30 March 2009

England and NZ ODI batting stats

Interesting analysis of how England, apart from Pietersen, can't get the ball off the square during the middle overs of an ODI innings. And equally interesting, the article goes on to show how New Zealand's opening partnership is their 8th worst on average - not a good reflection on their openers. It also helps to back up Dave Marshall's view that Vettori should be batting much higher as their middle order fares a lot better.

Basic skill will always be the most important thing(!), but it's interesting how the weight tactics carry seems to be every-increasing. Even in victory in the second Twenty20, this reports suggests that there is much for South Africa to improve on as they allowed Australia to bowl 50 dot balls. That's over 41% of balls they faced without a run. They have proved they can make the big hits - if they can continue to do that while also rotating the strike and reducing the number of dot balls, they will be even tougher to beat.

England's longest serving captain

Slightly embarrassingly (alright, very embarrassingly) the quiz team I was in last night called "The Cricketers" couldn't get the following question right:

Who is England's longest serving cricket captain?

Check back in a day or two for the answer.

Adjustment in rain reduced games

We're now all familiar with Duckworth Lewis rules even if we lack the mathematical brains to work them out and adjustments to the number of overs after rain interruptions that each bowler may bowl and in the length of 'power plays'. But why did they have to have a new ball after 14 overs last night as opposed to the usual 34 - it won't have got dirty any faster. Bet Bopara was pleased too-he got out to the first delivery with the new one.

28 March 2009

The IPL was never going to be played in England

I could 't agree with Ed Smith more. Today he argues that the only reason why Lalit Modi allowed England to think they had a chance of hosting the IPL was so that they had a decent bargaining position with South Africa. Why the ECB played along is anyone's guess. England in April was never a goer.

27 March 2009

What to make of KP's press comments?

I want to be a KP fan, I really do. And being the sad cricket fan that I am, I imagine myself getting along brilliantly with him at a nice pub somewhere were we ever to meet! But is it just me that sees an alternative meaning to nearly everything he says? I think it might be termed "passive aggressive" - non-confrontational mostly but prone to the odd comment that seems out of place, and the odd sly dig. Here's the latest in the long line of KP comments:

"It's been a tough tour because we've only won one game to date and that was only because of a mistake by the West Indies coach. To go through a winter like this is soul-destroying. We all want to play in a winning team and to be beaten day in, day out, is just not good enough."

Meaning: We've been rubbish this winter, and if I'd been skipper we would have done better. (And incidentally KP, you really should have been thinking you'd win the game - it was certainly there for England to take after 2 quick wickets).

"I don't know how we're made to play five one-dayers in three weeks after we played back-to-back Tests. What's that all about?"

Completely agree with him here....what is that all about? But why is he voicing concerns to the press? It's that passive aggressive streak - I wonder if he's raised that with the people who made the decision....

(After talking about missing his wife) "I'm at the end of my tether now. I'm ready to do a Robinho and disappear back home."

Why would you say that with the ODI series hanging in the balance? And allow your team mates to know you didn't want to be there? It's all about the team winning, right? Not you personally.

"It's brilliant what happened to Samit Patel. We come away to hot countries and maybe sometimes we don't go on to big enough scores or struggle to bowl teams out because we're not fit enough. I think Samit is a fantastic cricketer but there were guidelines which I gave him when I was captain that he didn't adhere to, and he didn't adhere to what was recommended for this trip either."

Brilliant? Really? How will Patel feel when he reads that? Is he really having a sly dig at his current team mates who can't seem to get enough runs or wickets in the hot conditions in WI? It's difficult to tell. I wonder if he'll feel the same when he's 35 and has all the talent in the world but isn't quite as athletic as he used to be, a la Tendulkar. I suspect when he's asked then, it will be all about talent. And even if you do think it's "brilliant", keep it to yourself as it's not going to help your relationship with anyone to say that.

There must be a reason why KP says what he does to the press....unless it's simply that The Mail offered more money for more juicy quotes and he needed to make up a small part of the £150k he lost because the IPL was pushed back a week? It can't be that surely!? Or was it that he felt he was fading into the background and wasn't happy to do that quietly? Unfortunately I think we'll probably never know....

Imagine the conversation....

