31 July 2011

Dumb-ass cricket

Dumb-ass cricket from Ian Bell (unless Asad Rauf called over which I find unlikely), which hopefully won't take away from a superb innings because he really did bat fantastically well until that brain freeze.

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29 July 2011

Betting odds tell you what's happening

If you follow the cricket via Cricinfo or the BBC waiting to see updates to the scoreboard when you're working as I do, you expect to notice when a wicket falls. But I had the strange experience twice today of hearing that a wicket had fallen from my colleague next to me. Having been a pro gambler for 6 months, he's on top of all things betting and it turns out that the odds change after a wicket well before the scorecards get updated.

So as Morgan was starting his innings he said to me "Another wicket's fallen" to which I told him that his information was out of date...the fourth wicket had gone down just before that. But as it turned out, he was right - Morgan was out third ball....the Cricinfo scorecard caught up about 30 seconds later. The same happened again when Bresnan was out - my colleague noticed the odds change and told me a wicket must have fallen. Sure enough I found out it had shortly afterwards.

That's a whole new experience for me....following events on the cricket pitch via the betting odds!

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27 July 2011

Cricketer Cup semi-final scorecard / match report

For those that haven't seen the scorecard / match report from the Old Malvernians v OMT match, they're here:

Match report

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26 July 2011

Lack of conversation

We all know that one of the principal reasons for playing cricket is to spend time before, during and after with your pals, but it hadn't occurred to me how important the between over conversations are until we had a weird recent match. Because the pavilion had also been booked for a playschool it was decided to play an away fixture with all the bowling from one end with the kiddies safe behind long stop ( in theory and, as it turned out, in fact).
Very disorienting - you usually don't move very far between overs, if at all and you certainly don't go past anyone to exchange a brief bon mot and it must be particularly tedious for normally loquacious keepers, particularly if there's no slip to chat to. The skipper also can't say 'next over that end' but, on the plus side, I was able to confuse a team-mate at a precious wicket-having-fallen- conversation opportunity - 'I don't think they've got the overs right - if we started that end it must be an odd number'.
At least I didn't bowl at the wrong end as I did the previous year - not wrong, you understand for tactical reasons, but for the safety of a house which suffered broken windows in 2010 !

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Prior is not the best keeper/batsman in the world!

He's batted fantastically in the last Test, no doubt about it and he was a key ingredient in England's win. But even some knowledgable journalists have been suggesting he's the best keeper/batsman in the world which is clearly insane. Kumar Sangakkara averages 56 batting against the newish ball predominantly, versus Prior's 45 coming in at 7. And don't tell me Prior is the better keeper and still has a claim - even if you think he might just be superior, a difference in average of 11 is huge. No-one (I don't think?) would even suggest that Prior is the best keeper in England, good glove man though he has become.

As Simon Hughes says here, Prior's great skill is the tempo he gets his runs at and he's a huge asset. But let's keep a sense of reality...

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25 July 2011

Getting out of the way of the ball

Listening to the TMS commentary and Cook has just got hit fielding at silly point. On the backside as he turned around. Why do players do that? Gambhir got hit on the elbow doing that yesterday.

I've fielded close in quite a lot and I try not to turn at all. It of course takes a bit of nerve not to flinch but whatever you do you're just as likely to get hit and I'd prefer to be watching the batsman in case the ball isn't middled and you can react.

I'm told by people that have been professionally coached on this that the advice is to simply hunch down facing the batsman if you're at short-leg, and jump up if you're at silly point (as the ball is likely to go low on the off-side, but may go at any height on the leg-side), but not sure I totally agree with that. Any move that takes your eye off the ball or just moves your eyes, makes it less likely you'll catch a chance.

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All good things....

....must come to an end and the 2011 OMT Cricketer Cup run came to an end yesterday at Old Malvernians. More details in another post (or you can check the OMT Cricketer Cup blog), but interesting things I learnt from playing against a team with 7 ex-first class or minor county cricketers:

David Nash called "one" when it went to the boundary but he and his partner were pushing for two all along and got it easily (the "one" call being purely so that the fielder doesn't charge in as they assume that the batsmen don't want more than one).

Their wicket-keeper, who doesn't have representative honours, kept calling "no run" loudly whenever the batsman hit it for a potential single. It momentarily made me and others hesitate at the non-strikers end thinking it was the striking batsman who'd called no run, so you could call it cricket-smart or unsporting depending on your view point, but it worked.

