29 October 2011

A bit of a lottery...

...when there's no UDRS. In Sri Lanka's crucial second innings against Pakistan, Sangakkarra looked incredibly unlucky to be given our LBW, and then Angelo Mathews was plumb not playing a shot but not given....

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Scotland "star" "did a Reggie Perrin"!!

Intrigue abounds in the case of ex-Scotland player Asim Butt who apparently died while in Pakistan aged 42 in 2009. His wife can't find any record of his death and certainly can't get hold of a death certificate.

Also intriguing that he was a Pakistani national at all times and was never considered "Scottish". I always assumed you'd have to have dual nationality at least to play for an international side?

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26 October 2011

What does the drubbing in India mean for the future?

Never good to lose 5-0 but doing it in a meaningless series a long way before the next World Cup is probably the best time. In some way's it's probably no bad thing - even if the England team themselves weren't getting ahead of themselves, the English media certainly were. England have some talent coming through it appears, but the Twenty20 loss to West Indies and this series demonstrate that there's a way to go.

So what's been learnt from this series? There seem to be some players that aren't quite there yet. England have sent players away from Test cricket to go and find form again, and it's worked with the likes of Strauss and Bell. I think they need to do the same with a few of the ODI team that played this series. Who are the prime candidates for a bit of a regroup in County cricket?

Jade Dernbach - I know many say that if you lose faith in him then the investment in him to date is lost. But frankly he's not proven good enough. Let him play international Twenty20 and learn in the lowest form of cricket and then if and when he's proven a world beater in that arena, give him another try in ODI cricket.

Jonny Bairstow - I don't want to say I told you so, but I told you so! He may be good enough at some point as an international batsman but making his first full series an away one against Indian spinners was always a throw of the dice too far. And he should never have batted above Samit Patel. He could get a chance with the gloves though depending on where England go with....

Craig Kieswetter - I think he'll come good but his mistakes behind the stumps in this series, not to mention a less than inspiring batting performance, means that he needs to go back to Somerset for a bit. For now, internationally, he's a Twenty20 specialist.

Ravi Bopara - I'm saddened to say I think he needs to go back to County cricket (again). He has serious talent and his bowling is handy but despite seeming to come on last English summer, he couldn't produce an innings of substance. He may well get another opportunity but I wouldn't make it England's next series.

So what does that mean for the rest of the England side? I'd like to see them put faith in Pietersen to open and Patel to bat 6 (I've given up on Collingwood being considered, although wouldn't it have been handy to have a class fielder who could bat and bowl out in India instead of the middle order we put out?!). Finn was a real success story (although he still needs to bowl more yorkers at the death) so he's pushing for a place in the bowling attack, (presumably) occupying positions 8-11 in the order.

So Cook, Pietersen, Trott, Bell, Morgan, Patel, AN Other, 3 seamers and Swann. The question is who keeps and bats 7 or 8 depending on whether Bresnan is playing and is considered better than them. I say that because the best keepers in England could well bat below Bresnan, but they're unlikely to be picked. They may feel they want to go with Bairstow as he can clear the ropes, although I think Prior must be thinking he will get another opportunity....time will tell.

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Have we reached overload?

For a long time now I have wondered exactly where cricket is going when we hear that there are now a considerable number of games with attendances that are low compared with a few years ago.

There is a lot of talk about whether there is just too much cricket for either the cricketer or the general public to take in. I can remember playing 9 days consecutive cricket when I was a lot younger and fitter and I was concerned as to how indifferent I became about playing every day and I deny that it was anything to do with too much alcohol or too little sleep.

The main point is that some cricketers hardly get a break and Dhoni can be excused for a poor run in England after five years of non-stop cricket. At least we have got him back into form!

One sign that I have noticed is the enduring perception of Test cricket as the major form with the one day stuff being seen as a bit of a sideshow. Can anybody really suggest that for English people anything matters as much as an Ashes series?

I have gone on but I have become thoroughly disinterested in one day cricket and the last ODI series in India has not been one that I have followed. I have even less interest in the IPL as I see it as a pointless circus with money as the only driving force.

Is my feeling unique amongst burblers or do I have a problem??!!

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25 October 2011

Billy's antics

Personally I've got no concerns about Billy Bowden's eccentric signals and love the fact he celebrated New Zealand's rugby win in style!

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23 October 2011

A good news financial story from County cricket

Leicestershire are well in profit for the year...a rare good news story that's come about partly because of their Twenty20 success which won't happen every year, but great news none the less.

