31 December 2009

Ponting the most successful captain ever

Despite being named as the worst behaved Australian player over the last 20 years, Ricky Ponting can give himself a pat on the back for having just taken over as the most successful captain of all time with 42 Test wins. Overall he's won 93 Tests which is truly incredible - when he makes it to 100 that really will be something special...

30 December 2009

Taking guard

As this post about taking guard references, Jonathan Trott has really wound the South Africans up. It would be interesting to know if it's ever been an issue in County cricket.

For OMT readers of Cricket Burble, the article about taking guard made me think of a certain Tony MacDonald-Barker and his idiosyncrasies!

29 December 2009

Overturning borderline referrals

It worked in England's favour today, but I can't say I felt comfortable with the way that both Smith and de Villiers were given out LBW today. The video replay showed that the ball would have just clipped the stumps on both occassions, so effectively the bowler is given the benefit of the doubt rather than the batsman. The reason they were given out was that the on field umpire had already given the decision and as he couldn't be proved definitely wrong, the decision stood.

Had the on field umpire given those decisions not out, and England referred them, they would have had to be given not out after video replays, as clipping the stumps is not enough to say conclusively that a not out decision would have been wrong.

Two alternative decisions for the very same ball based on the on-field umpire's original decision seems entirely flawed to me and it demonstrates that the ultimate goal has to be no "referrals" - just a review of all close decisions using the technology available, with the umpire holding up play if necessary.

27 December 2009

7 batsmen

I'm not entirely against picking 7 batsmen but I generally subscribe to the "if your top 6 batsmen can't make runs, why should the 7th?" school of thinking. Hopefully Ian Bell will prove that thinking entirely wrong and make runs if England are in trouble at 50-4.

What I perhaps think is missing in the current thinking is consideration of the quality of the bowlers when it comes to batting. Yes - if your batsmen 8 downwards are McGrath, Muralitharan, Ntini, Martin - you may want to consider a 7th batsmen. If your batsmen from 8 downwards are Swann, Sidebottom, Anderson, Onions then you might consider a 7th batsman a luxury as they can all hold a bat with the exception of Onions.

[Confused? Prior is picked as a batsmen - he's not England's best keeper (although he's improving) - he's picked on the basis he can average 40+ in Test cricket.]

A wish for 2010

I think the ICC will realise that you can't have a situation where decisions are shown to be out or not out, but can't be challenged as teams have run out of challenges. Yes, they've been slow to roll out the use of technology to aid umpires and done it badly, but I have full confidence that even they will identify this area for a change during 2010.

We'll see come this time next year if that proves correct!

26 December 2009

Australia's conversion joke

Ok, its now getting beyond a joke. In three tests and one day this summer Australian batsmen have scored 18 half centuries without registering a single century. A large proportion of these scores have been in the 90s and 80s. Its obviously becoming a bit of a mental barrier as well as Shane Watson freely admitted after play today.
The two worst culprits are the openers Watson and Katich. Between them they have passed 80 on seven occasions without going on to three figures and today we saw Watson run out in comical fashion for 93 and Katich top edge a cut/guide (a shot he plays with ease normally) straight to gully for 98. Here's a quick break down of the scores:
Watson 96, 89 and 93
Katich 92, 80, 99 and 98
Ponting 55 and 57
Hussey 66 and 82
North 79 and 68
Hauritz 50*
Clarke 71, 61*
Haddin 55* and 88

22 December 2009

International Team of the Decade

It's that time of year again. Here's who I've gone for....controversial no doubt! I'm sure Aussies will be aghast that Sangakkara gets in ahead of Gilchrist, but they've both had very tricky bowlers to keep to, and Sangakkara averages far more than Gilchrist. Waugh only played until 2004 but I needed a captain (Warne was also in the mix) and someone who could offer the 6th bowling option if necessary.

I also had real problems trying to think of a bowler to open with Glenn McGrath - testament to the dearth of quality fast bowling in the "noughties". For a bit more spice, and because he bowled left-arm and could create rough for the spinners, I wanted to pick Wasim Akram, but given that he finished in 2003 and averaged 10 less with the bat than Shaun Pollock, I went for Pollock. Not the fastest, even in his prime, but worthy of a place in the team, at least for me.

