Monday, March 10, 2008

Harm him

It has not great to be a me this weekend. First off, England’s cricket team refound their inner cretin. Then our rugby team were humiliatingly awful. And this was all capped off with my ancestral football team, Bristol Rovers, receiving a severe kicking to knock them out of the FA Cup.

But from all this gloom emerged a positive development: everyone is saying how much they dislike Steve Harmison and they seem to mean in. Tim says he looked like a little boy (only a six foot five inches boy). JRod thinks that “drastic action” should be taken.

Even David Gower thinks that Harmison should be put down and killed – “for his own benefit”.

I have long gunned for Harmison. He seemed to be in the side because he was tall and Andrew Flintoff liked him. Whereas Ryan Hairybottom, a superior bowler for years, could not get into the team because he was slower.

But it’s what you do with it that counts. And Harmison sprays it around like adolescent porn star. We don’t want that; we want to see accuracy throughout the session.

The Sunday Times has published some interesting figures on the earnings of England’s players. As you could imagine, the captains and KP come out on top, with a yearly income over £400’000 ($807’520). I’m sure these inflated salaries are well worth it.

Interestingly, Harmison, on “Band B” earned £231’760 ($468’202) last year, which the Sunday Times calculates at £9’656 ($19’507) for each of his 24 wickets.

Under my calculations, the public purse could have invested this money into the National Health Service, and would have afforded four heart bypass operations or two hip replacements for each of Harmy’s scalps. However, it is worth noting that nearly a quarter of million quid has significantly improved the health of many batsmen around the world.

Harmison has been useless for years. In this test, he claimed that he was searching for the “million dollar ball.” How he thought that 80 mph wide long-hops was getting close to this target, I don’t know.

Indeed, his captain only trusted him with four wayward overs in the second innings. This is frankly shocking in a four-man attack.

Clearly, his potential has been over-indulged; Harmison is not going to do it. However, I am willing to bide my time. Other players, including Matthew Hoggard, had a poor much. Give Harmison one more game and once he fails again, be done with him.

It is prophetic that another talented player, long cosseted by the ECB, was given his last chance in New Zealand some years ago. Despite his obvious talents as a batsman, he averaged in the 20s, and kept many capable players out of the team. His name? Mark Ramprakash, of course.


Tim said...

Yup we've all had enough of Harmison. In the long-term I think there is a good case for your man Tremlett (when fit) but he has been accused of having a Harmy-esque temperament.

And incidentally, the Ramps comparison is a tad unfair, for the simple fact that, while Harmy seemingly wants it too little, he probably wanted it too much. Whatever you say about Ramps, he has been the consummate pro.

The Atheist said...

Yes, I still stick to Tremmers as The Future. He would have been a perfect replacement for Der Harmlesser.

I'm not sure whether you can accuse Harmison of being unprofessional. I think he seems to be trying, but, where I make the comparison with Ramps is their mental inability to translate talent into results.

Anonymous said...

As they say, there are two certainties in life:

That an English sports supporter will die disappointed.
That Edward William Elgar when penning the lyrics to “Land of Hope and Glory” was lying on a beach whilst holidaying in NZ.

The English have always been a self centre lot as exhibited by your Queen who requests only God saves her whereas we Kiwis ask God to defend New Zealand. We include everyone except touring English cricket supporters and fortunately God obliges.

However even our God makes mistakes as exhibited through his dreadful error of creating Wayne Barnes, the English referee who facilitated the All Blacks demise during the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

When we asked God to explain he was apologetic but added “If I’m not sure of a new human species I always select an Englishman so if I blunder it will not impact on the collective IQ of the country”. “However”, he continued, “I will make amends by guiding the English cricket selectors into selecting a bunch of talentless cricketers and have them sent to your shores for you to have your way with”.

“But!” we protested, “You are short changing us. We don’t need divine intervention for that to occur.”

“Your right”, said God “I know - I will have the Scottish rugby team deal to them.”
“You are short changing us again. We don’t need divine intervention for that to occur either.”

