Sunday, September 30, 2007

Darrell Hair lives the dream

Let’s face it. We all want to sue the IC-bloody-C. For instance, yesterday, I bought a packet of biscuits. However, to my horror, I found that Malcolm Speed had interfered with my Ginger Nuts, and replaced the packet’s contents with sub-standard digestives.

When I spoke to my solicitor about this, he mentioned something about “evidence” to “prove” ICC’s outrageous assault upon my personage and biscuitage. Dumbfounded, I was left marooned to absorb another blow by cricket’s governing body.

Darrell Hair, on the other hand, thinks he has the proof and balls to succeed where I failed, by suing the ICC.

This popular and jovial umpire bases his argument on the proceedings of the 1814 Test Match, between England and Pakistan. Whereby, without at clear substantiation, he accused the Pakistan of tampering with the ball. In protest, Pakistan’s captain refused to take the field. Hair and Billy Doctrove took the decision to interpret the match as forfeit, awarding England default winners.

Subsequently, the ICC took umbrage at the umpire’s handling of the affair, and removed Hair from its elite panel of amazing umpires. Doctrove, however, remained. Hair now argues that he was removed on the basis of racial discrimination, what else could explain Doctrove’s continuation?

It is generally accepted that Hair doesn’t have a chance in hell. The ICC’s case rests on the principle that Hair was the “senior umpire”, whereas Doctrove was just beginning his test career, and thus responsibility cannot be evenly divided.

Yet, I can find no reference to the status of a “senior umpire” in the laws of cricket nor anywhere mentioned in the ICC’s literature. This principle, to me, makes no sense. For the same offence, you must treat the perpetrators equally.

Saying that, this uneven handling of the umpires does not equate discrimination. I’m not sure under which jurisdiction this case is being conducted, but in UK law you must prove a discriminatory intent to prove racial discrimination. This simply does not seem present, given the evidence.

Hair has long courted controversy, and this affair could have been the straw that broke the camel’s back for the ICC. Whereas it seemed sufficient to give Doctrove a good ticking off.

Undoubtedly, the issuing of legal proceedings and the employment of a silk will not be cheap for Hair. Nor will he win the case. But, I suspect, neither of these matter to Hair.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fun is banned

The new ECB head, Giles Clarke, has decided to outlaw all fun within the England cricket team.

In a surprising first move, he has acted to attack England's “unprofessionalism” going on to say Andrew Flintoff and Paul Collingwood should have received bans for their moments of madness.

“We're not going to get proper athletes and a decent team if people do not have the right attitude as professionals in their sport.”

This is a bit weird. Professionalism is about acted in a reasonable and respectable manner at work. Outside work time is private time. The professionalism lies in not allowing your private realm of messed up ideas and broken brains to negatively impact upon your plain work persona. Neither Flintoff or Collingwood allowed pedelos or breasts to affect their performance at work.

So what’s the problem?

You might say that a little-known businessman who likes to talk too much may have a publicity problem. Talking nonsense to the press is one way of rectifying that issue.

Ayalac is all for drunken cricketers. There should be more role models like that: people who can’t handle their booze and get stuck in light water-craft; people who pay to see nude wrigglers. That’s the stuff this nation is built upon. And we should be proud.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Somerset wins, or so it seems!

Hurrah! In possibly the best news since VJ day, the best county in the land secured victory in the Second Division of the county championship, and thus earned promotion to the land of the big boys.

Actually, Somerset managed this a few weeks ago, such was their dominance. They won the championship with a massive 266 points, and about a jillion games to spare. They only lost one game, as well.

Indeed, so impressive was their performance, that we might be tempted to suppose that the West Country Heroes were perhaps the best side this season. Sadly, we will never know, because Somerset were in the wrong division.

It reflects badly on the county system, when the best side in the championship cannot prove their supremacy. Indeed, Somerset earned the wooden spoon last year around, perhaps this is just a blip?

