Club Life – Toil and Trouble

So the cricket season is now very much in full swing in England, I know this because already we need to buy more of that Vanish spray for grass (and blood) stains at Mental Disintegration Towers. That’s right, after all those pre-season nets in dimly lit leisure centres, club/village cricket is upon us for another year!

I’ve been looking forward to this season for quite a while now, as it’ll be the first time where I’ve been available for the first game of the season – the last three years I’d been out at uni so my return to cricket was always hindered by having to write essays on armed intervention and international sanctions. However, since I’ve yet to attempt my driving test again, I’ll also have to look forward to being crammed in the back of a car alongside several kit bags. Not that it was too bad for the first game of the season, what with our journey entailing a blitz down the motorway.

So yeah, our first game of the season. I’ve decided not to mention the names of opponents on here, since I fear that tempers may flare over the course of the season and I’d never be welcomed back.

I’ll be brief with what happened. They scored 255-5, then bowled us out for 96.

The difference between us and them? Their batsmen chanced their arms and got away with hitting the ball over the top repeatedly, regardless of if they’d got their timing right or not, and we dropped seven catches. I suppose we may take small mercies from the result – they could have scored a lot more if two batsmen hadn’t retired after making half centuries. Oh, and them having both a grade AND a state cricketer over from Australia was a handy thing to have in a match which the cunts approached as a long practise session.

My own performance? I fielded as badly as everyone else, but wasn’t responsible for any of the dropped chances. I did however manage an embarrassing misfield at fine leg – the ball had been pulled or swept in the air behind square leg, and I was moving towards where it was bouncing, but not only did the ball spin one way, I managed to slip and fall in the opposite direction. Needless to say, the air turned blue and my cap, which falls off frequently due to the size of my head, got a fair kicking on the way back to my fielding place.

Whilst I’m trying to push a claim for an opening slot in the order, I didn’t mind batting down at six in this match, if only because it allowed me to get a few throw downs before I went in – I tend to feel better when I’ve had a few. It’s just a shame that by the time I was walking out to the middle, we’d only made some 50 runs in response to the 255, and the first ball I saw out in the middle dismissed another of our batsmen.

I would have liked a bit more time out in the middle, not that I’d have got much more than the 5 I scored given that the opposition were too busy taking their ‘practise’ match a little too seriously. This will just sound like sour grapes, but I think that just because all their batsmen did was hit the ball in the air, doesn’t mean that I want to, therefore I think that finding a silly mid-off blocking my best shot when I took guard not to be in the spirit of the game.

Oh well.


West Indies – New look, new attitude, new era

Anyone who’s following the official Twitter account of the West Indies Cricket Board might have noticed their recent ‘new look, new attitude, new era’ campaign. It’s hard to miss, since they’ve tweeted the same thing more times than Jerome Taylor and Fidel Edwards have been injured.

Now I can understand the new look part, since they’ve replaced the classic badge with the island and stumps with what looks like an album cover design rejected by Mylo.

But what is this new attitude? The likes of Pollard and Bravo have gallivanted off to the IPL, while Chris Gayle, who rejected a central contract and then failed to secure an IPL one has been left out of their squad to face Pakistan, along with fellow senior batsmen Chanderpaul and Sarwan. Considering that these three are touted as their best batsmen, it’s an odd decision to drop all three of them.

Furthermore, when you’re declaring a new era, you’d want the person leading you into to inspire the team with either bat or ball, but is Darren Sammy capable of doing either of these? Unless the new attitude is for him to be the leading bits and pieces player in a West Indies bits and pieces cricketers XI, the jury is still out.

At least Fire in Babylon‘s out in cinemas soon, just in case anyone had forgotten about what it was like to see batsmen bricking it at the site of a four pronged Windies pace attack.


Shire Anticipation – It’s the County Championship!

What with all the excitement that’s been going on in the Cricket World Cup (albeit not really chronicled here; will try to amend that shortly), one could probably be forgiven for forgetting that the domestic season’s also kicking off in England, something which for some reason surprised me, as the Sheffield Shield final was only a week ago.

And what a way for it to kick off, with the first day of the traditional MCC vs County Champions curtain raiser seeing 18 wickets fall.  With Steve Kirby’s Pfeiffer leaving Nottinghamshire reeling on 86/8 at stumps following MCC’s somewhat lame 218, this match could be over before the final scheduled day of play.