...between the two Hussey brothers. David is batting well and Mike comes in. Mike plays his first ball to short fine leg and David calls him through for a tight single. Despite diving, Mike is short of his ground at the bowler's end....run out after facing one ball for 0.

But given he went on to score 88 at a strike rate of 200, I don't think David will be given too much grief from the rest of his team mates, whatever his brother thinks....

Just how bad can it get in an hour or so?

Go away for a meeting and get back to 43-5. Oh dear.

The ability for England to collapse never ceases to amaze me! But it makes me feel better about the limitless club cricket collapses I've been a part of. Pity Bucknor marked one of the last, if not the last, appearance he'll make as an international umpire with another wrong decision (Collingwood).

Latest score 68-7, Prior has just gone. Oh dear, oh dear.

26 March 2009

McLaren F1 drivers vs Shane Warne

Apparently Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton and McLaren teammate Heikki Kovalainen have been preparing for the Melbourne Grand Prix this weekend by dispatching a series of long-hops and pies lobbed up by a certain Shane Warne. I'm not seeing many high leading elbows in the drivers' techniques, but they seem too good for the ageing Warney!

The video footage can be found here.

25 March 2009

IPL not coming to UK

The decision process about bringing, or not bringing, IPL to the UK raised a number of discussions including whether it would actually draw the crowds bearing in mind that this would be the most spectacular players in world cricket but that they'd be playing in matches of limited significance to much of the population. Bearing in mind the size of the crowds last year (averaging 58,000 against 'Premiership' football's 35,900) I wonder why they didn't just move the date of the Indian election - surely it would have been a vote winner.

Of course we all know now that, since the weather in April in The UK was the decisive factor, we are in for a heatwave. Bring it on but let's make some early season fixtures for ourselves too.

24 March 2009

Aldworth's place in history

Interesting to see that The World Cup's leading runscorer Claire Taylor attributes part of her success to the distraction of playing the violin for Aldworth's Philharmonic Orchestra. Now Aldworth is a village well known to most fellow burblers and if you visit its ground on Google's satellite photo you can actually see players on the pitch (not in position so probably just about to start play). I haven't found any other pitch with players on it yet.

23 March 2009

Why would you want the IPL played in England?

It seemed amazing that anyone might consider England to host the IPL after the BCCI came round to the idea that they couldn't hold the IPL at the same time as the Indian elections. But if you believe the press, they did consider England strongly until today, when South Africa has become the frontrunner.

Yes, England has a number of grounds well capable of hosting matches, but the weather had to be a show-stopper. Afterall, what would those poor cheerleaders do? Rather than their normal atire....
....they'd be forced to wear this sort of thing....
Clearly it's not a goer, and that's before you consider the ECB's relationship with Setanta and the BCCI, despite the fact that it's improved a bit recently.
The sun of South Africa and a board that gets on well with the BCCI seems like a far more attractive and sensible option.

22 March 2009

NZ 75-5

New Zealand are struggling in the Women's World Cup Final. Come on England!

21 March 2009

Dangerously bad light?

It has been argued before on Cricket Burble that the amount of protective equipment available to the modern batsman means that they are never truly in danger in the way that the batsman were in pre-helmet days. And that is what makes the regular stopping of play for bad light such a farce.

As many observers have pointed out after West Indies chose to go off for bad light yesterday because they mistakenly thought they were winning on the D/L method, what does it matter whether they were ahead or behind? The only reason for going off is the potential danger to the players, and that doesn't change based on the state of the match.

Perhaps this could actually be a blessing showing up the bad light law to be what it is - something that one side uses to gain tactical advantage. Bad light should be something to be endured like heavy cloud cover allowing the ball to swing. On that most club cricketers are agreed, having played through "bad" light most weeks for their careers. When will things be changed? Anyone's guess.

19 March 2009

New Zealand make women's final

The good news is that Australia won't be in the final to play against England in the Women's World Cup after New Zealand scored of massive 373 against West Indies and won by 223 runs. The bad news is that England lost comprehensively to Australia, after being bowled out for 161.

They key to Sunday's final? It's all about how the top order fares. If England don't get early wickets, New Zealand have shown they can post big scores. And likewise New Zealand will know that if they can get past England's top order, in particular Claire Taylor, then England's middle order looks a little fragile.