But blips is what the English domestic season does best. The seemingly inexplicable ebb and flow of county fortunes is part of its attraction. Once useless sides like Durham advance into mature, assertive forces, whereas champions, such as Nottinghamshire, quickly fade into obscurity.

Such an unpredictable scene does not lend itself well to the two-division model. But, undoubtedly given the increasing number of limited-overs commitments, it is here to stay. Next year, maybe Somerset can retain their authority and crush all those that dare to challenge their might.

Hurrah for Somerset! Hurrah! Hurrah!

Sussex wins, or so it seems

In a championship with so many up-and-downs that most fans felt a little ill by the end of it, Sussex clinched county glory despite Lancashire’s brave efforts.

In a thrilling finale, Lancashire came 25 agonising runs short of an epic run-chase against Surrey, that would have secured them the championship. 489, however, proved just too much for the Northern monkeys, and the championship trophy rightfully remained in the South. Where it belongs.

Saying that, for most of the summer, I was convinced that Yorkshire were going to win. But injuries, international duty and a pie glut saw their hopes fade. Weirdly, as Yorkshire receded, four other teams advanced, with Surrey, Hampshire and even Durham in with a shout.

Nevertheless, the side with the best spin bowler in the country won. And what do we learn from this? Always pack a spin bowler, or at least, as Lancashire have recently learnt when you’ve got one, don’t break it, or let it out of the country.

Even if he looks like an over-weight garden gnome, with the weirdest bowling action since Paul Adams, he must be kept at any costs. Even if it meant bullying out other team members.

Well done everyone in Sussex. I used to live in Sussex. I suppose I should be pleased. But it’s raining, I have a hang-over and I have to go to work. It’s not going to happen.

India wins, or so it seems

No one really cares. Not even a billion Indians. However, the match twisted and turned. Or so I read. I didn’t really watch it. In protest of losing my bet, and decrying the banality of the ultra-shortened format, I boycotted the affair.

Is acceptable to say that India were the best team in the tournament/championship/wasteoftime? After all, Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka won more matches than they.

Do we see India’s elevation into the highest of limited-over achievement a reflection of sporting justice? Well, taking my claims that twenty20 is a cricketing equivalent to “spin the bottle”, no one would have deserved any plaudits if they won.

But I’m no mean bastard. Well done India. You lucky sods.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Guest blog: This article contains disturbing imagery.

Here's a special blog, from Our Man in Durham:

Being an arm chair cricket fan, having an appreciation for wit and awful at making puns, I have long intended to write a comment on this illustrious website. However, a lack of confidence in my intellectual cricket brain, passing out after consumption of too much cider and working long hours for a high street bank that will remain nameless, have contrived to delay my debut. Not any more. The focusing that being alone in a flat in the north east for two days can only achieve, I present my thoughts on the current state of cricket.

twenty20. I must admit I only realised that we were near the end of the twenty20 world cup when I returned from a week in Spain on Tuesday. You see cricket especially twenty20 doesn’t get much or no coverage on CNN. The one time I remember it being mentioned in a week of watching this godforsaken channel was in the context of England losing. No surprise there and I suppose the mentioning of England losing at cricket is so unsurprising it just gets lost in the background.

My fondest memory of the twenty20 world cup will be the old ginger one’s antics. He will be pleased to know that Durham’s first ever strip club is opening next week. It begs the question that irrespective of playing cricket, is everyone who plays for England, barring Michael Vaughan who I am sure is a true gentleman, a complete Muppet? No wonder Marcus Trescothick is depressed, the thought of spending a week let alone the majority of the year with these people is enough to make anyone ring the Samaritans.

You’re probably thinking what a prude; it was only a strip club? But my argument is that if that had been the England football or rugby captain it would have been front page news for a week. No because it is cricket and everyone knows we are crap and with the fredalo incident cricket has become a bit of a laughing stock. It’s so bad it would even make front page of the News of the World.

