31 July 2007

Jelly beans - why?

At the risk of being accused of being mischievious I wonder whether anybody else has wondered why the England players had jelly beans with them in the first place. Just for energy or is this a repeat of J K Lever's vaseline sweat band?


Lest we forget, in my opinion, the result of the current test match rests on the fall of the coin.

I recall many years ago being told in no uncertain terms by my club's captain at the time that when you win the toss you " think about fielding first, think about it again but always bat first".

It has to be exceptional circumstances that dictate that a captain can be brave enough to insert the opposition and have to bat last on what will inevitably be a wearing wicket. Of course we will never know, but I think that the English swing bowlers would have bowled India out for fewer than England were bowled out for if the situation had been reversed (how about that for a burble).

"Hawk-Eye is rubbish" - Dickie Bird

Yep, that's the view of Dickie Bird - typically straight forward I suppose! The run of wrong decisions in the England v India Test series has heightened debate in India, not surprisingly, and you can read the article in full here. They being the country that leads the way for cricket financially, this will only accelerate the use of technology for making decisions. A few months ago, I did remark to a few people that technology would come in on all decisions if India were denied victory in the World Cup final through a bad decision, but that of course never happened as India didn't even make it through the group stages. Test matches are never quite as contentious, unless there are a lot of wrong decisions, so I didn't think they would be as high risk, but the run of poor decisions recently has heightened the Indian scrutiny.

Clearly, there are times when the replay tools (of which Hawk-Eye is just one), are unable to demonstrate whether the batsman was out or not for sure. In that case the decision is simple - not out. There are also times when Hawk-Eye shows the ball may "clip" the off or leg stump, or the bails, but as Dickie Bird is keen to point out, Hawk-Eye is not perfect and where the replays show the ball clipping, we can't give the batsman out because the technology is not accurate enough to be sure. However, where the ball is hitting two-thirds up middle, as it was on Sunday when Panesar hit Jaffer on the pad, or months ago when Dhoni was absolutely plumb to Rafique in a one day international for India against Bangladesh that he went on to win for them by scoring 91*, there can be no doubt. Hawk-Eye isn't that inaccurate!

So I put it to you that all that remains is for the cricket authorities to task an independent group to review test matches that have used technology to aid TV commentary and to review what should and shouldn't be given out to keep the balance between bat and ball. By that I mean that they may decide that the outside of the ball must be inside the outside of the leg stump to constitute an LBW, or they may decide that the inside of the ball must be inside the inside of the leg stump to constitute an LBW, etc etc. It would be up to that independent group to make a recommendation based on understanding the limitations in the technology and reviewing matches where the technology has been used.

OK, so I've never done that sort of thing before but it sounds better than proper work. I'm available!

30 July 2007

Another wrong decision by Taufel

According to Cricinfo, Taufel has said that he watched the replay screen yesterday and knew he had made an error with the Tendulkar decision but that he would give Ganguly out "every time". So he would be wrong every time?! Seems a bit of a strange thing to say.

Unfortunately for Taufel he's made another wrong decision today. Vaughan edged a Singh in-swinger fractionally before he hit the ground. Taufel had a rediculously difficult decision for anyone to give with the naked eye and, unfortunately for him, he made the wrong one, as proved by snicko. Another example of technology being a better judge than the world's best umpire, unsurprisingly. The decision has been added to "wrong" decisions, along with the later wrong decision by Ian Howell when he gave Collingwood not out when he gloved it down the leg side.

Cook LBW......again

I notice Alistair Cook has been dismissed LBW again. Thats four from four for the series. I have only seen one of these dismissals, so its hard to comment, but it would appear there is an issue there that he needs to look at. It reminds me of a guy I used to play with a few years ago who had a run of something like eight LBWs out 10 dismissals. I remember saying to him he must be getting a few dodgy decisions. His reply surprised me, "No. They have all been absolutely plumb". Rare honesty.

Indian reporting of Sunday's wrong decisions

Having spent a bit of time in India recently, it comes as no surprise how the latest wrong umpiring decisions are being reported there. If you go to this page on India Times Cricket you can not only read the brief article, but can view a video (on the right of the page) of how the story is being reported on Indian TV.

Paraphrased, they are saying "the world's best umpire goofed not once, but twice in one day". I suppose it's too much to hope that cricket can spare itself the decade of speculation, before finally bowing to the inevitable of using technology to aid all decisions.

29 July 2007

Your help please

I've updated the "wrong" decisions page with the (many) wrong decisions from the England v India Test match. But looking at the reports online, I've found no "proof" that Cook wasn't out, although I heard he was unlucky with his LBW on Friday. Did anyone see the decision and confirm if it was out or not, having seen the replays?

Similarly, it seems to be common knowledge that Panesar should have had Jaffer out LBW yesterday too. That is now in the list of "wrong" decisions, but does anyone know which umpire it was that gave it not out?

If you know, please post a comment back, or email cricketburble@gmail.com.

28 July 2007

Ponting. Best since Bradman?

Hello all cricketburble readers. I'm Aussie Dave and I'm the newest cricketburbler. I'm really looking forward bringing an Australian view to the site. I've been a burble reader since the site started up, and its coverage of the English cricket summer and its issues has been exceptional. For my first post, however, I thought I'd change direction and pose a question that I've been considering for quite some time.

Is Ricky Ponting Australia's second best ever batsman? To be fair, this question should really wait until Punter has retired, but its always fun to ponder these issues. My own thoughts are that once the dust has settled on Ricky's career, he will be regarded as second only to the Don in Australia's rich batting history.

As I said, I've spent some time considering this issue, and have come up with the following contenders for the honour of Australia's second best. Clicking on a name will bring up that players cricinfo profile:

Athur Morris - 46 tests, 3533 runs, avge 46.48, 12 centuries, 1 double century, 3.83 tests/century

Neil Harvey - 79 tests, 6149 runs, avge 48.41, 21 centuries, 2 double centuries, 3.76 tests/century

Greg Chappell- 87 tests, 7110 runs, avge 53.86, 24 centuries, 4 double centuries, 3.63 tests/century

Alan Border - 156 tsets, 11174 runs, avge 50.56, 27 centuries, 2 double centuries, 5.78 tests/century

Steve Waugh - 168 tests, 10927 runs, avge 51.06, 32 centuries, 1 double century, 5.25 tests/century

Ricky Ponting - 110 tests, 9368 runs, avge 59.29, 33 centuries, 4 double centuries, 3.33 tests/century

I hope I haven't overloaded you with stats. Well, on numbers alone, Ricky Ponting is the standout of this handful of candidates. One big question mark over Ponting though, is the quality of the bowling attacks that he has plundered. There is little doubt that he has had it much easier than some of the past players, especially Allan Border, who played 31 tests against the stellarWindies attacks between 1979/80 and 1992/93. While Ponting has scored runs against quality bowlers like Shaun Pollock, Murali, Shoaib Akhtar and Curtley Ambrose, he's never really been tested by a quality attack like those of the 80's Windies sides where there were no weak links to relieve the pressure, Ashes 2005 being the obvious exception. He averaged only 39.88 in this series, but did play one of the great match saving innings with his 156 at Old Trafford.

