Month: October 2017 (page 1 of 3)

A dog who may or may not look like Ben Stokes

Edwardian writes: “I think my dog looks like Ben Stokes, especially in the eyebrows department. The difference between Stokes and my dog is that Digger is tucked up in his bed by 10pm every night.”

Edwardian later added: “Digger is a rescue dog (I’ve had him for three months) and is incredibly laid back despite his previous circumstances. However, since originally sending the photo, he had a nip at a passing jogger so perhaps he is developing Stokesian traits.”

We’re sure Digger had very good reasons for taking action. The only question that remains is whether he carried on the nipping for a bit too long.

Actually, no, there is another question – why is he named after former Lancashire opening bowler Peter Martin?

A handmade county cricket sticker album

Honestly, what could be better than this?

It’s a homemade county cricket sticker album.

Here’s Darren Stevens.

Here’s Vernon Philander.

Here’s the England team.

The album was created by John, who got in touch with us having seen Sam’s ‘artwork’ last week.

You can see loads more of the stickers on his Tumblr.

John said he was inspired to create the album during the city-based T20 debate when there was all that stuff about how more kids recognised pro wrestler John Cena than Alastair Cook.

“As I know a bit about wrestling too, I went on a bit of a rant about how the ECB needs kid-friendly merchandise that’ll still appeal to adults. So I went away to prove it could be done.”

John said he got about 30 printed to sell. “I had a meeting with All Out Cricket about mass producing, but sadly it  didn’t go any further than the initial discussion.”

The albums are available directly from John for £25. That price includes the album and every sticker needed to complete it. If you’re interested, you can get hold of him at

But that’s not all. At the very start of this article we asked ‘what could be better than this?’

If you answered, “a handmade 1999 World Cup sticker album” then you’re in luck. John’s working on that now.

Ben Stokes Ashes situation entirely unchanged by latest “revelations”

If you’re indicted for war crimes, “But they started it!” is not a particularly weighty defence – even if it’s true.

It’s some way down the scale, but the same principle still holds true with Ben Stokes. Today’s confirmation that he was defending two gay men when he rained all those punches down on a pair of fellas in Bristol doesn’t really change anything.

Why it happened doesn’t change what happened. We (somehow) covered exactly this yesterday. It’s entirely possible to do wrong even when you start off in the right.

“Towards the end of the fight it all got a bit scary so we walked off,” said Kai Barry, who clearly didn’t need too much defending by that point. “It was too much for me and we went to Quigley’s takeaway for chicken burgers and cheesy chips.”

If only Stokes had done the same.

Kai knows that if you’re going to step in and fight for the forces of good in every conflict you come across, you’re in for a long night. “If you ever see fights, you let it pass. It’s just Bristol town. You see it every night you go out,” he said.

These latest revelations are so staggeringly unimportant in the grand scheme of things that we were at least hoping to end this article by bringing you a little bit of insight into the offerings from Quigley’s takeaway. Sadly, our Bristol correspondent didn’t manage to get back to us before our deadline, so we can’t even give you that.

Kevin Pietersen says team spirit is everything

Photo by Sarah Ansell

He’s got to be doing this on purpose, hasn’t he? Surely?

In truth, much of what Kevin Pietersen says in his interview with Cricinfo makes perfect sense.

The gist is that there’s much to be gained from players going out together, but they also need to take responsibility for their own actions and any impact on their performance as cricketers.

Sensible stuff really, but come on, Kev – show a bit of self-awareness.

We wrote about the art of being a team player Pietersen-style back when he was sacked. It’s not as mocking as you’re probably thinking. We saw an independently-minded man with good intentions who went about things in a godawful way.

There’s a parallel here with Ben Stokes. For all his flaws, it’s impossible to imagine KP laying into a couple of blokes in the street as Allegedly Stokes did in that white-trainered footage, but both men seem to share similar faulty logic. They apparently believe that if you begin an argument in the right then everything that follows is undertaken in the name of righteousness and therefore perfectly acceptable.

