Month: September 2008 (page 1 of 4)

Kent’s relegation to division two of the County Championship

Rob Key giving about six percent effort - good man!

Kent don’t look like a second division side to us. Quite apart from the Rob Key factor – which decides the matter and draws a line under it in itself – there are so many other decent players and so few poor performances.

Kent won four matches this season – one more than Somerset who came fourth. A combination of draws and bonus points has dispatched them to the near-worthless second tier. It doesn’t seem right.

The championship format is toss

We have two issues. The first is bonus points. You get 14 points for a win and you can pick up eight bonus points in a match. Eight bonus points is too many. It wields too great an influence. It’s also ridiculous that you can get five bonus points for batting, but only three for bowling. It encourages conservatism.

The second issue that we have is with the two-up, two-down nature of promotion and relegation between the two divisions. Two teams changing places is okay some years, but not every year. Look at it this way: are Worcestershire better than Kent? We might be wrong, but we suspect not.

It would be better if there were a play-off between the runners-up in division two and the second from bottom side in division one. That would be fair and it would also be quite an intriguing occasion at the end of the season.

Division two is toss

As for Kent specifically, we now have to consider Joe Denly achievements with the sneeringly aloof tone that we reserve for division two and we’re not happy about that. We much prefer to get carried away about things.

We can also reveal why Kent got relegated, by the way. It’s because of coach Graham Ford’s sub-moronic maths. He’s been keeping this flaw concealed, the devious little innumerate, but we can finally out him after this quote about how his players will respond next season:

“I know they’ll be giving 120% to get back to First Division status.”

They haven’t a chance. They’ll be declaring for seven and thinking they’re top when they’ve got no points if this is how the man deals with numbers.

Coming soon on King Cricket

Laurence Elderbrook has one more match left this season. We were quite pleased when his reports were met with initial apathy, because the man’s a bell-end and we wanted to get rid of him. Unfortunately, some of you seem to have warmed to him, so we’re having to find a way of keeping him on.

After having the idea appear in front of us without our having to do any actual thinking, we’ve decided to do an ‘Ask Laurence’ feature, where you can question the great man and get him to solve all your problems. Try and make a few of the questions about cricket because that’s his area of expertise.

You can leave comments, but it might be better if you email us so that we don’t lose them. Depending how many questions we get, this feature will probably start next week.

On a less irritating note, we’ve got something of rare beauty appearing on Wednesday, so make sure you visit then. We can assure you that, for once, something will be appearing on this site that isn’t rubbish.

Durham’s championship winning batting

Durham’s bowling attack is getting all the attention, but don’t forget that they’ve prepared pitches to suit it and their batsmen have had to bat on those very same tracks.

Not many of Durham’s batsmen have prospered. Most of their 2008 averages aspire to mediocrity. Of Durham players who’ve played more than a couple of games, only four average over 30.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul – 411 runs at 37.36

Shiv’s currently ranked as the best Test batsman in the world. You would hope for runs from him. As Lord Megachief of Gold, you would positively demand them.

Dale Benkenstein – 783 runs at 43.50

Players hit more runs at better averages for other counties, but these runs were more valuable. We move that Dale Benkenstein be nicknamed ‘Benkensteino’ from now on.

Michael Di Venuto – 1,058 runs at 46

No-one else made more than 1,000 runs for Durham. Australian batsmen who aren’t quite good enough for the Test side are so important in county cricket, it’s obscene. We move that Michael Di Venuto be nicknamed ‘Dio Venuto-o’ from now, on the grounds that it’s so catchy and easy to say.

Will Smith – 925 runs at 51.38

Will Smith is perhaps of most interest. He’s scored half of his first-class hundreds (three) this season and we’re not giving much away if we say he’ll be one to watch next season.

Durham win their first County Championship

Durham win the County ChampionshipCounty champions are sometimes garlanded with caveats in the wake of victory, but Durham deserved their win. Regardless of weather and the occasionally misleading influence of bonus points, Durham were the best side.

