of thought. Great cricketer, sterling charity-worker, excremental commentator.

Ian Botham normally waits a while before contradicting himself at least.

Shoaib Akhtar overshadows South African series win

Shoaib Akhtar: Fast bowler, greaseball, pillockIt’s one of those big looming shadows that’s accompanied by a low octave minor chord. You know what that shadow and that chord means – it means trouble.

Apart from two Twenty20 internationals against Namibia, this was Shoaib Akhtar’s first international outing since January when he played a single Test match against South Africa. Before that, he’d played four one-day internationals in England back in the summer of 2006 and before that, his previous international was a Test against India in January 2006 – that’s getting on for two years ago. Shoaib Akhtar’s international appearances are not common.

Well you know what? He’s still better and more exciting than just about any other bowler in the world. Even if he is a complete pillock.

That might well prove to be his cricketing epitaph, actually: ‘Better and more exciting than just about any other bowler in the world, even if he was a complete pillock.’

He took 4-43 but South Africa took the series 3-2 after Pakistan’s lower order rather generously did the choking thing, saving South Africa the effort for once.

Andrew Flintoff likes a beer

'People love me because I get pissed like they do'We’ve been weighing up whether to address today’s ‘big story’ or not all day. The latest extract from Duncan Fletcher’s upcoming autobiography reveals how Andrew Flintoff turned up for a practice session during the 2007 Ashes series a little the worse for wear. He was captain at the time.

Apparently it was a still-drunk-from-the-night-before situation. Flintoff couldn’t throw properly and Fletcher thought he was going to injure him when he gave him catching practice. The practice session was abandoned and Fletcher was a little annoyed.

It all makes what seemed like a bit of an overreaction in the wake of Flintoff’s World Cup drinking accident with a pedalo seem a little bit more understandable.

We never commented on the pedalo thing for the same reasons that we weren’t going to comment on this. It’s being done to death in every newspaper and who cares what we think anyway? However, there’s one thing that really bugs us, hence this textual dirge of an update.

Why the hell does Andrew Flintoff have to keep embracing his cartoonish, heavy-drinking image? The man’s turning into a caricature. The man’s turning into Ian Botham.

We don’t care if he drinks. We care if he’s known for drinking though. We’d much rather he was known for cricket.

Simon Katich hits triple hundred

Simon Katich leaves the field without swearing like a sulky childSimon Katich – remember him? – hit 306 for New South Wales against Queensland. Everyone cross their fingers that he’ll get back into the Australian team in time for the next Ashes.

Australia have any number of excellent batsmen and Katich is one of them, but at least he’s got a proven track record of getting all hot-and-bothered during crucial matches and throwing big hissy fits when he gets out.

In truth a mere triple hundred isn’t such a grand achievement on a pitch where even Matthew Hayden managed to hit 179.

With reference to yesterday’s post about too much cricket, we’d like to highlight the ongoing brilliance of Australian domestic cricket’s fixture list. Each state plays ten first-class games and as there are only six states, cricket followers can comfortably follow every single first-class match.

Mean-treating, keen-keeping brilliance.

Everyday cricket every day

Here’s a comparison. The Rugby World Cup finished last Saturday. England played in the final. Their next international fixture will be on the second of February.

England’s final match in the Cricket World Cup was on the 21st of April, against the West Indies. Their next international fixture, a Test match, also against the West Indies, was on the 17th of May. If by some miracle they’d made the final of the World Cup, it was played on the 28th April.

Okay, so maybe every cricket website you read is repeatedly making this point and maybe every newspaper too, but the fact is we’re all right about it. International cricket is no longer special. The word ‘everyday’ can be synonymous with ‘mundane’ – the everyday grind; your everyday clothes. Mundane, commonplace, routine, everyday. Cricket is played every day.

Cricketers ‘retire’ from one-day internationals or Tests in their twenties; players are rested from matches or even tournaments; and international fast bowlers cut their pace to increase their longevity.

The latter’s been happening in county cricket for years. It’s something county cricket’s always been criticised for. ‘Too many matches mean that there are no fast bowlers on the county circuit, so young batsmen aren’t prepared for Test cricket’.

Well now its relentless fixture list is perfect preparation.

Shaun Pollock’s arms of expression

There is literally no cricketing event that Shaun Pollock can’t portray through subtle distinctions in his ‘arms aloft’ pose.

An lbw appeal.

Celebrating a wicket.

Celebrating a hundred.

You’ll also notice that Shaun tends to appear as a mirror image when celebrating a wicket.

Strauss being conspicuously indifferent to Strauss’s omission

Lemon Bella has the latest on Strauss’s omission from the England squad:

“Here is a picture of StraussCat being indifferent to Strauss (again). It means you can get two posts out of the Andrew Strauss announcement, instead of just the one.”

Cricketers hate a small box

“You’d think in this time of crisis his namesake would at least pay a bit of attention; maybe pass comment on poor umpiring decisions, but no. StraussCat is clearly more interested in sleeping and fitting himself in a box that is much too small for him.”

Animals being conspicuously indifferent to cricket on our old site

Derbyshire sign Mahela Jayawardene as well

It's Mahela - everyone likes MahelaWhat’s going on? Derbyshire are getting serious.

Their latest signing is none other than Mahela Jayawardene – only one of the finest batsmen in the world. Jayawardene will also be playing alongside four other top drawer new signings for Derbyshire: Wavell Hinds of the Windies, who doesn’t count as an overseas player; Rikki Clarke, who’s signed as the new captain; Nayan Doshi, the world’s leading Twenty20 wicket-taker; and John Sadler, Mr and Mrs Sadler’s son.

Okay, three top drawer signings and John Sadler. John Sadler will probably score 2,000 runs for Derbyshire next season now. We won’t notice though because his name’s not very memorable. We suggest he changes it to the Sadlinator 9,000 or somesuch.

Andrew Strauss’s omission

Andrew Strauss having left a straight one or chased a wide one or summatSo Andrew Strauss has finally been dropped. It’s about time.

We don’t mean that in the sense that he’s not good enough for England, just that it seems to have been certain to happen for altogether too many matches. Strauss has been going to the crease thinking it was his last chance to turn things around for about 30 innnings now. Last chance pressure doesn’t lead to good batting.

Strauss himself says: “I have been a victim of some poor umpiring decisions, some unfortunate dismissals and a few incredibly good balls delivered at just the wrong moment,” which is a bit worrying, because we distinctly remember him being a victim of playing wide balls straight into fielders’ hands on a number of occasions.

Still, whether he comes back into the England team as a different batsman or not, it doesn’t really matter as long as he thinks he’s a different batsman. For all the luck and the bad shots, 90 percent of the problem has been batting in limbo – non-committal in stroke and uncertain of his place.

It’ll be interesting to see whether the world’s bowlers have ‘worked him out’ or whether this poor period was largely self-inflicted.

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