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Monday, 15 July 2013

"The Spirit of Cricket": to walk, or not to walk.

Long time no blog. I only really seem to blog nowadays when something big happens in cricket. However this one has really irked me, just because of the double standards of some people in the media and on social media networks. My issue concerns Stuart Broad's decision to not walk in the first Ashes test at Trent Bridge, and the whole "Spirit of Cricket" and cheating lark. 

I'll get one thing straight - I am not a walker. I am primarily a bowler, and at my level the nicks to slip off my bowling do not get held enough for people to have to decide whether to walk or not, however I feel that poor decisions average out somewhat. Needless to say I have never really been in a position to have to 'not walk' myself, due to the aforementioned poor catching. I think if I had middled it to slip like Broad I may well have walked, but that remains to be seen - I am more prone to being caught plumb in front! But I digress. The tirade of anger and anguish on twitter and in the media towards the decision did not really sit well with me, for several reasons. 

First things first, Michael Clarke could well have used a review on it, which obviously would have been successful, however he had already wasted them on other appeals, one of which was a dreadful LBW shout against Ian Bell, the ball heading down leg by about a foot. "Fault of the system", I hear you cry. However, the DRS system was brought in not to overturn the marginal decisions (or indeed the good ones, as the Bell review turned out to be!), but the howlers. Aleem Dar's decision was a howler, and if Clarke had not wasted a review earlier then Australia would have had the wicket of Broad, and still had a review left. Yes, the DRS system may be flawed, but that is not my quarrel here.
Secondly, the sheer quantity of Australian viewers who were up in arms that Broad had not walked. The irony of an Australian (or several million Australians) in disgust at a cricketer not walking is not lost on me, nor thankfully on several other commenters on twitter or in the papers. Need we remind them of Michael Clarke, the in their eyes morally upstanding human being with impeccable decency who refused to walk in Adelaide in 2010? Or Andrew Symonds against India (if I remember rightly) all those years back, who went on to make 164 after being given not out on next to nothing? And it's not just Australia, it happens everywhere, but those incidents have been the two most mentioned recently. Players can't take the blame for it all, however - the standard of umpiring has improved somewhat, so as a general rule these issues are far and far between because umpires thankfully do notusually miss those nicks, which leads us to question the abilities of some umpires on the international circuit. Again, that is a discussion for another time.

My third issue, and the one that irks me most, is the train of thought that Broad has not acted within "the Spirit of Cricket". Jim Holden from the Daily Express brought this up when on the panel for Sky Sports' "Cricket Writers on TV". He mentions the Spirit of the Game as noted by the MCC, and quoted it in saying that it can be breached if a player tries to "mislead the umpire". This is not a response to him, as I am not entirely sure where he sits on this matter, nor an attempt to 'bait' him, but purely my view. However, if one were to call Broad on this issue, of misleading the umpire, then we have a lot more calling to do as well, starting with bowlers who appeal for an LBW they don't think is hitting the stumps, if he has hit it, if it is pitching in line, or hitting in line. Then there is the batsman who waves his bat at the umpire to indicate he has hit it (even if he is nowhere near it), the bowler and keeper who appeal for something down leg side to put the umpire off calling a wide ball, people claiming catches that aren't out, people appealing for caught behinds they know the batsman has not hit, the list goes on.

My point here is that "misleading the umpire" is not just a case of not waking; everything from complaining the ball is out of shape when it is not, to appealing for an LBW when a batsman has taken the covers off the ball, it is all the same, and if we are to follow the advice of some people then we will need to fine and ban just about every cricketer currently playing professional cricket. And I don't think that will happen any time soon!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Cricket Australia and homework-gate

