Month: September 2013 (page 1 of 2)

We wait on the Buttler

If you report on player transfers before they’ve been confirmed, you’re starting out on a slippery slope. Next thing you know, you’ve got a section of your website called ‘transfer gossip’ which wastes people’s time telling them about things which won’t happen.

We’re not sure exactly where we’re up to with Jos Buttler’s move to Lancashire. They’ve been talking about it for weeks. We thought it had been confirmed yesterday, but then the article in question began: “Lancashire will confirm on Monday…”

Confirmation that there will be confirmation. Is that n0t confirmation in itself? Probably not. Confirmation isn’t what it used to be.

The most important development is that in writing the title for this post, we seem to have settled on calling the man at the centre of things ‘The Buttler’.

Derbyshire are down

Worcestershire Northamptonshire are up. Surrey have an 18-year-old who can score double hundreds and may finally stop dicking about hoovering up ageing stars from other counties.

We’re thinking of rebranding King Cricket ‘the home of in-depth inaccurate county cricket coverage’.

England v Australia Champions’ Trophy match report

Sam writes:

Birmingham gets a lot of stick. I’ve never been sure why. I think it’s because nobody really knows what it is. Is it north or south? Is it Britain’s second city or just a collection of old car factories? The comedy accent doesn’t help, nor does the list of famous people hailing from the area. Jasper Carrot, Noddy Holder, Alan Titchmarsh, Karren Brady – although she was actually born in London, but you get my drift.

Anyway, I grew up in Birmingham and most of my family are still there, despite their best efforts. So I still have a soft spot for the place, and Edgbaston in particular, where I spent much of my youth freezing my nads off watching Warwickshire win yet another County Championship.

Edgbaston doesn’t have any Test matches this year, for the first time in living memory. So the powers that be obviously decided to make amends by giving them a load of matches in the Champions Trophy. I went to the first one. We were sat in the Eric Hollies stand, otherwise known as the “popular” stand. Which means it’s where all the drunken idiots in fancy dress congregate.

In front of us was a group of men, most of whom were dressed in overalls and hard hats and one in a long blue dress and necklace. It was only when he turned around and revealed his mask that I realised they were Thatcher and the miners.

We saw a couple dressed as Mr Blobby (he was a novelty 1990s TV character, kids. Ask your dad). There were also a group of extremely irritating people sitting near us who didn’t seem remotely interested in the action. At one point the most annoying man had his trousers pulled down by the others. They got steadily more intoxicated and didn’t come back after the break.

At the interval, we went to the shop. It was kitted out just like the rest of the ground – entirely in bland ICC branding. It was almost like someone had erased Warwickshire from the history of the sport.

My cousin was playing Kwik Cricket on the outfield. I couldn’t really make him out. I later discovered he had also been one of the mascots standing in front of the Australia players during the national anthems.

Having been behind the stand for the first innings, the sun finally made an appearance in the afternoon. We spent most of the remainder of the game unsure whether we were too hot or too cold. Every removal of cardigan or jumper seemed to prompt a re-appearance of the sun, and vice-versa.

As the end of the match approached (sorry die-hard KC fans, cricket mention alert) Nasser Hussain stood waiting at the boundary edge, poised for his presentation duties. As the last-wicket partnership dragged on he just stood there, clipboard and microphone in hand. Nobody spoke to him for what seemed like an eternity. He kept glancing at his notes and shuffling his papers, as if he was standing in the corner of a bar pretending he hadn’t been stood up.

Then we went home and played badminton in the garden.

Send your match reports to and on no account mention the cricket itself.

England include a man called Gary Ballance in their Ashes squad

That’s what we think of you, punsome headlines. No way. No effing way. We might indulge in an opaque vertigo reference should Gary Ballance later get dropped, but that’s as much as you’re getting.

So, the England squad then? You knew most of it anyway. These are the other bits.

The batsmen

Gary Ballance scores runs like nobody’s business. We wish he literally scored runs like nobody’s business, because that’s such a specatacularly confusing concept. However, as far as we can tell, he doesn’t. He just figuratively scores them like nobody’s business.

Michael Carberry has also scored runs like nobody’s business if you look at run-scoring over a prolonged period in all formats. It seems he’s always been nearly good enough for Test cricket. The worry is that he still is.

The pace bowlers

It’s almost like the selectors’ spreadsheet had every column deleted except for height. Steven Finn, Chris Tremlett and Boyd Rankin are all included. The most relentlessly successful bowler in county cricket, Graham Onions, is left out. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that there is literally nothing he could ever do to get another game for England.

The other spinner

Not so surprisingly, it’s Monty, because everyone else is rubbish.

The all-rounder

Although England clearly think a lot of Ben Stokes, they haven’t picked him for his batting and they haven’t picked him for his bowling. Because of the way England tend to pick their team – with the best batsmen and the best bowlers – it’s hard to see how he’ll get a game. That last sentence isn’t actually as meaningless as it sounds.

What is a squad?

Tim Bresnan is not in the squad, but he’ll be travelling with it and staying in the same hotels and should he feel well enough, he’ll be eligible for selection.

When Mr Cricket became Mr Anecdote

If you’re thinking of reading Mike Hussey’s autobiography, you’d better HOLD ON TIGHT.

Published excerpts reveal that after his final Test, the team were all going to have a boat party, but that Hussey didn’t want to go because his children wouldn’t have been allowed. Apparently some players wanted to stay with Hussey at the hotel and some wanted to go on the boat.

But brace yourself, THERE’S MORE.

Another rip-roaring anecdote surrounds the time when Simon Katich grabbed Michael Clarke by the throat. Hussey was right there and offers some real insight.

“I thought, what the hell is going on? This had come out of nowhere.”