Matthew Hayden
Virender Sehwag
Rahul Dravid
Jacques Kallis
Sachin Tendulkar
Steve Waugh (captain)
Kumar Sangakkara
Shaun Pollock
Shane Warne
Glenn McGrath
Mattiah Muralitharan

The unlucky ones? For me the unluckiest are Lara, Jayawardene and Gilchrist. Lara, and Dravid are different types of players but Dravid shaded it on the basis of longevity. And Dravid is a true number 3 which allows Kallis more time to recover from bowling as necessary.

Go on then. Who have I forgotten?

18 December 2009

England Performance Squad

I notice England effectively had a 2nd XI (I'm not sure if they are still there) called the England Performance Squad in South Africa during the early stages of the tour. They were able to move players back and forward between this squad and the offical England squad in the event of injuries etc.

I must say this idea makes a hell of alot of sense and I can't believe its not common practice for major tours. When Australia tour England, India or South Africa, Australia A (Australia's rather rediculous name for its 2nd XI) should concurrently tour the same country. There are two obvious benefits of this: 1. Fringe players from the main squad can be released to get some meaningful match practice, rather than endless net sessions, thus keeping them in form in the case they do get the call-up. 2. In the event of an injury in the main squad, a replacement can be drafted in from the A team and be not only match fit, but already exposed to the conditions of wherever it is they are playing. This is far better than flying someone in from Australia where they would have either been playing in completely different conditions, or in the middle of an off-season. It also eliminates the problem of jet-lag.

It seems so obvious.

The future of cricket on screen....

......is safe. Much talk as ever about how the lack of cricket on terrestrial television means that the youngsters are not given the chance to see it and get attracted to it. Talking to a friend last night I learnt that we are missing the point - his 7 year old son is learning all about variation in bowling and even how to set a field on his Wii.
Well I reckon that that is the way forward - how many 7 year olds would learn how to set a field from a TV?
Incidentally I understand that Australia are 300-7 against hs bowling and that of his father and that it almost takes the same ammount of time as the real thing.
Happy Christmas -I'm off the the ski slopes. Will I run into Dave McCabe and Angus (or should I say Adrian) Fraser ?

17 December 2009

England women go to India without Colvin

Both Claire Taylor and Holly Colvin are missing England Women's tour to India and both a big absentees, but given Indian conditions, the loss of Colvin could well be the greater. As world number 1, the Indian tour looks like a potential banana skin - fingers crossed they can break their duck there.

Match fixing film on the way

I'll let you decide whether you think match fixing played a part in the 2007 World Cup - the guy that's making this film obviously did.

16 December 2009

Why aren't they using all the technology available?

"Strauss had steadfastly (and correctly) refused to be drawn on three earlier occasions, but his resolve cracked twice in quick succession - first when Anderson ducked an inswinger off an inside-edge and into Kallis's pads, and then when Swann and Prior were convinced that de Villiers had under-edged an attempted slog-sweep. With no HotSpot available to the third umpire, however, that decision was never likely to be overturned, and Strauss was rightly left kicking himself afterwards."

I've no idea if it was out, but why was there no HotSpot available?

13 December 2009

Winning the toss is vital

Cricket Burble readers will know that I'm not a fan of luck playing too large a role in determining the result. Many say that things all even up so not to worry about it, but this poor women's captain in Australia would probably beg to differ having lost 30 tosses in a row!

10 December 2009

Who's Remfy ?

And why is Strauss using his thigh pad? (photo in today's Times has him with a thighpad clearly marked with that name).

9 December 2009

UDRS suddenly in favour....

An interesting current result to the Cricinfo poll. I don't think there would have been this much support for the UDRS 6 months ago....

6 December 2009

O'Brien to settle down at Middlesex

Good luck to him for putting his family first, but how frustrating it must be for Ian O'Brien that as soon as he cements a place in the New Zealand Test team at the age of 33, he then has to retire from international cricket so he can settle down with his family. Apparently he's spent just 9 months of 2 and a half years of marriage with his wife, so you can understand his reasoning!

I can see why O'Brien might have appealed to Gus Fraser - a hard-working trier who'll give his all. And who could play as a UK player if he gets residency. Good luck to him.

Benson retires / the UDRS

Rumours seem to abound that, rather than retiring due to ill-health, Mark Benson - the umpire from my home town of Shoreham-by-sea - is retiring at least partly because he is unhappy with the Umpire Decision Review System. One of his decisions - to give Chanderpaul not out caught behind - in the current Australia/West Indies Test was overturned on the basis of some inconclusive TV evidence by Asad Rauf so you can understand his annoyance. But it does sound like he has had a few health issues for a while so it sounds like suggestions that he's retiring because of the UDRS are exaggerated.