So what do we want our crickets to be? There has been much comment, including on this illustrious site that we need to be more tough/Australian/bastard. I think that this new found strategy illustrated by our disgraceful behaviour when playing India is shocking. We just look like a nation of cheap chavs, which I suppose we are. Australia can get away with it. They win. No one minds who warnie is texting. If we started to get the results on the pitch I would fully support ginger getting down and dirty with those strippers in a pedlo and half a bag of coke. A small price to pay.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Twenty20: The randomness reigns

In an unexpected turn-around, India beat South Africa by enough runs to knock them out of the whole bloody tournament. Despite losing their star batsman, Yuvraj Singh, who fell over his cat during a practice session, India prospered under the steely determination of one Rohit Sharma (50) who saw them to a decent total.

South Africa’s reply was rubbish. This is why they lost.

So frustrated by their ineptitude, that the Saffer wicket keeper, Mark Boucher, began to slap the faces of surrounding players with his glove, followed by some sound punching and then he tripped them up with a cricket bat which has recently grown from his mid-rift.

In another match, the Australians continued their domination of non-Zimbabwean countries, and saw off Sri Lanka, who were sabotaged by over-optimistic batting. Both Sri Lanka and South Africa are knocked out, leaving fans supporting teams beginning with the letter “S” reeling.

The semi-finals are thus constituted:

Australia vs. India
New Zealand vs. Pakistan

I was going to toss a coin to “predict” all the results of tournament. Then I realised how many games there were, and how lazy I was, so I didn’t. Now the work-load is a manageable three games, I shall now provide you with the full results. Let the tossing begin!

Australia heads: heads it is. Australia will win its semi. New Zealand heads: tails. Pakistan wins. And now the final. Australia heads: heads it is. Australia wins the bloody thing.

Wasn’t that exciting? I didn’t even cheat. It could have saved you a lot of money if you just flipped a coin, instead of paying for an expensive ticket out to South Africa. Still, at least you get to enjoy the beauty of SA’s most refined city: Johannesburg.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

England beaten by stick cricketers

Well, the final indignity is metered out to English fans everywhere, and, in one small mercy, England are knocked out of the twenty20 World Championship by a rampant India, and the pain can stop.

In a performance reminiscent of stick cricket, Yuvraj Singh played possibly the best innings in limited-over history, by striking a blistering, crashing, tumultuous 58 runs off…. 16 balls. Yes, you read that correctly; 16 balls.

This astonishing feat was aided by six sixes from Stuart Broad’s final over. Apparently, this achievement has been recorded three times in international cricket, not least by Hershelle Gibbs recently, but this was off quality opposition, and under some pressure. Yuvraj ignored all this, and simply battered England.

It is testament to his innings that England, despite putting in an unusually spirited run-chase, never seemed close. Indeed, that they lost by only 18 runs shows you the importance of this lunatic hitting.

It is really an unimaginably amazing achievement. I don’t even think I’ve struck that on a computer game; even when I put it on “easy” and practice it for hours and hours whilst pretending to work.

This man hits a cricket ball cleaner than I can click a mouse.

This one innings rather softened the blow of England’s defeat. I may have something to say about that, but for now I’m happy to revel in the impossibility of what has just happened.

In other good news, Australia lost to an incredible charge Shoaib Malik and Misbah-ul-Haq, who put on 119 together in a seemingly doomed situation. An Australia loss is just as good as an England victory in my books. Sadly, neither of these things are particularly likely. But we must be grateful for what we can get.

We must also be thankful that Scotland are so bad. This brings me great pleasure.

Bored of watching England lose?

Feel the weight of the world on your shoulders? Depressed by the constant failure of those around you? Ginger?

Un-wind, relax and go to a strip-club on your own. It is the only way that you can take your mind of the relentless hum of defeat.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

England prove that gambling is wrong

Well, there goes my hard-earned £10. Thanks very much England cricket team.

Once again, England threw away a strong position, and contrived to knock themselves out of the tournament, by losing to New Zealand by five runs. After a solid start from the openers, England found themselves 62 for the loss of no wicket chasing 164.

This was always England’s match. A good bowling performance restricted the Kiwis to a reasonable score. Darren Maddy played unexpectedly well by destroying the New Zealand middle order by taking two wickets and effecting a run-out in one over. His fifty was also class.

