Month: September 2009 (page 1 of 4)

A cricket bat at a wedding

You don’t often see cricket bats at weddings. It should happen more often.

Knocked in with felt tip

This wasn’t a normal wedding though. This was the wedding of Miriam and Jrod of Cricket With Balls.

They were married at The Oval and the groom wore cricket whites.

Send your pictures of cricket bats and other cricket stuff in unusual places to

Inconsistency in Australian cricket

Bert writes:

A common comment you hear from Australians, is that they lost the 2009 Ashes series because they were “inconsistent”. However, what they have failed to understand is that in cricket, especially Test match cricket, ‘inconsistent’ is a direct synonym for ‘rubbish’.

  • An inconsistent batsman plays a couple of cracking cover drives, then wafts at a loose one and gets caught at slip for ten. This is rubbish.
  • An inconsistent bowler keeps a tight line for four balls, then offers a couple of long-hops that get crashed into the boundary boards and goes for eight-an-over. This is also rubbish.
  • An inconsistent fielder takes a decent catch, but drops another. This is rubbish, Mr Collingwood.

At Adelaide, in 06/07, England scored 551 for 6 declared, then were all out for 129. That was inconsistency of the highest order. It was also clearly, palpably, demonstrably, rubbish.

Gideon Haigh once said that the difference between Shane Warne and Stuart McGill was not the slider, or the flipper, or the leg break, it was the sixth ball. That is, Warne had the ability to make the last ball of the over as good as the first five. And in the next over too. An inconsistent Shane Warne wouldn’t have been the Shane Warne we all came to know and fear. And as for Glenn McGrath…

So next time you see an Australian trying to explain away their failure in the Ashes, ignore the lip movements and sounds that make up the word “inconsistency” and hear instead the word “rubbishness”. If nothing else, it certainly makes the interview a lot more enjoyable.

Middlesex v Lancashire Pro 40 match report

Ged Ladd writes:

Daisy and I thought it would be a nice idea to treat our niece, Lavender (daughter of Daisy’s twin sister, Buttercup) to an evening at Lord’s, with Lavender’s new beau Escamillo, who hails from Lancashire. We have treated the Bristol-based nephews Belmonte and Manolete in the past, so it only felt right.

I got to Lord’s quite early, as I had been at a long lunch, chairing the judging of the Estate Agent of the Year awards.  There had been a lengthy debate about who should receive the Best In Show award. It was between the agent who described a shoebox-sized apartment as “compact, discreet and tidy” and another agent who had cunningly sold a wardrobe as “a fourth bedroom”. It seemed futile to return to the office after that.

Moreover, Daisy had very kindly volunteered to make the picnic. Daisy’s picnics are always a very tempting prospect and are also usually heaving with far more food than the group in question could possibly eat. Especially when one of the diners is joining in on the back of a five course lunch.

We waited under shelter at the top of the Allen stand for the young couple due to squally rain.  When my pager went, I thought the youngsters had arrived early, but in fact it was my old friend, Stentor Baritone, who is an MCC member and happened to be around the ground for an hour or so before his evening engagement. So Stentor joined me and Daisy, helping us to make quite a large hole in the first bottle of wine.

Soon after that, Lavender and Escapillo arrived. They helped us to make an even bigger hole in that first bottle of wine. Stentor was giving the young couple the benefit of all of his years of experience in life, the universe and everything, which I’m sure must have interested them a great deal as they said very little during that period.

Soon we decided that the young couple should have a tour of the pavilion. The pavilion was very crowded as so many members were using it as suitable shelter from the increasingly unpleasant elements.

Ged is quite a well-known character around Lord’s these days, he soon realised, as various players and officials greeted him warmly and asked for the benefit of Ged’s advice as he and his increasingly awe-struck guests wandered around the various delights of the pavilion. Indeed, Ged became so full of himself in these pompous circumstances, he felt obliged to refer to himself in the Vaughnesque third person for at least one paragraph.