So, 4 players have been dropped from the Australia test squad for the in-play 3rd test in India. The reason? They failed to hand in a piece of (for wont of a better word) homework to Mickey Arthur detailing 3 ways in which their individual and team performance from the second test could be improved. The players in question are Mitchell Johnson, Usman Khawaja, James Pattinson and Shane Watson. Now before I even get into the positives and negatives of this, the one thing that stood out for me was that 2 of these players, Khawaja and Johnson, didn't even PLAY the second test match. What do they expect to be written? I half imagine Khawaja to have written "individual: 1) get picked. 2) carry drinks better. 3) find compromising pictures of Mickey Arthur. Team: 1) pick me. 2) don't pick Phil Hughes. 3) clone Michael Clarke." It just doesn't make sense to me.
For me, there has to be some other agenda, I don't think I've seen anything like this happen in my 10 years of following cricket (and copious amounts reading up on past games), and I seriously cannot imagine the Australia of yesteryear doing this. Imagine asking Dennis Lillee or Allan Border to do this. Or even Ricky Ponting or Matthew Hayden! Not likely. What I imagine them doing to prepare for the next game is exactly what others would be doing: practising! It must be difficult taking your selectors and coach seriously when they ask for what essentially amounts to homework, especially when they don't even pick the strongest side at their disposal in the first place (Steve o'Keefe anyone?). I seems that Arthur is trying to stamp his authority on his side, yet all it seems to have done is made them the laughing stock of the cricketing world.
However, there have been a couple of positives to come out of the situation. In this third test, runs have been scored by 1 man who would have no doubt been dropped if all were available, and another who probably didn't expect to play at all, in Phil Hughes and Steve Smith. In addition, if Pattinson were available, one of Starc and Siddle would have in all probability sat out, and between them they have taken 7 wickets in the first innings, bringing Australia right back into the game. Maybe homework-gate will turn out to be a master stroke by Mickey Arthur. Only time will tell.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The day's cricketing news...

So, I've not blogged for like, a year. I've also never blogged about anything besides my own cricket experiences before. But I felt as though I had to make my views known on this. I was also unsure how to word the title, so instead I just decided to call it "the day's news...", as I just cannot think of an apt enough way to lead this post.
Now, I can't make any real, informed, insightful comments on the complete ins and outs of the cause/factors of Tom Maynard's death, I only know what I (like most others) have read on twitter/newspaper websites. I only know that Tom had traces of illegal substances in his blood/hair samples. This, in itself, is shocking, but at the same time cricketers are earning more than ever, are playing in an incredibly professional environment, and are under intense pressure to perform and (as is the case with most sports) possibly more-so than any other sort of working environment. And, due to human nature, it is almost inevitable that with all the pressures and expectations, those people will try and find a way to relax. I'm not trying to vindicate or defend Tom's actions by any means. I am, however, trying to shed a little light on why this happens, and making the point that there is not enough help or guidance given to these young sportsmen and women. The psychological impact of the pressures on cricketers (and other sports players, but I shall use cricketers as the example in this blog) has been greatly expanded upon in recent times by Marcus Trescothick, Steven Davies, Michael Yardy and Ed Cowan, amongst others. It is clear that there needs to be a support system for those in cricket, as it appears to me that there isn't anything substantial enough in place. It seems as well that there needs to be more drug testing, even for recreational drugs. The ECB today stated that they currently carry out "around 200 tests a year". This equals about 35-40% of the registered professionals. However, this may need to be increased, in order to try and further decrease the number of cases, and for those that do test positive for recreational substances, some sort of guidance of help (whether within the club, under ECB auspices, or outside help such as therapists or support groups) needs to be in place. It is also maybe worth noting that these sorts of drugs do not enhance sporting ability, but can (and in this case, sadly do) wreck lives, and we need to be made aware of that, as do those in the game. People in other walks of life would be getting proper support, often nudged towards it by their colleagues/employers, it would be fair to say that cricketers/sportspeople should have the same support from their friends/colleagues/employers. I find it difficult to write on such a difficult subject at such a time, because it is so sad, but if this sort of thing happens then something in the system has to change.
This all brings me round to Edwina Currie's comments today after the inquest's findings. Now, once again I am not defending Tom's actions here, but how can anyone with the background that Edwina Currie has (John Major, anyone?) find themselves of a sufficient moral ethical standing to make such a comment on someone that she does not know, and a situation she is barely aware of? What right does she have to comment on and criticise someone for their actions, given her extremely long list of indiscretions and foot-in-mouth comments that she has made in the past? Of course, she is no stranger to controversy, having once stated that "good people do not catch AIDS", but she has once again showed her lack of tact, this in such a sensitive situation, and it has sparked outrage from not only cricket fans, but county cricketers as well, and personally I am genuinely shocked by her words. The phrase "Darwinism at work" in particular is extremely disrespectful, and once again given her background maybe what goes around will come around, and her words may well bite her back. It is a shame that someone feels the need to make such a comment on a day where most just wanted some closure on the issue, and wanted to remember a wonderful cricketer, and (for those close to him) their friend, someone that was most definitely taken too soon.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Cricket "Pre-Season"...