Benson was the umpire when the first non-run-out decision was overturned using technology - his decision to give Dilshan out was over-turned and the batsman went on to score a hundred. Ironically, the most recent Test that Dilshan played - the 3rd Test v India involved him being given out when he wasn't in both innings and, with no video replay to turn to, contributed to India winning by an innings. Dilshan scored 125 without really being out but had both his innings cut short.

Predicatably there is a lot of scrutiny on the UDRS and some of Tony Cozier's comments about the failings in the system are issues that the ICC need to deal with - in particular the ability of umpires to use the technology. But the key point to remember is that video reviews have been most criticised when used badly by the umpires! We'll never be able to stop human-error altogether, but we can reduce it, using technology.

As someone who can't understand why people wouldn't advocate anything that gives greater accuracy in decision making, it was interesting to read the comments below Cozier's article. All of a sudden from the UDRS being loathed, there seems to be a lot of support for the UDRS amongst readers on Cricinfo. It's inevitable so we need to get used to it - those that are unhappy need to throw their criticism at the ICC for the way they've rolled it out....not the system itself.

4 December 2009

India at number 1

If, as looks extremely likely, India take the number 1 spot in the Test rankings then good luck to them - I completely disagree with the article claiming that they aren't worthy of the number 1 spot in The Times. It's neither the Sri Lankan or Indian players fault that their boards don't organise more home Tests, and they have done well in the games they have played.

If you look at India's batting line up it's surely one of the best ever - 6 of the top 7 are or will be batting or all-rounder greats of the game, and Yuvraj Singh is hardly bad as the 7th. As always it seems that everyone is desperate for this group to retire but with all their elder batsman playing brilliantly, why wish the end of a truly amazing era?

And their bowling attack competes well given the dearth of decent bowling around the world at the moment, so there's no doubt they compete well there. Perhaps a bit of credit where credit's due Simon Wilde?

Left handers are best

According to an article in The Times today, left-handers perform better:

"Research by Sky Sport’s scorer and statistician Benedict Bermange reveals that left-handed batsmen have not only been steadily on the rise – more than 30 percent of all Test cricketers now bat left-handed – but they are increasingly outperforming right-handers. The last decade in which left-handed batsmen averaged less than right-handers was the 1950s, since when left-handers have been ahead by 5.3 runs per innings (1960s), 2.9 (1970s), 4.0 (1980s), 5.2 (1990s) and 7.9 (2000s)."

I think it's a little late to turn around and bat left-handed now. But for parents with young kids it's not too late....

3 December 2009

Sehwag is a freak

I posted the other day about the averages of India's top order. Sehwag averages 50 then at a strike rate of 80. His latest (as yet unfinished) innings of 284 off 239 balls is freakish. To score at Twenty20 pace over such a long period is not normal and the assumption is that he'll lose his wicket tomorrow morning. But if he lasts until lunch he'll be near the World Record.

Normally I'd want to watch the highlights of the innings, but when Sehwag's batting highlights seem to mean every ball!

Looks familiar

I see that Gauteng used 10 bowlers in the England Performance sides team's innings and that the best figures were returned by the 5th and 7th changes.

1 December 2009

India's home of cricket to host 3rd Test v Sri Lanka

Although some of my generation have not lived to see a Test at the Brabourne Stadium at the Cricket Club of India, it is deemed to be the spiritual home of Indian cricket. And that spiritual home has got one more chance to host a Test due to the Wakhede stadium being improved for the 2011 World Cup.
It's all set up perfectly for India - they can go to number 1 in the Test rankings if they beat Sri Lanka at the Brabourne....

30 November 2009

Boycott rant disappoints!

When I read that the BBC have had to apologise over something Geoff Boycott had said I assumed that it was going to be something truly awful given the way he can go off on one when he wants to.

Instead he simply used the words "fucking tosser". Pretty disappointing really - I expected far worse.

Aggers opportunity for any car brand listening....

Jonathan Agnew has been complaining about his latest rental car while commentating in South Africa. Could there be a more obvious PR opportunity for any car brand that wants to get a free mention and get some favourable coverage with cricket lovers?

