Sunday, October 29, 2006

Mine of Information

Want to know who top scored in the Northamptonshire vs Worcestershire Second XI match in June 1968?

No, me neither actually! But if you're looking for a central resource for effectively EVERY first class cricket match ever played, plus loads of one day games and second tier stuff, here's your resource.

I'd freely toss around the expression 'sad anorak' if only I hadn't just spent two hours perusing the site!

PS - It was David Steele. Funnily enough, looking at that scorecard made me wonder about the atmosphere in the Northants changing room during that game. Steele, you'll recall, is a very down to earth Geordie - the 'PG Lee' in that line up later moved to Lancashire, and had a reputation for being rather 'outspoken' - so any guesses how they go on with 'The Earl of Cottenham' who batted number nine and opened the bowling for that team?!

"Shine! You crazy, or a diamond?"

Apparently we're worrying unnecessarily about Harmy...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Sound of One Hand Typing

Some random thoughts and comments to fill the time whilst I'm off work for a fortnight. A week ago I had surgery to repair some frayed tendons and a 'slap tear' in my shoulder. The arm's in a sling, which means that this post is taking an age to type - and spell-check will be crucial before publication!

  • The hospital physiotherapist was a big cricket fan. We had a long chat about causes of shoulder problems. He stressed the importance of fundamentals like a smooth action, and a good follow through to absorb some of the energy that has been created by the process of delivering the ball at speed. I've never really worried about the length of folow-through before, but from now on I'll be finishing in the batsman's popping crease.
  • Just the act of watching Malinga bowl is enough to make me wince with pain.
  • We're less than a month away from the start of the first test at the Gabba. Of our first choice bowling attack, one has a defective radar, one is only playing as a batsman, and another isn't playing at all - yet is quite happy to be quoted in the press saying he's 'confident he'll be ok if selected'. All together now "Are we happy...?"
  • Direct quote from Ian Bishop commentating on the England/Australia game last Saturday. "Australia are scoring at 4.76 per over, and need to score at 2.12 per over to win from here." Factually correct, yes, but he was reading that off of the screen! We're quite capable of doing that ourselves Ian - what you're being paid for is to provide some analysis and 'commentary' - not simply say what we can see with our own eyes. Lazy... and pathetic.
  • After that, I was starting to think that maybe I've been a bit harsh on Bob Willis over the past few months. But then, about half an hour ago, he came out with this beauty. "Spectators like to see lots of 4s and 6s - do you think there's a future for the 50 over game in its current format?"
  • Funnily enough, the other TRSM favourite, Paul Allott, has been pretty inoffensive over the past couple of weeks - maybe he lurks here!
  • Loved the comment by the Victoria State Cricket Administrator after the NSW authorities announced that they were going to set up a 'text hotline' for spectators at the SCG Test to complain about English 'hooligans'... "We'll get 30,000 texts at the MCG from Australians complaining that the English spectators have better songs!"
  • An idea to throw into the mix of the ball tampering row. Why not provide two new balls at the start of an innings - one to be used at each end? The umpire would hold the ball for his end whilst standing at square leg - so he'd have regular opportunity to inspect it. A fielding side could let one ball deteriorate quickly to enable a spinner, or reverse swing bowler, to use it whilst maintaining the shine on the other one. One new ball available at 80 overs, the other at 100 overs.
  • Prediction - Saj Mahmood will get more wickets in this winter's series than Glenn McGrath - but Mitchell Johnson will get more than both of them.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

'If There's a Smile on my Face....'

Three positives to take away from yesterday's debacle: -

New Kid on the Block - It was hugely impressive to see Saj Mahmood announce himself to the Australians - in no uncertain terms.

Within five minutes of arriving at the crease Saj was indulging in some 'verbals' with Glenn McGrath no less! Sadly the stump microphone didn't pick up all the subtle nuances of their erudite exchange but I got the impression that McGrath said something along the lines of 'you can't talk like that to me' and then had a whinge to the umpire! Better still, Steve Bucknor gave 'Grandad' Glenn a bit of a finger wagging, which is rather satisfying - a bit like shouting out ''Please sir, McGrath has got a sweet sir!" in class, and seeing poor old McGrath hauled out in front of the class to spit out said gobstoppper in the bin!

Things got even better after that, as our Asian Dub Sensation looked very comfortable with the bat, and then laid down a huge marker for the Ashes series by bowling Gilchrist with a beauty and persauding 'Rickeee' to give Strauss some catching practice in the slips.

