28 April 2008

Unique first names

Some time ago I posted something about England having a number of players with first names unique in Test cricket (e.g. Owais) but have a look on cricinfo at Ross Taylor of New Zealand - I reckon he's got 3 to himself.

IPL and why it's not the future

Whilst the world's press and broadcasters have been covering IPL and its impact closely we've been ignoring it at Cricket Burble, able as we are as amateurs to wait until we've got some evidence.

Kerry Packer took cricket to a new dimension largely by mimicking existing teams and formats.

As Mark Saggers is quoted as saying, however, on cricinfo's quote unquote 'What makes sport is the identity of supporters. These are exhibition matches, whatever anyone says. If you are into sport you want real winners and losers. Filling the boots of cricketers to whack it...it's great fun but it can't be seen to take over the cricket world, surely?'

What we have is team mates playing against (and allegedly slapping) each other and confused about their identities - why would any spectator care about who wins. And if you don't care you stop going.

Graham Onions quoted elsewhere also summed it up 'If I went to play in the IPL I would not be in an actual team'. May I be among the first to predict that it will all fizzle out..........and some of the franchisees are saying they need 10 years revenue to recoup their investments.

Despite being of an age where one is expected to be a traditionalist I'd be slightly saddened about that but nowhere near as upset as I would be if the attempt to make 20/20 as popular globally as football leads to the players behaving like footballers. Thanks heavens they've decided to use The Spirit of Cricket and ICC rules in the IPL so that the slapper should get due punishment.

27 April 2008

Question: Where in the UK can one see live first-class cricket, featuring England internationals, for free? Well, yards away from my office, for one. The visit of Nottinghamshire to play the Oxford UCCE student team in University Parks last week (as well as the previous weeks' well-earned draws with strong Middlesex and Glamorgan teams) certainly led to a few 'extended' lunch breaks around the boundaries.

A full-strength visiting team included Stuart Broad and forgotten gloveman Chris Read, but still took three days to force a sporting student first-innings declaration at 324-4 (Bradshaw 127 n.o.) in a rain-affected match. With an innings then forfeited by each team, Notts just managed to chase down the total in the remaining two sessions to win by five wickets.

It was good to see that the Notts dressing-room had been indulging in a good, old-fashioned game of first-shot bingo, with Graham Swann pulling out a sublime reverse-sweep first ball before shoring up with an elaborate defence in order to allow his captain Read to make his half-century.

With the pavilion car park apparently closed, another nice touch was seeing superstars Broad et. al. having to haul their kit on foot across the park to some remote parking space. We've all been there!

Meanwhile far lesser student mortals in Cambridge were offering far more traditional cannon-fodder to the Somerset batsmen.

Happy Slapping: Part II

Further to Ed's post about the fine received by Mohammad Ashraful for slapping a spectator, it seems that the Bangladeshi captain is not the only cricketer with a tendency to let his palms do the talking! Never far from controversy these days, Harbhajan Singh has just been suspended pending an inquiry into claims he slapped Sree Santh during a recent IPL game between Mumbai Indians and the Kings XI Punjab team.

According to the BBC, "TV pictures showed Santh crying at the end of the game, which his side won." Bless.

25 April 2008

Uneven Wicket Taking

Having just read about Hoggard, I agree with Ed's comments but I wish he had not done it against my adopted county.

Looking at the scorecard has reminded me of how often it seems that a bowler takes shed-loads of wickets in the first innings and none, or nearly none, in the second. I appreciate that pitches can change during the game and bowlers can get tired but the trend seems greater than I would have expected.

I am sure that our resident sage can either prove me right or wrong...

Hoggard takes 5

Glad to see that Mr Hoggard is doing his part to support the Cricket Burble campaign to get him back in the England team. Keep it up Hoggy!

22 April 2008

Hoggard is his own man!

