Month: February 2008 (page 1 of 4)

Jason Gillespie’s retirement

Jason Gillespie, the anti-Samson, pre-transformationJason Gillespie has effectively retired. He’s going to play in the ICL and that C in place of a P is the difference between making millions for no real sacrifice and making slightly less for being banned from first-class cricket. The IPL being the sanctioned Indian Twenty20 league of course. The ICL being the leper league.

Gillespie was the Aussie great who didn’t get to win back the Ashes. We shouldn’t feel too sorry for him though. He won the previous four, after all. Even so, it’s a bit of a low-key exit for a top bowler who’s easily overlooked. 259 Test wickets at 26.13 are the figures that shame the quick bowlers of today.

We used to think that Jason Gillespie was stupid. He’s not. This opinion was largely based on an interview with him where someone asked where the name ‘Dizzy’ came from. Gillespie said that someone had called it him once and it had just sort of stuck.

Who doesn’t know the reasons behind their own nickname, we thought. What a moron. But looking back, it was probably just nerves.

You might think of Jason Gillespie as a line and length medium-pacer who didn’t have the wherewithal to protect his figures when English bats got bigger in 2005, in which case you’ll think there’s a faintly tragic air about the man. We don’t pity that frail, put-upon later-version Gillespie though, because we remember what preceded it.

Before one Ashes series (it doesn’t matter which – they were much the same at the time), Steve Waugh described Jason Gillespie as the best bowler in the world. This was mostly rhetoric for English ears and a bit of support for a young player. After all, Gillespie wasn’t even the best bowler in the Australia side – nor even the second best.

However, Waugh made quite a strong case and if a cricket follower had arrived from the past with no knowledge of modern players, they might have believed him. He pointed out that Gillespie was tall, accurate, seamed it, swung it and bowled at over 90mph. What more could you want?

Resilience maybe. Gillespie was almost always injured or coming back from injury and this was probably why his pace reduced. He didn’t have a choice in the matter, unlike Shaun Pollock.

His career may have ended with quite a long fade-out rather than a bang, but at least we can say his Test career ended on an up-note – albeit an odd one. Jason Gillespie, that master blocker, who’d previously hit two Test fifties in about 90 innings, hit a double hundred against Bangladesh. That was a really, really weird day.

There’s hope for all tail-enders who work on their batting there though. He added a first-class hundred for Yorkshire the next summer and another for South Australia this season. With a stronger body, he might yet have made a batsman. Or maybe not.

Get on the edge of your seat

Australia v Sri Lanka today might be a meaningless dead rubber, but on Sunday it’s FINALS TIME.

Australia and India might have played four one-day internationals against each other already, but they weren’t FINALS. Now its serious. Previously, both teams were only concerned with getting to THE FINALS. But now they’re 100% focused on the three separate matches that comprise THE FINALS.

We all thought that the World Cup was long-winded and wearisome, but the Commonwealth Bank Series takes eight matches to remove one team, before an all-or-nothing, win-at-all-costs final. Actually, that’s not true. You can lose the first one. There are still two more finals after that.


Strauss being conspicuously indifferent to Strauss’s selection ahead of Owais Shah for England’s final warm-up match before the first Test against New Zealand

A catchy title, we think you’ll all agree.

It’s been a while since we received a picture of an animal being conspicuously indifferent to cricket – TOO LONG, in fact. There are a whole host of animals who have not yet expressed their indifference to this great game. We’ve never had a wholphin. We’ve never had a liger. Our inbox is always open.

Lemon Bella says:

“This is a picture of StraussCat being conspicuously indifferent when I told him that Strauss had been picked ahead of Shah.”

Dear namesake, have no real opinion about you, love Strauss

“As you can see, he put a lot of effort into showing exactly how much he didn’t care about this news.”

More animals being conspicuously indifferent to cricket

Andrew Strauss is a favourite, Owais Shah less so

Straaaauuus - he is hanging around... againWe don’t want to get anti-Andrew Strauss because we quite like him, but his selection in England’s team for their final warm-up worries us.

