Category: England cricket news (page 1 of 149)

Olly Stone will maybe be a fast bowler for England some of the time

Olly Stone (via Sky Sports)

It’s an absolute statement of fact that no-one remotely cares whether England win rain-reduced one-dayers against Sri Lanka. England fans care whether England have an England fast bowler playing for England though.

In Olly Stone, maybe they sort of do. And maybe he’ll play a quarter or a third of England’s major games in the next year or so.

Stone’s first international wicket was Niroshan Dickwella. He bounced the shit out of him with a ball that was clocked at… 82mph.

It looked quick though. It probably was quick. Other deliveries definitely were quick. On commentary, Mahela Jayawardene said Stone looked “absolutely brilliant” which is a pretty weighty compliment to attract within the first four overs of your international career.

Frankly, we’re delighted that England have access to someone who’s maybe a fast bowler. A maybe-fast bowler makes life better even when he doesn’t play because you can say “they should have picked Stone” whenever the other bowlers look a bit limp.

Having a theoretical solution to the problems playing out in front of you is a much better way of watching your team lose a cricket match than having to go “well, there’s nothing anyone could have done differently, this defeat was simply unavoidable.”

Shane Warne says Jos Buttler is a Houdini-esque escapologist

The very great thing about Shane Warne having a book out (ghosted by Mark Nicholas, of all people) is that he appears here, there and everywhere and talks his nonsense and we all get to marvel at how swiftly the man can form opinions and stick to them.

Warne thinks England should make Jos Buttler Test captain. This is a very Warne-ish thing to think. Put the eye-catching player in charge.

Like most of Warne’s ideas, there’s something underpinning it but maybe not all that much.

Firstly, he knows Buttler from Rajasthan Royals. Warne pretty much always talks up people he personally knows, particularly if he’s met them fairly recently.

Secondly, he reckons England need to unshackle Joe Root.

“Maybe England could think about their best player having the shackles off, not having the responsibility of captaincy, and give it to someone like Jos Buttler,” he said.

There’s merit in this. Maybe Joe Root would bat better unshackled. But wouldn’t that transfer of power merely amount to the shackling of Buttler?

“Jos could play with his freedom and captain the side, and Joe could just concentrate on his cricket,” Warne reasoned.

Apparently Buttler is unaffected by shackles for reasons that aren’t exactly explained. We can only presume he is able to wriggle out of the captaincy shackles whenever he wants (and presumably wriggle back into them whenever England are fielding or it’s a press conference or whatever.)

TalkSPORT and Test Match Special | I Don’t Like Cricket, I Hate It

I Don’t Like Cricket, I Hate It is a semi-regular feature where we ask a fella called Prince Prefab about cricket – even though he hates cricket. We are in bold. Prince Prefab is not.

England tour Sri Lanka and the West Indies this winter and the big news for cricket’s (in)visibility in the media is that talkSPORT have got the radio broadcast rights, so there’s no Test Match Special.

Well I don’t listen to Test Match Special but even I’m livid. One of my favourite things is talking on the radio that goes on for hours. I think it might be time to riot.

Well there’s always the talkSPORT talking on the radio that goes on for hours. They’re so committed to it that they even put ‘talk’ in their name. Have you ever listened to talkSPORT? Can you imagine what cricket on talkSPORT would be like? (And what, exactly, do you imagine that cricket on Test Match Special is like?)

Well I should have been clearer. I like long talking on the radio that is not on talkSPORT.

I heard talkSPORT once in my friend’s car about ten years ago. It was angry men shouting about football and I did not care for it. I think I can imagine what cricket would be like on talkSPORT and I do not think I would care for that either.

What do I think TMS would be like? Sort of like posh old chaps talking about the breeds of birds on the pavilion roof, the slant of the sun over the south-facing stand, their sandwich filling of the day, their favourite type of cake, a bit of poetry they remembered from school, making a note of a wicket or a six. That type of thing. Close?

Well it’s evolved a bit in recent years – most of what you describe was basically Henry Blofeld’s exact contribution – but stereotypes are generally rooted in fact aren’t they? There’s still an undercurrent of all that.

We suppose TMS has moved towards the middle ground of late and the very fact that it’s cricket will probably drag talkSPORT more towards the middle ground too. There’s also Guerilla Cricket, which is the irreverent option. Those guys commentate on the TV coverage and broadcast online.

I might give TMS a go. I fall asleep at night listening to podcasts of things I’m not very interested in. I find it soothing.