Quite simply, they won more games than anyone else and that’s what the game’s about, isn’t it? You don’t want champions who’ve picked up full bonus points and ‘earned’ lots of draws. You want the champions to prepare spicy pitches, safe in the knowledge that their bowling attack is better than their opponents’.

Durham’s bowling attack was the best. You can’t consistently leave out bowlers like Liam Plunkett and Graham Onions without having some firepower. Detractors might point to a general lack of spin, but we quite like that Durham have won the County Championship while practically ignoring that side of the game.

Over the last few years, the County Championship has been decided by spin more often than not. More specifically, it’s been decided by Mushtaq Ahmed. Now, it seems, there’s more than one way to win the title.

Laurence shows his mental strength

I am due to bat at number 10. How can I impose my will on the game from there? What is the point?

When the time comes for Laurence Elderbrook to take his stage, I am fast asleep. Roused by a team mate, I lash out with an arm to teach him some damn manners, but I make contact with nothing but air. As I peer out through my glazed eyes, I see that he is yards away. My reflexes have dimmed.

Before I walk out, I take a moment to compose myself in front of the mirror. I can’t see much through the fog of misery and can only presume that I look immaculate.

As I lope towards the centre, there is a tap on my shoulder. I turn slowly, stumbling a touch. It is a team mate. He is holding my bat. I take it from him, though I shan’t be needing it.

I don’t know if I momentarily lose consciousness or something, but the next thing I know, I’m looking at two feet either side of a white line. They are my feet. I glance around a touch and realise I am on strike. As I gaze towards the bowler’s end for the first time, he is already into his delivery stride.

I emit a weak murmur and move to recoil, but the ball has already hit my bat. At this point someone shouts “run!” It seems that person is me.

The ball rolls into the covers and suddenly I am alive. My legs feel like pistons as I bound towards the other end. I am moving like the wind and the adrenaline is starting to flow. This drama will unfold according to my script.

The fielder scoops the ball up and shies at the stumps, but in this mood I am unstoppable. I dive for the crease, full-length, with my bat extended before me. The ball strikes the stumps. As I land, I already feel hollow.

It is vital that you never show the opposition any sign of weakness. With this in mind, I keep my face buried into the dirt so that they cannot see my tears. After some minutes of this, people seem to be getting a little impatient, but Laurence Elderbrook gives ground to no man, so I sob on, face on the floor.

As I am dragged off the field by ankles with the serene dignity afforded to only the very few, I ponder my next move. There is still time to do something to help take the initiative in the mental battle before these sides next meet.

It is at this point that I take the only option available to me. I twist and roll over, throw back my head and let fly a huge, bestial roar.

I let things wash over me. Everyone admires my mental strength. They admire me.

More Laurence Elderbrook

Peter Siddle’s UNBELIEVABLE skill

Dear Australia, Regarding the faces attached to your young cricketers...Everyone’s got a skill. Everyone’s got one thing that they’re inexplicably good at.

For many people it’s something useful, like having the ability to retain facts. Other people have more specific abilities, like being good at table tennis without every really having played before. Our skill is drinking litres and litres of water if we do anything remotely physical. We can’t actually carry enough if we’re climbing a hill or something.

Australia’s new fast bowler, Peter Siddle, has a skill. Peter Siddle’s skill is that he’s really, really good at chopping wood.

According to Cricinfo, he was so good at chopping wood that he did it competitively. “District under-age woodchopping titles came his way in his early teenage years.”

Under-age woodchopping titles, not ‘youth woodchopping titles’.

That’s quite apart from the most obvious question, which is: woodchopping titles?

Can there be any justification for adopting Jason Krejza – let’s put it to the vote

The other guyOn the one hand, he’s a spin bowler with a really mediocre record and people are lining up to, er… not know who he is – which is quite endearing. On the other hand, he’s Australian, which isn’t endearing. It’s a quandary and no mistake.

Former Aussie spinner, Ashley Mallett, is the latest to not really know who Jason Krejza is. He did have a go at talking him up anyway though:

“McGain had a terrific season and the other guy, well figures-wise he wasn’t that impressive but he does give it a bit of a rip so he has a real chance.”

It’s real call-to-arms stuff. It makes Krejza sound like exactly our kind of cricketer.

