Month: February 2011 (page 1 of 4)

Steven Davies is out – gay cricketer number one

Insert massively inappropriate comment about 'grasping balls'

Being out in cricket is ordinarily a bad thing, but Steven Davies being out is actually quite positive, because he is the first openly homosexual professional cricketer.

At times like this, you remember how backwards the world is – particularly the cricket world. It is 2011 and Steven Davies is the first professional cricketer to state that he is gay.

The first.

Maybe it’s the stigma of being ‘out’ more than anything. Are gay cricketers worried that an additional ‘out’ will affect their batting average?


India and England World Cup tie – three key points

What a match. Here are three things that struck us about it:

Boundaries

“People want to see boundaries” – you always hear people say that as if it’s a fact, but this match wasn’t exciting because there were 76 boundaries; it was exciting because it was a close match.

Andrew Strauss’s fours were all important, but no single one of them felt massive. Ajmal Shazad’s six did feel massive, but that wasn’t because it was a six, it was because it dramatically altered the complexion of the game in an instant. That’s what’s exciting.

Man of the match

In high-scoring matches, the man of the match is always the guy who scores most runs, but in high-scoring matches strong bowling performances are actually more significant (as indeed higher scores are more significant in low-scoring matches).

Andrew Strauss was immense, as was Sachin Tendulkar, but when 338 plays 338, Tim Bresnan’s 5-48 was positively monumental and Zaheer Khan’s powerplay spell had as much impact on the result as anything.

Importance of the result

It actually didn’t really matter which way the match went, because both teams should still feel confident of qualifying for the quarter finals. You might not think the match could have been much more exciting, but imagine if something greater had been at stake.

Finally, a word for Ravi Shastri’s inadvertently insightful piece of commentary early in England’s innings:

“India are a very strong side, but if they do have one weakness, it’s their bowling. And their fielding.”


England v India at Bangalore – where’s your money?

We watched a match in Bangalore once

Ours is theoretically in the bank. We’re going to go down and ask to see it one day. We have our doubts that it’s actually there.

In terms of betting, if we could be bothered, we’d bet on India for today’s match at Bangalore. It’s not so much the benefit of home conditions as home scoring.

In a low-scoring game, we’d reckon on England beating India most of the time. In a high-scoring game, only one team’s in it.

For England, any score over about 280 is just incomprehensible and they have no clue how to pace their batting. They’re like aggrophobics asked to run a marathon. They can tell you how many steps it is from the kitchen sink to the settee but give them 26 miles in a row and they’ll set off at a sprint or a walk.

They’re not a bad team at all, it’s just that high scores are completely foreign to them. 300? 350? 400? These are just ‘big scores’ to English batsmen. The Indians can distinguish between them.


Ever played a cricket computer game?

You might get something out of our last Cricinfo post then.

We have something of a history of playing cricket computer games, but surely we can’t be the only person in the world who knows the value of having Graeme Hick and Graham Thorpe opening the bowling in a World Cup match.


When did the South Africa cricket team become exciting?

Yes, it is Imran Tahir and yes, he does look like that

Seriously, South Africa have got a worryingly strong claim to being the most exciting team in this World Cup.

They pick three spinners, including a devilish leggie and they ask one of them to open the bowling. They have the best player in the world. They have no consistent gameplan. Shouldn’t this be Pakistan we’re describing?

Our whole world is upside down. We haven’t felt like this since we took a trip down memory lane with a pint of Boddington’s and found that it was almost unspeakably bland and insipid.


Pull shot | Batting lessons

Witness the greats play the pull shot and you will learn nothing. A good pull shot is played instinctively after careful deliberation and many hours of practice.

Whether played off the front or back foot, your weight must be even, progressing and at once forward-moving and retreating. The central pivot of the pull is the ball and your bat must describe a weak parabola bethwart it.

Make good contact and you will feel marginal and overwrought. This is not to be sniffed at and almost entirely incorrect, so keep practising and remember this memorable and helpful mantra:

“Height over waist, ball bethwart bat. Width beyond knee, bat bethwart legs.”


Why did Ricky Ponting smash a TV?

There are some great stories going around about Ricky Ponting smashing a telly after being run-out against Zimbabawe.

We like the ones that depict feeble tantrums rather than those where he has THE RAGE. Our two favourites so far are:

  1. That he threw his gloves at the TV and now there is no picture on three-quarters of the screen (does he keep magnets in his gloves?)
  2. He threw his box in his bag. It bounced and bust the telly.

Both good stories for their unlikeliness. The real reason is more mundane. As a child, Ricky Ponting had a very bad Halloween experience with someone dressed as Evil Edna.

