Month: July 2008 (page 1 of 5)

Flintoff to Kallis

We don’t know about you, but we’re glad Aleem Dar turned down that blatantly out lbw appeal against Kallis. What followed was as electric as that innocuous-looking, ankle-high, three-holed square of plastic in the corner there.

It was proper fast bowling; the kind you just don’t get in the shorter formats; the kind that only comes about when the bowler v batsman duel suddenly becomes personal and that bowler can do whatever he bloody well wants.

It actually wasn’t a supremely quick spell of bowling in the literal sense – high eighties maybe – but watch it: it was fast bowling. It was the kind of bowling that seems so much faster and more intimidating because the bowler’s so unbelievably pissed off.

This was no less a batsman than Jacques Kallis too – easily one of the best Test batsmen in the world and most definitely someone who doesn’t surrender his wicket easily. He’d actually got himself in as well. He’d just passed 50.

Even before the non-dismissal Flintoff was firing. Yorker, bouncer, bouncer, no run, yorker onto the boot… Not out.

At this point Andrew Flintoff summoned down the angel of pure bilious rage and punched his lights out, stole his bag of rage and put it to use.

For some reason, Jacques Kallis opted to take a single off the last ball of the next over, bowled by Monty Panesar. The idiot.

Bouncer, left alone, beaten outside off.

And then it ended the only way these things can ever satisfactorily end: with a stump being plucked from its earthy home and sent barrelling along towards the wicketkeeper.


Surrey v Middlesex Twenty20 match report

Long-serving King Cricket contributor, SimonC, writes:

Twenty20 being the all new whizzbang format that appeals to even the most curmudgeonly of non-cricket fans, we rounded up twelve grumbling malcontents to see this completely dead rubber at the Oval. Many were the piercing questions we were forced to field from our eager friends: “When is all this over?” “How much did you say this cost again?” and “So, who won?” were just some of the finer points of cricket that we covered.

Waiting for latecomers outside Hobbs Gate, I accosted a complete stranger and demanded of him: “Are you a left-arm chinaman?” since I could’ve sworn I had recognised the Atheist of viddy-blog fame. “No,” he said, but in a slightly shifty-looking manner. He then ran off casting glances back at me, presumably to make sure I wasn’t carrying a knife (I was, as it happens, but just a fruit knife so he was safe unless he has a particularly thin peel). I remain convinced that it was him and that he was just playing hard to get.

Later, in the middle of an animated discussion about zero-gravity coitus, two obliging pigeons decided to mate by the boundary in front of an embarrassed-looking steward, raising the loudest cheer of the evening. I won’t reveal what part of his anatomy the steward was then asked to “give us a wave” with; suffice to say he did not oblige.

After the match I lost my friends in the Fentiman Arms and ended up discussing Maltese rugby with a civil servant who had just returned from Afghanistan. Then I went home and had two cups of tea and a bit of shisha (apple flavour). I pondered bringing the shisha to the cricket next time, but realised that our draconian anti-smoking laws forbid it. I briefly considered writing to my MP, but instead went to bed. I dreamt of Lego batsmen and (alarmingly) Boris Johnson, who bowled a bit of off-spin but went wicketless.


Come in number six – your time is up

We're getting full value for money from the 'dejected Paul Collingwood' picShove Michael Vaughan down to number six – that’s where England keep their worst batsman.

Paul Collingwood seems likely to lose his place. He has another innings, but does he honestly look like a man who’ll make use of it? It’s the latest chapter in England’s number six saga and after Tim Ambrose’s brief appearance in the slot, the chapters are getting shorter.

Where other nations value their number six batsman, England use it as a dumping ground for the newest arrival to the team, the most likely departure from it, or, in the case of Ambrose, whoever’s left over.

South Africa have vehement letter C denier, AB de Villiers, batting at six. India have VVS Laxman. India’s number sixes have averaged 13 runs more than England’s since 2000. Even Bangladesh’s average more and you’re not even supposed to include Bangladesh when you talk about Test cricket, because it’s an unwritten rule that they don’t count.

Vaughan won’t move to six, because he’ll see it as a demotion, but that’s because of the way England treat the slot. If number six weren’t such a tainted limbo, maybe the fall of the fourth wicket wouldn’t send such shockwaves through the side and maybe the earlier batsmen wouldn’t live in constant fear of that.

England v South Africa, third Test at Edgbaston, day one
England 231 all out (Alastair Cook 76, Ian Bell 50, Jacques Kallis 3-31, Andre Nel 3-47)
South Africa 38-1


Back to the important stuff

White clothing is THE BALLSWe’re generally in favour of Twenty20, but one downside is that it seems to necessitate the reading of one too many articles about cricket politics.

Cricket politics is dull and it eats into time that could better be spent keeping abreast of developments in the monkey kingdom. Hopefully someone’s on top of that. The last we heard, they’d developed a barter system and had been experimenting with various alloys. Have they developed the wheel yet?

In other news, a Test match starts and despite the format’s long history, two previous Tests between the sides and years of watching experience, pretty much nobody’s got any idea how it’s actually going to go.

Brilliant. You couldn’t artificially manufacture a better sporting contest.


Cricket’s Champions Leagues

Feeble and irrelevant attempt to make this update less boring

The Board of Control for Cricket in India, the BCCI, wishes to run a Champions League featuring Twenty20 sides from around the world. The BCCI backs the IPL Twenty20 league and says sides featuring players from the rival ICL can’t appear in its Champions League.

Various county cricketers have played in the ICL, so the England and Wales Cricket Board, the ECB, is unhappy. They’re also unhappy because the BCCI want half the money from this Champions League.

