Posts Tagged ‘Cricket’
This morning, just after 10 o’clock, Cricinfo reported that the start of the LVCC Division 2 match between Surrey and Derbyshire had been delayed due to crowd congestion. I rubbed my knuckles into my eyes sockets, looked sceptically at the bottle of scotch I keep on my desk to intoxicate me through the day, and gazed at my monitor for a minute.
Could this be true? Perhaps the phenomenal recent accomplishment of the international side had caused a tsunami of interest to wash at the gates of the Oval. Or the tantalising prospect of promotion dangling down like a moist grape had enticed the ‘Rey followers in their thousands.
No. I spoke to my friend Bonald in his Oval office. He reported that there was around a hundred people at the ground. Unless the arena was only accessible through a small skylight in the pavilion roof then congestion seemed unlikely. He also added that the game started in disappointingly punctual fashion.
It seems that there was a miscommunication on the part of Cricinfo. Either that or a sick satirical joke on county cricket’s perennial inability to attract an audience even for its most arresting fixtures. Invariably the domestic season works as a crescendo towards a finale in which literally zillions of permutations are thrillingly possible, as potentially crucial points are made available at every turn like blackberries on an autumnal bush. Unlike in football, in which the last game of the season is mainly just a parade of expensive new kits and self-congratulation, domestic cricket often comes to an exhilarating conclusion. Just in front of 0.01% of the crowd.
I’m not massively comfortable with the use of superlatives. They’re a bit flash and unnecessary, like diamond dental crowns. It does tend to dilute the vocabulary when describing England this summer though, hence why I’ve been less than prolific recently. But now England are officially
the best very good, and deserved holders of the Giant Shiny Chupa-Chup, I should pass some form of comment.
Watching the highlights today, I spied something in one fleeting frame of action. Chris Schofield had appeared on the pitch. A gormless ghostly figure from the past, from a much shitter era of English cricket. Normally the management let enthusiastic spaniel pups come bounding onto the field when a substitute is required, like that boy from One Direction who was pressed into service at the weekend.
Perhaps Schofield was introduced as a reminder of what once was. A gawky chinless reminiscence of where it all began, being one of the first signatories on a ECB central contract. So here’s to you Schoey, they couldn’t have done it without you.
I was invited to write a piece on my favourite cricketer for World Cricket Watch and Balanced Sports websites. Other bloggers have also contributed to this series, using it as an opportunity to lyricize about iconic and celebrated figures of the game. I wrote about Ed Giddins. He took drugs and was a bit crap. Seminally crap as it turns out.
This is how Surrey promoted their last Twenty20 game against Essex. A picture of a lady with a snake. The snake is called Baz. It was a visual element of an initiative that attempted to attract punters to the match by throwing a “singles party”. This is not a party to celebrate a bunt down to long-on and a trot through for one, although obviously that is a good reason to have a party. This was to encourage single people to come to the Oval to potentially meet other single people and then snog or something. The evening was called “the Joy of Six”. It sounds a bit like The Joy of Sex, which was an illustrated sex manual published in 1972.
This misguided venture overlooks the fact cricket is not a sexy game and it is predominately followed by sexless men in slacks who smell of scotch eggs. Many of this ilk make up the membership of Surrey Cricket Club and they strenuously objected to the dancing girls who were booked as part of the shenanigans.
They may also have been responsible for the half-time entertainment on the night, which could have been engineered as the least sexy possible alternative to counter the singles night.
He waddled onto the pitch for a darts challenge. He threw three darts and scored 35. Which was one less than the lady who was plucked from the crowd whose first dart missed the board entirely.
At least Surrey won.
Whenever I see the England cricket team come together in a huddle I always picture Tredwell running around the perimeter seeking a way in, leaping up on someone’s shoulders to try and get himself involved in the discussion. He appears to have been the victim of a malicious practical joke, invited to a party only to be kept out on the pavement watching the festivities longingly through a window.