Car Colston v Thurgaton match report

Jo Fitz writes:

Here’s the match report as seen from the perspective of an umpire.

Car Colston is a village just east of Nottingham that centres on its cricket pitch. Pavilion on one side, pub on the other. The pitch has the “Big House” end and the “cow” end. A big field full of cows. Not just a cow corner, a whole field. And the cows also wander around the village.

This afternoon they were as conspicuously indifferent to the cricket as they usually are. The only thing that seems to excite the cows is the sound of bagpipes. We know this from when the pub had a vintage car rally a few weeks ago. Midway through the first innings, the bagpipes started. The cows become animated and mooed along. Unfortunately this didn’t stop the piper.

If I had had a camera, and I hadn’t been umpiring at the cow end, I would have taken a photo to show how indifferent the cows were. They had wandered off by the end of the match.

The swallows were conspicuously indifferent to both the cricket and their own personal safety as they swooped across the square. A labrador sat with its back to the field of play for the whole of the second innings.

There were times when the scorers were conspicuously indifferent to my signals.

No-one was indifferent to the tea that Mary provided with lots of home made cakes. The chocolate cake went first, followed by a large Victoria sponge and a ginger loaf.

The weather was kind to us and we all went to the pub afterwards.

Darren Gough retires

There’ll be a bit of Twenty20 next year, but basically this is it. This is as close to a definitive goodbye as he’ll give us.

The very reason why Darren Gough didn’t go out in a blaze of glory is the very reason why he deserved to do so. He could have retired years ago when, through injury and age, he slipped out of the Test team. He could have gone when they eased him out of the one-day side. The problem is, Darren Gough loves cricket.

We remember him being asked what he’d do if he wasn’t selected for one particular series. He said he’d be in the stands cheering England on with a pint in his hand. If some players said that, it’d smack of media-trained crowd-pleasing, but Gough’s not really one to listen to other people. If he says that, you tend to believe him.

You could never, EVER question Darren Gough’s effort. If things weren’t going well on the pitch, it wouldn’t be through lack of trying on Gough’s part. In England’s recent Twenty20 match against New Zealand, Luke Wright twice floored himself with the effort of trying to bowl quickly. That was Darren Gough style fast bowling.

All effort, but not solely effort. He was fantastically skilful and had the nous to know when to do what as well. We still think he should have bowled more reverse-swinging yorkers though – but we think he should have bowled six an over, so maybe we aren’t the best judge. The frequency with which they shattered stumps says otherwise.

When Darren Gough started playing for England, they were basically crap. They lost half their games because they weren’t good enough and they lost the other half because they were defeatist. Darren Gough was extremely good, he was an actual fast bowler and most of all, he really thought he could do anything. His confidence was your hope.

What? That's where I was aimingHe even thought he could bat. His early days in the England side – before they talked him down from the ledge of constant cross-batted aggression – were a halcyon period where he’d play the most outrageously full-blooded, textbook-defying shots to almost every ball. Our favourite was the back-foot drive-cum-cut which would end with the bat helicoptering around his head, taking multiple revolutions to fully decelerate.

As recently as 2006, Gough batted at three for Essex in some Twenty20 and Pro40 matches. In hundreds and hundreds of one-day innings, he’d only once passed 50. An almost unbearable weight of evidence was nothing to him. He hit 53 not out off 49 balls to win a match.

This is why we love Darren Gough. Even in middle-age, he’ll be straining for pace on some field somewhere in some insignificant match. It’s not sad. It’s what made him great.

Self-effacing Hayden looks forward to India tour

Matthew Hayden is the kind of man who looks in the mirror and smiles at what he sees.

“Having played over there and played well over there, I think I’m going to be the obvious target.”

Really he should look in the mirror and immediately burst into tears before punching his own reflection, shattering the glass and gouging his hand – like the rest of us do.

He then goes on to say:

“I think this series is tailor-made for guys like me.”

If this series doesn’t entail cricketers standing on a podium, motionless, while a crowd of people point and laugh uproariously, then this series isn’t tailor-made for Hayden.

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