Thursday, February 26, 2009

"We, the MCC, deplore your cable..."

Leeds Council have set up a new health and fitness club.

Sign me up - now!!

Crazy Horses?

Alastair Cook

Donny Osmond

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Hungry and the Hunted

ECB appoint headhunters in the search to find a replacement for Peter Moores.

But they are only 'shortlisting' - not coming up with a preferred candidate. This surely defeats the object of paying thousands for someone to do a job you should be able to do yourself.

Though on the positive side, shortlisting is a step forward from the previous go around when Peter Moores was handed the job on a plate.

The issue not mentioned is who, in their right mind, would want the ECB as an employer right now?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Looking Back in Anger

Paul Hayward in the Observer

"Discredited at last, is the notion that sport exists solely to make those who play it richer ad infinitum. Maybe now the governing bodies will stop regarding businessmen as Gods. The soul of the game is not theirs to sell."
Mike Atherton in the Times.

"Money often brings out the worst in people. It has certainly brought out the worst in English cricket and the men who run it. They have got exactly what they deserved."
Athers again -

"What should not be forgotten quickly or easily is the embarrassment suffered by those who run English cricket and, by extension, the embarrassment for the English game. It is not good enough to say in defence of these decisions, as Giles Clarke, the chairman of the ECB, has done, that the contract was signed with “the best of intentions”. At some stage a judgment must be made on the consequences of actions, not just the rationale behind them. Andrew Strauss has not enforced the follow-on in the third Test for the best of reasons, but he will be judged by whether or not England win."
...and again

"It ain't Sad'day night no mo' for the ECB officials who fawned over Stanford when he descended the steps of his helicopter at Lords. Nor too the former greats who knelt down, licked and polished his boots at every opportunity"

'Former great' Ian Botham in the Daily Mirror

“The sorry debacle leaves English cricket with nothing but egg on its face,” “It has been a disaster ... and you cannot just let something as massive as this be swept under the carpet. Someone has to be accountable.”
And, finally, 'Former great' Ian Botham pictured at Lords on 22nd June 2008.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Yabba Dabba Don't.

Fred's injury confirmed - a muscle tear, and he's out for at least a fortnight.

Rather than two weeks out, couldn't we make it a mandatory seventeen weeks instead?

Friday, February 20, 2009


The most surprising thing, in retrospect, is that anyone has been surprised at the revelation that Allen Stanford is apparently little more than a jumped-up Ponzi purveyor.

History is littered with the names of relatively wealthy, educated people who have gone weak at the knees in the presence of the outrageously rich. Giles Clarke and his fellow ECB lackeys are merely treading a well-worn path.

The previous Prime Minister positively dribbled in the company of rich men, without paying much heed to their morality or honesty – and the current one still seems to think that bankers are worthy of some sort of preferential treatment – rather than being hung from the lampposts of Threadneedle Street which would be the preferred treatment meted out to them by the other 99.9% of the population.

I’ll confess that I welcomed Stanford myself from the perspective of the money he was pumping to Windies cricket a few years ago. And the fact remains that, even with the recent allegations made by the SEC, his input into Caribbean cricket can still be seen as genuinely altruistic. The money he put into the grassroots has had a beneficial effect – it’s only when he started imposing a lot of 20/20 strings that things started getting a little ‘tacky’.

As everyone accepts, the ECB jumped into bed with Stanford on the rebound - as an antidote to IPL. They say they carried out the usual due diligence checks before signing any paperwork - but here’s the 6 billion dollar question - had they found something slightly unethical but effectively legal, would they really have pulled out of the deal?

After all – cricketing authorities haven’t exactly been squeamish in the past over who they’ve cuddled up to for money. They happily signed sponsorship deals with tobacco manufacturers long after the link to cancer was proved – and plenty of them were more than happy to deal with apartheid South Africa when most of the civilised world were starting to turn their noses up at what was going on. So a lippy US businessman with possible unethical business practices wasn’t going to ring many alarm bells - and even faint ones might have been safely ignored to make sure that the money kept rolling in.

Had they found evidence of outright fraud, then yes, you’d have expected them to bail out – but remember it took the SEC up to ten years to pin Stanford down - and he still hasn’t been formally read his rights yet. So what hope were the ECB going to have in finding anything untoward?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I Don't Believe It!

If his on-air conversation with David Gower is anything to go by, Michael Holding has morphed into Victor Meldrew - seemingly overnight.

In the space of five minutes we had Mikey moaning about the England bowlers practising on the edge of the square between innings - with the referee's permission apparently. Then a follow-up rant about England employing a substitute fielder whilst Andrew Flintoff was changing his boots.

In each case the targets of his ire were the umpires for not properly enforcing the laws of the game.

