Two mildly satisfied and cautiously optimistic England cricket fans

Crikey – only three posts in the last year. Well, sorry about that. We haven’t died or anything. We’re still here.

Anyway, there will continue to be cricket-related rubbish to read here. It’s just not as funny when England are actually good. Peter Moores’s bumbling ineptitude was hilarious in a slapstick kind of way, but now we’ve got a boring Aussie in charge who seems to be able to make a winning team without ‘looking at the data’ for more hours than there are in a day, or so it appears. They’ve won the Ashes, they’ve won in South Africa, and now presumably they’re going to shock everyone by winning the World T20 (actually, steady on, that might be a bit much).

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Phil Hughes – sport and life in context

It is a strange thing that sometimes you become so used to something that you forget how odd it is. So it is with this weird and wonderful game of ours. With the news of Phil Hughes’s horrific accident yesterday, it made me realise, as if it were not obvious, that cricket is not so far removed from David casting his sling at Goliath, the only difference being our projectile is better crafted than the average rock. And that is sport. In many respects, sport is an outlet for the physical violence, aggression and desire for superiority that our species is so sadly adroit at, a way to utilise our skill at killing and maiming in a safer and more controlled environment.
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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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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.”

 

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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WASP the hell?

Sky Sports had a new gimmick in its T20 coverage this evening, the WASP percentage, which it kept wheeling out on the bottom bar (which is increasingly resembling the flight deck controls of a quad-engined airliner).

What’s the WASP percentage, you ask? We had no idea, only that it seemed to go down a bit as Ian Bell flailed and missed a ball. Was it perhaps the Weight Analysis of Samit Patel, adjusted ball by ball as Samit worked his way through a packet of crisps, sat on the sofa watching the game? Was it the Willow Accoutrement Smashing Potential, a real-time assessment of the overall state, composition and moisture levels of the batsman’s bat, trying to work out whether it’ll crack in two if he tries the Dhoni helicopter shot? Or maybe it was just a rough calculation of what proportion of the overweight, slightly sunburnt and increasingly drunk middle-aged men in the crowd were currently in danger of having a yellow-and-black buzzing insect land in their pint?
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Fancy yourself as England coach?

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The TGECF joint application must have got lost in the post

Who knew that there was an actual online application for the role of England coach? Not us, certainly. Sadly for all you armchair coaches, the deadline has now passed, but interviews start next week, so hold on to your hats for a long list of mediocre candidates to fail to stand out from the crowd, before the job goes to Ashley Giles, fresh from tripping over his metaphorical shoelaces on the way into the interview (aka in Bangladesh).

Criteria for the successful candidate include the ability and/or willingness to:

  • Dodge questions about why KP isn’t still in the team
  • Scour foreign cricketers’ family trees for the faintest trace of Englishness, or failing that, just nicking players from the Irish
  • Organise Stuart Broad’s anger-management treatment
  • Keep Tim Bresnan in the manner to which he has become accustomed vis-a-vis cheese sandwiches and pints of bitter
  • Stop the team from being a total car-crash

The (now closed) application blurb can be found here.

English cricketing eccentrics, No. 3 – Jack Russell

I should nail my colours to the mast at the outset – Jack Russell was one of my cricketing heroes growing up. As a young wicketkeeper, watching him swooping around behind the stumps for Gloucestershire at my home ground at Cheltenham was inspirational. I even hung around to get his autograph at his testimonial game in 2004 and I have one of his wonderful prints on my wall. So the description that is to follow is borne of affection rather than ridicule. Why give this disclaimer, you ask? Because Robert Charles ‘Jack’ Russell is quite an odd fellow.

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Frankly the hat has aged better than the kit.

‘Eccentric’ is almost certainly the best word – he doesn’t like the phrase himself, insisting that all the things he does are “logical and natural”. That may be so, but it bears some of the hallmarks of being obsessive-compulsive. All of Russell’s strange behaviour had sensible roots, but he would take everything to its logical extreme. For instance, he liked his “flowerpot” hat and found it comfortable. Fair enough, but Russell’s logical extreme? He wore it in every match in his career bar his debut, endlessly repairing it with old cricket trousers, leading to a George-Washington’s-axe-type conundrum as to whether it was still the same hat by the end. Such was his dedication to it that he threatened to not play in the 1996 World Cup if he wasn’t allowed to wear it (the ICC were insisting on compliant blue caps). In the end, the authorities conceded defeat and Russell was given dispensation to wear the hat, so long as it had the Three Lions stitched on it. Such an ancient hat needed careful looking after – it was starched, stitched and carefully dried using a biscuit jar and tea cosy to hold the shape. However, away from home, he had to make do with more makeshift arrangements, on one occasion in 1994 putting it in the oven to dry. The hat predictably caught fire and required emergency repairs for it to live to fight another day.
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KP: Method or madness?

A bright new dawn peeks over the horizon of English cricket. Well no, it’s another huge raincloud coming to dump some more misery on the ECB and its media machine, which has been pumping furiously to try and clear the knee-deep sludge which is starting to smell pretty nasty. To put it lightly, it’s been one of the worst winters on record. On the field, the team has been thrashed in every which way it is possible to be thrashed. Off the field, it’s looking like some of the worst imaginings of Hieronymous Bosch. Whichever way you look, this is a team in disarray. Its coach has resigned, its captain shell-shocked, its vice-captain dropped, its senior batsman mentally unfit for the rigours of the game and its world-class spinner retired. Yet through all of this, the attention is instead on Kevin Pietersen, as it has been for the past eight-and-a-half years.
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From the Archives: (i.e. we forgot to post this before) Film Review Roundup: The Adelaideville Horror

Out this week on DVD following the grand premiere in December, the Adelaideville Horror is based on the true story of a group of eleven young men who get holed up in an unfamiliar location. With their only means of defence a few pieces of wood, they are slowly picked off by a crazed killer (Mitchell Johnson).