The Carnivore Kiwi…

The World Cup that I, Cassandra, thought would be a tired affair has blessed us with another splendid ton, this time from the bat of New Zealand’s Ross Taylor. In the last overs of what had been a quiet Kiwi innings he launched a terrific blitz against the Pakistani side; thumping boundary after boundary and displaying how variable power relations are in cricket. Generally the bowlers are the real aggressors. Sure, the batsmen try to pick up runs but only they face death with every moment that’s played; only their opponent can release the killer blow. Yet sometimes a batsman comes along – Viv, Ian, Kevin – who’s so damned aggressive that like a rhinoceros who charges towards a shaking barrel the hunted becomes the proverbial. Taylor was one of the few batsmen I’ve seen who’ve made their foes seem terrified of bowling. They ran in as if the fresh-cut grass was a Burmese swamp and tried to navigate the ball past him with all the fear of a parent trying to maneuver their child past a lion. I almost felt sorry for them. But, then again, I didn’t.

Published in: on March 9, 2011 at 3:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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Irish To End Catholic/Protestant Confusion And Start Worshipping Kevin O’Brien…

Richards. Botham. Khan. Stand aside, me lads, and let Kevin O’Brien take the spotlight. Few expected this young, flame-haired Irishman to thwack his side to victory – like North Korea fighting back from 3-nil down to whup Brazil in the World Cup – but as six after six began to hurtle into the crowd one heard the English nerves jangle like wind chimes in a hurricane. He leant into each delivery, ball meeting bat as if their union was preordained. That’s the mark of great big hitting: one can hardly comprehend that it was all spontaneous. Could Botham’s ’81 hundred match up to it? Well, perhaps in skill but not in spectacle. The Aussie’s had an innings left; it could have been for nought. More analogous might be the 5th Ashes test, 1902, where Gilbert Jessop wandered out with England five down and two hundred still to get and whacked them there so quickly that half-finished cigarettes would still be lit. At a stroke – or, well, about fifty strokes – he’s justified the presence of the “minnows” – big teeth for small fish, eh? – and won Ireland more international acclaim that its new statesmen ever could. What an innings.

Published in: on March 2, 2011 at 5:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Why The News Is Good For The Australians!

I’m a pessimistic sod and so, as an English fan, expected bad, bad things going into the Ashes. Now, of course, that pessimism has been somewhat chastened but I’ve desire to let myself get too confident: that way a Ponting a hundred and a good, old fashioned English batting collapse lie. Here, then, is that case for Aussie optimism. Naturally I hope that all these speculations will be proved about as right as Tony Greig‘s, Glenn McGrath‘s or General John Sedgwick‘s.

  • Australia’s batting slump can’t go on forever. Phillip Hughes and Steven Smith are talented young batsmen; Michael Clarke has found his feet; Hussey’s yet to fail this series and it’s foolish to expect that Ponting won’t hit back in time. Remember, Britons, with a shudder, the second innings at Old Trafford.
  • Against this imposing line-up England have a crippled unit. Stuart Broad, their fastest bowler, has been lost to injury while Tremlett, Bresnan and Shahzad were as effective as a—well—Bollinger this weekend. No, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more runs than a nervy English debutante that no one warned not to eat out in India.
  • Australia’s bowlers could be more effective in this test. Perth should suit Ryan Harris and, if he can get his act together, Mitchell Johnson better than Brisbane or Adelaide. And, while Peter Siddle had a rotten game last week, a man who took a hat-trick against England and, remember, skittled them out for a hundred last year isn’t just an, er – angry porcine face. An on-form Shane Watson and, perhaps, some leggies from Steve Smith will give Ponting the extra firepower that Strauss call upon while, though even a piece as facetiously Aussiephilic as this isn’t going to predict marvellous things for Michael Beer, it would be foolish to discount an unknown quality. Nick Cook, Peter Taylor and one Graham Swann were all obscure or unexceptional performers who made a quick impact on the international scene.
  • They’ll be bowling at a team who’ve yet to really prove themselves. Three innings—one of which was a failure and another of which was enacted by the top three batsmen—aren’t enough on which to judge a batting line-up. Strauss, despite a brilliant hundred, has looked shaky early on; Collingwood seems of touch and Prior’s hardly got a bat. Naturally any one of those, or the in-form Bell, or last game’s centurions should could superbly but against a strong attack and on a less friendly pitch it’s dangerous to assume they will. Against the Aussies, Pakistan and even Bangladesh England have looked fragile at times. They’ve got much to prove.
  • England have had all the luck. Injured opponents? A freak run out? Pietersen getting a wicket? Let’s face it, England have played well but they’ve had all the luck. Well, except for the first three days when the Australians ran riot. Oh ye sons of Albion, that pendulum shall swing again!
Published in: on December 11, 2010 at 7:24 pm  Comments (4)  
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Cricket Sadists…

I’ve a piece in the new edition of the great Jarrod Kimber‘s mag, Cricket Sadists Quarterly. Please don’t let that stop you buying the thing in print or online, though, because there’s lots of other pieces and they’re quite superb . Mine’s a brief guide to the perfect cricketer’s memoir. Here’s an extract…

3) You were the best player of all time but you don’t like to talk about it

Ideally, you should be both boastful and self-effacing (ie. “I was so devastated to be out that even my three hundred runs were little consolation”). This presents an image of you as a decent, humble chap who nonetheless could bowl out Bradman on a pitch so slow that you could crawl the length of it before the ball had reached the stumps, or knock Shane Warne about the ground on a strip two hundred love-starved rhinos had been copulating on.

