Saturday, June 28, 2008

Separated at Birth

'The most evil creature in the history of the universe' and....

Friday, June 27, 2008

Two into Three Don't Go

If Gordon Brown is currently the undisputed holder of the 'Maybe we shouldn't have made him leader after all' award, then Giles Clarke is certainly running him a very close second.

As evidence, may I respectfully refer the jury to 'Exhibit A' - the quite barmy idea to replace the existing two-division County Championship, with a three division regional structure involving a play-off final in September.

Sometimes the old slogan 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' really does make sense.

Look at the current tables
. All the nine counties in the first division still have a legitimate chance to win the whole thing. Even cellar-dwellers Surrey and Kent, who face off against each other next week, could bounce up the table with a couple of big wins - likewise any county could quickly find themselves in the relegation mire with two or three poor results.

In the second division, Warwickshire look a pretty safe bet to go up, and there are five teams other with a realistic chance of promotion, whilst Gloucestershire and Glamorgan are in danger of dropping down to the Minor Counties. Oh, sorry - you'll have to indulge me an idle day-dream here, because in the cosy little never-never world of county cricket that doesn't happen. Let's face it, it took over a hundred years to introduce the concept of relegation to upset their comfy existence.

In Division One you're seeing some really good quality, competitive cricket - and it's only going to get better as the season heads to a climax. Competitive cricket means more credence can be given to performance, so England selectors benefit as they are safe in the knowledge that runs and wickets are hard earned, and therefore a useful pointer to true form and class.

The 'three regional divisions' seems to be an ill thought out idea that simply ticks a box for Gile Clarke in terms of 'doing something' where no change is required. As the divisions are regionally based they won't be of equal strength, and how do you decide who the 'champion' is in the event of rain curtailing the playoffs - a bowl out?? 'Travel' is cited as one reason for basing the championship on a regional basis. Come on chaps! It's 2008 now, not 1924 - and with the reduction in the number of county games played and abolition of the old Sunday League, the old days of post-game evening trips from Taunton to Headingley and then back to Edgbaston the following day are long gone.

The current system isn't perfect, because there are too many lame duck counties propped up with annual ECB hand-outs. But it makes the best of the situation and should at least be given a chance to develop properly with some minor tweaks such as enhanced prize money, rather than simplistic 'change for changes sake'.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Moody Blacks

This from the BBC website: -

Tremendous match that, and what a fantastic final over. Magnificent bowling from Wright, a moment of madness from Swann at the death handing victory to the tourists, who lead the series 2-1 going into the final match at Lord's on Saturday. Noticable that Collingwood was snubbed by the Kiwi players up on the balcony

If that's the case then New Zealand are hypocrites. You don't need much of a memory to recall McCullum running out Murali a few years back when he went out of his ground to congratulate Sangakarra on completing a hundred, and can Vettori put his hand on his heart and say he wouldn't have made the same call as Collingwood if the roles had been reversed. I think not.

They won the game for heavens sake. Get over it.

To Boldly Go...

It's cricket Jim, but not as we know it!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin RIP

"When it comes to bullshit, big-time, major league bullshit, you have to stand in awe of the all-time champion of false promises and exaggerated claims, religion. No contest. No contest. Religion. Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told. Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever 'til the end of time!

But He loves you…"

See the whole transcript here.

And watch it here!

He also covered sport - this is something of a legend in baseball circles.

He was the greatest comedian ever, and he died last night. Today is a sad day.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Rough Justice

As a bowler, if I was half way through my run up, and some cocky batsman decided to switch from batting right handed to batting left handed as I was approaching the wicket, I reckon I'd totally lose my rhythm to such an extent that the ball would slip out of my hand during delivery and end up on a course heading straight for his head...

Just saying.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Check this out.

Bill Frindall has a weekly column on the BBC website where he answers questions posed by members of the public. Underneath, people can post other questions in the hope that Frindall himself, or another poster will provide the answer.

Have a look at Question 36...

You can bet your bottom Euro that most of the people posting questions are the type that sit at county games with scorebook on lap, fifteen different shades of pencil in their top pocket and a flask of lukewarm tea by their feet.

Yes, they are targets of ridicule, but I suppose if they weren't there they'd be hanging around the school gates with a bag of sweets, so I reckon we should count our blessings!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

After the Goldrush?

Some speculation in todays Grauniad, that 20/20 may be on the wane, from an attendance point of view.

