Friday, May 30, 2008

Miller's Tale

"Tim Ambrose has already shown that he has the temperament and the ability required to succeed in Test cricket and his selection reflects our desire to use the same wicket-keeper in both the long and short forms of the game" - Geoff Miller
What desire would that be? Presumably one that you've just made up to try and make Matt Prior feel a bit better.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Green Green Grass of Home

"You win here, why wouldn't you want to play here?" - Ian Smith, at the end of the Old Trafford Test

Why not indeed?

The five venues for the next Ashes series are Lords, Edgbaston, Headingley, The Oval and Cardiff.

As I've pointed out here before, the atmosphere and the fact that overseas players tend to be able to raise their game at 'the home of cricket' means that Lords is already a neutral ground, but that's just a historical accident that we have to live with, and no sensible person can argue that the Lords Ashes Test is one of the great sporting occasions in the world - even though England haven't actually won it for 74 years....

After 2005 Edgbaston has to be pretty much a given, Headingley could still have some old ghosts still wandering around from 1981, and everyone has warm memories of The Oval But Cardiff? Cardiff??!!

Thanks to a blatant stitch up by the former head of the ECB, who just happens to be a Glamorgan member, the next Ashes series starts in Cardiff. The test was awarded to Cardiff before the plans had actually been approved by the local authority (Talk about a 'loaded gun to the head'), so well before any work had been done to start redevelopment, before any Health and Safety certificates had been granted and before anyone had actually checked to see that the wicket was of test standard. On the third point, they still haven't.

Because it's a Division 2 ground -and most of the England side play for Division One counties, and because of central contracts - the new ground will be just as much of a mystery to most of the England side as the visitors. The idea of home advantage is that you feel at home. You know the geography, you know your way around - you don't have to ask the way to the nets, or spend half an hour in the morning looking for the car-park. If you've been a regular in the England side for a few years you may well have a favourite, 'lucky' corner of the changing room. These things sound pretty mundane - possibly frivoulous, but when added together, they can matter.

More importantly, you know the wicket and how it plays, and you know the outfield - which parts are lush, and which cut short because of the nets or an extension to the square. You'll know which fielding positions have a poor sight background because of windows or a dark wall that make it difficult to pick up the flight of the ball. You'll know the direction of prevailing winds at different time of the day. Yes, you can go and look for these things when you arrive, but with proper home advantage they should already be second nature. If a series is going to be close, you need to take advantage of every little edge you can - and make sure the opposition can't.

This sort of home advantage may well only give you an edge of five or ten runs a game, or maybe one catch. That doesn't sound a lot, but remember Edgbaston and Trent Bridge...

Cardiff may well deserve international cricket - and hats off to the Welsh authority for realising that some judicious state investment will pay great dividends for the local economy, but surely they should have started with a few ODIs first to get their eye in - and maybe a test or two against lesser opponents.

Do you think Australia would move one of their Ashes tests to Hobart, or Cairns? There's a reason the first Ashes test is more often than not in Brisbane - because it's incredibly uncomfortable for those not fully acclimitised to Australian conditions. On those lines there might be an arguement for having the Cardiff test at the beginning of March perhaps - but you could argue that for any county ground in England - apart from Worcester which is invariably under water at that time of year.

Much easier to go for some cold, blustery conditions with bowlers and fielders having to cope with gale force winds and temperatures around 15 degrees - Old Trafford in May!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Day in the Life

Weather permitting, tomorrow could be an awesome day of test cricket.

First up at eleven o'clock, England seek to make amends for some particularly unimaginative, almost boneheaded cricket over the first three days and score an unlikely win over Daniel Vettori. (I'm assuming the NZ skipper basically bowls himself to a standstill tomorrow...)

Then from about 5pm, it's over to Sabina Park for the conclusion of what's been an absolutely gripping test match as the Windies try and chase down 287 to beat Australia. The Baggy Green must be favourites, but I reckon Sarwan would love to lead his team to victory. Don't forget he has form in this regard, even though Glenn McGrath isn't there to give him the extra motivational lift he did last time round!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Here we go, here we go....

Police vote for 'right to strike'.