Despite these question marks, I think Ponting still shades it just above Greg Chappell and AB, especially if you also consider his one day deeds. His consistency, the rate at which he scores his runs and the way he can dominate an attack are the clinching factors.

Comments please. Why am I wrong, and who have I overlooked?

Zimmer Men - Marcus Berkmann

As a club cricketer that has spent years trying to organise teams, Marcus Berkmann's book Zimmer Men struck a chord with me and had me smiling with every chapter. Here's a little preview below - to find out how his team fair against Charlton-on-Otmoor, buy Zimmer Menby Marcus Berkmann.

It rained yeterday, rather heavily I'm told, which is good news. What you need at Charlton-on-Otmoor is what we don't usually have: lots of good bowlers. This week we thought we had them. We had two excellent openers: one steady and accurate, the other one slightly quicker than he looks, and he looks quite quick. At first change we had one of our most reliable bowlers, in that he loves bowling long spells in which he gives nothing away. Usually we would have to open the bowling with him; this week we would be able to save him up, stick him on at one end and unleash our spinners at the other end. Unleash? Am I really using that word? Our two best spinners, who both give the ball the most fearful tweak, are as mercurial and unpredictable as many of their species: one day lethal, the next day rubbish. But both have been taking hatfuls of wickets. Their confidence is high, and that's what matters in this game. This absurd, enthralling, unforgiving game.

Yesterday came the phone call. It was the quick bowler. He had just wrenched his back carrying the shopping. He was lying down on the floor and he couldn't move. He was terribly sorry but...I got him off the phone as quickly as I could. There was a possible replacement, a batsman not a bowler, who was desperate to play. I rang him. Astoundingly, he was still free and happy to play. This was a good omen. We may not have our strike bowler, but we still have eleven men and we are not bad.

All that stands between us and possible victory today is Phil, the Charlton captain. Phil is a big bloke. He has a robust sense of humour. He bowls quickly and hits the ball with Flintoff-like power. He has been playing for the village for three years now, and we have yet to get him out. Last year he scored a century and hit successive overs for 21 and 22 runs. It was the single at the end of the first over to farm the strike that I admired the most. He is the backbone of Charlton's team and quite a lot of other bones as well. If he is unwell today, or injured, or has been arrested on trumped-up murder charges in a shocking miscarriage of justice, we could yet prevail.

At 11:23 a.m. Terence drops by to give me a lift to the game. We blither and drivel all the way up the M40. I am happy because I am looking forward to the game. Terence is happy because he is driving his new convertible. Press one button and the roof retracts automatically in a series of ergonomically complicated manoeuvres that are explicitly designed to impress men like me and Terence. We arrive at the pub in high spirits, and following ancient tradition Terence buys me a drink to avoid having to buy a larger round when other people turn up.

We order lunch, and our team-mates filter in. As my roast beef arrives, Sam, one of our newest players, bursts through the door. Our other opening bowler, Andrew-with-the-poneytail, has texted him to say that he has been "working" all night and is therefore too tired to play. This text was sent at 11:54 a.m.

Everyone is distraught. Several yourkshire puddings spontaneously collapse on their plates. Andrew's name and poneytail are now mud. He has shown signs of flakiness in the past, but nothing like this. Sam, who knows him well, assures us that he has been working, as opposed to "working". But what difference does it make? An hour before the game starts we have ten men and no opening bowlers.

As John Cleese says in the film Clockwise, "It's not the despair. I can stand the despair. It's the hope."

If I was editor, I would have changed "blither and drivel" to "burble", but that's a tiny quibble! If you would like to read on, buy Zimmer Men.

The Burbleterview

Alright, so it's a completely manufactured word, but the Burbleterview has arrived. Paul Graver is a Sunday cricket league administrator and excellent club umpire so he seemed a good person to quiz on the state of club cricket and umpiring. Paul has some interesting views on the use of technology too...you can read the Burbleterview here.

As an umpire, do you feel you would lose respect if technology was used to help you make correct decisions?
"If we use technology to the full, umpires will only have to hold the bowler's sweater. How do you respect a hat-stand?!"


What is it with drinks? This summer has been very cool and wet so we've been lucky to be playing, if we are playing at all. And yet, as the clouds loom, in club cricket you hear the two captains discussing drinks and whether one set or two is appropriate! It's an afternoon game - no sets of drinks is what is required!

Perhaps, we (as in Club players) have learnt this from the hourly drinks breaks in Test matches? In club cricket the batsmen may need a quick drink between overs if they bat through the innings, but apart from that, do we really need to continue this obsession with drinks? We all have things to do in the evening....

27 July 2007

Tidy that room!

Well it's been many years since I've heard those words! But Mark Cosgrove must have those words ringing in his ears as he, and two others from the Aussie academy, have been sent home for having persistently untidy bedrooms.

I can't help thinking that is their own business and the Aussie powers that be have gone nuts?! What do you reckon?


There are always strong views on both sides when the use of technology is talked about to make decisions. And Hawk-Eye isn't perfect. It is said that Hawk-Eye isn't accurate at the start of matches as it learns as the game progresses and becomes more accurate as a result. But Pietersen's "wrong" LBW today looked not out to the naked eye too....didn't it?

Watching the Channel 5 highlights, as soon as Pietersen was hit and there was a big appeal I sat back in my chair and took a swig of beer while thinking "too high", expecting the umpire to turn down the appeal, only to see the finger go up. Replays confirmed that the ball would have gone over the top. Cook, on the other hand, was given not out when the ball would apparently have just clipped the top of the bails - quite rightly in my opinion as the benefit of the doubt goes to the batsmen. But then he was subsequently given to a dubious decision as well.

The players must sigh when they consider the role luck plays. One day they are given out to a ball going over the stumps, the next they get to carry on and score a hundred - at least technology would remove the role of luck.

Cook reaches 1,500

Alastair Cook today became the youngest England player (by some distance) to reach 1,500 runs for England, at 22 years old and 214 days. Congratulations Mr Cook - against everyone other than Australia he's looked quality, although I'm sure that he would admit he benefited from some luck during his first home international summer last year when Sri Lanka seemed to make a habit of dropping him more than once per innings. Let's hope he can continue to flourish.

Who do you reckon was the 2nd and 3rd youngest to 1,500 runs for England? (If you watched the Channel 5 highlights tonight you have an unfair advantage!)

26 July 2007

Pietersen confirms show pony status

We all know one....a show pony that is. These guys love to take the limelight and they are often not as good as they think they are, with their gum chewing and flashy sun glasses. The only problem is that Pietersen is as good as he thinks he is, so I have no problem with his celebrations when he (or his captain) reaches 100, cringeworthy though it is. The Telegraph explain that Harrington offered Pietersen a role model for celebration when he won The Open golf last Sunday.

(Note from Ed: as you may have realised, this was written some time ago, but for some reason the Blogger system has only just published it - very confusing!)

