Tag: Mop-up of the day (page 1 of 4)

Mop-up of the last couple of days – Angelo Mathews still has work to do

For a good long while you could accurately gauge Sri Lanka’s score by whether or not Angelo Mathews was walking out to bat or not. If he was, they were 22-3. If he wasn’t, it was some other score.

A couple of recent batting finds had encouraged the notion that Mathews would no longer be obliged to be his team’s Shivnarine Chanderpaul as well as serving as captain and doing a load of bowling. This optimism may be unfounded, for against South Africa it has been business as usual.

Mathews appears to be back to leading by example regardless of whether or not anyone shows the faintest interest in following. It is at least very thoughtful of the rest of the cricket world to limit his workload by refusing to schedule many matches against his team.

Down in Melbourne, Pakistan are still batting and no-one really knows what it means because it’s still the first innings. Whether theirs proves to be a good team score or not, Azhar Ali’s unhurried rise continues.


Mop-up of the day – Steve Smith is the best player in the world

England v Australia: 3rd Investec Ashes Test - Day One

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Okay, first up, our Twitter round-up. Yep, still doing it, so have a read. Nasser Hussain’s in it and there are two absolutely blinding selfies from opposite ends of the selfie-taking spectrum. We still can’t decide which of the two is our favourite.

Second on the order of business, Cricket Badger. A couple of weeks ago, we failed to gain subscribers compared to the previous week and that makes us livid, so either sign-up or tell someone else to. This will not stand.

Finally, Steve Smith scored a hundred today which means everyone forgets where we were yesterday and says that he’s clearly the best player in the world, just ahead of Virat Kohli and Joe Root, who are in turn ahead of Kane Williamson on the grounds that they played more recently.

What no-one seems to care about is that all of these players are batsmen and therefore dull as shit. Oh for a fast bowler to undermine everyone’s pointless lust for a hierarchy.


Mop-up of the day – Sweet, sour, bitter, savoury

A bitter-sweet mop-up of the day today, like someone’s spilt a honey-and-lemon sore throat remedy.

Actually, maybe that’s sweet and sour.

A sour-sweet mop-up of the day today.

Sour

James Anderson is out of England’s tour of Bangladesh and probably won’t be back until halfway through the India tour. No non-international fixtures are scheduled for that trip, so it’s not easy to see how the management will be able to convince themselves he’s fit to play a Test. Squinting at him and crossing your fingers isn’t really acceptable these days.

They’ll probably find a match for him somewhere or other, but a greater concern is the frequency with which he’s missing matches at the minute.

Anderson’s never been an injury-prone Mark Wood type (Wood will also miss the Bangladesh tour), he’s always been pretty resilient.

It’s quite obviously the beginning of the end, but hopefully, like in the Lord of the Rings, the end will go on for bloody ages.

Sweet

Nabi! Love Nabi.

Mohammad Nabi took 2-16 off ten after opening the bowling against Bangladesh and he then made 49 as Afghanistan bobbled to the win. England can probably learn from this ahead of their tour. The main thing they should learn is that Nabi’s ace, although they should really have known this already.

We feel like the cricketers we particularly like need to be branded in some way. It’s awkward to say ‘cricketer who we’ve written about a handful of times and hold in high regard’. We thought we might instead start referring to them as ‘Cricketers of the Realm’.

We could call them knights, but cricketers are better than knights.

Savoury

The latest Cricket Badger’s out on Friday morning. It’s got Shoaib Akhtar in it.

Sign up here: sportsbadger.com

You’re really missing out if you don’t. Honestly. Even from an unbiased point of view.


Mop-up of the day – syllables, spin, short-pitched bowling and size

First to Kandy, where the five minutes when it was both dry and bright enough to play cricket saw Sri Lanka set Australia 268 to win.

David Warner’s recently-discovered inability to make runs outside Australia persisted as he was bowled for one, and the tourists also lost Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja before Steve Smith whinged about how dark it was and they went off.

Burns was dismissed by what must surely qualify as ‘a ripper‘ from Lakshan Sandakan whose debut brings not just smashing wrist spin but also a great many initials. Paththamperuma Arachchige Don Lakshan Rangika Sandakan matches even Chaminda Vaas for number of names, but alas he must bow to the eternal master when it comes to syllables. Don’t mess with the big boys.