I hate the way several articles in the press have linked Harmison and Hoggard together as if they are joined the hip. The England selectors (wrongly in my opinion) chose to drop Hoggard after one bad game. Not surprisingly on a seamer friendly wicket, Anderson came in and took wickets, but that doesn't make him a better bowler than Hoggard. Despite Fletcher's comments that Hoggard has been losing his zip for some time, he is still better than Anderson and should be picked.

Harmison is a completely different kettle of fish. He was dropped at the same time as Hoggard but he's been poor since the 2005 Ashes and being consistently that bad, even accounting for injuries, means there is no question he should be dropped and only considered for a comeback after consistently achieving at County level over a season.

Why the likes of Sidebottom and Fletcher keep mentioning them in the same sentence as if they are in the same situation mystifies (and aggrevates!) me. I'm still hoping that we pick our best 4 bowlers for the 1st Test v New Zealand on 15th May and there is no doubt in my mind that includes Hoggard.

Six and out

Apparently Twenty20 is taking over and young players are all losing the ability to play a proper innings...etc etc....you know the usual moan. Well it appears that won't be the case in Harrogate, were hitting a six means you're out. Given reservations from Harrogate Borough Council about the risk to local residents from flying cricket balls, the "no sixes" rule has been brought in.

The players will have have that extra little incentive to play the ball all along the ground so it would be interesting to see if scores improve compared to last season....

21 April 2008

To include labels, or not to include labels?

Let me know if you like the labels down the right hand side of the site or not. Quite happy to get rid of them if you - the readers - don't like them.

Happy slapping Bangladesh captain

This story had almost passed me by. It seems that nearly a month ago Ashraful slapped a spectator who told him he was rubbish. Imagine the media response if an England captain did that?!!

19 April 2008

England women's kit

To the person who anonymously requested an image of the England women's kit - here you go (as modelled by Isa Guha).

18 April 2008

McCullum goes nuts

Brendan McCullum seems to have won the 1st IPL match single-handedly for Kolkata - although Bangalore still have to bat! The text commentary for the last ball says it all:

"Last ball ... what can he do?
19.6 Kumar to McCullum, SIX"

McCullum finished with 158 not out off 73 balls as Kolkata made 222 for 3 off their 20 overs - you can see the scorecard here.

The IPL organisers will no doubt be hoping that Bangalore put up a decent fight - I guess if Bangalore manage to win it will be the perfect start to get the global media and public interested....

Why is Ramps washing dishes?

I got this email from The Daily Telegraph about their Fantasy Cricket today. All very nice - not sure if I'll take part or not, but anything that drives more involvement in cricket is great as far as I'm concerned....
You can see the Fantasy XI picked by Mark Ramrakash himself here.
What intrigues me is why Mark Ramprakash is pictured washing up with his batting gloves on? Can anyone shed any light or even make any suggestions as to the thinking of the designer? Am I missing something really obvious?

News agencies boycott IPL

Isn't this a bit of a PR disaster for the IPL on their big launch day? I can't help thinking that the IPL was rushed into without thinking everything through fully - given that any venture's success often rides on early perceptions, I hope the little details that haven't been ironed out in advance don't cause problems in the long-term....

17 April 2008

A spring day in the Long Room

Nice to take the familiar walk to Lord's this morning, past the block of flats I used to manage, past the pub that Brakspear's bought and regretted, and past the shop advertising a tuna massage(!). This time, however, for the first time proudly bearing a press badge for the Adidas launch of England kit.

Free refreshment in the bar whilst the Long Room was awash with technicians and marketeers and a scaffold gantry for curtains to keep the sun out. Presentation by Hugh Morris (ECB) and Robin Money of Adidas who talked of ForMotion and ClimaCool (helping with movement and heat control).

Very smart the new kit is too, modelled by Cook, Collingwood, Sidebottom, Pietersen and, later, Bell, Anderson, Broad and Ambrose. White with smaller logos for the Tests and blue trousers with blue tops for ODIs and red tops for Twenty20. A nice touch is the red piping to represent the Wales bit of ECB.