Fingers crossed!

O'Brien admits stupidity

You no doubt read about how Ian O'Brien got himself out stumped when Jesse Ryder was on 98 and closing in on a century. I always think it's interesting the way these things are reported - it's always with a huge focus on the guy who is looking to make a hundred. What about his team mates? After all, they're in the middle of a Test match and looking to get over the 300 mark - the last thing they want is their number 10 wandering down the pitch and getting stumped, whoever he is batting with for the 9th wicket and whatever score they're on. And that still stands even though everyone other than Vettori and Ryder failed themselves!

Anyway, these days some players have blogs themselves and Ian O'Brien has been the first to admit to his mistake on his blog. He describes it as "the dumbest thing I've done on a cricket field". Fortunately, Martin hung around for Ryder to get his hundred so all's well that ends well. Although for New Zealand, with India poised to go well past their first innings score, it may still end in a loss. And that has to be more important than a personal milestone - even if it is a first Test century.

18 March 2009


I don't understand why Dan Vettori doesn't bat in the top six. He is clearly a better batsman than the majority of his team mates. He's just scored a brilliant century against India coming in at 6/60. I guess he and the team management are concerned about his workload given that he also carries the bowling attack, but I really think its worth a try. NZ are not strong enough to bat one of their better players at number 8.

16 March 2009

South African Changes

I just thought I'd add to a previous post regarding the South African changes. I too am surprised McKenzie was dropped, especially given that Smith will be out. Having dropped him, however, I would not have opened with Prince. Why not bring de Villiers up to open (he's done it before) or move Amla and Kallis up one slot each. As for Morkel, he is undoubtedly talented, but his performances in the last two tests certainly warranted him being dropped. He has just been so lethargic. His bowling has lacked energy, he is a poor mover in the field, and he seems to disengage his brain whenever he picks up a bat.

14 March 2009

England women lead the way

It's great to see the England women do so well so far in the Women's World Cup - I hope burbling about their success to date doesn't curse them (I was holding off until I felt sure they'd reach the final!). So far they've seen off Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan and most recently New Zealand. And, possibly crucially, Australia are struggling to make it out of the super six stage and into the final - there are no semi-finals, it's just the top 2 that reach the final. Australia's loss to India, a side they beat 5-0 only in November, puts them under a lot of pressure and they may potentially have to settle for the 3rd/4th playoff.

England's latest win against New Zealand was their closest fought to date and could well be a reharsal for the final. The spinners showed the way with Holly Colvin and Laura Marsh (who shook off learning that Mark Davis has a crush on her very professionally) leading, more than ably supported by Charlotte Edwards who followed up her 57 with the bat with 4-37 with the ball. It's great to hear that on of the reasons for England's success so far has been electric fielding - so often fielding is underestimated as a match-winning skill behind batting and bowling. Not that either of the other suits are weak - Claire Taylor averages 94 and Caroline Atkins averages 77 with the bat, and Laura Marsh is top wicket taker and second most economical bowler.

I think it's brilliant the way the women's game is developing and it would be great to see England go on and win the World Cup after they retained The Ashes last year. (Should that be a capital T on "The Ashes"?) The current table shows that England are dominating and they will inevitably have 8 points after they have played West Indies on Tuesday as they are really struggling without a super six point.

Even assuming Australia beat Pakistan in the next match of the tournament, it could be impossible for them to get through now - Cricinfo describe their World Cup defence as "virtually over". New Zealand still have to play India and the winner of that match still has a further match against one of the two bottom sides - West Indies and Pakistan, so the highly likely result is that either New Zealand or India will finish on 8 points - enough to see Australia out of the tournament.

From an England point of view, here's hoping.

13 March 2009

KP reckons he would have done a better job

Kevin Pietersen is, as expected, hardly glowing in his praise for Andrew Strauss as captain in the recent series in the West Indies:

"I love the way we played the last Test match. I enjoyed the way we batted and I enjoy the way we attacked with our bowlers. I really liked the way we played over the last five days. We played some positive cricket and that's the way I would have played this series if I had been captain."

Ouch. So Strauss was too defensive and we would have won the series if you'd been captain KP? I'm sure he'll be pleased to hear that.

