Month: October 2010 (page 1 of 3)

Laurence Elderbrook gives a lesson in opening the batting

My memory of last night is a tad hazy. My knuckles are wrapped in bandaging and I think I must have thumped a table in delight when the captain announced that I was to open the batting today. For his part, the captain is missing this match after some sort of accident incapacitated him.

I compose myself in front of the mirror. Resplendent in my cream flannels, I look immaculate. I look the part.

Striding out to the middle, I quickly gauge the conditions and size up the opposition. Having watched the opening bowler deliver a couple of warm-up deliveries to a teammate, I can tell from his action that the first ball will be full and straight.

As the ball is released, I get into position and the ball strikes me in the chest. Perhaps I should have been even further forward. Clearly my movements are being impeded.

I disrobe.

The stand-in captain suddenly feels that I have already blunted the new ball and therefore asks several people to escort me to the dressing room.

I disagree with his assessment and take the only option available to me. I throw back my head, let fly a huge, bestial roar and slip from the men’s grasp.

I evade everyone for 10 or 15 minutes, but eventually I trip and am carried from the field by four men who take a limb each.

The under-11s team practising in the nets adjacent to the ground survey the scene solemnly. They admire my restraint in not admonishing the four men for their impertinence. They admire me. They recognise a great man possessed of the serene dignity afforded to only the very few.

More Laurence Elderbrook

Mark Greatbatch assesses New Zealand’s performance in Bangladesh

“We played like dicks really.”

Punditry is far from dead.

Stuart Broad’s going to need…

More ties!

From Stuart Broad’s Twitter feed:

“There can’t be a worse advert at the moment than Just For Men! ‘I’m gonna need more ties!'”

We are currently in a ‘love’ phase in our ever evolving relationship with the ‘more ties’ advert. Broad probably watches less cricket than we do, what with being on the field and all, so we’d guess he’s in an early stage of what will become a long and tempestuous relationship.

How many ties does a man honestly need? We have two; one for weddings and one for funerals.

Who is Xavier Doherty?

'All right Mrs Doherty, is your Xavier playing out today?'

Who ISN’T Xavier Doherty?

Friends of ours will tell you that one of our less endearing characteristics is a propensity to ask meaningless rhetorical questions when responding to direct requests for information.

Friend: “Which turning is it?”
Us: “Which turning ISN’T it?”

Friend: “Where did you get that prosciutto from?”
Us: “Where DIDN’T we get that prosciutto from?”

We’ll try and treat our readers better than that. Xavier Doherty is a left-arm spinner whose name is more exciting than he is as a cricketer. He’s a one-day specialist and Australia have called him up to play Sri Lanka.

Why would they call up Xavier Doherty? Why wouldn’t they call up Xavier Doherty?

England v Pakistan at the Oval – match report

String writes:

I went to the fourth day of the Pakistan test at the Oval with Price, Dandy Dan and our friend Will. Anticipating sun, and wanting to protect my thinly covered scalp, I decided to wear my Ashes hat from the 1993 series. My Dad bought it for me at the Oval Test of that summer, though it’s a bit smelly these days. I spent much of the morning saying that Phil Tufnell had taken a hatful of wickets in the ’93 test. The internet has since told me that he wasn’t actually playing.

We arrived at the ground quite early, giving us plenty of time to appraise Mike Gatting’s appearance in the npower booth. We decided that smug and sedentary were the most descriptive terms. We’d been settled in for about half an hour or so when a bunch of blokes turned up to sit just along our row from us. We sat there enthralled as one of their number proceeded to drink beer out of anything that would hold liquid. A shoe? Check. A selection of hats? Check. A sock? Check. The pointless, small plastic pouches on lanyards that they gave us when we entered the ground? Check. The rest of the day they spent creating beer snakes, though they displayed a stultifying lack of subtlety, having their snake confiscated roughly every 30 minutes.

At lunch, Will and I wandered down to see if we could bowl Gatt behind his legs with a pork pie, but failed to get within 22 yards. Price ate the most horrible picnic ever. We all then mocked Will for looking a bit like Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, but mostly like a tramp. He was wearing the same clothes for a second day running, exhibiting many beer stains from Friday night.

Post match street settee action

For reasons I won’t go into here, we left the Oval at about mid afternoon and decided we would aim for a favourite pub of ours, the Royal Oak in Borough. Our numbers had swelled as our friend Harry had arrived. We decided that we should spend the afternoon making our way to Borough visiting pubs with trees in the name. Luckily, there is a Royal Oak near the Oval, so we started well.

It also marked a high point.

Thereafter the theme didn’t really hold up to scrutiny. The Windmill (tall and made of wood), the Artichoke and Camel (general vegetation) were two of the more cogent links we could agree on. Dandy Dan spent most of the journey demanding a piggy back to the next pub, though he redeemed himself somewhat by opening a toilet cubicle door forcefully into Price’s head. By the time we reached the Market Porter by Borough Market, all links to trees had long since been forgotten.