Published in: on November 29, 2010 at 11:41 am  Leave a Comment  
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An Irony…

The Sky commentators have two subjects of discussion: the 1986/7 ashes, where an underwhelming England side overcame a confident Australia, and the splendid opportunity a confident English side now has of besting an underwhelming bunch of Aussies.

Published in: on November 25, 2010 at 11:53 am  Leave a Comment  
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An All-Round Failure…

A spectre is haunting England – the spectre of a new Flintoff. It would be as welcome as a socialist utopia but it’s just as likely to be achieved. Who could take the mantle? Bresnan is a decent player but in terms of the boost he’d give the side he’s a pro-plus to Flintoff’s 4o,000 volts. He’s more like a new Mark Ealham. Broad’s a talented strokeplayer but anyone who’d feel assured to watch him mosey out at six is hopelessly naive or, er – Australian. No one matches up and yet I fear that the selectors might pursue Sir Humphrey’s old maxim, “Something must be done. This is something. Therefore we must do it.” We need an all-rounder. Here is an all-rounder. Therefore, pad ‘im up and send ‘im in with four wickets down.

This would be a singularly foolish move: pick an all-round average player and they might get a duck, feed Ponting’s run-lust and waste room on the team coach. It’s akin to doing away with a serviceable bike in favour of a car that doesn’t start. You can’t always get what you want.

About the only worthwhile option might have been Samit Patel. As well as being a fine batsman, he could have doubled up with Swann on spin-conducive pitches like Sydney and Adelaide. Regrettably the selectors feel he doesn’t match up to their ascetic fitness demands. To use an out-of-place proverb, you can’t have your cake and eat it.

Published in: on November 8, 2010 at 1:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Additions To The Canon…

Alastair Cook has a biography…

If he can have one at the grand old age of 17 I see no reason why the other English players can’t muck in. Coming soon, to a charity shop near you!

Not forgetting international stars…

Published in: on November 5, 2010 at 1:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The English Anticipated…

In these disconcerting times of England being above average it’s good to take a look back to when, season after grim season, we’d scrape a win over Zimbabwe or New Zealand and go on to receive a 4-1 kicking in the Ashes. What better way to celebrate those times than by remembering our ineffectual stalwarts: those players who burst on the scene; made a 30 or took wickets on debut and then slid into a pattern of county successes, anticipation and beleaguered test returns. Push aside your Best 11s and spare a nostalgic thought for the English speculated…

  • M. Lathwell
  • N. Knight
  • M. Ramprakash
  • R. Key
  • J. Crawley
  • M. Ealham
  • C. Read
  • M. Bicknell
  • R. Kirtley
  • An English Shane Warne
  • A. Mullally

One could rely on Ramprakash to hit a lovely innings every fifth game or so, inspiring whispers that he’s finally arrived at test level. Chris Read, meanwhile, would prompt suggestions that he’d have flourished if Alec Stewart, Geraint Jones, Matt Prior and whoever succeeds him hadn’t blocked the way. After their opposing side, the Australian Sadists, had flayed An English Shane Warne and picked up an inevitable duck from Al Mullally we could sigh and murmur, “Ah, well, next time“. At least we’d know there was a next time.

Published in: on October 29, 2010 at 11:43 am  Leave a Comment  
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We Want You To Do To Australia’s Batting What The Germans…

This training schedule for the England team is wonderfully surreal…

As well as boxing sessions, the camp in Germany included hiking and abseiling and was rounded off with a visit to the former Dachau concentration camp.

The first three might build team spirit but — Dachau? I wouldn’t want to play cricket after seeing Dachau. I barely want to live after even thinking of the place. Still, perhaps it does the trick. Next April I’ll pay a visit to the gulag at Vorkuta. That might fix my dodgy backlift.

Published in: on October 16, 2010 at 1:27 am  Comments (2)  
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Umar Akmal’s Bloody Cool…

Because of this…

Because of this…

And, most of all, because of this…

Akmal is the future of the Pakistani team because he’s just about their only player with real ebullience. He doesn’t just assemble scores, he takes bowling attacks to pieces. He’s not just a tight fielder, he’s animated and alert. He’s not just a good player, he’s bloody fun to watch and, I’d guess, a mite vexing to play. Cool in other words.

“Thank you, God, for giving me cool…”

Published in: on September 18, 2010 at 1:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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