The KP Saga – Part the First: The Dressing Room

Right, time to limber up, climb to the top of the ten-metre board and dive headlong into the KP debate.

Unless you’ve been living under several feet of rocks for the past few days, you’ve likely seen Kevin Pietersen’s got a book out and, in the spirit of shameless self-promotion, it’s full of juicy scandal about the inner-workings of English cricket. There’s lots and lots to say about all this, so we’re going to have to break it all down into a few blog posts. First up, an attempt to work out what was actually going on behind closed doors in the England dressing room.

For some reason our free copy of the autobiography hasn’t arrived yet, so what we have to go on are the various pieces splashed across every conceivable medium known to man (the Morse Code one is particularly enlightening) detailing every last moment of Kevin Pietersen’s acrimonious fallout with the England team. Anyway, this is our take. It’s as impartial as we can get it, and is an attempt to try and explain, justify or whatever what was going on in the dressing room.
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Come in, Number One, your time is up

Well that was a risible pile of manure, wasn’t it children? The Indians came into the heart of English cricket and knocked down our flimsy house of cards, complete with its card-analysis suite, card masseur and high-performance card director, with a flamethrower. Cut the pretence, it’s looking like the 1990s again.

A sign of how desperate things are in English cricket now is that we’d almost be prepared to go back to the bad old ways of the 90s, if only so we could have a selection panel that would actually have the courage to grab matters by the soft-and-danglies and switch captains during the series. Cook is hanging on like a shipwreck survivor hangs on to the last bit of flotsam this side of the horizon, with about the same long-term chances of survival.
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Here we go again…

Fear not, those of you suffering through the first gusts of the chilly England winter. You’ll soon be able to turn on your televisions and warm your hands on the hot Australian summer emanating from it. Or, even better, make yourself a nice cup of hot chocolate, get back under the covers, and put TMS on.

Now the world has got over the fact that a man who used to play cricket now no longer plays cricket, we can focus on some men actually playing cricket in a series which isn’t a glorified charity game for Sachin Tendulkar. So here’s a few thoughts from us:
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The Ashes: Alternative England marks out of ten

Every cricket site, blog and their dog have been arbitrarily awarding England and Australia’s cricketers marks out of ten for their performances in the Ashes. There’s nothing more to add, really. Everyone knows that Ian Bell had a good series. So here’s some marks out of ten that really count, starting with England.

Alastair Cook – Bus-hailing ability – 2/10

Stuart-Broad-tweets-2226801.png

“Where can we hire a pedalo?”

It’s not all chauffeur-driven Bentleys for England’s Ashes-winning skipper – on Sunday night he was reduced to hailing a night bus. Cook gains marks for his technique – any bus driver could recognise that as the signal for him to stop. However, it appears that Cook and Prior are not actually standing at a bus stop and by the look of the passing buses, none of them are in any danger of stopping. Matt Prior’s not even trying to stop a bus – he appears to be trying to get a hitchhike.
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The Over: England v New Zealand – 2nd Test

Squeezing six points out of a rain affected 85 minutes of on-off-on again-off again might look like a challenge to some. Happily, your writers are verbose like a windbag backbencher claiming their five minutes in the limelight and willing to find significance in the smallest details (much like tonight’s Channel 5 highlights, which showed about half the day’s play by the time they were done). Ahem, with no further ado, onwards…

1. Whoever does England’s weather forecasts could get a long-time job at the Met Office. They’re certainly a lot more optimistic than most had been, and were proved right when the clouds, if they didn’t exactly part, stopped bunging down water for long enough for England to winkle out the last recognised Kiwi batsman.
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The Over: New Zealand v England – 1st Test

Our usual heroic correspondent was last seen in the bar of an India-New Zealand steamer, bemoaning the lack of decent gin and suggesting that if the boat stopped in Sri Lanka he fancied chucking in the whole cricket nonsense for good. From our icy fastness in the freezing wastes south of the river, we’ve pulled together the following, aided by generous helpings of curry, to sum up what we thought of the first Test.

