Month: March 2014 (page 2 of 3)

That Tom Cooper thing’s turning out to be a good move

Nefariousness can be a virtue, it seems. Tim Gruijters and his bad-but-by-no-means-debilitating back probably wouldn’t have hit 45 off 15 balls, vaulting the Netherlands from third place in their group into the Super 10 stage of the World T20. However, his replacement, Tom Cooper, managed it – just like that.

Needing to chase 190 in 13.5 overs against Ireland in order to finish top of their group on net run-rate, the Netherlands only went and did it. Schuberb schtuff. The moral of the story is that if you have a choice between someone who’s a bit rubbish and someone who’s pretty good, you should tell the former that he’s injured in order to get the latter into your side. Maybe even deliberately injure the first guy, if need be.

Six reasons why England will win the World T20

Everyone likes a list. Unless it’s for the big shop. We never use a list when food shopping and last week, planning on doing a roast followed by cheese, we bought everything bar the chicken and the cheese.

So it goes.

But away from the fluorescent-illuminated stationary trolleys of dawdling fat people pawing at the fizzy pop, lists are fine. As such, here are our six reasons why England will win the World T20.

The unpredictability of Twenty20 plays right into England’s buttery hands

If there is to be any drama in England’s T20 World Cup campaign, it seems likely that it will come in the form of a very formulaic, second-rate sitcom. We’re expecting the most noteworthy performance in every match to be one of the batsmen making 40-odd off as many balls.

Fortunately, Twenty20 cricket is TOTALLY UNPREDICTABLE – all the worst teams tell us that – so there’s hope for the nation’s intrepid band of sloggers and pie-chuckers yet. The unpredictability of the sport could allow them to write their names into short-to-medium term history.

“Stephen Parry?” they’ll say in public houses up and down the land. “Was he the bald one?”

“No, that was James Tredwell,” someone will reply, before questioning whether it was ‘Stephen’ or ‘Simon’.

Start the Car: The World According to Bumble – book review

We finally got round to reading this. Oddly, this hasn’t clarified whether it’s worth reading or not.

A friend who follows cricket fairly closely but who at the time hadn’t watched much of Sky’s coverage, once asked us about David Lloyd. He’d got the impression that Bumble was this self-consciously zany caricature – a distant cousin to the Fast Show’s Colin Hunt, perhaps. We said: “No, no no. You’ve got it all wrong. Lloyd’s a decent commentator who is capable of being genuinely, genuinely funny.”

And that’s the problem with this book. Put Lloyd in a staid setting, commentating on a quiet afternoon session, and he can be hilarious, but build a book around the quirkier parts of his character and you lose that contrast. Look at the cover. It’s clear how they’re trying to sell this.

Some sections are good. You get some decent insights into the players he coached when he was with England as well as a few nuggets about his fellow Sky commentators. These passages read more like a traditional autobiography and that probably would have been a better approach, the humour shining when set within that more traditional tone. As it is, humour’s the focus, but Lloyd is only really funny in the right context.

We’re not sure whether it’s that the book doesn’t know what it is or whether it’s a byproduct of the deliberately chatty tone, but some of the digressions are really awkward. He’ll be talking about something relatively serious and then it’s almost like a siren goes off to signal playtime for the next three paragraphs. That then leads to further anecdotes and that’s the way things go until the end of the chapter.

This sounds like we’re contradicting ourself, but there’s a big difference between a traditional autobiographical tone dotted with humour and a traditional tone which completely disappears in favour of a wholly humorous tone. The latter is unsettling for the reader.

It’s like reading two different books – a feeling that is only heightened by the subject matter. He talks earnestly about Test cricket in the middle and then devotes a chapter towards the end to his mates down the pub. They aren’t cricketers or anything. They’re just blokes he knows from the pub.

This comes across as being a worse review than it should because the last few chapters are the weakest ones and so that’s the taste that you’re left with. There is certainly some good stuff in here. It’s really just a matter of how tolerant you are to the rest of it.

Should you so desire, you can buy Start the Car here.

Tim Gruijters’s back…

Is better than it’s been in a while. Apparently. You may not know much about Tim Gruijters. In fact, you may not know much about Tim Gruijters at all.

Gruijters plays for the Netherlands. Or at least he would do if he hadn’t been sent home from the World T20 with a bad back. He has been replaced by a conspicuously superior player, Tom Cooper, who just happens to have become available with South Australia not making it to the Sheffield Shield final in Australia.

Gruijters says he isn’t really injured and feels wronged enough about what’s happened to have put a video up on YouTube about it. It’s worth a watch, if only because he sounds so immensely and pleasingly Dutch. You can sympathise, but at the same time we’re talking about the Netherlands here for whom good players aren’t exactly ten a euro cent. This is Tom Cooper’s record and now try and work out whether Gruijters is a batsman or a bowler.

He’s only 22 and this is a somewhat self-defeating thing to do at that age, but perhaps the scarcity of Dutch players will work in his favour one day. They should give him a second chance, because his hurt is understandable. He wanted to play in the World Cup. Remember when your fragile dreams met the oncoming train of real life pragmatism for the first time?

