Month: September 2011 (page 1 of 3)

Marketing England one-day matches in 2012

The marketing men and women have got a tough task on their hands trying to generate interest in England’s 13 one-day internationals and four Twenty20 internationals next summer.

This is because:

  1. There are far, far, far too many matches
  2. No-one in England gives a toss about short-form cricket outside of the respective World Cups

Fortunately, we have a solution. Our 2012 England one-day cricket marketing masterplan is built on the twin pillars of rebranding and innovation.

The innovation comes in the form of England’s player selection. Rather than taking the tired old route of selecting the best 11 players eligible for England, why not instead select a team calculated to foster local interest?

Take the third one-day international against Australia, for example. This will take place at Edgbaston, so why not select a few Warwickshire players? Start with the captain, Jim Troughton, and then continue with a few more – about 10 more, say.

Next, the rebranding. Sticking with that same match, instead of the team being called ‘England’, it could be called ‘Warwickshire’. They could even play in different kit – the Warwickshire one-day kit, say.

The fixtures could also be rebranded from ‘one-day internationals’ to ‘tour matches’. This would help promote those that retained their full international status. It’s an old marketing trick: when something appears scarce, people want it more.

Conversely, when something appears commonplace…

Are you convinced by Jade Dernbach and his variations?

Jade Dernbach celebrates the existence of stumps and bails

We’re not making a point of criticising England’s newer bowlers. We’re just pointing out that we aren’t living in a bounteous land of champagne fountains and gold furniture. Players are being talked about as if they’re staggeringly gifted when they’re not.

The English treat one-day cricket like some mystical oddity. ‘There must be some secret behind 50-over cricket or why else are we so perennially gash at it?’ we think to ourselves.

If you conclude that the secret is all to do with reverse sweeps and slower balls, a player like Dernbach can seem like the answer to your prayers. What he does is eye-catching. A 75mph off-cutter slower ball is followed by a 65mph back-of-the-hand slower ball and then a 90mph in-swinging yorker. He’s mixing it up. He’s keeping the batsman guessing. It’s the future of cricket.

And yet is it? Dernbach is clearly a talented bowler, and we’re in favour of his playing more one-day cricket, but the notion that England’s one-day bowling attack is suddenly built around him just doesn’t stack up for us.

Various commentators and pundits were oohing and ahhing about his ‘variations’ during the one-day series against India. No-one seemed to notice that he took four wickets in as many matches and went at seven an over. Powerplays and rain reductions make that hard to properly analyse, but it ain’t earth shattering.

It seems like many focus on the eye-catching headline qualities of Dernbach and don’t evaluate the whole article. He’s talented and seems to cope okay with nervy situations, but he’s a long way from being Malcolm Marshall.

Stuart Meaker and England selection

No, we aren't bothered Stuart Meaker was born in Pietermaritzburg, if that's what you're wondering

In years gone by, you wouldn’t have trusted the England selectors to identify the best cricketer on an episode of A Question Of Sport, but this batch, led by Geoff Miller, has earned respect. Even so, it doesn’t pay to get too clever.

Earlier this year, we said that Stuart Meaker was the only Surrey player we were interested in. We still are interested, but that doesn’t mean he’s England material right now this minute.

Meaker has been on England’s fast bowling programme for the last couple of years, so presumably the selectors feel they know him well enough. However, just as players shouldn’t be selected based on averages that can be skewed by a multitude factors, nor should they be identified based solely on their performances under lab conditions.

Meaker took 44 wickets at 22 in first-class cricket this season. Very good, but not exceptional and with that familiar proviso that he was bowling in the second division. However, he’s been selected for a one-day squad and he has taken just 19 one-day wickets in his entire career.

England’s selectors usually know what they’re doing, but we only hope they aren’t getting ahead of themselves. It might not seem like it with there being a match every other day, but international experience is a valuable commodity. It shouldn’t be spread around too liberally. Matt Dawson shouldn’t get a game, for example and Bill Beaumont DEFINITELY shouldn’t.

2,000th Test match report

Our mum writes:

As a thank you to KC’s dad for the loan of his DIY skills, a friend gave us two tickets for this historic day.