God looked perplexed and finally admitted that there was no call for divine intervention in creating negative sporting outcomes for the English, England had become self sufficient in that regard. “Well,” God declared, “Its back to saving the Queen and defending New Zealand.”

Is it England, or is it Britain? (Never quite sure down here in the colonies). The current cricket team touring NZ is England so one assumes it is English players only represented with the exception of the odd South African thrown in. If a talented cricketer emerges from Scotland, Wales or Ireland one would expect they would receive a Counties contract. If they were to perform at that level would they be eligible for selection into the English cricket team? Could someone please advice on this? Thanks.

The Atheist said...

Ah, it has been a long time since we've had a long rambling post from a disgruntled Kiwi. It feels like old times again.

You make a fair point about our Queen. She is an egotistical bitch. So much so, we’d thought that we’d share her around, and that’s why she’s your Queen too.

However, I suspect that the All Blacks losing the World Cup was because they were playing rubbish and France was playing rugby.

It’s worth while remembering that God is an Englishman. Humiliating sporting loses for his team are all part of the grand plan. There will be a day in the future when a messiah will save us. Lord knows we need it.

Anonymous said...

To Atheist

It is imposable that God could be an Englishman. He had to find a virgin to bear his son and someone who could count to 10 to prepare his commandments!

That aside, I must say as a spectator in Hamilton during the first cricket test I would like to offer a Kiwi prospective on the event. The result was of course to my liking but the test as a spectacle was something special.

I think the English media has over reacted in condemning the English performance. The insistence that anything other than victory indicates a poor performance is a little narrow in its analyses. After day 4 the test was very evenly balanced. This is test cricket yet many scribes insist that if the scoring rate is not around 4 runs an over then the batsmen’s effort is lacking. Comparing test cricket to 50 over cricket is like comparing draughts to chest. Yes England has problems with is bowling attack however the rest of their performance was up there with the exception to their 5th day capitulation.

If I could pass an observation this English side looked scared. I don’t mean scared of NZ but scared of failure, scared of media/fan condemnation and quite frankly this appears to have brought on performance anxiety. The one country they had to beat was NZ. The media had told them they were a young inexperienced side ready for the taking, not in the same league so a 3-0 whitewash was a formality. I don’t think the English team bought into that but was expected to deliver on these expectations. The media never consider that to win you have to play better than the opposition. The opposition is not a country but 11 men who have considerable cricketing skills.

In the last 12 months the NZ cricket side has handed 10 wicket hidings to both England and Australia in the 50 over game so for your media to write-off this side is naïve. I don’t mention this to gloat but to emphasise there is a real test series to be fought out between two very even teams

I know for some to believe that England has plummeted to the depth of NZ is unpalatable but here in NZ we believe NZ has lifted its game to the level of Australia. It’s amazing how you perform when you are psychologically in a different headspace. The England’s media has to concede that they are largely responsible for their side’s performance anxiety and this seems epidemic throughout English sport.

The second test will be a beauty. The Basin reserve is a seamer’s wicket so both pace attacks will have to perform.

Anonymous said...

Almost every comment or news report I have read about this English cricket team (which I thought was currently touring NZ) has some reference to the Ashes!

What is it about the English and the Ashes? I understand it is the trophy played for between Australia and England and is retained or gained by the side which wins that series. But one thing that it does not represent is the quality of the teams in the contest.

With England’s obsession with the ashes there is this perception that the only contest that matters is England vs Aust. But it is not a contest! The last 10 series between these two countries has resulted 9/1 win ratio to Aust. Even NZ during this same period has won 2 series and drawn 1 against Aust.

English cricket lives in a delusional world. Why the Queen’s honours and tickertape parade for a cricket side that played 5 tests, won 2, drew 2 and lost 1? Are your successes so rare that when they do occur you can’t help yourself? If NZ win the current test series I’m sure after a couple of days and a few beers it will be forgotten. There won’t be any tickertape parade or Knighthoods I’m sure.

