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…..

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

NatWest T20 Blast - Some random musings.

For a number of reasons which I shall not bore you with, there was no cricket blog article last week (and don't think that I didn't hear you at the back saying that I always bore you!). Anyhoo, as usual a few thoughts came into my head this week.

Sky television’s obsession with this WASP thing.  – I quite like Baseball, though I’ve never been to a live game and quite possibly never will. However I’ve watched many a game on TV and for the most part I enjoy it – I say ‘for the most part’ because if there’s one thing that riles me about US sport is the obsession with all manner of statistical analysis and data. Now cricket has always had it’s own fare share of statistics with batting and bowling averages and the like, and while it’s fun to compare the averages of players past and present , we have never lost sight of the fact that all manner of weird and wonderful things can happen in a cricket match. 

Quite simply, statistics are not the only thing that we should bear in mind when predicting an outcome of any game, nor should they be absolute and paramount when considering a players contribution to cricket. After all, as previously mentioned, while a certain Mr Flintoff's career averages may not be as great as many think they actually are, what cannot be denied are the other elements of genuine box office he brought not just to the game but also to the wider non-cricketing public.

However, the constant reference to this newish statistical feature that appears on the bottom right hand side of the screen and constantly changes throughout the team’s innings seems to fascinate the sky commentary team, to the point of obsession. I lost count this week in both the T20 games and the ODI's (and the least mentioned about England's near miss yesterday the better as the pain still hasn't receded) against Sri Lanka, the number of times Atherton, Hussein and the rest of the commentators made reference to this WASP thing. But believe me, it was to the point of nausea - give it a rest boys and just talk about the action for once please.

For those of you who are not sure what this WASP thing is, well it apparently stands for Winning And Score Predictor and was devised by researchers from University of Canterbury and using data from limited overs matches since 2006. The system essentially predicts the total score of the team batting first and then predicts the chances of winning for the team batting second. Questions in my head abounded as I watched the games on TV this week; Why they have used the benchmark of 2006 for the data ? What happens if a players retires hurt, then comes back on? And most importantly, will this result in this WASP thing having some kind of fist fight in the middle with Duckworth/Lewis if rain intervenes in the play? This could get messy.

Watch those blooming knees, Freddie mate.
The return of the Flintoff happened after all, against my advice - though that's not much of a surprise because nobody ever listens to me, not even my dog...... she is anyone's for a biscuit and a quick rub of her am I too, as it happens. The rumours that had been building for weeks, that Freddie was coming  out of retirement to return to first class cricket after some five years, were confirmed a week or so ago when he re-signed for Lancashire ahead of the remaining NatWest T20 Blast fixtures. This week he appeared for his old club side St Annes, bowling a total of 12 overs and taking 3 for 36 in a spell that also included five maidens - not bad eh? All was looking good on the comeback trail as spectators of a certain age were taken back in time to rekindle a few past glories? Well not quite, for Freddie's return with the bat wasn't quite so auspicious when he scored just three runs. 

I just hope that his wonky knees hold out, I really do. Sport is littered with broken reputations of past greats aiming to regain their previous glories and part of me is thinking "don't do it, Freddie!". Though I will readily admit that part of me is also thinking that seeing the man show a little of his old pomp might just further light up what promises to be something of a golden summer.

According to the rumours, after training since March with Lancashire he may soon be ready to appear in the Blast, possibly in time for the game against god's own cricket county, Yorkshire on June 27th. Apparently the Lancashire director of Cricket says that he isn't guaranteed a place......yeah righty o matey, we believe do the ticket office and Sky TV.

Aaron Finch - one of my players to watch........probably.
Which leads me nicely onto the subject of Yorkshire (it's almost if I planned this piece, though those that know me personally would suggest the words 'planning' and 'Stuart' have never gone together in the same sentence - except when the words 'bugger all' are also included, that is). This week saw the Vikings (stupid name) beat the Derbyshire Falcons (a marginally better name) with a rather convincing eight wicket victory to record Yorkshire's first victory in the competition. That was the good news. The bad news was that my predictions, both for individual player, and team performance seem to be as ever, way off the mark. For not only am I still getting my arse slapped in the fantasy league but some of my 'players to watch' such as Aaron Finch was quite frankly was pants on his debut as he fell for just 19. He did score one six though. Big deal.

Not yet, KP. Not yet.
The subject of Kevin Pietersen is never really far away is it? Firstly, his first appearance of the season for Surrey on the T20 Blast was delayed on the advice of a hand specialist. The rumours that he injured it while throttling a board member of the ECB have yet to be confirmed. Previously his appearances for the Delhi Daredevils (stupid name) in the IPL had seen him playing with a cast on his arm to protect his injury. Naturally nothing is ever straightforward in the world of KP, with the Surrey powers that be deciding that risking the wrath of the sell-out crowd was worth protecting him from further injury for a little while yet.

If that wasn't enough, we've been treated to yet more unseemly to-ing and fro-ing between the ECB and KP regarding the ongoing fallout from his sacking following the Calamity down under that was the Ashes tour. Earlier in the week, the ECB's managing director, Paul Downton had said on a radio show that during the final Test in Sydney Pietersen had appeared “disinterested” and “distracted”and even suggested that there was nobody within the England organisation who wanted our boy to remain in the team.

This drew a number of trademark Twitter remarks and Website statements from KP who angrily denied the accusations. Cue a noticeably speedy apology from the ECB proclaiming 'regret' over the aforementioned remarks. The fact that Downton seemingly had broken the confidentiality agreement which had been brokered between the governing body and KP after the very public sacking of England's leading scorer of all-time across all formats, leaving them wide open to a whole raft of costly legal ramifications, was obviously just a coincidence and had nothing to do with their decision to say sorry so quickly.

People who know me will be fully aware of my support for KP as a player. I fully agree that he can often be the architect of his own misfortune with his comments, but on this occasion the ECB really did once again put their put in it.

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