The loss of Pratty Prior seemed to be a real benefit, with Vikram Solanki keeping and batting well. Maybe he’s someone that we could consider as a serious long term replacement? You can’t get much worse than the current wicket keeping standards, and there’s certainly superior batting there.

Anyway, what is important is England’s lameness. Their total inability to drive home the advantage. Their incompetence. Their lack of ruthlessness. Their crapness. All these factors converge to deny me my rightful winnings from the bookies.

England, heed these words: You Are Rubbish.

I’m not in that bad a mood though. Even though I listened to England’s defeat over the radio, I got to listen to the TMS theme tune at the end of the broadcast. It is impossible not to feel great after listening to that.

EVERYONE: tap-tap tap tap tip-tip tip tap tap DAH-DAH! DAH DAAH!!!

DAH DAH-DAH DAAAH DAH-DAH-DAH!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Victory slips through England’s hands

England should have beaten South Africa. In stead, they opted for defeat. They managed this intriguing tactic by a number of means: dropping a major wicket at every opportunity and refusing to hit boundaries.

This revolutionary approach to the twenty20 format successfully ensured a loss.

The South African responded by saying, “ha ha ha” and later added, “we beat you at rugby.” They didn’t see it coming, to be honest, look at the surprise on Shaun Pollock’s face.

Why it is, when the England team apparently look alright, they construe to be woeful? I don’t know. I’m especially annoyed because I decided to put my money where my mouth is, and backed the buggers to the tune of £10. I should have plugged for Australia, at 4/1. £40 would hae come in handy...

Interestingly, after projected my thoughts to Paul Collingwood he actually adhered to my advice. Firstly, he decided to field first, which I think is probably the best approach to twenty20. Secondly, he constantly fiddled his bowlers, with most spells lasting no longer than an over. It gave the batsman limited time to line-up the bowlers – and they struggled especially with the quicks.

However, my favourite, Chris Schofield was the difference between the teams. The South Africans battered the slow bowlers (with the leggie going for three consecutive sixes at one point). Whereas England had no similar easy weakling to score heavily off.

I think that the most successful approach to twenty20 would be flexibility. It may be an idea to go to a ground with a squad of say 14, and then whittle it down eleven based on the conditions. Bowling another quick in Schofield’s place yesterday may have secured England the match, and given the conditions, one could have foreseen this.

Twenty20 is about quick thinking and adaptability. Listening to commentary it is crazy how unself-conscious the describers are. One over a bowler is bowling “dreadfully” and literally the following over he’s a “hero”. Things change so quickly that the players need to learn to adapt to changing circumstances quickly.

They also need oodles of luck.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Bang-Lee-dead

Australia are proving to be very good at twenty20, as well as ugly. Bangladesh were battered by 9 wickets, with Australia reaching their target in just 13 overs.

The vomit yellows continued to pin-down the opposition and Brett Lee probing spell was rewarded with a hat-trick, the first in twenty20 history. And even he has a baby Boon belly.

Bangladesh were never in this match. Their tightly organised and disciplined approach to defeat the West Indies dissipated under the Aussie big guns. It was so boring it felt as if I was watching a football match.

Bangladesh really need to pull themselves together. There was some poor captaincy shown, and this is reflective of the lack of leadership in the side. There are few big names, but they are a solid team. Personalities need to come to the fore when you’re playing Australia.

When Matthew Hayden strode out to the crease and started battering them off the park, his physical dominance highlighted Bangladesh’s lack of mental authority. They collectively wilted when the match became difficult. The only thing they are lacking at the moment is steel. They have the skill and ability to beat any side in cricket, they just need the will to get there.

In a much better match, New Zealand beat India by 10 runs. It is difficult to know why India lost this match. It was very close, but both teams lost wickets at regular intervals. No, it was luck, really. Just random events conspiring together to produce a result. Not much point even trying. Everyone should just have a cup of tea in stead. In fact, I’m going to put on a brew now.

