Month: April 2012 (page 1 of 3)

Warwickshire still top by a couple of points

It rained last week. You might have noticed. This meant that very little happened in the County Championship. No-one won.

Warwickshire stayed top largely due to the vast bat of Jonathan Trott who is entirely unarsed by green pitches and cloudy skies and hit 178. Whether it’s a packed MCG or 12 people dotted round Edgbaston on a grim wintery day, Jonathan Trott is happy if he’s batting. Actually, maybe not ‘happy’. It’s more like breathing for him – an unconscious thing. You imagine he has to actively make an effort to NOT bat. He probably marks non-batting days in his diary.

The other notable occurence in that match, in light of last week, was that Rikki Clarke again got runs batting at nine.

Lancashire no longer bottom

Lancashire soared up the table with a glorious rain-interrupted draw against Somerset. Our man Steven Croft got a hundred and then our other man, Nick Compton, made 30 not out. The latter isn’t really newsworthy but for the fact that Compton seems to be afraid of the dressing room this season, only feeling safe in the middle. We are therefore putting his good form down to The Taunton Ghost, which we may or may not have just made up.

Worcestershire v Nottinghamshire

Probably shouldn’t have finished with this match, because we’ve got nothing to say about it. Andre Adams took five wickets, but if you follow county cricket, you’ll know that’s about as surprising as the grim sense of dread that accompanies your first waking moments on a Monday morning.

By the way, what shall we call this County Championship round-up? It seems to have become a recurring feature. We feel like it should have a name, particularly when we read the title ‘Warwickshire still top by a couple of points’.

A tribute to Shivnarine Chanderpaul

Nurdling the shit out of every bowling attack

Shiv has just hit his 10,000th run and Cricinfo wanted someone to pay tribute to him. Being as we named him not just Lord Megachief of Gold, but Grand Lord Megachief of Gold, we were well-placed to pass comment.

For some reason, our idea of a tribute is to describe his ugly batting in about 11 different ways.

There were actually a few things we didn’t get round to mentioning in that column (we could probably write about 30,000 words on the subject of Shivnarine Chanderpaul so we weren’t struggling to meet the word count). One was that despite losing almost every match, he still ploughs on, maintaining the same high standards.

That particular feat of endurance is perhaps more remarkable than any individual innings. Most people would have long ago grown despairing and careless in the face of what he has endured as a sportsman, yet he is willing to spend long, long hours at the crease for no real reward. It’s quite astonishing really.

Anyway, here’s our Cricinfo tribute to Shiv.

We now write Cricinfo’s weekly Twitter round-up

It would seem that we’re selling off our newsletter for parts.

Following cricketers on Twitter is actually pretty boring. James Anderson and Graeme Swann are smart and funny and Dale Steyn used to be, but the rest are generally either illiterate or don’t know when to shut up.

The original subheading of our new Cricinfo feature was ‘braving cricketers’ “banter” so you don’t have to‘. That’s basically the premise. There is some good cricket stuff on Twitter, but JESUS CHRIST CAN YOU STOP GOING ON ABOUT NANDO’S FOR FIVE MINUTES.

So yes, there’s also bad stuff, but hopefully some of that can be made entertaining as well. The Twitter round-up will develop over time, but we’re fairly happy with the first one and a couple of bits have the whiff of being regular features already.

Being as it’s weekly, we aren’t going to link to every instalment from here, but please try and follow it if you think you might like it. There doesn’t seem to be any special Twitter round-up subscription option, but if you know what you’re doing with RSS feeds and that, this is our author page and they should all appear there.

Cricinfo’s weekly Twitter round-up.

Sourav Ganguly’s hair

If you’ve missed or boycotted this year’s IPL, you have only missed one thing: Sourav Ganguly’s hair.

Young Sourav brought himself on to bowl against Delhi and promptly bowled Kevin Pietersen first ball. He then went on a raised-fist jaunt across the field sporting a bizarre bouncing flap of hair.

The image we’ve linked to above simply doesn’t do it justice. It was like he’d slept in a pool of Rogaine which had affected only one side of his head, giving rise to a huge wedge of hair, far longer than the rest, which was reaching out to the world, eager for new experiences.

Sourav has a history of bad hair. For a time, he was doing that thing where men shave too high so that their hair line goes up from the ears towards the eyebrows. It made him look like he had learning difficulties.

