Month: August 2009 (page 1 of 5)

Ashes Cricket 2009 on the PC

We’re reviewing Ashes Cricket 2009 at the moment. It’s actually pretty good, although we’re going to play it a bit more to check there’s no massive flaws that ruin the illusion.

There was a slower ball bouncer in the original Brian Lara Cricket which would clean bowl cowering batsmen every time. We couldn’t play the game after we found that. We had to leave the house and speak to people instead. It was horrendous.

Ricky Ponting and Bill Pullman shake hands before the first Test

So far, we’ve found that batting’s harder that bowling – but it always is in these games. Our World XI side got past 50 in our first innings though, which is way better than you usually manage with a new cricket game. Nevertheless, we do make one recommendation if you’re going to get the PC version of Ashes Cricket 2009: grow some additional fingers.

Between directing your shot; choosing to play off the front foot or back foot; and then playing either a defensive shot, attacking shot or lofted shot, you’re having to make use of at least one unreliable finger. Apparently you can move around the crease as well, but our batsmen have been more Inzamam-ul-Haq than Jonty Rhodes thus far.

Buy it from Amazon now if you can’t wait for our proper review.

40-over county cricket and 50-over one-day internationals

We’ve written some more about 50-over cricket for The Wisden Cricketer.

If you’re bored this afternoon, this is all you’re getting off us, so it’ll have to do. It’s not a bad piece of work – probably at least a 6/10 and maybe even a 7/10.

England’s 2010 fixtures

The unstoppable fun train is careering around the UK during summer 2010 and no mistake. England will play no fewer than 13 one-day internationals.

This commitment to 50-over cricket has been reinforced by the ECB’s parallel decision to not play any 50-over county cricket ever again. Instead, county cricketers will be playing 40-over one-day matches on a Sunday, much like they’re doing in this year’s Pro40 competition. The Pro40 is of course being cut from the schedules due to its irrelevance, so there’s an irrelevant gap that needs filling.

Despite having pretty much the whole of July off, England will also be playing four Tests in a month against Pakistan. Fortunately, they don’t need to worry about their fast bowlers being completely knackered, because that series starts only four days after Pakistan have finished playing a Test (in England) against Australia, so their fast bowlers will constantly be that little bit more tired than England’s.

We’re pretty sure that Pakistan are playing not just back-to-back Tests, but back-to-back-to-back Tests at some point in those five weeks.

Twenty20 Finals Day match report

Lemon Bella writes:

Indian Skimmer and I went to Twenty20 finals day at Edgbaston. It didn’t go well.

In retrospect, we think we were punished for going against our principles and attending a match at Edgbaston. We have a history with Edgbaston. Edgbaston hates us and we hate Edgbaston.

First there was the rain debacle of 2008. We have previously written a report about this. Reading it back, we think our fondness for sarcasm may have hidden our true feelings: We were Angry.

Secondly there was the horrifically sexist marketing campaign. We didn’t report this at the time, but given how incensed it still makes us feel, this was an error. Here is my complaint to Edgbaston; again it is possible sarcasm masks the true extent of my rage.

You have my address on file because I have purchased tickets from you. To then send me an email suggesting I buy something for my “fella” whilst I pop off to a spa and don’t worry my little head about things like LBW laws, is both patronising and ridiculously illogical. You have my email address on file because I buy cricket tickets, if I wanted to go to a spa instead, I’d be on their mailing list.

Please bear in mind the following things when designing your next marketing campaign:

1) Women have been known to enjoy watching sport.
2) Women can actually use computers to order their own tickets.
3) Women are, generally, not stupid enough to date a man who sends her to a spa so he can get pissed with his mates at the cricket.

But Kent got through to Finals Day. So we bought tickets – £60 tickets. Justin Kemp is just about worth £60, especially when you factor in his fondness for wandering around in shorts.

All we had to do was park the car. However, in order to park the car we had to decipher Edgbaston’s colour-coded parking signs and, stupidly, we’d left our Enigma machine at home. We started by following the purple signs, because we like the colour purple. We had to abandon this strategy nearer to the ground because the purple signs had been blanked out with masking tape.

A man then offered us his driveway for £15. In hindsight, we should have taken up his offer because when we tried Orange car park, we were confronted by a rude man in a tabard who told us we could only park there if we were a player. Men in fluorescent tabards shouldn’t be allowed to use sarcasm. By this point we were mildly frustrated but not Angry. The anger came 20 minutes later when we found our designated car park (Black) and were charged £20 for the privilege of parking in a field. £20. For £20 we’d expect a valet service and a man in a hat.