I don't remember Holding being quite so fastidious at Old Trafford in 1976 when the umpires were pretty lax in enforcing the 'intimidatory bowling' laws.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

To Whom it May Concern

Overlooked in the resent Antigua farce was the revelation that Hugh Morris expressed his concerns about the state of the outfield in a letter to Alan Hurst, the match referee.

Not an e-mail, or a text message, a fax or a phone call- or even a wander down the corridor at the Antigua Hilton to knock on his door.

No - he wrote him a letter! How quintessentially and ridiculously British! And this morning's Observer suggests that Morris is a serial letter writer - he's just written another one to the WICB asking for compensation fer the England spectators.

You have a vision of Morris digging out the Basildon Bond paper, filling his inkpen and then agonising for hours how to address Alan Hurst - Dear Alan, Dear Mr Hurst, Dear Sir?

Then there would have been the usual search for a stamp - asking his wife 'We had some at Christmas- where did you leave them?'

Presumably the original letter will be delivered on Wednesday...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Shame on them

A decade or so ago I remember reading a story about a group of cricket-mad mates working in the refuse collection department for Rotherham Council who set up a savings club to pay for a trip to Jamaica to watch England play the West Indies. Their monthly contribution, plus other money they squirreled away went to pay for the economy flight and match tickets for the England/West Indies test.

To keep their costs down they either slept on the beach, or clubbed together to pay for the cheapest single bed hotel room they could, and made the best of it with most of them camping down on the floor.

For food, they found the low-cost 'eat all you can' buffets, and filled their pockets with what couldn't fit in their stomachs at the sitting.

They proudly took their places in Sabina Park on the first day, and when play finally began they realised they were living every cricket fans dream of watching their home country playing abroad.

Seventy five minutes later, their dream was over as total authority ineptitude - the inability to check a playing surface prior to a game starting, meant that the test match was abandoned.

They received no compensation whatsoever, beyond the usual hand-wringing, 'events beyond our control' apologies, and returned home.

After the debacle, they watched on TV as a whole host of the 'great and the good' from the cricketing establishment went in front of the cameras to promise that this sort of thing would never happen again. Match umpires would have access to the ground way before play started, and would be able to make early decisions over the fitness of the pitch for test cricket - instant remedial action would be taken if necessary to ensure that play would start and continue in a timely fashion.

'Of course', said the authorities, 'we appreciate that spectators are the lifeblood of the game'.

That'll be the same authoritieswho inspected the Antigua pitch earlier today and declared it fit for play - presumably with their fingers crossed behind their backs.

In this respect, as so often, the authorities have proved themselves to be totally and utterly incompetent - and when it comes to the paying spectator, happy to take their money with no thoguht whatsoever about the product that is on offer.

It's so simple it almost beggars belief. Two questions. Is the pitch playable? Is the outfield safe? Yet, Alan Hurst the match referee came up with some weasel worded statementto suggest that 'it's not ideal, but it'll do'.

I do hope none of the Rotherham contingent were in Antigua today.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Corner of a foreign field...

Uh, oh.

Bad weather in February - who'd have thought it...

According to my Cardiff sources, last season the SWALEC stadium resembled a sink of water with the plug stuck in it. This emergency work is supposed to remedy that.

Question is - didn't the ECB think about checking something important like drainage before they awarded an Ashes test to Cardiff?

Another question - if the England vs Australia test does eventually start, who will the Welsh be supporting? Somewhat vexatious, yes, but at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday, sixty thousand odd Welshman are going to be passionately cheering against a side bearing the name 'England' - so in July are they going to be equally passionate about supporting a side with the same name?

I'm not deliberately running up the repellent 'Tebbit Test' flag here - I know a load of Welsh cricket supporters who will be happy to support England for a few days. But bearing in mind even Andrew Flintoff has acknowledged that England are going to lose an element of home advantage in Cardiff, and also considering that Lords (venue for the second test) is little better than a neutral venue, it does seem that the ECB are happy to put giving a favour to an ex-chairman above ensuring proper home advantage.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

To 'B', or not to 'B'

Two bits of news - West Indies are sending a B team over for this summers truncated 'series' - Lords having trouble selling corporate hospitality for the Windies test match.

To take the latter piece first - it's hardly a surprise. We're in the middle of a worldwide recession that is hitting the city hardest. As a result, marketing and entertainment budgets have been cut. Additionally it's a second rate test - barely a test match at all. Also, it's Ashes summer and if anyone does have some corporate entertainment money to spare, that's where it'll be going.

Begs the question, though - why Lords? It's not like the 'home of cricket' hasn't got other events this summer - One Day finals, 20/20 world cup games (one of only 3 venues remember), the Ashes test, two ODIs v Australia. Surely the perfect opportunity to let one of the occasional test grounds have a piece of the action - Cardiff, perhaps...

Then there's the issue of how England should respond to the Windies decision to send over a weakened team.

