Month: May 2011 (page 1 of 3)

Sri Lanka slightly taken aback by England attack

The Nullarbor Plain - no dramas

Imagine you’re Sri Lanka. You’re four days into the world’s most uneventful bike ride. You’re in the middle of the Nullarbor Plain on a beautiful flat road and you can clearly see that there is nothing threatening for 50 miles in any direction.

You’re tootling along at about 8mph feeling relaxed, satisfied, but a little bit bored, when suddenly a European mole emerges from the immaculate tarmac in front of you. Shit!

You swerve and tumble off your bike, skinning your knees. Ooh, that smarts. As you pick yourself up, you see the mole ambling towards you. Maybe he’s coming to check whether you’re okay.

The mole kicks you in the balls.

Then he does it nine more times.


Ian Bell’s year – an actual opinion

Ian Bell doing the job - it's a better job than ours, to be fair

Don’t be afraid. We’re experimenting with having opinions. We meant to say it before the first Test – and maybe this isn’t the best timing when he’s on 98 not out – but we think Ian Bell will be England’s best batsmen in the next 12 months.

Ashes 2010-11

Bell’s exquisitely constructed batting was rather overshadowed by the two functional tower blocks that were the contributions of Cook and Trott, but he was batting as well as either of them, just with fewer opportunities.

He looked utterly at ease in Brisbane when England made a hash of their first innings and much the same when they were Johnsonned up the jacksie in Perth.

This summer

It was a county match that made us conclude it was to be Bell’s year though. Against Nottinghamshire, in a fairly low-scoring game, he made 139 and then 33 off 16 balls. He was captain too.

It just smacked of a man doing the job. As someone whose work nickname is ‘bare minimum’, we know how difficult that can be.


Jonathan Trott is relentless

Jonathan Trott is on holiday with his family. They decide to play table tennis – winner stays on.

After Trott has won the first 18 games, Mrs Trott quietly suggests that he might like to find a way to let the kids win a couple. Trott says no.

After 86 games, the family ask if they can stop and do something else instead. Trott says no.

Two weeks pass. The Trotts do nothing but play table tennis. Trott never drops a single game and the rest of the family are utterly demoralised by the experience. For his part, Trott feels immense satisfaction with his performance.


Chuck Fleetwood-Smiths hit Cricinfo

Optimistically claiming they are no longer pricks

We have to plug the Chuck Fleetwood-Smiths (Jarrod Kimber and Sam Collins, formerly Two Pricks at the Ashes) because Jarrod wore our T-shirt yesterday.

We had an extended discussion about Jarrod’s mooted attire earlier in the week, during which we told him about the time a friend had seen us in a King Cricket T-shirt drinking from a King Cricket mug and had felt moved to call us a rude name.

Jarrod being Jarrod, he thought our self-branding was perfectly acceptable. He said he had once gone to meet his fellow Chuck wearing a Cricket With Balls T-shirt and a Cricket With Balls cap.

We pointed out that Craig White had always worn whites and no-one had ever had a problem with that. We both then agreed that neither of us was a colossal egotist and nor should we feel ashamed of ourselves.

Anyway, the Chuck Fleetwood-Smiths. We will plug them by saying that their first episode for Cricinfo was the worst they’ve ever done, which is a compliment because it’s still good. They just talk about cricket too much, that’s all.

Should they get the boot from Cricinfo, you will be able to find them at their website, which is so perfectly fit-for-purpose we felt moved to create a Word document detailing its strengths which we then sent to Sam, who we suspect was rather nonplussed by this unsolicited review.


Sri Lanka’s bowling attack without Murali

Our latest Cricinfo piece is picking up rave reviews.

  • cud hav been more funnier!!!
  • Extremely lame. Nothing to laugh at all
  • who is Alex Bowden? I am sure ppl will remember Murali long after him

We thought it was one of the better ones. Have a read, see what you think.


Playing Sri Lanka will be hard work

Simon says 'touch your head' Alastair

A good first day of Test cricket for England, in the sense that it put them straight. Playing Sri Lanka demands perseverance. It demands perseverance so earnest it comes with a pipe and a scowl.

