Month: May 2008 (page 1 of 4)

Shaun Marsh in the IPL

A tiny picture of Shaun Marsh that's probably from ages agoShaun Marsh has hit five fifties and a hundred in the IPL. He’s streets ahead of anyone else. He’s hit the most runs and he’s averaging 74.12. He’s adding to Kings XI Punjab‘s rich history of great batsmen.

The best thing about Shaun Marsh is the way he’s scored his runs. Twenty20’s a big slogathon is it? Then how come the most successful batsman plays straighter than a Wigan binman?

During his 69 ball 115 against Rajasthan Royals, Marsh scored no fewer than 49 runs straight down the ground, hitting three fours and five sixes in that area. We’re not just talking in front of square, you understand. We mean straight back past the bowler with a satisfying ‘pock’ sound and a ‘go fetch it’ flourish.

Shaun Marsh is Geoff Marsh’s son. We didn’t know that and we’re not sure why we didn’t guess. Here’s a view of him from Down Under. Don’t worry, if you read that link again you’ll see that we’ve capitalised the initial letters of ‘Down’ and ‘Under’, so it’s not a cheeky photograph of his undercarriage it’s some Antipodean opinion.

IPL semi final: Rajasthan Royals against Delhi Daredevils

Rajasthan Recruitment Consultants have won 11 of their 14 league games. Delhi Database Administrators have won seven of their 14 games. Now they play a semi final. Delhi will probably win.

Rumour has it that Rajasthan were spurred into their league-topping run by a huge Shane Warne bollocking after they lost their very first match to these opponents. We always suspected that THE RAGE was the best method of coaching a side.

To get you up to speed, here’s a comprehensive lowdown on these first two semi-finallists:


Sohail Tanvir is The Balls at this form of the game.


Glenn McGrath’s still not going for runs, even though that’s THE WHOLE BLOODY POINT.

There you go, you can get back to your bacon sandwich or your cup of tea or whatever you use to avoid doing work at this time on a Friday.

Bidding for Test matches

Old Trafford as seen from a safe distanceThis week’s Old Trafford Test was the last there until at least 2012. Putting aside our irritation that we can’t see Test cricket at our local ground, we can see that it’s increasingly shabby and that Lancashire have been complacent about their ‘right’ to hold Tests.

Only that’s not necessarily the reason. According to Lancashire’s chief executive, Jim Cumbes, the criteria through which grounds are selected to host Tests are heavily weighted towards financial returns. This isn’t good for spectators.

The various potential Test match venues bid against each other and the more they bid, the more they need to recoup. We’re no economist, but the ‘how much could I get for a kidney’ ticket and beer prices might well be a result of this.

Old Trafford still needs a lick of paint though.

Wolverhampton Cricket Club v Leamington Cricket Club match report

Matt B writes:

I was up in Wolverhampton visiting my Dad. By late afternoon the relentless excitability of my seven year-old Chinese step-sister, the listlessness caused by a new lurgy and the lure of a still sweltering sunny day drove to me escape the house for a little bit of liberty and peace of mind. My destination? A bit of willow on leather healing.

First I had to cross Tettenhall common which was pockmarked by small gangs of local teenage hoodlums congregating in alcoholic communion. But after making it through a solid-looking line of trees, I found myself suddenly at the fine ground of Wolverhampton CC.

Wolverhampton Cricket Ground

The perimeter fencing included the usual odd advertisements for some local insurance company with cricket ball sized holes punched through them. Behind the fencing, in a particularly pleasant arc of the ground, three cars were pulled up with exceedingly elderly couples sitting in the front seats, silently taking in the day’s play – presumably doing what they’ve done for the last 100 years. In fact one of the cars consisted of three women – two in their eighties sitting on deck chairs beside the car and another inside who was at least 130.

After making sure I didn’t move behind the bowler’s arm, I continued towards the clubhouse. Turns out the opposition were Leamington CC, who I’m sure used to be in the lower Warwickshire League along with my former team Moseley Ashfield CC. Arriviste bastards.