I can think of plenty of blokes in Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, South Wales, Kent etc who'll be happy to 'help out' on the police picket lines.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Picture of You

Remember Tony Pigott? Onne heralded as the 'next big thing' as a future England fast bowler, he's now resurfaced with the sinecure of 'ECB Inspector of Pitches' - a post held for years by a guy callled Bert Lock, if memory serves.

According to yesterday's Grauniad, here's what Pigott made of the Trent Bridge pitch where 20 wickets fell in a day on Thursday: -

"The bounce was inconsistant, but not consistently inconsistent."

Job done!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

One Angry Man

If you're wondering about the new sub-title above, then check this out.

Bissinger was actually describing all sports-blogs rather than this one in particular but, hey, sometimes you've got to show a little solidarity!

I very much take the Deadspin side in this debate, though to paraphrase Mandy Rice-Davies, I would, wouldn't I.

Anyone got any views on how 'responsible' you should be with your posts (and comments) at places like this? To bring it closer to home, should we take into account the feelings of people like Saj, and The Show-Pony, before we start making sarcastic or detrimental comments about them?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Meeting Across the River

Frank Keating in today's Grauniad -

"[Ramprakash's] move south across the Thames coincided with the England management terminally washing their hands of the batsman's Test match underachievement - an average of 27 in 52 Tests with only two (however fine) centuries. The transfer to The Oval, however, was such an obvious and striking life-changing watershed for Ramprakash's psyche, spirit and utterly glorious late-flowering talent that it was (and continues to be) infuriating, almost shaming, how for the past half-dozen years successive Lord's mandarins (the dreaded po-faced politburo of Graveney-Fletcher-Hussain-Vaughan-Moores) have with such wantonly brazen impenitence refused, it seems, to so much as even glance at the batting averages. Those in the media who closely follow the game have, to my mind, been just as grievously culpable at kowtowing to, and finding simpering excuses for, the official party line. The exasperated, knowing public laugh at them as well."

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Starting Over

Here's what's been happening since England's historic win over New Zealand -

Alistair is surprised that Michael doesn't want to open with him anymore, but as Michael is the captain, he doesn't complain too much. So now he has to open with Andrew - who's lucky to be in the side at all.

Michael thinks Freddie should be playing, but as a bowler who bats a bit rather than a true all-rounder. This means he wants Freddie to bat at number seven - probably because if Freddie batted in the top six a lot of people would say Michael shouldn't be in the team.

Freddie's too busy with court appearances to give a toss either way.

Michael also thinks that if he concentrates really really hard, it will be 2003 again. Sadly Michael's knee might say otherwise.

Oddly, Michael doesn't get a say in who's in his team, and just has to put up with whoever Peter and his friends select for him. It doesn't really bother Michael though - he just tells the journalists what he wants. It might just be easier to pick up the phone to Peter.

Talking of selectors, Steve says he's going to retire from test cricket if he's not picked this summer. (Insert your own joke here)

Unlike Steve (the big girl's blouse) Matty is determined to prove the selectors wrong and bowl his way back into the team.

All the gang would rather be earning some decent money playing in India, and they all think Ravi is barking mad to say that he'd rather be playing at Chelmsford than in Calcutta.

Kevin's new wife has cancelled their Setanta subscription so he can't watch any more of the IPL coverage - for the first week or so he was hyperventilating and sticking pins into an effigy of Giles Clarke everytime it was on.

Ian has now watched 'American Pie' so now knows what Shane was on about when he called him the Shermanator. He's not at all happy...

The New Zealanders are said to be 'worried' about Ryan - but we're not sure if it's the inswinger they're worried about, or what might be growing in his hair.

Monty has tidied up his website, and is perfecting a new celebratory dance for when he takes a wicket. Rumour has it that he found time to attend catching practice last week.

Jimmy has a new hairstyle, and Saj has perfected a fantastic new glare at any batsman who hits him for four. Saj also reckons that a lot of players are going to be tempted by the IPL (insert your own joke here too....)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Don't blame me, I voted for Ken

London - where the village idiot just got voted Mayor...

Ready, Steady...

There's at least one person who thinks Freddie should be back in the England side for the Lords Test against New Zealand.