Category: Extras (page 1 of 43)

On Cricket by Mike Brearley – book review

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Rating and reviewing the wrong-handed bowling of three Sky Sports commentators

Rob Key bowling left-handed (via Sky Sports)

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The good and bad points of the official song for the 2018 ICC Women’s World T20

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A review of Afghanistan career mode in Cricket Captain 2018

Back when we reviewed Cricket Captain 2018’s ‘All-Time Greats’ mode, we said we’d also do a thing on playing a career as Afghanistan. This is that thing.

For a more comprehensive look at the mechanics of Cricket Captain 2018, see our review of the 2017 game (it’s fundamentally the same).

So you can play a career as Afghanistan then?

You absolutely can. You can play as Ireland too – but honestly, who doesn’t want to play as Afghanistan?

The first time we tried this, we played all formats – Tests, one-day internationals and T20 internationals. Then we realised that Afghanistan mostly only got to play one-off Tests and we were spending a hell of a lot of time playing limited overs stuff that we didn’t really give a flying full toss about. At this point we started a new Test-only career and played it through until 2029, which seemed like plenty long enough to work out what was what.

One-off Tests sound annoying

Not really. It’s a game, so you don’t have to wait six months before your next fixture – you just roll straight into it. One-off Tests are actually pretty interesting because you tend to really concentrate on that one match and there’s also the chance of executing a mugging on a higher-ranked team.

After a couple of years, Afghanistan start playing two-Test series and this is probably a better number. You can’t really fluke a two-Test series, but you also don’t get bored and fed up in the way you absolutely would if you were getting hammered match after match by the same opposition. A Cricket Captain Test match doesn’t take five actual days, but it still takes a fair while.

So Afghanistan mostly just get hammered then?

Actually no. For one thing, they seem to end up playing Ireland or Zimbabwe (or both) most years and there’s a good chance you’ll win those matches. We also beat England 2-0 (in England) and South Africa 1-0; and drew 1-1 with New Zealand and Sri Lanka.

So it’s not like it’s impossible to experience success (unless you’re playing pissing Bangladesh – for some reason those guys hammered us every single time).

The downside of the scheduling is that even by 2029, we still hadn’t played South Africa, Sri Lanka or the West Indies away or India or New Zealand at home. This is a level of realism that could perhaps be tweaked for the better.

Tell us about your team

Afghanistan being Afghanistan, five of our top six in every match we played were rated as ‘very aggressive’ batsmen (that’s a step up from merely ‘aggressive’). Darwish Rasooli was our most successful, averaging 54.35 after 44 Tests.

If you’re questioning the realism, you have to remember that average has been (only slightly) bolstered by the volume of matches against Zimbabwe and the likes. (Although it’s worth noting that the real life Darwish Rasooli currently averages 82.53 in first-class cricket. He’s only 18. Maybe he’s one to watch?)

Quite a few of our other batsmen averaged over 40. (Specific shout out to Imran Imran for having the best name and also for hitting an unbeaten 271 against Australia in Brisbane.)

The bowling was obviously built around Rashid Khan, but there’s plenty of strategic fun to be had trying to muster a varied attack around him. One way or another, we fielded six bowling options. Decent Afghanistan quick bowlers are few and far between, so it was usually best to get a left-arm medium-pacer in there while lengthening the batting order with a good spinner who could bat rather than a fractionally better spinner who aspired to be Chris Martin.

Despite the image below, we never once picked this guy Najeeb Tarakai. (All the pics on this page were taken from the Cricket Captain 2018 site.)

Anything else to report?

In his final match before retirement, Cricketer of the Realm Mohammad Nabi made an unbeaten hundred in a successful nine-wickets-down fourth innings run-chase against Australia.

This is probably the best thing that has ever happened in any computer game. Love Nabi.