Leaving aside the obvious jokes about how England will actually fare in the wake of the Jamaica debacle, there seems little point in fielding the full test eleven. It'll prove nothing except to give Ian Bell the chance to pad out his average with meaningless 100s against second rate or under prepared opposition - something he's actually good at.

Why not mix it up - a sort of A/B team. Let Strauss skipper in both - both otherwise play half the test side in one test, half in the other and mix in some borderline candidates - Denly, Carberry, Jordan, Onions, Tremlett, Davies, Vaughan etc.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Untouchables

Strauss - 'They can't drop me, I'm the captain.'

Cook - 'They can't drop me, I'm the next captain.'

Bell - 'They can't drop me, I got 28 in the first innings, and look like a million dollars in the nets.'

KP - 'They can drop me if they want, but they'll be burned in effigy if they do.'

Collingwood - 'They can't drop me, I scored a hundred at Edgbaston. Might be time to borrow the 'looking good in the nets' excuse from Bell though.'

Fred - (See KP)

Prior - 'They can't drop me, I scored a fifty in the first innings and didn't drop a catch.'

Broad - 'They can't drop me or I'll tell my Dad.'

Sidebottom - 'They can't drop me, I went for less than 2 an over.'

Harmison - 'They can't drop me or I'll tell Fred.'

Panesar - 'They can't drop me, I've got a lovely action and give an amusing hop when I get a wicket.'

Saturday, February 07, 2009


A total disaster.

But let's be positive. Thanks heavens this happened now, rather than in July. It's the catalyst to get rid of the dead wood.

Bell, for a start, can go. If Owais Shah is still carrying drinks by the time the next test starts, then something is seriously amiss.

Collingwood can join him. Yes, it's OK being a decent fielder and being 'one of the lads' when it comes to team committee meetings and doling out the high-fives when a wicket falls, but that doesn't provide runs in the middle orde, which is why the lucrative central contract was awarded. There are frighteningly few obvious candidates to take his place in the middle order, but it may well be worth placing a call to Robert Key - or give Rashid a try.

For anyone saying that the Yorkshire all-rounder isn't ready, answer this. If that's the case, why the hell is he in the squad?

Then there's Monty. In 4o plus overs, I counted precisely zero balls that turned in from off stump - and he's supposed to be an international spin bowler. At the same time, I counted, or actually didn't count, zero times when he changed the field on his own violition - and he's played over thirty test matches. There's no aggression, no guile, no wit, no subtlty, in fact seemingly no cricketing intelligence whatsover beyond trying to look good and bowl a lot of maiden overs without threatening the batsman one iota.

So he can sod off too. Put Swann in. At least he actually seems to care about his bowling, and actually seems to have a modicum of aggression and will to win.

Then there's Cook. Plenty more talk in the last couple of weeks about being a future England captain - amazing what a posh accent and good education will get you. At this moment there's some doubt as to whether he's actually a future England batsman, let alone capable of assuming the captaincy.

Mix in to this pitiful brew the fact that Harmison didn't go over 84mph on even the friendliest radar gun, and the fact that Sidebottom still doesn't look fully fit, and it's all pretty depressing.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Side 2 - I Walk on Gilded Splinters (23:25)

Much mirth and merriment here in the TRSM pleasure dome at the news that Michael Clarke and Simon Katich found time after yet another ODI defeat against New Zealand to ‘drop the gloves’ and indulge in a bout of hair pulling and face scratching.

The argument itself isn’t really a surprise – I reckon that there are many such altercations in every international changing room – not necessarily descending to handbags like this, but certainly heated words are probably exchanged at regular intervals. It surely goes with the territory – high pressure situation and personal performance clearly on display for all to see, rather than in other team games where the personal can be more easily subsumed into the overall team effort.

No, it’s the reason given for the spat that intrigues me – to quote the Guardian,

“Clarke was reportedly unhappy that the team song was not sung quickly enough to spend part of the evening with his family and friends.”

Now - I’ve always thought that the Australian team song is ‘Under the Southern Cross’ – the lyrics to which are: -

"Under the Southern Cross I stand,
A sprig of wattle in my hand,
A product of our native land,
Australia, you f***ing beauty"

(Happy if one of my Aussie readers wants to correct me on this)

That’s twenty three words. How long does that take to sing – ten seconds tops?

So what’s happened? Has the team song been changed to Handel’s Messiah or Alice’s Restaurant? Or maybe the musical masturbatory workout namechecked in the title of this post? Or has someone produced a remixed version of Southern Cross, with extended guitar work out by Brett Lee and an interminable, Ginger Bakeresque, drum solo performed by Brad ‘Sticks’ Haddin bashing two stumps on the massage couch.

Or maybe someone, possibly Katich, continually forgot the words so they ended up with farcical scenes of continual ‘from the top again lads’ instructions as Simple Simon lustily sang about ‘springs of bottle’ and ‘native sand.’

Sunday, February 01, 2009