Month: August 2011 (page 1 of 3)

That’s Dr Dhoni to you

Just like Ian Botham, MS Dhoni is now a doctor of letters. De Montford University gave him the honour, which led to this quite marvellous photograph:

Good choice of complementary colours

You didn’t have a suit, MS? No? Nothing? No smart trousers or anything? Okay, no, it’s fine. No problem at all. It’s just, you know, most people dress up a bit, but it’s fine, it’s fine. Really, we’re not bothered.

Dr Dhoni isn’t our favourite Indian doctor. He’ll have had a very good career indeed if he brings us even half the joy we felt when we saw the sign for ‘Dr Dikshit’.

England v Sri Lanka first Test match report

Nobody make a Jon/John Lewis joke about this match report. That will not be acceptable.

Dandy Dan writes:

I was just about to leave work and head down to Cardiff when Mr Puffin asked if he could come too. I said yes and so off we went.

Mr Puffin

We got to the airport and were dismayed to find our flight had been delayed by an hour but Mr Puffin enjoyed watching the planes land and take off.

Mr Puffin considers flying under his own steam

That evening I went out and drank too much in Bristol with some friends. Mr Puffin stayed at home as he knew it wasn’t a sensible idea to stay out late when we had to get a train early the next morning. He made the correct choice.

When we arrived at the train station Mr Puffin stared in amazement at these track based beasts. Planes were much more of a sensible idea to him, naturally.

Mr Puffin is horrified by the limitations imposed on the train by the tracks

When we arrived in Cardiff we met up with my friend Becky and her father. Inclement weather delayed our arrival to our intended destination so we wandered around Cardiff centre. Becky’s dad took a significant amount of time studying different picnic hampers in John Lewis.

We decided to have lunch in Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant. This was very nice and even more pleasant when Becky’s father insisted on paying. Even if I had paid, it probably wouldn’t have been much cheaper had I bought lunch at the ground, and it was considerably nicer. A slightly elderly Welsh couple sitting next to us who were also going were slightly amazed that I could find out the start of play time on my phone. Insert your own gag about backward rural communities here.

We got to the ground and Mr Puffin saw a silly man riding a silly horse.

Mr Puffin looks on from above - as ever

After it had all finished we went out in Cardiff. I got very tired and begged Becky to take me home as I was staying at her flat.

We did make it onto the TV though.

Mr Puffin was at the bar

Mighty giants and flying badgers

Twenty20 finals day was how the format should be. When it’s all professional, it’s rubbish. It’s best when it’s a complete shambles and no-one really knows what’s going on.

Lancashire got knocked out in the semi-final, but we didn’t mind because they got knocked out by Will Jefferson. Despite being 11 feet tall, Jefferson’s somehow been keeping a low profile of late. However, he was eye-catching in the super over, making full use of his gargantuan size to smite his enemies.

Jefferson’s ancestor, Finn McCool, once tried to knock someone out by throwing the Isle of Man at them. Jefferson used the same degree of force to launch a cricket ball into the stands. Then he roared.

The final was most notable for the moment when a middle-aged man dived to catch Kieron Pollard. Paul ‘the Badger’ Nixon is a true great of county cricket and few would begrudge him success in his final match. Actually, quite a few people he’s played against would begrudge him success, because he is perhaps the most joyously irritating wicketkeeper there’s ever been, but that’s why we love him.

Finals day also featured an extraordinary number of rain delays and David Lloyd repeatedly doing what must rank as the worst impression of Boycey from Only Fools and Horses of all time. What more could you want from cricket’s most brilliantly stupid format?

Why is cricket popular with women?

A comment on this post deserves wider exposure.

Viagogo appeared to conclude that they were only selling more cricket tickets to women because some England players are good looking.

We asked our female readers whether they were buying tickets in order to ogle Jimmy Anderson while he stands at fine leg on the far side of the ground.

Female Cricket Fan said:

“Jimmy Anderson doesn’t field at fine leg.”

Case closed.

Liz Hurley, Pippa Middleton and “the Barbie Army”

We’d be interested to know what our female readers make of Viagogo’s latest press release, entitled: ‘Make way for the Barbie Army’.

Apparently, they have seen a 240 per cent increase in females purchasing cricket tickets. Why might this be?

Possibly inspired by Liz Hurley’s ‘passion’ for the game and Pippa Middleton recently spotted supporting her man in a local game, cricket is becoming more and more popular with women with some tickets currently trading on viagogo for up to £230. With reportedly the best looking team of England Cricketers to date, it seems young women are willing to pay a premium to be bowled over by more than just the action on the pitch.”