There is nothing like a day in the members’ stand at Lord’s to make one feel young. We must have considerably reduced the average age, and as a female I felt like a collector’s item. We had excellent seats in the second row and evidently a streaker or pitch invasion from our stand was considered unlikely as there were no stewards deployed in front of us.

The tickets stipulated ‘dress regulations apply’. This seemed to mean ‘wear mainly garments of clashing red and yellow stripes’. Fortunately KC’s dad’s polo shirt was deemed acceptable, as he has only worn a tie three times since he retired – one wedding and two funerals.

We thought we had a decent picnic. I particularly enjoyed being able to take in a chilled bottle of sauvignon blanc. However the party of eight gentlemen to my right worked steadily through a four-course repast, with accompanying beverages, including a choice of chocolate mousse or cherry clafoutis for pudding – most had both. The waste bin near us was full of empty champagne bottles by noon. Fuller’s London Pride at £3 a pint went down very well, whereas a short walk at lunchtime revealed that the hoi polloi were paying £4.20 a pint for smoothflow – no real ale available to them.

Rain stopped play at 4pm but nobody seemed to mind and I presume the carousing continued until long after we left at 6pm.

You will notice that this is a return to the original format of KC match reports – not entirely unconnected to the fact that not a great deal happened on the field of play.

The English cricket backslapathon and what it means for Ravi Bopara

We sometimes experience this phenomenon where the girl driving the car behind seems to be the most beautiful woman in the world. This is true when we catch a glimpse of her for a fraction of a second, from a distance, while we’re both moving, but then she pulls up behind us at the lights and the illusion is over.

Given just a glimpse of something, the brain can be very generous when filling in the gaps. Perhaps fuelled by the optimism borne of strong performances by the national side, a lot of English people seem to be assessing young England players far too generously. That’s very kind of them, but it does no favours to the players we know rather better.

Ravi Bopara has three Test hundreds, 20 first-class hundreds, a one-day double hundred and a Twenty20 hundred to his name and he is only 26. Here are the men who are apparently going to leave him for dead because they’ve ‘grown up with Twenty20’ and are ‘full of confidence’.

Jonny Bairstow

Averaged 46 in a losing Yorkshire side this year and played a frankly jaw-dropping debut one-day innings for England against India. He’s looked amazing for all of 21 balls in international cricket, so why not make him captain? Has the nation accepted a job lot of jump to conclusions mats or something? Chill out. Gather more than four overs’ worth of evidence. Maybe he has a massive weakness against bowlers who are quicker than RP Singh.

Jos Buttler

Always scores runs when he’s on telly and averages 71 in one-day cricket, largely because he’s only had 24 innings (12 of them not out). Looks great so far – which isn’t very far at all.

Alex Hales

Put him up against a West Indies second eleven that’s been in autumnal England for about three quarters of an hour and he’ll have them for breakfast.

James Taylor

According to some, Taylor leapfrogged Ravi Bopara after outscoring him in the England Lions match against Sri Lanka. Those matches aren’t shoot-outs. They’re information gathering exercises. Those two fifties will be added to the one hundred that Taylor managed to score in the second division of the County Championship this season. He’s certainly a good batsman, but we don’t yet know how he’ll fare against teams who have more than two half-decent bowlers.

And back to Bopara

Much as we’d all like life to be constant progress with never a setback, it isn’t like that. It’s more like a near constant series of setbacks with occasional windows of stability. Ravi Bopara has had a couple of career catastrophes and has come back from them well. He has important qualities that we may not find in the players above.

A lot of the English currently seem willing to sacrifice something very good, but which isn’t perfect, in favour of whatever’s inside that cardboard box with a question mark on it that just got delivered.

Remembering Dominic Cork

Dominic Cork - now THAT is how you appeal, kids

Retiring from cricket at the age of 40 is a bit like dying at a grand old age. People naturally focus on what’s fresh in the memory.

People remember your interests as being duck-feeding and ailment comparison with your peers, even though you were once a fighter pilot and later invented cling film.

This is the case with Dominic Cork, who’s developed a bit of an ageing rocker vibe about him, with his refusal to bow to age. The man’s had an entire cricket career since he finished playing for England.