I wanted a nosy in the clubhouse and after gently hurdling the 50cm high white fencing that was no doubt there to make the spectators in front of the pavilion feel important, I peered inside. I was to learn that the groundsman had sold his house to pay for the new clubhouse, which was to include, on the top floor, accommodation purpose-built for him. Whether he was forced into this money-saving scheme or actually wanted his own tower, I cannot say.

Remembering that a King Cricket disciple had claimed that TVs in pavilions show every sport other than cricket, I noted that a play-off between northern heavyweights Darlington and Rochdale was temptingly flickering in the corner.

A perusal of the walls revealed a 1908 combined team photo featuring the club captain’s Select XI versus a WG Grace Select XI. Totally dominating the picture was an absolutely massive man with an enormous, wild-looking face and huge, black beard. The scorecard said he didn’t get much in either innings and I wondered if the people of Wolverhampton had been subjected to one of his famed bellicose rants.

On skipping over the little fencing on the other side, I noticed a sign saying ‘This enclosure is for club members only’. I didn’t care – I was off home for tea.

Mahaboob Alam takes ten wickets in a one-day match

Mahaboob Alam plays for Nepal. He took 10-12 from 7.5 overs against Mozambique. Mozambique made 19, so Mahaboob Alam was quite expensive.

Still, on balance, well bowled Mahaboob Alam.

Andrew Strauss repairs his stats

Andrew Strauss - man of bipolar formFortunate to be given the opportunity to do so, Andrew Strauss saved his Test career with a whopping 177 in the third and final Test of the tour of New Zealand. Since then, he’s hit 63, 60 and now 106 and suddenly there doesn’t seem to be much of a problem. Such is cricket.

This was an almighty fightback by England – one we didn’t think they were capable of. They’ve been a slightly inspid outfit of late, inclined towards mediocrity, but for the last four sessions of this Test, they were sublime. That shouldn’t obscure the unpalatable truths that were apparent on Sunday morning though.

England’s middle order seems to be providing ever-dwindling returns. It seems like someone’s going to go before too long. Paul Collingwood, while currently the one-day captain, has some surgery in the offing and would appear to be bottom of the pile.

England’s seamers lack a bit of pace. It’s the fashion to say that bowling’s all about experience and guile now – largely thanks to Ryan Sidebottom – but just as the previous obsession with pace was misguided, so this is. Pace is still an attribute – one that should be allied to accuracy and intelligence.

We’d also like to have a minor pop at the sacred cow that is Stuart Broad. We’ve written before about how we want Stuart Broad in the England team for years to come, but his batting competence and bowling promise seems to be obscuring the simple fact that at present he’s not taking too many wickets – 12 at 47 in five Tests, to be precise.

We’re not saying drop him by any means. We’re saying: ‘Get some wickets, Stuart’. With only four bowlers, that’s mandatory. He’s not the third best English seam bowler and he needs to get closer to being that.

England v New Zealand, second Test at Old Trafford – day four
New Zealand 381 all out (Ross Taylor 154 not out, Jamie How 64, Kyle Mills 57, James Anderson 4-118)
England 202 (Andrew Strauss 60, Daniel Vettori 5-66, Iain O’Brien 3-49
New Zealand 114 all out (Monty Panesar 6-37)
England 293-4 (Andrew Strauss 106)
England win

Monty Panesar at Old Trafford

It’s been three years since we last went to the Old Trafford Test and didn’t see Monty Panesar take five wickets. Actually, that’s not strictly true. We went to two days of last year’s West Indies Test and on one of the days he only took four wickets.

In 2006 we were at day three when Monty got five of Pakistan’s top six batsmen. We’ve never experienced such affection for a cricketer from a crowd as we did that day. It was sky-high from the outset and with every subsequent wicket, it went up a notch.