World cricket has moved on. England (outside of England) doesn’t rate anymore. The recently completed Australia/India series was an exciting and controversial series. If England wins a close second test on its NZ tour the cricketing eyes from around the world (believe it or not) will be focussed on what could be a grand finally showdown between the two countries during the 3rd test.

The power in world cricket has moved to the sub continent both through player depth and financial control and I guess we had all better get used to that like it or not

I know I’m probably pissing you off with my comments, and some I admit are tongue in cheek, but the higher the pedestal they create the further it is to fall. All teams loose win and draw, that’s why we tolerate the pain that sport provides. However more realistic expectations can make the landing that much softer. The English media have a lot to answer for. I genuinely feel sorry for this English team. They look under enormous pressure to perform and it is that very pressure that could be their downfall. I should know re 2007 Rugby World Cup!

The Atheist said...

See, this is the confusing this about anonymous contributors - I don't if you're two different people, or just one.

In any case, thank you(s) for a really interesting viewpoint.

I think you are spot-on on your analysis of the English press. Each newspaper has a cricket correspondent in New Zealand, as do all the television channels, and notwithstanding the TMS team. This is a social group, that communicate and discuss the game. Within these self-centred talks, a (wait for it) dominant paradigm emerges – that is to say, a viewpoint that all accept.

This is called “group-think,” the press get together and persuade themselves of the reality, without any reference to the world itself. Meek little England fans like myself, consume their output, and assume that their expert status makes them right. I ignore the strange uniformity of views amongst commentators.

But me, and the England team, were sold down the river. New Zealand are not a terrible team – the distinction between limited overs and test match cricket isn’t as pronounced as cricket snobs like to insist.

However, what was great about this game was the Kiwis attitude to the game. They were playing strong cricket, with tactical gumption and bravery, it reminded of England’s rugby team in the glory years. They accelerated their innings well and bowled with discipline. Test match cricket as it should be.

Anonymous said...

Hi Atheist

Yes it is the same Anonymous. My name is actually George. Will post comment later. Too busy watching the first session of the second test. England batting well and pissing me off.

Cheers George

The Atheist said...

Hullo George, you're very welcome on board.

I'm currently lying in bed; about to go to sleep. No doubt I will have some sweet dreams tonight, all courtesy of the kindly Kiwi captain, Daniel Vettori.

Miss Field said...

I wouldn't mind a dream involving Daniel Vettori.

During the last Ashes when the Poms were doing so poorly, someone suggested a pay cut, and one of the players, if memory serves me correctly it was Ian Bell, laughed and said that was not necessary.

I'm not convinced. What do you think?

The Atheist said...

Yes. Total poverty for the England team is the only way forward.

Miss Field said...

It'd be interesting to see who'd stay if, other than having the bills covered and maybe a bit of sponsorship, they were playing for the honour of it.

Anonymous said...

I trust your sleep was rather restless between 1.00 and 3.30. Interesting day, a day of three halves one could say. 60/40 to England.

I’m rather interested in the bigger picture. Both teams have different objectives. England has to win to keep the series alive. A loss or draw will have them return home losers or at best not winners. On the other hand NZ’s objectives will be quite different. Either option win or draw will be a beneficial result. Knowing Dan V he will always chase the win but if things turn to custard he has the second option of playing for a draw.

What this does is set up two different tactical approaches to the game. England will have to consider risk taking to force a result one way or the other and often this approach can be very stimulating for the spectator. I rather fancy the “to hell with it” approach. The English top order should be instructed to throw off their shackles and play their strokes. The talent is there and if only two or three of them come off then who knows? Then again total collapse, who knows?

England has to create a substantial score in its current innings. It has to be substantial. So substantial that it makes the 200 run follow-on target a genuine objective for the NZ batsmen to navigate. If not NZ will play for the win or draw. Survival (for NZ) could be eliminated from the English armoury and all the pressure will be back on England.

Do you sense a clutching at straws here?

I’m off to the beach for the weekend so all my waffle above will be irrelevant by the time I get back.