Hooray for tea!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Pakistan fail to hit a barn door

Of course, by “barn door” I mean the wickets. They couldn’t hit the wickets. Not even when they were trying to.

India earned the Ayalac seal of approval yesterday by beating Pakistan and thus knocking out the evil and probably corrupt Scots.

Moreover, the game itself was pretty good. A blinding 4-18 by the junky-no-more Mohammed Asif blew away the Indian upper-order. Robin Uthappa (50) and MS Dhoni (33) responded well to post a respectable 141.

Pakistan didn’t fair much better, with the Indian seamers bowling fairly well without having much twenty20 experience. Funny that. Anyway, some bloke I’ve never heard of scored a half-century, but, in sensational circumstances, the scored was tied on the final ball.

I was rather bemused by this. But in the wilds of the English countryside, they have a solution for such a problem: a bowl out. This was invented by strange bumpkins would had nothing better to do with they time other than bowling at unguarded stumps in the rain.

So inspired by the genius of this absurd ritual, the ICC (oh holy of smolies) copied the ridiculous procedure. And thus India won by three bowls out to zero. That’s right, the highly paid, experience and “good” bowlers of Pakistan could not even hit the stumps.

Some people say that “it’s really hard”. Because “there’s no batsman”. To them I say “shut up” and beat them with a rolled up newspaper. It is hard for us, because we’re crap; it’s easy for them, because they’re good. In fact, they’re in the side because they aren’t as crap as everyone else in their country.

They spend hours every day trying to hit the stumps. They don’t go to work, answer annoying emails or even pop around the shops for some milk. No, they spend every waking moment either practicing hitting stumps or thinking about hitting stumps. Pakistan: its time to invest in some spectacles.

Friday, September 14, 2007

England tossed up and eaten in salad

If Zimbabwe are better than Australia and England are better than Zimbabwe, then… Australia are better than England. That’s how crazy twenty20 is, it refutes Leibniz’s law.

England were supremely dispatched by Australia today, in a performance eerily similar to the same drubbing dished out in the other World Cup, held last week. Australia’s bowlers, although never seeming that dangerous, pinned England back to a low total. A score which proved an easy chase.

England’s chances of knocking out the Ausslers from the tournament rested on winning the toss and putting the Canaries into bat. This, Paul Collingwood duly did, but then decided that hara-kiri was the better part of valour, and opted to bat first. Australia obliged to England’s suicidal request, and accordingly put them to the sword.

Interestingly, it was the county twiddlers that proved the weakest component of the English set-up. The apparent experts in handling the demands of the format, crumbled at the first sign pressure.

Luke Wright failed ago, Darren Maddy failed to press on, Dimitri Mascarenhas looked less than intimidating and Chris Schofield reminded us all why he was dropped seven years ago. Rather, it was the international stalwarts that provided the backbone of England’s performance. It would be premature to say that the specialised dibbly-dobbly attack has failed, but it’s not looking dominant.

None of this matters though, because the Australians are wearing...that, that yellow thing. Watching them pranch around like yesterday's manky bananas makes the losing all worth while.

The India-Pakistan match looks good. We need to make sure that India wins, however. Otherwise, Scotland may go through. And that would be like Pol Pot winning the lottery.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Let’s try not to gloat

Many petty minded people would gloat because Australia lost to Zimbabwe, which is an intrinsically hilarious event. I am above such things.

I am not above saying I TOLD YOU SO, however. Let’s quote yesterday’s post:
I wouldn’t be surprised if Zimbabwe beat the Aussies. Or even won the World Bloody Championship.
And so it was. Australia, the mighty World Cup holding, Ashes Urn bearing monsters of the Antipodes were slain by teeny-weeny Zimbabwe.

Australia didn't lose because I made them, my Predictoron powers don't really apply in the twenty20 world, but because the randomness of the format did its thing. There was some skill shown by the Zimmers, but, you know, so what? Yeah?

Many people having been asking where The Predictoron went. Maybe I should bring it back for the new World Cup, they asked.