Much nicer touch is that the women's kit (similar colours) is the first (we were told) ever designed specifically for women. The models here were Edwards, Brunt and Guha.

The important questions were answered for me by Cook - comfortable? - yes but cold (he'd drawn the shirtsleeves version for outside photographs) and Ambrose, who was allowed what looked a very thin sweater but in new materials - warm? - yes, but not too hot.

So there we have it England in new comfortable kit giving no excuses for poor performances in future and high hopes for the technologically designed boots which should prevent all the quick bowlers' feet problems - which would be well worth the effort on its own.

Oh! And the ECB have now heard of Cricket Burble!

2 to go for Ramps

It can't have escaped the notice of cricket fans that Mark Ramprakash has made first class century number 98 yesterday against Lancashire. This month's Wisden Cricketer talks about Ramprakash's quest for 100 and goes through the 97 he had to his name prior to yesterday. Luke Sutton must be feeling pretty small today having dropped Ramprakash on 0 - luck plays a part everywhere and never will I let Cricket Burble readers forget it!!

Apparently you can get odds of 100-1 on Ramps making his hundredth hundred for England - it's a romantic notion but I can't see it myself, much as it would be great to see him in England shirt in the short-term. But the question now has to be, how many London workers will rush down to The Oval if he makes his hundredth hundred at home late one afternoon? I know I'd be tempted but I wonder if my employers read this blog!?

15 April 2008

Knowing what the Summer is for.

Those young enough to be attending school currently and those in the right age bracket to have children doing so (and those who commute past schools) will have noticed that with Easter so early this year (so early that we're still playing hockey 3 weeks later) the term dates are all askew. That's quite apart from the confusion about what the terms are called (and the semesters which bear no relationship to the terms) , for example who is Hilary?and how many of us regularly refer to Michaelmas?

But now I see from The Times that one school clearly understands the importance of Summer - Charterhouse call the term starting today 'Cricket Quarter' - quite right too!

11 April 2008

Next ball suckers

Lovely to see in last night's thriller two batsman getting out to the slow bowler in the classic way - smash a ball over long on then next ball try it again only to hold out. And again this morning - McKenzie charges down the pitch and smashes the ball away, next ball stumped !

An incredible game!

I suspect Shivnarine Chanderpaul will dine out on this one for a little while....with 10 needed to win off the last two balls of the match aginst Sri Lanka he hit a 4 and 6 to win the game with 9 wickets down. The sort of stuff dreams are made of - it's times like this I wish I had Sky to see the highlights!!

Chanderpaul had earlier been involved in a mix up with Dwayne Bravo which looked to have cost West Indies the match, but he seems to have kept a cool head to bring his team victory. Chaminda Vaas was the unlucky bowler - fortunately he should be experienced enough to put this behind him pretty quickly.

You can see the scorecard here.

10 April 2008

International cricketers live longer?

It seems that this research from St Andrew's University tells us that international cricketers live longer. That all seems to make sense - a career that is outdoors, keeps you (relatively!) fit, and is relatively free of stress while also including some adrenaline moments could be just what the doctor ordered. Long live international cricketers!

Well not, perhaps, if you were a professional playing in the amateur/pro time where amateurs lived considerably longer than the pros....presumably because the amateurs were (generally) posh and may well have had better food/lived in a better environment.

But what this article goes onto is stress - I've talked before about the peculiar mentality needed by players to get over bad decisions and long runs of poor form. It's a particular type of stress - I don't think the average UK office worker who has to sit behind a desk for 50 hours a week will feel particularly sorry for cricketers, but nevertheless it is a type of stress. But clearly the positives of reaching the pinnacle of your profession outweigh the negatives in terms of likely lifespan if this research is to be believed.

9 April 2008

2007 Wisden Cricketers of the Year

Interestingly Shivnarine Chanderpaul is one of the 5 Wisden Cricketers for 2007, the others being Ian Bell, Ryan Sidebottom, Ottis Gibson, Zaheer Khan.

