A little bit about me and my little blog

This is by far not the first cricket blog to be written and it certainly won't be the last (or necessarily the best). But it's mine.

This is mainly an excuse for me to carry on about a sport that has been something of an obsession since I was knee high to a middle stump. An obsession which has never left throughout the many highs (behave, there have been some) and lows (and boy have there been many of those…..) of being and England cricket fan in the years since.

The views and opinions in this blog are entirely my own. Sometimes light-hearted, occasionally irreverent, hopefully never offensive.

What gives this fool the right to have an opinion on this great sport? Where are his credentials I hear you ask? Well I think my catch at mid-on in the inter-house final at Heath Grammar school in 1981 speaks for itself…..

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Have I missed anything in the Cricket?………..

Doesn't time pass when you're, er, having fun? I've been a very bad boy in neglecting my cricket blog lately, in fact even I was surprised to see that I haven't written an entry since May 11th. Criminal almost. I would love to say that the reasons for my blogging hiatus were exciting, or indeed vaguely interesting….. but no. My day job as a college lecturer and the current academic year entering (and now, thank god, coming out of) the assessment season has meant that time, energy and the general will to live has been at something of a premium over the last few weeks.

I have been taking refuge from the stress and strains of everyday 1st world problems with watching and reading aplenty about god's own game - there's nothing in the world that would ever stop that. So in response to the many enquiries….. well, few enquires…..well, a couple of enquiries to be honest as to my lack of blogging activity, here is a brief-ish collection of some of my personal cricketing musings. Most of which probably don't go anywhere…..but what's new about that.

So where should I start? 

I'll begin by talking about the IPL. That's enough of that particular topic then.

The Test series against the Black Caps - back to business.

Ian Bell kindly giving the Kiwi's some fielding practice in the 1st  Test 
The two match series against New Zealand now seems like a lifetime and a half away. My usual rose-tinted England cricket memories suggest that I recall that we pulverised the Kiwis beyond all cricketing recognition. Of course, it wasn't quite like that, but it was a pretty good two match series. Highlights of which were Joe Root fast becoming a national folk hero and Jonathan Trott still annoyed some in and around the game by getting runs. Then there was spin master Swanny showing us how much he was missed during the Winter tour by once again displaying some world class bowling and Stuart Broad had a spell or two of sublime menace and wickets. In addition Captain Cooke almost caused communal bursting blood vessels amongst the Twitteratie & Sky sports pundits by his 'playing safe' in the 2nd Test by firstly not declaring, then causing mass hysteria amongst the aforementioned when he delayed the England declaration. The consequent run chase in-between the rain showers on the final day of the 2nd Test almost had Ian Botham choking in indignant outrage - again.

James Anderson
Jimmy waves to us mere mortal minions..

Then there was James Anderson - Oh Jimmy Jimmy…… The golden blowing god himself decided it was time to move further up the all-time England wicket takers by moving into  4th in the list.

Growing up and watching cricket throughout the 1970's onwards means that I've been privileged to have seen either on tv or in the flesh most of the modern greats - Warne, Holding, Richards, Botham, Tendulkar, Younis, Hadlee, Bopara etc….... And while i'm not trying to put  him in the same bracket necessarily as some of those illustrious names, I don't think that it is hyperbole to suggest that the feeling of watching greatness in action when Jimmy Anderson bowls is genuine. Apart from the mercurial Dale Steyn, Jimmy does things in moving a cricket ball that most mortals could only dream off. He will in years to come break all English records, but for the time being….. England's top Test wicket-takers are…….
  • Ian Botham - 383 wickets, Tests 102, average 28.40
  • Bob Willis - 325 wickets, Tests 90, average 25.20
  • Fred Trueman - 307 wickets, Tests 67, average 21.57
  • James Anderson - 307 wickets, Tests 82, average 30.14
  • Derek Underwood - 297 wickets, Tests 86, average 25.83

The Champions trophy - so good that they're going to get rid of it.

Ahh, the ICC Champions trophy, far superior to the world cup competition for the simple fact that it has the best teams in the world fighting it out in a relatively quick knock-out style that lasts for about two adrenaline-filled weeks. As opposed to the world cup, which has the best teams in the world, some good teams, and some not so good teams which all takes place in approximately 25 various group stages for what seems like 25 weeks until the important semi finals. 

The final then is then won by everyone except England - though we used to have the hang of getting to most of the World cup finals. Unfortunately, we also had the hang of the losing every single of those finals, which usually took the form of having our arses  kicked by an assortment of excellent West Indies & Aussie teams.
"Don't do it Mike…..Mike, don't….Mike!!!  Oh bollocks…."

Occasionally, for the sake of variety, we would snatch defeat from the odd jaw of victory (yes, I'm talking about you Mike Gatting and THAT bloody paddle-sweep shot). Since then we have been content for barely getting out of the super duper eight stages - or whatever it's called.

Now don't get me wrong, I know that that the so-called smaller cricketing nations need to grow and improve through increased and meaningful competition. I just think that the ICC need to look at the structure and timescale of the competition. I don't think I'm alone in thinking that the Champions trophy is superior in many ways, it seems a rather common assumption. So of course, the ICC in their wisdom (sic) have decided to make this particular competition the last one - god save us from fools and the ICC.

