Archive for the ‘England’ Category

Larger-than-Life Cricketers

March 16, 2009
Shane Warne takes a sharp catch midway through his bowling action.

Shane Warne takes a sharp catch midway through his bowling action.

Shane Warne

Proof that God is omniscient. He knew that if he shaved his beard off and inhabited the body of a tub-thumping Aussie beach bum, then no-one would recognise him. Well… it almost worked. Drop Warney for being overweight? Only if you were actually carrying him.

Virender Sehwag

Born the son of Mr. and Mrs. Ball, he has resented the shape it made him ever since, and is determined to take it out on all balls everywhere all the time. Conveniently enough, this kind of behaviour is actually encouraged at the top of the Indian batting order.

Inzy stairs his nemesis in the face.

Inzy stairs his nemesis in the face.

Inzimam Ul-Haq

The Sultan of Multan. He ran about as well as six AT-AT walkers sellotaped together, so he made the ball do the running for him. “Why don’t you run to that man at the back of the crowd and check that he can catch?” he would say.

Ryder of the Valkyries.

Jesse Ryder

A top order, crease-inhabiting hay-maker who likes to kick things off with a certain ‘B. Mac’. Described by Adam Parore as “too fat” to play for New Zealand. Is he? Yes. But they let him, despite repeated and alcoholic misbehaviour, and they reap the rewards. Shares his first name with the boy from ‘Free Willy’, but that’s Ryder’s only connection to the film, which also stars a seven-tonne, sleek-skinned, black and white whale.

Is it a bird, is it a Dwayne?

Is it a bird, is it a Dwayne?

Dwayne Leverock

More stones than a cairn and an unlikely hero of the 2007 World Cup. The celebration after his famous catch (above) was even better. He is one of Bermuda’s better players, averaging just over 30 with the ball in ODI’s. He was the Bermuda Sun Sports Personality of 2007, apparently, no doubt fighting off stiff competition for the island’s champion head-steadier.

Strauss Composes a Wilt.

February 27, 2009

For once, our peg-toothed, spade-headed captain has not composed one of his famous waltzes. There was nothing elegant or classical about the way England dragged herself towards a draw at the Old Rec like a sloth traversing a desert.

It will rightly be remembered for the unbearable drama of the closing session, and the hearfelt effort put in by the bowlers and batsmen on the final day. It was a brilliant test match. But if this is what Struass had scripted, it was at the expense of what should have been a well-worked England victory. For a cricket fan the game was a nail banquet, but it made England fans feel a bit sick afterwards.

There’s an unsavoury hint of apathy about the English dressing room, which is especially annoying after the drubbing at Sabina Park. Nowadays, members of the batting team dwell in the shadows of cavernous, bunker-like dressing rooms. We catch the occasional long-range glimpse of them as they stretch and yawn, or maybe huddle anxiously round a laptop. Is it just me who wishes they were lined up in batting order on a bench on the boundary rope? It would at least give the illusion that they cared.

Please don’t rain!

February 19, 2009

Wicket, wicket, take a wicket.

Make them play and soon they’ll snick it.

360 still to make,

Seven wickets still to take.

Eye of hawk and leg before,

Splice of bat and knowledge of law,

Dubious pitch, with lack of zing, 

Flintoff’s hip and Swanny’s spin,

For the series soon to level,

Like a hell broth, be spicy and dry!

 – Hamlet (The Antiguan Folio)


February 18, 2009

This may have been a blessing in disguise for England. A very good disguise.

A bit like Manchester City, we are a team that has a damagingly disparate complexion and no clear identity or philosophy at the moment. No-one is sure about the selection policy or the leadership, and no-one is certain that we will win against any opposition. This makes it hard to establish any real belief in what we are doing.

If we had lost the first test against the Windies in mediocre fashion – by fifty runs or so – then the usual, tedious explantations and solutions would have been trotted out. As it is, it can be written off as a freakish anomaly, too unlikely to take seriously. It is, at the very least, a refreshing way to lose. It was further buried out of sight in the sandpit farce, and now we are building a healthy lead on the fourth day of the ‘third’ test in the sunshine. If only we could deal with all our losses like this!

A way is sure!

January 27, 2009
Owais Shah, who art in the eleven, allowed be thy name...

Owais Shah, who art in the eleven, allowed be thy name...

Pietersen has just hit 103 in England’s first warm up match against the West Indies, but there was a bigger story to be found just one place further down the order. Pietersen scores runs with the same unrelenting predictability that he makes his ‘word-strings’. Owais Shah’s inclusion in the England test team is as predictable as chaos itself.

Like Joe Pasquale in a bar during a powercut, he has been flashing his credentials in vain for a long time. He has just top-scored with a ‘fluent’ 125 not out before retiring hurt with a scratched cornea.

“Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye?”

– Jesus: ‘The parable of the Miller’.

