Jimmy – A feat of endurance for the ages

Jimmy Anderson is a bloody good bowler, of that there is no doubt. Sure, he’s had his ups and downs, but over the last seven or eight years, it’s been him and Dale Steyn running the world fast-bowling cartel. You want to get wickets as an England bowler? You’ll have to snatch them from Jimmy’s cold, dead hands, because otherwise he’ll get them before you. Whether on a road in Kolkata or a spicy first-dayer at Trent Bridge, he’s got them everywhere.

You’ll hear a lot of names bandied around in the same company over the next few days. Botham – sure. Willis – yep. Trueman, Barnes, Bedser, Larwood. The list goes on. Where does Anderson’s achievement stand compared to theirs? Is he the ‘best ever’? I’ve never seen any of those other bowlers bowl to the extent that I have watched Anderson. I’m sure they were all bloody good but it’s not an easy question to answer.


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.

Anderson and Jadeja to get clip round ear and detention

The ICC today announced that James Anderson and Ravindra Jadeja would, after all, be punished for their unsightly spat at Trent Bridge. Chief executive Dave Robertson issued the following statement:

“Following the report of the judicial commissioner, it has been decided that, as Anderson and Jadeja conducted themselves like a couple of idiotic schoolboys, they will be punished as idiotic schoolboys. Both will have their heads banged together and, additionally, Anderson will receive a clip round the ear.”

Richardson further announced that the two players will receive detention for their actions: “They will be made to sit facing one another, writing ‘I will not behave like a 12-year-old’ out a thousand times. Any kicking under the table or sticking out of tongues will result in a further detention. Both will be banned from afternoon games until they’ve completed their punishment. They will also have their tuck allowance removed for two weeks.”

In one respect, however, Richardson was disappointed with the decision: “I have elected not to appeal the decision of the judicial commissioner, though I must profess myself disappointed that he was not comfortably satisfied that either Anderson or Jadeja deserved a damn good thrashing. I had got my old birch rod out of the cabinet and everything.”


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


“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.

The Over: The Ashes, First Test, Part 2

Now that we’ve had a lie-down, we feel ready to write up the last couple of days:

1. Sunday’s action proved eerily reminiscent of Edgbaston 2005, not least the fact that we spent most of the morning absolutely bricking ourselves. Let’s not beat about the bush, this will go down as one of the great Test matches. It swung to-and-fro, featured mind-blowing performances with bat and ball, and, ultimately left fans with no clue who was going to win right up until the moment it finished. ODI and T20 cricket are, in part, designed to replicate the tension that Test matches like this produce. However, they never quite cut it. Both sides spent five days carefully crafting a chance to win. Both sides had so much to lose. Both sides nearly did. Test cricket once again demonstrated why it reigns supreme.

Broad and the hacks – how journalism works

I have been intrigued recently by the treatment of golden boy Stuart Broad in the print media. Young Stewie has had a rough ride of late; injury, poor form and porous batting leading to questions about his place in the side, and understandably so. He went two-and-a-bit Tests without even taking a wicket, poor bloke, leading to him being dropped / rested in the Third Test against India. “Stuart Broad should be replaced by Steven Finn”, shouted Nasser Hussain in the Daily Mail, although the article that followed was a much more reasoned piece than the headline implied. George Dobell, in a front page op-ed on Cricinfo, opined in November that Broad was “at a crossroads.” This was strange, given that, as Dobell points out in the first couple of paragraphs of the article, Broad was the leading wicket-taker in the world in 2012 at the time of writing. Anyone would have thought, reading the headlines, that Broad was a hopeless under-performer who was merely in the side because of good looks alone.


England v South Africa – series preview

Everyone excited now? Good, because you should be. Not only do England and South Africa usually churn out gripping series, supplemented by thrilling individual moments (Devon Malcolm in 1994, Donald to Atherton in 1998, Graeme Smith’s enormous fourth innings totals getting not one, but two, England captains out of the door and, a personal favourite, as it kept one of us going in the middle of nowhere on Christmas, Graeme Onions saving two tests with the bat as a number 11 in 2009-10).

So, with that in mind, what do we reckon is going to unfold over the next few weeks?

Rests for Tests

So Jimmy Anderson is throwing small quantities of toys out of his pram at the thought of putting his feet up for a week. So what, I hear you ask? Well quite. Most of us would be delighted to be given an enforced break by our boss in order to do nothing, but not Burnley’s favourite son. Interestingly there was no such wailing from Stuart Broad, who after having played 69 international since 2010, is presumably a little tired and stiff (Young Stewie has also probably already sneaked a glance at England’s schedule over the next year). Broad’s take, quite sensibly, was that in the circumstances of the shortened game, it was good to give the spearheads a rest and give some of the other varieties of pointed sticks a go instead. Anderson though, had been left out of the squad and told to get as far away from cricket as humanly possible, so the decision was seemingly less about giving the colts a run out and instead protecting Anderson from overwork.