A review of Cricket Captain 2018’s ‘All-Time Greats’ mode

Cricket Captain 2018 is fundamentally the same game as last year. Here’s a review of Cricket Captain 2017 for a broad overview and what follows here is a (not particularly) quick look at All-Time Greats mode, which is one of the new features.

We’ll probably do a review thing about playing a career as Afghanistan further down the line as well.

What is All-Time Greats mode?

What do you think it is? It’s a gameplay mode where you can pick historical players.

You know, all these sorts of guys…

What follows is a true story

To test All-Time Greats mode, we played a series. We played exactly one series and we didn’t save and replay any parts of it and we aren’t lying about any of what follows either. [You’ll see why this statement is necessary shortly.]

An All-Time Greats series can be in any format and up to five matches. We played three Test matches because we thought it would be unfair to make our guys play five matches, what with most of them being quite old and several of them being dead.

We played as England and we played against India because England are playing India at the minute and we weren’t feeling very imaginative.

Step one was to pick our 18-man squad.

Can you pick Ian Austin?

Can you pick Ian Austin? You can pick Sep Kinneir. The Cricket Captain 2018 database isn’t going to let you down. Of course you can pick Ian Austin. You can also play him in the first Test ahead of WG Grace.

Our other major selectorial moves saw Rob Key edge out Graham Thorpe because we ran out of batting spots, while the trickiest decision was whether to go with Bob Willis or Syd Barnes. We went with Willis in the end because we felt our attack needed a bit of pace.

There are two options for selecting the opposition squad: you can either pick it yourself or you can not pick it yourself. We didn’t feel it was in the Spirit of Cricket to be picking the opposition’s squad for them, so we left them to do it themselves.

When we started the match, we were greatly surprised to see that India’s idea of an All-Time Great squad is the exact squad they have right now. They stuck KL Rahul behind the stumps and picked seven specialist batsmen, two spinners and two quicks.

The first Test

Having won the toss and batted, Marcus Trescothick made a bombastic 144. Despite that strong start, there was every chance of a disappointing score until a counter-attacking lower order partnership between Matt Prior (93) and Willis (41). The England All-Time Greats ended up with 431.

Beefy made a duck.

The very first ball of India’s innings was wholly believable with Shikhar Dhawan caught at slip off Jimmy Anderson. The team continued to make great early inroads but then Graeme Swann was totally unthreatening and a large partnership built between Ajinkya Rahane and R Ashwin.

Obviously we gave Rob Key an over. Much less obviously, he dismissed Ashwin. It was at that point that we resolved never to bowl Key again as there was no way it was going to get any better than that in the field.

It got better with the bat though. As we pushed for a second innings declaration, Key notched a fine 200-ball half century. This then turned into a 300-ball unbeaten hundred.

Alas, there wasn’t enough time to bowl India out and England All-Time Greats had to settle for a draw. It was no-one’s fault.

The second Test

We were keen to get WG Grace into the side to give us an extra bowling option and this sadly meant that we had to drop David Gower. Ian Austin had been unable to bring his one-day form to the Test arena, so we dropped him for Syd Barnes, even though that meant lengthening the tail.

After again winning the toss, we chose to bat. Rob Key notched another 200-ball half century and then pressed on to make a breath-taking 109 off 386 balls.

With rain around, Beefy, Jimmy and Syd Barnes secured an 87-run lead, but England All-Time Greats were again running out of time. We set India 271 to win in two sessions and they finished on 153-5. We can’t remember who took the wickets, but we’re pretty sure it wasn’t Graeme Swann because he was still proving singularly ineffective.

Everyone blamed the weather for the match ending in a draw.

The third Test

Swann’s muted performances had left us seeking an additional spin option. While WG Grace had batted competently, his medium-pace offered nothing to a team already boasting Syd Barnes. We therefore dropped him for Wilfred Rhodes, who brought a slow left-arm option to the attack.

With 58 first-class hundreds to his name, we felt confident Rhodes could do a job at number three and his 4,204 first-class wickets suggested he wouldn’t be overawed if the pitch started to turn either.

