Ballancing on Toblerone – something about that England squad you’ve already forgotten about

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The content rehashing practices at an old job of ours gave rise to an unofficial company slogan of, “Yesterday’s news – today!” Old habits apparently die hard, because this week we have consistently been one step off the pace. Just like in life.

Today we bring you the news about England’s next Test squad that you’ve already finished talking about. Gary Ballance is somewhat inexplicably in, while Toby Roland-Jones pulls up to the pace bowling taxi rank to wait his turn.

The threads that bind the Test and one-day squads together seem to grow thinner by the day. Test squad bowlers Jake Ball and Roland-Jones don’t seem to get mentioned for short format stuff and yet have been chosen ahead of Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett and David Willey (who can barely even get a first-class game for Yorkshire).

Similarly, gallons of one-day runs for Jason Roy and Jos Buttler weren’t enough for them to edge ahead of Ballance, who was averaging the square root of ball-all in the County Championship before a couple of solid knocks in the last couple of matches.

It seems they do things differently today. Find out more about this, here at this website, tomorrow.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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  1. The question we’re all asking (apart from who will manage the first clerihew in THIS comments section) is, where has the exit door moved to?

    It’s not number 3. It’s not even number 2 any more. It’s probably a double-exit door at 4 and 5, but who’ll be the first to push a bar across it, and who’ll stumble out of it like a drunken imbecile?

  2. It seems likely there was an England selector at the Middlesex v Yorkshire game in which Ballance scored a century and TR-J took eight wickets.

    The 1990s are back.

      1. We heard Andrew Strauss was there too. We didn’t do a rhyme about that though.

      2. Andrew Strauss
        Failed to douse
        The excitement that arose
        Over Toby Roland-Jones

      3. No sign of Straussy on the first two days, but he might have appeared on the Tuesday and/or the Wednesday I suppose.

  3. I was less surprised by that bit in Game of Thrones,
    Then when they picked Roland-Jones.
    For superfluously consonanted batters, hell,
    I’d go with t over l.

      1. Swap the first two lines if you want (is that’s what’s wrong?). I hate poetry.

        Almost as much as I do Trevor Bayliss.

      2. daneel,
        If you feel
        that the normal clerihew rules don’t apply to you,
        then you know what you can do.

    1. I don’t think Darren Gough was crying. Though Gough would have been fairly tricky to rhyme. (How would one begin to explain to a foreigner whether it should rhyme with “dough” or “Slough” or “borough” or “through” or “lough” or “enough”?)

      I’m afraid Edmund Clerihew Bentley believed (according to a letter in the Spectator, according to Wikipedia, according to me though at least you can check that last bit) that true clerihew has to have the name “at the end of the first line”, as the whole point was the skill in rhyming awkward names.

      Nitpicking such trivialities when some poor sod’s just dies does seem a little bit cruel though. RIP Javed Akhtar. For what it’s worth, I have missed his umpiring – it genuinely added something to the sheer ninetiesness of English cricket in the 1990s. I don’t care how “accurate” or “reliable” or “fair” Hawkeye is supposed to be, it’s removed an element from the game that lived long in the memory. These days all we can do is comment on the vivacity with which an umpire gesticulates, or the levels of banter they can provide while talking through the replays on third umpire duty. Back then, they could turn the course of a match.

      There was something about the “twenty-two players versus two umpires” scenario that reduced and reconnected international sportsmen to the level of the village greens or half-remembered school playing fields. I felt a lot of sympathy for the umpires too. The constant pressure. The unrelenting scrutiny of thousands of spectators, millions through the telly, one half of whom would be partisanly sure the umpire had committed a spectacular blunder whichever way the decision fell. The difficulties of keeping count to six – if you think that it’s easy, try it as an alternative to sheep-counting when the land of nod beckons. On that note, having to stay awake during the dreariest passages of play.

      All this while being older, fatter and creakier than the professional athletes who outnumbered them 11-to-1. Not possessing a threateningly meaty and very hard bat. Not possessing a threateningly fast and very hard ball. Instead, they kept control while armed only with their wits, and their one special game-changing power and duty: to interpret and enforce The Laws. On that day in Headingley, Javed Akhtar bestrode the turf like some comic-book crime-fighting colossus, the destructive power he bore in one finger successfully wiping out the cricketing might of a great African nation. Akhtar sure did a lot of enforcement those five days. Frequently backed up by immensely creative feats of interpretation, to boot. What a guy.

      Had England’s bowlers been only half so potent, the 90s would have been a nicer decade.

  4. With Ballance back in the side, we’re one step closer to my dream of an England XI where every player’s surname is a word in the dictionary (with allowance for double letters but no other misspellings). Another step if Ball fills in for Anderson. Now we just need Vince, Woakes, Ali and Bairstow out for Bell, Stokes, Batty and Buttler.

    1. Vince.
      A term used for drunks. Also used as a verb for drinking way too much.
      Man, he’s a total Vince.
      I’m gonna get vinced tonight!!

    1. Ben Sanderson,
      Bowled a significantly faster one;
      As a result of which one of the bails being defended by Tom Fell the swell,

    2. Mohammad Azharullah,
      Bowled even fuller;
      So he achieved more-fer,
      His efforts than any of his bowling colleagues – at the time of writing a four-fer.

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