So... It's been a while! I'm still in the land of Frogs, but I've just finished sorting out my return trip. Since the last post, I've changed clubs, which was always going to happen. I arrive back just before the 2nd game of the season, which is perfect for me, gives me a week of nets to remember how to play! Will have to get into the mode of blogging! That will do for now, will post a fuller blog soon!


Saturday, 20 August 2011

A very long catch-up!

Well, it's been an awful long time since I posted. I'm gonna try and do this fairly briefly, but in that time I've played another 7 or 8 matches. In that time, I've managed to get another duck, hit 28* off 90 balls, take a few catches in the outfield, drop a fairly impressive 7 caught-and-bowled attempts, run through a couple of sides, get pasted into next week against another, And not get a chance to bowl in a game where we only have 10 men... Oh well. I'm on holiday now, in sunny Cornwall, and I go to France for the year on the 31st of this month, so I've only got one match left, against Market Rasen. I want to sign off in style with a win and hopefully some runs+wickets!

That'll do for now!

Monday, 4 July 2011

I'm getting lazy!

This needs an update! I've played 3 games recently (not counting midweek matches). The first was away at Cleethorpes, with a ground a bit like Lords: Balcony, posh facilities, nice deck. Rain was about, but not at Cleethorpes, stayed dry for all but about 10 minutes with a light shower. We won the toss and bowled first. Their openers made 20 before Dan H got one with a long-hop! We then worked away and took wickets at regular intervals, with a top partnership of 40. I bowled from about the 16th over onwards, bowling straight through, and had figures of 14-1-49-1. They were 10-1-25-1, but I bowled at the death and went for a run a ball at the time, which was pretty handy! Kept them to 164-6 off the 45. Teas were awesome, although maybe lacking in the savoury area, nothing like pizza or chicken, or anything similar. Pasta was top-notch though! Our batting let us down, we were all out 126, with only Dave scoring anything of note with a really well-made 59, including some screaming cover-drives. I was out 4th ball to a leggie. And a shit one at that. Playing across the line, it didn't do anything, and bowled through the gate. Bollocks. Oh well, shit happens!

Last week we played at home against Bracebridge Heath. A very good side, with a couple of overseas pros and a couple of ECB 1st teamers. We lost the toss and bowled, and Ben B picked up one of their overseas pros for a 2nd baller, losing his off peg when leaving the ball. Gooooood. A few players scored runs for them, nothing major, their other overseas pro made 49. Before I clean bowled him, through the gate. Silly tosser. Only bowled 3 overs, although to be fair we had 7 bowlers! 3-0-9-1, I've had worse. Kept it tight and they made 168-7 off 40. Decent effort on our part. Teas were awesome, as per usual! We lost our openers with 6 on the board, shit start. Jamie hung around with Deegs but we were soon 38-4 when I came in. At 6. Against the best side in the county... I made 7, but the bowling was just half a yard too quick for me. ended up cutting a short and wide one straight to point. Was gutted! Ben went on to make 60, including a reverse-sweep, 2 scoops over short fine leg, and a dilscoop off their quick bowler. And we were 127-8 off the 40. It was a much improved performance, and their skipper agreed, and asked how the hell we were bottom as opposed to being up the top where he felt we should be. He reckoned it was the hardest match they'd had! That's always good to hear.

We played Hartsholme 2nds at their place on Saturday. This was a hard match. We won the toss and bowled first. Getting into a habit of it, I sorta feel we need to bat first more often. To be fair, we had them 55-5, all of our seamers taking 1 wicket, and Dan H picking up 2. Their skipper came in though, and their vice skip was already there, and they put on 124 against us, belting the seamers about the place, after playing themselves in. I came on in the 30th over (a bit late I feel!) and went for 9 off my first 3 overs. I was brought off, but after Dave got hit about I came back on. I went for 12 off one over, but I tossed the ball up as opposed to going with my gut instinct and darting it in. I duly got my reward, and went for 5 off my last 2 overs, and got their skipper caught at long off. 6-0-26-1, and their batsmen asked me why I was brought off. Always nice to hear! Teas are always good at Hartsholme, and they delivered again, the fruit cake being a particular favourite, although people were equally loving the lemon drizzle. I was content with filling my plate up repeatedly, as per usual. With our batting we really should have won this. But they had 2 bowlers who bowled through. One was a left-arm over bowler who swung it down leg. We couldn't get bat on it. Another thing was that our opener made 30. Off 81 balls. Just too slow. We were 134-7 when I went in, I got us up to 164, in the 6 overs I was there. Made 15 off about 18 balls. 3 4's, ran lots of leg-byes. Gutted to have lost, but picked up 7 points, so it wasn't all bad. Oh well. Had 2 midweek games, bowled against some ECBers again, took 5-0-28-2, in 8 ball overs, and then last week beat my old team-mates, 3-0-15-0 and 2 off 2 balls to win the match. Always nice... And so that's about it for my update! Will update tonight after our midweek game as well. Au revoir!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011