England on the up

England might still be majorly inconsistent, but at least they're good games seem more emphatic these days. It seems that others around the world are starting to see England as a growing force, for various reasons. This blogger puts it down - at least in part - to the fact that England "are making a greater effort to hold their sphincters while on tour"!!

Tests still best, by a distance

After a truly brilliant Test match in New Zealand last week, Sambit Bal has talked up Test cricket. The only thing I'd question is whether cricket really can make room for all 3 forms long-term....I wonder if ultimately the 50 over format needs to go. Time will tell....

29 November 2009

Reasons for missing a cricket match

At club level there's been some hilarious excuses for missing a match - someone who watched their mum play tennis, and another who had an appointment to get his hair cut to name but two.

But at international level excuses when fully fit are surely limited to deaths or serious injury/illness in the player's immediate family, or the birth of the player's child? Would a player ever miss a Test for the wedding of his sister?

In England I've got vague recollections of players moving their own weddings around the dates of an international tour having been unexpectedly called up to represent their country. And in India cricket comes first above anything....or so I thought until I heard that Gautam Gambhir is not playing in the 3rd Test for India v Sri Lanka because he's going to his sister's wedding! If you're the sister of a Test player in India, surely you'd consider the dates of upcoming international cricket before settling on a date?!? And if you were stupid enough not to, someone might have a word (presumably the brother himself!)?

Apparently not, and India lose a player who has averaged 77 over his last 25 Test innings.

27 November 2009

Have you seen how big it is?

Obviously as a Middlesex member and one who loves Twenty20 cricket (not all do) I'm very excited about Adam Gilchrist coming to Lord's next year and possibly Tendulkar too and I'm amused about how the MCC seem to be excited too, judging from the press releases.

Trouble is that out of solidarity I now feel obliged to read Gilly the Pink's autobiography. All 616 pages of it (and there is apparently an argument that that, rather than Hollywood's 666, is the number of the beast)!!

25 November 2009

New(ish) ICC rankings

Some interesting things to note from the latest ICC rankings:
- The top 3 ODI bowlers are all spinners
- 6 of the top 10 ODI bowlers are spinners
- No Australia or South African batsmen make the top 5 Test batsmen
- The top 2 Test batsmen are both Sri Lankan
- The 5th ranked Test bowler in the world is the forgotten Australian Stuart Clark

From an England point of view James Anderson and Graeme Swann scrape into the top 10 Test bowlers at 9 and 10, and with Stuart Broad at 13 and Graham Onions moving up from nowhere after only a few games, England's Test bowling suddenly seems to look like a decent unit.

Now we just need to get some batsmen into these lists and we could compete! Pietersen and Strauss aren't far off....

Mahmood out - we can only hope...

Apparently Broad may be fit enough to take Mahmood's place in the next England ODI. Here's hoping....

BCCI go in too high

I suppose there shouldn't be too much surprise that the BCCI have priced the sponsorship rights to the Indian team too high to get any offers. But it's happened all the same.

Dining like a Lord

Another weekend, another formal dinner for a delegation of Cricket Burblers. A draining but necessary consequence of the glitz and glamour of the Burble lifestyle, you doubtless suspect. It's true that the constant whirlwind of film premieres, backstage passes and celebrity after-parties takes its toll after a while (and that night on Beefy's yacht with Rod Hull, Ronnie Irani and the missing Duran Duran album will live long in the memory). But Friday's dinner in the Long Room at Lords was particularly special.

The occasion was the annual black-tie dinner of the Old Merchant Taylors' Society, and guests were greeted by the words 'Lords welcomes the Old Merchant Taylors Society' on the digital screens around the ground (perhaps the closest an OMT has come to featuring on the Lords scoreboard recently). The evening commenced with a tour of the pavilion and ground, taking in the home dressing room, the Ashes urn and the new media centre. After a pre-prandial glass of champagne a fine four-course dinner was served in the historic Long Room overlooking the pitch. An entertaining after-dinner speech was made by the former MCC secretary, Roger Knight.

Some photos of the evening are below.

The home dressing room and batting honours board:

The media centre:

The Ashes Urn (for the benefit of our Australian readership!):

The Long Room:

Helpful instructions on the doors:

Another view on Tendulkar

I'm a big fan of Tendulkar, but I'm also a fan of cutting through the crap and looking at relevant/fair stats. So this article from Australia that claims to use stats to show why Tendulkar is over-rated interested me. You can make up your own mind on the relative merits of Tendulkar v the likes of Ponting, Dravid, Kallis, Jayawardene and Sangakkara.

