Englandwatch – 28th April

Neither of us are Bill Oddie or Chris Packham and we don’t have a nightly slot on BBC Two to talk absolute rubbish for an hour, which in some ways is a shame, not least because we don’t have a platform to carry out our dastardly plans for world domination, but also because it means we don’t get to hang around with Kate Humble and talk about birds (cue the usual predictable misogynist double entendres about members of the genus Parus). Nevertheless, spring has sprung, albeit soggily, and we’ve got our binoculars trained on verdant pastures, hoping to catch a glimpse of a few fledgling youngsters, some migrating exotic varieties or, in the case of Mark Ramprakash, severely endangered species. Yes, Englandwatch is here! We’ve got our I-Spy books out and are ticking off some of England’s finest, past, present and future to see how they’re surviving after the long winter. So let’s do away with these frankly awful ornithological analogies and find out what they’re up to:


Cricket’s great dinosaurs facing extinction

We’re back folks! Apologies for the lack of cricket-related nonsense over the couple of weeks. Output should hopefully return to normal now.

Having seen some of the crusty specimens on show in the IPL, it’s easy to forget that players eventually have to get old and retire. What with Shane Warne’s Liz Hurley-induced new look and Jacques Kallis’ suspiciously rejuvenated hair, it could almost be the year 2000 again, when T20 cricket was still a twinkle in the ECB’s eye, nobody had heard the words ‘switch-hit’, ‘Hawkeye’ or ‘DLF maximum’ and dinosaurs ruled the earth (might need to check the veracity of that one). However, international cricket is going to have to gear itself for a lot of retirement parties and emotional farewell press conferences in the next few years by the looks of things.

Reviewing the reviews of the Review System

DRS has rarely been out of the cricketing headlines of late. Only yesterday, after we started writing this post, Windies coach Ottis Gibson criticised its inconsistent use. Because the system is some ongoing freakish Frankensteinian creation, constantly having parts bolted on or sawn off depending on what day of the week it is, it’s easy fodder for journalists who would otherwise have to think of something original to write about. There’s no doubt the system is not perfect, but there seems to be this bizarre polarised assumption that either we have to immediately have a perfectly functioning, flawless DRS or we should go back to the old days of blind old octogenarian umpires giving decisions based on what appeared to be little more than a finely honed sense of smell. There must be a happy middle ground, and whatever you think of it, there is a very definite sense of progress going on as far as DRS is concerned, albeit slow progress.

Mud-slinging – the case for bowlers’ pitches

The first two rounds of County Championship cricket are all but over and unsurprisingly, given the fact it’s barely stopped being winter, there have been plenty of results. In fact, of the eleven completed matches at the time of writing, only one has got anywhere near being a draw. Furthermore, Surrey, presumably at the same time as chomping on a large bowl of sour grapes, today slated the pitch at Lord’s after losing by 3 runs to Middlesex.

The Over: Sri Lanka v England – 2nd Test, Days 4 & 5

Do our eyes deceive us? An England win? Well bless our cotton socks…

We’re still scratching our heads about the Tim Bresnan thing. That’s now 11 out of 11 he’s won and he must think this Test match lark is the easiest thing in the world. He didn’t have the finest game of his career, but he’s an underrated player – his bowling average is the best in the side and he’s one of the seven players in the side who average over 40 with the bat. He’s not flashy and he’s probably not as talented as Finn, but assuming Broad is fit for the first game against the Windies, the selectors could quite easily plump for the man from Pontefract.

The Over: Sri Lanka v England – 2nd Test, Day 3

This is an experience that we haven’t had for a while – watching England play themselves in a dominating position with the bat. As long as they don’t have to chase more than, say, 72, we think they’ve got a pretty good chance:

We may as well start with the innings of the match and probably the series (sorry Mahela, but this was more of a game-changer). Pietersen’s knock was imperious and we’re not going to spend too much time listing superlatives because it would just be tautological. Simply put, this was one of the best innings in the context of a game that we’ve ever seen (the exact opposite of this from Brad Haddin). It’s not that often that you see a batsman who makes all others around him look like amateurs but KP did today. After we’d said yesterday that scoring at a walk looked like the sensible way forward, we expected today to be similarly leisurely paced. Trott looked fairly fluent, but Cook continued in crawler gear and we didn’t have high hopes that KP would be able to rein in his natural style, based on his past record. However, he didn’t need to. Mostly playing straight and demonstrating extraordinary power, Pietersen looked a class apart. When Ian Bell got out, you could see him shake his head as though he didn’t know how Kev was doing it. Neither did we. Likewise Matt Prior, arguably the second most natural hitter in the side after KP, couldn’t keep up. Magnificent stuff.

The Over: Sri Lanka v England – 2nd Test, Days 1 & 2

We’ll start with the usual bit about us being too busy to write a post yesterday. Yada yada yada.

Next comes a general announcement about the previous post – the one about the Gentlemen v Players match. As the more perceptive of you may have realised, it was posted on the morning of 1st April and as such may not have been entirely true, much as we’d love it to have been. We are aware of one person who fell for it, although we’re still waiting to be contacted by any national newspapers wanting to run the story despite its dubious nature.

And now to the actual filling of our delicious pie, but that’s enough about Samit Patel’s breakfast. Here’s some stuff about the Test match:

Gentlemen v Players to be revived

News has emerged this morning that the ECB are set to announce a comeback for the annual Gentlemen v Players match to mark 50 years since it was last played. An ECB insider has leaked information to the press about the proposed fixture, which will be revamped as a Twenty 20 game, complete with music and dancers, rather than the traditional three-day affair. The game looks set to be scheduled to coincide with the Olympics in order that, as the insider put it, ‘the rest of the world may see the noble origins of our sport and the role of the gentleman in the growth of British sporting dominance’.