Jesus went on to say: “Pick Owais Shah over Collingwood and Bell. Then we will win at cricket. This is the word of Boycott.”

Amen to that.


England prepare to go West

January 21, 2009

England have got one or two points to prove on the pitch after all that has gone on off it. Fortunately for them they get to do it against the West Indies rather than any of the gathering forces or waning superpowers elsewhere in the world. Martin Johnson’s new-look England had to establish themselves against Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in 2008 and, unsurprisingly, were triply penetrated.

Strauss has carefully reminded us that the West Indies are full of “dangerous cricketers”. Assuming this means that they are dangerous at cricket rather than actual criminals, he is right. He also correctly identifies the chief suspects in Shiv, Gayle, Sarwan and Edwards. However he neglects to mention that the rest of the team should not trouble a brow. Until Bravo comes back, that is.

Besides their captain, Sidebottom and Pietersen will be Bucknored (the extreme opposite of ‘ignored’) as the former returns from an Achilles injury and the latter from a pride injury. England desperately need some kind of a bowling attack to gel during this series, and Sideboob must surely be key to that. Pietersen faces a new challenge. We all know he can cope with the pressure of responsibility, but can he cope with pressure arising from the loss of it?

Double Resignation

January 7, 2009

As it appears more and more likely that both Kevin Pietersen and Peter Moores will resign from their jobs as captain and coach of the England team, the ECB appears to be in turmoil.  What now for team England?  Personally, I back the appointment of Phil Tufnell as coach and Monty as captain but if thats not to be then who will the board go for?  Andrew Strauss seems the only viable option as captain with Colly having already been tried and found wanting and Freddie being too much of a liability.  Frankly, no other member of the squad can be guaranteed a place in the starting XI.  But if they go for Strauss does that mean reverting to the split-captaincy that was so successful last time that it led to the resignation of both Vaughn and Collingwood?  Who would captain the one-day side anyway?  Thoughts?….


Bad Boys XI

January 6, 2009

Here is my current World Bad Boys XI.  This lot have all been in disciplinary trouble at one time or another over the course of their careers and no doubt there is more to come.  The big shock: only two Aussies.

1. Hayden (Aus) – A big mouth but not enough runs in the last 12 months to back it up.

2. Smith (SA) – An even bigger mouth.  Expect an uneasy partnership with No. 3.

3. Pietersen (Eng) – An ego, a history of stupid haircuts and almost universally disliked outside of England.

4. Ryder (NZ) – Alcohol problem and tendency to lash out at windows.

5. Marshall (WI) – Failed drugs tests.

6. Symonds (Aus) – Prefers fishing to cricket.  Don’t mention monkeys.

7. Boucher (SA) – Not really that bad but I needed a wicket keeper.

8. H. Singh (Ind) – His own biggest fan. Disliked almost as universally as Pietersen.

9. Flintoff (Eng) – Drunk on the bus, the Fredalo debacle.

10. R. P. Singh (Ind) – Petulant twerp.

11. Akhtar (Pak) – Where do I start…

So, its a four way tie between the Aussies, the Saffers, the Poms and the Indians.  Any notable absentees?


World’s best in waiting.

January 6, 2009

This teasing text landed in my inbox over Christmas from [insert witty callsign here]. It was certainly something to think about whilst munching on a turkey over Christmas.

“1. Katich
2. Vaughan
3. Amla
4. KP
5. Ryder
7. Flintoff
8. Swann
9. Morkel
10. Edwards
11. Johnson
12th man Oram

Predicted best world XI (test) for 12 months into the future.”

There are some notable omissions, and some surprising inclusions. How can Sharma be forgotten? How can it be forgotten that Ryder is in the team? Why is Oram so forgettable generally?

Can we agree on a Heaven Eleven for one year hence?

Let’s find out.

Drinking XI, England

January 5, 2009

Strauss: A bottle of port. Robust, classical and good for after-dinner speaking.

Cook: A dry white wine. A safe choice: always available and popular with the ladies.

Bell: A half of premium lager. Small and perfectly formed although lacking a bit of character.

Pietersen: Long Island Iced Tea. Full-on, unsubtle and gets the job done in style.

Collingwood: A peaty single malt. Earthy, ginger and never goes out of fashion.

Flintoff: A foaming pint of real ale. England. Amazing. Difficult to keep well.

Prior: A Vodka Kick. Mouthy and brash. A hit with the lads.

Swann: A cheeky red wine. Sanguine and, um, cheeky. Better with age.

Anderson: A campari and soda. Red. A bit hard to fathom but still a class act when ordered.

Harmison: Cognac. Finest in its vintage form. Makes your eyes water. Expensive.

Panesar: Hair of the dog. You never think it’ll work but it almost always does. Hairy.

12th man, Owais Shah: Gin and Tonic, a highball cocktail, founded in India. Appropriate for any occasion. Never drunk.