The Yips XI

We are frequently reminded of our sporting inadequacies when watching professional sportsmen and women doing their jobs; to succeed at the highest level requires skill, dedication and talent (whatever that is…), none of which we, as resigned amateurs, possess. The fact is, these people are operating on a level far out of our reach – being able to sway out of the way of a 95mph short ball, zeroing in on your larynx, is something that 99.9% of the population couldn’t do. Therefore, it’s immensely gratifying (not to mention hilarious) to see these people suffer the sort of technical and mental lapses that would have an Under-13 player looking a bit sheepish. So, for this list, we’ve dug up footage of moments in history when cricketers got the yips, or had total brain freeze. And where better to start, than your humble bloggers’ favourite mentally fragile Australian:

1. Mitchell Johnson

Yes, this was as inevitable as night following day. We don’t like to pick on individuals (yeah, right) but Mitchell’s bowling is one of our very favourite topics. We know he’s bowling fast, we know he’s got a slingy action, but every time he wangs it down the leg side for five wides, it’s a brief reminder of some of the lower echelons of club cricket, where getting the ball on the cut strip is something of an achievement. It just never gets old.

2. Steve Harmison

However, for a bit of balance, it seems necessary to include this next entry. Dear old Steve was the sort of bowler who when he was good was very, very good etc. but more often than not was crap. 7/12 against the West Indies was the former. The first ball of the Ashes in 2006/7 was the latter. We’ll put it down to nerves, but personally, even in our most nervous state, we doubt we’d be able to put it straight into second slip’s lap. Don’t smile, Steve, you’ve no idea how much worse the series is going to get…

3. Mark Ramprakash

Smart batting is all about sizing up the situation. The situation in this case was that at Nottingham in 2001, England were already 2-0 down against the Aussies, needing to win to keep their Ashes hopes alive. After only making 185 in the first innings, England recovered to knock over Australia for 190. The game was in the balance. A fine fighting fifty from Atherton got England to 115-2, a promising lead of 110 and plenty of batting to come. However, Atherton and Stewart fell in quick succession, leaving England 115-4. With Ramprakash and the still wet-behind-the-ears Ian Ward at the crease, consolidation was what was needed with Shane Warne at the other end having picked up 3 of the first 4 wickets. Cue utter brain-freeze and one of the seminal moments of my cricket upbringing, which has pretty much discouraged me from ever coming down the track since:

4. Brian Lara

Slip catching is hard, really hard. If you don’t realise how hard it is, then for God’s sake don’t do it, especially against fast bowling, because you’ll end up with a random arrangement of bones where your fingers used to be. However, those that can do it make it look easy, often nonchalant. So nonchalant, indeed, that occasionally they forget that catching the ball before celebrating is a necessary requirement. Enter Brian Lara, against England in 2003/4, who was perhaps understandably feeling a little fatigued after scoring 400* out earlier that day. Standing at slip to the spinner, he bobbled the catch first time, then seemingly took it before appearing to throw it away without having actually gained control of it. This particular brain fart might have cost the West Indies the match, as Flintoff went on to make 102* and England recovered to draw.

5. Scott Boswell

Arguably king of the ‘Yippers’ is Scott Boswell. A five-year pro with Northants and Leicestershire without great success, it must have been the pinnacle of Boswell’s cricketing career to play in the 2001 C&G Final. After all, he’d picked up career-best one-day figures in the semi, so he deserved his chance. Boswell’s bowling technique was unorthodox, and when you added in the variables like the Lord’s slope and the fact it was a major final, there was a fairly potent recipe for disaster. His first over was relatively uneventful, only going fo 9 and lasting 7 balls. The second over lasted twice that and went for another 14. You can’t watch it and not feel sorry for the bloke, who, having chosen his career years before, must have had the sudden realisation that when it mattered, he was actually just a bit shit.

6. Brad Haddin

This is a video we’ve featured before, but it’s highly amusing to include it again. Imagine the scene, if you will. Two of the top teams in the world, Australia and South Africa, are clashing in a humdinger of a (sadly only) two-match series. Australia had bowled out the Saffers for a paltry 96 to give them a lead of 188 after their first innings. However, Australia lost several early wickets to teeter dangerously at 18-5. What would you do in such a situation? Stick it out, get yourself in, perhaps try to knock a single and get up to the other end? Haddin, instead, must have either spoken to Mark Ramprakash shortly before he went out to bat or else come down with a very sudden upset stomach which necessitated his immediate exit from the playing area. Either way, his brain short-circuited, because on his third ball he ran down the track to the opening bowler, Philander, (this is 18-5, remember) and tried to liberate the ball from the shackles of Earth’s gravitational pull. Boucher pouched the nick and Australia then staggered to 21-9 before they rather disappointingly scraped together another 26 runs to be all out for 47.

7. Kamran Akmal (wk)

There isn’t much to be said about this – just watch the video (we would recommend turning the sound down/off). The only thing is we hope that this was down to Akmal being a terrible wicketkeeper and not anything more in the ballpark of leather jackets and shady bookmakers.

8. Malcolm Nash

Strictly speaking this isn’t all the bowler’s fault – it was the result of some breathtaking batting as well. Nevertheless, there can’t be many more ignominious moments in sport than being beaten by a man with a plank to the tune of the maximum that the laws of the particular game you are playing will physically allow without any illegality. When you add the fact that no one had ever done it before in first class cricket, it doesn’t matter how good the batsman was, it’s still embarrassing. Finally, to top it all off, this was 1968, meaning the odds of a county match being televised were pretty slim, but the BBC team, having been told to stop filming, just happened to carry on for a few more minutes for a bit of practice! Surely Nash should have should have just bowled one underarm (a la Trevor Chappell) to avoid the sight of Gary Sobers depositing him in into the next town over for the sixth consecutive time.

9. Stuart Broad

Broad could have been in here for the same reason as Nash above. However, that would be boring and perhaps a little unfair. Instead Broad is here for a moment of madness in the T20 World Cup in 2009. Facing lowly Netherlands, with two needed to win off the last ball, the batsman hit the ball straight back to Broad. Rather than holding on to it, letting the batsman get one and taking their chances in the super over, Broad turned and flung the ball at the stumps and promptly missed. The man backing up was all the way down at long off (which made the decision all the more bizarre), the batsmen were able to saunter back for two and England lost the game. Well done Stuey, another inspired moment…

10. Chris Read

Facing a fast bowler can be terrifying, no doubt, and from personal experience I know that if the ball comes out and you don’t see it straight away, your brain goes into self-defence mode. However, when you’re an international cricketer, the pace of the ball, particularly when it’s being delivered by a man (Chris Cairns) who wasn’t exactly the fastest out there, shouldn’t be a surprise. Chris Read would beg to differ. The duck is a choice of shot (or lack of) that is generally played to a short ball, not a yorker, Chris. He looked almost close to tears walking off, probably because he knew he’d be appearing on pointless lists on blogs (and blooper videos narrated by Phil Tufnell) for years to come.

11. Morne Morkel

Another woeful wide ball to come full circle and finish the list. This is probably the worst of the three. The ball genuinely doesn’t land anywhere near the cut strip, which as I hope someone reminded him, is what he is paid to do (as a minimum requirement). It seems unfair to only get five runs and an extra ball for a delivery like this…

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1 Comment

  1. I don’t know if Broad’s can quite be described as a ‘yip’…a run-out would have won the game. A pretty shocking throw, though. The rest of the list is amusing…Harmison was the ultimate ‘yipper’ and I’m glad he’s not on the scene still.


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