25 July 2007

Dhoni drop crucial

The "real" averages and "wrong" decisions pages have now been updated to include the England v India Test match that ended on Monday.

Michael Vaughan has come in for some stick for a slow over rate (the theory being that it was his field placings that were slow), but what I hadn't picked up on was that Dhoni was dropped on 14 by Collingwood. He is England's best fielder but in this case Collingwood's mistake cost England badly. If he had taken that catch, England would almost certainly have had the game sown up before the rain and bad light came, and Vaughan wouldn't have been criticised.

Clearly as a result of the above, Dhoni's real average is just 7, as opposed to his official average of 76. Strauss is similarly affected having been dropped on 43 in his first innings 96. And Cook and Prior benefit from real averages, as they were both given out LBW to wrong decisions. Rahul Dravid suffered the same fate, but this hasn't affected his real average much. You can view all real averages here.

Player burn out - an issue?

Well, Mike Soper's views are clear. There is no issue with regard to player burn out. He is the likely ECB Chairman of the future, so you can take your choice - either it's a brave decision to say what he feels, or it's perhaps a little tactless.

Soper has run for the job of ECB Chairman before in 1997, when Lord MacLaurin beat him to the job, but it looks likely he will be successful come the end of September, tactless comments or not, when he's likely to be voted in by the various County Chairmen.

Update: Since this post was written, a rant at how wrong Soper is has been published on BBC 606. Never let it be said that Cricket Burble does not give a balanced view!

Marks out of 10 per match

I'm not a fan of this. Ashley Giles gives his verdict on the England players with marks out of 10. But players surely need to be judged on more than one performance - even the best players in the world have wicketless matches or get a duck.

I would have thought, given his comments in the past, that Giles would have not been interested in this. Imagine his score for his performance in the 1st Ashes test last winter in Brisbane when he took one wicket and dropped Ponting who went on to score 196!

24 July 2007

Rain, rain, go away...

Hmm. A friend and I were full of intention to head to Lord's for the final day's play this morning, only to scrap the plan when we awoke to filthy rain and a miserable forecast. I still can't decide whether I'm gutted or relieved to have missed out on an exciting day's play capped by a frustrating, rain-induced premature finish to the test match with England needing that final wicket to win.

I'm sure I'm not the only club cricketer in the UK getting fed up with this abject summer (and isn't the rain always worse at the weekend?!). As I watch Oxford's dreaming spires disappear slowly beneath the waves of flooding, it seems rather ironic (don't you think, Alanis?) that the British should be so accomplished at inventing sports that can't be played in the rain.

23 July 2007

(Yet) more on batting averages...

As John originally posted about, a theoretical argument for working out batting averages in a different way to try to take into account the lower risk of being out at the end of your innings the lower in the batting order you bat has been put forward.

Dave (as a lower order batsman himself), clearly felt that this way of calculating a batsman's average was unfair on lower order batsmen because they are often going well and then have to end their innings not out, only to have to play themselves in again the following innings. He felt that even if lower order batsmen are truly considered not out for the purposes of working out their average, no matter how many balls they have faced, they have the disadvantage of having to "start again" rather than being able to take advantage of the fact they have played themselves in like a top order batsman would.

This, along with the disjointed nature of the current England v India Test match, got me thinking. Every time the players come off for rain or bad light, or even at the end of a day's play, the batsmen have to play themselves back in again. Given that I assume it's a given that batsmen find it easier to bat the longer they have been in (up until a certain point when fatigue kicks in), shouldn't an innings that has involved 4 restarts gain greater reward than the same innings total scored all in one go?

That way a lower order batsman who is regularly not out is given reward, in that he gains greater value for his runs given that he has had to restart. No balls faced issues - just number of restarts, including not outs. And it is equally applicable to every batsman no matter where they bat in the order. What do you think?

22 July 2007

Ottis Gibson takes all 10

No need for anything more to be said - a pretty special performance! It's the 79th time it's happened in 1st class cricket.

You can see the scorecard here.

Childish Humour

From yesterday's radio commentary '..........and Sidebottom puffs his cheeks out.......'
Is that funny or am I just being childish?

21 July 2007

Lack of respect for Murali...

It appears that the Cricket Burble readership are clear in their minds - Shane Warne was a better bowler than Muralitharan. Over 63% of you voted Warne, with less than 14% voting for Murali, the rest being undecided.

I wonder if Murali is looking forward to the tour of Australia - he has several problems in Australia and there is clearly concern for him. Andrew Symonds is calling for the Aussie crowds to show Murali respect, although it seems unthinkable that they wouldn't given that they will be watching the highest test wicket taker of all time by the end of the series....doesn't it?

20 July 2007

Watching the rain fall

Ok, so the international players at Lords had to watch the rain falling today, but there's something altogether more disconcerting about having to watch it rain when you are a club player. On one of our two days off, or even for both our days off for those that are keen and able still, club players want to either play or use their time to do something else.

A little insight into my life. Tomorrow my wife has the car and I live a distance away from my home ground that many players would consider "a bit far to go" for an away game. My route to the game tomorrow involves the District line, the Bakerloo line and the Metropolitan line. With cricket bag of course. And what are the chances of getting the phonecall to say that the game is off before I leave tomorrow? Pretty near zero if past history is anything to go by.

Ba humbug. Let it be sunny or let it rain like it's never rained before. Ok, maybe not that hard, just enough for me to get the call before 11 tomorrow....

A couple of wrong decisions...

The less said the better about the Pietersen farce. Ok, just one sentence then. If technology had been used to start with to make the decision, there would have been no issue - even the best umpire in the world gets it wrong sometimes.

At least Pietersen's poor decision was over-ruled by technology - Cook and Prior weren't that lucky. So you won't be surprised to hear that the list of wrong decisions has been updated. Who knows at this stage if the decisions will affect the result? For the moment I've left that part TBC.

Funny Moments of Summer Cricket 2006 from England

Found this on YouTube and thought you might like it....Gower, Hussain, Atherton, Holding, Lloyd, Botham and Willis all getting up to mischief.

The best bit is Botham's criticism of the "man out for the wide long hop" only for the ball to go there that ball in the air and the fielder to duly take the catch.

Day/Night Games

Whilst watching the Twenty20 game between Yorkshire and Sussex the other night, it occured to me that there may be a distinct advantage to bat first as conditions appear to be much easier for the side batting first in natural light and this applies equally to Pro40 games.

I have no idea of the statistics to support this opinion but it seems that it is considerably more difficult to bat as conditions change from sunlight (if we can remember that!) to twilight and then full-on floodlights. I appreciate that the odd catch gets dropped when it may well have been caught in daylight but this seems to be outweighed by the number of dismissals that are light-related.

Is there a case for some sort of formula along the lines of Duckworth-Lewis based on the relative quality of light for each side to compensate for the advantage of winning the toss and batting? And, does the side winning the toss always choose to bat in day/night games?

Sreesanth, Santh, or Srisanth?