For their part, India stuck with seven specialist batsmen but this time went with four seamers and no spinner. Interesting decision.

England All-Time Greats again batted first and an under pressure Alastair Cook showed admirable resilience to grind out a hundred. Key, by now in blistering form, raced to 50 off just 120 balls and then 103 off 282 balls before being dismissed. Even with India’s long batting line-up, 477 felt like a good score – particularly in light of the home team’s broad range of bowling options.

India started well enough, but it was hard to avoid the feeling that this was going to be England’s match when even Graeme Swann managed to take a wicket (Kohli). We then brought Wilfred Rhodes on for the first time in the 44th over. He took a wicket with his first ball. And his fourth. And his sixth.

Rhodes finished with 4-16 in the innings. Swann managed something like 3-400 in the series.

India then followed-on and Willis took 5-49 to secure victory by an innings and 69 runs.

England All-Time Greats took the series 1-0 and with no further playing obligations, the players made their way back to their respective homes/old people’s homes/graves.

Series (and game mode) review

If we can play an All-Time Greats series and Rob Key finishes with most runs (344 at an average of 86.00) and the lowest bowling average (4.00) then that to us seems like an excellent thing.

Five stars.

Cricket Captain 2018 is available now on PC, iOS, Android and Mac. For more information, see the Childish Things website.

Check out these magnificent beer-carrying cricket bat devices

Ged spotted these in the beer garden bar of The Milk House, Sissinghurst, Kent.

He wasn’t sure whether they qualified for our regular feature Cricket Bats In Unusual Places or whether they might give rise to a whole new feature based on The Device. (Somewhat surprisingly, this is actually the second time someone has contacted us about another version of The Device.)

Ged said: “The bartender, who I think might have been Henry, claimed that the bats/devices are not as useful as they look, because the bar serves beer in tall glasses that don’t really fit in those holes.”

It’s not the bats/devices that are the problem here, Possibly Henry – it’s your glasses.

Why would any establishment seek out and purchase glasses that failed to work in conjunction with these magnificent objects?

Send your pictures of cricket bats and other cricket stuff in unusual places to

This is how to watch Test cricket

Only once you’ve had an experience like this can you be considered a true Test match viewing veteran.

What follows is a true story.

“I think it’s brightening up.”


“Yeah, it is. It’s definitely getting brighter. Look over there, the sun’s trying to break through.”

[Time passes]

“I think it’s got worse again.”


“Let’s give it another hour though, I think it’s supposed to ease off.”

[More time passes]

“Well, they’ve done a pitch inspection. That’s promising. Apparently they’re due to make an announcement about when play’s due to restart.”



For more of this kind of thing, see here.

12 questions about that 2019 Cricket World Cup video where Freddie Flintoff sings and a bunch of people follow him

Having consulted the calendar and seen that it’s 2018, the ICC have released a promotional video for the 2019 World Cup.

It stars Freddie Flintoff (definitely Freddie and not Andrew or Andy in this instance) and you can find it on YouTube here.

We have a bunch of questions about it.

  1. Is this what Fred does now?

Flintoff also did a song for the football world cup and it was both incredible and bad.

Apparently that was just practice, which explains why this particular world cup music video is incredible and slightly less bad.

  1. How long would it take for the Daily News to fold?

Daily News (all images via YouTube)

The front page is weather, which is good, strong UK tabloid fodder. The back page is “CRICKET WORLD CUP IS COMING.”

This is (a) a woeful headline and (b) hardly a sudden and newsworthy development.

We’d suggest that the kind of newspaper that runs ‘cricket tournament that has been scheduled for years is shortly about to start’ as its main sports story is not one that is going to earn a huge and profitable readership.

The only way this makes sense as a back page headline is if there are about 15 different editions of the newspaper every single day – and if that’s the case, they’re going to go bust almost instantly.