1. The failure to start tours properly needs to be addressed. Over the last year we’ve seen England struggle in some particularly horrible ways in first Tests of series. The first Test in Sri Lanka last year is the probably the closest comparison – batsmen weren’t being undone by great deliveries, they just found exciting new ways to through their wickets away. By the time Trott was wandering off on Day One, we had a familiar sinking feeling.
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The State of the Union

So, here we are.

We’ve been cluttering your inbox / news feed / Google search results for over a year now. We were rather too busy to mark the occasion with a proper, flag-waving ceremony, complete with lip-syncing major artist, but now the time is ripe to look back over the last year. A lot of interesting stuff has happened to England cricket in that time, so we thought we’d take our own, probably not all that unique, look at that.

The catalyst for this blog, as the web address might suggest, was England’s utterly abject subsidence to Pakistan a year ago (a Pakistan, we note, that got bowled out for 49 this very morning). We can still picture it now, rather too vividly for our liking (you see it’s imprinted on the inside of our eyelids and we still lie in bed at night in a cold sweat thinking about it) but if you’re not quite as haunted by it as we are, the full, horrible evidence can be viewed here. It was a spur of the moment thing – a combination of anger and embarrassment coupled with the need to vent those emotions led to our establishment.

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The TGECF Awards 2012 (Part 2)

A few days ago, we brought you the first part of our awards for the year. However, there’s still a few humdingers to come, so we hope you will enjoy our entirely subjective look at the year past.

Unpleasant noise of the year – Adnan Akmal (award presented by Kamran Akmal)

We’re guessing that, somewhere in the mists of time, the Akmals had an ancestor who was a large-lunged opera singer. Either that or they were the secret love-children of a Stuka and a vuvuzela. In one of our very first posts we wrote about the horrible noise emanating from the latest Akmal’s larynx and the experience has stayed with us for nearly a year. It probably didn’t help that England were getting soundly thrashed at the time by Saeed Ajmal et al but Akmal’s wailing really did get on our nerves. Our greatest wish for 2013 is that someone discovers a TV technology that can filter out the sound of his voice. Failing that, we’re starting up an earplug factory.

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The Flower Waltz, a piece for small ensemble, arr. Strauss; soloist – K Pietersen

TMS spent a good part of Tuesday’s ODI going on about cricketers with composers’ names, prompted by the appearance of Dean Elgar. This, given the news that came out on Wednesday, gave us an idea…

So the final movement has drawn to a close, perhaps with slightly more of a piano finish than the conductor intended, but with the critics looking back on the entire piece and exchanging some impressed looks.

Let’s be clear here, maestro Strauss did not compose this piece – rather he arranged it from an original theme by the modernist duo of Fletcher and Vaughan, with significant (and not entirely positive) later alterations made by Pietersen. Strauss, speaking at the unveiling of the new arrangement, was quick to highlight the Flower theme of the piece, which is present throughout, and the constancy of the instrumentation, which sees only a few new textures introduced mid-piece.
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Three England captains

(With apologies to Marty Feldman and John Law)

ANDREW STRAUSS: (in whites) I look down on him (looks up at Cook) because he captains in a worthless form of cricket.

ALASTAIR COOK: (in ODI kit) I look up to him (looks down at Strauss) because I want his job, but down on him (looks up at Broad) because he plays hit-and-giggle cricket.

STUART BROAD: (in T20 kit, with dancing girls on either arm) I know my place. I look up to them both. But I don’t look up to him (looks down at Cook) as much as I look up to him (looks down at Strauss) because he has innate breeding (and two Ashes wins).

STRAUSS: I have got innate breeding (and two Ashes wins), but I have not got any money or glamour. So sometimes I look up to him (looks up at Cook).

COOK: I still look up to him (looks down at Strauss) because although I have money, I am vulgar. But I am not as vulgar as him (looks up at Broad – and dancing girls) so I still look down on him.

BROAD: I know my place. I look up to them both. But while I am rich, I am a fast bowler – industrious, athletic and underappreciated. Had I the inclination, I could look down on them both. But I don’t, because I want their jobs.

COOK: We all know our place, but what do we get out of it?

STRAUSS: I get a feeling of superiority over them.

COOK: I get a feeling of inferiority from him (Strauss) but a feeling of superiority over him (Broad).

BROAD: I get a sackful of money.