Thursday, November 19, 2009

Health and Safety

Sir Vivian gets up on his high horse, obviously without a saddle or helmet...

"The guy who got hit and still tried to get in line, then gets hit again, that's the guy I will take with me on the field every day."

Unless he's laid up in hospital with a fractured skull of course...

"There are individuals out there who use the body protection as a form of staying power, to go on as long as possible. That's the worst way anybody can be thinking, that you should cover yourself in a suit of armour, to make yourself brave, or to enable you to hook – when you never hooked in your life – just because you've got a helmet on. That's rubbish. Even though they say cricket is a gentleman's game, it's a man's game."

Right on, Viv! And whilst we're at it, let's do away with pads - they just encourage batsmen to push their front leg down the pitch. And those gloves can go too, they're for wimps. And real men shouldn't need to wear a box should they Viv?

Some Fantastic Place

Lords already gets at least one test match a year - it also gets more than its share of one day internationals, plus any one day finals that happen to be taking place - international and domestic. The only exception is 20/20 Finals Day which, perhaps explains why that is one of the liveliest and enjoyable events in the cricket calendar.

In the coming summer, Lords is getting a third of all the days of international cricket taking place in England, based around the rather tired premise that 'all international touring sides want to play at Lords' - which ignores the obvious retort of 'tough, they can't.'

Yet, the MCC still aren't happy.

Actually, the MCC will only be truly happy if the whole world is put in a time machine and transported back to 1895. But I digress...

I'm not suggesting that Lords be denied a test match in any summer - a Lords test is an integral part of any sporting year, but lets please lose the assumption that they have to host every side that pays a visit, and have to have more than their fair share of ODIs dolloped on top of that.

Other venues around the country have lashed out big bucks on improving their facilities - all without the 'guarantee' of future internationals.

As a venue, yes, Lords is a special place, but it's not that special.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Too Many Cooks

I wonder if the thought ever crossed Alistair Cook’s mind that maybe he shouldn’t have opened England’s innings on Sunday?

To have any chance when chasing a big score you need to give your best T20 batsmen the chance to score as many runs as possible. Eoin Morgan has proved he can steam along at two runs per ball – so logic would dictate that you need to let him face as many balls out of the 120 available you can.

Spare me the nonsense about openers needing to face the quick bowlers first up. Morgan’s not na├»ve enough to think he would be able to blast away from ball one, but by the end of the first over he’d have had a couple of sighters so that by the time he’d faced half a dozen balls he could well have be ready to put his foot down in the third over – half way through the powerplay, rather than chewing on his bat handle in the dugout.

It’s probably a moot argument when you’re chasing 240, but another time it might be a 200 run target where a few extra balls for Morgan, or KP for that matter, could mean an extra ten or fifteen runs and the difference between victory and defeat.

It’s a simplistic way of looking at things, but percentages are, by definition, simple things. You look to do as much as you can to give yourself the best possible chance to win the game based on the statistics you have available. Statistics are surely more relevant in the shortest format of the game where there are fewer opportunities for random chance to have an effect. Of course, Morgan could have opened and been out to the first ball he faced, which would have killed the theory stone dead, but at least he would have been in the position to have received as many balls as possible in the first place.

Actually, I doubt the idea of dropping down the order ever penetrated Cook’s mind. He’s been an opening batsman ever since school, so he’s not going to change now. Plus he’s already been anointed ‘next England captain’ so doesn’t need to demonstrate any radical tactical thinking – 'his future is as good as sealed…'

Let’s save the arguments about whether he should be in the T20 squad at all for another time.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Five Alive

Five Ashes Tests...

Five main, free to air, terrestrial TV channels...

Seems obvious to me.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Closure

Not entirely unexpected news in the Grauniad this morning confirming that Observer Sports Monthly is going to be closed.

With the current state of the economy, plus the fact that buying a daily paper is a fast fading habit, it’s hardly a surprise, but this is very much opportunity squandered over a period of years.

When OSM first launched it was an absolute revelation. A good quality read, not overwhelmed with adverts like, for example, the Guardian Weekend Supplement which is virtually unreadable. Topical, in depth, analytical articles where the quality journos in the Observer stable were given space for longer articles than you’d get in the paper itself.

Alongside these were some jokey features, the right level of nostalgia mixed in with good quality action photography and the all-around feel of a quality product. It was the nearest thing I’ve seen over here to Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News in the US, and was compulsory reading on a monthly basis.

The quality was such that for the first couple of years, it could have easily been sold on the newsstands as a standalone publication.

But then, bizarrely, it went downmarket at such a rate of knots that you could only assume that they’d got the editor of Loaded in to run it.

The long quality features disappeared and, instead, we were treated to a series of badly written pieces about nothing at all, and a bizarre over-concentration on dangerous ‘sports’ – like cliff diving or running with the bulls in Pamplona – which is as much of a sport as bear baiting or cockfighting.

Typical of the direction it was going in was a new feature - ‘how I got my body’ where a sportsman was given the opportunity to preen himself in public whilst the rest of us wondered how soon it would be before someone dropped the word 'steroid'.

Then there was the gratuitous sexism. Every time they published a photograph of a female sportsman, the woman in question was wearing as little clothing as possible – and in the case of Victoria Pendleton on the front cover for heaven's sake – nothing at all. Any sportswomen appearing in the pages seemed to have to be party to a Faustian pact where the deal seemed to be ‘we’ll give you some publicity to help you attract sponsorship, but in return you need to get ‘em out for the lads’. Leaving aside the fact that they were talking to some of the most successful and committed sportsmen in the country – to quote Adam Faith (Spinal Tap) ‘sex sells’.

From a cricketing point of view the pre-Ashes analysis consisted of asking the England squad the most anodyne series of questions imaginable and little else, and then photographing them in dinner jackets, whilst whoever wrote the post series review decided that Andrew Flintoff had beaten the Australians single handed.

The descent to the gutter has proved terminal and a decent product has been ruined and I still don't quite understand why.