Month: April 2010 (page 1 of 3)

The odds on England winning the World Twenty20

Well, they’re not great, but that’s largely due to the fact that there are a whole bunch of teams in the tournament rather than because of any massive shortcomings on England’s part.

If there were only one team in the tournament, England’s chances would be far better. If there were only England and a team of langur monkeys competing, England would still fancy their chances. There’s loads of teams though and none of them are simian.

Openers

Craig Kieswetter and Michael Lumb have a bit of a boom or bust feel as an opening partnership. That’s not such a bad thing in Twenty20.

Middle order

Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood and Eoin Morgan? That’s actually good. England have a good middle order. This is weird.

All-rounders

Who knows what Luke Wright will do? We don’t. If he plays for the next 10 years, we might eventually reach some sort of conclusion about him.

Spinners

Graeme Swann will be fine. Mike Yardy’s got a pain-in-the-arse quality as a bowler, which is always welcome. As for James Tredwell, we tend to get distracted by monitoring just how far he’s slapped back and never really form an opinion.

Fast bowlers

Well, none of them are fast, but fast bowlers often go for a few runs, so that’s okay. They’ll all look great until they really need to perform and then they’ll go to pieces.

Verdict

No, we’re not going to be drawn into something like that. This isn’t the kind of website that offers opinions. This is the kind of website that brings you phrases like ‘slapped back’.


Sajid Mahmood actually takes five wickets

Saj Mahmood taking 3-70 or summatDo you know how rare that is? Lots of smart-arse Mahmood critics will say that they do know, but that’s not really the point we’re making.

Saj Mahmood has spent a good portion of his career bowling first-change for Lancashire. When there are good bowling conditions, he might pick up two or three wickets. When it’s tough for bowlers, he gets more overs and chips away.

Unlike a lot of people, we still rate Saj Mahmood very highly as a fast bowler. If there’s one criticism we have, it’s of what goes on in his head.

He’s not thick; he’s just got far less experience of running through a batting side than he should have. It’s an unfamiliar experience for him and he maybe doesn’t believe that he can do it. A fast bowler who has demolished a few sides thinks that he can do it again, but this was only Saj Mahmood’s sixth five wicket haul in first-class cricket. 5-55 against Kent isn’t Waqar Younis territory and three were tail-enders, but it’s not bad.

It’s every bowler’s aim, but Saj Mahmood really does need to take a Himalayan-sized heap of wickets this season. He doesn’t need people admiring his reverse swing or clocking his pace. He needs to get loads of batsmen out. He needs to believe that batsmen don’t want to face him.


Back to England and back to county cricket

No cheerleaders?

How come the rolling 24 hour news channels aren’t telling us everything Giles Clarke’s said in the last five minutes? How come Gordon Brown hasn’t stepped into the debate about possible restructuring of the county game? It’s a strange land we’ve returned to.

Following the IPL, we’ve got the World Twenty20. Following that, there’ll be English domestic Twenty20 and then the Champions League. All of those events are enticing, but not one after another. It’s also going to make following the County Championship all the more difficult.

How shall we plan the summer? What are your priorities?


Mumbai Indians v Chennai Super Kings, IPL final match report

Alex writes:

I watched the pre-match sunglasses-fest/pose-athon while tucking into Kashmiri lamb shank rogan josh. Unfortunately, my reluctantly embraced ‘no beer’ policy meant I enjoyed the main event in my room, accompanied by a bottle of Bisleri bottled water.

What I like to call “the IPL ad endurance challenge” really demands something stronger. Indian IPL advertising makes you think that the “more ties!” ad is on low rotation in the UK.

Being as it was the final, there was a wider range of advertisers than for the league matches, which typically featured the same three ads repeated a billion times each. For this match, there were as many as seven different ads and there was even one I hadn’t seen before.

I’m quite familiar with it now.

Sadly, neither of my favourite ads appeared: the Fanta ad (I fancy the girl) nor the Havells ad where a guy hangs someone, makes a glum expression and then walks home. That one’s a classic that would probably be less impressive if I understood the voiceover at the end.


Indian media coverage of the IPL and the fans’ view

Indian newspapers and 24 hour news channels are awash with stories about Lalit Modi and the income tax investigations into all aspects of the IPL. The bombs at Chinnaswamy Stadium get a few mentions as well.

We get the impression that most people here don’t particularly care about this; that the unrelenting news coverage is giving a false impression of people’s priorities. The priority is the final. Sachin Tendulkar will hopefully be playing.

Whatever’s going on with the finances of the IPL, the huge sums of money seem a source of pride for many Indians. The IPL’s not merely a cricket event, it’s a sports event. It’s competing with – and arguably beating – what over here is known as the EPL, English football’s Premier League. Financially speaking, India is currently the centre of the sporting world.

As for the fact that the IPL’s Twenty20 cricket, that doesn’t seem quite so significant. Most people we’ve spoken to have just liked cricket and the main selling point of the IPL seems to be that they can watch a whole match in an evening. It’s not so much about the sixes and fours. It’s just cricket in a manageable size.

Finally, what a great country where you can have an in-depth conversation with a waiter about the different techniques used by Harmeet Singh when delivering his long run-up leg breaks and flippers.