But, as stated elsewhere, you can’t actually predict the outcome of twenty20 matches. What you really need is a random number generator, and get that to crunch some stochastic statistics.

Of course, it would be absurd to say that the twenty20 was a ridiculous waste of time, where a bunch of blokes mess about on a field where strange, unexpected events emerge from tiny cricket vortexes to produce previously shocking results. It would be more correct to say: twenty20 is rubbish.

In other news, the terrifying Bangladesh knocked out the West Indies from the World Championship. Was that because the West Indies are terrible at batting? No, they’re pretty good at that. Awful at bowling? No, they’re ok. Dreadful fielders? Well, yes, but that really isn’t a decisive issue.

No, they simply received a bad role of the dice. They lost through bad luck.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Gayle gets runs with a bat

Although there has been a lot of truthful raging against the rubbishness of twenty20, I somehow found myself of being enthralled by one of those bastard matches.

I was mainly drawn in by the incredible batting of Chris Gayle. He managed to bludgeon the South African attack for 117 in just 57 balls – heaving 10 sixes in the process.

What compelled me to watch an otherwise impoverished format was the crazed, unorthodox stroke play. The photo is a case in point. He is standing well outside his leg-stump, standing tall and flays a cross-the-line slog. Even when the bowlers altered their line to follow him, he managed to adjust at the last minute and still club them for six, despite being totally out of position. Astonishing.

It is testament to his innings that the rest of his team affected a near-collapse after the fall of the wicket. The Windies’ inability to follow-up this foundation with an impregnable score rather gave the momentum to the Saffers.

The West Indies’ effort was also stymied by the disintegration of their fielding. I counted three drops that were near to dollies as you could ask in international cricket. Nevertheless, the random swinging of the bat by South Africa proved successful, and they eventually won by a handsome margin.

In other news, Kenya received a thumping by the hands of New Zealand. Mainly thanks to their new overweight bowler Mark Gillespie, who equalled The Atheist’s career best with 4-7. Kenya lost because the Kiwis spiked their tea – they put too much milk in, which would seriously affect anyone’s mental condition.

I am still standing by my randomness thesis. There will be plenty of upsets. I wouldn’t be surprised if Zimbabwe beat the Aussies. Or even won the World Bloody Championship.

Monday, September 10, 2007

20/1 against

The twenty-bloody-20 starts tomorrow. We in Ayalac try not to care. We are, however, obsessed with cricket. It is a difficult battle.

So, in a possibly meaningless warm-up game, South Africa defeated Australia. Mainly by bowling “swing" but also with an impressive batting performance by Graeme Smith. What does mean for the tournament? Nothing much really.

You see, it is all a part of the randomness that constitutes the format. Skill and knowledge aren’t really applicable, so there is no point in getting too excited about it. Those who are gamblers may fancy a few “out-side” bets, as bookers are sure to offer over-generous odds for unfancied side.

A quick scan on betfred.com revealed the Aussies to be firm favourites at 2/1. Which is frankly ludicrous. Whereas South Africa (4/1) and Sri Lanka (7/1) may offer reasonable rewards – even England (8/1) offer a good value bet. (Hence, a little £10 stake on his home country by The Atheist.)

However, where I think you may clean up is in the one-to-one bets. For instance, you can pick up Kenya beating Australia at 9/1, which is much more likely an occurrence than you would think.

Similar odds are offered in this tournament than in the World Cup, but this is an error by the bookies. Remember, the key rule to betting on twenty20 is bare in mind that odd-generation does not take into account the inherent stochastic nature of the format. That is to say, the outcome is as good as evens before the match begins. With this in mind, better value odds are evident and enables the keen punter to make a tidy profit.

(Ayalac does not encourage reckless gambling. Spending money costs lives.)

Sunday, September 09, 2007

England seal the deal with a kiss.

By “kiss” I mean a convincing victory, not that, you perv. In perhaps the most boring match of the series so far, England’s fiery bowlers skittled the Indian batsmen for not-much, and half-centuries from Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood saw England home comfortably.

