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Two hat tricks in one match – has Mitchell Starc peaked too soon?

Sometimes you can’t be bothered sourcing an actual photo and just use something from the archives

We can’t remember the last time we used the phrase ‘peaked too soon’ to refer to anything other than someone we went to school with who hasn’t aged well.

Mitchell Starc took two hat tricks for New South Wales against Western Australia. In the words of Osman Samiuddin, he did an Amin Lakhani.

One hat trick is a lot of hat tricks, so two is a glut. Too soon. Starc will almost certainly be overbowled or injured come The Magellan Ashes (movement rate of all ships is increased by two).

A counterpoint to this is that maybe this run of hat tricks doesn’t quite constitute a peak. Even allowing for their obvious weaknesses, England will hope to put out better batsmen than Jason Behrendorff, David Moody and Simon Mackin in the first Test. Only at the climax of his second hat trick did Starc dismiss an actual batsman – Jono Wells.

Even so, it’s hard to see that any bowler’s got much room for improvement above twin hat tricks, so The Magellan Ashes (movement rate of all ships is increased by two) is basically England’s already.

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All England’s rubbish batsmen make runs while their good ones don’t

Alastair Cook shows Western Australia how it’s done

A lesson here in the allocation of runs, surely. In England’s opening match against a Western Australia XI, Joe Root wisely restricted himself to nine, while that master of Australian conditions, Alastair Cook, hung around for all of two balls. Everyone else frittered away runs, meaning they are no longer “due”.

Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Dawid Malan and Gary Ballance all made fifties. Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes surged into double figures and remain undefeated with ne’er a thought for the Tests to come.

At least Moeen Ali has saved some runs through injury. At least we can cling to that.

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Hit the Ground Running Watch

England hit the ground walking (via ECB)

If we’ve learned anything about Ashes series, it’s how vital it is that the touring team hits the ground running.

We know this because everyone says it all of the time and has done for years. It’s said so often that we don’t need to check whether the importance of doing so is genuine because it surely must be. That oh-so-crucial commodity of ‘momentum’ must be present at the very outset. It cannot be built.

Oddly, it is the nature of Ashes tours that England will not be hitting the ground in just the one moment but instead for an extended period. They will be hitting the ground from the moment their plane landed until the end of the first Test. This gives us a nice protracted spell in which to gauge whether or not they are running as they do so.

The good news early on is that Steven Finn has knackered his knee and we can exclusively reveal that the injury was sustained as a result of his attempts to instantly break into a run upon hitting the ground.

The early signs are that England have got this one in the bag.

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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?

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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 Johnmichaelkirby@gmail.com

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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