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…..

Friday, 15 November 2013

The Ashes 2013/2014 -part 1

So here we are again in the build-up to another Ashes series, blimey it only seems like a few weeks since the last one.  
Which of course it is, well actually 12 weeks to be precise. I have lost count of the amount of times that I have been asked by my non-cricketing friends  as to why this series is taking place so close to the last one - well actually it's 3 times, but for dramatic and comedic purposes I'll regard that as countless). 

Now it may come as a surprise to those who know me, but there are one or two people out there who have requested a 
more regular updating of Well bowled Harold: An England Cricket blog during the winter tour of the colonies. I fully acknowledge that it is more than likely that these are the very same people who may only get out on day-release from their secure institution on rare occasions and that entertainment of any source for them may be of a limited supply - but I'll take my audience wherever I can. However, I cannot promise that my entries can be any more regular as they have been - pesky little things like jobs, paying bills and being the family taxi seem to regularly get in the way of my blogging activities - but I'll try

Anyhow in between the occasional in-depth piece of genius cricket observation, anecdotes and musings I will try to include some shorter pieces - the problem is, I don't really do short as my previous self-indulgent ramblings will testify to.

Take this entry for example. It was supposed to be a quick introduction to my winter tour ramblings with a short witticism or two and a brief reference to the upcoming fixtures such as.......

The Test itinerary of the tour which is as follows:

31 Oct-2 Nov: v Western Australia Chairman's XI, Perth (match drawn)
6-9 Nov : v Australia A, Hobart (Match Drawn after a deluge or two)
13-16 Nov: v New South Wales XI, Sydney
21-25 Nov: 1st Test, Brisbane
29-30 Nov: v Chairman's XI, Alice Springs
5-9 Dec: 2nd Test at Adelaide
13-17 Dec: 3rd Test at Perth
26-30 Dec: 4th Test at Melbourne
3-7 Jan 2014: 5th Test at Sydney

The new fielding restrictions proposal from the ICC.....
That really should have been that, except for the fact that I needed to mention there are apparently some other fixtures on the tour. Rumour has it there there are some ODI and T20 nonsense and shenanigans going on after the Test matches, but I really cannot bring myself to talk about those formats of the game right now - if ever...... Well that is to say except for the travesty of so-called cricket I witnessed in the latest ODI between India and Australia a week or so ago. I'm sorry, but the constant fiddling of fielding restriction rules, bigger bats, short boundaries and the numerous new balls had already cheapened the whole value of a four and now the six has seen the same devaluation. World records in run chases, individual and team sixes and endless amounts of effortless boundaries is not exciting Nor is witnessing successive overs going for twenty and thirty runs on a regular basis, no it is boring beyond belief. A format of the which is fast seeing the bowler and now field placings becoming largely redundant just isn't for me....not that it ever was.

I was about to leave it at that little piece of ranting when I decided to quickly look at the cricket news - what's the worse that could happen? What could possibly grab my attention enough to mean more words of wisdom from yours truly? 

Step forward Mitchell Johnson.

Mitchell's bowling action in all its glory
With the announcement of the Aussie squad made this week it was quite obvious that the inclusion of old Mitch's name in the squad if nothing else was going to cause an element of, what is the word I'm looking for?.....yes, that's it - hysteria. For if you were to check the latest trends in Twitter at some point, you could be forgiven that the long awaited alien landing had finally taken place on this planet and the name of the alien leader who was going to enslave humanity went by the name of Mitchell Johnson - and boy was he polarising opinion. 

On the one hand you had Michael Clarke suggesting to the media that (please don't laugh) that he wouldn't be surprised if he saw Johnson's name at the end of the series as most valuable player - no seriously I said, don't laugh. Now, there does seem to a be a genuine level of support and satisfaction from many of my friends down-under that he is in the squad and together with it a real expectation form some that he could do the business. He may well just do that, because people forget that when he stops bowling to the left and then to the right, that he he is actually rather bloody good.

However, on the opposite side of the spectrum there are many in the barmy army already composing new versus and chorus' to the plethora of songs about his bowling style, as it were. In addition in the land of the Twitter there seemed to be thousands of those tweety things about ol' Mitch, and some of them were not particularly flattering. Some of them were actually downright blooming horrid, so much so that I was beginning to feel sorry for the old chap - after all, I've seen him in the odd interview where he has come across as quite a reasonably decent sort of guy who takes a lot of the abuse hurled in his direction with humour - albeit well hidden.

So there I was feeling a little sorry for the guy, until I saw his interview today......ol' Mitch told the Sydney Morning Herald:

"I look at the England one-day series and really went hard at a few of those players, in particular Trott. I think he's come out and said he's not worried about the short ball. But we saw what he was like in the one-day series - he definitely didn't like it. There's guys in their team we'll definitely go after."

At the mention of Cook's name, he added:

"If I can get a few of those rearing balls towards the ribs or those throat balls, and if he gets in the way of it, that's his own fault."

Somebody should really be having a quiet word in his shell-like and mention that it is not always a good idea to start spouting ones mouth off before a Test series about what one is going to do to the opposition - particularly when ones previous Test form has bean, how can I put it?....pants. For those who are unsure what I mean about putting ones foot firmly in it look up Tony Grieg and certain comments about making the West Indies grovel to get a flavour of what I mean.

So now I don't feel especially sorry for him - play nice, play fair, but let him have it Cooky.

Watch that bloody Calf, Matt!
If that wasn't enough, I was again going to call it a day when I saw the news about his heroship himself - Lord of the the defiant match saving innings: Matt prior. Bloody marvellous - he's only gone and torn his calf muscle. At first I noticed that the report said that it was a low-grade tear - "how bad could that be then?" said the medical practitioner in me after numerous seasons of watching 'House'. Well apparently it is bad enough to mean that he may miss the first Test - bugger. There are some who say that his lack of form in the summer Test matches means that he may not be missed, especially as Bairstow is more than handy behind the stumps himself. Nope, disagree. We need his Lordship big time - his figures speak for himself:

Tests: 72
Innings: 110
Runs: 3,813
Highest: 131 not out
Average: 42.36
Centuries: 7
Catches: 207
Stumpings: 13

So for crying out loud - somebody get rubbing his calf better right now - it's for the country dammit!

I'll finish this piece with my customary and woefully laughable attempts at predicting a series score. Well actually to be honest I haven't got a clue as I think that the Aussies are a far more settled unit than they were over here in the UK during the summer. Clarke, for all the nausea inducing hype bestowed upon him by certain individuals (you know who you are Mr) is a fine captain and more so a fine player who is leading a group of cricketers desperate to regain some Ashes pride - and the pessimist in me thinks that they may well push us all the way. Something in my water tells me that this may be a drawn series.

The full Australian squad for the first Test is: Michael Clarke (captain), Chris Rogers, David Warner, Shane Watson, Steven Smith, George Bailey, Brad Haddin (vice-captain, wk), James Faulkner, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris, Nathan Lyon

For a start that looks like a blooming good bowling line-up to me - and call me mad as a box of Frogs, but I include ol' Mitch in that too.

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