To be honest, this match didn’t really interest me much. I was left rather exhausted by the seven-match series, which has produced some spectacular performances from both sides. But as I was painting doors in the garden, whilst vaguely listening to the absent-minded TMS commentary, I briefly consider ed tuning in to the Afternoon Play.

Rest assured that the moment of madness quickly dissipated, but it is saying a lot when an obsessive and slightly sad cricket fan like myself is getting tired of the great game. But it was a bit deflating, really.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a walk over. India tried hard. But a combination of tour fatigue and general lethargy ensured the defeat in the game, and ultimately the series. Gautam Gambhir looked good with the bat and in the field, but his name was too much like a country for him to hold much influence in the game.

Cricketers whose names sound like countries:

Gautam Gambhir.
John Holland.
Malcolm Marshall Islands.
Bruce French.
Monty Panama.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Shoaib Akhtar throws a wobbly.

Yesterday, Shoaib Akhtar apparently attacked fellow fast bowler Mohammed Asif with a cricket bat. The Pakistan Cricket Board swiftly acted to send him packing from the twenty20 world championship.

I suspect that Shoaib knew how rubbish the tournament was going to be, and tried to fight his way out. But the mighty thigh of Asif proved too much, and it repelled Shoaib’s frenzied escape.

As an unexpected side-effect, Shoaib’s conduct was seen as unacceptable, and thus he was sent back home. PCB chief executive Shafqat Nagmi.

"No one will be spared if he flouts the rules and team spirit. What has happened is something that has shocked us."

Yes, it was rather pathetic if hilarious behaviour, but who could blame him, what with the impending rubbishness.

Although, it is rather crazed, given that he has only just returned to the side after a two-year ban was quashed. You think that you would be on best behaviour. Well, you would if you were sane.
He’s also 32, which, by Stuart Broad’s standards, is pretty old. Shouldn’t he know that fighting your way out with a cricket bat is not effective? You’ve got to tunnel, man. Use the box.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

India tie the series

In possibly the best match of the series so far, India dramatically clinched the NatWest series in a last-over thriller. Thanks mainly to the efforts of Robin Uthappa, who was just brought in as an extra batsman, won the match with a blinding 47 off 33.

Let us remember that the match wouldn’t have even been close if it wasn’t for Dimitri Mascarenhas’ freakish 30-run over at the end. Luke White also gave an impressive performance with a confident fifty on his debut, with a strike rate of 128. Owais Shah also proved his class, with his first ODI century.

Nonetheless, the day belonged to the Indians. With a 150 opening partnership and a 90 for man-of-the-match Sachin Tendulkar, India always looked in control with this difficult run-chase.

In fairness, with over ten-an-over required at one point, this should have been England’s game. And with the loss of MS Dhoni, India’s defeat looked imminent. But with Uthappa’s steady hand, India somehow managed an unlikely victory. Perhaps there was some na├»ve bowling, and ball-chasing by the captain, but it was the bravery of the Indians that saw this game through.

Let us also remember the brave little tail-enders, Ajit Agarkar and Zaheer Khan, who scarified their wickets, so that India may live on.

Really, it was the rabbits that won this game. If only it could have been so in my career.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Andrew Flintoff’s career

Once again, Andrew Flintoff has been declared unfit because of his old ankle injury. It looks likely that he will miss the rest of the NatWest Series and the Twenty20 World Championship. On top of recent niggles with Dorset Knee and missing the entire test summer, Flintoff has had an unfortunate spell.

He is a big chap. And he bowls fast. Consequently, his lower joints and feet are under a lot of strain. This is a pity because, at the moment, he looks like our best one-day bowler. Indeed, he took a career-best of 5 for 56 the other day against India.

The question is, however, how long can this continue? If you are losing one player to constant injury, then it has a pernicious effect on the side’s morale. Moreover, you cannot invest in a long-term replacement for the man; you’ve only got a nearly-man struggling to secure his space. On top of that, you’ve constant arguments about who to replace Flintoff: another all-rounder? A batsman or bowler or what?