Well, like we said, they haven’t got the rights, so you’ll have to wait until summer. They are however going to… [checks announcement] “… give fans a chance to hear their favourite TMS broadcasters, like Aggers and Michael Vaughan, give their expert view on England’s tour of Sri Lanka and take part in discussions around all the big issues in the sport.”

Yeah, that sounds suitably uninteresting. That should do it.

Is Rory Burns going to have to give a presentation on industrial piping?

Leslie Claret talks piping (via Amazon)

Our favourite TV series that we’ve no idea whether you’d like and that you won’t see anyway because it’s on Amazon Prime is Patriot.

It’s about a somewhat blank-faced intelligence officer, John Tavner, who has to become a mid-level employee at a Midwestern industrial piping firm because they’re the only US firm that operates in both Luxembourg and Iran and he needs to be able to go to both Luxembourg and Iran.

Something like that anyway. It doesn’t really matter in this context. What matters is the job he has to do.

Tavner is a spy and he has been well-trained to do normal spy-type things. Unfortunately for him, his skills don’t exactly translate into holding down a job in an industrial piping firm.

His boss, Leslie Claret, wrote a book called The Structural Dynamics of Flow, which is basically The Piping Bible. When Claret coaches his staff ahead of important meetings with clients, he suggests that they advertise the fact that the firm’s, “bracketed caps and splay-flexed brace columns vent dampers to dampening hatch depths of one half-metre from the damper crown to the spurv plinth.”

In short, it’s not the kind of job where you can easily wing it.

We’ve been thinking about John Tavner quite a bit recently because of England’s upcoming tour of Sri Lanka. It’s this idea of someone fantastically skilled trying to do their job in an environment where those skills are all but irrelevant. You hope that the person comes up with answers to the problems they face, but you aren’t entirely sure what those answers will be.

The County Championship has always featured cloudy skies and green pitches, but in recent years the typical conditions faced by the nation’s first-class players have skewed even further towards that particular end of the spectrum.

A lot of games are played in April and May and September when the sun is lower, the weather cooler and the pitches damper. You could probably track this by charting how frequently the word ‘nibble’ has appeared in match reports.

There’s no need to do that though. All we need to do is dig out a quote.

When Ollie Pope was called into England’s squad this summer, this is what he said about the prospect of facing India’s spinners.

“I’ve faced a bit of [Liam] Dawson but other than that everyone has just been bowling seam on these green wickets.”

It was the hottest, driest summer many of us can remember, but not when they were playing the County Championship. When they were playing the County Championship everyone was just bowling seam on green wickets.

You’d have to say that this sort of competition probably doesn’t provide the absolute best preparation for playing in Sri Lanka. Batting in Sri Lanka is a different sort of job.

We’ve been thinking in particular about how Rory Burns will fare because Rory Burns is the one batsman who’s really been flying this year. Is Burns a really good batsman in the broadest sense or is he just the nation’s finest nibble-counterer? We don’t know.

You might point out that even though he’s an opener, Burns has of course faced spin bowling too over the course of the season. We’d counter than by saying that ‘a bit of Liam Dawson’ isn’t quite the same as Rangana Herath in Galle.

Reflecting on his call-up, Burns said: “I’ve never been to Sri Lanka before, so that’ll be something new and I’m looking forward to getting going.”

This whole situation is interesting to us because we don’t really know how things are going to go. Maybe Burns is really good at unarmed combat and not talking when he’s tortured, but less good at walking potential clients through the nitty-gritty of systemised non-filter diffusion.

Alternatively, maybe his success is built on something more fundamental; an innate ability to somehow find a way. Maybe he’s the kind of guy who could both retrieve 11 million euros from a Brazilian airport worker and also retain his place on the company travel team despite a whole series of workplace fiascos.

We’re very much looking forward to seeing this one play out.

12 memorable moments from England’s 2018 summer

This is a somewhat ironic headline because as a rule we don’t remember things. Our brain long ago adopted the after-midnight-at-a-popular-nightclub policy towards nuggets of information – one in, one out.

So consider this a note to our future self that you’re all invited to read in the present. It’s not exactly the highlights of the 2018 international summer. It’s more a bunch of striking moments that may or may not create a sort of join-the-dots effect where linking them together maybe allows you to draw a vague outline of the season as a whole.

They’re chronological.

1. England won the toss and got skittled

Ben Stokes (via Sky Sports)

Pakistan arrived, Pakistan bowled England out easily – and lo, the theme of the summer was set.

2. England lost to Scotland

Scotland beat England (via Sky Sports)

England turned up fairly late for a one-day international against Scotland, lost it and then basically said that they didn’t care because they were only treating it as glorified practice anyway. Trevor Bayliss was so moved by what he saw that he flattened out the pocket of his hoodie.

