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…..

Monday, 19 October 2015

England v Pakistan - 1st Test

If only they had lights to help them finish the game......
When the clueless cretinous toss pots who are running and ruining Cricket International Cricket Council next get together for their decision making shindigs, I would suggest that there are some items that should be added to the agenda. I suppose that you could call them the Well bowled, Harold formula for saving Test Cricket. It has a nice ring to it if I say so myself, though far be it from me to suggest that it makes perfect logical sense (but it does). In essence the formula is a list of 5 things that one shouldn't do, thereby stopping Cricket from shooting itself in the proverbial foot. They are;

1) Do Not have a Test match taking place in the middle of nowhere (i.e - a desert). There are fewer and fewer Test Match supporters as time goes on and not many of us have a helicopter or charter plane.

2) Do Not broadcast to the world from bone empty stadiums - let a few local people in for free or at least strategically place a few mannequins around the ground.

3) Do Not produce a Test match pitch which when used  for Cricketing purposes actually resembles a cross between a hard lifeless lump of concrete and a really hard lifeless lump of concrete.

4) Do Not (when viewers have sat through four mind-numbingly slow days of cricket witnessing a zillion runs scored and in the process pushing the spinners to a suicidal nervous breakdown) formulate rules for the Umpires to stop play for bad light.......when, er, we have lights.

5) Do Not continue to make Test Cricket a laughing stock - or I may have to put on my very stern angry face.

There may be some reading this who may think that that I'm sulking at proceedings that saw England denied an improbable and stunning victory at the hands of Umpires held both hostage to the cock-eyed rules of the ICC as well as the laughably slow over rate antics of the Pakistan players - well nothing of the sort, particularly on that second point. If England had been in the opposing position I would have perfectly understood and accepted the need to 'slow things down'. After all, we have indeed been in that situation ourselves on a number of occasions recently where heroic defence has been used alongside inventive time wasting. I seem to remember on one instance, though which precise Test match it was eludes me) where Jimmy Anderson proceeded to change his gloves three times during one over. No shenanigans there, I'm sure.
Er, sorry lads - I dropped, lads?

No, the fact is that, apart from the nonsensical decision to curtail the run-chase by the umpires, we didn't really help ourselves at times and arguably should never have been in that situation in the first place after 'gifting' a hatful of runs to the opposition. The Pakistan first innings for example saw Ian Bell doing his very best to help Mohammad Hafeez and Shafiq onto big scores after dropping both of them at slip early in their innings. Stuart Broad obviously didn't want to be left out, so as part of his worldwide self-rehabilitation plan to make the world love him again, he dismissed Shoab Malik off a no-ball......... It could have been worse though, he only went on to make 245.

The Pakistan first innings went on to produce 528 for 8 until they decided to rub the salt further into England's tired and sweaty wounds by deciding to declare. Perhaps the only man on the planet from an England perspective that probably cheered at the declaration was Adil Rashid who had suffered the ignominy of producing the worst ever figures by a Test debutant. It wasn't as if he bowled terribly first time around, in truth his accuracy and speed were a trifle inconsistent with nerves clearly playing a part. In all truth, his fellow spin king, Moeen Ali didn't fair too much better on the lifeless pitch as he conceded 121 runs, also without taking a wicket. The consensus amongst the 'experts' was that the Pakistan spin bowlers would show the little Tyke how it was really done on a pitch that surely wasn't as bad as people thought. 
The pitch, just before play started......

Well, erm, actually they didn't - and it was. If truth be told, the pitch was a complete joke with little bounce and even less pace to provide virtually no assistance to the bowlers. I know that recent recent years have seen all formats of the game benefit the batsman rather than bowler, be it the technology in making bats the size of a house and having cricket playing areas the size of a, er, house. For crying out loud, it was three days into the match before we finally say a wicket fall to a spinner. Even the ever amiable Mushtaq Ahmed, the previous England spin bowling coach and now with Pakistan, could barely hide his anger at the state of the lifeless piece of concrete that we seemed to have.

Test Cricket is constantly trying to maintain its status as the elite form of the game and if there's one thing that will continue to damage the future of the format (though believe me there are others) it's the joke of a pitch like the one used here.

There were of course one or two positive outcomes from the pitch that enabled a number of England batsmen to find their mojo when it came to their turn to bat. Moeen Ali, for example, soon forgot the horrors of bowling by doing more than a passable impression of a solid opening partner for the courageous Captain Cook. Speaking of whom - god I love that man. After the levels of abuse and ridicule that at times bordered on vicious abuse (yes Mr Warne, I'm talking about you) that he faced a year or two ago, it's a joy to see him back to what he does best - namely score runs by the bucketful. Yet, for some reason he still doesn't seem to get the plaudits in some quarters that he surely deserves, and I really don't know why. For some, the simple reason is that he's not Kevin Pietersen still seems to be some peoples only visible reason. Cook's score of 263 before being given out to a no-ball (you couldn't make some of this up) broke any number of records.....

Cook's knock beat the previous record for longest England innings by time, set by Len Hutton's 797-minute innings of 364 against Australia in 1938.

I'll hit you for four....then I'll hit him for four....then.....
  • Only two Test innings have ever lasted longer: Hanif Mohammad's 970-minute 337 for Pakistan against West Indies in 1958, and Gary Kirsten's 878-minute 275 for South Africa against England in 1999.

    * Cook became only the second player ever to bat for more than 12 hours for the second occasion in his Test career - after Brian Lara.

    * During his innings, Cook also overtook the record for the most Test runs ever scored by an overseas batsman in Asia: he now has 2,065, beating Jacques Kallis's previous record of 2,058.

Before anybody contacts me to congratulate my impressively detailed level of statistical research, don't bother. Though you can thank the BBC whose page I took the information from. Thanks BBC.

The bottom line is that we have in out midsts one of the all-time greats - it's time we all acknowledge what he can do, not what he can't.

So after 22,000 runs were added in the first innings of both teams, Pakistan decided quite decently to make a compete muck-up of their second innings. From what had seemed a remorseless plod towards one of the most boring matches in recent test history, England were suddenly on the roll. Things become ever more surreal when Adil Rashid went from worst debut figures ever to become the first ever bowler to go for over 100 wicketless runs in a first innings and then get a five-for in the second.

 (AP Photo/Hafsal Ahmed)

Suddenly Pakistan were all out after losing their last five wickets for just 14 runs ....... suddenly England we in sight of an improbable victory ........ suddenly courageous Captain Cook took Mr Warnes 'you've got to lose to win' bullshit and threw it back in his face by reorganising the batting line up ........ suddenly England had a target of just 99 runs to win ......... victory was going to be ours!!!

Except that it wasn't. The umpires, followed quite correctly (some may say blindly) the guidelines about the light. The fact that they had curtailed play at the end of the previous day (when it was still eminently fair and playable), they had subsequently painted themselves into a corner when the light meters showed the same level as England were an excruciating 25 runs short of the target.

Sometimes Cricket shoots itself in the face, occasionally it tales a pump-action shotgun and well and truly blows its brains out. Oh well, onwards and upwards to the next Test. Suddenly optimism has returned.

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