Affection didn’t end five notches above the sky when he polished off the West Indies last year on day five, but it can’t have been far off. After four wickets in the first innings, Monty took 6-137 in the second innings and England won.

Yesterday there were six further sightings of the Monty Panesar celebration. When England had lost six wickets in the first hour, we’d mentally prepared our tirade about how England’s bowlers had lacked the same killer instinct during the Kiwis’ first innings.

That update won’t be appearing on King Cricket after Panesar lacerated their second innings, taking 6-37 as New Zealand stumbled to 114 all out. Monty would surely have bagged seven but for Daniel Flynn‘s absence.

The 25th over was his finest. Panesar pinned Marshall on the back foot with his first ball before nearly getting McCullum with each of his next two deliveries: an lbw shout and a turning lifter which had a Curtly Ambrose delivery for a mother and a Shane Warne leg break for a father. McCullum swept wildly at the next ball and was lbw.

McCullum looks frazzled when he faces Panesar right now. In the first innings, he slogged him for a four and a six off consecutive balls, but Panesar got him in that same over. In all, Panesar’s taken McCullum’s wicket six times in ten innings and if he carries on like this, things aren’t going to change.

Monty Panesar has now taken 25 wickets in three Tests at Old Trafford at an average of 16.72. Unfortunately, he won’t be adding to that record for at least another three years. But that’s a different update. One that might appear later in the week.

England v New Zealand, second Test at Old Trafford – day three
New Zealand 381 all out (Ross Taylor 154 not out, Jamie How 64, Kyle Mills 57, James Anderson 4-118)
England 202 (Andrew Strauss 60, Daniel Vettori 5-66, Iain O’Brien 3-49
New Zealand 114 all out (Monty Panesar 6-37)
England 76-1

Andrew Symonds, a terrible batsman, hits some very lucky runs

Amazingly incompetent at being brilliant at failing wellIn January we said that Andrew Symonds had disproved our feeling that he wasn’t the man you wanted at the crease if you’d lost early wickets and everyone rounded on us for not thinking he was the mutt’s nuts even sooner.

So we’re a bit uncertain what to say about his invaluable, counter-punching 79 yesterday. We’ve a vague suspicion that the title of the update has more bearing than the content itself, so we’ll test that.

Australia were 18-5 when he came in and if that’s not being in trouble, then what is? It was a fantastic knock, wresting back momentum from a West Indian bowling attack that rather pleasingly thought it was of a Seventies or Eighties vintage, rather than the inspid modern equivalent.

Joe Denly hits a fourth innings hundred

Joe 'No Pants' DenlyWhile largely overshadowed by Rob Key‘s silky 26, Joe Denly‘s 149 was still a weighty contribution towards a Kent total of 250.

Kent lost, but you can’t really blame No Pants for that. Has anyone got any information on that nickname’s origins yet? If you do know and it’s a bit boring, don’t tell us.

Daniel Flynn’s lost tooth

Poor Daniel FlynnJacob Oram and the short ball: You pair are going to be great friends.

It may have been Daniel Flynn’s tooth that James Anderson removed with a bouncer, but Jacob Oram looked the more uncomfortable against short-pitched bowling.

Of course Flynn’s bloodied mélange of flesh and teeth went way beyond being uncomfortable. We just mean that Oram made repeated mistakes dealing with bouncers, whereas Flynn only really made the one, massively costly error.

Wonder when he’ll play a hook shot next. We’d be filing that away in the mental drawer marked ‘never again’ along with running with shin splints and Gujerati food (sugar is NOT a type of salt).

It seems like James Anderson feels pretty bad about it, but he also made a very sensible point when he said: “When you hit someone on the head it generally encourages bowlers to do it again.”

That’s a recognition that it’s not his job to sway out of the way of 90mph pulverisers, it’s his job to deliver them.

England v New Zealand, second Test at Old Trafford – day one
New Zealand 202-4 (Ross Taylor 67 not out)

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