Well it's been a while, so I thought it best to update. We'll start off with Saturday 4th June, when we played Nettleham. We bowled first, and it was a bit of a one-man show from their part. One lad hit 60, and the rest made 15s and 20s, and a few single figure scores, to get them up to 193, I had their opener stumped when he got to 60 with a nicely flighted ball that turned a decent amount, and had one of their middle order caught by Sam at cover. I got a bit of tap, but I bowled in the slog overs at the end, and came out with figures of 12-1-58-2. Expensive, but they were going for it. Bowled a few loose ones, but as a general rule I was very good. Teas were very good, and then we came out to bat. The openers put on 100, before Sam was stumped playing a silly shot for 43. Andrew made it to 59 before tiring and being bowled heaving across the line, and Kev followed soon after. Deegs and Edwin put on about 30, before Edwin was bowled, and Si Clark followed soon after, not without hitting a massive 6 though. I walked in 186-5, needing 8 off the last over. I faced, and got 4 off the first 2 balls, and then Deegs called me through for a bye, and he was ran out well short. Joe walked in, knocked the first one back to the bowler, and then called me through for a leg-bye, leaving me on strike needing 3 to win (déjà-vu anyone?!) My ex Uni president was bowling, and he bowled a length ball on the pads which I pulled away to deep-midwicket (they had 6 boundary riders, even though we needed 3 to win, it didn't make sense!) and slipped coming back for the 2nd, but I started legging it, and the throw came in... 10 yards over the keepers head! Nobody was backing up properly, so I scrambled in, and ran back for the 3rd! We'd done it, we'd finally won a game! Smashing! 7* off 4 balls, nice way to end the game!

Sunday's game was a decent effort, we batted first and thanks to Sam and Ben, who made 63 and 59 respectively, we made it to 155-3. Our opening stand was 43, but off 20 overs, so we really kicked on in the 2nd half. Teas were outstanding as always at home, and we went out to defend it. It didn't help that we dropped the openers 4 times, one was me, a caught+bowled chance they hammered back at me. Should've caught it, but since fucking my finger up I've been a bit hesitant with all catches, and I shelled it. They put on 107, and although I got rid of them both quite quickly, we never really stood a chance. They knocked it off, 4 wickets down. I ended up with 7-2-23-2. Decent, but not earth-shattering. Just not good enough really!

Had a midweek match we won, bowled 5-0-33-3, decent enough, dropped a very tough catch at backward point, full stretch, but 2 years ago I'd have been taking them for fun! REALLY need to work on catching.

On Saturday we were at home against Stamford Homes. Batted first, a slow start again. I came in at 98-3, but Kev was retired hurt, so at the time it was basically 98-4. 12 overs left, me and Deegs put on 20-odd, before he was out for 46 to a shot that he just didn't hit hard enough, by his own admission. Me and Dan H put on another 20, before he was bowled, and we eked out the remaining runs, another lad was cleaned up but we got to 155, I was 17*. Should have been so much more, but pre-meditated slogging took over! Teas were brilliant again, as usual! In reply, they made it to 67-2, with Clarkey getting both wickets, and then they just collapsed. Me and Deegs took 8 between us, I took 2 wickets with my worst 2 deliveries of the day, as usual. Beat the bat more times than I can count, but they just kept missing them, so I got them with a knee height full toss, and a half-tracker. All out 110, I picked up 12-5-34-3, Deegs 11.1-4-19-5. Quality work, 2 wins in 2 games! This is getting worrying!

2 more midweek games this week, Monday night we won, bowled first, kept them to 110, I went 3-0-14-0 (8 ball overs as well!) Dropped a toughie at backward point but ran the guy out off the same ball! Last night was... Terrible. Went for 1-31 off 3, dropped their main batsman off my own bowling, a sitter, on 40, he went on to make 81* and win the game. FML.

But hey, shit happens, move on! Sunday we have a Saturday-league game, roll on the weekend!