Saturday, December 29, 2007

Seven Ball Over

- An excellent result in Port Elizabeth. I've said it here before, but it's well worth repeating - international cricket needs a successful West Indies side. Admittedly one swallow doesn't make a summer but there are hugely encouraging signs in this, unexpected, victory. Although they'll never win many fans for entertainment, South Africa are never a pushover - especially on their home turf.

- Has someone told Chris Gayle that they aren't playing 20/20 anymore?

- File this under 'They Shoot Horses Don't They?' - By the end of the third test, South Africa and West Indies will have played 15 days cricket in 20 days!

- For the Jaapies, sudden signs of aging. Pollock is 35 -and we may have already seen the last of him. The loathesome Hershelle Gibbs is 34, Kallis a year younger. They are going to be entering a time of transition pretty soon - and it's going to take more than Graeme Smith abusing opposing batsmen and glaring at the umpire for ten minutes if a decision doesn't go his way to paper over the cracks.

- At home, another News Years Honours List is published and somewhere in Yorkshire, Geoff Boycott just became ever so slightly more bitter...

- Congratulations to KP and his new wife Jessica Taylor. Like all celebrity hook-ups, it's bound to last for decades.

- I can only think of two England test players who have postively enhanced their reputation in the past 12 months - Cook, who is increasingly looking like a good bet to break test match run records before he's through, and Ryan Sidebottom.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


John Arlott narrates some Bradman highlights.

It doesn't Arlott's mini-masterpiece describing the last at bat, so for completeness sake, here it is: -

"Hollies pitches the ball up slowly and ...he's bowled...Bradman bowled Hollies nought...bowled Hollies nought...and what do you say under these circumstances? I wonder if you see the ball very clearly in your last Test in England, on a ground where you've played some of the biggest cricket in your life and where the opposing side has just stood round you and given you three cheers and the crowd has clapped you all the way to the wicket. I wonder if you see the ball at all."

Sunday, December 23, 2007

These are a few of my favourite things...

Two albums, two films and two books.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Two for the Show

Two things to get off my chest...

1. Ravi Bopara is NOT a test cricketer. He may become one eventually, but at the present time - 22nd December 2007, he is not of sufficient quality to justify his place in the England side. Neither his batting or bowling are up to test standard - so why on earth did Moores persist in picking him ahead of Shah, especially when you have other batsmen in the side (Collingwood for example) who can bowl the bits and pieces overs equally effectively as Essex-Boy.

England need to accept that we haven't got an all-rounder to replace Freddie, stop trying to pretend that we have and balance the side accordingly.

When Bopara was batting and bowling I was reminded of Ian Greig - and that's not a compliment.

2. Everyone has fallen bigtime for the Monty Panesar schtik now, so it might seem a bit churlish to start slagging the guy off - but should our 'hearts really be in our mouths' (Copyright - every Sky commentator) every time a catch goes in his direction?

Yes, his primary skill is his bowling, so he can be forgiven for a certain level of incompetence with the bat - but fielding is something that you can improve with regular practice. it was all smiles when he held the skyer, but in the field he still comes across like Bambi on ice.

Duncan Fletcher made the point in his recent book - what were Northants playing at in letting him reach the England squad without being able to field?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Drugs Don't Work

America's Pastime takes a BIG hit.

A lot of the respected journalists (Peter Gammons for example) who you'd normally go to for insight and decent comment about this, are coming down on the players side - 'guilty without trial' etc. Which means that either: -

1)The report is a total and utter fabrication from start to finish. (Unlikely)

2)Those reporters have been wandering around clubhouses with their eyes shut for the past twenty years. (Unlikely)

3) They knew what was happening and couldn't bring themselves to report it because they thought it might threaten their future access to the players, and they were quite happy to collude in a scandal that's going to cause Baseball irreperable harm. (Sadly, very possible)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

War and Peace

The following is an unedited transcript of the BBC Home Service news from 6th August 1945.

Before reading it, it's worth bearing in mind that at this time the BBC was effectively the authoritative voice of freedom throughout the world. During the war, families and friends had religiously gathered every evening around wireless sets to listen to, and digest, each news bulletin. (No reality TV in those days) People across Occupied Europe had done likewise, risking a one-way trip to a concentration camp or even a bullet in the back of the head if they got caught. All over the world it became an umbilical cord to liberty and a beacon of light for millions of people enduring darkness.

