The Over – 1st and 2nd T20s

Well what with one of us having exams this week and the other getting his teeth into a new job, we haven’t had as much time for the old blog as usual, and apart from a running off a few hundred words on wicketkeeping and a few amusing photos in a couple of hours on Friday, you haven’t heard from us since Monday. In the meantime, England and Pakistan have got through the equivalent of less than a day of Test cricket, but with rather more bombastic generic DJing and rather fewer cucumber sandwiches. Here’s some thoughts on what we managed to catch of the two T20s:
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Ricky Ponting Looking Upset – Special Edition

In celebration commemoration of Ricky putting one foot in the international cricket grave by retiring from ODIs, we thought it was about time that we had a special extended edition of ‘Ricky Ponting Looking Upset’, chronicling his progress from looking torn up on international debut right through to appearing downright miserable in his last ODI.

The Debut – Australia v South Africa – 1995

Lo-res Ricky was just as unhappy as his later HD counterpart.

The Kings Cross incident – 1999

“So where exactly did that bloke hit you in that seedy Sydney bar and restaurant, Mr Ponting?”

The run-out – England v Australia, Trent Bridge 2005

Ricky made a mental note to add Gary Pratt to his list of enemies.

CWC Quarter-Final 2011 v India

Ricky’s unusual new fielding technique wasn’t really working.

The final ODI – Australia v India, Brisbane 2012

For the 336th and final time in ODI cricket, a dismissed Ricky looked upset as he trudged alone back to the pavilion.

The fall and rise of Matt Prior

You may have noticed in the short life of this blog so far that we focus a little bit more than average on wicketkeeping, and that’s because as a keeper myself, I tend to have an eye on the bloke with the gloves more than the average punter. Largely our focus has been on whichever incarnation of an Akmal is watching the ball go whizzing to the boundary on that particular day, but in the Test series, the other (slightly) quieter keeper on show went largely unnoticed.

If you’re Matt Prior, largely unnoticed is what you want to be while wicketkeeping. Rather like a football referee, it shows you’re doing your job efficiently. The best wicketkeepers get noticed for their stunning catches and cat-like agility, but Matt (bless him) will never fall into the Jack Russell / Alan Knott category of keepers who could catch a speeding bullet if they had solid enough gloves. The worst wicketkeepers get noticed because of all the cock-ups. Therefore, unless you’re one of the supermen, slipping under the radar is definitely a Good Thing.
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The Over: 2nd and 3rd ODIs

We’re afraid our limited love for the one day game has meant we couldn’t be bothered to do a separate post on the 2nd ODI, but given its close resemblance to the first game, you could probably just go back and read our post on that. We’ve attached a few thoughts from the second game here as well, and, as a result, this particular ‘over’ resembles an Umar Gul one, what with it having more than six ‘balls’ in it…

Wide – Seriously, did someone ‘up there’ just copy the major parts of England’s performance in the 1st ODI and paste it wholesale into the 2nd game? A Cook hundred, Bopara fifty, Finn four-for? Not to mention Umar Akmal once again giving a demonstration of how he is the worst wicketkeeper in the Akmal dynasty, which, given the competition, is like losing to a three-toed sloth and a Galapagos tortoise in the hundred yard dash. Admittedly, Pakistan’s batting was marginally better second time around, and England managed to stave off collapse, but the similarities were a bit striking.
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Ricky Ponting Looking Upset – 18/2/12

As Ricky found out he was going to captain Australia again, all the horrible memories of those three Ashes defeats came flooding back.

Not with a bang but a whimper

The cricket world has been rocked to its core by the sudden and untimely retirement of Andrew Symonds.

Not really. Symonds went out with something less than the ‘boom boom’ that his batting was noted for at its best, quitting officially for family reasons. However, it probably had as much to do with no longer being able to cut it in the IPL, and you know it’s time to call it a day when you’re no longer able to compete with the largely zimmer frame-dependent overseas contingent in that league. At 36, he’s pretty young by IPL standards.
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The young ones XI

Now that England have a win under their belt on this tour, our outlook has improved a little bit (but it’s going to take a lot of therapy to get Abu Dhabi out of our system). In the meantime, we’ve had some feedback saying that we’re too negative, which surprised us slightly – we thought the clue was in the ‘Grumpy’ bit of ‘Two Grumpy England Cricket Fans’. Writing angry rants is very cathartic and we’ll continue to do so (as we said in our very first post), until there really is nothing left to rant about, which we’re not expecting to be any time soon. But we also don’t take criticism lightly, so in that spirit, here’s something a bit more cheerful on the future of England cricket in the form of an XI of England talent, past, present and future.

This one’s for you, Millsy…

England have heaps of young talent coming through, and we expect at least one or two of the players in this list to become world-beaters. If five or six can develop, Australia may as well kiss goodbye to the Ashes for a decade or so (you heard it here first…). So without further ado:
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Pakistan in sharp-Finn soup

Firstly apologies for that terrible pun (or inspired, depending whether or not you work for The Sun). It’s been an odd day at TGECF. What with preparing for job interviews and the student wing of our esteemed organ having some actual work to contemplate, we naturally kept all eyes and ears squarely on the cricket. While we’re very much Test cricket animals, it was this or doing something more important. So, some thoughts:

The ‘Olé!’ trumpet jingle in these games must go. What happened to the ripple of polite applause? The quiet buzz of conversation? The cucumber sandwiches? All sadly gone, to be replaced by that bloody trumpet and whatever the locals class as cheap, tinny, pop music suitable for the 18 men and a dog (Surely camel? Ed.) watching. It doesn’t make it a better “entertainment product” or whatever the marketing goons have told you, it doesn’t add anything at all (well, except waking us up from our Bob Willis-induced narcolepsy). It’s just a bloody nuisance.
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Where the wild things aren’t – England vs ODIs

England dive headlong into another ODI series tomorrow with the first of four against Pakistan. We’re not exactly massive afficionados of the 50 over game, and we’ve been trying to work out why. ODIs can be compelling under the right circumstances, but more often than not they’re drab, lifeless and we’d frankly rather turn over and watch the bowls on BBC Two than try and stick it out with Bangladesh trying to overcome an India-shaped brick wall.

However, a large part of our cynicism (cynics, us? Shurely shome mishtake!) comes from watching England playing the one day stuff. We’ll leave out T20s for the moment – the bolt of lightning finally sparked that particular lurching creation into life last year when we actually bloody won something. Focusing then on ODIs, which in England’s case, to continue the previous awful analogy, is still a mangled pile of unassembled body parts missing a brain, we need to look at what England are doing wrong. And they are doing plenty wrong.
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Sachin Tendulkar and the pointless quest

Ah, Sachin… the Little Master – in the history of cricket has anyone else commanded such a following, such fervour, such fanaticism? Unlikely, given the hundreds of millions in India to whom cricket, and the Indian team specifically, is a way of life. The man could run for president and win by a country mile, at least that’s the perception over here in England, where our hero figure likes to drive a tractor in his spare time and has the unique ability to send a crowd of 25,000 to sleep at will.

I don’t expect to be the most popular man on the web, therefore, when I air the following suggestion: Tendulkar should retire very soon, whether or not he gets his magical 100th international hundred. I realise this whole article might become a moot point if he gets a ton in the current ODI series, but even now, a certain amount of damage has been done.
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