I like to concern myself with the really important matters that effect world cricket (incidentally, should that be effect or affect?), so I couldn't help but wonder why one of the Indian bowlers appears to have 3 names.

Sreesanth on Cricinfo
Santh on BBC
Srisanth in an Indian article I saw

The poor fellow must feel a little put out that people can't get his name right. Whatever his name is, his profile on Cricinfo is here.

How dangerous is bad light?

Well quite reasonably we don't play cricket in the dark and the Laws of Cricket instruct umpires to suspend play when there is 'an obvious or foreseeable danger to any player or umpire' and that's fair enough.

But batsmen's protection is now so good that it would need to be pretty dark before they were in any serious danger and one wonders whether this improvement in protection is taken into account. Play at Lord's was suspended yesterday twice when certainly they'd have played Twenty 20 or we'd have played club cricket so are these forms of cricket intrinsically less dangerous than Test cricket? Cynically you might also wonder whether they'd have played if a certain number of overs were needed to be played in order to prevent refunds having to be paid to spectators.

Graham Thorpe had the interesting comment when he saw England home in the gloom not that long ago. ' Have you ever played cricket in such dark conditions before ?' he was asked. 'of course I have, I've played club cricket'.

So they've gone off for bad light , the umpires have had another look and reckon it's improved and what do they do? 'We'll restart in ten minutes' - why not immediately if the covers are not over the pitch?

Just an aside - the ball before the umpires took the players off for the first time Kevin Pietersen wafted and missed at a short one - brilliant!

19 July 2007

Vaughan's follow through

Check out photo number 2 on this page - Vaughan's follow through is exemplorary!

(Apologies, the link I added before didn't go the photo I was intending it to!)

Selection rationale

Any ideas why England would select Stuart Broad originally as cover for Steve Harmison, then bring in Chris Tremlett as late cover given Matthew Hoggard's back spasm, but then pick Tremlett over Broad in the final XI?

Tremlett's well due a chance so I've got no problem with him being selected, but the rationale for his selection over Broad would be interesting to hear....

One "wrong" decision and one for "real" averages

A great start for England this morning but it appears that the one wicket for India wasn't actually out - another to add to the list of wrong decisions once the game is over.

Once again, the role that luck - or lack of it - plays in determining a player's success or failure has been underlined. Alastair Cook is out when he wasn't and Andrew Strauss is free to carry on his innings after being dropped at point by Dinesh Khartik. It could be that this was the piece of luck that Strauss needed to get a ton and bring him back into form - from an England point of view I hope so.

Retirement at 24

Nicky Peng, the Glamorgan batsman, has retired at 24, saying that he has "fallen out of love with cricket".

While it is sad if this happens to anyone, the frustration of not being able to play to the level you think you are capable of is one of the worst feelings there is in sport, professional or non-professional. But most of us at club level get used to it! When it is your career, of course, it's a different matter. With a career average of 23.7 after a promising start which saw him play for England under-19s, Peng must have been sensing that with each poor innings his career was one step closer to ending and that has clearly done him some psychological damage.

Given his comments I'm glad that he has taken this step. He feels that he is freeing himself from "the mind games that have affected me" and if it's getting that bad he clearly needs to find another profession - good luck to him....

17 July 2007

Warne or Muralitharan?

The Sunday Times suggested that Murali has had a little bit of help in getting to 700 wickets by playing the lesser ranked nations 23 times and taking 163 wickets against them (Bangladesh and Zimbabwe) versus Warne's 17 wickets in 3. The argument seems pretty water tight. But we should remember that Murali hasn't played anywhere near as many games as Warne yet either so he still has plenty of time to take more wickets than Warne in the same number of games, even discounting wickets taken against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

Not wanting to leave any stone unturned Cricket Burble wants to find out what you think, so vote for who is/was the better bowler above.

Worst debut?

Steve James reported in the The Sunday Telegraph a pretty unhappy debut for Derbyshire's 17-year-old wicketkeeper, Tom Poynton, who bagged a pair. As if that wasn't bad enough, the duck in the first innings was via a run out caused by colliding with his batting partner.

Anyone know of any worse debuts? Graham Gooch's pair on his England debut must be up there....

Walking...and various other things

Christopher Martin-Jenkins has written a piece for The Times that is very far-reaching in it's approach to varius problems with the game of cricket, and it makes for a short interesting read.

I've got a few issues/comments with what he says:

He suggests that everyone should walk. I would argue that if only we used technology to give caught behind decisions or bat pad catches, this would happen by default. Just like a batsman who knows he is out after a run out appeal is referred to the 3rd umpire walks to the pavilion without waiting for the decision, so a batsman waiting for the decision when he has nicked it would to. It's more of a stick rather than a carrot approach, granted, but it would work.

He also argues that a catch near the boundary edge should be a catch as long as the ball stays in the field of play, irrespective of whethere the fielder's body touches the rope, but this would need a lot of technology to sort out. You have to be able to draw a virtual line upwards vertically from the rope to the height of the catch to understand if the ball is over the line or not and surely that isn't practical. Achievable yes, but practical now, no.

4 days test matches made up of four 100 over days are also on CMJ's agenda - surely something too far reaching to have any realistic chance of being taken up (and forgetting how many days are cut short due to bad light anyway)? But I do agree with one of the reasons that he wants to condense games to 4 days - he would like to have a spare day that can be used to make up time lost earlier in the match....this is something I agree with.

Having found a point I agree with I'll leave you to read the piece for yourselves.


I am really glad to be joining the team after receiving such a glowing testimonial from such a well-researched source. However it is not without a degree of trepidation having seen the quality of previous posts and the standards that I am expected to maintain.

I must say that I am really looking forward to the series against India and will be particularly interested to see how Stuart Broad performs if he plays and glad to see that we are getting youngsters into the arena quicker than some would like to see. I am definitely on the Broad-side (good name for a beer) as I like to see the Youngs playing even if it makes some people a little bitter....

It's only a game

Cricinfo reviewed and gave a good rating to a computer game called International Cricket Captain III recently and it got me thinking about cricket's representation on the gaming scene generally. Of course nothing beats playing the game for real but given the kind of wretched weather the UK has been specialising in recently, it's fair to say that prospect of playing cricket in the comfort of your living room without any chance of smashing windows is enticing.

It's not easy rendering such a complex and multi-faceted sport, not even with today's technology. We can excuse, then, Graham Gooch World Class Cricket which I remember playing on my Atari 14 years ago, almost prehistoric times in an environment where Moore's Law dictates. I remember it being fun, but deeply flawed - it was possible to bowl a delivery that always bowled the batsman out, leading to boasts like "I bet I could declare on one and still win". To generate power in a shot, run between the wickets, swing the ball and do almost anything else you had to either bash the hell out of your keyboard or waggle your joystick to death (ahem). Furthermore, the player profiles were woefully wrong - for example, I'm pretty sure Brian Lara was right-handed and white.