It does seem that India needs to look at their wickets if they want to make Test cricket more of a contest between bat and ball - as they pile on a huge score again v Sri Lanka (they're currently 600-4) it's interesting to note that all of India's top 4 average 50 or more. Sehwag averages 50, Dravid 53, Gambhir 54 and Tendulkar 55.

I think Tendulkar would make my world team.

23 November 2009

Another football injury

No, not in the England team! This time it's Dilshan who's broken his nose while playing football during the Sri Lankan warm up. They don't say who played the Owais Shah role....

19 November 2009

ECB get the rough end of the stick

I can't quite work out how the ECB are so involved in the legal dramas between the ICL and the BCCI. The BCCI may have a case to answer for restraint of trade, but the ECB simply reacted to a set of events in the most commercially attractive way they could. As I've said before on Cricket Burble, I'm no legal expert(!), but surely there's no case for the ECB to answer until after the BCCI have been proved guilty, if that were even to happen?

Oh dear Cricinfo!

An entirely predictable headline on Cricinfo!

Cricinfo poll results....

Following Ben's post, Cricinfo have run a poll on the issue of moving The Ashes back to terrestrial TV in England - the results are pretty conclusive!

16 November 2009

ICC to move back to England?

This report suggests that there is a proposal on the table to bring the ICC offices back to London from Dubai. It must be so disruptive to keep moving offices and they've now gone from Lord's to Monaco to Dubai in recent years. Let's hope that any such move from Dubai is their last for a while and they can concentrate on cricketing matters moving forward....

14 November 2009

Cricket on terrestrial TV

The news that Ashes cricket will return to terrestrial TV for the next home series is fantastic news for English cricket fans without a Sky subscription (as well as the unwilling, that group includes people in nursing homes, children etc) who have been deprived the chance to watch live cricket on terrestrial in the UK since summer 2005.

It’s a fact that in that time, the UK has been the ONLY major cricket nation to offer its citizens NO free live test match cricket.

But how much of this decision has been driven by Rupert Murdoch/News International’s decision to abandon its support for the Government and back The Conservatives instead? And if the Tories win next years election, will we see this decision quietly dropped?

Channel 4’s viewing figures for 2005 peaked at 10 million for a 2-1 Ashes victory, while this year’s 2-1 win saw a peak of only 2 million tune in. Back in 2005, the England cricket team were sponsored by Vodafone, who used terrestrial TV as a way to reach millions of potential customers. As soon as that reach was diminished, the sponsors left, leaving the ECB totally dependent on the Sky money.

Nobody disputes that Sky’s cricket coverage is excellent – but inaccessibility remains the main problem. The ECB can fund all the “grass roots” initiatives it likes, but if kids don’t see the next Freddie Flintoff on their TV screens they will inevitably bleed away to other sports and distractions. Besides, the ECB’s definition of “grass roots” seems to mostly encompass the major cricket clubs at the top of the club pyramid – quite how much money gets to the roots is disputable.

A workable solution in future could be for Sky to offer some (or all) of its test match portfolio on a free-to-air digital channel – it could launch Sky Sports News 2 and show live cricket there. It would get the same ratings that Channel 4 used to and it would enable Sky and the ECB to sell serious advertising (ie Vodafone) – hell, it might even increase Sky subscriptions as viewers came back to cricket. But my guess is that Sky will be confident of retaining its monopoly on live test match cricket, and the rest of us will have to muddle on with 45-minute doses of Mark Nicholas until the series DVD is released

Symonds back for Queensland

Injuries have hit Queensland and Andrew Symonds is back in for their next one-dayer in Australia. It will be interesting to see what happens if he plays a great innings or takes match-changing wickets....

13 November 2009

Questions from the first P20 match

Why did so many S A fielders wear watches - why would they ever need to know the time?
What is that logo on their sleeves that looks like a flag or a giraffe's head ?
Why did the umpires miss so many no balls - overstepping (as opposed to their offspinners srilankan elbow) ?
Why did they use goalposts (Nasser said they'd been literally moved) ?
Why did the players need to waste time consulting D/L sheets when the par at the end of the next over is on the scoreboard ?