Without wishing to go into details about that particular incident, immediately before he powered his bat through the screen this week, Ponting was heard to shout: “No means no, Evil Edna. No means no!”


Complacent England sabotage their own team

No Mike Yardy for England’s World Cup opener against the Netherlands? Are they saving him for later in the tournament?

Maybe he’s being remoulded as a secret weapon. Although if that’s the case, he’s not very weapon-like. He seems like something altogether more functional, like a spanner or a screwdriver.

Maybe he’s England’s secret tool.

We’re aware that sounds like a euphemism.


Pakistan v Australia Lord’s match report

Will writes:

Despite being a Thursday, it was actually the fourth day of what is now, with hindsight, the totally ironically named MCC Spirit of Cricket Test Series. I had bought the tickets a year before with the intention of taking clients and having a drunken day out on the company corporate card. In the event, I left the invitations too late. I decided to take my wife and my four month old daughter.

My wife’s only other trip to Lords had been to watch England v Bangladesh several year ago before we were married so I think she was quite pleased at the step up in ticket price and perceived match quality.

However, I had an extra ticket to get rid of and due to the wife and baby couldn’t get any mates to come with me. Therefore we arrived early so that I could stand by the North Gate ticket booths and sell it.

There were a number of interested people, including the bus driver of the Marine Band, which later gave a lunch time performance and also vertically challenged comedy person Andy Hamilton. He almost bought the ticket but in the end said he wanted to buy a Rover ticket. I have wondered since how a day next to Andy Hamilton would have panned out; maybe some early banter about the baby and fatherhood, perhaps then getting a few drinks for each other, maybe ending the day with him offering complimentary tickets to a recording of Radio 4’s The News Quiz?

After about 15 minutes, a man called Tony bought it and paid face value without trying to haggle. He had made lots of money from the City and was up for the day from his house in Hampshire.

During the course of the day, I resisted the temptation to get hideously drunk, conscious of my responsibilities and instead took my wife and baby for a walk around the ground. I bought us both pie, gravy and chips for lunch but nothing from any of the gift shops. I had previously bought myself a T-shirt, my dad an Ashes coffee mug and my mum one of those ‘when the last man’s out the first man’s in’ tea towels and couldn’t see what else anyone would want. There are children’s clothes but nothing really for babies so mine will have to wait.

Back at our seats in the Grandstand, we were in full sun, so much of the extra clothing that my wife had insisted on bringing for the baby was superfluous. But I have since learnt that whatever I say or do, from now on I’ll end up carrying a kit bag’s worth of stuff for any given outing with the child.

Luckily, our row was on a concourse, which meant that we had a lot of leg room and could accommodate the extra baggage with ease. It also meant that an exuberant Australian woman somewhere between 30 and 45 years old would stop every time she walked past to get to the bar, and consequently the loo, to make a comment about the baby to my wife.

The last comment – ‘mate, I could eat her up’ – was delivered with a roar around 5pm.


Virender Sehwag can win the World Cup for India

Virender Sehwag gets the World Cup started

And he can do it by scoring slower and hitting fewer boundaries.

We often look for individual match-winners and few are so obviously identifiable as Virender Sehwag. Yet cricket is a team game and teams can do more than individuals when they get things right.

Sehwag has said that he wants to bat 50 overs in World Cup matches. India are almost certain to win matches if he can do that, but not because he’ll always have scored 175, like he did against Bangladesh in the first match of the tournament. To be honest, 40 overs should be what he’s aiming for.

There are three main jobs to be done during a typical subcontinental one-day innings and Sehwag should aim to do the first two:

  1. Get your team off to a flyer at the start
  2. Score steadily in the middle
  3. Belt the ball with all your might at the end

Sehwag does the first of those by default. There are no worries there. Achieving the first is pretty much unavoidable because that is how Sehwag is made.

The second is where he actually needs to make an effort and adapt. He doesn’t need to turn into Shivnarine Chanderpaul or anything, turning into Mr Risk-Free Accumulation, but he does need to ensure he stays in.

That would properly set up part three of the innings. Much as people assume that Sehwag is the best man for the closing slog, he really isn’t. He’s not a computer game character. He gets tired. A tired Sehwag is inferior to Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni and Yusuf Pathan who are at five, six and seven in India’s batting line-up.

  1. Sehwag start
  2. Sehwag-style consolidation
  3. Yuvraj/Dhoni/Pathan fresh, liberated assault

No other team in this World Cup can match that and that should be what India aim for. The batsmen responsible for the first and third parts of that are so good at their roles that those passages of play are almost risk-free. Bizarrely, it’s the middle part where things could go wrong – but not if Sehwag can will himself to drop down a gear.


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