IPL third place play-off match report

Alex writes:

Is there any sequence of words in the English language more exciting than ‘third place play-off’?

I’m currently working on the horrifying theory that my internal issues might be caused by beer. This is not a theory I’m keen to see proven.


Deccan Chargers v Chennai Super Kings, IPL semi final match report

Alex writes:

British Airways have given me the gift of time. First they offered me a flight 10 days after the one that was cancelled. Now, their phone line is so busy I am not even allowed to wait on hold.

What to do with this time? I decide to get a shave. I can get one at my hotel for 15 times the price of where I’d previously had one in a less-touristy part of town. Maybe it’ll be 15 times as good.

It is exactly the same.

The hotel has a calmer but less fun atmosphere. If there is one area where the hotel shave experience is superior, it is in the fact that the barber doesn’t have disconcertingly long nails on his left hand – the ‘arse hand’ for those that don’t know about these things.

After such an exhausting day, I fall asleep during Deccan Chargers’ run-chase. Fortunately, Brian phones to ask if he’s woken me up.

The next morning, I am still unwell enough to be discomfited, but not sufficiently sick to warrant calling a doctor.

British Airways are still too busy to let me wait on hold, so I busy myself growing more facial hair in order that I might have an activity for the next day.


Mumbai Indians v Royal Challengers Bangalore, IPL semi final match report

Alex writes:

Having made my daily and pointless call to British Airways, I set about persuading myself that it was somehow acceptable to stay in a hotel far more expensive than any I’d ever spent a night in before.

Having accomplished this to some extent, I prepared for my evening of eating and watching the IPL semi final.

“Do you want to try the buffet?” asked the waiter.

My bowels had twice woken me in the night, so this seemed a bad idea. A greater number of different dishes increased the likelihood that I would eat something that disagreed with me. It’s a numbers thing.

“You get unlimited beer with it,” added the waiter and it suddenly occurred to me that more dishes meant less of each one. Surely that was a good thing?

While waiters and customers hovered watching the match, I ate too much – largely because staff would repeatedly bring me the dishes I had purposefully rejected in a vain attempt to “be sensible”.

After a slightly disconcerting conversation with a man from Kolkata about cheerleaders which repeatedly featured the phrase “white skin” I went to bed.

At 6am, I resolved to eat the blandest, least enticing food until such time as BA let me go home. Then I went downstairs and had puri bhaji, sambar and pork medallions in red wine jus for my breakfast.


Royal Challengers Bangalore v Deccan Chargers match report

Alex writes:

I wanted to watch an IPL match, so I went to India. I made Tronco come with me. Tronco is a massive cricket fan. Asked to name some England players, he managed three in 30 minutes: Ian Botham, Graham Gooch and Adam Gilchrist.

Arriving at Bangalore Airport on my own at 4.30am, I was not welcomed by a driver from my hotel, as planned. I walked the 20 yards to the taxi rank and picked up my first friend en route. He jabbered away about hotels and I ignored him. At one point, I said ‘no thank you’ which he took as meaning that I wanted him to get into the taxi with me and charge me four times the taxi fare for doing fuck all.

In the end, I paid 200 rupees less than the hotel pick-up. Result. All I had to do to ensure this saving was maintain calm when the taxi wouldn’t stop as I requested and participate in a protracted slanging match.

At one point, my new friend phoned someone and mentioned my hotel. Images of being greeted by an angry mob quickly subsided when it became clear he had no idea where my hotel was. Upon arrival, he threatened to steal my bags and take them back to the airport unless I gave him another 100 rupees. After 20 minutes, it became apparent that the hotel staff were unwilling to step in, so I paid him.

Having got to bed at around 7am, the hotel staff considerately left it an hour before phoning my room to ask if I wanted breakfast. I declined it.

By the day of the match I had been joined by Tronco, who had enjoyed an identical experience upon arrival. We went to Chinnaswamy Stadium two hours early to ensure the best seats. Unfortunately, a senior member of the security team had already bagsied them and there he remained for the entire match.

Having travelled halfway round the world, it was exciting to see a couple of England players. Kevin Pietersen hit some catches during the innings break and Eoin Morgan did some good work standing beside the nets before the match started. Neither of them played.

During the match, I was particularly taken with the 15-year-old sat next to me. He was wearing a Mumbai Indians shirt and claimed to be supporting both teams. In reality, he was supporting sixes.

It was fascinating to try and deduce where he drew his excitement from. A six is only 50 per cent more runs than a four and has less impact on a match than a wicket. Wickets were acknowledged. Fours were not. Sixes were greeted with a roar and he would launch from his seat and jump up and down. “Six!” he would cry. “That’s a six!”

After the match, me and Tronco walked back to the hotel. We got back at midnight to find the receptionist bedding down in the lobby. “It’s very late,” he said.

We might have felt worse about it if we didn’t know that from 6am until 9am, there would be constant phone ringing echoing round the hotel as they asked every resident whether they wanted breakfast or not.

When it came to our turn, we accepted the offer. It was what can only be described as a boil in the bag jam toastie.


Testing on cricketers

Animal testing facilities have recently taken to using cricketers in place of guinea pigs, mice and the like.

Where's your helmet Matt?

They make them joust and then the loser gets his leg taken off.

Don’t ask why.


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