By the time we returned to the Allen Upper, Stentor decided to go off for his important dinner engagement, we decided it was time to start our picnic proper and the umpires decided it was time to call the match off.

King Cricket this week

We’re in Portugal, but we’ve got stuff ready for the week ahead.

There’s a cricket bat in an unusual place, two match reports and an email that we quite liked and decided to turn into a post, even though it’s a bit dated now.

On a side note, we just edited both match reports and it was only when we were adding the title for the second one that we realised they were reports on the same match. There aren’t many websites that will take two reports on the same match and publish them several days apart, a month or so after said match has taken place.

We fill a niche. We fill a pointlessly duplicated uninformative match report niche.

Eoin Morgan – keep him at five or six

Eoin Morgan plays an unmental shotEoin Morgan can play mental reverse sweeps and ping shots into someone’s picnic off the weighty part of his bat, but we’re most impressed by the fact that he seems largely unarsed about playing international cricket.

He plays straight, he wanders down the pitch, maybe he edges the ball, but whatever he’s doing, he looks pretty certain of himself.

England will be tempted to shunt him further up the order as the years pass. They shouldn’t. The top order will come to enjoy having an Eoin cushion and it will help them bat.

A rumour about Rob Key

We’ve heard that he might be moving to Surrey. That isn’t official, but we figure that if we aren’t going to publish rumours about Rob Key, we might as well just jack it all in and take up ice skating.

Much as we’d love to glide majestically across the rink while Danger Zone from the Top Gun soundtrack blared out in the background, we’ve decided to take the more obvious route.

Should Rob Key move to Surrey? No. Surrey are shit – the second worst side in county cricket, to be precise – whereas Kent are going back to Division One. Surrey are rich however, so a move there would be an admission that Rob will never play for England again and also say that he’s content to see out his career in slightly better remunerated obscurity.

If there are people out there who think you deserve a vehicle as if you’re a member of the Hindu pantheon, then you owe it to them to do better than that.

Gary Kirsten’s vision document for the India team

The Hindustan Times say they’ve got hold of a ‘vision document’ produced by Indian coach, Gary Kirsten.

It advises the players to try and increase their scoring rates (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) on the grounds that this will help create more testosterone that will in turn help the players be more aggressive on the pitch. However, partners are optional, it seems:

“If you want sex but do not have someone to share it with, one option is to go solo whilst imagining you have a partner, or a few partners, who are as beautiful as you wish to imagine. No pillow talk and no hugging required. Just roll over and go to sleep.”

This is one of those occasions where we feel no need to elaborate upon a story. We’ve got to save the obvious jokes for the comments.

Then again…

  • Sachin Tendulkar’s dispatched one through the covers
  • Ishant Sharma’s knocked the middle pole back
  • Yuvraj Singh’s lifted one over the infield
  • MS Dhoni’s stolen a quick one
  • Ashish Nehra’s nipped one back through the gate
  • Rahul Dravid’s changing his grip

And we’ll end with: Harbhajan Singh’s struggling for purchase due to the moisture…

That Tillakaratne Dilshan’s doing stuff of late, innee?

Tillakaratne Dilshan batterising the bowlerisersWe’ll be honest with you. The Champions’ Trophy won’t be getting our full attention. Partly we’re a bit tired with the relentless fixture list, partly it’s because England are likely to be toss, mostly it’s because we’re going on holiday next week. So excuse us if there’s a cursory air about some of our reportage.

We’re going to try though. Tillakaratne Dilshan hit a hundred against South Africa yesterday, so the theme of today’s post is: That Tillakaratne Dilshan’s doing stuff of late, innee?

It’s a good theme, we’re sure you’ll agree, but maybe that’s not enough insight for you, in which case here are some statistics to flesh things out a bit. Statistics are easy and give the impression that we’re making an effort when really we aren’t.

  • One-day international average in batting positions three to eight: 28.88
  • One-day international average as opener: 52.38
  • Twenty20 average in positions three to seven: 14.71
  • Twenty20 average as opener: 46.90

A pat on the back to whoever said: “Alright there, our Tillakaratne, how’s about you open up today? T’other lad can’t find ‘is left boot and some’un needs to tek shine off it. There’s a good lad – out you go.”

