23 August 2011

Younger, younger and younger again...

You're probably getting sick of me saying how young the Steyning 1st XI is, but surely this is some kind of record for a league 1st team - if it isn't it should be! On Saturday, we fielded a side where 36 out of 47 overs were bowled by under 19s and 6 wickets were taken by 14 year-olds.

Sam Grant, 15 - 14 overs, Mike Brown, 19 - 5 overs, David Croshaw, 14 - 6 overs, Lawrence Green, 14 - 11 overs.

Incredible really. And Lawrence Green is a leg-spinner who bowled with fielders all round the bat at all times and still only went at less than 4 an over.

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England deliberately scuffing the pitch?

I wasn't able to watch or listen to England wrapping up a 4-0 series win yesterday, but having got the first wicket it looks like England dominated (again). To think, prior to the series I was upset that the battle for number 1 Test nation wasnt' a 5 match series - in the end it all seemed very easy for England.

But one thing seemingly glossed over in victory worried me - did I read that Strauss was officially warned about his players continually walking on the pitch? If that is true, that sounds extremely worrying. Nothing Afridi-esque I assume or it would be far more important than the one line of coverage it seems to be getting....

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22 August 2011

Contrast - just like the old days

The advent and proliferation of league cricket has meant that we no longer, or rarely, play the one team village sides we used to, but we got a lovely reminder on Sunday. Looked as if we had enough to run a an extra side and, as the old man who's been to most local grounds I got an e-mail on Thursday - did I know Old Berkeley CC? I didn't but, since their ground directions referred to a pub 50 yards away and the pub got a good write up on beer in the evening, we agreed it was a good fixture and I suddenly became available.

So Sunday, I got there first and found the pub - barely touched for 30 years, but that's not always a good thing, and met the publican and his mate who told me that about 50 years ago Captain Courage (of Brewery fame) gave them the land and they (the publican and his mate) laid it out and created the ground. I was also involved in conversations about rabbit hutches and ferret boxes but baulked a bit at his answer to a request for food from another customer 'doesn't your wife know how to cook?' - that was called 'common sense'.

At the ground we found that both teams had been a bit optimistic and it ended up as 9.5 v 8. The half player was theirs - the big house that had been Captain Courage's included a son down from Eton who was inveigled into playing, which involved sitting on a deck chair between the house and the ground until his (brief but unlucky) innings and then returning to it until he had to come over and explain to his team mates that he couldn't field as he had a train to catch.

The house was straight behind the bowlers arm and closer than the similarly placed one at Mill Hill Village. 'Has anyone ever broken a window?' 'No, but someone once hit the heliocopter parked in front of it - stupid place to park a helicopter'.

We lost but it didn't seem to matter much and it was all back to Horace's (the publican who'd bought it from Aylesbury Brewery Company, soon after building the cricket ground).

And I was the last to leave since I had to have a bowl in the net in the pub garden.

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15 August 2011

Paparazzi action yesterday...

...at The Cricketer Cup final...

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Edgbaston goes £29m into debt to fund ground development

Interesting to see just how far Warwickshire have had to go to ensure there is the realistic prospect of international cricket at Edgbaston long-term. £29m into debt in fact.

I haven't been to the ground since the building work but certainly the old ground beat Lord's and The Oval for comfort with room for people to walk through the aisles, rather than everyone having to stand to allow others to squeeze past. The only slight downside compared to London grounds is the walk to/from the station (as getting a cab is near impossible, especially on the way back), but I certainly hope Edgbaston remains as a Test venue.

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Looks can be deceptive

A few years ago we played a side which included a player with, apparently, freshly inked arms who spent a large part of his team's fielding session ensuring that his short sleeves were pulled up to his shoulders so that we could see the artwork. He'd also changed his name by deed poll to something quite aggressive. Now I've nothing against tattoos per se and I'm quite happy for people to call themselves what they like but I'm afraid I was amused by his antics with his sleeves and I know that my team mates were equally amused.

Well we played against this chap on saturday and he's now the skipper - he batted for a long time and we later had a spell when we were trying to save a draw and he was bowling. Amusing friendly banter all the way through both sessions and we shared a beer together afterwards and what a nice bloke!

So 1. looks can be deceptive and / or 2. cricket brings out the best in people.