Either it’s his last opportunity to earn a place in the Test team or favouritism’s crept in. Strauss was dropped because of poor form and hasn’t recovered it. His rival for a Test place, Owais Shah, hit 96 in his last innings, averages more in first-class cricket and during the last county season averaged 70. Strauss may have more Test experience, but he’s averaged 27 since he touched down in Australia last winter.

How is Andrew Strauss ahead? Apparently he’s amiable and a good team player. Of course he is. Even we’d be good-natured and garrulous if you indulged us as England indulge Strauss.

Shah’s more prickly of course, which is hardly surprising when he’s only ever been given two one-off Tests and his current rival only has to catch a plane heading to the right country in order to win his place back.

England might be embarrassed about having had to drop a centrally-contracted player, but they should be more embarrassed about this non-meritrocratic shammery.

That’s assuming that that’s what’s happening – which isn’t necessarily the case. We just like to believe everything we read, because we’re mindless.

Australia and India sent to headmaster’s office

You have to stop acting like this before you go to big school“Oh no. We’re going to get DONE. And, and, and. And Mark says that he’s got a cane, even though it’s against the law and that he’s even got a special stripey cane for when you’re REALLY bad.”

So now we all know why players say ‘what’s said on the pitch should stay on the pitch’. It’s because it all gets massively embarrassing otherwise.

After one player called another player something else and the ICC got an actual judge to sort it out (A JUDGE!), even though it was essentially one player’s word against another; and after the BCCI threatened to take its bat (and players) home when it didn’t get its own way; we now get Matthew Hayden calling names as well. He called Harbhajan Singh ‘an obnoxious weed’.

But that isn’t the best bit. That was what preceded it.

This is a quote so beautiful, we couldn’t believe our eyes when we first read it. It’s BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah in response to Ishant Sharma’s fine for aggressive behaviour and it’s so good it’s getting a paragraph of its own and appearing in italics.

“Basically the Australian players are starting the whole thing.”

‘But they started it.’ Has there ever been a stronger defense than that. That ALWAYS works, doesn’t it?

During the next match, we fully expect Ricky Ponting to fire his finger into the air when Australia are in the field and shout ‘TELLING’, before marching off to find a figure of authority.

Fidel Edwards signs for Worcestershire

How many West Indian cricketers does it take to change a light bulb?A good signing for Worcestershire, but perhaps an even better deal for Fidel Edwards.

The lack of West Indians appearing in county cricket is both a symptom of their current weakness, but also a cause. A great line of West Indians have broadened their cricketing education in England, from Learie Constantine in the Lancashire leagues of the Thirties to Brian Lara – who seemed to know quite a bit anyway in scoring 501 in a single innings.

But recently county cricket’s been awash with Australians and second-rate South Africans. Any new Australian Test batsman can be guaranteed to have eaten up county attacks for at least a couple of seasons. Mike Hussey and Phil Jaques have played over here for years. It’ll be no surprise when they’re not fazed by the conditions in 2009.

But West Indians have been missing these benefits. Edwards should learn a little about bowling while he’s in England, but he should also learn something about being a professional. Overseas pros are expected to perform because they’re the biggest names in the team.

Kumar Sangakkara said that philosophy helped his batting attain the rare heights of late. It’s up to Fidel Edwards how he responds, but he’s at least got a good opportunity here.

Andrew Strauss fighting England’s selectors

Andrew Strauss - never before timed outAndrew Strauss has a central contract with England so the selectors want him to play. Unfortunately however, Andrew Strauss is doing his utmost to put his reselection in doubt.

Strauss was dropped for the tour of Sri Lanka after getting out for 27 in every single one of his previous 36 Test innings. Sensing that he would have to be brought back for the New Zealand tour due to that central contract, Strauss went over there early to play for Northern Districts. This perfect preparation didn’t quite go as planned as Strauss largely failed to score any runs whatsoever until a hundred in his final match.