Cook wants correct referral decisions

Following on from the previous Burble about referrals, interesting to see the way Alastair Cook's comments have been reported in The Metro this morning. The title of the article by Cook says "Referral system just isn't working, so let's scrap it". He goes on to say:

"If the third umpire cannot use the full range of technology then the referral system should be scrapped."

That's a whole different comment and one that I've burbled about before - it's clearly insane to allow TV viewers access to technology that the 3rd umpire can't look at. But that's a problem of implementation - Cook isn't stupid and I don't think he would really think you can scrap the use of technology for good. It will keep coming back until it's eventually implemented properly.

Again, repeating previous Burbles the "human error" factor can be eliminated all together from LBWs - use Hawkeye or similar to show where the ball would have hit and then allow for a suitable amount of error. So for example, you might only give a batsman out if no part of the ball is outside of the outside of the off or leg stump, or over the top of the bails.

The ICC seem to have caught up with the correct objective - reducing the number of wrong decisions. They have belatedly realised that they can use technology to reach that objective. How long will it take them to come up with the right implementation plan? On current form, many years.

12 March 2009

I've fallen in love with an off spinner !

Laura Marsh (bit sad for an old man!)

South Africa reverse captaincy decision

Just 24 hours after I posted about Ashwell Prince coming from outside the starting XI to captain South Africa in the next Test because of Graeme Smith's injury, it seems the board over in SA have changed their minds. They now want Jaques Kallis to captain the side.

I can't think of any possible justification for this - either it was a massive mistake originally, or it was a massive mistake subsequently....it seems that South Africa have the same board problems as we have in England! It would be interesting to know what triggered the change of mind - perhaps there was a media outcry in South Africa?

Another ICC shambles

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse from the ICC, they have now decided to move the Champions Trophy from Sri Lanka to South Africa. What is the reason for this, you may ask? Threat of terrorism? Infrastructure not in place? No, this time the ICC has decided that it is because the Sri Lankan board cannot guarantee their will be no rain during the tournament!

The ICC are saying that due to the short window of 12 days that the tournament is scheduled for, they can't afford reserve days. If there isn't time for reserve days in the schedule, surely there isn't enough time for a professionally-run international tournament at all? Even if you did see the argument, what has changed since the tournament was originally awarded?
Yet again it shows that the game's administrators are a bunch of amateurs pursuing the cash at the expense of the image of the game and ending up lurching from one self-made crisis to another.
Looks like county cricket in April is on thin ice.....

11 March 2009

Man of the match

Now those who know me understand that I don't approve of the idea of a man of the match award in team games in principle. Very often it goes to the footballer who scores the winning goal or the man who runs in the most spectacular try whilst ignoring the member of the peloton who's put in all the graft.

Statistics-based games like cricket, however, are often different since you can quantify the runs and wickets (although in the last match Collingwood must have improved his chances with those two wonderful catches). Nevertheless it does beggar belief when the man of the match award goes to the man who creates a new record for conceding byes ! (although he does bat really well, doesn't he?)

Referrals and reviews

Sadly what we are going to remember from this series is mostly poor - a ground fit for a donkey derby, a collapse to 51 all out, injuries to Flintoff, Harmison and Sidebottom and farcical decision making.

We are all agreed that we want better decision making but the current system is taking the spontaneity of the game away and replacing it with unimproved decision making. The excitement of the fall of a wicket is now tainted by a delay whilst players decide whether to call for a referral and then possibly a delay when a second decision is made armed with some but not all of the technology available. Additionally the third umpire is looking for 'evidence' (funny word that - 'evidence') that the first umpire was wrong so that we move from the batsman getting the benefit of the doubt to the umpire getting thebenefit of the doubt. Not only is the system error prone but on the basis of what we've seen in this series the operators are also error prone.

Coupled with that we get the ridiculous sight of players trying to persuade the umpires to review their own decision so that they don't use up one of their precious referrals. That would all be bad enough if it led to more accurate decisions but we've seen even more errors caused by obscure criteria.

My solution would be to put all decisions in the hands of the umpires again armed with the best available technology - a team of say four working together constantly in communication and asking the correct question - it works really well in rugby.

Fortunately it won't affect those of us who play proper cricket.