Jade Dernbach bowls two balls the same

[Caption censored]

When a sweaty-palmed Jade Dernbach bowled a wide with West Indies needing seven to win off one delivery, it was easy to forget that his opening spell had been sort of all right.

It’s not a big thing, but it’s definitely progress. Someone seems to have persuaded Dernbach that variations are only such when they vary from something. His first delivery took a wicket, his first over was a maiden, but the real achievement was that those six balls were all roughly the same as each other.

Clearly they’re going to keep picking him – there’s nothing we can do about it – so we might as well try and support him, at least for the next few weeks. If that means refraining from commenting on embarrassing, dry-humping wicket celebrations which are entirely out of proportion for a dead rubber in a warm-up series, then so be it.

More Test cricket for South Africa

That’s not a chant. There are too many syllables. You’d have to rush through the ‘Test cricket’ bit to make it work and Test cricket ain’t for rushing through.

No, ‘more Test cricket for South Africa’ actually comes about because it looks like there is going to be more Test cricket for South Africa. They’re looking to extend series against Australia to four Tests and there also seem to be plans to do the same in series against India, which will be excellent right up until the point that the BCCI suddenly decide they want to do something different.

On that subject, the IPL’s going to start in the UAE next month. They decided that this week.

Should Jos Buttler bat at five?

We've already seen one 'the Buttler did it' headline

Let’s overlook all the trivial details, like the omission of England’s best Twenty20 batsman and the retirement of their best-ever Twenty20 bowler (one name in particular crops up very frequently in this list) and instead focus on whether Jos Buttler should emerge with England 26-3, 32-4 or 38-5.

It might seem like quibbling with someone’s use of indicators as they fly down the wrong side of a dual carriageway, but set it aside. Let’s just, for a moment, assume that everything else is fine and pretend that this is a really big issue.

This is troubling us because we internally contradicted ourself. We’ve always thought that Twenty20 batting orders should be pretty much best-to-worst from one to eleven. With so few overs available, you might as well make the most of what you’ve got. Then, when Jos Buttler came in at five yesterday, we thought: “No! What are you doing? Jos Buttler should come in with four overs to go to do whatever the hell he likes.”

Does this make sense? Surely if he comes in earlier he can hang around a bit, play normally and then still do whatever the hell he likes with four overs to go? It’s just that we don’t really want to see him build an innings. He’s so spectacularly good at pulling one out of his arse in an instant that earthly innings construction seems to miss the whole point.

Also, it’s reassuring to have a wildcard down the order. Look at DJ Sammy‘s performance yesterday.

A bit of housekeeping

Just to let you know that the answers to the Ashes 2013/14 crossword are now available. The link’s at the bottom of the page and there are explanations as well so that you can see how you’re stupid as well as how stupid you are. If you think that’s insulting, bear in mind that we had to read the entire thing.

This second paragraph was going to be about something else we’d been meaning to say for a while but hadn’t got round to saying – possibly something to do with the website, its ‘direction’ or what you might expect to see in coming days and weeks. As it turns out, we have nothing to share about the website beyond the fact that the crossword answers are available and we’ve covered that above, so…

Vivisection on England’s World T20 squad

It’s not dead yet, but let’s take our cleaver and dice it anyway. It’s only a matter of time.


No Kevin Pietersen, the man of the tournament the only time England won a big competition, so who’s going to pick up the slack?

Well not Joe Root. He’s got a broken thumb. Since breaking it, he’s scored a hundred and taken a wicket in his first over while opening the bowling, but you really don’t want to risk valuable young cricketers when they’re injured. That leaves us with something like:

  • Michael Lumb
  • Alex Hales
  • Luke Wright
  • Eoin Morgan
  • Jos Buttler
  • Ravi Bopara
  • Ben Stokes

Of those, we are very, very happy with Morgan, Buttler and Bopara, but anticipate flakiness from the other four. Hales is in credit, but seems happier against fast bowlers, who might not be so plentiful on Bangladesh’s pitches. It’s a similar story with Wright. After 44 T20 international innings, he averages 18 and his four fifties were scored against New Zealand (two), Afghanistan and the Netherlands. He doesn’t inspire confidence.


This is where things look really wonky. In fact, most of the bowlers aren’t actually bowlers – they’re all-rounders. We know that it’s all about having ‘options’ but you also want things to go well once you’ve taken one of those options. Where are the specialists?

Well there’s James Tredwell, whose one-day economy doesn’t seem to translate so well to the shortest format and there’s Chris Jordan whose economy rate in domestic T20 is a worrying 8.59. There’s Tim Bresnan, who’s nice and sensible and there’s Jade Dernbach, who we’re not even going to bother passing comment on. Finally, there’s Stephen Parry who’s the non-spinning spinner no-one’s heard of who will probably outbowl everyone. England like to find a new one of those for each World T20 tournament.

There may or may not be Stuart Broad. England’s captain is out of the current series, but they’re giving him a knee injection. He doesn’t seem certain whether it’s his fourth or fifth.

It makes sense considering:

“It’s just gradually got worse throughout the winter with the amount of bowling I’ve been doing – no real break – so it’s something I need to act on now to make sure I’m fit and firing for that World Cup.”

As we said earlier, sometimes you have to risk valuable young cricketers even when they’re injured. Wait. What did we say earlier?

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