Now, having made anything but a persuasive case, he’s back with England and opening in the warm-ups. Cue an innings of four off 25 balls and a dismissal through hitting his own wicket – excuse our politically incorrect language, but the spazziest means of getting out that there is.

Andrew Strauss is a good batsman, but not right now. It wouldn’t be fair to other players to bring him back into the side just because that was a plan that was made a few months back. Surely the plan revolved around Strauss getting back into form? We’re not convinced that’s happened.

As it stands, there’s a fair weight of evidence that Andrew Strauss is in no fit state to open the batting for England in a Test match. He looks very much like a man trying to get out in every way imaginable – and in a few ways that aren’t.

In the same warm-up match, Alastair Cook hit 85. Did anyone else notice that he did this off 81 balls?

Jesse Ryder injures himself gaining entrance to a toilet

Bad night RyderJesse Ryder, you really do appear in the most spectacularly glorious stories.

Jesse Ryder injured himself while he was out drinking to celebrate New Zealand’s one-day series win over England. Did he injure himself in a fight? No. Did he injure himself trying to break into a toilet? Yes.

He’s gashed his hand punching through a pane of glass, by the sounds of it. It’s all a little opaque.

New Zealand’s manager, Lindsay Crocker, said: “It was one of those semi-detached toilets with the lock on the outside. There was no one in there and there was a little glass panel next to it and he put his hand through it – quite forcibly, obviously – to unlock it, and that is when he did the damage.”

Semi-detached toilets? What?

Shahadat Hossain skittles South Africa

Shahadat Hossain doing something - possibly skippingThis would have been a much better update if we’d actually written it yesterday, like we meant to. Now everything’s rather tainted by an impending South African victory.

In the first Test between Bangladesh and South Africa, Shahadat Hossain took 6-27 as South Africa were bowled out for 170. Those are rather sparkling bowling figures and if a 21-year-old from any other Test playing nation had done that against South Africa, the world might take notice.

Unfortunately, Shahadat Hossain has merely produced a valiant performance in another Bangladeshi defeat, so no-one cares. Poor Shahadat Hossain.

Shahadat Hossain wondering what RP Singh's up toWell we care, Shahadat. In ten years time when you and the whole of the rest of the team are 30 and have about 150 caps each and you’re battering England without breaking sweat, we hope you remember this support.

Come that day, we hope you’ll find it in your heart to offer up a few rank half-volleys to whichever England batsman we’ve adopted and scared witless.

Brendon McCullum finds his feet

Brendon McCullum - in shoesYou’d think that by the age of 26, he’d know to look at the end of his legs, but no. Up until now Brendon McCullum’s been incorrectly forcing his footwear onto all sorts of incorrect body parts. He’s been a disaster zone of misapplied shoddery.

McCullum’s been finding his feet in cricket as well, albeit metaphorically. England supporters might be under the impression that he’d done that long ago after he posted scores of 42, 80 not out, 4, 58 and 77 against their team at substantially more than a run a ball. Actually, those were his 10th, 11th and 12th fifties and he’s hit no hundreds in his 104 one-day international innings.

In fact, eight of Brendon McCullum’s 12 fifties have come in his last 22 innings and the four before that were only 51 not out, 56 not out, 51 not out and 50 not out. Before his 86 not out against Australia at Hamilton almost exactly a year ago, when New Zealand successfully chased down 346, McCullum was averaging just 21.71. Since then, he’s averaged 49.82.

Take the period of 14 matches since he was promoted to open and he’s scored half his fifties and averaged 53.66. Not bad for a man who can’t dress himself.

New Zealand v England, fifth one-day international at Christchurch
England 242-7 (Kyle Mills 4-36)
New Zealand 213-6 (Brendon McCullum 77, Ryan Sidebottom 3-51)
New Zealand won after a Duckworth-Lewis calculation.
New Zealand win the series 3-1.

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