Month: October 2013 (page 1 of 3)

We’re lying about the Ashes already

But only by accident. Yesterday we wrote about the reception England used to get upon arriving Australia for Cricinfo; how they’d be rubbished in print and beaten in the warm-up matches. Our point was that this didn’t happen any more.

But lo, England have had quite an embarrassing day against a Western Australia Chairman’s XI with their three lanky seam bowlers (who we said would be fine in that article) going for plenty and mustering just one wicket between them.

We also note that Burt Cockley is playing. It would seem he didn’t become an inexplicable obsession of ours, despite our floating the possibility back in 2009.

Virat Kohli rises above the rate of inflation

Virat Kohli has probably just hit a six even though that doesn't look at all likely

Every year they change the rules for one-day internationals and every year the highest-scoring matches become even higher scoring. That’s where the effects are most keenly felt – at the top end. If there’s one man you want in your team in a modern world where targets of 350 and more are increasingly common, it’s Virat Kohli.

There are plenty of stats out there about Virat Kohli in run chases. Seek them out if you feel that you need them. We’ll just point to his last two hundreds – 100 not out off 52 balls chasing 360 and 115 not out off 66 balls chasing 351. India won both those matches.

Kohli is the finisher who bats at three. He does the same thing Michael Bevan did, but he does it from farther out facing a higher asking rate. That’s not to say that he’s better, because he plays in matches where it’s easier to set high asking rates and more difficult to dismiss batsmen. It’s a different thing.

But Kohli is no mere slogger (although he can certainly slog). On a scorecard, his innings may seem like they should be lumped in with the hell-for-leather, all-or-nothing efforts of Twenty20 players like Kieron Pollard, Glenn Maxwell or Luke Wright. But the difference is that Kohli’s efforts are sustainable. His is an engine which can cruise at those scoring speeds. He’s no dragster.

That’s why we likened him to Bevan. His calculations might not be quite so fastidious, but he still gauges his effort according to the demands of the situation. It’s the same job in a very, very different world.

Alastair Cook’s back

Apparently Alastair Cook developed a bad back while flying. This is an ability we didn’t know he had.

Those who have been fortunate enough to witness an airborne Cook say he spurns dramatic swoops in favour of steady progress at a consistent altitude and that when bad weather is forecast, he takes an alternate route rather than endure turbulence.

Cook always wears a helmet when flying and has never been tempted to carry out superhero-type work. He considers flight to be an effective and cost-effective form of transportation and nothing more.

George Bailey v David Warner

David Warner in a photograph

We haven’t really given much thought to Australia’s other five batting slots which means we can pitch Bailey v Warner as being a battle for the sixth one. They’ll almost certainly both play in the first Ashes Test, but let’s gloss over this so that we’ve got something to say today.

David Warner is the incumbent – albeit an incumbent who’s been dropped. Such is cricket. Warner played in Australia’s last Test, but has been dropped for one-day cricket, which is supposed to be what he’s good at. However, after skiving a club match to go to the races, he has since hit three hundreds in four innings, including 197 off 141 balls against Victoria. It’s all been in domestic one-day cricket, but it’s undeniably impressive.

But what of George Bailey? The other day we said that one-day form combined with not being a complete child is probably enough to warrant Bailey being selected in Australia’s Test team and we stand by that. After kicking off Australia’s short format tour of India with a duck (Rajkot, not Bombay), he’s hit 85 off 82 balls, 92 not out off 50 balls, 43 off 60 balls and 98 off 94 balls.

Different format, different conditions, but also different situations. Bailey appears to have the qualities that so many Aussie batsmen currently seem to lack – adaptability and the ability to respond to a given match situation. Plus he’s smart, outspoken and pleasingly non-corporate. We therefore conclude that Australia should pick Matt Weaver, who played three Ryobi Cup innings and scored a whole 10 runs.

Lord’s Indoor School match report

Ged writes:

An occasional, regular feature of my summer these days is to spend a few evenings with friends in the nets at the Lord’s Indoor School.  29 July was our third net this year; me, Escamillo Escapillo and Charley “The Gent” Malloy.  I was sporting my new “Thirst Extinguisher” water flask, a recent gift from my American business partner, Timothy Tiberelli.

The Thirst Extinguisher

I batted first and did rather well by my own (rather low) standards. Charley “The Gent” can usually manage a bit of gentle swing and at times can beat me when he gets his line and length right, but there are usually a few to hit.  Escamillo Escapillo is a little more tricky; mostly left-arm orthodox spin but he can also bowl the Chinaman without changing his action enough for mere mortals like me to pick. The good news with his disguised Chinaman is that he rarely gets the length right, so you can usually avoid the worst  and sometimes get a real pie from the buffet. Still, if he keeps practising, Escamillo Escapillo could be Rochdale’s answer to Simon Kerrigan.

Charley “The Gent” batted second. My slow right-arm dobblers were coming out nicely that evening, though I say so myself. It’s mostly overspin in my case, which can make the flight a bit tricky but it also means that I need to bowl a little too full if the ball is to go on and hit the stumps. I managed to send quite a few six inches over middle and off stump, which counts for nothing of course. Charley proved his “sandpaper man” credentials in the main; few risks, few big shots, few chances.

When Charley marched off to remove his pads, I took a long swig of water from my thirst extinguisher, taking care to put the flask down again on the other side – off-side to the left-hander, so that only a near-perfect off drive through long off might go anywhere near the flask. First ball to Escamillo Escapillo, round the wicket to the left-hander, overadjusted for the angle, just a little too full, CERR-RRUNCH, straight into my brand new thirst extinguisher. Escamillo Escapillo could not stop laughing. “You could send down another hundred deliveries just like that one and I swear I couldn’t hit that thing, even if my life depended on it”.