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A sad day

It's a sad day when you flick the channel away from England to SA v Australia in an attempt to watch a match that's a proper contest! Let's hope the England team are learning while they're losing and it strengthens them moving forwards.

Someone will have to explain to me how anyone would pick Borthwick ahead of Swann...perhaps Swann is feeling the ramifications of his tell all autobiography which he must have realised wasn't going to go down well with Flower?

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20 October 2011

Ed Smith as a commentator

Just listened to Ed Smith on TMS commentating on the India v England game. Quality. Not overly sensational, but clearly enthusiastic about the game. Not too know it all, but speaks with authority. Not someone who bangs on about how brilliant he was in his playing career, but gives insight about how the players are feeling based on his past experiences when appropriate.

More please.

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19 October 2011

5ives cricket

Interesting couple of pieces here about how ODI cricket is suffering and what to do about it.

First, read this one about the empty seats at the Champions League and the India v England ODIs...worrying given that India has such a huge base of supporters and immense passion for the game. We're normally told that it's Test cricket the Indian fans don't like, but it appears that apathy is spreading to the shorter forms of the game.

Then read this piece about a proposed 5ives version of ODI cricket. It would be a big change to the game and will therefore inevitably mean that there would be quite a backlash, at least initially. But I wonder if it could be a goer....the piece certainly seems very positive and has various ex-pros talking positively about it.

It seems that something has to give. I can't see 50 over cricket continuing forever in it's current form and I think the ICC missed an opportunity to make the 2011 World Cup the last. Without considering financial implications, ending 50 over cricket entirely would seem sensible - returning to two formats of the game - but I doubt that would satisfy the money men. So an alternative to 50 over cricket to follow on from the 2015 World Cup is needed.....I wonder if 5ives could be it?

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14 October 2011

Bell v Bairstow

I'd have gone with Bell 5 and Bopara 6 myself. Bairstow may well be the next big thing, but a hundred against a second string local attack and 40odd doesn't make him better than Ian Bell in my book, who is probably England's best player of spin. But at least it's one ginge in and one out....don't want to over do the quota!

Who'd have thought it....me defending Ian Bell! Now watch Bairstow score a match winning hundred....

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10 October 2011

Two balls in ODIs

Interesting to see the view points on two new balls....I'd expect the ball to swing differently from each end due to the wind, shape of the stands etc, but this piece seems to suggest that when one ball was used the ball swung the same amount both ends. It's just something else to get used to, no big deal.

For England, I think it assures James Anderson's ODI future. Along with Dale Steyn he's the best new ball bowler in the world and he'll be able to bowl with a new ball for longer, looking to take wickets.

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6 October 2011

Champions League Highlights and Lowlights

Some great batting recently in the Champions League, particularly from David Warner. Personally I have no problem with the likes of Warner and Pietersen playing left and right handed....bowlers don't have to tell the batsmen which way they want to spin or swing the ball, so why should a batsman who is capable of batting either way advertise what he intends to do in advance?

There's also been some good bowling - Alfonso Thomas' death bowling for Somerset in their last match was great to watch. Apart from odd eye-catching performances though, in general the standard of the cricket has been pretty poor overall I would say, particularly some of the bowling and fielding, which only adds weight to those that argue Twenty20 is "dumming down" cricket.

What isn't in doubt is how much the players want to win. Alfonso Thomas said that of all the competitions they entered this year, the Champions League is the one they want to win, and if you look at Virat Kohli, his eyes are nearly popping out of his head. He played a great innings yesterday, but I find it hard to believe that he can be thinking with a cool head when so hyped up. Gavaskar asked yesterday "if there was a better 21 year-old batsman in the world" and I agree he's extremely talented, but I'm not sure Twenty20 is going to help him realise that talent....certainly not in Test cricket anyway.

Who knows what impact Twenty20 will have on player skills long-term, but I do worry that basic cricket skills are being lost which will reduce the quality of Test cricket and therefore the audience for it.

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A sad tale...

...not only because the player that had to be held down clearly has some issues, but also because of the way the league reacted in relation to the umpires that had to call the game of....

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2 October 2011

Kambli in second comedy retirement

In case you missed it Vinod Kambli retired from first class cricket last week. That's 2 years on from when he retired from international cricket, which itself was 4 years after he last played first class cricket and 14 years after his last Test. Does he think anyone cares? Sad really for a man rated in one statistical analysis as the 19th best batsman ever in Test cricket....

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