Category: Extras (page 1 of 40)

A cricket bat in a Danish nouveau-punk duo’s video

Ged writes:

PowerSolo are a wild and crazy Danish nouveau-punk duo. They mostly tour around Europe, not the UK. My old friend Pinball Geoff put me onto them recently – they are even more mad than his band, the Bikini Beach Band. Short story.

During the first twenty seconds of the video for Powersolo’s song, Frantic, one of the Danish duo is gratuitously roused from his slumbers with the use of a cricket bat. To add to the confusion, Clint Eastwood sort-of introduces the video. It’s all a bit cog-dis, especially the cricket bat bit.

Send your pictures of cricket bats and other cricket stuff in unusual places to king@kingcricket.co.uk


A spider being conspicuously indifferent to cricket

Ged writes:

This plucky fellow was observed in the Lower Compton Stand at Lord’s, very close to the historic concrete step where King Cricket demonstrated his “Real World Skills” in 2016.

Perhaps this spider’s magnificent web is an arachnidian equivalent of a blue plaque, commemorating King Cricket’s astonishing feat…or merely the fact that King Cricket once sat there. A rotund specimen, this – a veritable arachnoid Dwayne Leverock. Take a closer look; magnificent.

If you’ve got a picture of an animal being conspicuously indifferent to cricket, send it to king@kingcricket.co.uk.


Tigger being conspicuously indifferent to Toby Roland-Jones

Mike writes:

Try as I might, I was unable to get Tigger to show the slightest interest in To-Ro-Jo’s debut destruction of the Saffer top order – in fact she positioned herself as far away as possible from the action, atop a throne of recently used but as-yet-unputaway guest bedding.

She may have realised it’s only the highlights, or perhaps it’s because, as a Scottish cat, she considers cricket a sport for southern faeries. Perhaps she’ll spring to life should we catch a glimpse of Vermin Philander or Catgiso Rabada…

If you’ve got a picture of an animal being conspicously indifferent to cricket, send it to king@kingcricket.co.uk.


Half a dozen cricket balls in an unusual place

This is how you do home décor people.

Marking the other strand of our other writing life, our bike is also in the kitchen. In contrast to the cricket balls, its decorative worth is still the matter of some debate.

Send your pictures of cricket bats and other cricket stuff in unusual places to king@kingcricket.co.uk


Books to read at the cricket? Iphigenia Among The Taurians by Euripides

Ged writes:

Plays are generally quite good for reading during a day of county cricket. It doesn’t take all that long to read a play. In my case, this means I get to see cricket, read a play, do some general reading (e.g. from The Economist and/or The Week) and have time to do some socialising too.

In the spring of 2006, I was contemplating trying to write a second play before really having a go at amending my first one. Seeking ideas for underlying plot structure and devices, my mind turned to Greek drama, which I hadn’t really looked at since school. I bought a clutch of cheap paperback collections, one of which was Bacchae and Other Plays (Oxford World’s Classics), a collection of Euripides’s dramas including Iphigenia among the Taurians – click here for Wikipedia entry (which contains spoilers).

On 8 June 2006 I ventured to Southgate, to see Day Two of Middlesex v Yorkshire – click here for Cricinfo card (which contains spoilers) with Iphegenia in my hand (so to speak). I read the book’s introduction during the morning session. This was harder reading than the play itself, but I knew I needed to get my head back into Greek drama generally and Euripides in particular to stand any chance with reading the play.

After lunch, I found a quiet spot on the far side of the ground. After a short while, Michael Vaughan (who was then England captain, rehabilitating after injury) came to field right in front of me.

“What are you reading?” asked Vaughan.

“Greek drama,” I replied, showing him the cover of my book. “Euripides.”

“Greek drama! Is reading that more interesting to you than watching County Championship cricket?” asked Vaughan.

“I have learnt to do both at the same time,” I replied. “Hardly ever miss a ball if it’s pace bowling. Harder with the spinners.”

Michael Vaughan made one of his “I’m not convinced” grunts and then wished me well.

In truth, Iphegenia was hard work while watching cricket. It is basically an escape play, but the plot hinges on siblings Orestes and Iphegenia failing to recognise one another until a vital “big reveal” watershed moment. Lots of room for dramatic irony in that device but you need to suspend a heck of a lot of belief throughout the play.

In summary, Iphigenia among the Taurians is:

  • Good for getting your head back into Greek drama
  • Not really useful material for a modern play
  • Good for attracting the attention of the England cricket captain (in my experience)
  • Otherwise not really suitable as cricket match reading

Have you tried to read summat while at a cricket match? Let us know how it went at king@kingcricket.co.uk


Cricket beer carrying goes up a notch – The Device gets supersized

Remember The Device?

The Device was created about 20 years ago by Special Correspondent Dad so that he could sidestep the flimsy and unreliable cardboard beer carriers that were handed out at Old Trafford at that time.

Pint-carrying technology has only advanced in two-steps-forward-one-step-back fashion since then so The Device remains the envy of all Test match patrons who behold it.