There’s a story about the Stokes altercation that he started off defending someone – maybe a couple of gay men who were being subjected to homophobic abuse. Now you can certainly accept that a person might find a way to intervene in such a situation, but in the video of Allegedly Stokes, the scuffle goes on long after that. By the end, he can be seen advancing on a fella who’s backing away with his hands up in fearful surrender.

Not okay. Today’s lesson is that a person can still do wrong things even when many will accept that they started off in the right.

Although we’re not talking about physical conflict, it’s clear that Pietersen has a similarly simplistic view of disagreements – even when he’s sober. He says that team spirit was an issue on the 2013-14 Ashes tour (on that at least, he and Andy Flower will agree). However, much of what followed was just him taking issue with the team environment to such an extent that it knackered up that team environment even more.

You probably had a point at the outset, Kev, but you lost perspective. It wasn’t The Guys in the Right Corner against The Guys in the Wrong Corner with every subsequent action of yours entirely justified.

England would have a far better cricket team if their best players understood that righteousness can only ever be borrowed not owned.

Alex Hartley is invincible

Alex Hartley (via ECB)

Not in the sense of being incapable of being defeated because she’s just lost two Ashes matches out of two. We mean it purely in a batting sense.

Hartley made nought not out today. In her 20-match international career, she has NEVER BEEN DISMISSED.

Not once.

Now, admittedly, Hartley has only made seven runs in that time, meaning a wicket-to-run ratio of over 4:1, but that’s still a mighty impressive achievement.

You wouldn’t catch Don Bradman ploughing through his first 20 international fixtures without ever once being dismissed. He was out loads of times, the charlatan.

Australia may be 4-0 up on points, but they’ll never see the back of Alex Hartley. Except in the picture above.

Some really pretty amazing Ashes-themed artwork

Long-term readers/masochists will be aware that this website has often published cricket-themed artwork.

This beautiful picture of Rob Key by Suave brought forth a veritable torrent of follow-up works, including Rob on a capybara in front of a wall of flame, Rob making the diving stop of his life and of course the earth-shattering slab of magnificence that was the subject of the greatest post of all time.

Sam writes:

“It was Sunday morning, and the art materials were out.

“‘Look daddy,’ the oldest one said. ‘I’ve drawn a picture of you and mummy.’

“But daddy wasn’t listening. He was busy working on his own project.

“The result now hangs proudly on our kitchen wall, alongside so many other childish scribbles.

“I am considering documenting the entire Ashes series in this format.

“Hey, it’s better than paying for BT Sport.”

BT Sport to use Geoffrey Boycott as Ashes commentator

We got a bit distracted when we tried to write about this last week, but BT Sport has revealed its commentary line-up for the Ashes.

For some reason the press release led with “legendary cricket captains” Michael Vaughan and Ricky Ponting, but we’re far more interested in the others. Geoffrey Boycott’s the most eye-catching name, and he’ll be joined by Alison Mitchell, Adam Gilchrist, Graeme Swann, Michael Slater and Damien Fleming.

They’ll also be producing a daily 90-minute highlights programme. We can’t decide how we feel about this. On the one hand, 90 minutes seems too long for highlights. On the other hand, you’ve got to love a sport where the highlights are longer than a rugby match.

No word yet on whether they’ll also be dumping the show on some minor free-to-air channel in the hope that no-one notices. We’re assuming not, given it seems likely to be such a comprehensive recap of the day’s play.

Those wondering what the hell today’s photo is all about, see here.

Life Beyond the Airing Cupboard by former Sussex captain John Barclay – a holiday reading review by Ged Ladd

I read Life Beyond The Airing Cupboard in September 2009, while Daisy and I were on a short holiday in Burgundy. We had joined Daisy’s sister, Lavender and her husband, Antonio Ordóñez for a few days, then we stayed on for an extra day or two before returning home.

Lavender and Antonio looked at us quizzically before they headed off when the answer to their question, “what are you going to do after we leave today?” was, “we’re going to the Bresse service station for lunch”. This is not such a crazy thing to do; I should imagine it is the only service station in the world that serves the indescribably wonderful Poulet de Bresse; at affordable prices too.

We also wanted to see Bourg-en-Bresse; I found a wonderful music shop there and bought a good few CDs, including Bach Cello Suites and some cool Parisian jazz.