Readers of Cricket Burble won't be suprised that I want to pick up on Chanderpaul's inclusion, although that's not to say that I wholeheartedly agree with the others! Chanderpaul was in England last summer and batted brilliantly, but was aided by some poor England fielding - in effect he was very lucky, as determined by real averages, but he did take advantage of that luck very well. Ian Bishop's glowing write up about Chanderpaul goes to emphasise the old adage that it's only results that are remembered.

While Chanderpaul was lauded for some excellent batting in the series, he actually came 5th in the list of real averages with 44.2. A very creditable perfomance but not one, if it were not for his very healthy portion of luck, that would have seen him named as one of the Cricketers of the Year.

8 April 2008

Hussain gets plaudit from Tendulkar

"Asked who he thought was the most inspiring captain he had encountered, Tendulkar said Nasser Hussain, the former England captain, was one who was always two steps ahead of the game."

So says Sachin Tendulkar at the end of this piece which mostly refers to the fact he may still want to take part in the next World Cup. (I find it surprising that is news - before the last World Cup the Indian media where near hysteria about the fact that it was the last World Cup was the last one for several of the older generation - I always thought Tendulkar would play in 2011 - we'll see but he's certainly not on his last legs yet).

Anyway, Nasser Hussain has not been thought of as a strategically adept captain in the past as far as I know - inspiring - yes, gritty - yes, but a cunning strategist - no. Perhaps Hussain's tactics of bowling well outside off to Tendulkar that received such criticism at the time had a greater affect than we gave Hussain credit for.

Dale Steyn - a meteoric rise

I knew that Steyn had been taking lots of wickets for South Africa, not least in last week's superb win over India, but I didn't realise just how well he had been playing. Proof of his sustained form has come in the latest ICC rankings, which place him as joint 1st with Muralitharan.

As an England supporter it will be great to see Steyn over here in the summer - traditionally England seem to have played fast bowling relatively well so fingers crossed that continues!

3 April 2008

Alastair Cook's career real average

Having seen that Alastair Cook was the recipient of much fortune over the last 4 England series, I checked back over his short career to see how much luck he'd had. (For Cricket Burble purposes luck is defined as the difference between a batsman's official average versus their real average - their real average taking into account dropped catches and wrong umpiring decisions). Over the last 4 series the difference for Cook had been 13 runs - by far the largest in the England side. To see the full list for England over the last 4 series, click here.
Cook has had positive luck of 11.5 runs per innings over his international career - a huge stroke of fortune. I hope for his sake that his luck doesn't turn this English summer as he's not had the greatest run - even given the luck he's had - of late.

1 April 2008

Shoaib - what's your view?

What are everybody's views on the Shoaib story? I can't help feeling that the ban is a little unecessary and overly severe for the latest crime - slagging off the PCB. Why didn't they just leave him to do what he wanted but not pick him for the national team?

Properly important question

Just checked Middlesex's website (I'm a member) - we've lost Ashley Noffke and Friedel de Wet (heard of him?) as overseas players.

So we've replaced them with Dirk Nannes and Vernon Philander. Who? Former - the veteran of 9 First Class games (including bowling in a 900-6 innings), the latter an all rounder who on 4 March (28 days ago) was pulled out of a South Africa tour with a hamstring problem.

Now I'm sure that they're both splendid cricketers and fine ambassadors but is this what overseas players are supposed to be about? I know there's a shortage of top class players with ICL and IPL but when do I get my call up? Thank heavens for Murali Kartik.

Two very important questions

Following in the footsteps of (Gladstone) Small do we think that the England attack will ever be led by (Stuart) Broad and (Steve) Finn?

Secondly how common is it when buying new boots at the beginning of the season (well my old ones had lasted from the last millennium) to go for rubber soles only because it saves time getting into the bar after play?