Ruthless South African selection

My gut feel is that South Africa are being overly ruthless in dropping McKenzie and Morkel following their loss in the first two Tests against Australia. Morkel is young and looked really talented when the Saffers were over here last year. But in particular I'm not sure I like the tactic of using Prince as a makeshift opener alongside a debutant in Khan. Yes, McKenzie did a great job of converting from the middle order to open the batting, but that doesn't mean that everybody can.

McKenzie averages 24.2 in the series away to Australia that South Africa won. The reason that I feel a little sorry for him is that in a series that lasts only 3 games you only get 6 innings and one hundred in that time wouldn't be a bad success rate. In the 2nd Test, McKenzie was going well on 59 not out when South Africa won the game, depriving him of the chance to complete what might have been his big innings of the tour.

In the return series in South Africa McKenzie averaged 25.5 in the first two Tests which doesn't make him the worst South Africa batsman, with Amla narrowly less than that. But if England dropped players after such a brief run of poor form then Bell, for example, would have been discarded after the 2005 Ashes. The South African selectors seem to have felt that they were rightfully the best country in the world and, riled at not making this a reality, have reacted like a school kid would when they didn't get their own way. Courtney Walsh used to say that the West Indies loved touring England because if they won the first couple of matches they found themselves playing the England 2nd XI by the end of the series and I fear the South African selection has a whiff of that. Presumably Morkel will pretty rapidly come back into the squad, but McKenzie will struggle given his age - doubly so as Graeme Smith has openly talked about that and said it will be tough for him.

So when Smith is fit again, it will be interesting to see who gets the other opening slot - it's only a minor selection point but two left-handers is not preferable to a right and left combination. If one or both of the new openers do well then it will be seen as a great decision, but it's high risk and knee jerk - those sort of decisions rarely come off. If they wanted to boost the batting, I would have considered using AB de Villiers as keeper and dropping Boucher. Considered it....and then rejected it, realising that just because South Africa lost it doesn't necessarily mean it wasn't their best team playing.

One last point of note in the South African situation is that Prince comes back into the side as captain. I wonder how many times that has happened? Somehow I doubt we'll see the same from England if Strauss gets injured, no matter how much people like me might want to see Vaughan's captaincy skills at work again.

10 March 2009

Strauss' declaration

Personally I'd like to see Strauss declare when England score 250ish and then have massively attacking fields. But when Strauss will declare is a debatable point....this blog post predicting 224 for the declaration made me chuckle.

I fear for Monty

No, not because he isn't England's number 1 spinner any more. Because when he does play it seems that the ICC are keen to clamp down on his massively over-excited appealing.

This is a guy who doesn't know the laws of the game (clearly given the way he frantically appeals for LBWs that can't possibly be out), and has proven that he can't work an umpire to save his life.

From here on in, I'd be counting on taking home 75% of any future match fees if I was Monty....

Katich takes 3 as Australia win again

Interesting to see how Australia have bounced back since they lost to South Africa at home. In classic Australia style, despite having limited resources they've gone back to South Africa and taken a 2-0 lead.

When they were desperately trying to find a spinner in India, you may remember that I was agreeing with others who had put forward Simon Katich as a realitic "Michael Bevan style" spin option. Ponting and the Australian management clearly didn't agree then, but with no specialist spinners in the side Ponting has used Katich in the last Test and he took 3 wickets. Yes, only the lower order but nevertheless, he took 3 wickets.

As an Englishman expecting the Aussies over this summer, them getting their act together and understanding that Clarke and Katich can cover their spin requirements doesn't bode well.

9 March 2009

Bye Bye Bye Bye

I haven't watched any of the latest Test and haven't had the chance to listen to much, but what has happened to justify the number of byes Prior has conceeded?

Check the scorecard out....30 so far out of 384 at the time of writing....

As long as he doesn't drop any I guess Prior is still in credit after his hundred but it doesn't look good!

7 March 2009

Patel wouldn't listen to warnings

As you no doubt picked up last week, Samit Patel will not travel from New Zealand where the Lions are on tour, to join up with the main squad in the West Indies for the ODIs. The reason? He's not as fit as is expected of him. Or, as The Telegraph explains, because he's fat.