But it’s his performances for England that we’ll remember, even though he played a lot less than you might think. He took 7-43 on his debut and took a hat trick a couple of matches later. Noteworthy achievements.

Significantly for us, he also played a major role against the West Indies in 2000. Cork’s blinding innings in the second Test really cemented our love for cricket. That’s how we’ll remember him.

We wrote about India losing over at Cricinfo

We’re hoping to attract some decent ill-feeling in the comments section, but there’s little so far. Maybe there’s a great pile of vitriol just waiting to be approved by a moderator.

We did have a bit about Sachin Tendulkar failing to score his hundredth international hundred, but something similar had already appeared recently, so we had to remove it. Pretty sure that would have gone down well.

Read the article here.

Surrey v Middlesex match report

Sam writes:

Angry clouds greeted my arrival at the second day of the Guildford cricket festival. A colleague had promised a press pass would be waiting for me “at the gate.” Predictably, no such pass materialised, and said colleague was incommunicado, away on an all expenses paid trip to Spain. Something to do with pre-season training for a non-league football team. After much faffing, the stewards let me in, pointed me towards the media tent and told me to “get set up.”

A friend of mine arrived, we did a circuit of the ground, it rained for a bit. At lunch we went and got some beers from the beer tent. A pint of TEA for him and a pint of On The Rails – a strong, dark ale – for me. I purchased a cheese and tomato sandwich tightly wrapped in cling film for £2, and a slice of lemon drizzle cake for another £1. We also had some Pringles and a Twirl.

There were some corporate tents. They had words written on them like ‘Investec’ and ‘Allianz’. The Mayor of Guildford seemed to have one, and he appeared to be entertaining the chair of the town’s Chamber of Commerce. Lots of men were standing around in suits and pink shirts. They didn’t appear to be very interested in the cricket.

Just before tea we got some more pints, then it rained again. We guessed that would be it for the day, so headed to a pub which boasted a ‘gentleman’s corner’ and a locked door that had the words ‘the back room’ written on it. Then on to a cider festival where there was a battle of the morris dancers competition.

Who's the devious blurry jester guy?

We thought about going for a curry but we were tired so we went home.

Glen Chapple might be superhuman

Glen Chapple - a bowler who's allowed to captain a cricket team

1992. It was the year that Jimmy Nail would top the charts with Ain’t No Doubt. It was also the year that Glen Chapple made his debut for Lancashire.

While the halcyon days of Spender and Crocodile Shoes are gone for Nail, Chapple soldiers on. He’s 37 now, but seems increasingly impervious to both age and physical ailments, hobbling off the field one minute, storming in off his full run the next. His solitary cap, against Ireland, was cut short when he got injured in the field. You wonder why he didn’t play on. He normally does.

This year Glen Chapple delivered the County Championship to Old Trafford – something that could only have been achieved by a man with little regard for whether things are or aren’t possible. Shitter players than him have won more England caps, but they haven’t captained Lancashire to glory, so Glen wins.

Some of you might have Chapple down as a journeyman. He isn’t. He’s the man who takes the wickets when his county needs them and he frequently scores the runs that matter too (never those that don’t).

County cricket is an almighty slog, but here are Chapple’s bowling figures for the last few seasons.

  • 2007 – 47 wickets at 21.85
  • 2008 – 42 wickets at 20.50
  • 2009 – 35 wickets at 25.25
  • 2010 – 52 wickets at 19.75
  • 2011 – 55 wickets at 19.81

Sometimes his team was poor; sometimes it was okay. Only this year was it good. Chapple got wickets regardless. Chapple ALWAYS gets wickets. No half-arsed second division wickets either – those were all proper first division dismissals.

We just wanted to laud a very good cricketer at an opportune time. However, we will write posts about every other member of the Lancashire squad, unless someone comes up with a superhero name for Glen Chapple that meets with our approval.

The art of coming second

They even managed to lose to Surrey

If ever you happen to find yourself in the final of a coin-tossing competition against Somerset, put all your money on yourself. Technically, the odds are even. In practice, this is Somerset and it’s a final.

Somerset have now lost four of the last four domestic short format finals. If they handed out awards for coming second, they’d come second.

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