Harris Sportsthoughts

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A Word To The England Selectors Having Watched One Third Of Last Night’s Game

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I went to sleep last night just after Eoin Morgan had been dismissed thinking that England would probably crumble to 259 and Sri Lanka would win comfortably by seven wickets. When I awoke to the result, I found I had underestimated both England and Sri Lanka’s batting. Although I hadn’t foreseen a large chunk of the game’s narrative, the impact of the result was no less deflating, perhaps even more so given that we’d actually managed to cobble together a seemingly defendable total.

England’s batting formulae sort of worked last night but there is little more dispiriting sight than an England batsman ‘working it’ straight to a fielder. You’re supposed to ‘work it’ into the gaps, boys. Otherwise there’s no point of ‘working it’. You may as well just ‘twat it’.

Nurdling has never been very fashionable and is becoming even less so but done properly it still retains a kind of kitsch cachet. In context the nurdle is a helpful shot. Three nurdles and a boundary every over works out at 350 for the entire innings; five nurdles and a boundary every other over is the same equation. One or two scoring nurdles per over against Tillakaratne Dilshan isn’t quite going to cut it. Gary Ballance nurdled one straight into Dilshan’s hands. Gaps, Gary, not hands.

It’s difficult to know what’s going on with Ballance. Presumably the selectors thought he was worth a punt at 3, having lobbed him in there propos nothing for the test matches last summer to great effect. Ballance’s detractors say he scores at too pedestrian a rate for one-day cricket but I’m sure I’ve seen him go berserk for Yorkshire although that may have been a mirage or someone who looked very like Gary Ballance. In any case he’s probably hit his last nurdle in this World Cup.

It probably doesn’t matter who comes in for Ballance, just like it probably won’t matter if they swap the bowling around, although James Tredwell’s stock is rising the longer he doesn’t play. He does look great in a high-vis bib after all. He’s probably worth a shout given that our most economical bowler thus far is Moeen Ali. Moeen isn’t exactly a part-time spinner but he isn’t full-time either, he’s a four-days-and-leave-at-lunchtime-on-Friday bowler.

There’s a woman at my work who looks exactly like James Tredwell in a wig, There isn’t a single cricket fan at my work so there’s no-one who might be amused if I pointed out the resemblance to them. And none of the cricket fans I know have ever set eyes on this woman. A tragic waste really.

Written by harrisharrison

March 1, 2015 at 8:19 pm

England Have Basically Won The World Cup Already

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As ever the Cricket World Cup is shaping up to be another slough of despond for England fans. With most of the action happening in the small hours it’s tempting just to ignore it completely, but if we must follow it then maybe it’s best to manage expectations. Personally I’m going to judge England’s performance against the standards of my own team, a friendly side that plays around six games a summer.

First of all it was good to see that all England players turned up on time. No-one got caught in traffic or slept in too late and Eoin Morgan wasn’t forced to bat first while he waited for half his team to pitch up. Everybody looked smart. All players were wearing trousers. There seemed to be enough kit to go around. There were no delays while incoming and outgoing batsmen exchanged boxes and similarly all batsmen were padded up ready to go in. Which was a good job. There was a new ball for each innings, in fact there were two new balls for each innings which is outstanding.

Someone took a hat-trick. A hat-trick! That makes them a shoe-in for the Bowler of the Year award at the end-of-season dinner, largely because that will be the only thing anyone can remember when voting. Someone else nearly scored a hundred. That is unheard of. Only a few catches were dropped. Not half bad.

Fundamentally England were able to field eleven players. Some of whom looked as if they could bat better than they could bowl and some of whom who looked as if they could bowl better than they could bat. And some of them, well, some of them were at least there. It was encouraging to see that there seemed to be three or four other people on the sidelines who looked like they might able to step in if later in tournament one of the regulars withdraws citing a prior hitherto unmentioned commitment or a sudden early-morning “migraine”.

So there are plenty of positives to take from the game and apparently they serve a really good tea at Wellington, where the next game is. Onwards.

They’re wearing trousers. Key.

Written by harrisharrison

February 14, 2015 at 2:48 pm

Watching England is Like Getting Drenched in a Rainstorm

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The England one-day team is like an old friend. You don’t see them for a while but when you do you pick up the same old routine like no time has past at all. The routine in this case involves continual disappointment. Perhaps the friend analogy isn’t appropriate. Better a distant cousin, a cousin that you find quite irritating.

Becoming annoyed while watching England fail is like becoming annoyed about getting wet when it rains. It’s inevitable, so the annoyance is pointless.

You might read this and think it’s even more pointless committing this feeling to written words. You may be right. But it’s always been an exercise in tempting fate, trying to fox fate with my wily reverse psychology. Hoping that I’d look back across these posts after the World Cup and think it was hilarious that I got it so wrong, that my pessimism was so unfounded after we’d charged to victory.

Well I’ve looked back at my posts and it’s depressing. For many reasons. Always the bleak realism before the World Cup, the affirmation of that defeatism, and then the hope that the team can start rebuilding over the next four years for the next event. But the dream that a team can restructure and re-invent itself over that period doesn’t take into account that some of that team will suffer catastrophic loss of form or injure themselves or retire.

Or get sacked for being a bit of a dick.

Written by harrisharrison

November 29, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Wake Up and Smell the Deep Heat: It’s the London Marathon

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I’ve put down some words of advice for nervous London Marathon runners. It’s so indispensable it will probably be read out over a loudspeaker on the start line on Sunday. Regular readers will recognize it as a amalgamated revival of some posts I wrote a year ago. I would say about 50% of the text is new so you may just want to read every other word. Here it is.

Still haven't found Wally.

Written by harrisharrison

April 17, 2012 at 6:45 pm

If County Cricket Ends, Does Anyone Notice?

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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.

Written by harrisharrison

September 12, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Finishing Scho

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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.

Go on lick it. It's strawberries and cream.

Written by harrisharrison

August 22, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Black Is The New Black

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It’s always embarrassing when you turn up at a party and someone is wearing the same dress as you. Especially if you are a man.

Due to a momentary miscommunication my mum and mother-in-law were a credit card swipe from buying outfits in the same colour for my recent wedding. Had the transaction been completed then we obviously would have had no option but to postpone our nuptials until an alternative outfit could be sourced for one of the pair.

A similar sartorial collision is looming at the Rugby World Cup. England have peered into their wardrobe and picked out a little black number to use as their away kit. Which clashes with the home strip of the host nation New Zealand, the All Blacks. Apparently they wear all black as well.

Jonah Lomu has a problem with this. He says it’s disrespectful to New Zealand players. It seems only Kiwis are allowed to wear black. You have been warned all you funeral-goers, Benedictine monks and emos – expect a spear tackle very soon.

Perhaps we can accuse Lomu of being a little dramatic. It’s not as if England are wearing shirts embroidered with the slogan “New Zealand are Rubbish Idiots” and I am as certain as I can be that they are not planning to wear black should they come up against the hosts.

If every national sporting side was so possessive about their chosen colours then we’d have to invent new colours and I can’t think of any off the top of my head. So let’s just agree that England can wear black when necessary and New Zealand whenever they like. They can also do their funny little dance before the game too.

This Is Not A Negative

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