The Aussies will be targeting him - early evidence suggests the Bolton Boy is well up for the challenge...

Jimmy Jimmy - Cards on the table time, I've never been Anderson's biggest fan - but yesterday he was (to me) a revelation. Accurate, hostile, moving the ball off the seam - and a big reduction in the number of 'four' balls served up. In short - very impressive.

Our bowling attack still has a few too many question marks for comfort (Will Freddie be fit, will Harmy find his radar, will Matty cope under clear blue skies...???) but yesterday demonstrated that there's some comforting depth in the 'quick' department.

For Whom the Bell Tolls - The Aussies last memory of Ian Bell would have been his sad pair at the Oval last year, although if you're going to notch up a couple of ducks I can't think of a better scenario to have them instantly forgotten! Since then, he's hardly put a foot wrong, and has almost developed a strut around the place as the runs (and confidence) have piled up - to the extent that over-confidence probably got him out.

We're going to miss Vaughan this winter - but on this showing, Bell can take up a lot of the slack the injured skipper's absence creates.

The 'Voice of Summer.'

Link here.

Eye of the Beholder

Here's a rather odd article by Kevin Mitchell in today's Observer following Englands somewhat 'below par' performance in Jaipur yesterday.

There was a lot that was praiseworthy about the Australian performance - the performances of Watson and Johnson with the ball for example, and Damian Martyn's sublime batting - but Glen McGrath's bowling must surely be quite a long way down the list.

Maybe I was watching a different game to the one he's writing about, because to my eyes McGrath's first spell bordered on dross - Bell and Strauss had determined to get after him from the word go and you could tell that 'big Glen' didn't like it - ending with the petulant throw at the stumps when Bell was half way through taking his gloves off at the end of the over.

His later spell was, I admit, a big step up - but by then England were very much on the back foot and any 'attack McGrath' gameplan had obvious gone out of the window in favour of panicky defense. His two wickets were Chris Read caught off his shirt (maybe he and Michael Yardy should try wearing Aussie Rules jerseys next time) and number eleven bat James Anderson - whoop-di-doo!

Of course, there's always the possibility that Mitchell is being a tad Machiavellian and is boosting McGrath in the eyes of the Aussie selectors to make sure he's picked for Brisbane!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Under the Lilac Tree

Captain Fantastic confirms he's going to play in a glorified beer match at the WACA.

Not sure if this is good news or not, but it's nice to see the Australians getting in a bit of a tizz about it.

The Importance of Planning Ahead

The Sydney Morning Herald gets its retaliation in first...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Jurassic Park

Richard Williams in the Guardian asks a question that a lot of us have been thinking about for some time.

I can offer two answers;

In the summer months they offer a sort of 'Care in the Community' service, where dribbly old octogenarian reactionaries can meet people of a like mind.

During the Lords Test they provide a useful line in lunchtime entertainment, rather like the Bedlam lunatic asylum used to. You can wander round behind the pavilion and marvel at the dress sense of the members. It seems that the very act of knotting the red and yellow (or 'blood and pus' and John Arlott memorably described it) tie round your neck reduces your colour awareness to nil. The trouser/jacket combos are extraordinary - plum trousers & green blazer, orange trousers with a pink jacket...

Outside sartorial ludicrousness however, the big problem with the MCC is Lords. Through an accident of history, the MCC has a stranglehold on several of the best acres of prime real estate land in the country, which happens to be filled at the current time by one of the most historical and evocative sports venues in the world. Aside from Fenway Park in Boston, I can't think of another venue that simply reeks of history and atmosphere, to the extent that the game itself becomes almost secondary to the confines within which it's played.

Paradoxically though, as I've mentioned elsewhere, the atmosphere - redolent of a colonial past, does more to motivate overseas visitors than it does the England team. You can almost see the 'Anzac' rush that goes through any Australian side entering the place - touring parties now make Gallipoli a compulsory stop on the way, but in all honesty they needn't bother - just park the team bus outside the Grace Gates, then wait five days, or - more often that not three, until England are one down in the series.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Worth their weight in gold.

Nice piece from Harrowdrive about underrated players in your club side.

My nomination would be the keen occasional player - limited skill, but worth their weight in gold for their enthusiasm and continual good humour, even when you're on the end of a pasting.