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I'm told that someone 'phoned in to TMS on friday to point out that A Mishra and I Sharma, bowling in tandem at the time, have names that are anagrams of each other and to ask whether the occurence was unique. Does anyone know whether they were able to find another example?

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On the front page of yesterday's Telegraph Sport were two headlines :-
1. 'On top of the world' about England beating India at cricket
2.Wenger accuses Barton of cheating - Arsenal manager furious over Gervinho red card but Newcastle midfielder says referee was right.

Whilst I like it as a sport and have kicked a few big round balls in my time I hate the start of the football season.

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14 August 2011

Malvern cruise to Cricketer Cup final win

Old Malvernian's won the Cricketer Cup final today at Shenley against Old Etonian's by a big margin - larger than the one that OMTs' lost to Malvern by in the semi. Old Etonian's 141 all out, Old Malvernian's 145 - 4 with 17 overs to spare.

Next year's draw was also made - the final will be replayed in the 1st round next year! And OMTs have been drawn against Old Alleynian's (Dulwich)....

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Moaning about the U19 over limits (again!)

It does my head in as a skipper. We've got two 19 year-olds who love bowling and hate the fact that they have to end their spells after 7 overs of slow-medium bowling (the keeper stands up for both of them). They're without doubt not even vaguely tired but they have to come off. One of them opened the bowling and had 4 for 27 so had to give up the chance of a 5 for. The other came on first change and had 3 for 6 from his 7 overs of slow medium. You can view the scorecard here.

Fortunately it looks like we're going to get through this period without losing them to non-cricket related activities on a Saturday as next year they'll be able to bowl normal spells of unlimited length. But one of them in particular moans all the time about not being able to bowl longer spells - it can't be good for cricket that keen youngsters are kept from maximising their role in adult sides.

As a skipper it creates farcical situations - when selecting we have to consider how many "unlimited" bowlers we have as it can become very problematical if all your seamers are subject to the 7 over maximum rule. And when in the field I have to consider giving batsmen in the top 5 of the opposition 1, just so our one strike bowler, who is 15, gets to bowl at the opposition's best batsmen before he has to come off.

It's a crazy situation to be in and I've got a simple solution - keep the maximum overs per day but lose the maximum per spell. A maximum number of overs per spell surely increases the chances of injury as players have to warm up 2 or 3 times and if a bowler is tired the skipper will take them off anyway as they'll be costing the team runs. That would ensure that young bowlers really enjoy playing a full part in adult cricket. It seems particularly unfair on bowlers - no-one hauls our U16 opening batsman, who leads the league runs, off after he's scored 50 - he's allowed to bat all day....

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12 August 2011

CMJ: "there will be some good players there"

Just heard CMJ discussing the Cricketer Cup final on Sunday between Old Etonians and Old Malvernians. "There will be some good players there," he said "including Alex Loudon who's scored a couple of hundreds". Probably just as well OMTs lost in the semi if CMJ expects "good players" although I suppose the definition of "good" varies! I suspect that CMJ's definition of good is good by professional standards....

Needless to say, when it was mentioned that Alex Loudon's girlfriend may well be watching, Boycott had no idea who Pippa Middleton is. She's not a cricketer so she doesn't exist in Boycott world.

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A combined England/Australia XI

Amazing to see how the tables have turned so quickly - as one of the commenter's points out, perhaps only one Englishman would have got in the Australian side in 2006. 5 years later and the consensus is that only Watson (for Morgan) would get into England's side....

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Vaseline get involved with Hot Spot debate

Vaseline in India have tried to take advantage of the debate about whether it can be used to cheat Hot Spot in their latest Indian advertising....

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Spanish footballers striking

Last summer something Alastair Cook said got exagerated and quoted out of context, and there was talk about England cricketers striking. That wasn't really going to happen though. Apparently, Spanish footballers are striking though - some people don't know how lucky they are. If they aren't paid when a club goes into administration so be it....the vast majority are already millionaires.

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11 August 2011

England tactics to set batsmen with tailenders

I didn't watch any of yesterday's play but I hear that when Dhoni was out England had 8 players round the boundary and Strauss at slip, where he was caught. Dhoni had a wild swish so was presumably trying to clear the rope and came unstuck. I'm torn - I hate the idea of having everyone round the boundary with the opposition in so much trouble, but perhaps Dhoni didn't have the patience to score the occassional boundary, the odd 2 and a 1 of the 5th ball to farm the strike for a bit.....in which case, good tactics.