After that came Ian Botham's International Cricket in 1996, which was much better to play and came with some videos of a wisecracking Beefy. It was too easy though, even for a complete no-hoper like me, and scores of 700 off 50 overs became par. Since then Brian Lara Cricket and its various versions are all that I've played (and good fun they are too) apart from a brief addiction to Stick Cricket at university when I should have been revising for my finals. One intriguing possibility would be a cricket game based for the Wii (they have tennis and ten-pin bowling after all). In fact, one of the CricketBurble team has what might be generously called a prototype of such a game and on playing it I found it to be an excellent reflection of real life - when batting I couldn't hit the ball and when bowling I couldn't hit the stumps.

Lawson starts Pakistan role

As expected Geoff Lawson was officially announced as coach of Pakistan yesterday. I've been trying to find any evidence of his previous coaching and he seems to have done some specialist coaching with Glenn McGrath, Nathan Bracken and Stuart Clark, but I can't find more than that. Lawson himself seems to need to defend his appointment, saying blandly "I am involved in a lot of coaching in Australia".

There are already a few dissenting voices already, unsurprisingly, given that Dav Whatmore's credentials appear far stronger. And the Pakistan skipper Shoaib Malik is clearly worried about Lawson's credentials to coach the batsmen, from his comments. Lawson will be hoping for a good start in terms of results, because if they don't come I worry for him that he won't see out his first year, let alone his second, when his contract expires.

16 July 2007

Lawson confirmed as Pakistan coach

Geoff Lawson has confirmed that he will be the next Pakistan coach, although the formal statement hasn't been released by the Pakistan Cricket Board yet.

So far the only evidence of coaching Lawson has done before that I have found is that he "helped" with the New South Wales side, in this article. Perhaps the Pakistan board feel that international players have little to be coached and simply need a manager who can motivate them and manage all the politics going on in the background on their behalf.

15 July 2007

Mean averages - the debate continues...

Cricket Burble's John Wright raises an interesting question with his recent post on the method of calculation of batting averages. He reports a proposal by a pair of actuaries to update the current method (runs scored divided by number of dismissals) with a new algorithm that would reduce the impact of frequent not-out scores on the batting average of tail-enders. The proposal is to modify the 'times out' divisor, treating 'not out' innings as partial dismissals to an extent determined by the length of the innings (i.e. balls faced) compared to that batsman's average.

To illustrate, consider the following fictional example of an inveterate tail-ender - let us call him Mavis. Mavis's obdurate forward defensive lasts, upon average, 30 balls per innings. One week, Mavis's arrival at the crease spells doom for his more accomplished batting partner, who swings belligerently and gets bowled before Mavis can even face a ball. As a result, Mavis's average would be unaffected under this new scheme just as with the old convention. The following week, Mavis's partner has learnt his lesson, and offers our chap the strike. Mavis blocks out for 15 balls before his partner is again dismissed. Mavis thus incurs 15/30 = 0.5 of a dismissal in his batting average. Finally, our congenial fellow's moment of glory comes with a heroic unbeaten 60-ball innings to save the match against the odds. Since he faces more than his average 30 balls per innings, the statisticians would treat this as a full dismissal.

I argue that this partial discrediting of not-out innings is unfair. Should Mavis's batting statistics actually suffer at the hands of his heroic 60-ball marathon compared to the occasion he didn't even get to face a ball? One of the stated aims of this new technique is to avoid tail-enders bumping up their averages with lots of not outs - but surely a no-hope rabbit isn't likely to have scored many runs before their partner is dismissed (and so won't really have greatly boosted their average with the not-out score)? Likewise, should a more capable tail-ender be punished for the fact that he has run out of partners just as he was building a score?

It is surely broadly true for any batsman at any level, whether number one or eleven, that batting becomes easier - and the danger of being dismissed less acute - the longer he stays in and the more runs he has compiled. The not-out tail-ender at the end of the innings already stands to lose the benefit of 'having his eye in' come his next visit to the crease. It seems harsh that a revised approach to batting averages should target frequent not-outers any further.

The Maini and Narayanan proposal also brings up the topic of arch-finisher Michael Bevan's impressive one-day batting average of 53.6. Harshly labelled a 'late-order batsman', they cite his frequent not-out innings (67 of 232 matches) as the cause of an undeservedly high average. The application of their technique reduces the value to the rather more human 38.7. Is this really fair though? In the countless ODIs where an undefeated Bevan - doubtless well established and seeing the ball like the proverbial football - shepherded Australia to yet another victory, should the statistics really deem him to be as good as dismissed?

Let us know your thoughts!

Geoff Lawson's coaching credentials?

Can anyone help me out? I don't know if Geoff Lawson has ever coached a team before, despite being favourite for the Pakistan post. I have searched the internet and looked at his profile on Cricinfo (incidentally, check out his photo!), but can't find any evidence of him ever coaching. Commentating yes, coaching no.

Surely an international team wouldn't appoint someone without any coaching experience for their top job?

Harmison unlikely, Strauss gets another chance

England have announced a 13 man squad for the Lords Test versus India on Thursday. Despite a string of low scores Strauss has made it once again, and it looks like Steve Harmison is unlikely to play given his hernia, although he is in the 13 man squad. James Anderson and Stuart Broad will fight it out for the last bowling position and Broad is surely the favourite given that Moores' is an admirer and the fact that he can bat at 8 (although he should really bat one position lower). If Anderson were to be selected, England would be selecting four number 11 batsmen.

Strauss will be hoping for runs today playing for England Lions or otherwise the pressure will be even greater when he walks out at Lords....

Subsequent update: Stuart Broad looks even more certain to play after his 5 wicket haul today against the Indians.

Murali sets his eyes on 1000

It wouldn't have been right to have ignored Muralitharan's 700th wicket for Sri Lanka which brought up another very easy win against Bangladesh. He's now only 8 behind Warne's record and having played many games less so it's difficult to argue that he's not a true great.

He's now talking about 1,000 test wickets and it would be a brave person to bet against that happening.

14 July 2007

Exposing 2 cricketing myths

Observer Sports Monthly last month dismissed two cricketing myths.

No, over arm bowling didn't come about as a result of women trying to get their arm around their hooped skirts.

And, no, Steve Waugh didn't tell Herschelle Gibbs that he'd "just dropped the World Cup".

You can see all 10 of the sporting myths here.

Denly and Bresnan looking good for the future...

It will be interesting to see how India do when they bat because I suspect it's a pretty good batting track, but it's still good to see England Lions get a decent total against India. In particular, Joe Denly looked, by all accounts, like the dominating batsman that England have been searching for at the top of the order since Marcus Trescothick's off-field problems. For most of his inning he was scoring at more than a run a ball, but then went for one shot to many, being lured out of his ground by a flighted Ramesh Powar delivery.

Tim Bresnan also batted excellently for his hundred, coming up off 141 balls, and England will be hoping that he can continue this form over this summer so that he can play a part in the ODI series v India. If he is to get that chance though, the key will be his bowling as he went for well over 6 an over in his previous 4 ODIs. Stuart Broad's 50 came as a result of 3 dropped catches - another for real averages!

