Saturday, May 31, 2008

I’ve found a new Australian to hate

I watched a bit of the West Indies/Australia game yesterday. Admittedly, it was in the pub.

The images were a little galling. There was sunshine. Happy, semi-naked people. Music. Food and drink. Everyone was having a great time.

I’d just spent the last two hours on a grid-locked M25. Why oh why aren’t I Alastair Cook or something? Why are my cricketing skills comparable to those of a banana? Why am I cursed to a dreary existence of traffic jams and uncooperative software whilst young Cooky, with no apparent altruistic pedigree, gets off lightly as a cricketer?

In any case, I was watching the Caribbean scenes with these embittered thoughts in mind when I saw a large English flag. Usually, I hate the St. George’s cross. In fact, I hate all flags. Daft bloody things.

But this one raised my spirits, for across it bore the words: St. Helens. A town that is a serious contender for “Worst Place in the World 2009”. A town covered in grime, clouds and misery.

And this nutter went all the way to the Caribbean to broadcast his pride in his little Northern dump through the medium of flags.

Knowing that there someone more messed up than I, steeled me and gave me fresh resolve as I bought in another round of drinks to numb the pain of life.

Then I saw Simon Katich standing and the despair returned.

You see Katich’s crotch was badly maimed as a young man when a bully provided a kick that was to disfigure the Australian opening batsmen’s stance for ever.

“I think PS McDonnell is awesome” said a young, naïve Katich.
“You little bastard,” said the bully as he sent his victim screaming to the ground, clutching his permanently disfigured area.

Simon Katich’s stance, like the first earwig attack of summer, ruins something great with something small. Christ, I really wished that bully finished the job, he looks like a walking Francis Bacon painting.

And another thing. Why does his grill look so massive? What have they done to his head? Did the bully smash that into a jawless prune too?

Christ, that bloke pisses me off. I know I said he didn’t. But he does.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Guest Blog: Defending the Indefensible

Another word from my Northern correspondent:

As the Beatles should have more accurately sung “All you need is hate”. As an avid reader and occasional lame arse contributor to the might AYALAC I will have not been the only one to notice that recently there has been a lot of negative feelings directed at a desolate insignificant country that lies at the bottom of the Indian or should that be Pacific Ocean.

Admittedly these blogs are avidly enjoyed, especially by those they are directed at (it’s as if they love to be hated), however, the latest comparison with Nazis, animal abusers, paedophiles and promotion of terrorism as a solution has lead me to do what I thought was never possible; defend Australian cricket.

I must declare I am not Australian and believe that I have a healthy distain for the country which may derive from the only close experience that I have had with one of their kind who was called Lettuce (what kind of a name is that?) and who broke my toilet.

Yes the Australian XI have bad hair, are bastards and cheat but at least they do all those things with great success. What does the English XI excel at? We used to have snapping defeat from the jaws of victory but even the Kiwis have surpassed us as that. No, I’m afraid England is and will forever be mediocre.

But that is not really the problem. Perpetually being average is drilled into the psyche of every Englishman from a young age. What comforts us in the dark of night is the knowledge that we underachieve with dignity, modesty and style.

Which leads me to identify the real enemy; South Africa. The same as the Australian XI but not actually that good at cricket. In addition to racism, support for Robert ‘look at me I’m mental’ Mugabe and even more annoying barman, their real crime however is bringing KP to the world.

Yes a man who is so unspeakably bad his name is thankfully abbreviated to two letters. Whining that makes Steve ‘I’m better than all you lot’ Harmison look modest, this man has disappeared so far up his own arse that those diamond earrings should have at least caused some serious internal bleeding by now.

His record is patchy to say the least, he is one of the main instigators in this IPL bollocks and is a twat. His presence within the team makes me feel dirty.

We should either be totally basted/Australian/good or at least stand for proper English values. Surely we have enough subperforming cricketers in this country to pick from. Why import hate when there is KP?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Name That Bum #11: Answer

The answer to yesterday's Name That Bum was, of course, Jacques Kallis.

Congratulations to D. Charlton who was the first with a correct answer. Instead of the usual paintbrush masterpiece, I'll simply publish a photo D. Charlton sent me.

Tune in next week to see if you can...NAME THAT BUM.

Collingwood: worth a question mark?

Paul Collingwood, perhaps the ugliest batsmen in test cricket, is struggling to retain his place.

“Why is he still there?” people ask. People say lot of things though. Some of them say Birmingham’s pretty. I tend to ignore people.

Instead, let’s take a fact. Facts rarely say Birmingham is nice in any way. Paul Collingwood averages 34 in 2008. Overall, he averages over forty. Frankly, how he maintains this standard I have no idea. But the trend is downward.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Collingwood. There are not enough gingers in authority in this world.

But we’ve never seen an innings by him when he isn’t scratching around like a disabled pigeon.

Watching his batting like experiencing severe constipation after a heavy night’s necking laxatives.

His nurdling, nudging and implacable defence have got England out of many holes in the past. He’s one of “those” batsmen that specialise in the sort of innings that the Alan Stanfords in the world really don’t understand.

