Photos From Lords

Vijay taking evasive action from an Anderson bouncer

Vijay taking evasive action from an Anderson bouncer

Jadeja hooking...spot the ball?

Jadeja hooking…spot the ball?

Kumar's impenetrable defence

Kumar’s impenetrable defence

Sam Robson. Nothing to say about this shot other than my timing was shocking.

Sam Robson. Nothing to say about this shot other than my timing was shocking.

The man of the hour; Ishant Sharma

The man of the hour; Ishant Sharma

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A Trip To Lords

Tomorrow. It’s my birthday. Well done her – much better than the usual codswallop she gets me on these occasions.

Naturally this means I hope today gets completely rained out and the extra time is made up when I’m actually there. Weather forecast for this scenario looks promising.

Considering making a sign to take and get myself exposure on TV:

#FreeCook

#RootForSkip

#£20ticketLOL

#lashedasBallance

#hashtagwanker

Who am I kidding – like I’m even remotely bothered enough to make a sign. Also going to see Jeeves and Wooster in the theatre this eve. Not really my bag, but, I have it in my head they like cricket.

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Goodbye to Mike Selvey

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Yet Another Hypothetical Cricket XI

The Worst XI Where Every Player Has Made A Minimum Of Ten Test Centuries

> Ashwell Prince

>Mike Gatting

>Ijaz Ahmed

>Nasser Hussain (c)

>Ramnaresh Sarwan

>Nathan Astle

>Alec Stewart (wk)

>Thilan Samaraweera

>Ian Botham (new ball bowler)

>Paul Collingwood (new ball bowler)

>Carl Hooper (frontline spinner)

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Test Cricket – The Big Two – Huzzah!

Finally, the two biggest cricket playing nations in the world lock horns!

We’ll ignore the sizeable populations of Pakistan and Bangladesh. We’ll ignore the ICC rankings. We’ll ignore South Africa’s general dominance of both sides over the past five years. We’ll even ignore Australia.

After all, they might be 4th vs 5th in the world, and they might both be pretty dire; captained by two leaders impersonating Neville Chamberlain and Nero respectively, both sides lacking their All-Time-Great Number 4 batsman, together limping towards this contest with the false outward enthusiasm of someone who hasn’t trained for a marathon, racked by self doubt and wondering how it got to this.

Yet this is two of the self-proclaimed Big Three! This is the two biggest cricket playing nations in the entire universe – England and India! SO BUY TICKETS NOW – AVAILABLE AT EVERY VENUE, COURTESY OF THE ECB!

England whitewashed India just three years ago, by a total of two innings and 765 runs across just four Tests. It was a fairly wet summer, with rain interrupting all but the second Test, which was held at England’s (Anderson’s and Broad’s) favourite venue – Trent Bridge. England play better in the wet, apparently.

England also had a better team than India at the time, in terms of individuals. Both sides were better then, with a few exceptions, than they are now. India were number one! England overtook them!

England had the second best batsman in the world in Jonathan Trott (ICC rating 840 then, 628 now), the 5th best in Alastair Cook (783 then, 633 now), and three others in the world’s top 21 batsmen – Kevin Pietersen (722 then, 661 now), Ian Bell (720 then, 657 now), and Matt Prior (692 then, 583 now). Bell at 18 is England’s highest ranking batsman who contributes enough to an great dressing room atmosphere to actually get picked; Pietersen of course is 17th.

India on the other hand had three batsmen in the top ten then, in Sachin Tendulkar (832), VVS Laxman (771) and Virender Sehwag (759). Now they have just two – two more than England – Cheteshwar Pujara (216 then, 819 now) and Virat Kohli (784), whilst wicket keeper and captain MS Dhoni (553 then, 604 now) has also risen in the rankings.

The bowling fortunes of both sides are even more starkly contrasted. In 2011 James Anderson (800 then, 731 now) was ranked the second best bowler in the world after just Dale Steyn; today he is ranked 12th. England also had Graeme Swann (780) rated as the third best bowler in the world. Chris Tremlett (638 then, 465 now) and Stuart Broad (621 then, 719 now) were backed up by Steven Finn (564 then, 541 now), Monty Panesar (436 then, 424 now) Tim Bresnan (406 then, 502 now).

India too don’t fare too well with the bowlers either, although at least in Ravi Ashwin (744) they do at least have one player in the top ten of the rankings, with Pragyan Ojha (418 then, 726 now) sandwiched between Anderson and Broad in 13th. 2011 attack leader Zaheer Khan (735 then, 581 now) will be missed, as will the 2011 form of Ishant Sharma (665 then, 548 now).

But-but, sir, but sir, what does this mean?

Not a lot, like the rest of the ICC player rankings, the wrong’un opines: opponents in Test cricket change too slowly to match the individual fluctuations in form to make the player rankings mean very much. I didn’t bother to go too far down the list, if a player wasn’t in the top 30 either then or now then they were beyond my research botheredability; which is a grossly unfair way of ignoring the newer players like Ballance, Dhawan, Ali, etc.