If Sri Lanka’s feisty wins in their warm-up matches hadn’t got the message through to England, today’s play surely did. The ball swung, but wickets didn’t tumble.

Tillakaratne Dilshan largely renounced his favourite shot, the flail, while Tharanga Paranavitana continues to display a refreshing reluctance to hit the ball unless he absolutely has to.

It is good, old-fashioned Test cricket: slightly boring and a tad irritating. Heaven.


Kyle Hogg takes a lot of wickets

He took seven, in fact. For 28 runs. That is acceptable. That is very, very acceptable.

He’s not quite up there with his grandfather yet, but he made Lancashire’s 328 look as whopping as a medium-sized block of flats, as Hampshire were bowled out for 133.

England hold the Ashes, Lancashire top the County Championship table – if only every single other part of our life weren’t a complete catastrophe.


Royal Challengers Bangalore get another life

Those who suggest we might have lost track of the IPL during the league phase may have a point.

We were at a friend’s house yesterday and he switched on the IPL, asking: “Is this important?” to which we answered, with some confidence: “No.”

Turns out it was important and we were also wrong about which team was going to win. Chennai Super Kings, who came second in the league, go through to the final, but Royal Challengers Bangalore, who came top, still have another chance. They will play the winner of the third v fourth match which takes place today.

This system for how four teams can be reduced to two finalists is a good one. It’s a shame it’s undermined by the plodding league that precedes it. King Cricket’s IPL-related search traffic is about a fifth of what it was in mid-April, so that’s not just our opinion.

We’re going to make use of play-offs when we’re choosing from menus in the future. There has to be a better way than ‘thinking about your decision’.


Dropping Kevin Pietersen from the England Test team

We’re not a fan of this idea.

You might say that we’re too easily pleased; that we’d support any batsman who scored thousands of runs for England with unparalleled panache. But you’d be wrong.

There’s another thing. We once made Kevin Pietersen say ‘pie’.

You can’t buy an experience like that. Or maybe you can, but it wouldn’t feel so special.

There’s also the fact that five Test innings ago, the guy hit his highest score and did so in an Ashes Test. It’s not like he doesn’t know where his next run’s coming from.

He should bat at five though. That theory that he should aspire to bat at three betrays Britain’s wrong-headed belief that we should all seek out responsibility, as if responsibility is somehow a good thing.

Responsibility is not a good thing.


Sri Lanka are sneaky

At least there's no Jayasuriya this t- oh nads

If you’ve only been half paying attention to Sri Lanka’s two warm-up matches, you might have got the wrong impression.

In the first, against Middlesex, the first day ended with them having conceded 321-5. Andrew Strauss scored a hundred, but so did Dan Housego.

“They can’t bowl,” said Robert Baby-Bunting Dice-Bat and went outside for a G and T and a game of croquet.

Sri Lanka won that match.

Against England Lions, they conceded 493 and then fell to 157-7 before being bowled out for 266.

“They can’t bowl or bat,” said Nicholas Steven Lacquireau-Crap and went outside for a Pimm’s and a game of badminton.

Sri Lanka won that match too.

They’re sly dogs, Sri Lanka, but to call them underdogs seems a bit rich.

The case against underdoggery

They may not have Murali any more, but they haven’t been a one-man team in years. They’ve also reached the last two World Cup finals, which is no mean achievement.

And don’t give us that ‘it’s May’ shit. It was May last time Sri Lanka were here and they drew the Test series then. They followed on in the first Test but some astonishingly resilient batting, not least from Mahela Jayawardene, made England look toothless and complacent, like a fat old toad.

It’s worth mentioning Jayawardene as well, because England are up against three middle-order batsmen who all average considerably over 50 in Test cricket – Kumar Sangakkara and Thilan Samaraweera being the other two. The latter is the classic Sri Lankan cricketer in many ways, because many of you will be going ‘I didn’t know he averaged 54 – when did that happen?’

That 2006 tour also saw five one-dayers and a Twenty20 international played, all of which Sri Lanka won. We felt moved to promise that England would be in better shape for this 2011 tour because we felt guilty by association.

Don’t make us break a promise, England. We experience a constant feeling of guilt anyway. The last thing we want is for the sensation to be of a greater magnitude.


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