As intriguing as the match is, it’s a bit of a shame that the MCC decided to shift this match over to Abu Dhabi last year, not that anyone would have turned up had it been at Lord’s, seeing as no one other than people with more than a passing interest in domestic cricket would be aware that it was happening.  Fortunately, the Abu Dhabi locals have made the effort to recreate a typical English county game by not turning up, so not to confuse any of the players who’ve probably forgotten what it’s like to play in front of a handful of people when they’re in flannels.

The actual County Championship thing

Meanwhile, the ECB decided to do something out of character and do something sensible with the County season.  Rather than attack the County Championship with a pair of George Osbourne’s scissors as they had been contemplating for a long time, they instead turned on the FPT20.  County bean counters expressed dissatisfaction with the move to cut the number of games in the competition down, but surely anyone with cricket in their best interests could see that as the tournament reached its 384th game last year, it was beginning to look like the entertainment spectacle equivalent of a fat Elvis snuffing it whilst on the bog.

My main concern for the season will be how Kent perform.  Following relegation to Division Two last season, reporting an operating loss of over half a million pounds and a threadbare squad featuring half a bowler and no overseas player, the great thing about being an outright pessimist for the season means I can be either pleasantly surprised if results exceed low expectations or blame poor performances on the circumstances.

As for Division One, it will be difficult for the teams to match the nerve-jangling climax which saw Notts clinch the title in the final hour of the season, but it will still be the only part of the English domestic season which I’ll be paying attention to, between Test matches, club matches, mid-week nets under the sun and probably working etc.


Told you so about England

If England had battered Bangladesh  yesterday, rather than engage in an incredibly tense run chase leading to a two wicket win for Bangladesh, it would have been bad for the tournament.  Bangladesh may yet not qualify for the quarter finals, but victory over England at least means that they were spared another barrage of stones from the mental supporters that you might come across occasionally on the sub-continent.


England save the World Cup

At least, it seems like they’re doing this on their own.  No match involving Group Captain Strauss and co. has ended up being a damp squib, not even the matches with the cricketing minnows.

So what if that’s meant they managed to lose to Ireland when defending 300+, limited over cricket’s meant to be about these nerve-jangling affairs, not teams fielding seven batsmen and batting away the contest before the other team begins their chase.


Pakistan go back to the 90s

Keeping with their tendency to turn out in a new kit with every international tournament, Pakistan have unveiled the latest offering from Boom Boom.

Whereas the previous design followed the principle of ‘less is more’, it looks like the team who designed this one seem to have failed to settle on what shade of green to use for the majority of the shirt, so therefore settled on a compromise which involved using all of them.  Yet somehow, they managed to omit the shade of green often associated with Pakistani success in the World Cup, lime-green.

This indecision over the use of a single shade for the majority of the shirt means that, all I could think of when I first saw it was the kind of kits you’d find in the Endsleigh League back in the early 1990s, which given the return of corruption in the cricketing spotlight, perhaps it’s somewhat appropriate.


The World Cup’s length

The ICC have been keen to stress that measures have been taken to avoid the 2011 edition of the World Cup suffering from the same nonsense that made the 2007 abomination what it was.  Of course, the main problem with that tournament was its length, made evident by the face that I must have visited the hairdresser some three times between Shaggy performing ‘The Game of Love & Unity’ at the opening ceremony and the debacle involving umpires and lights in the final, something which they claim won’t be a problem this time round.

Given that ODIs still suffer from those boring middle overs sections as well as the inevitable flattening of the associate nations, will this make following the competition any less painful?  If you were forced to listen to Joe Pasquale read Tolstoy’s War & Peace to you, but were reassured that he was reading it quicker than he normally would, would you be any less likely to try and snatch the book from him and try to beat him unconscious, even if it was in paperback format?

Boasting about the length of the tournament isn’t going to work when one can generate a list like this, consisting of things that might take as much time and be just about as bearable:

  • Previously mentioned Joe Pasquale reading of War & Peace.
  • Listening to Genesis’ discography (Turning the volume up when Phil Collins takes over lead vocals).
  • Watching all six Star Wars films with George Lucas providing commentary throughout.
  • A road trip across America with Richard Hammond in a pedal car.
  • Having an argument with Douglas Murray. (Topical!)

Suddenly the all new shorter World Cup doesn’t seem as appealing.


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