Gutted to lose obviously, but the small upside personally was getting David Nash and Mark Hardinges out.

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21 July 2011

You never stop learning

So we're sitting watching our colleagues bat and someone says, of a fielder 'oh, he's made the mistake of chatting to the square leg umpire'.
'What's wrong with that ?' I ask. Well, I'm told, if the umpire moves back and the fielder chooses to continue the conversation he's likely to move back with the umpire and he's no longer saving one. It had never occurred to me but in the next match I decided to test the theory during my own umpiring stint and wow! it works. I had a quick bowler by me who was happy to tell me his life story including cricketing achievements and I'm pretty sure he'd have followed me to the pub if I'd gone there. He certainly moved back 10 yards or so as I did so. Brilliant - try it yourselves.

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20 July 2011

Interesting lead up to the 1st Test...

We've all been embarrassed by our parents occasionally, but Harbajan's mum's intervention after Dhoni took part in an advert for a competing whisky brand must take some beating!

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18 July 2011

Annual Brakspears intake over

Another year, another enjoyable Thames Tour. Here's a few selected photos....none of actual cricket of course! Tour record was played 6, won 3, tied 1, lost 2. I am to blame for the tie as I was captaining that game...a one run win was the ideal but I was a bit over-generous in the way I tossed the ball up in the final over! No matches lost to bad weather so all good....

Preparing for the Aldworth game at The Bell. Allan (front left) had clearly just swallowed a wasp.

John Walter holding court. Dave McCabe has clearly heard this anecdote before.

4 of the team relax at Aldworth having racked up the huge total of 92, preparing themselves to bowl Aldworth out.

Once again Mark Davis took the wicket of Tim Vines on Wednesday against Peppard. Tim forces a smile for the annual photo.

The team look on at Goring as Jon Vallerius and Guy Edwards knock off the winning runs.

Mark Davis wrapped in the OMT flag.

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11 July 2011

OMTs move into the Cricketer Cup semi-final

Yes, I know it's scarcely credible but somehow the OMT Cricketer Cup run continues and we now play last year's winners, Old Malvernians in the semi-final following Sunday's win against Felsted.

Still trying to work out who will be playing for them but ex-Middlesex player David Nash is likely to be playing judging from this photo after last year's final as are Mark Hardinges and Oliver Griffiths.

Should be interesting - the match is Sunday 24th July away at Malvern starting at 11:30. As in previous games, you can keep up to date every few overs by checking the blog that is updated during the match. You can still see the updates from the previous matches which sadly include a short video of yours truly giving his views on the match at the half-way stage on Sunday....

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2 high profile retirements in the women's game

Aimee Watkins, the New Zealand Women's Captain, retired last week at the age of just 28. It would be interesting to know what she's up to next given her early retirement.

At a more apt age for retirement (although only 2 years older than me!), England's Claire Taylor has also retired. Back in 2009 she was the first female Wisden Player of the Year and she's been critical to England's middle order for over a decade, but fortunately her retirement coincides with Lydia Greenway's excellent form that saw her named England Women's Player of the Year.

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8 July 2011

How did we win in 2008?

As a long suffering member I'm very aware that prior to the start of this season Middlesex were statistically the worst side in T20 county cricket (wins as a percentage of games played) and now with 2 wins in 13 I can't bring myself to do the maths.

So that gorgeous day in 2008 when after playing in an win at a beautiful ground I got back to my local in time to see MCCC's famous victory surrounded by fairly gracious Surrey-supporting mates seems surreal. In other circumstances you might even wonder if a leather jacket were involved (but certainly not here).

So I checked and of the 11 that won less than 3 years ago only 4 are still with us (one on England duty, one injured, one lent to another county and one rested). And one played against us last night and one has joined us from the beaten finalists.

So no reason to expect the 2008 and 2011 sides to have anything in common - I suspect that there is more of a merrygoround in cricket than there is in the game with a bigger ball for those with short attention spans.

P S I see from the same Wisden that Adam Rossington, now of Middlesex had a wonderful year for Mill Hill School.

PPS at least Pinky the Panther won the mascot race last night. Middlesex till we die wants to give him the player of the month award ( I met some of them yesterday at a pub near the ground) http://www.cricketnetwork.co.uk/main/s66.htm

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More on player discipline...

My County Sussex have been quick to do exactly as I suggested counties would do following the James Foster ban and have demonstrated to all that they take discipline seriously by issuing a statement about how they are disciplining Murray Goodwin. You'll note that there is no actual punishment for Goodwin though - just a verbal ticking off for now.

