30 November 2007

4 day floodlit Tests

I think Mr Boycott's suggestion of 4 day floodlit Tests is very sensible - not for all tests, but for some. Having tested the water - initially over 5 days, but with a view to moving to 4 if possible - we can see if floodlit tests achieve greater audiences in the ground and what the impact is on the TV audience.

28 November 2007

Test Match Special

The trailers say that the Sri Lanka v England commentary is to be on Five Live Sports Extra so since I'm going to be away from home at the weekend with no access to Sky reckoned I was going to have to either buy a digital radio or pack my laptop.
Have no fear it's still on Radio 4 longwave (would have been nice if they'd told us in the trails though).

More Kolpak irritation

So Vaughn van Jaarsveld has turned his back on Warwickshire and decided after all that he wants to be South African rather than English. The natural instinct is to criticise him for a self-serving attitude or to criticise his county for getting themselves into this situation.

But it seems to me that both sides deserve some sympathy in that the player has only got one short career to make the most of and you can see from the press releases from Gilo and Cricket Burble's old friend Colin Povey (the county's chief executive used to score runs for Whitchurch until we learnt he didn't like the old f&g).

The problem is that the legal system doesn't allow cricket to control itself so there is no alternative to a voluntary code of conduct. How about a minimum of say 7 England qualified players in each team with financial penalties if the code is contravened?

27 November 2007

Another inexperienced coach

What is about Pakistan and India that makes them select coaches with limited experience? First Geoff Lawson (check out his photo if you haven't already) for Pakistan, and now, it seems, Gary Kirsten for India. I don't understand it. It's a vital role, and yet they've gone for someone with only limited experience. Of course, it could be inspired, but it's a gamble and why take gambles when there are good coaches out there to select from?

It seems that the BCCI have only learnt half the lesson from the first round of selection for their national coach - they interviewed Kirsten without it being leaked, but with about a week to go until he was to be announced as coach, an insider - he obviously remains un-named - could keep his professionalism no longer, and had to prove just how in the know he was by telling the press. I hope he was paid well.

25 November 2007

More wrong decisions....

The latest wrong decisions have been added to the wrong decisions page. Should anyone know the offending umpires where there is currently a TBC, please email cricketburble@gmail.com.

24 November 2007

Please don't pick Harmison

I have a lot of sypathy for Barney Ronay's article in the Guardian today. Titled "why can't we dump Harmison?" he likens Harmison to an unreliable boyfriend - "the one we can't stop seeing even though we know he's just no good for us - he'll eat all the food in our fridge, blow his nose on our towels and inexplicably hurl a moon-ball second-slip wide through our kitchen window while attempting to peel an orange."

I hope Harmison doesn't get the nod. Of the others, 3 can be picked from 4, as it seems everyone is agreed that there should be 3 specialist seamers. Hoggard and Sidebottom are in for me without much question. Anderson or Broad? I don't like the idea of Sidebottom batting at 8, and 3 similar bowlers doesn't give enough variety, so Broad it is. Very different to my thoughts only a month ago!

But the selectors could still spring a surprise and go for Bopara or Swann instead of Broad - we'll see. Either way, I hope Vaughan gives himself a decent chance to bowl - he and Collingwood could both play big roles with the ball on the slow Sri-Lankan pitches.

England need batsmen to really dominate

I found this table intriguing. Not only does it back up the view of fellow Cricket Burbler Dave on Daniel Vettori being a mainstay of the New Zealand batting line up, but it also gives an interesting perspective on the upcoming Sri Lanka v England series. England, under Duncan Fletcher, placed great emphasis on trying to make sure that all members of the team could make a contribution with the bat, and it seems results show that effort was worth it, with the batting average of the 4th-11th best batsmen being second only to Australia's.

Conversely though, England's top 3 aren't that far ahead - coming second bottom of the table with only New Zealand below them. Contrast that with Sri Lanka who's top 3 are top of the table. So the key for England is to target Sangakkara and Jayawardene in particular. And they need a batsman (or preferably more than one) to dominate in the way that was last seen when Michael Vaughan dominated against Australia in a losing effort in 2002/03. Pietersen had some joy against Sri Lanka when they toured England in 2006, memorably reverse sweeping Murali for six - England will be hoping for him to dominate again.
You can read the whole article at Cricinfo here, which elsewhere talks about Pakistan's top 3, who aren't included in the table above.

23 November 2007

A spare £8k?

If so, why not get a debenture seat at Lords...

15 November 2007

The best Aussie ODI player ever

I think I'll get shot down again here, but I'm not sure I agree with the Australian ODI players on their best One Day player ever. If you haven't heard already, nearly 40% of Australia's past and present ODI representatives went for Adam Gilchrist. For me, it's Michael Bevan every time. Well ok, nine times out of ten anyway. Anyone agree?

13 November 2007

Pink Balls - good idea but wrong reason

Pink balls instead of the white ones that lose their colour (we know what they mean) seems a good idea particularly if it gets rid of the tedious ball changing routines and it certainly shows that someone at The MCC is thinking 'outside the box' (never expected to say that).

But it's supposed to be to help batsman - Wow!, name the last rule change that was designed to help the bowler.

What they should have concentrated on is helping the spectator to pick up the ball and reduce the opportunities for bad light to interfere. Now that would be worthy of applause.

Seriously when was the last Law Change to help the bowler - the third stump in The Eighteenth Century?

Whatever Next?