I know that this from the outset was designed to primarily be a Test match blog - I've stated (ad nauseum for some) my view that the one-day variation of the game is by far inferior to Test cricket, on so many levels. However, as the England boys seems to be doing rather well in the competition then I though it best not to miss celebrating  the fact………. the rumours  that it gives me the chance to poke further fun at my Aussie friends ( yes, I have many Aussie friends) are purely scandalous………..The other rumour that I'm shallow and superficial and will latch onto any British sporting success may have more of a grain of truth to it.

Which brings us onto DAVID WARNER  - who decided to add to the many woes of the Australian cricket team in the lead up to a certain Ashes series that begins very,very soon. Not only have the Aussies been dealing from Michael Clarke's dodgy back making him miss out on the Champions trophy and removing in one stroke a true world class batsman, Mr Warner decided to take matters (or rather chins) into his own hands when dealing with us pesky Poms. Warner decided to show us all how big, strong and powerful he is by (allegedly) attacking an England player during a players night out. 
"Put on your remorseful face David mate"
o did he pick on somebody of a size and stature that would send shivers down the spines of the opposition and put doubts into the minds of all Englishmen that we might indeed lose the Ashes to these behemoths from down-under?

No. He picked on that boy scout, Joe Root. Now quite what his parents were doing letting master Root stay out well after his bed time, and potentially meaning he wouldn't be up in time to do his pre-school morning paper round is beyond me. However he was out, spending a few innocent non-alcoholic beverages with his pals when Mr Warner decided to him a punch on the chin. Luckily for Junior Joe, it was apparently just a glancing blow. So not only does Warner enjoy a bar-room brawl, he's also a bit crap at it.

As I write this, the details of the altercation are still sketchy, though the speed of Warner's apology suggests where the probable blame lies, despite Cricket Australia's claims that the ECB had "outmanoeuvred them" in the affair. They rather cleverly suggested that in some way this sort of thing was part and parcel of a trap that any Aussie touring party was likely to fall into and somehow blamed our authorities for exonerating Root as quickly as they did. In other words , they were saying that 'our boy was guilty, but only because your boy goaded him by being English'. The Bastard.

The umpire inspects the ball during the England v Sri Lanka match...

There have of course been other controversies during the competition as the topic of ball-tampering reared its ugly head once again. This time,
 the accusations have been levelled against Captain Cooke and his boys.

Now before I give my usual completely unbiased and level-headed response against such bullshit, lets just talk about from whom the comments have been made. 

It seems that our swing- bowling machine, namely Messrs Anderson, Broad and, er, Bresnan, have been getting much more….much much more….. reverse swing than the other bowling chappies. Now naturally, this cannot be due to the fact that we have very skillful bowlers, including arguably a modern great of the game in Mr Anderson. No,there are some that have surmised that there must be certain ball manipulation shenanigans going on. Both the Saffer & Aussie captains have suggested that a 'close eye needs to be kept on the situation' in barely ill-concealed terms after the noticeable difference that our boys were getting in contrast  to the
dirge and rot  ordinary fare that their bowlers were serving up.

So the whispers have been there, we were achieving more swing because of illegal means. I remember seeing the Aussie press conference when the current unfortunate Captain was expressing surprise at how quickly England managed to swing the ball and thinking that this would just blow over, sour grapes from Johnny foreigner and all that. Even when, during the match against Sri Lanka the ball was changed during the Sri Lankan innings and Sangakkara complained to the umpires as soon  the ball had begun to reverse, despite the umpires stating that it was changed because the ball was simply out of shape - was I was angry? Nope. I can distinctly remember thinking to myself "At least no English ex-playing buffoon has joined in with this mud slinging nonsense, it's all just pure jealousy.

Cue Bob blooming Willis. Good old Bob has gone from being one of my boyhood heroes to being, well frankly, a bit of a plonker. When asked about the explanation on Sky tv about the ball being changed for being out of shape his response was as follows:

"What a load of waffle that was,” said Bob to his respected colleagues. “Let’s not beat about the bush: Aleem Dar’s on England’s case. He knows one individual is 
Bob being all mean and moody in his playing days….

scratching the ball for England – whom I am not going to name, by the way – and that’s why the ball was changed.” Interestingly, it wasn’t just the players getting some chin music." (courtesy of

Yet no official complaint has been made, no player has been officially (or unofficially) reprimanded, no fine has been imposed, no proof at all has been put forward. Yet this was enough for Willis to voice his accusations that someone is scratching the ball. Thanks Bob.

Lets just say that the England players, namely our Jimmy, are a bit annoyed with him. If the ball is being illegally tampered with, then have some balls Mr Bailey, Sangakkara, Willis et al and name names and offer some proof, instead of hiding behind vague insinuations. 

So tomorrow, weather permitting the final takes place against arguably the best team so far in the tournament, India. Will our boys win a famous (and very rare) final?…….. Well my predictions are notoriously rubbish. All I'll say is that I'm confident…….. as long as Mr Willis keeps his mouth shut.