Then back to the Moulin d’Hauterive for a game of crazy tennis on the hotel’s unbelievably dilapidated tennis court; then some reading around the pool.

As you can see, the hotel was not very busy in September.

Strangely, several years later, Life Beyond The Airing Cupboard came up in conversation, reported on Ogblog – here, with Bill “Wild Bill” Taylor, at Trent Bridge.

Life Beyond The Airing Cupboard by John Barclay – click here for Amazon link.

**** 4 Stars = Highly Recommended.

(The Ged Ladd Cricket Book Review scale: From 1 Star = Don’t Bother to 5 Stars = Essential Reading).

Have you read a cricket book on holiday? Tell us what it was, where you were and give us a star rating.

When is the Ashes not a Test series?

Anya Shrubsole (via ICC)

When it’s the Women’s Ashes.

Starting on Sunday, Australia and England will embark upon one series comprising three T20 internationals, three one-day internationals and a Test match.

It is a cricket series.

The teams will get two points for victory in each of the one-innings-a-side matches and four if they win the Test.

We’d have liked to have seen two Tests, but being as England are world champions in the 50-over format, we’re not too upset by the balance.

The cricketers from both nations will be tested in more diverse ways than their Ashes-contesting male counterparts and afterwards we’ll have a pretty clear idea which is the better cricket team.

Subscribing to BT Sport for the Ashes

We’ve been bemoaning the out-of-date way in which broadcasters sell sport to consumers for quite a while now. We were mildly encouraged by changes to Sky Sports announced earlier this year, but they only went so far and also had zero bearing on the upcoming Ashes as BT Sport has the broadcast rights for that series.

So how is BT going about signing up cricket fans?

A recent Ashes-related BT Sport press release asked the following leading question somewhere near the bottom: “Not a BT customer and don’t want to switch your broadband to us?”

You don’t ask a question like that without having an answer lined up. The answer was this: “If it’s just our wide-range of premium sport that interests you then you can also simply sign-up to watch BT Sport right now.”

Yes, yes, yes. This is exactly what we want. No phone line, broadband, or other TV package serving as some sort of eye-wateringly expensive and unnecessary entry fee – just the one thing we want.

We only want access to BT Sport so we only want to pay for that.


Following the link somewhat confusingly takes you to the View and Manage your Broadband Extras page. Among the very many frequently asked questions on that page (maybe you should rewrite the page if so much is left unclear) is: “Can I pay for the BT Sport app if I don’t have BT broadband?”

The answer, apparently, is: “No, you need to get a BT Broadband or BT TV package, or get BT Sport on Sky Digital Satellite Platform.”

BT doesn’t seem to be on the same page as itself on this one.

Sadly, we’ve checked all around their site and that does seem to be correct. Maybe BT have got something in the pipeline, but as things stand you do need to subscribe to their broadband or TV service to get access to the BT Sport App.


No, you don’t. See below for how to get BT Sport via various different broadband/TV providers.

Signing up for BT Sport via Plusnet

This page appears to imply that it’s only a fiver a month, which is a bit of a result (if true).

Signing up for BT Sport via TalkTalk

You can sign up here.

The bad news is it’s £22.99 a month and there’s also a sign-up fee of £20 if you commit for a year and £35 if you only commit for a month.

The Ashes runs for over a month, so the minimum cost of subscribing to BT Sport if you’re a TalkTalk customer is £80.98.

Signing up for BT Sport via EE

EE seems to be offering its customers three months of the BT Sport app for free. More details on this page.

If you’re on an EE mobile contract, we suppose you could take them up on this and then work out how to cast the footage to your TV.

Christ this is complicated. Don’t blame us. We’re just the messenger.


We’re doing our best here, but thanks to the opaque policies and labyrinthine websites of the various media companies involved, there’s a decent chance that some of this is wrong – and even if it isn’t, it is of course subject to change.

If none of these options suits (and we’ll be honest, they didn’t suit us) then there’s always the free 10-minute daily highlights package. It’s not a lot, but it is actually pretty good considering its length. Combined with Test Match Special and extensive coverage in the written media (do feel free to sign up for this website’s email) you’re not in too a bad place.

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