There comes a point when the destabilising effects of a missing man out-weighs the positive influence of his presence. I’m not sure we have reached that point with Flintoff yet, but it is something that needs to be considered.

Indeed, more important for Flintoff personally, is his test career. It appears that his body is struggling to cope with the strain of a one-day much. But how will it cope with bowling 70 overs in a test match?

Do you remember the end of Darren Gough’s career? He was our best fast bowler for a generation, and a vital part of England’s attack. A long-term injury had him out of the side for about a year, I think. When he returned, to much heralding and cheering from England fans, he looked a little under-cooked. There was a noticeable lack of pace. He was past his best, and his international career petered out into a sad slump.

No one really wants that to happen to Flintoff. But people need to think seriously about his long-term prospects.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Twenty20 World Cup

Don’t get too excited. You won’t seem many posts here about this event.

I will, allow, however, a few mocking posts, snidely sniping from afar. Let us consider the injury list:

Ravi Bopara – widely regarded as the world’s best twenty20 player.
Andrew Flintoff – widely regarded as the world’s best all-rounder.
Jacques Kallis – widely regarded as a better all-rounder than Flintoff.
Ricky Ponting – widely regarded as smug and a bit daft in the head.

Some of the other missing players are:

Shane Watson
Muttiah Muralitharan
Sachin Tendulkar
Rahul Dravid
Stephen Fleming
Mohammad Yousuf
Inzamam-ul-Haq

That’s eleven players. If you stuck Watson in his proper position and made him a keeper you would have a winning team right there.

But you don’t, because all these clever individuals know how rubbish the twenty20 tournament is going to be. They each ingeniously contrived to be “unavailable” or “injured” or “dropped” in a cunning ruse to avoid this nasty championship.

Now, surely, it will be rubbish. Then people will say: “why didn’t we listen to Ayalac?” And the answer will come back “because we didn’t read it in the first place.”

Monday, September 03, 2007

England, one by one, die

If people must persist in talking foreign, why must they do so loudly? Why the hell won’t Diana get the hell out of my face? Why can't the England players buy a packet of cigarettes without getting a side strain?

These are some the questions that constitute the mysteries of Sod. These are the questions that will never be answered, but they will continue to piss the crap out of you.

Sorry about the absence, by the by, I have been a little busy. And quite frankly, bringing the Ayalac little ray of bloody sunshine into your indolent and pathetic lives is at the bottom of my life’s "to do" list.

England lost a match yesterday. They lost because the other team is AMAZING, and we are A BUNCH OF USELESS DUFFERS. Their batsmen put the England bowling unit to the slaughters, all top four scoring half-centuries. Yuvraj Singh was particularly brutal, plundering 72 off 57.

The change of bowling strategy had much to do with this. First mistake was picking Jon Lewis, who failed to swing the ball, or prevent the batsman from swinging the bat. Bizarrely, the bowlers decided to eschew the previously successful strategy of bowling back-of-a-length in the hope that it would swing. It really didn’t. Not even on the tenth time Sachin Tendulkar drove you for four.

England’s batting hope lay mainly with Ulbator Choobleton, their chief Rain Dancing coach. Sadly, he, as well as everyone else, failed. Paul Collingwood put on a good show (91 off 71). And when Matt “The Pratt” Prior and Ian Bell were sharing a 90-run partnership, England may have thought they had a hope.

But they didn’t.

Now they are either (a) injured or (b) dead. Winning a single match may be a tough ask given the present state of disorder.

Can’t finished today’s post without mentioning Ravi Bopara and Stuart Broad’s incredible innings together at Bristol. It was probably the best partnership in England’s ODI history. I really thought they were finished when Colly ran himself out.

I even stopped listening to TMS. But I eventually tuned in again and it was clear something special was happening. It was a tremendous, thoughtful and composed performance. Better than I have seen from England since I saw Sydney Barnes and Pip Fielder contribute 39 matching winning runs in a brave last-wicket stand at the MCG.