Speaking of which…

Marlon Samuels has been saying things. It’s always worth listening to Marlon, because he’s hilarious.

The West Indies lost the first Test against India by an innings and Marlon refuses to say that it’s because they have a young team.

“For me to say that is like finding excuses for the team. It’s a Test team, and Test cricket is big-man cricket, and the players should know that by now.”

Big-man cricket.

Neil Wagner took six wickets

New Zealand are currently 235-2 against Zimbabwe which we take as proof that it is not just difficult to take wickets on this pitch, but near-enough impossible.

Laughing uproariously in the face of near-enough impossibility, The Great Neil Wagner took 6-41.  Four of his wickets came off moderate-paced short balls.

Neil Wagner is the most effective moderate-paced short-pitched bowler in the world. This also makes him the most miraculous bowler in the world.

You need a miracle – you call for Neil Wagner.


Mop-up of the day – Hello and goodbye and are you leaving?

Buoyed by a first innings display in which he took six for a million, Neil Wagner persisted with his innovative attritional shock tactics in the second. He took 1-60.

It’s worth noting that Wagner produced this display despite a broken hand. More accurately, he produced this display despite a broken bowling hand.

Neil Wagner.

Hello

To the new top-ranked Test side, Australia. It was a hugely impressive performance from them in New Zealand. The only reason we didn’t write about it was because we didn’t want to because we were supporting New Zealand.

Goodbye

We’ve just noticed that we started an article about Brendon McCullum at some point recently and it’s saved as a draft. Rather than writing anything about him here and now, we’ll investigate what we’ve already written and maybe try and get something up tomorrow (if we get time).

Odds are the draft article’s just a heading and nothing beyond that, but we live in hope.

Goodbye?

Some classic Pakistan retirement talk from Shahid Afridi this week. Our man’s previously said that he’s retiring after the World T20, but now he’s admitting to being under pressure from friends and family to stick around a while longer.

His reasoning’s magnificent.

“I am saying there is a lot of pressure on me that I shouldn’t retire from T20; that I can play on – and as there is no real talent coming through in Pakistan whose place I am taking?”


Mop-up of the day – runs down south

After day-night Tests, the latest innovation in the ongoing Australia v New Zealand Test series has been additional opponents. Sri Lanka and the West Indies have been drafted in to keep things fresh, but they couldn’t tip the balance. Australia still had marginally the better day.

New Zealand would have felt confident of finishing the first day in the ascendancy after making 409-8. That is a lot of runs to make on any day of a Test match, let alone the first. However, Australia struck back with 438-3 and it’s hard to see how the Kiwis can haul things back from there.

AB de Villiers’ new hobby

Cricinfo reports that vehement letter-C denier, AB de Villiers, will ‘keep wickets’ for the first two Tests against England – although they do not specify how many. It is a little-known fact, but keeping and raising wickets is de Villiers’ new pastime. He says it helps him get away from the game and relax and he’s looking to become a professional breeder when he retires. De Villiers was of course a schoolboy wicket-breeding champion.

There are also rumours that as well as becoming a wicketskeeper, he might fill-in as wicketkeeper. This may seem a strange decision, but it could be a quota thing. Clearly, you always want at least one AB de Villiers in your side – that’s not the issue. It’s more that de Villiers’ selection as keeper may be a means of allowing other players to be picked.

It strikes us that Imran Tahir has been dropped and if Tahir is out, maybe someone else has to come in. Assuming the first-choice seam attack for the first two Tests will comprise Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Kyle Abbott, South Africa presumably need to bring in a batsman to ‘balance the side’.

Vernon Philander’s due to return for the third Test, incidentally.


Mop-up of the day – warm-ups, schmarm ups

Australia obliterated India, England battered the Windies and all for nought. World Cup pressure is not yet here and in fact probably won’t be here until the 18th of March when the quarter finals finally get underway.

Even so, these were striking results. England dismissed the Windies for 122 and then lost only one wicket in chasing that down. Australia made 371 with that wonderfully ludicrous man, Glenn Maxwell, making 122 off 57 balls.