This week Mike got in touch with us having sighted this beast at Edgbaston.

“Look at this!” he said, understandably and justifiably deploying an exclamation mark. “It’s like The Device squared. If 16/6 was a square. What an effort. Even though it’s only 3/4 full the proponent still complained of the weight.”

We asked Mike for the full story.

Mike said: “This is a random dude I encountered on Saturday and whom I now worship as a God.”

We also showed this to Special Correspondent Dad, who saw fit to question how many of the glasses contained beer.

Update: Special Correspondent Dad later added: “The support of your subjects for The Device is very much appreciated. Obviously people with taste. Besides the prototype, which we use at Test matches, there are a further two collecting dust and cobwebs hanging up in the garage.”

He also had another observation to make about the one pictured above. He said: “At the risk of being churlish about a magnificent structure, the holes are rather too small. The beer pots stand too high on this device making the load a little unstable.”


Cricinfo’s new home page looks really amateur

Cricinfo have redesigned their website so that it looks like one of those ones that scrapes your content and republishes it in breach of copyright. The home page in particular looks like some sort of template from GoDaddy.com.

The home page was dreadful before, in all honesty, but in an entirely different way. Previously it was weighed down by randomly placed subsections, each of which was overfilled. The new one is at least a little bit lighter – although it still feels a bit like someone’s said ‘is there some way we can make absolutely everything really prominent’.

Viewed on a desktop, scorecards are too wide.

The explanation for the change is that they’re putting ‘mobile first’. Apparently no-one’s told Cricinfo that you can have completely different designs for mobiles and PCs through the magic of stylesheets. Even we do that and we’re so bad at this kind of thing that we haven’t even removed the empty menu dropdown on our mobile site.

The new Cricinfo is at least usable on a mobile now. The old version was unusable, so this redesign probably emerges in credit.


Cricket Captain 2017 – PC review

Cricket Captain – formerly International Cricket Captain – has been updated pretty much annually ever since it first came out in 1998. It’s always been a must for fans and also for administrators. However, we haven’t actually reviewed it in ages, so we thought we’d better address that.

Let’s deal with the obvious question first.

Can you pick Kevin Pietersen as England’s spin bowler and bat him at nine in a Test match?

Of course you can! He didn’t complain or anything. We took this as definitive proof that they could have kept him around after all and it wouldn’t have been a problem. Maybe he wanted to bat at nine and bowl more all along. Maybe that’s what they should have done.

That said, we were slightly taken aback when KP took 5-98 in his first match back in the side. We were far happier with his feisty lower order 41 off 37 balls, which was exactly the kind of thing we were looking for when we selected him.

Can you restrict the game to just Test matches?

Yes! It may not sound much, but this is perhaps the single most important tweak we can remember in the history of the game. In early versions we’d spend hours honing our Test side only to effectively sabotage its chances by half-arseing all the one-dayers. Playing meaningless one-day series was boring, but if you skipped them all your best players lost form.

You can also choose to focus wholly on one-day cricket, T20 or any combination of the three formats. This holds true at both domestic and international levels.

Are the graphics any good?

Do you care? Do you honestly care? This is a strategy game. It’s built on numbers, tables and graphs.

The graphics are fine, albeit far less amusing than those seen in Ashes Cricket 2013 with its ominously waddling umpire and his spectacular effect on fielders.

The menus are clear enough; the main highlights are maybe a bit dated looking, but perfectly serviceable; and Hawkeye is pretty much the same as on TV (although you can’t review decisions, unless we’ve missed something).

Are the numbers, tables and graphs any good?

Yes. Even those who are unconvinced by the worth of beehives, Manhattans and pitch maps in TV coverage will see their value here. They give you a means of deciphering what is and isn’t working in your attempts to bowl out the opposition.

Consult the graphics and you can quickly and easily see where the batsmen are scoring runs and where chances have been created.

Probably worth bowling a bit straighter at Imad Wasim.

Can you play the 1998 series between England and South Africa?

Yes.

Donald v Atherton; Dominic Cork deliberately being an arsehole to Brian McMillan to get him out; Darren Gough suffering from the wild shits; and good old Angus Fraser.

We’re not saying the game simulates all of these things, but you can play the series and fill in the gaps using your imagination.

Any flaws?

We’ve spent long hours playing this game over the years, so there’s an element of nit-pickery about this, but we’ve always thought that it was slightly caught between two stools.

There’s the strategy game, where you pick players, train them and combine them to make your team; and then there’s the tactical game, where you set your field, decide where to bowl and make your bowling changes.

The two are obviously linked, but there are times when the tactical side can feel like time-consuming micromanagement that’s keeping you from discovering whether your long-term masterplan will come to fruition. Sadly, autoplaying matches is still greatly counterproductive, so it isn’t really an option.

Does it feel realistic?

This is often a stumbling block for cricket games. When you’re forever being bowled out for under 100 or you can’t help but rack up 500-plus every time you bat, gameplay suffers, regardless of whether the opposition is making similar scores.