Have to say that's not the impression I got at a packed Oval last night, but some of the anecdotal evidence from other grounds must be worrying to the organisers.

One thought though - if they really want to spread the appeal beyond existing cricket fans and bring a new audience into the game, maybe they should consider live games being shown on terrestial channels.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Question Time

Some questions (Answers below) -

Do you bring back Flintoff, if he's fit, and let him bat at eight with Ambrose at seven?

How many overs a day can you expect Freddie to be able to bowl?

It's a bit tough, but do you drop Ambrose and bring Prior back in to bat at five or six so Freddie can go seven in a five man bowling attack?

Is it time to bring back Harmison to replace Anderson, Sidebottom or Broad?

When do you consider bringing back Simon Jones?

Drop one or both of Bell and Collingwood, thus giving them the same sort of 'kick up the arse' that worked for Strauss, and appears to have worked for Harmy?

Do you do the same with Cook?

Which batsmen do you bring in if you drop Bell and/or Collingwood? Carberry? Key? Denly? Ramprakash?

Can you continue with a four man bowling attack against South Africa?

Is it time to start thinking about Rashid?

And the answers -


Held at Lords Cricket Ground on Saturday 5th July, 2008

Meeting started at 10.00am

Present - Mr P Moores, Mr G Miller, Mr A Giles, Mr J Whittaker
Apologies for absence - None

1. Selection of team to face South Africa at Lords on July 9th.

Mr P Moores PROPOSED that the side remain the same as for the previous test.


There being no further business, the meeting closed at 10.01am

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Misstra Know It All

I've just finished reading 'Behind the Shades' by Duncan Fletcher.

It's a good read and I'd recommend it as being a fascinating glimpse into what actually goes on behind the scenes in the England set up.

The tone is one of self-justification, which bearing in mind the abuse that was heaped on Fletcher at times during his time as England coach, and especially in the last year, is entirely understandable.

There are some wonderful instances where he exposes the idiocies of some of the supposedly 'respected' commentators on English cricket. He's particularly scathing about Sir Geoffrey, for example, and this little excerpt about Ian Botham is wonderful, frightening and eye-opening all at the same time -

It's quite a skill to be able to identify (promising) players, and just because you have been a great player does not necessarily mean that you can do it. Take Ian Botham. I thought would ask his advice before the South Africa trip. 'Get rid of all the guys like Atherton, Caddick and Tufnell' he told me.
'Why?' I asked.
'Because they are too old. Go with youth' he replied.
'Who then?' I asked.
'Graeme Hick and Robin Smith', he said.
'But hold on , they are the same age', I replied in exasperation.
His reply I could not then believe. 'But they are different' he said.
That was the last time I used Botham for selectoral advice.

One final thought - it's clear from the book, that John Buchanan and Ricky Ponting absolutely hated Fletcher, because they saw him as the biggest threat to their dominance over England. England had a fully fit line up in 2005, and won. In 2006/07 they had a host of injuries to key players, and a captain who was quite happy to spend the whole night drinking with the aforementioned Botham until seven in the morning. (It's in the book - honest!) Surprise, surprise - they got stuffed. I doubt whether Ponting, or anyone in Australian cricket, is losing much sleep over Peter Moores.

Blind Faith

On the one hand it's quite comforting to see an England scorecard where the number seven and eight batsmen both score over sixty - but on the other hand it's very alarming that numbers five and six barely survive an over between them.

Loyalty to players, and the wish to give them an extended run in the side is very admirable, but when it turns misguided, to the point of starting to appear simply stubborn, then it becomes very worrying indeed.

Surely there's also an element of it starting to become counter-productive to the player himself. What Collingwood really needs is a run of games away from the spotlight, away from the critical eyes of bolshie bloggers, where he can rediscover some form and start scoring runs again. Instead, his every move is analysed, and his technique is open for comment from any Tom, Dick or Nasser. The best thing the selectors can do is to have a quiet word along the lines of 'score some decent runs for your county during the rest of the season and you'll probably be on the winter tour' - and then give the likes of Key, Shah and maybe even Rashid a chance.

I actually hope that England don't have to bat again in this test for more than the obvious reason that it would mean an innings victory. A second go around would give Collingwood or Bell the chance to scrape together a half decent score - which would give the selectors the excuse to pick them again. What they need is a break.