How Joe Denly got to play for England

Joe Denly is in front of Tim Paine in this instance

This isn’t specifically about Joe Denly. He’s just the example. It’s about being a young English cricketer and what you have to do to play for the national side. It’s also about Australia’s wicketkeeper, Tim Paine.

Paine and Denly are just starting their careers and have been opening the batting for their respective nations in the one-day series between England and Australia. Paine hit one hundred and one fifty in seven innings. Denly hit two fifties in five innings.

Honours pretty much even – Paine perhaps slightly ahead – but it shouldn’t really be like that. Paine is a wicketkeeper primarily and arguably Australia’s fourth choice in that position. Denly is a specialist batsman and has been identified as a key player for the future.

How to get noticed

How do young cricketers make themselves known? They do it through consistent, solid performance, don’t they?

Do they balls. Not in England anyway.

There are 18 first-class counties playing every week, so there are about a hundred batsmen fighting for column inches in newspapers that have half a page at most devoted to county cricket. One 95-ball hundred on a flat track is far more likely to get you a mention than three consecutive fifties on difficult pitches.

There’s always another chance

If you can make some noise by playing such an innings, then you’ve got to go for it. If you fail, it doesn’t matter because there’s always the next match. This season, Joe Denly’s Kent side will have played 16 first-class matches, eight 50-over matches, 12 Twenty20 matches and eight 40-over matches.

In contrast, Paine’s side, Tasmania, have 10 first-class matches, 10 50-over matches and five Twenty20 matches next season. There isn’t always another chance for Paine and even if there were, he doesn’t need to make a name for himself in the same way as Denly. There are only six first-class sides in Australia, so you don’t need occasional exceptional performances to get noticed. Consistency is noted.

So our two points, which are closely linked, are:

  1. A high volume of domestic cricket on any given day encourages batsmen to go for broke in a bid for attention
  2. A high frequency of matches encourages a ‘there’s always next time’ mentality

Neither makes for good preparation for international cricket.

Why are England so bad at one-day cricket?

You can come up with immediate reasons, like how badly they’ve been batting of late, but take a step back. Why are England so consistently bad at one-day cricket?

We’ve been thinking about this a bit and our theory revolves around player rotation. One-day internationals, more than Test cricket, revolve around your second choice players and England’s reserve players aren’t as good as those of other nations. We’ll come to why that is later on. First, let’s take a look at a few of the players in this one-day series who could be branded ‘squad players’.

Australia’s squad players

Tim Paine is Australia’s third, maybe even fourth choice wicketkeeper. He scored a hundred in his seventh one-day international. Callum Ferguson probably isn’t in Australia’s first choice XI, despite averaging 51.81.

As for the bowlers, at least two of Brett Lee, Nathan Bracken, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus must be reserves – we’re not sure which. Shaun Tait and Stuart Clark don’t make the squad.

England’s squad players

England’s many one-day all-rounders didn’t have much of an impact in the 6-1 defeat to Australia and then there’s the batting. One-day specialists and promising young players have something in common on top of international underperformance: county cricket.

New players should be given a chance, but why do England’s seem to need so much of a chance. We’ll go into this more tomorrow, using Joe Denly as our example.

How substandard backup has an impact

You might think that it’s all about the first XI, but it’s not. There’s almost always at least one player injured, particularly if you’re not resting players because the backup’s so poor. And if you do rest players, you need others to step in and perform.

Also, if you don’t rest players in this day and age, they start to look shot. Ricky Ponting’s had some time off at the start of this one-day series and Australia have regularly rested other major players for each of the one-day internationals.

For England, Matt Prior, Andrew Strauss and Ravi Bopara could have done with time off. James Anderson and Paul Collingwood could have done with more time off. These players have not been at their best, but England feel they can’t leave them out.

What do you get if you combine jaded first-choice players with substandard reserve players? You get England.

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