The 3 leading candidates for one place in the Test side, Strauss, Shah and Bopara, will be kicking themselves for not taking their opportunity, although Bopara will feel a little miffed at his bad luck on Friday 13th given that he was caught at short-leg off the face of the bat. If Joe Denly musters another decent score in England's second innings, what odds would you get on him walking out to bat at Lords with his old under 19 opening partner Alastair Cook on Thursday?

Umpiring answer

As Nick Blyth correctly answered, if the scores are level, the chasing side are 9 wickets down, and then a batsman is stumped off a wide, the batting side wins.

12 July 2007

Crafty Warney Captaincy

Hampshire beat Warwickshire yesterday in a nailbiting finish, chasing down a stiff target of 331 with just 3 balls remaining in the match. The game was a perfect advert for county cricket - despite having just under two days rained off, spectators got to see some quality play as both sides strived for victory, a possibility that only came about from negotiations over declarations and forfeits between the skippers, Shane Warne and Darren Maddy.

I have a feeling though that Maddy may well return to Edgbaston feeling he's been had. It seems that the day started with an agreement that Hampshire would chase Warwickshire's first innings declared total of 353 off 96 overs. For this to happen, the second and third innings of the match would have to be forfeited. However, Hampshire snuck in a cameo first innings of 23-1 off 11 balls, much to the surprise of many at the ground. At this point Maddy could have justifiably told his team to go out to bat and shut up shop if he felt aggrieved at Warne's unilateral 'renegotiation'. But clearly he didn't feel that way and rather thought that chasing 331 off 92 was beyond the home side.

He was so nearly right - I doubt he could have accounted for Michael Carberry's brilliant unbeaten 192 (whilst batting with a runner) and would be easy to blame the 4 no balls and one wide (5 extra balls bowled...) as being the difference between defeat and a deserved draw, but such hindsight in this case would be misled. The truth is that Warne's aggressive gambit yesterday morning gave his side the slenderest of advantages and with some inspired batting from Carberry and Mascarenhas at the end, they took used it to full effect.

Players playing for two countries

Saqlain Mushtaq is talking about playing for England. Much as I'd love to see Panesar/Saqlain bowling at either end for England in terms of the quality of their bowling, it's just not right.

You can't play 49 games for Pakistan and then play for England. Or play for Australia and then South Africa like Kepler Wessels. None of that should be allowed. One country for life I'm afraid.

That said, Ryan Giggs playing for England youth, and then for Wales full team, seems ok to me - I think you should be allowed to play where you live until adulthood. Although it doesn't work the other way round - Clive Woodward wasn't allowed to play rugby for Wales Schools in his youth as he is English, despite attending a Welsh school.

England's provisional 30 man Twenty20 squad

You can view the squad on Cricinfo here.

Marcus Trescothick is in as expected. I'm pleased that Luke Wright has made it, and also pleased that the likes of Saj Mahmood and Ed Joyce haven't. One particularly upset individual is Kabir Ali who has gone public with his disappointment. I can see why he's disappointed but publicly telling the selectors' they should have picked you is a risky career move.

How many low scores constitutes poor form?

Kevin Pietersen is today blaming fatigue on his "poor form" in the latter part of the West Indies series, but I'm not sure why he feels the need to comment. He failed 3 times in the ODIs but that's no big deal - we can't expect him to score heavily every time he goes into bat. So Ricky Ponting has gone to number 1 in the ODI rankings - it's not the end of the world. With a good series v India he can easily get back to number 1 if that's what motivates him, although one hopes that England winning is more of an incentive.

Pietersen had a real average of 59.3 in the Test series - just because he didn't get a score in the ODIs shouldn't mean he's worried about his form. I hope he doesn't have it in his head that he's in bad form now - he isn't - he's just vulnerable early like he has been all of his career....

11 July 2007


It's perhaps an indication of the abject weather we've been experiencing in Britain this cricket season, but the frequent appearance of the sawdust bucket for drying the bowlers' run-ups has led me on occasion to ruminate upon whether these slivers of fun-sized water-absorbing goodness are produced as a by-product of carpentry companies or manufactured specially for the purpose?

Admittedly it's not a question worth losing too much sleep over, but does anyone have an idea?!

Umpiring question for you

I wouldn't have known the answer to this if it wasn't for the fact that a club umpire told me it last week, so I thought I'd "go public" as it were.

The scores are level and the chasing side is 9 wickets down. The bowler bowls a wide but the batsman leaves his crease in the process of playing his shot and is duly stumped by the wicket keeper. Which team wins?

I'll post the answer some time soon...

Is County Cricket solely a breeding ground for our Test Team ?

Does profound analysis miss the point of County Cricket?

Cricket has always attracted statisticians and mathematical research, some of the best of which is available on the Cricket Society’s Website (www.cricketsociety.com), but now Leicester County Cricket Club’s site has one of the most detailed of all time. (www.leicestershireccc.com)

Neil Davidson (the county’s chairman) has published ‘an evidence-based approach to the identification and development of England Test cricketers in The County Championship’ and it’s a work to be applauded for its depth of research and its proposals.

Briefly it says that those who build successful test careers (50+ matches) have virtually all played County cricket by the time they are 19 and Test cricket by 25 and that there is a danger of the championship being clogged up by Overseas, Kolpak and older England-qualified players. This is largely for financial reasons and he proposes changes to get around this, and good proposals most of them are too. Age limited County Cricket through the school holidays to extend the net for youngsters and an extension of the now faltering Second XI Championship to catch those older players who have missed the net. He also proposes salary caps to prevent the wealthier counties garnering all the talent but one wonders whether this would be legally enforceable (and County fans would feel that the ‘old hands’ say Ramprakash, Cork, Gough etc. are worth extra cash for what they bring to their counties and the fact that if they have missed the Test boat now they are more frequently available to them). Another proposal is that each county be obliged to field 4 England- qualified players under the age of 25 in each game.

Kolpak players are not singled out for particular criticism and again one wonders how legally enforceable any agreement to limit or ban them would be.

So all good, deeply researched and interesting with some good proposals but two questions come to mind.

Firstly this is the second profound report into the set-up caused by the debacle in Australia but in fact the Test side is in good shape – we just ran up (admittedly under prepared, but that’s not County cricket’s fault) against a mighty team which was also favoured by conditions and good fortune in a way that they weren’t in 2005. So is our test team in real need of detailed hand-wringing at the expense say of a look at our one day side ( rated 8th in the world and finishes 5th in The World Cup, but that’s another story) ?

Secondly do we really want The County Championship to be merely a breeding ground for Test players (albeit they are the financial life-blood) and not an important set of competitions in its own right?

10 July 2007

Monty follows Lineker etc

Yes, it's true, Monty Panesar is following in the footsteps of the likes of Gary Lineker as he has been signed up to front the upcoming Walker's launch campaign for Walker's new chilli and lemon crisps. Using sports players for advertising is always risky as they can get injured or lose form, but Walker's have been shrewd - there's no chance of Monty losing form!