Charley “The Gent” then spent the rest of he net complaining bitterly that Escamillo Escapillo was batting left-handed. This seemed very odd to me, as we have played a few matches together and spent many sessions in the nets bowling at eachother and Escamillo Escapillo always bats left-handed. After that disastrous first ball, I managed to get my lengths right around the wicket to the left-hander, whereas Charley got himself into such a lather about this left-handedness business, he hardly landed any in the right place.

After a very pleasant dinner together, when I got home, a few clicks on the trusty gizmo and I had ordered three more Thirst Extinguisher flasks. Daisy had already taken a shine to Timothy’s gift and wanted one herself. And I clearly need to have at least one  spare on standby at all times, especially the way I bowl.

Mominul Haque – possible focal point for faintly unhinged obsessive tendencies

People latch onto particular players for all sorts of odd reasons, developing long, intense, one-way relationships with them. Maybe you attended the one match where an otherwise poor player achieved momentary competence or perhaps they were the first player you saw responding to ‘give us a wave’.

It can be anything. It can even be that your name sounds a bit like a drunk person saying a team-mate’s name – a team-mate’s name which when mispronounced sounds like ‘animal’.

So thank you Anamul Haque. Your work is now perhaps done. You have drawn to our attention Mominul Haque; we have noticed that he has scored two hundreds and two fifties in his first nine Test innings; and we have consequently, probably, inadvertently adopted him.

Mominul is currently averaging 83.42 and will probably never average that much again. These two hundreds against New Zealand will probably come to be seen as aberrative; an odd and freakish flash of early form which committed us to years of imagining that every innings of 22 not out could have become 222 not out if only it hadn’t rained for four days.

In 2015, Bangladesh will finally drop him after a long run of low scores. The very next match will be a high-scoring draw and we’ll be livid because if Mominul had played, he would have recaptured form and confidence and gone on a run-scoring spree the like of which has never been seen before.

Why couldn’t they have held on for one more Test? Why couldn’t they have given Mominul Haque one more innings? Some people can’t see greatness even when it’s right in front of their eyes.

Orchestration and delusion

After losing the first Test to Pakistan, South Africa captain Graeme Smith said:

“It should hurt. But this team has too much ability to make this a habit.”

We immediately thought about the distinction between confidence and delusion and how the only real difference is what happens afterwards. These seemed hubristic words, but apparently this South Africa side isn’t ready to segue into cocky self-deception just yet.

Or maybe they’re just playing Pakistan. Believing you have any impact whatsoever on the outcome of a match against Pakistan could be considered delusional.

Pakistan coach, Dav Whatmore, said of his team’s 99 all out in the first innings of this second Test:

“We expected the opposition to come back strong, but I don’t think they did. We orchestrated most of our dismissals ourselves.”

It’s worth noting that last year, at the same venue, Pakistan were bowled out for 99 by England and won the Test by 71 runs. Pakistan never do the same thing twice, so they’ll definitely lose this one.

Exclusive celeb gossip scoop

A secret source writes:

I thought this might interest you. It’s just like the 3am Girls in The Mirror, only with better grammar and more discussion about the state of County Championship wickets than they normally have.

Overheard at the gym at the weekend – a regular first-team Lancashire player chatting to some bloke. He was saying that there is a debate at Lancs about whether they need to do something about the pitch at Old Trafford. The idea is that the 75 championship-free years were largely a consequence of a lack of results on a flat, true (albeit fast) wicket, and that it was no coincidence that when Lancs won the title they played all their home matches at Aigburth. The flip side of the debate was, according to the player in question, that Lancs’ batsmen are so rubbish they need a good wicket not to look like idiots.

There is something to this. As a Test match wicket, Old Trafford is superb, and a result pitch more often than not. But, and again from the lips of this mystery player, to get a result you need three or four Test quality bowlers. Ordinary county bowlers can’t extract enough wickets, and have a day fewer in which to do it.

A quick Cricket Badger update

We won’t do this regularly because that would be boring, but we thought we’d at least let you know how week one of Cricket Badger went.

We picked up a couple of hundred subscribers – most within the first day. More pleasingly, we will have about 20 per cent more than that for the next newsletter. This presumably means that people liked what they received and forwarded it.

In some senses, it doesn’t really matter how many people are reading. However, when you’re sending text into the ether it’s quite difficult to get a sense of how things are being received, so this amounts to good feedback. Thanks to all who have subscribed and double thanks to those who forwarded it.

Here’s the website where you can subscribe and we’ll shut up about this for a while now and get back to writing stuff about Anamul Haque.

Ishant Sharma’s death bowling

Bailout made an unusually strong and comprehensive argument in favour of Stuart Matsikenyeri when we requested names of players whose continued selection seems inexplicable. However, Ishant Sharma was mentioned more frequently.

Sharma seems to be the subject of much scrutiny at the minute. A Cricinfo article about him last week was rendered all but redundant by a blunt and brutal subheading which told the whole story:

“Ishant Sharma has been a disappointment in ODIs, proving ineffective with new ball and old for the majority of his six-year career”

Yesterday, he was taken apart as if he were a national health service, with James Faulkner in the role of right-wing politician. With Australia needing 44 off three overs, Faulkner scored 30 off Sharma, who somewhat disappointingly didn’t bowl any wides or no-balls to extend the destruction.

MS Dhoni says that his bowlers don’t need to be spoon-fed. Presumably, Sharma is currently being fed through a straw.

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