3. England took the Australia bowling attack apart as if it were a giant Lego penis and grandma was coming over

Alex Hales (via YouTube)

If you’re tired of Australians being on the receiving end of world record totals, you’re tired of life. England made a still barely-believable 481-6 in a 50-over match and it was bloody hilarious.

4. Kuldeep Yadav made England’s one-day batsmen look rather less good

Jason Roy (via ECB video)

“Oh my God, they have got to get this guy into the Test team,” said everybody (before later concluding the exact opposite once India had done precisely that).

5. MS Dhoni played an extraordinary innings of complete lack-of-intent

MS Dhoni (via Sky Sports video)

MS Dhoni seemed poised to explode at any minute… but he never did. It was marvellous. He basically trolled the entire cricket world via some batting.

6. Virat Kohli was clean-bowled by Adil Rashid

Virat Kohli (via BBC video)

It was actually nowhere near as good a ball as everyone made out, but Kohli’s reaction to it was unparalleled.

7. Virat Kohli ran out Joe Root

Joe Root getting run out (via Sky Sports)

Kohli seemed hell-bent on being dead centre of every single thing that happened when England and India finally got round to playing a Test match. After running out his opposite number, he mimed a mic drop to take the piss out of Root’s ‘bat drop’ at the end of the one-day series and then told him to fuck off.

8. The whole of that first Test

Virat Kohli out LBW (via Sky Sports)

It was bloody brilliant.

9. Virat Kohli edged Jimmy Anderson straight to Keaton Jennings

Jimmy Anderson celebrates a non-wicket (all images via BBC Sport video)

And Jennings quite miraculously failed to make any sort of contact with the ball whatsoever. This moment summed up the wonderful series-long Anderson v Kohli duel and also Keaton Jennings’ summer.

10. Keaton Jennings left one that would have hit middle halfway up

Jennings leave (all images via Sky Sports)

This also summed up Keaton Jennings’ summer. Poor Keaton Jennings.

11. Sam Curran’s face

Sam Curran (via Sky Sports)

Has anyone ever been more serious about anything ever than Sam Curran about everything always? He had a very successful summer and looked determined to ensure that would be the case throughout.

12. Adil Rashid bounced one off an invisible side wall to bowl KL Rahul

KL Rahul loses a bail (via BBC)

Rashid hitch-hiked his way through the Test series without anyone particularly noticing he was there, but then trotted in and dismissed two centurions just as everyone started to think they were maybe going to deliver a record run-chase in the final Test innings of the summer. The delivery that dismissed Rahul was everything the Kohli one pretended to be and wasn’t.

Two of those England Test selections are just about weird and surprising enough to talk about

Olly Stone bounces Luke Wright (via ECB)

England have named their Test squad for the tour of Sri Lanka. Rory Burns is in, Olly Stone is in, and – a mere 10 years after we tipped him – so too is Joe “No Pants” Denly.

The Burns selection isn’t really worth commenting on, so let’s concentrate on the other two.

Olly Stone

Ashley Giles went full Partridge when talking up Olly Stone this week. He said the fast bowler was injury-prone in much the same way that a Ferrari apparently is.

“With many bowlers – your BMWs or your Audis – you just get in and go but if you have someone who bowls at pace and has had his history of injury you have to treat them very carefully.”

The fragile fast bowler is an important role to fill in any team. Ideally, his fragility is such that he misses more games than he plays, so that when you’re losing you can say: “If only our 488 GTB hadn’t done his knee/fractured his scapula/ruptured his pancreas/lost both of his pelvises – we’d have won this by tea on the second day.”

Olly Stone appears to be very effective, so there are two ways England are likely to use him.

(1) They will use him as a drinks waiter while picking both James Anderson and Stuart Broad in the first XI on the grounds that if one of the two senior bowlers proves ineffective in Sri Lankan conditions, the other one will almost certainly be useless too.

(2) They will only ever pick him on the least helpful pitches and reward him for this by eventually forgetting all about him because he has a high bowling average. England’s attitude to fast bowlers and leg-spinners is that you only resort to them when absolutely necessary and at all other times it’s best to keep things 100% fast-medium.

Joe Denly

We’ve no real idea what this is all about. Denly’s batted in the top order in 2018 and not been completely humiliated. We suppose that’s enough at the minute.

It might not be entirely fair to judge Adil Rashid on his ability to unfailingly produce magic on demand

KL Rahul loses a bail (via BBC)

England got to have a go at partnership-breaking when the ball wasn’t doing a right lot today. Everyone had a go and everyone failed and then Joe Root finally gave Adil Rashid a bowl and he got both lads out.