I am intrigued to read today that the MCC are testing pink balls, and fluorescent at that!

The excuse seems to be that they may be able to be seen more clearly in fading light. Perhaps the experiment could be extended to other colours dependent on the level of the light and taking into account the various coloured clothing worn these days.

I can just imagine the commentary from the Test Match Special team when they change from pink to lime green to .......

I understand that the experiment is being conducted by Imperial College so this may lead me to the source?!

12 November 2007

Vettori the batsman

Just after the recently concluded South Africa New Zealand test a mate texted me saying that he thought Dan Vettori was a very under rated batsman. In my reply I said that over the last two or three years I reckon he would average close to 40, and that not many of the NZ top six would be able to say the same. I then decided to check the stats and the results surprised even me.

I went back to January 2005 (not including the recent test against SA), and since then Vettori has scored 768 runs in 14 tests at 45.17. I then looked at similar stats for all the guys who have batted in the top 7 for the kiwis in that time (Fleming, Styris, Oram, James Marshall, Cumming, Papps, McCullum, Vincent and Astle). Of these players, the only one to average more than Vettori was Lou Vincent, with 541 runs in 7 tests at 48.18. Next were Fleming (957 at 41.6 from 15) and Astle (796 at 34.6 from 15). Of the rest only Styris averages more than 30 (32.6).

Its obviously simplistic to just go on averages. As a lower order batsman Vettori would rarely have to face a new ball with a fresh attack. He would also often come in late in th day when the attack and fielders tired (although not all THAT tired going on their latest performance). Having said that, I think a move up the order is justified. As one of their more successful batsman, New Zealand don't need Vettori running out of partners. In the current line-up, I wouldn't mind seeing Vettori shifted up as high as six, leaving Oram at seven and McCullum at eight.

By the way, I haven't done the numbers for ODIs, but I imagine thay'd be similar.

9 November 2007

The Indian Test captain

It seems crazy to me that India have gone for Anil Kumble as Test captain, and it is even crazier that it is public knowledge that Tendulkar was asked first and turned it down! Kumble himself is an awesome professional and I'm sure he'll do a decent job, but the way the BCCI came to their decision was wrong and the end decision is wrong (irrespective of whether Kumble plays for 2 years and wins every game!).

First announcements on who was going to be captain had to be put back, then it became public that Tendulkar didn't want it, then the announcement was put back again, and then the announcement came (several hours late) and it was Kumble. The reason I think this is wrong is that India have a problem with a number of players likely to retire at similar times and Kumble is one of them. It was important that the captain wasn't in that group, to ensure a decent transition, even if an experienced vice-captain was required.

While I've seen all but nothing of Dhoni's captaincy, his attacking instincts in the Twenty20 appealed to me, and I hope his confidence doesn't get knocked by the way this has been handled - the selectors seem to be saying they'd rather have anyone but him to captain the Tests!

Read more here.

8 November 2007

How long?

How long before "Aussie" Dave Marshall posts about Phil Jaques' hundred made on debut (Ed. it has subsequently been pointed out it's wasn't his debut!) against the Sri Lankan's? I give it a few hours max. It sounds like a good innings but also one that had it's fair share of luck as he was dropped twice - the first time on 60, but a real average of 60 isn't bad.

You can read about Jacques' innings at Cricinfo.

2 November 2007

Banned for hitting a can

I can't help feeling sorry for Lionel Cann of Bermuda - I'm not really prone to angry outbursts having got out, although slow trudges off and glances back at the umpire are more my style. But a lot of players I've played with have hit cans, hit bags, thrown their bat etc etc etc to vent frustration having got (what they perceived to be) a bad decision.

Nasser Hussain was famously filmed stamping on a set of crutches in frustration - I don't remember anything happening to him in terms of match bans. And yet here Lionel Cann has been sent home! I can't help thinking this can't be his first problem!

1 November 2007

Aussie test squad announced

The Australian squad for the first test against Sri Lanka next week has been announced. Frankly it has been a bit of an anti-climax. The selectors have opted to buy themselves some time to make the tough decisions picking 13 players. Phil Jacques has been picked to replace Justin Langer at the top of the order. Jacques is in excellent early season form and was the only realistic option left after Chris Roger's injury and Brad Hodges dip in form. The other contentious positions of third seamer (McGrath's replacement) and spinner (Warne's replacement) are still not clear. Mitchell Johnson and Shaun Tait have both been selected and will vie for the vacant seamer birth as will Stuart MacGill and Brad Hogg for the spinner position.

I think Johnson should get the seamer position as his one day form has been good and the fact that Tait is just returning from injury. I think the selectors will probably stick with MacGill, though I would go for Hogg. MacGill didn't have a great season for NSW last summer and he is also returning from injury. Hogg on the other hand has been in excellent form in ODI's for quite a while now. He also took seven cheap wickets for WA last week in Shield game (it will always be the Shield for me, not the Pura Cup). Hogg will also provide more with the bat and in the field. The other factor in Hogg's favor is that he is known as a good team man, and a solid character to have in the dressing room. MacGill on the other hand has had several run-ins with administrators, umpires, opponents and team mates throughout his career and may be seen as a disruptive influence.
The 13 man squad will be trimmed to 12 on Wednesday so we are unlikely to know any more until then. The squad is: Matthew Hayden, Phil Jaques, Ricky Ponting (capt), Mike Hussey, Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, Adam Gilchrist (wk), Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Stuart Clark, Shaun Tait, Brad Hogg, Stuart MacGill.