Interesting view from Derek Pringle yesterday too. He hopes that the push for greater player discipline may bring the umpire back to the centre of the game. Which got me thinking....has the crass implementation of the UDRS by the ICC and national boards led to a loss of respect for umpires? I certainly don't think it can help that players get to review decisions rather than umpires having sole discretion on when to use technology.

And Pringle also raises drinking with umpires after the close of play. That's something that has dropped off in club cricket too in my experience, although I do sometimes share a pint with an umpire or both of them.

Pints or not, it appears that under my watch Steyning won't be retaining the Sussex League fair play award, but I'm at a loss as to what I could have done differently to achieve a 10 out of 10!

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6 July 2011

Captains and player discipline

The other day I commented on CMJ's piece worrying about a deterioration in player discipline. As I wrote on Cricket Burble a while ago, I don't feel it's fair to saddle the captain with all player discipline issues and I'd like to see umpires challenging individual players that say things out of earshot of the captain.

So interesting then to see that James Foster has been banned for 2 games for persistent discipline issues at Essex. He's guilty of a big breach of discipline himself - the CMJ piece says that he had a slanging match with the umpires in front of TV cameras. But this ban comes as a result of 5 Essex disciplinary issues in the last 12 months - not the specific Foster case.

"The regulations make it absolutely clear that the captains are responsible for discipline on the field and ensuring no repetition occurs."

That is what they say, yes. However, it's simply not possible for a captain to ensure that no repetition occurs - the only way that can be done is through non-selection of the likes of Stuart Broad. All the other counties will now presumably put in place procedures that demonstrate they've taken action whenever a player is reported by an umpire, so they can demonstrate that they've tried to do something to avoid a repeat. But that doesn't really address the issue that the captain could be the best captain in the history of the game, but they still can't totally stop individual ill-discipline.

I'd like to see individual fines and penalties increased, and if the captain is deemed to have encouraged ill-discipline they might receive an even greater fine than the individual in question. While Foster's individual actions have demonstrated that he has set a very poor example, I fear for the precedent penalising the captain for the ill-discpline of his/her players sets. What might it lead to? Use your most dispendable player as captain for the toss and admin potentially?

As a captain in club cricket, I support the umpires wherever possible and do what I can to prevent ill-discipline. But I also know that it's impossible to ensure no repetition occurs. So why have regulations that aren't humanly possible to achieve?

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Special from Suppiah

6 for 5 doesn't seem a bad return for Somerset's Arul Suppiah!

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5 July 2011

The Cowdrey lecture

It's a long listen of an hour, but you can listen to Kumar Sangakkara's Cowdrey lecture and apparently it's captivating (not that I've had the time to listen myself yet!).

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Can't win.

So in today's papers Angelo Mathews , or whoever was instructing him, got flack for engineering it so that his partner Dinesh Chandimal got to 100 before their side ran out of target runs. Do you remember how much criticism Atherton got for declaring on Hick on 98* and Thorpe got for not engineering it so that Alex Tudor got to his nightwatchman's 100 ?

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4 July 2011

Oriental confusion

So you go into bat and seek help from either your new partner ( obviously now the senior partner) or the defeated batsmsan ( why, since he's obviously not succeeded). What you want to know is whether you need to worry about the ball outside your off stump cutting back to take your poles out or the one missing leg that's going to do for you. Last week I had this conversation and was told 'he's bowling chinamen' and it was then that I realised that this was an expression I didn't understand. We all know that the books say it's a left arm bowlers equivalent of a googly but what does that actually mean - which way does it pretend to be going to turn ( only relevant if you can pick up the arm 20 odd yards away) and which way will it actually turn? And how come some players e.g. Denis Compton were said to bowl googlies and chinamen.

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No secrets on the internet

I see that Owais Shah has gone from being the 64th best ODI batsman in the world to be the 61st without playing in one - that's real class.
I also see that a Hertfordshire age group side won a game by -1 run. That's another useful trick.

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1 July 2011

Steyning win back Cup...

We play for a Cup annually against Horsham and they've been holding it since 2003, so it was nice to win the Cup back yesterday. Doubly nice because we came back from the dead when they were 164-2 chasing 244 and well ahead of the rate required, and trebly nice because at a crucial point in the match one of their guys didn't walk for a caught behind and it's good when cheats don't prosper!

And after my TFC in the Cricketer Cup for OMTs, it was also nice to play a leading role...

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