Update: Here is the full horror in video form. (Thanks to Deep Cower)

The fecklessnesslessness of the West Indies

No, it’s not a typo. We were just thinking of how this current West Indies side operates and how it’s completely different to the feckless outfits of recent years. We’re struck by their fecklessnesslessness.

They’re still not winning much

But they’re not winning in a far more impressive way. They seem closer to getting their act together, even if the style of play doesn’t have much in common with many people’s romantic notions of calypso cricket.

The batting is stodgy and the bowling is disciplined and the latter is actually becoming rather effective, even if the former isn’t. There’s a relentlessness about the team’s general approach that makes you feel like you’re watching actual Test cricket.

It’s not spectacular

But you get the impression that things are genuinely tough for the opposition. Not so long ago, West Indies batsmen favoured the mindless waft and the bowlers got bored and explored the netherland between bouncer and long-hop. That’s not really true any more.

And is it really so different an approach from the great West Indies teams that now seem to mist people’s eyes? As fast bowling has declined, perhaps we remember the art as being more spectacular than it actually was. The Windies sides of yore tended to bowl a large proportion of their deliveries at the batsman’s heart. It was eye-catchingly brutal, but it was essentially an attritional approach.

True, brutally attritional is more exciting than Darren Sammy’s dot ball obsessed use of angles, but Kemar Roach and Fidel Edwards are hardly trundlers and they have spinners now as well. Spinners! Playing for the Windies!

Worth watching

The West Indies are an intriguing team at the minute and while that might not be headline-grabbing stuff, when headlines feature words like ‘fecklessnesslessness’ maybe we should focus more on the main body of the text anyway.

Warwickshire are now top of the County Championship

Rikki Clarke stares out a floating cricket ball

We’re doing these county update posts for our benefit rather than yours. It’s our way of keeping on top of things, because following county cricket is like trying to catch rain – you might get a handful, but you’ll definitely miss most of it. People might also ask you why you’re bothering.

For an example of how difficult it is to stay on top of things, we actually started writing a title about Nottinghamshire remaining top. They have two wins and a draw versus Warwickshire’s two wins. However, we didn’t bank on bonus points. We’ll walk you through it. We’ll walk ourself through it.

Nottinghamshire’s crappy draw

The County Championship is like a contract for pretty much any form of modern technology. Something you’d think would be straightforward is actually spectacularly complicated. Unlike phones and TV and internet, the County Championship achieves this complexity via bonus points. Annoying as they are, they’re pretty handy when there’s rain around. Nottinghamshire drew with Somerset this week after being bowled out for 162 and conceding 445-2. As draws go, it was a pretty comprehensive defeat, which is why Somerset emerged with 11 points, whereas Nottinghamshire got only three.

Warwickshire’s resounding win

Meanwhile, Lancashire were continuing to explore whether cricket teams actually need any batsmen. The answer is yes; yes they do. Warwickshire proved this by having two of their number score hundreds, even if one of them was batting at number nine. Bumped down a spot by the nightwatchman, Rikki Clarke hit 140, while Darren Maddy made 112 shortly after dismissing four of Lancashire’s “batsmen”.

Rikki Clarke is best known for his face and for being a hope-over-logic England all-rounder selection back in 2003. However, he’s a cricketer to be respected these days, albeit largely for his increasingly impressive bowling. Warwickshire didn’t need him to turn his arm over in Lancashire’s second innings though. Not sure they even bothered bowling overarm.

Are you watching Nick Compton?

We knew he was worth watching this season. He’s currently 19 not out off 88 balls against Nottinghamshire, including a boundary which we damn well hope was an accident.

That’s the stuff. That’s why we picked him. Few players have the iron will required to be less entertaining than a rain delay.

I no longer write The Cricketer’s weekly newsletter

Forgive the detour into first-person singular, but this is personal, so I thought I’d write normally for once. I’ve just found out that I will no longer be writing the newsletter for The Cricketer. Today’s edition was my last.

What newsletter?

On the 18th July, 2008, I wrote my first weekly email for what was then The Wisden Cricketer. It opened with the line:

“I know what you’re thinking: if only there was a weekly cricket newsletter that blatantly pushed the content of The Wisden Cricketer with no shame whatsoever. Well look no further!”

Since then, I’ve written another 191 issues and without wishing to boast, it’s gone rather well. I don’t know how many people received that first issue, but it wasn’t many. Last week’s went out to over 13,000. Some of them even opened it. (That’s false modesty – many of them opened it. Some even read it.)

Why was this my last issue?