We haven’t done a full 20-season test run-through, but from what we’ve seen so far, the game performs well in this department. Batsmen approach Twenty20 with the correct boundary-hitting intent and Test totals have taken in everything from whopping declaration totals to fourth innings skittlery on a deteriorating pitch.

Worth the investment?

It’s available via Steam for £18 at the minute, which isn’t too sizeable an outlay in this day and age. If you haven’t played it before, it’s definitely worth a go. If you have, you may find the latest version resolves a few of the irritations from some of the older instalments.

We’ve found T20s particularly good because you can come up with a system and the games are of manageable enough size that you can watch more of the highlights and get a bit more of a feel for how things are panning out.

There are mobile editions too, although we haven’t played those. Let us know if you have and what they’re like in the comments section.


Sky Sports Cricket is going to be cheaper and you won’t have to subscribe

We were bemoaning the out-of-date way in which broadcasters sell sport to consumers a month or so ago. We said it was too expensive and you had to sign up to too much that you didn’t want.

Maybe they listened.

Sky Sports has announced a series of changes which will (eventually) address all of these concerns. They didn’t announce a new deal that would see the company break away from Rupert Murdoch, unfortunately – but time will take care of that eventually. You can’t persuade time to call off its assault, Rupert. You can’t scare away the Grim Reaper with a load of bullshit headlines.

The Guardian reports that Sky Sports is going to do away with its policy of peppering cricket across multiple channels and is instead going to stick it all on Sky Cricket. You will then be able to subscribe to that channel alone at reduced cost, as you won’t also be signing up to a whole bunch of football you couldn’t give a toss about.

But that hasn’t been the only issue. TV sport subscriptions are merely the tip of an investment iceberg which also requires you to get a base TV package and probably your phone and broadband from the same provider. It looks like this too could change.

When we wrote about using Kodi to stream live cricket, we pointed out that the fragmented marketplace meant there were no guarantees that the TV channel you subscribe to would even be showing all of the matches you’re interested in. If the broadcasters can’t afford to provide everything you want, chances are you don’t want to commit to paying them for a year when they’re only doing half a job.

This is where Now TV comes in.

Now TV is a pay-as-you-go subscription-free TV service. At present, this flexibility means it is a pay-through-the-nose-as-you-go TV service where one day of Sky Sports will cost you eight quid, a week will cost you £11 and a month will cost you £34.

But again, you’re paying for six channels you aren’t even watching and so the changes to Sky Sports subscriptions should drip down to the cost of this service as well.

This is good news. You may however be concerned that much of this is irrelevant as BT Sport is buying up more and more cricket. Well, rest assured that anything Sky Sports does, BT Sport will also do, only slightly later. We fully expect their own subscription-free TV service to materialise before too long.

Immediately before this winter’s Ashes series would a very good time to launch.


Henry ‘Blowers’ Blofeld to retire from TMS

Henry Blofeld (CC licensed by ramograph via Flickr)

Henry Blofeld, the long-serving Test Match Special commentator with the extraordinary accent and a strong proclivity for getting players’ names wrong, is calling it a day at the end of the season. It’s safe to say we’ve always had mixed feelings about the man.

If we were to try and sum up those feelings, we’d say that we like the idea of there being a commentator who works in a similar way to Blowers – we’d just maybe prefer it if that person wasn’t Blowers himself.

“A lot of our audience are people doing housework wanting a comfortable voice,” he said, announcing his decision to stand down. “I talk about pigeons, seagulls, policemen and the girl in the red dress in the grandstand. It’s all that, I think, which attracts people along with the cricket.”

You may think that. But not everyone will entirely agree.

If you’re trying to follow a match, this kind of thing is not always endearing. Sometimes it’s just irritating and maybe even a bit embarrassing – but then at times Blowers becomes such a self parody that it actually becomes endearing again.

It’s a tricky one and no mistake.

The issue, as we see it, is this. Test cricket ebbs and flows and commentary must ebb and flow with it. There are definitely times for talking about irrelevant bollocks, but there are also times where you need to focus on the action.

Blofeld isn’t bad at conveying excitement and he certainly understands cricket. He does however seem to have been taking less and less of an interest in touring players and what they might have achieved outside of the English summer.

Maybe you think that’s unfair, but we can’t really recall him saying anything about a player that we didn’t already know. Getting people’s names wrong can also derail things when listeners are trying to follow a crucial passage of play.

That said, we’re not delighted about Blowers’ departure, as we perhaps would have been a few years back. There was a period when the narrow array of TMS accents made us embarrassed to listen to cricket in the back garden as it sounded like coverage of some niche upper-class pursuit.

Nowt wrong with a plummy accent, but there was a lack of diversity in the commentary box for a while there. As someone who is essentially a cricket evangelist, this frustrated us enormously as it reinforced a widely held perception of the game that we have always thought unfair.

TMS accents are less of an issue these days and it’s pleasing to see that the programme’s commitment to diversity belatedly extends to gender too. Maybe at some point soon they’ll feel there’s a significant gap and find themselves actively seeking out a rambling Old Etonian to put in the occasional shift.


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