He then details the aftermath, which involves him phoning Clarke who said it was nothing to do with Hussey really.

Hussey also doesn’t know what a coincidence is. Andrew McDonald had not ‘coincidentally replaced Andrew Symonds’ in the team. Symonds’ absence and McDonald’s presence were very much linked. McDonald is mentioned for his spectacularly memorable ice-breaking punchline after the Clarke-Katich thing. It’s towards the end of this article. We won’t spoil it for you.

Surrey are down

Lancashire are up.

Nottinghamshire have won the one-day competition.

Never let it be said that we can’t do “news”. If Reuters or Associated Press want to offer us a lucrative contract to churn out those inspid pieces which clog sports pages, we’re open to offers. It would be a dream come true for someone to excitedly click on an article we’d written only to groan with disappointment when they see the name of a faceless news agency in the byline.

2013 County Championship – chapter 12

It’s worth squeezing in a wedger of a County Championship update, what with Durham having won the title and all. They have 10 wins and two draws from 15 matches and completely deserve their damp September glory.

These aren’t necessarily final standings. Most teams still have a match and a bit to play.

1st – Durham

Against Derbyshire, Durham secured a narrow 27-run first innings lead. Then they bowled Derbyshire out for 63. Unsurprisingly, they won that match. Equally unsurprisingly, Graham Onions took nine wickets. This week, they bowled Nottinghamshire out for 78 after losing the toss and while they were at one point 45-5 in reply, Paul Collingwood and Phil Mustard got them up to 256. Still no surprises – they won that match too and hence took the title.

2nd – Yorkshire

Drew with Sussex after conceding 333-3 in the second innings, with hundreds for Chris Nash and Rory Hamilton-Brown.

3rd – Middlesex

Drew with Nottinghamshire, largely because it hammered it down at Lord’s. Steven Mullaney scored a hundred opening for Nottinghamshire. Chris Rogers did the same opening for Middlesex.

In summary

Durham are best. That fact probably would have come across better in these updates had we actually bothered writing them during the Ashes. As it was, we didn’t bother and therefore accurately reflected the true experience of trying to follow the County Championship.

Middlesex v Surrey County Championship day two match report

Ged writes:

An annual tradition in my business is to have a day of County Championship cricket at Lord’s with Uncail Micheál, my Irish-American business partner.  Uncail Micheál is a real stickler for spelling and grammar.  Indeed, he has specifically become a stickler for English spelling and grammar; he was horrified when our last book was “translated” into American spelling and grammar for joint publication on both sides of the pond.

Uncail Micheál especially berates staff if they confuse the name spellings “Lloyds” (Lloyds TSB, the bank) with “Lloyd’s” (Lloyd’s of London, the insurance thingamajig), as that is not only a confusing misspelling but also an apostrophe aberration.

The early morning before one of our cricket days out tends to be a fairly fraught affair, with both of us trying to clear any urgent overnight e-mail workload before setting off for the ground.  I fired off what I thought would be my final e-mail to Uncail Micheál, but it seemed I had missed him, as seconds later I received an out of office reply:

Out of the office at Lords… “Many Continentals think life is a game; the English think cricket is a game.”  George Mikes.

I love that Mikes line; one of my favourites.  Mikes is pronounced Mik-esh by the way, in case you didn’t know.  But Hell’s bells – Uncail Micheál has spelt Lord’s incorrectly – without the apostrophe.  What will people think?  Can we avert this potential apostrophe catastrophe?  Thinking quickly, I rapidly e-mail Uncail Micheál back, pointing out the potential disaster, copying in his assistant and hoping for the best.

We were in luck.  Uncail Micheál hadn’t yet actually left his desk, so he corrected his out of office reply and informed me that linguistic-Armageddon had been averted.  Thus we both set off for Lord’s relieved and ready for our day at cricket.

I am delighted to report that the rest of the day passed without further incident.

Send your match reports to and on no account mention the cricket itself.

The international summer is over

It went out with a bang, on a cold, damp, September evening with the run-rate slowly climbing beyond being chaseable and a few drunk people chanting discordantly at a handful of lower-order England batsmen most of them hadn’t really heard of.

Even watching on TV, it felt a bit like being one of the last employees of a bankrupt company, going through the motions, fulfilling those last few orders before picking up your mug as a souvenir of crappier times.

Chris Jordan played though. He was interesting. We seem to have found ourself following his progress this summer and it was very pleasing to see him bowling damn quickly.

Why I want Jos Buttler to pretty much just do what he’s doing for the time being

We’ve mentioned before that Jos Buttler would always be in our International Cricket Captain one-day team. At least he would be if we actually played the game any more. That might not sound like a particularly resounding vote of confidence, but it really is.

We’d go so far as to say that Buttler is one of our favourite players and yet we’re in no hurry for him to play a Test match, despite that being the only format where we follow and give a toss about every match.

Why is this?

Good question, if only because it breaks up the text a bit – although being as we’re going to answer using bullet points, it probably wasn’t necessary. Why are we in no hurry for Jos Buttler to play a Test?

  • There’s plenty of time
  • He’s probably not good enough at the minute
  • In becoming good enough, he’ll probably end up sacrificing some of what currently makes him so fantastic

Surprisingly reliable irresponsible batting

Buttler functions best at the most irresponsible end of the batting spectrum. When a batsman needs to score most quickly, failure is unavoidably more likely. The whole point of Jos Buttler is that he is less affected by this. For most batsmen, risk increases exponentially with every attempted step up in scoring rate. For Buttler, the link is linear.

Basically, no-one scores at 12 an over without courting their own dismissal, but Buttler is able to evade that outcome far more reliably than most. For the time being, we’re happy watching him do that. The longer format rewards experience and we can envisage him developing the right kinds of quality a few years down the line.

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