  1. Who the hell are these needy tag-alongs and what the hell is going in their heads?

We’ve seen Andrew Flintoff several times in real life. We have never once felt an urge to follow him.

Now we like Fred very much, but if we saw him and he suddenly broke out into song, we would honestly be physically repelled by this. We would rapidly begin to move in the opposite direction without hesitation.

What can possibly be happening in these people’s lives that they instead think: “Well this is unbelievably weird. I know – why don’t we not just follow, but actively join in.”

The two on the right are definitely on their lunch breaks, in which case this free time should be incredibly valuable to them and surely not to be frittered away on ex-cricketer-following wild goose chases.

  1. What were these three guys doing before they joined in?

‘Just hanging around in town in my England clothes with my entirely normal hair.’

  1. Is Charlotte Edwards the greatest facial actor in history?

Look at Charlotte Edwards’ face here and try and tell us this face doesn’t somehow crystallise all of the many conflicting emotions you simultaneously feel while watching the video.

Either (a) Charlotte Edwards is the greatest actor in history or (b) they didn’t warn her and this is just her genuine, honest reaction.

  1. Why is there a police officer?

The opening gives the impression that this is one of those impromptu celebratory parades that often seem to occur in music videos and nowhere else.

If that’s the case, where did this guy come from?

What kind of impromptu celebratory parade has a police escort?

Maybe this isn’t an impromptu celebratory parade. Maybe we should stop thinking of it as one.

  1. What is the guy at Mani’s Greengrocers doing?

This guy.

At first we thought he was a customer and that was maybe his rucksack in front of him.

But then we noticed that he has bright blue hands.

Either he’s wearing a luridly coloured disposable latex glove, like they use at crime scenes or he’s bagged something up.

The second option seems more normal, but it looks more like a glove to us, in which case who is he? Does he work at Mani’s? Is he Mani? (He’s certainly not Mani from the Stone Roses.)

If he’s just a customer, why is he putting a glove on and where is he putting the fruit? If he’s an employee, what is he doing? Also, why doesn’t he so much as bat an eyelid at the demented torrent of people pouring past him.

Maybe this one isn’t all that important in the grand scheme of things, but it’s bugging us all the same.

  1. Who are these people and how did they know this parade would happen?

Did they have 4 and 6 signs lying around? Do they attend Tests annually but retain their signage from one year to the next? Did they see the parade coming on CCTV giving them time to dig out the signs and display them at the appropriate moment?

We’re pretty sure the guy’s not a proper cricket fan because a proper cricket fan would always wave the 6 as a 9. (We’ve no idea why this is the case, but we’ve seen it happen enough times to know that this is 100 per cent true.)

  1. Is this one of the Currans?

Kind of looks like one.

Maybe not one of the current ones, but we assume there are more Currans still to come.

  1. How long is this parade?

They start somewhere urban, they end at the Oval, but then at one point they’re here.

Is this one of those bits of London where they leave a field surrounded by big trees to try and trick you into thinking you’re not in London? (Nice try London, but we can still hear you.)

It’s also worth noting that going off the background, Charlotte Edwards’ bench is in this area but then when Fred acknowledges her, he’s back in suburbia (or possibly urbia (why does no-one say ‘urbia’?)).

This is a very slow response time. Fred’s reactions have deteriorated markedly since he was a professional cricketer.

  1. In terms of famous cricketers, does the video mostly just feature people who happened to be in and around the Oval on the day that they were filming?

Fred obviously got the train down especially, but other than that you kind of feel like they just roped in whoever stumbled past.

Other than Edwards, we get Phil Tufnell (obviously) and Kumar Sangakkara (less obviously, but also totally obviously if we subscribe to the ‘in-and-around-the-Oval’ theory).

Greg James is there too. A Venn diagram pretty much demanded his presence because this is both music and cricket.

  1. Where do you go after this last bit?

The problem with climactic moments like this is that everyone has to do something immediately afterwards and you’ve honestly got no room for manoeuvre. It’s all downhill from here.