I’m not 100 per cent sure, actually. I know they want to make it more commercial. I wrote tailored ads a couple of times – trying to make them funny enough that people would actually read them – but it wasn’t really a regular thing.

I suppose the main thing is that they want to bring it in-house to save money. If that’s the case, they won’t save much. I’m eternally grateful that they gave me the chance to write the newsletter in the first place, but it wasn’t well-paid for the amount of work I put into it each week. That’s probably more my fault than theirs, if I’m honest. I really did enjoy writing it and I always wanted it to be good, even if that meant spending an hour and a half thinking of exactly the right Nineties journeyman cricketer in order to fine-tune a joke.

What happens next?

Dunno. What do you think? I could send out an independent version, but I don’t know whether that’s really financially viable. I already write this website for pence a day and I’m not sure I’m keen to take on any more unpaid work. If there’s anyone out there who really liked The Cricketer newsletter and wants something similar for their publication/business, I’m open to offers.

Other than that, I think I might try and gather together some highlights and publish them on here. Personally, the bit I’ve always been most proud of was where I asked people to send in sightings of famous cricketers. No, really.

It always read: “Maybe you’ve seen X doing Y” where X was a middling cricketer and Y was some sort of mundane, everyday activity. A friend once said that if you gathered them all together, the reader would get the sense of some depressing, low-octane existential crisis – so maybe I’ll do that.

Thanks to all of you who subscribed and thanks to everyone at The Wisden Cricketer. Special thanks to Edward Craig for thinking I might be the man for the job in the first place and for all the ideas and ego massages which followed.

Regrouping between Ashes series

Fans celebrate a bilateral one-day series obligation

Let’s get an early moan in about the five-match one-day series that’s taking place between England and Australia this summer. It’s not just the fact that it’s pointless and elbows aside the build-up to a Test series against South Africa. It also sabotages the experience of watching next year’s Ashes series as well.

The anticipation is half the joy of an Ashes series. Even though England and Australia play each other every other year, there’s still ample time for the teams to develop in between. When the touring side arrives, there’s a lot of excitement. They might have new players or older ones might have suddenly started excelling in Test cricket. There’s an element of mystery that adds to our experience as fans.

Having an England-Australia one-day series the year before the Ashes undermines this almost completely. It’s like tearing off a hunk of bread before it’s finished baking. It tastes entirely unsatisfying and the loaf will be all buggered up when it finally is ready to eat.

With the 2013-14 Ashes series in Australia following just a few months after the 2013 Ashes, we’d better prepare for a lot of shitty bread. However, we don’t particularly want to prepare by practising. This summer’s one-day series is unwelcome. Who invited it?

County cricket – let’s at least try and stay on top of things for a bit

Mark Davies plays for Kent now but still looks like a Viking

Following county cricket is not easy. Sooner or later it’ll get away from you and you won’t have a clue what’s going on.

It might happen when all your attention is on a Test match or it might happen when they squeeze in two rounds of the County Championship while you thought they were playing a completely different competition, but one way or another you’ll lose the thread at some point.

Here at King Cricket, we’re sort of going to try and make half an effort to have a vague idea what’s going on in the early part of the season before surrendering at some point during May. To be honest, we’ve pretty much failed already because the first couple of weeks snuck in before we’d managed to accept that it was no longer winter.

Here’s the gist.

County Championship Division One

Nottinghamshire are top. Nottinghamshire are always strong. This is partly down to Chris Read, but it’s mostly down to Andre Adams who takes buckets of wickets for nowt and often hits fifties as well.

Like Lancashire, Nottinghamshire have always tended to rely on the batsmen at seven, eight and nine for the bulk of their runs. They may now have addressed this a little by adding Michael Lumb to their team. He has already hit a hundred. They’ve got James Taylor as well, who promises a lot but still needs to convince us.

Their bowling looks worse though. Will they win the Championship? Dunno, but they’re ahead.

County Championship Division Two

We can’t really see anyone other than Kent and Yorkshire getting promoted. Yorkshire are much the same and have plenty of decent players. Kent have brought in about half a team.

Most significantly, they’ve got Mark Davies and Charlie Shreck – murderous scythes who simply detest the corn of second division batting line-ups. Being as there hasn’t yet been an innings in which Davies has bowled a suspiciously small and irregular number of overs (usually 3.2) we’re assuming he’s still fit as well, which is, frankly, a bonus.

Kent have also got Ben Harmison, who we think is pretty damn handy and Brendan Nash, the Aussie West Indian, who should be good for a 244-ball 62 pretty much every match.

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