If it means anything, and ok it might, it probably means that the cricket on display won’t be as of high a standard as it was in 2011. I fink we knew that anyway. Good luck flogging them tickets.

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A Spot Of Drizzle In Yorkshire

The scheduled T20 match for yesterday was one of the most anticipated of the season. A domestic game selling out a venue that the national side failed to do just two weeks before, an occasion that is one of the county circuit’s few money spinners.

Yorkshire vs Lancashire is a bit of a thing, ya see: It is the El Classico of cricket; two sporting institutions separated by more than simply geography. Two burly northern man-tribes sporting their different coloured roses, seemingly destined to be rival for ever more – it is basically He-Man vs Skeletor, with the Pennines replacing Snake Mountain. Only more fearsome, obviously.

So when rain came, didn’t refrain, and drenched Yorkshire’s domain, the punters complained. They probably would have complained anyway, as no-one likes a washout. However, what then rubbed salt into the wounds was the subsequent reading of the small print on the back of their golden tickets:

“NO MONETARY REFUND”.

Ouch.

This is something that hasn’t gone down well.

“Customers can exchange their Lancashire T20 ticket for any remaining games (NatWest T20 Blast, Royal London One Day Cup or one day’s play of an LV= County Championship match) at Headingley this year (excluding all quarter and semi-finals).”

Basically, in Fred’s words, you can swap your Golden Ticket for a ticket of lesser value for the other games that YCCC will be unable to sell out.

I can sympathise with Yorkshire CCC on this one. They are a club struggling to manage their debts, and as mentioned above, they didn’t get a great crowd for the recent Test match, after the national side’s alienation and subsequent non-”reconnection” of those “stakeholders” who are “outside cricket”. They need cash. They budgeted for cash from this fixture. They were given cash by 16,000 odd spectators. They don’t really want to lose that cash.

Of course, in the long term they are put in a very awkward position. Piss off a customer, and you might not see them again. Piss off a Yorkshireman, and you might not see them again AND they’ll whinge on social media. Seriously though, it’s not great practice to alienate your customers. Quite why the ECB and the Natwest T20 Blast competition don’t allow for rescheduling of abandoned matches, is beyond me.

Even the Football Association can do it:

“28.1 In the event of any League Match not being played owing to Football Association Cup Matches, weather or other causes over which neither Club has any control or being ordered to be replayed it shall be played on a date to be mutually arranged, but at the earliest reasonable opportunity. Both Clubs shall notify the Executive of such arrangements within seven days of the postponement being identified, for the approval of the Executive. Any League Match not so arranged shall have it’s date fixed by the Executive.”

So over to you, ECB. Are you telling me that Yorkshire and Lancashire wouldn’t be able to find 3 hours between now and August to catch up on this missed fixture, and simultaneously give 16000 people the opportunity to watch what they’d paid to watch? If matches were open to being rescheduled, Yorkshire in this instance would have been able to operate a more flexible refund policy, in the knowledge that most of the fans would do their best to get to the re-arranged fixture anyway. They wouldn’t lose out on the cash, they wouldn’t lose out on long term fans. ECB: sort it for next season.

(my MS Paint skills aren’t good enough to replace the words “Nathan” with “He-Man” in this image, unforch. Soz.)

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Bowlers Vs Batsmen

For those who can’t be bothered to play a video, James Anderson says, while basically in tears:

“We’ve tried our hearts out this series; all the bowlers bowled brilliantly. Man of the Series could have gone to any number of people.”

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The bit in bold struck me. Does he really believe that? I’m sure they tried hard, but the match was lost in the Sri Lankan second innings. Sure, England’s middle to lower order ought to have given us a greater first innings lead and failed to do so by collapsing poorly, but it was still a significant lead. When Anderson, Jordan and Broad bowled utter piss from one end, Cook failed to trust the man picked as “the spin option” from the other. Liam Plunkett did well, granted, but the bowling unit let the side down.

In the first Test, it was again England’s bowlers who failed to dismiss Sri Lanka on the final day, in spite of plenty of runs to play with. So in a two match series where no fewer than three English batsmen made their first Test centuries, and another made his first double, Anderson’s comments seemed really out of place.

The comments took me back to the tour of the UAE in early 2012 when England played Pakistan. Then, England’s new ball pair were excellent, and they and Graeme Swann kept England competitive in each Test whilst the batsmen collectively and abjectly failed throughout the tour. It was sort of mooted at the time on TMS that the bowlers were getting a trifle fed up of working so hard to pick up some really tough wickets on dead pitches whilst the batsmen failed to pick up Saeed Ajmal’s doosra every time he bowled it, and there was a clear division in the side, bowlers in one clique, batsmen in the other.

Of course, you assume that these rifts heal over, given a smattering of time and the change in personnel in both units. Anderson is apparently the official ‘attack leader’ so he might have simply thought there was some form of obligation to back ‘his’ men when interviewed. It is obvious to say it, but he was also in a bit of a fragile mindset during the interview, and to expect much deep analysis when someone is in that state could simply be asking too much.  When seeing a player so broken down, though, it was interesting to see where his immediate gut reaction lay…

 

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