In his few international appearances so far Tredwell has maintained the craven demeanour of a man who knows he doesn’t belong, like a player who knows he’s only selected as the result of a series of administrative blunders. Perhaps he’s been found out after all.
There is no point dissecting England‘s defeat to Ireland today. The form book has been thrown out. The rule book has been thrown out. In fact England have piled up every piece of literature or article written about cricket and torched them. There is hardly any point in typing words because England will take them and drop them to the floor and burn those too. They like dropping.
There was a time when England stars strode the turf at Surrey. The Oval dressing room was a habitat where big players flourished and dominated. It was an age of Thorpe, Butcher, Stewart. The era of Martin Bicknell. But then they were gone. Mysteriously driven into extinction as the county slid into a prolonged slough.
So you can’t really blame the Surrey administrators for hollering now that suddenly the international superstars have returned. Although when some marketing factotum was instructed to ‘big up’ this exciting influx, they obviously took it too literally.
It’s a creative effort that should be appluaded even if it does present a nightmarish vision of genetic experimentation in cricket gone wrong. Fee fi fo fum, I smell the blood of a naturalised Englishman through his mother’s passport. Sadly it may be that you’d be more likely to see the giant version of Kevin Pietersen than the lifesize one, given his previous attendance record at Hampshire.
Still, the Oval is definitely worth paying a visit this summer – why not seek the shade under Chris Tremlett’s huge sweaty ass?
Here’s Adam Voges doing the best thing that you can do on a cricket field. It combines everything we cherish in a cricketer: dexterity, speed of thought, and dainty rope-jumping skills. I wanted to showcase the video of Steven Finn perpetrating the same trick in yesterday’s one-day international, but as no-one watched it I can’t find it on the internet. Finn’s exploits represent a particular curiosity as he’s previously proved himself a peculiarly unstable player, a continual faller-over in the style of Norman Wisdom. A long Norman Wisdom.
It is actually quite comforting watching England flounder in the current series against Australia, like putting on a old pair of slippers or drinking a cup of hot Ribena. It seems that all our optimism for the World Cup may be based on their recent gains in the other two formats of the game. It may just be that our most successful operatives are better suited to cricket’s extremes rather than the middle ground.
Take Michael Yardy for instance, a keystone of the triumphant Twenty20 campaign in the Caribbean last year. In the abridged version, his skill is to zip off his four-over allocation before the batsmen have taken their guard. In the longer form of limited overs cricket, at around the fifth or sixth over the opposition notice that he is bowling at them and begin to make the necessary preparations.
Conversely Matt Prior is a cricketer with some superior statistics at test level, where he seems to play with that thumping one-day beat. But put him in a blue shirt and his batting becomes oddly and ineffectually frenetic, like a man trying to stave off a tiger attack with a stick of celery. His surprise promotion has also freshened up a rather musty debate about the transience of the opening combination. Steve Davies had previously performed steadily, stymied only by the obvious weakness of looking like a frightened owlet about to chunder up a worm.
Of course Andy Flower has made a few queriable decisions that have turned out to be providential. And I’m just sitting here in my pants with a laptop across my knee.
Australian cricket fans obviously don’t like Michael Clarke very much. Just one toss into his stint as skipper and he was on the end of a concerto of boos and catcalls as he walked to the crease at the SCG. But who else could fill the temporary vacancy left by Ricky Ponting? Certainly not Mike Hussey. Despite being one of the doyens of the squad, and one of the few tiny thorns in the English side during the series, Hussey’s claims to the captaincy have never been forwarded.
Everything about Hussey’s unsuitability for the role was revealed during a rain interruption on day one of the test match. A ‘getting to know you’ segment was played on the two large screens in the ground during which members of the Australian squad were asked who would play them in a film of their lives.
The raft of predictable Russell Crowes and smirking Brad Pitts ensued until it was Hussey’s turn. His eyes widened with panic, indecision etched across his face. He eventually was able to get the measure of the scenario, and then replied that he didn’t know. When he realised that this wasn’t an acceptable answer, he followed it up with a second response.
It’s a film I think we’d all pay to see.