He's 24 and, although many observers consider that young, it's plenty old enough to have gone through the rebellious teens and got that out of your system. He's a professional sportsman and that means approaching all aspects of his game professionally. Yes, he may be able to carry out what is required of him without being as fit as he possible could be, but equally his lack of application now could reduce the length of his career or make him more susceptible to injury.

But the main reason I think the England management are right to take a stand on Patel - who has had many warnings apparently - is the impact that someone not pulling their weight has on team morale. Everyone must be 100% dedicated to being the best they possibly can be, and it appears Patel isn't.

He clearly has talent and I hope he comes back into the reckoning for both the ODI and Test squads because, although it hasn't really been recognised yet, he is another option as a batting all-rounder in Tests. I just hope he heeds this clear warning that he'll only make it internationally if he knuckles down - as a country England can't afford not to have talented players on the pitch....we're not overburdened with them.

3 March 2009

Gun attack in Pakistan

Shocking breaking news from Lahore - apparently gunmen have attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team's coach, killing six security men and injuring at least five members of the touring party. Apparently Samaraweera and Paranavitana are the most seriously injured and are receiving treatment in hospital, with Jayawardene and Sangakkara receiving minor injuries.

According to Cricinfo:

The Sri Lankans were on their way to the Gaddafi Stadium when their bus was attacked by five armed terrorists near Liberty market. Habibur Rehman, chief commissioner of police, said 12 masked terrorists fired at the Sri Lankan team bus. The gunmen shot at the wheels of the bus and also injured the driver. A grenade was also thrown at the bus but it missed.

"The bus came under attack as we were driving to the stadium, the gunmen targeted the wheels of the bus first and then the bus," Mahela Jayawardene told Cricinfo. "We all dived to the floor to take cover. About five players have been injured and also Paul Farbrace [a member of the support staff], but most of the injuries appear to be minor at this stage and caused by debris."

Lahore police chief Habib-ur Rehman said, "They appeared to be well-trained terrorists. They came on rickshaws." Television footage of several gunmen creeping through the trees, crouching to aim their kalashnikovs then running onto the next target were aired by Pakistan's private channel Geo, AFP reported. Crystals of broken glass littered the road next to a gun cartridge and an empty rocket-propelled grenade launcher. A police motorbike was shown crashed sideways into the road at the Liberty Chowk (roundabout) in Lahore. Bullet holes ripped through the windscreen of another vehicle and a white car was shown smashed headlong into the roundabout as nervous security officers guarded the site.

2 March 2009

Australian players' views

Hope I got the use of the apostrophe right in the title there...rumour has it that apostrophes may only be used for shortening of words in the future because people like me can't work out how to use them apart from in those circumstances!

This Cricket Australia survey looks interesting - it asks all the pro cricketers in Australia their opinions on various issues. Kevin Pietersen will be happy - he is deemed the best opposition international batsman above Sachin Tendulkar and Kumar Sangakarra. And Andrew Flintoff is the 3rd most dangerous opposition international pace bowler apparently. What I can't really get my head round is why this is public property - why don't Cricket Australia keep this information to themselves? I wonder if the fact it goes public (all be it that the results are aggregated) sways the results at all?

1 March 2009

Indian players can't play against ICL players?

This seems crazy from the BCCI - they are now pulling out players from matches in which the opposition field an ICL player - Sachin Tendulkar being pulled out of a match in NZ at short notice.

The BCCI need to put money to one side and sort out their issues with the ICL if they are to be true to their claim of wanting to advance the game of cricket both in India and globally. It's clear that the ICC haven't got the power to force the BCCI to make that decision, so it's up to them to make that decision for themselves. I'm not holding my breath!

Cricket originated in Flanders?

Interesting piece in The Telegraph on Saturday about how people from Flanders might have introduced the game of cricket to England. I'll leave you to decide what you think the truth is - I doubt it will ever be clarified for certain!

Draw inevitable on day 4?

Only days ago I suggested that an England skipper wouldn't get away with bowling joke bowlers on day 4, no matter how certain the game was to result in a draw. Well it looks like we'll find out what Strauss thinks of that today - unless things change rapidly, a draw looks inevitable. It will be interesting to see what tactics he employs as he desperately tried to move the game towards a result....