Laurence Elderbrook: all-rounder

Since being in Australia, I have once again been working on my bowling. A prodigiously gifted spinner in my youth, I shamefully neglected my art being as batting was my stronger suit.

However, the hard pitches here lend themselves to my wizardry and it pleases me to see batsmen perplexed by my variations.

Midway through the opposition innings, a partnership has developed. The captain has been trying to encourage some of his younger bowlers, but this is a man’s work.

Handing the umpire my cap, I smooth down my cream flannels. I look immaculate. I take the ball and eye the batsman. I have been analysing his game from my vantage point at deep square leg and I have identified several weaknesses. Now I will exploit them.

I take a couple of paces and deliver the ball, spinning it ferociously. It will pitch, beat the bat and strike the stumps. I can already see it in my mind’s eye.

But I have misread the pitch. Clearly it is much slower than I thought. The batsman leans back and cuts the ball for four. I let fly a huge, bestial roar. The game is on.

A bowler’s duel with the batsman is a chesslike game of cat and mouse and whoever blinks first gets to roll the dice.

I deduce that the quicker ball is what is needed here. I may be a spinner, but I have an arm like a runaway locomotive. I narrow my eyes and execute my plan.

It is a peach of a delivery and onto the batsman in a flash. His reflexes are too slow and the ball strikes him in the face, bringing forth a crimson gush of blood. I may not have his wicket, but I have his number now.

Criminally, the umpire rules it a no-ball and asks that I be removed from the attack on the grounds that I overstepped by 20 yards.

I kick the stumps at him and exit the field of play with the serene dignity afforded to only the very few. I feel I am a role model for the younger players, who, to a man, admire my restraint. Without question, they admire me and want to be me.

More Laurence Elderbrook

How the ECB made its BIG DECISIONS about county cricket

ECB Bod: Right, okay. We’re here to sort out this mess that we call county cricket. First of all: what’s the problem?

ECB Fella: Well it’s too much cricket, isn’t it? We’ve commissioned 15 studies, asked the players, asked the media, asked the fans, asked this guy with sticks in his hair who was collecting cigarette butts and squawking like an angry bird somewhere near Trevi’s Fountain in Rome – they all say there’s too much cricket.

ECB Bod: Too much cricket, eh? Who’d have thought it?

ECB Fella: Not me.

ECB Bod: Okay, so have we got a plan. How are we going to tackle this?

ECB Fella: We’ve commissioned another five studies and asked players, fans and media, but we couldn’t find the guy with sticks in his hair.

ECB Bod: No?

ECB Fella: No ‘fraid not. I found some really old blu-tack in my drawer though, so I asked that instead.

ECB Bod: And was there a consensus?

ECB Fella: Oh yes, absolutely. They all suggested the counties should play less.

ECB Bod: Excellent. Sounds like a plan. How much less?

ECB Fella: Ooh, dunno. Shall we try and knock eight to 12 days off the fixture list?

ECB Bod: Yeah, that sounds about right. Eight to 12 days. Which days will those be?

ECB Fella: Christ, I dunno. We’ve already worked out people want less county cricket. Can’t we sort out the details next year?

ECB Bod: Yeah, why not. We’ll do it next year. We’ve done plenty already. Gin?

ECB Fella: Don’t mind if I do.

The average one-day series

Some players injured, some players rested, ‘trying out options’ ahead of the World Cup, introducing younger players. The reasons are varied, the teams are shit.

Take a look at the Australia team from their last one-day international and then take Mike Hussey out as well, because he’s going back to Australia so he can play another first-class match before the Ashes rather than playing the third one-day international against India.

  • Shaun Marsh
  • Tim Paine
  • Michael Clarke
  • Mike Hussey
  • Cameron White
  • Steve Smith
  • James Hopes
  • John Hastings
  • Nathan Hauritz
  • Mitchell Starc
  • Clint McKay

India’s team was not much better, with a cobbled together ‘experimental’ look about it.

We predicted squad rotation four years ago. What we didn’t mention was how that would make the average one-day series even more meaningless.

Who’s going to come out on top, John Hastings or Shikhar Dhawan? Who cares?

Imagine you’re Shane Warne

We’ll give you a minute or two to get to grips with that. You can come back later if it’s too much to take in at once.

For those of you who are okay, we’ll continue.

So you’re Shane Warne. With your reputation, would you choose to put this image in a prominent position on your website?

'Come round when you've finished inserting catheters and wiping old people's arses'

You’re Shane Warne. Tell us what you’re texting and to whom.

Foo picked for West Indies A-team

TDo we pity him?

We were brought up to believe that a foo’ was someone to be pitied and the one place where we wouldn’t expect to find one would be in an A-team.

This actually is political correctness gone mad – employing a foo’ as a key component in an A-team.

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