Mohammad Hafeez is out of the World Cup

Told you he was worth watching. His departure gave rise to a great swathe of articles which can best be summed up as:

“Pakistan might replace Mohammad Hafeez with Saeed Ajmal now that the latter has been cleared to bowl again. Oh no, wait, they’ve replaced him with Nasir Jamshed. Well let’s do the Ajmal article anyway because it’s still possible that he might feature in the World Cup if someone else gets injured.”

This is poor journalism. The correct story to publish would of course be one entitled: “Pakistan’s toast is dry and the larder is empty. To the jam shed!

Steve Harmison is the new manager of Ashington FC

Weird, but good luck to him.

Ashington play in the Northern League Division One. To put that into universally-understandable terms, that’s two leagues below Witton Albion.


Mop-up of Christmas

It sounds like a sherry-related incident, but it’s really just a faintly festive version of our Mop-up of the Day not-quite-sure-what-to-write-about-today feature.

Boxing Day Eve Eve

The most important of the coming days is of course Boxing Day. Few people know that Boxing Day was actually named after the Boxing Day Test, which this year will be contested by Australia and India.

Scoreline-wise, it’s a typical India Test tour – they’re two-nil down after two – but it’s been rather better than that. They had a stab at chasing down 364 in the first Test and then by no means disgraced themselves in attempting to defend 128 in the second. They’ve got some batsmen; they’ve got some fast bowlers. What will Melbourne bring?

The main things it’ll bring are Ryan Harris and Mitchell Johnson. Harris is back from his latest bodily knackage, while Johnson is back from some sort of holiday to ineffectiveness. If he’s left anything behind, perhaps his travelling companion can post it back to him, for Peter Siddle appears to have emigrated there.

Joe Burns will also make his debut (for Australia, we should add, if you’re confused by the fact that he isn’t called Mitch Burns). We know next to nothing about him. He has one of those ‘shouldn’t he have played more first-class cricket by now’ records that Australians seem to specialise in (45 matches, seven hundreds).

It’s also worth noting that this Boxing Day marks the fourth anniversary of one of the greatest days of Test cricket there’s ever been. Let’s embrace mistiness of the eye and think about that for a bit…

The Magi

Earlier in the year, writing about the Windies’ one-day strategy, we said that a six-seven-eight of Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell and Darren Sammy gave them three shots at death-over carnage. Make that one shot. Pollard and Sammy have been dropped from the one-day side.

With Dwayne Bravo also omitted, the Windies are three all-rounders down. That’s quite a knock when your approach relies on having plenty of batsmen and a surfeit of bowling options.

Glistening Christmas spam

It’s traditional at this time of year for things to go steadily downhill, so it seems right to end on a sour note.

You may have had problems leaving comments on this site recently. After two weeks of investigation, our hosting company finally admitted that they were ‘rate-limiting’ WordPress comments in a bid to combat spam. It seems an oddly callous approach to consider genuine comments mere collateral damage, but we’re not a hosting company, so what do we know? Clearly, if they were in charge of English cricket at the start of the year, they would have sacked absolutely everybody to ensure they definitely got their man and who’s to say that would have worked out any worse?

Anyway, after much to-ing and fro-ing, we have managed to persuade them to rate-limit comments slightly less. This means that comments should at least always go through now, if slightly slower than before. Sorry about that.

In October, the site received over 180,000 spam comments and there have been over a million left this year. While some websites get plenty more, the volume has grown significantly and we do think it needs addressing. The hosting company suggested we add a captcha to the comments form, but we thought that would be annoying. We have therefore decided to close comments on all posts more than a couple of weeks old, considering this the lesser of two evils.

We’d estimate that 99 per cent of comments are left on recent posts, so the change shouldn’t have a big impact, whereas a captcha would be a constant pain in the arse. Closing comments on older pages has already had a big impact and we’d like to think we could get the rate-limiter completely removed – although we doubt we’ll be successful as they say it’s a new thing for everyone and not something targeted at us specifically.

On the plus side, various bits of back-end tidying (oo-er) have hopefully speeded the site up a bit. You probably haven’t noticed.

Is that it?

We doubt we’ll have anything to say tomorrow, so we’ll wish you a happy Festivus now.