Cricketers of the World, Unite...

'Ok, so what is your manifesto?' Here at TRSM Towers, we're starting to have that question asked of us more often that David Cameron. 'Fotherington-Thomas' is just trying to turn a band of bigoted, reactionary xenophobes into a credible political party - obviously the future of cricket is far more important...

So we sat down with a bottle of Jack Daniels and a bag of ice, imagined that we ruled the cricket world, and came up with this statement of aims and objectives;

Directive 1 - First up, we're going to tamper with the Laws of the Game. From now on, a right handed batsman facing a left arm over bowler CAN be out LBW if he plays no shot to a ball pitching outside leg stump which, in the opinion of the umpire, would have gone on to hit the stumps. Before you ask - yes, I am biased!

Directive 2 - Anyone delaying play by moving behind the bowlers arm shall be ejected from the ground. Amazingly, in Test Matches, the culprit is normally a member of the groundstaff. In these cases, I feel summary dismissal is justifiable, although in our new regime, we'll obviously recognise trade union rights during subsequent negotiations.

Directive 3 - Starting in 2009, Lords will no longer be entitled to an Ashes Test. A winless run stretching back to 1934 is more than just bad luck or coincidence. To all intents and purposes, Lords has now become a neutral venue, and in this day and age where every edge is critical in an Ashes series, we really can't afford to give the Australians such an advantage. You can bet your bottom Euro that if there was a venue in Australia with a similar record of English success, it would have been razed to the ground years ago. Lets not be too spiteful about it - we're quite happy to let 'The Home of Cricket' have extra tests against Sri Lanka (MCC members will probably still recognise this as 'Ceylon') and Bangladesh (part of 'The East India Company') - and they'll still get more than their fair share of One Day Internationals, but from now on, the five Ashes Tests will be played at The Oval, Trent Bridge, Edgbaston, Headingley and Old Trafford.

Directive 4 - Speaking of venues, 25% of the tickets for the West Indies series next summer shall be available only to those with a West Indian passport. In addition, the rules restricting bells and whistles in the grounds shall be relaxed, and Red Stripe shall be the only alcoholic drink available.

Directive 5 - Wearing an MCC blazer in public shall now constitute a criminal offence. Culprits shall be put in sets of stocks lined up outside the Grace Gates, and pelted, appropriately enough, with Eggs and Tomatoes.

Directive 6 - Ok, time for a serious one. It's an absolute scandal that Cricket does not have a Hall of Fame, along the lines of the Baseball version in the USA. An ECB working party shall be put together with a brief to report back within six months with plans as to how they're going to open one here in England. Their first port of call should be Cooperstown in upstate New York to see how this sort of thing is done. I'll return to this subject in a future post.

Directive 7 - More serious stuff - We're going to introduce free entry for Under 18's to all County Championship and 40 over league games, during the school holidays - and during term time parties of six or more pupils get free entry if supervised by a teacher.

Directive 8 - And whilst we're feeling generous, we're also going to provide free Sky Sport subscriptions covering this winter's Ashes series to anyone who can prove ten years membership of a cricket club.

Directive 9 - We don't object to spectators at cricket matches chanting. To have been present at The Oval on 12th September 2005 to witness the 'You said you'd win five-nil' chants for Glen McGrath is something we'll tell our grandchilden about. However, there should be certain, sensible, restrictions. In short, these can be covered off under an 'originality' clause. Any chant that started life at a football ground is forbidden. (Memo to the Barmy Army - one dose of 'Jimmy' per session is plenty)

Directive 11 - Anyone purchasing a Test Match ticket must produce evidence that they possess a chin.

Directive 12 - From now on, every GCSE English Literature syllabus shall include at least one book written by John Arlott.

Directive 13 - Engish Literature A Level students shall have 'Beyond a Boundary' by CLR James as a set text. In fact, it would be an appropriate addition to a History reading list too.

Directive 14 - Bob Willis and Paul Allott shall commentate wired up to electrodes. If a sufficent number of people (lets say, oooh - ONE) object to their commentary style they can press a special 'bullshit detector' button on their TV remote control unit which will result in a bolt of electricity passing through the commentators whilst they are on air. Eventually, this Pavlovian style training will work, and they'll shut up - which was the intention all along.

Directive 15 - Anyone wearing pyjamas to play cricket shall also wear a pair of slippers and a 'Wee Willie Winkie' style hat.