We’re guessing that everyone looked around awkwardly; no-one really spoke; a bunch of people checked their watches and hurried back to work; and the Saint George’s Cross person got the Tube home, leaving little deposits of tinsel and ticker tape here there and everywhere.

Fred’s probably still there, pratting about with the beach ball or something.

The Lord’s Throdkin dispute

You may or may not remember the Lord’s Throdkin. If you do, you will be very excited to hear that there has been a development…

Ged writes:

Lancastrian nephew-in-law Escamillo Escapillo is partial to my Lord’s Throdkin cookies.  I was to spend the first of three days at Lord’s watching the West Indies test with Escamillo, so it seemed an ideal week to bake a batch.

I decided to vary the original recipe a little this time around, using an extra 30% of every ingredient except the sweet ones, plus the use of two eggs rather than one.

The reduced sweetness proved non-controversial, but the extra egg meant that the new version didn’t spread and flatten, resulting in a more dough-ball type cookie than the original biscuit-type cookie (depicted).

Escamillo voted the new version better; more true to the gloopiness of real throdkin. I agreed, but Daisy was adamant that the more biscuit-like texture of the original recipe is more appealing.

I wrote to Iain Spellright, summarising the dispute and concluding, “…you are the only person in the world who is not a member of our family and yet has tasted both varieties of my throdkin cookies.  No pressure, but could you please provide some independent judgement on this vital matter for us?”

Iain wrote back: “I am with Daisy on this…my impression is that last year’s version had more ‘bite’ to them. The taste of the bacon seemed more startling in what the mind said was a biscuit. The ‘porridge’ version seemed less compelling to me…”

When I related the result to Escamillo at the Middlesex v Lancashire match, he merely said: “Southerner, Iain Spellright, isn’t he? You need to get Big Al DeLarge to try the new throdkin cookies and provide an expert opinion on the subject. He’s Lancastrian and cheffy.”

I pointed out that Big Al has now gone ever such a long way south (Sydney) and is bound to have gone soft in transit. Further, I suggested that the throdkin cookies might also denature on the journey to Australia if I were to send samples to Al.

Escamillo and I then debated whether the changing character of the cookies in long-distance transit would make the experiment Schrodinger’s cat-like or not, proving that grown men can talk pseudo-intellectual bollocks at cricket matches hours before they even think of having a drink.

Strangely, Escamillo didn’t suggest employing King Cricket himself as the ultimate arbiter of this throdkin dispute, but perhaps that will be the only way.

Sorry about this but we’re going to report the latest rumours about The Hundred

T20 Blast Finals Day (ECB)

That joke isn’t funny any more. You know the one. The one where you make up an outlandish format detail about The Hundred in an effort to satirise the ECB.

The problem is that while The Hundred seems like rich source material, it really isn’t. The joke suggestions are too close to home to actually be amusing. The ECB sees your ridiculous idea and raises you a ludicrous one.

The latest – since denied – was that teams would be able to field 12 players or 15 players or something. Can we propose that they make it 100-a-side so that they can keep the name but go back to normal overs?

You see? They’re not funny are they?

We honestly, honestly, honestly believe that the ECB is deliberately spreading disinformation, calibrating our expectations so that when they eventually deliver something semi-normal, there’ll be much less resistance to it. Perhaps even mild rejoicing.

A quick bit of housekeeping

Two other things to mention.

(1) British riders are currently first and second in the Tour de France. If you’ve any interest at all in following the final week of the race and want to catch up, we’ve done recaps of each of the first two weeks over on our cycling site. The week two recap’s here and you’ll find links to other relevant stuff within the article. You can also sign up to get that site’s long but very occasional articles sent to your inbox. Sign-up page here.

(2) There’s an email for this site too. It used to be near-daily, but it probably only goes out three or four times a week these days. You can sign up for that here. We’re also on Twitter (which we do actually use) and Facebook (which is basically just links to the articles).

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