Difficult to criticise when it works but having everyone round the boundary feels very wrong somehow! Any thoughts...?

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8 August 2011

Shastri and Gavaskar BCCI employees

There seems some genuine surprise at the fact that Ravi Shastri and Sunil Gavaskar are paid by the BCCI for some of their commentary work. I don't think it's that surprising given, as ex-India spinner Maninder Singh has said "It's symptomatic of what the country is going through. There are scams, corruption in every sphere of life and cricket is no different." If you've ever been to India you'll recognise and understand that sentiment.

Surprising or not, I do think the amount they're paid is obscene. 3.6 crore, which I believe is £4,896,000 [this is actually 10 times too much - see comments!]. It doesn't seem a justifiable amount for an annual salary for any role, but certainly not cricket commentary. So the assumption I find it hard to avoid considering is that they must be being paid that much to ensure that they say exactly what the BCCI would like them to say - it would be interesting to hear what other explanation there is for that much money being paid for an ordinary commentary role?

Interesting to see that Shastri's intransigence around the UDRS, echoing that of the BCCI, is now being called into question. His little spat with Nasser Hussain made me laugh - first Hussain references the fact he has played 96 Tests as a reason why he's allowed to voice an opinion about the BCCI....surely it's the fact that he is a commentator and his role is, as Geoff Boycott isn't shy of reminding us, to comment. Who cares how many Tests he has or hasn't played?

And then Shastri's retort...."India has every right to take it or not". Erm, not really - ever heard of democracy Ravi? The ICC members should be putting it to a blind vote and then implementing the UDRS. One of the reasons the BCCI gave for not implementing the UDRS a while back was that it cost too much. Perhaps a bit of a cut back on paying back-handers to commentators fellas, and then you wouldn't just be able to pay for the technology for India's home series, you'd be able to pay for the low-income nations to use it too. Now that really would be fantastic leadership of the game of cricket.

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1 August 2011

Disecting India's performance

Where do I begin?

1) Poor preparation - the wrong balance between rest and play for the West Indies series

2) Lack of warm-up fixtures for the rested players

3) Inconsistent selection - where was Murali Vijay, a like-for-like (almost) replacement for Sehwag, who would have taken the attack to England and possibly force them to change their initial bowling plans.

Where was Virat Kohli? He had a good tour of the West Indies but was jettisoned for Yuvraj Singh, a nothing bowler, a flat track bully of a batsman and a shadow of his old fielding self (before injuries).

4) Poor bowling - if the pitch is not doing anything and if the ball is not doing anything then you dry up the runs by bowling a consistent line outside off-stump and force the batsmen to make the mistake. This is something that England and South Africa have done, and something that India should have yesterday.

5) Abject field placings - that said consistent bowling needs the captain to set the right field. Dhoni not having a third-man for a large part of the innings gave England far too many cheap runs. Not having an orthodox fine leg didn't help either as the bowlers sprayed it. Also even for part-time spinners, you need to have an attacking field to create mistakes, yesterday it was like being at a dairy with all the milking that was going on.

That's just a few areas for development. The last two can be remedied for Edgbaston, but I'm not holding my breath that they will.

Bresnan is a proper allrounder

There were a few rumblings that Broad should bat above Bresnan after Broad scored runs in the first innings at Tent Bridge, following his runs in the 2nd innings at Lords. But there's no way that should be the case. Bresnan bats like a batsman, Broad bats like a bowler - he can play some fantastic shots but there's a lot that goes arial and he always gives the bowler a chance. So the likelihood is that he'll struggle to score runs consistently.

Bresnan approaches his batting more seriously and gives himself the best chance of consistent success, so unless Broad changes his approach, Bresnan should always bat above him.

I also disagree with the commentators about the (possible) declaration. I would have done what Strauss did and bat to a lead of 500 - if you argue that it's a world record score and if India win they deserve it, similarly you can make the opposite argument that 5 sessions should be more than enough for England to bowl them out and if India save the game they deserve it. As always though, any discussion about the declaration is irrelevant until we see the fields that Strauss sets - I hope he's more attacking than on the final day at Lords.

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