The BCCI are sick of the ECB now and have told them to piss off. The ECB have said, ‘fine, we’ll go – but we’re starting our own Champions League and it’s going to be better than yours’. The BCCI said: ‘Do it. We’ll see whose is best,’ and then they’ve each taken it in turns to say ‘fine’ as the ECB have stormed out of the building in a huff.

The question is, have the ECB irritated the BCCI so much that the BCCI will crush the ECB’s Champions League or have the ECB pissed off the BCCI so royally that the BCCI will crush the ECB’s Champions League and the EPL and whatever else takes their fancy.

Because they can. India brings in three quarters of the money in the game and that fact wins pretty much every argument.

In a way it’d be best if there were two Champions Leagues, because then they’d both fit the Champions League template, which of course dictates that there should be as few champion teams as possible.

Champions leagues should really be stocked with ‘big’ teams who owe their status to repeated appearances in the Champions League, not sides who’ve ever actually won anything.


More Andre Nel depravity

What is it with Andre Nel and this sort of quote? If he’s not saying it himself, someone else is saying it about him.

South Africa coach, Mickey Arthur, said: “Any time Andre plays for South Africa he’s fired up. I can’t wait to see him bowl hard.”

It doesn’t bear thinking about – and you most definitely shouldn’t conjur up the mental image.

As a form of discouragement, we should probably offer some sort of prize to anyone who doesn’t use the phrase ‘rhythmically swaying with each step’ in their comment. But it’s kind of pointless being as we’ve already written the unthinkable in suggesting that preventive measure.

At least we’ve saved ‘proud member of the South African team’ for you to use… Oh.


Why Rob Key is the man

A million you say? Meh

Some of you are doubtless under the impression that we like Rob Key because he’s a ruddy-faced barrel of a man, but that’s not why at all. That’s just a bonus.

The real reason why we like Rob Key is because we think he’s a fantastic batsman. One of his biggest strengths is a real, genuine sense of perspective. Steve Waugh once said of him: “He doesn’t give a shit about much”.

Waugh meant this as a compliment, going on to say that it meant he wouldn’t get overawed by anything, which is invaluable in top-level sport.

Rob pretty much just likes playing cricket and doesn’t really worry about things that are out of his hands. He was asked about qualifying for the multi-million pound Twenty20 Champions’ League. Kent’s appearance is in doubt due to their fielding ICL players during the Twenty20 Cup.

Here’s his answer: “How do I feel about qualifying? I’m not too bothered.”

Update: He also said about the Champions’ League: “Until I get some plane tickets and they say this is it, I could not care.”
 


Middlesex win Twenty20 Cup

Winners wear pinkA last ball win is never bad, even if it condemns your hero to defeat. To be honest, we’re a bit disappointed that Rob didn’t have some anger to vent. He vented well enough last year and Kent won then.

Owais Shah doesn’t seem to be getting sufficient recognition for his innings. We can only assume that Owais Shah isn’t popular with anybody. Most reports are on about Tyron Henderson, because he laid the bowling to waste in Middlesex’s semi-final and because he bowled the last over in the final.

Henderson did go for 58 runs off four overs in that final though. Everyone knows that, right? And Owais Shah hit a 35-ball 75. Everyone knows that too, right? Okay. Just so we’re clear.

The strangest part of the day was probably Durham’s batting in their semi-final. Did they know that it was Twenty20? Did they know how many overs there were to go? Someone in the Durham camp had clearly decreed that a par score was about 31 and the batsmen ambled around from that point on.

It was just the sort of brain dead pig-headedness we like. It would have been even better if they’d been chasing. We’re declaring Durham the moral winners. The moral they’ve won is: ‘never bat like idiots’.


Sri Lankan tactics

Heads!Sri Lanka have always had a good plan when playing at home, but it did have one slight flaw. Someone had to bowl at the other end.

If you’re a touring side batting in a Test in Sri Lanka, you effectively play two different matches. At one end, you counter the quick bowlers and the back-up spinner and probably acquit yourself quite well. At the other end you whimper and get out. No shame in that. That’s just facing Murali on his turf. The mistake you made was taking that single and changing ends.

Now though, there’s Ajantha Mendis, so when batting you now have a choice. Do you get out to Murali or do you get out to Mendis?

The Sri Lankan tactic was carried out to perfection last week. 600-6 when they batted and then India were out for 223 and 138. Murali took 5-84 and 6-26. Ajantha Mendis took 4-72 and 4-60. Chaminda Vaas got through ten overs in the entire match.

India, after hurting England last summer and then scaring Australia earlier this year seem to be deteriorating. Swanning around in the IPL like you’re entitled to one fat slice of everything in the entire world is asking for it though.

It all started when they hired a hubris coach for one-on-one sessions with each of the players. They should never have done that. What did they think would happen?


It’s Mahela Jayawardene at the SSC. Again.

I stay out here because the changing rooms smell funnyIf Sanath Jayasuriya’s catchphrase would be ‘ha-haaaa‘, then Mahela Jayawardene’s ought to be just silence. He’s not speaking because he’s concentrating.

Jayawardene averages near enough a hundred at Galle, but it’s at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground that he REALLY likes batting. No-one’s ever scored more Test runs at a single ground than Jayawardene at the SSC.

The last four times he’s gone to the crease in a Test match there, he’s scored a hundred. The first of those innings was 374 and the most recent, yesterday, was his ninth SSC Test hundred.

It must be really satisfying for the Sri Lankans when they’re playing at home to have a tactic that they can rely on so completely. Bat the opposition to tears, hope to fluke a wicket with the new ball and then let Murali bowl for three days solid.

As plans go, it’s not got much subtlety, but granite hasn’t got much subtlety and granite’s one of the great success stories. Look at it sitting there – the smug, igneous bastard.


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