You can read the full article on the Publican website.

Insurance at Worcester?

Kent are upset that Worcestershire didn't move their game at New Road, and Worcestershire's Chief Executive Mark Newton talks on the BBC site about why it is important for them to get playing again financially.

Surely Worcestershire have insurance for this sort of thing? And if they don't, given that their home ground is right next to the River Severn, surely they should have?

A Mean Average

Someone wise once said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” Cricket has bucketfuls of statistics but how many of them are misleading? Actuaries Sanchit Maini and Sumit Narayanan recently addressed (here) what they considered as a flaw in calculating the kingpin of cricketing stats – the batting average.

Apparently the fault resides with the not-out innings. Their runs are counted into the total but the innings themselves are not added into the divisor. This seems fair enough since we cannot know how many runs the batter would have scored if the innings had continued. But this method can lead to some freakish results. For example, perennial rabbit Bill Johnston topped Australia’s tour averages in 1952 with 102 because he was dismissed just once in 17 visits to the crease. Another, more controversial, example could be Michael Bevan’s outstanding one-day average of 53.6.

Maini and Narayanan remove this bias by using a formula that sometimes counts a not-out innings into the divisor, depending on how many balls were faced in the innings. The results are that everyone’s average decreases but lower order batsmen are much more greatly affected than their higher order teammates because they are more likely to be non-out at the end of the innings. So, Virender Sehwag’s one day average drops only from 32.4 to 31.2 because he is unlikely to last a full 50 overs but Bevan’s revised average is a whopping 14.9 runs less since he (as every Australian opponent experienced to their cost) was so often still there at the end of the innings.

Who tops the list Highest Revised ODI Batting Averages? None other than Sir Viv Richards, followed by Sachin Tendulkar, then Ricky Ponting and then Michael Bevan. My only query is that the formula seems to punish players for scoring high not out scores, but then I’m a natural skeptic; I heard that 88.2% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

9 July 2007

Monitoring of umpires in India

As Cricket Burble followers may have guessed by now, I think it's just a matter of time before all decisions are made through the use of technology. The BCCI will be looking at umpiring decisions through the use of some software that runs while looking at video recordings of domestic matches...you can see the article here.

It will be interesting to see what the BCCI learn about the quality of umpiring decisions through this software. I suspect they may be able to prove, no doubt after some huffing and puffing as the BCCI struggle to do anything efficiently, that even the best umpire isn't as accurate as technology, despite the obvious limitations. If they do that, it will be one step further towards the day when all decisions are made through the use of technology.

8 July 2007

Probable India team for 1st Test

The India Times think that they know the likely India starting XI for the first Test v England, and it includes VVS Laxman. India seem likely to play four specialist bowlers as England do - you can see the India Times article here.

England Lions

Andrew Strauss has been named as captain of the England Lions team to play India in their 3-day match. Owais Shah is the only other player over 25. The full squad is:

Andrew Strauss (captain), Tim Ambrose (wk), Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Joe Denly, Graham Onions, Adil Rashid, Owais Shah, Chris Tremlett, Jonathan Trott.

No-one can quite be sure what is going through the selectors' minds, but I doubt they have their 6 batting slots for the 1st Test certain in their mind. A good knock by Strauss or Shah could see them back in the full team, with Bopara also having a chance, but returning from injury. If Strauss was to be dropped, Vaughan would have to return to opening which would add to the pressure of captaincy.

If you are wondering who Joe Denly is, you can see his Cricinfo profile here. A first class average of over 50 isn't a bad start - I presume that his real average would be pretty handy too!

England's best ODI side

Obviously this depends on conditions, injuries etc, but as a starter for 10:


Given the Cricket Burble poll we did recently, I know most of you out there think that Cook should open ahead of Vaughan, but Vaughan was always my choice and I'm sticking with him! Cook would be the first to come in if any of the top 3 got injured. Owais Shah has gone up in my estimation during the recent West Indies series given some of the improvisation he's shown, so despite his skakey fielding, justifies selection above Bell, in my opinion. And Mascarenas has come in and done well so should continue, although he's having to bat two places too high at the moment.


England still seem to have little idea how to use Monty Panesar in ODIs. Yesterday he only got 6 overs despite being more economical than all the main seamers (Mascarenas was more economical). But more to the point, England didn't take a wicket for long spells and this allowed the West Indies to score very rapidly at the end of their innings. Monty is our best wicket taker AND, on yesterday's performance, one of our most economical bowlers, so he should bowl his full 10 almost every time. You can see the scorecard here.

It's early days for Collingwood, and he certainly can't be as bad as Flintoff no matter what he does, but I struggled to understand the logic yesterday. He brought on Panesar in the 16th over and didn't take the powerplay, but then took at at 18 overs having allowed the batsman 2 overs to get used to spin while tapping it to the deeply laid field for singles. Having got set against him, we then took the 3rd powerplay leaving big gaps for them to hit into.

The future is bright?

I hoped that we'd get a bit more straight talking from Paul Collingwood - it seems that he's fairly happy despite losing yesterday!!

We don't have that young a side to make losing to the West Indies OK. And the most disappointing aspect was the fielding....we dropped a lot in the Tests v West Indies too so I hope England's fielding picks up.

Perhaps a fairer assessment from Collingwood would have been something along the lines of "We made the same mistakes as before...we didn't bowl with discipline, we dropped crucial catches and we didn't make batting starts really count. Moving forward we have to change that, and quickly." They must do an extra media training course before they are allowed to captain....

7 July 2007

Walking in - the answer

And you thought I'd forgotten to follow up on the walking in post didn't you? Fear not, just finding out what the deal was from a qualified coach. He says:

"Walking in has various advantages. Firstly it keeps everyone moving as if the fielders remain static and do not move around they are not as warm/loose and cannot move as easily. Secondly it creates atmosphere and purpose amongst the fielding side - fielders should be thought of as attacking weapons to get wickets. It is also easier for the fielders in the ring to stop the single if there is slight forward momentum.

Having said all this the idea of actually being in the process of walking at the precise moment that the ball is delivered is outdated and is not really coached anymore.

The most commonly taught method now is to walk in so that your momentum is moving forward slightly but as the ball is delivered you get into the "ready" or goalkeeper position with both feet on the floor shoulder width or slightly more apart on the balls of your feet. This position can be seen in numerous other sports such as goalkeepers in football before penalties and tennis players awaiting a serve. Moving forward helps to get into this sprung position.

A typical method of teaching this would be using a ladder which sprinters have traditionally used for the player to run through with fast feet. When they come out of the ladder they have to get into the ready position as fast as possible to receive a catch. The whole idea is to have fast feet throughout so you can adjust quickly and be in the best position to receive the ball. There are now courses in SAQ (Speed Agility Quickness) designed to improve movement in all sports which have a massive part to play in fielding.

Now that fielding has moved into the 21st century and embraced the ideas in other sports such as baseball there is a great deal of interest in the way in which fielders move. Hence the reason why Mike Young who has a baseball background is used as the Aussies' fielding coach."