That’s a very simplistic way to describe how things went, but it’s also good to keep in mind. Partnership-breaking when the ball isn’t doing a right lot is a very important aspect of cricket outside England. From time to time it’s actually more important than the ability to concede only 2.1 runs an over.

It’s also worth bearing in mind when you look at Adil Rashid’s Test record. For most of this series, he’s been given just five, six or seven overs an innings. Today he didn’t really get a proper spell until KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant had put on 200. Imagine being a seam bowler treated like that. Imagine what you’d average. The answer is ‘even more than Adil Rashid’.

Rashid generally gets to bowl when things are going badly for England; on flat pitches when batsmen are scoring fairly easily.

There are two ways this can pan out.

  1. He has zero impact and the two set batsmen continue to score runs
  2. He takes a magical wicket and totally reverses the momentum of the game

Even if Rashid were the best bowler in history, the first of those would be way more likely – yet when it understandably happens he is regarded as a failure because there are almost no other circumstances on which to judge him. Perceptions of his bowling seem… unfairly weighted.

Today, KL Rahul batted brilliantly, but he fell to a delivery that appeared to bounce off an invisible side wall. Rishabh Pant batted brilliantly, but he didn’t seem to pick the wrong ‘un and played the ball more up than along.

Adil Rashid turned his arm over and dismissed two centurions. A few overs later England took the new ball and he drifted off back into the outfield.

Let’s strap on Alastair Cook’s pads for a minute so that we can appreciate his streamlined thinking


After precisely one Test match, we’d seen all the shots (and non-shots) we were ever going to see from Alastair Cook.

You know them all, but let’s list them anyway. Maybe in 20 years time you’ll revisit this article having forgotten one of them.

  1. The leave
  2. The forward defensive
  3. The back foot defensive
  4. The clip off the legs
  5. The cut
  6. The pull/hook
  7. The drive (but only under very special circumstances)

This list goes some way towards explaining the relentless brilliance of Cook at his best. His was a brain uncluttered by options. Whereas an expansive batsman like Jos Buttler can at times seem paralysed by the avalanche of decisions he must make, Cook’s decisions pretty much made themselves. His was a method built for an autopilot.

Let’s grasp the videogame controller and play as Cook for a few minutes to see just how much he managed to streamline batting.

Full and wide of off stump. The leave.

Full and at the stumps. The forward defensive.

Full and anywhere around leg stump. The clip off the legs.

Short and wide. The cut.

Short and straight. The back foot defensive if it’s going to clip the bails, the pull if it’s slightly higher, the hook if it’s higher still, or you might duck if you feel it’s time to play it safe.

And honestly, that’s pretty much it. There were only two times Cook went beyond this. (1) When he had 150 and the ball was doing nothing, when he might treat himself to that punchy drive that was basically just a forward defensive with the brakes off. (2) When he tried to become a limited-overs cricketer and developed a very hideous slog to cow corner.

You can argue that this made him a predictable batsman, but there were plenty of times when what people predicted was a massive hundred.

Could India actually be better tourists?

Virat Kohli (CC licensed by James Cullen via Flickr)

Depends on your perspective really. They’re a competitive and exciting side who could quite easily be 3-1 up. Their batsmen are better than England’s, their four main bowlers have been brilliant – but they’ve lost the series. From our perspective this is pretty much tourist perfection.

We absolutely do not want to see close, exciting cricket where England lose. We want to see close, exciting cricket where England win and where we still get to moan about their batting and team selection and all that.

What an excellent series. India absolutely deserve to win the final Test.

Has anyone ever looked more serious than Sam Curran?

This was Sam Curran’s face midway through yesterday’s innings at the Rose Bowl.

Sam Curran (via Sky Sports)

Has anyone in the history of the world ever looked more serious than this?

We’re aware that sometimes people’s facial expressions don’t accurately reflect their state of mind, but this is no fleeting thing. This is what Sam Curran looks like 100 per cent of the time when he’s batting.

From the moment he came out to the moment he expressed frustration at himself for getting out via a weird rigid-armed scream, this was Sam Curran’s face.

It’s a face that says ‘this is the most serious task anyone has ever undertaken and I fully intend to treat it as such’.

It’s a face that’s heard of smiling, but can’t understand why anyone would ever be so flippant when there’s such serious work to do.

We don’t even need to list alternatives and give them scores for seriousness because Sam Curran’s batting face is literally as serious as a face can get. Sam Curran’s batting face defines the uppermost limit of the scale of facial seriousness.

No-one has ever looked more serious than Sam Curran.

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