Good Evening,

President Truman has announced a tremendous achievement by the Allied scientists. They have produced an atomic bomb. One has already been dropped on a Japanese Army base. it alone contains as much explosive power as two thousand of our great ten tonners. The president has also foreshadowed the enormous peacetime value of harnessing atomic energy.

At home, it's been a Bank Holiday of thunderstorms as well as sunshine. A record crowd at Lords has seen Australia make 286 for five wickets

Sunday, December 09, 2007

"Viva El Presidente!"

Excellent article by Mike Atherton on the newly appointed MCC President, Mike 'Ayatollah' Brearley himself!

Third Eye

It's surely only a matter of time now before a batsman sees the replay of his dismissal on the big screen on the way off the park and refuses to leave the field until the umpires consult the third umpire.

KP came very close to that today. I can only assume that he must have had some sort of signal from the England dressing room along the lines of "get off the field now or your match fee goes up in smoke", which would have persauded him to continue on his way.

I liked Ian Ward's suggestion from the Sky Studio - fit the umpires up with some sort of buzzer that the third umpire can use if he feels there should be a referral. I also liked Rob Key's comment about making it a cattle prod! Alistair Cook will doubtless concur that Daryl Harper could well do with 50,000 volts coarsing through his veins after his LBW shocker.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Building the Perfect Beast

Soon after his retirement, Fred Trueman was asked who he thought might break his test wicket record of 307. "I haven't got a bloody clue'' he is alleged to have replied (and actually continued to prove in any number of subsequent TMS radio stints) "but whoever it is will be bloody tired!" For reference, it was Lance Gibbs, who bowled about a million overs to do it - admittedly off of about three languid paces.

I'm not sure if anyone's asked the current record holder - but I'd suspect that his response would be similar - if slightly less bluff.

Of those still active, Pollock and Kumble are closest, but you can't see either of them getting close - especially given that HWAMNBQ has vowed to press on to even greater heights. Beyond that, it's something of a lottery, In all honesty, there are no outstanding bowlers who make you think 'Wow, he's going to pick up a stack of wickets'. Good bowlers, yes - but no one really outstanding.

Having said that, I don't agree with some commentators who have effectively written off the possiblity of anyone ever getting to the record.

Don't get me wrong, it's not going to be a cinch - but the number of tests played these days means that it's surely not that much of a stretch. England, like most teams, average 13-15 tests in an average calendar year. Averaging five wickets per test, 150 tests is a 10 year career - an incredible achievement sure, but not totally far-fetched. Not as far fetched as, say, someone averaging more than 99.94 in their test career.

Shane Warne's career lasted fourteen years, so has Murali's. If you start when you're 20/21, to still be wheeling away when you're 35 isn't beyond the realms of possibility.

However, the bowler would have to be something slightly out of the ordinary. He'd have to have a pretty good USP to use some Marketing-speak.

Quick bowling and limitless stamina will get you so far - Walsh and Ambrose each got over 450 wickets. Metronomic accuracy and consistency will get you rewards too - 500 or so of them given sufficient fitness - vis. Kumble, McGrath and (eventually) Pollock. But it takes something exceptional to take you into the stratosphere. Warne turned leg spin into an artform by effectively approaching it with a quick bowlers attitude, huge turn, mixed with miserly control of line and length normally associated with finger spinners. As for Murali - well we all have a different ideas of what his USP is...

So what sort of bowler will it be? Here's a chance for the famous TRSM crystal ball to enjoy an airing. Admittedly it's the same crystal ball that predicted England getting a draw in last winter's Ashes series and that Roy Keane wouldn't last a month in charge at Sunderland but, hey, no one's infallible.

- It'll have to be a spinner. Unless genetic engineering makes massive advances, there's no way a fast bowler will last long enough to reach 800 plus wickets.

- Most likely from the sub continent, possibly Australia.

- They'll have to be a superb athlete.

- They'll have to be seen as a bowler only - nowhere near an all-rounder. It's to Warne's huge credit that he actually became a pretty useful No. 8 over the course of his career - at one stage in Summer 2005 he was carrying the Australian's bowling AND batting!!

- He'll have to drop out of ODI cricket fairly early.

Maybe, then, a tall leg spinner, bowling leg breaks with uncommon accuracy - capable of varying pace, to the point of being able to deliver fast leg cutters - possibly a version of Kumble with about half the number of ODI appearances.

Never say never.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Question Time

A lot of sensible cricket commentators (and Bumble) are suggesting that HWAMNBQ's record will never be broken.

My thoughts to follow. Yours?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Separated at Birth?

Rock legend Carlos Santana

Umpire Rauf