Cheers George

The Atheist said...

Evening again, George, good to hear from you.

You find me in bed again.

You were spot on about last night - I dreamt I was being attacked by ducks armed with plastic models of Kevin Pietersen. Which wasn't far off actual events.

I would like to think that New Zealand would keep up the pressure on England. That would certainly make for better cricket, but also it gives them a greater chance of taking the series.

In any case, after England’s rather anti-climatic first innings total, the advantage is with the Kiwis, and, if they’re sensible, they could retain it for the series.

Anonymous said...

Well it appears the writings on the wall for the kiwis. They don’t deserve to salvage this test. Having said that the way England fielded yesterday neither do they! It is obvious that England should coast in today but I have been rather disappointed at the standard of cricket exhibited by both sides. It appears the side that wins will be the side that played badly the best!

Batsmen getting starts only to throw away their wickets with dumb shots (or no shot at all as did Fleming), fielders dropping catches that would be held by six year olds at primary school . Monty fielding as if he had been recruited from the blind institute and so it goes on. The only people out on the pitch that are having a good test are the umpires. (I must say I have been quite impressed with their facilitating), Sidebottom for England and Oram for the Kiwis. Having said that, the English bowling attack is a great improvement from the first test.

I will, be watching today and praying for a miracle. It’s St Patrick’s Day in NZ and just by coincidence the NZ national anthem was written by an Irishman (no kidding). Is that an omen? What do you call an Irishman with dreadlocks (Padlock).

Cheers George

The Atheist said...

Well George, that's the Kiwis done and dusted. Which, I suppose, keeps the neutrals happy for an exciting final test.

You are right, both teams were mediocre, but I felt that England took more advantage of their opponents’ weaknesses. England were on the ropes at tea on the first day, but New Zealand failed to polish off at the last session.

Also, their batting was dire against the moving ball. It wasn’t until the futile forth innings that any players showed some application.

Whereas England simply turned up, played basic cricket and won through. Although, judging by their fielding, things didn’t always go to plan.

An intriguing match – let’s hope the remaining forty game between the two sides will be equally as interesting.

Anonymous said...

I have my entire list of turning points and excuses ready, only 10 I can think off:

1. Monty deliberately allowing the ball go through his legs and into the boundary for four thus not allowing DV to keep the strike and exposing our no. 11 batsman Martin who was cleaned out 2 balls later in the first innings. That is 1 ball longer than it usually takes.

2. Ambros consistent top edging over the slips for 97 of his 103 runs.

3. Sidebottom taking the new ball and bowling at 100 miles an hour only to take Oram’s wicket in pitch darkness at the end of the 4th day. The umpires then call the day off for bad light once they found a torch to check their light meter.

4. The entire English side deliberately dropping 124 catches off NZ’s batsmen Sinclair and Bell until they got into the 30s, just enough, so the NZ selectors will pick them again for the third test.

5. The two NZ openers deliberately loosing their wickets inside 9 runs in the first innings as it was considered a tactical move that the sooner they got the NZ middle order in the more chance NZ had at scoring runs.

6. Anderson had to play for Auckland so he could receive some good bowling coaching only to bowl abysmally for Auckland (my side, who were thrashed) and then magnificently for England a few days later.

7. Allowing a selfish smartarse like Collingwood who’s able to do everything well except catch, hog the bowling and the batting. He has to learn to share it around like the more sportsmanlike Kiwi batmen who often let their team mates have two bats on the same day.

8. The Wellington weather turning on brilliantly fine days when English batted and windy overcast days when NZ batted. I know after the 1st test there was some consideration given towards the English team to avail them some advantage so they could close the gap but that was ridiculous.

9. England always loosing the toss. Clearly is not prepared to take responsibility. Poor old DV has to make all the decisions again.

10. The two umpires who got everything right. Why choose this test to show off. There were at least 96 appeals for LBW by the NZ bowlers (compared to 1,456 appeals from England) and all they had to do was get 10% of them wrong (NZ appeals only) and we would be home and hosed.