You can read more about Mike Young's thoughts on fielding here.

Wide match ball delivery

Chris Adam's is always an interesting read in The Independent. Today he tells how the match ball didn't quite make it for their Twenty20 match v Essex.

"Before the game the RAF Falcons were planning a parachute jump where they would land on the pitch and deliver the match ball. We had a guy on the mike to talk the crowd through it and he was linked up to one of the eight parachutists.

So down these elite jumpers came and turned into the wind to head for Hove. They were really travelling and it was incredibly gusty and blustery with the clouds ripping across the sky.

Next thing we know, all eight fly past and miss the ground completely: one smacked into the side of an apartment block, one landed in a tree, one in the High Street beside the ground and one rammed into the No 7 bus to Brighton. Thankfully, no one was hurt but it was like something out of a cartoon. You can view it on our Sussex website if you want.

I believe the RAF want to see it again to work out what went wrong! We got the match ball out of the cupboard instead."

Adams goes on to suggest that England will be free to play Panesar in ODI's once Bopara is back from injury to give some more depth to the batting. I agree, but Panesar should play irrelevant of who makes up the other 10 positions in the team.

Media coverage of Twenty20

There is a lot of work to be done with the media is the reporting of the Twenty20 results is anything to go by. The Sun, which I believe is Britain's largest circulation paper, didn't even report the last round of results today, let alone the names of the 8 quarter finalists. There is a long way to go until cricket gains equal coverage to football, even in football's off-season....

You can see the last 8 here.

6 July 2007

Anderson getting pushy?

Something's up...mild mannered James Anderson getting into disciplinary trouble. There has to be a story here that has escaped the papers...anyone heard anything?

5 overs too short?

The whole Twenty20 concept is about shortening the game to make it more fun for audiences that are new to cricket, as well as existing audiences, and allowing games to be played in the evenings, allowing 9 to 5 workers to go to see some county cricket.

But there's part of me that feels 5 overs each is getting absurd! It's important that Twenty20 finals day offers some excellent AS WELL AS exciting cricket if it's to retain the knowledgable cricket audience. 5 overs each makes matches even more of a lottery which potentially means that the teams in the quarter finals aren't there because they are the best, but have been the luckiest in some absurdely short matches.

If you can't play 10 overs each is there any point in playing at all?

5 July 2007

Panesar - first bowler on the team sheet

It scares me somewhat that we seem to be making the same mistakes again in selection that we've made in the past. And it's the same player being unfairly treated - Monty Panesar. England left him out again yesterday, reportedly because the overcast conditions favoured seamers. But they picked Yardy?! I like Yardy and given Enghland's seam woes lately I would think carefully about playing Yardy and Panesar, but surely Panesar should be the first bowler on the team sheet?

Last summer it was rumoured that Panesar couldn't cut the mustard when the wicket didn't help him. As if to answer his critics he then took wickets at Headingley on a seamers wicket. He then went to Australia where he was omitted for the first two Tests but then came back in and did well against the best batsmen in the world, despite some poor tactics from his skipper Flintoff that didn't help him.

In the ODI's in Australia he played well and, when used attackingly by Vaughan, helped England to win the series. He then went on to have a decent world cup amongst some indifferent bowling, before taking more than half the wickets again of the next best bowler in the West Indies Test series.

To me he walks straight into the team whatever the conditions and opposition. But until the England selectors live up to their word and pick their most attacking bowler, we're going to repeat the mistakes of the past. Even if he gets picked for the deciding match v the West Indies and goes for 0-80, he should still be the first bowler on the ODI team sheet...

Daniel Radcliffe - cricket fan

The Times reports today that at the People at the Potter premiere, the star of the Harry Potter films Daniel Radcliffe, upon spotting Shane Warne amongst the attendees,"[almost magically] whipped out a copy of Wisden's Cricketers Almanack and asked him to sign it."

3 July 2007

Donald to stay with England for summer

Allan Donald has apparently been offered a contract as England's bowling coach until the end of the summer. Great news, not because England's bowlers have shown any significant improvement while he has been around, but because 6 weeks was too short an amount of time to evaluate his abilities as a coach. This extended period to work with England's bowlers will allow Donald to show his true skills, and Moores to make a truer judgement on whether he is the right man for the job.

Give Broad a chance

Great to see Stuart Broad bowl so well on Sunday but I hope he doesn't get over-hyped. Various papers seemed to suggest that his bowling was heroic, but I hope he isn't given the standard "the next Botham" treatment that seems to adversely affect every likely candidate. Hopefully his batting isn't good enough for him to get the new Botham tag, but he could well come good and fill the troublesome number 8 spot in the batting order.

Figures of 9-0-20-3 should of course be applauded but let's see how he does for the whole summer before we start heralding a new dawn...

Clapping the batsman in

As far as I know "clapping the batsman in" is something that you are taught to do as a child, but then soon forget as soon as you get past about 10 years of age. After all the batsman hasn't achieved anything yet so why clap him in?

So it comes as a surprise to me that clapping the batsman in is making a comeback in friendly cricket around the UK apparently. We played a team on Sunday who gave a veritable ovation each time a new batsman came to the wicket...I can't see the same happening in club cricket in Australia.

Why are youngsters taught to clap the batsman in, and does it happen around the world? Answers on a postcard please...or in the comments box...

1 July 2007

A Lot Of Hard Touring...

The majority of the Cricket Burble blogging team are about to embark upon their annual club cricket tour to the South Oxfordshire countryside shortly today, so all may be about to become a touch quiet on the burbling front for the next week. In an effort to further postpone the already overdue packing, there's just time for me to make my debut on these pages.

I've just finished reading 'A Lot Of Hard Yakka' - Simon Hughes' highly praised account of life on the county cricket circuit. Admittedly I'm about ten years late with respect to its publication, but I only recently had it recommended (and lent) by a friend who shared my initial skepticism of Hughes' efforts in the early days as Channel 4's cricket analyst.

Hughes writes candidly and amusingly about the day-to-day toil of the life of a county cricketer. The book follows his career season by season, from his debut for Middlesex in 1980 to his transfer to Durham in the twilight of his career in 1991 and his retirement shortly afterwards. Anecdotal in style, colourful portraits of some of the major names of the era are built up, from the cerebral Brearley to the down-to-earth, food-loving Gatting, the libidinous Daniel and the larger-than-life Botham.

The more serious message behind the book, however, is the frustrating lack of professionalism within the county circuit - a trend that has hopefully largely been reversed in more recent times. Fast bowlers gorge themselves upon four-course lunches in between lengthy spells, distractions (from business interests to hangovers) prevail and teammates' successes are begrudged by selection rivals. These successes and failures are mirrored by Hughes' own career; a fast bowler capable of match-winning spells, he was frequently plagued by a no-ball tendency, loss of control and youthful lack of application.

In an era when the bulk of sports books are insipid, ghost-written affairs, this frank insight into the life of a professional cricketer is well worth a read. Anyway, enough of that - time to go and find some clean whites...