Mop-up of the day – tails and knees

First up, tail-enders. They’re ace, but they’re a dying breed. Blame professionalism.

Now we love lower-order shenanigans as much as the next person, but the key word there is ‘shenanigans’. A textbook forward defensive stroke is not a shenanigan. These are shenanigans.

A tail-end innings should bring all the fun of the fair (actually more fun than that because fairs aren’t really considered unusually fun in this day and age). Sadly, what we typically get from nine, ten and jack nowadays is basically just mediocre Test batting.

If we’re watching cricket, we want it to be either really good or really bad – and preferably the latter. That middle ground holds little appeal. The modern tail-ender is neither good enough nor bad enough to be worth watching yet occupies a greater proportion of Test matches than ever before.

It’s a scandal. We wrote about happier times for All Out Cricket.

#juststopit

We’ve moaned about Michael Vaughan’s inexplicable obsession with the hashtag #justsaying before, but it seems we haven’t quite got it out of our system yet.

We’ve previously described the term as a beacon, warning you that the person who uses it really enjoys having arguments, is ready for one and will probably refer to it as ‘banter’. But it’s worse than that. There’s a smugness about it; an intimation that the person deploying it is a plain-speaking, calls-a-spade-a-spade type surrounded by fearful cowards.

We’re hoping that analysis of precisely why it infuriates us so much will somehow dissipate its impact, but the truth is our efforts are something akin to getting angry at a traffic jam. The rage builds so that you’re in a heightened emotional state where everything becomes annoying – which is of course a fine state to find yourself in when trying to pan for gold in the torrent of excrement that is cricketers on Twitter.

This week’s round-up features quite a lot of Michael Vaughan #justsaying things and a jaw-dropping effort from Chris Gayle which you’d hope would be tongue in cheek, but probably isn’t. Gayle’s Twitter bio has him down as ‘World Boss’. We honestly don’t know whether he’s joking with this stuff.

Strengthen those quads

You probably saw the news about Syd Lawrence last week. We missed it somehow. The man sadly most famous for his gruesome on-field knee explosion has apparently become a highly successful bodybuilder.

Oh, and Pakistan v New Zealand

New Zealand have impressed us, bouncing back impressively from the pannery that was the first Test. But Pakistan have impressed us too. They’ve not been disheartened when things haven’t gone their way.

We’ll not mention the score because it’ll probably be something completely different by the time you read this.


Mop-up of the day – heads and faces

Can New Zealand do what Australia couldn’t and give Pakistan a decent Test match? Brendon McCullum’s already made a major contribution to his team’s cause in the second Test by winning the toss.

We don’t actually know whether McCullum went for heads or tails or whether he just passively watched the coin arc through the air after Misbah-ul-Haq had called. Whatever he did, all those hours of coin-tossing practice have been entirely vindicated and New Zealand are currently 145-1. (Update: Now they’re 159-2 and that vindication is a little less apparent).

Perhaps concerned that their attack was becoming too experienced, Pakistan have dropped ‘Imran Khan 2: Not The Same Khan’ and given a second Test to Ehsan Adil.

Captain Face-Save

Shivnarine Chanderpaul is master of the forlorn rearguard. He can’t avert defeat, but by God he can postpone its arrival for a bit. Misbah-ul-Haq is another practitioner. For a while, he cornered the market on the captaincy version of this innings – particularly in one-day cricket.

There is no innings so depressing as the captain’s face-saving one-day knock. As the run-rate rises and the chances of victory recede, everyone still has to play out the overs, even though one team can’t win or play for a draw. What we are seeing is one man trying to lead, only being as pretty much everyone else is out, there isn’t really anyone to follow.

Angelo Mathews seems to be finding himself in this sort of position increasingly often. The one-day series against India probably isn’t representative in that Sri Lanka weren’t prepared and didn’t really field their full strength side. Nevertheless, in five matches Mathews delivered 92 not out after arriving with the score reading 64-3; 75 after arriving at 42-3; and 139 not out after arriving at 73-3. Sri Lanka lost all three matches and the other two in the series as well.

Sri Lanka have a way of getting themselves in order for big tournaments, so this might be a blip. But it might also be a window into a future without Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara.


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