So, is that why you go to the cricket? Would you pay £230 for a chance to spend a few hours of your life ogling Jimmy Anderson while he stands at fine leg on the far side of the ground?

This has to be the last Matthew Hayden post

In 2006, we started writing about how Matthew Hayden spoke bollocks. At that point, his batting drew most people’s attention and it hadn’t been widely acknowledged that the man was sucking all meaning out of words and then piling them together arbitrarily. Now everyone has noticed.

Even Michael Atherton’s slagging him off for talking nonsense now, so in many ways our work is done. The world is well-equipped to mock Hayden’s cod-business guff-talking without us.

And yet we’ve continued. Every time that we feel like we’re out, he pulls us back in. The man’s retired, so he should no longer be a target, but there he is evaluating Phil Hughes or launching The Hayden Way. Sometimes it’s just too easy.

Our latest article for Cricinfo comes as a result of Hayden investing in the Big Bash League. It has to be the last thing we do about Matthew Hayden, but we fear it won’t be. It says it all that Cricinfo usually add a disclaimer about all quotes being made-up, but it wasn’t necessary in this instance, because we used genuine quotes. The man is officially a self-parody.

Read it here.

What’s the mace up to today?

The mace kicks back

It’s just chilling out, having a couple of beers with its mates.

Has someone in England been given a giant mace for being good at summat?

Look at the size of that mace

You bet your boots they have.

The rest of us are just going to have to accept that we probably aren’t going to be given giant maces for implementing efficiency measures that led to a reduction in overall losses in the second financial quarter when compared to the same period in the previous year.

‘Winning at cricket’ is such a good job to have.

When Dravid is better than Tendulkar and Sehwag

Quite possibly our favourite cricketer at the minute

We went overboard with the Tour de France references last month, so we’ll avoid making one here, even though we want to.

Just as you can win the Vuelta a Espana without winning a single stage, so you can be considered the best batsman without being the best in every set of circumstances.

Sachin Tendulkar has a pretty solid claim to being the best batsman in the world because he’s scored plenty of runs in every country in every format of the game. That doesn’t mean he’s the best Indian batsman in seaming conditions though.

You’d have to go with Rahul Dravid, wouldn’t you? His cuts and deflections might not be so eye-catching as a booming six over cow corner, but each one demands exceptional skill, timing and judgement.

Virender Sehwag goes the opposite way – he is a worse batsman in seaming conditions. That isn’t to say that he becomes a bad batsman and it isn’t to say that he can’t score hundreds. It’s just to say he’s less likely to be successful. His method isn’t fundamentally flawed, it’s just not so well-suited to English conditions – it’s a question of degrees, not extremes.

Batting averages

Most of you know that we’ve little time for batting averages as evidence. They give a decent overview of a player, but the idea that Johnny Batstab is better than Micky Flingblade because he averages 1.3 more than him is a load of bollocks.

Averages reward certain players more than others. If you’re the kind of batsman who scores quickly and heavily on flat pitches but struggles against pace and swing, you’ll probably have a higher average than a guy who is best at getting runs in low scoring games.

Rahul Dravid’s career average of 53 is built on a reasonably eye-catching average of 50.75 in home conditions, but it is garnished by an average of 68.80 in England. There, he has scored six hundreds in 13 matches in what are frequently trying batting conditions – particularly for tourists.

In cycling terms, Dravid can hold his own in the time trials as well as the mountain stages.

Gautam Gambhir isn’t earning much praise

When Gautam Gambhir twatted his head on the deck

Banging his head two days earlier compelled Gautam Gambhir to send out a morningwatchman. The consensus seems to be that he’s a bit soft. Maybe he is still concussed, maybe he’s genuinely not fit to bat, but he might have stood a better chance of people believing that if he hadn’t already missed a Test this series with a bruised elbow.

We’re currently typing this with what is likely to be a fractured finger. We’re soldiering on despite the fact that precisely no-one is counting on us. For his part, Gambhir must be aware that one or two people would like India to do well.

Test cricket is rarely about the stars aligning so that you can bat exactly as you want. Test cricket is about trying to prevent some arsehole from breaking another of your ribs when the pitch is lumpy and torn to shreds and your team is 400 behind. Great batsmen score runs in that situation.

Gambhir is not a great player. A great player carried out the complex oral manoeuvre of biting his tongue while simultaneously gritting his teeth when asked to open in his place.

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