Twenty quid for the right to remain stationary

Nonetheless, despite being Angry, we persevered. This was probably a mistake. We couldn’t afford any food at the ground owing to Edgbaston stealing £20 off us in the car park. We combined our spare change and bought a regular coffee. “Regular” apparently means “tiny” in the Edgbaston world of customer service. We sat in our seats and moaned about having to pay £20 to park the car. There was some cricket going on, but we were blinded by rage.

We did see Justin Kemp and his legs, but they were only worth £10 rather than the £140 we’d paid, because we were sat so far away that we got him briefly confused with Amjad Khan. However, that wasn’t Justin Kemp’s fault, it was Edgbaston’s fault.

Justin Kemp didn’t let us down. Justin Kemp would never send us a sexist email or charge us all our money to park the car.

England fast bowlers have short lives

LollopFollowing Andrew Flintoff’s Test retirement, Steve Harmison is now making rumblings about leaving the international game. He says his body couldn’t last the 18 months that would take him up to the next Ashes series. Steve Harmison is 30 years old.

Flintoff has been in hospital about once a fortnight for as long as we can remember, but Harmison’s always seemed one of the less injury-prone pacemen. Whatever your opinion on Harmison’s bowling, it’s worrying that this is all we’ll get out of him.

Of England’s other recent fast bowlers, Simon Jones appears to have played his last Test when he was 27 and Darren Gough’s retirement was overdue at 32. However injury-prone these guys have been, the odd break from cricket might have helped.

We don’t want Test cricket overrun with line and length medium-pacers. Batsmen have everything in their favour. They should at least be in real danger of having their teeth knocked out.

Why Australia lost the Ashes

Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting - Clarke's lack of backbone is apparentThe thing about Australians is that when it comes to the crunch situations, they’ve got no backbone.

It’s because of how they’re brought up. They’ve got a gentle, sunny climate, they’ve got a high standard of living and they’re all too well off. They don’t have to endure any hardships, so when the going gets tough, they crumble.


An Ashes T-shirt to help you gloat

The Swann v Hauritz 2010 Ashes T-shirt from the King Cricket shop:

Ashes T-shirt 2010

Available in various colours, with ringer and long-sleeved options. Prices start at £12 for the value white version.

It’s the perfect T-shirt for the 2010 Ashes. Buy it here.

Outstanding Ashes bet

Bert writes:

I have a standing bet of twelve bottles of red wine on the Ashes with an Aussie mate, so I sent him this picture this morning – nothing else, no comment, no title. I find that gloating is best done in a minimalist way.

And 18 months to empty the space for next time

Andrew Strauss moulds the world into a shape of his choosing

Andrew Strauss quite possibly reasonably pleased that he rejected a career in the City

It’s the shape of a club with nails sticking out of it and he’s clumping towards Australia with it, looking like Daniel Day Lewis in Gangs of New York (although Strauss hasn’t got the nauseating stench of an unbearably dull film accompanying him).

It seems such a long, long time ago now, but Andrew Strauss was massively crap for about a year. He then hit a career saving hundred against New Zealand in what had seemed like being his final Test innings. He then hit another hundred against the same opponents shortly afterwards.

At the time, we worried that Strauss was being flattered by his performances against a relatively weak New Zealand side. We were impressed by his resilience at the same time though. When he hit that first hundred, he knew his career was slithering away, but he didn’t let that or the fact that he was batting like a half-cut Phil Tufnell stop him. That’s grit.

Then he was crap against South Africa and it seemed like maybe he had flattered to deceive after all. But had he balls.

Next thing you know, he’s hitting two hundreds in an away Test against India and then hitting hundreds in three successive Tests against the West Indies. Andrew Strauss ruled the winter and he’d barely got going.

It wasn’t so much the runs he scored in this Ashes series, it was the fact that he seemed so solid. For precarious match situations to seemingly have such little effect on the captain of the England cricket team is astonishing. To lead the side to Ashes victory after getting levelled in the fourth Test is even more so.

Andrew Strauss is an England captain who’s quite comprehensively won us over.

England 2009 Ashes victory gloating to last all week

Matt Prior stumps Marcus North and makes people all over the country go all screechy

When Australia first landed in the UK, we renounced level-headed reportage in favour of mindless jingoistic cheerleading. Many of you might have thought that this reached a peak when we asked ‘are England going to win the Ashes?‘ last week and concluded ‘yes, of course they are’.

But they did, didn’t they? They only went and won the frigging Ashes.

We’re taking this as proof that ‘thinking about stuff’ is fundamentally flawed and ‘just kind of hoping that everything works itself out’ is far more productive.

It’s Sunday night as we write this, so we’re going to go and get a drink now. We’ve got all week to indulge in some real, full-on, world-class gloating and that’s exactly what we intend to do. Tomorrow we’re going to tell you why Australia lost the Ashes.

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