Generally, AYALAC approves of maintaining anything constituting a two-fingers to that moneyed yank. But, in this case, I might hold forth on my anti-Stanfordish bile.

So, I’ll keep an eye on Collingwood. It seems as though we’ve given up bowling him at test matches so, stunning fielding aside, his retention in the side relies solely on his batting performance.

Clearly, there are more handsome batsmen out there, but are there more productive alternatives, too?

I say: Birmingham’s rubbish.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Name that Bum #11

Same rules as always, you have to identify the international cricketer in the shots below.

Please give you answers in the comments.Winners will have a poem written in their honour, or have a paintbrush masterpiece devoted to their genius.

Good luck, and good bumming.
Clue One

Clue Two

Clue Three

Can you....NAME THAT BUM?

Dazzler dances into the Yorkshire sunset

Darren Gough has retired.

The Dazzler was a bit of a childhood hero to me. Although my natural support lay with Andy Caddick, in my heart of hearts, I acknowledge that Gough was England’s best bowler in the 1990s.

His talents lay, according to Fred Truman, mainly in his bum (that’s not a hint) where Fred believed that prodigious size resulted in fast bowling manliness. On this count, Gough excelled.

People say that Gough’s main strength was his heart. “He had a big heart” they say. I say this is rubbish.

His main strength was bowling fast and accurate. And getting wickets. He was excellent at all these things and that made him great.

Have you ever seen a giant heart play cricket? Useless at finding length. And leaves a terrible mess.

What stood out for me was his huge, leaping bowling action, left-arm pointing directly towards God, and the ball would fire towards some hapless batsman. Usually a South Africa. Gough, for some reason, seemed to bowl at a lot of South Africans.

My enduring memory was of his cheeky rear-guard of a quick 40 in the dying moments of an England innings. He, and Phil Defreitas I think, displayed some entertaining hitting to save England from defeat against the Saffers.

“I’m going to get you out,” said Allan Donald, angrily.
“I’m going to hit you straight into the air, but get away with it” said Gough.
“Oh, I’m all angry now.”
“Oh looked, I did it again.”

But, perhaps Gough’s finest achievement was scoring a maximum in the 2007 Christmas Special of Strictly Come Dancing with a classy American Smooth.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Australia: why must you do this to us?

I heard someone say on the radio that “everyone wants West Indian cricket to be strong.”

I thought this rather trite: surely we desire universal strength in a highly-competitive arena. Then I realised that this wasn’t true. There was one team that deserved a long period of flailing, flabby retreat.

We want that side to lose. That’s right. Australia: land of high art and sophistication.

Naturally, success breeds contempt and jealousy, but why oh why must they be so heartless?

During their first test match against the West Indies, daft buggers like myself dared to hope: perhaps the Windies could sneak a win?

But that’s how the Australians get you. That’s how they crush you, like a hammer crushes a kitten’s brain. They let you hope and then, much like the Nazis, they finish you off within a flash.

This exactly the sort of thing that bastards do. Don't get me wrong. I’m not calling Australians bastards. I’m just quietly encouraging the reader to put two and two together and perhaps bomb their local Australian embassy. That’s all.

Worst still, people like Stuart Clark, built by weekly instalments via subscription of “Build Your Own Fluky Geriatric” magazine, finished off the naïve Caribbeans. Like a bastard.

Now. Which one do I hate the most? Ricky Ponting? The Little rat-like bloke who looks like he spends the weekends offering sweets to kiddies in the local girl's school? Perhaps he tempts a few back to his "studio" with promises of a great modelling career, only, she might want to lose some of the clothes...

Certainly a contender.

How about the hilariously awful Michael Clarke? The great hope for the Australian future of highlighted hair-dos and flashy misses? Perhaps.

The most infuriating fact, despite all this inept crockery, they still win. This cannot be tolerated. Everyone, heed these words:

Send a letter to your local secret service branch, with some intelligence to the effect that there’s weapons of mass destruction somewhere in Crocodile Dundee land. Hopefully, this’ll find its way into the Oval Office. Although, if the CIA ever discover Shane Watson’s hair products, the trigger-happy yanks won’t need much persuasion.

This is the only way we can win.

Kiwis get all English on our asses

Well well. There I was. Rage flowing strong. Ready to launch into an angry tirade against England’s incompetents, and then New Zealand committed hari kiri.

These are scenes familar to followers of spineless English cricket across the world. It feels odd to watch New Zealand suffer a rather English fate.

They were ahead by about a jillion runs yesterday, and then the whole of New Zealand decided that they couldn’t be bothered.

They even gave Andrew Strauss a century.

There are rumours that Daniel Vettori gave his troops a bollocking, but, to be honest, the Kiwian captain was at the centre of every cock-up that unnecessarily turned the advantage towards England. Drop catches here; ridiculous run outs there; coupled with some pedestrian bowling, Frankie D’Vettori was looking like he fell off his filly before he's had chance to get his hands under the wire.

At the end, Paul Collingwood briefly changed his name to Genghis Khan, and smote the sheep herders without mercy to see The England home.

This is weird. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the pent-up aggression. I might expend it on Australia.

Boogie Woogie England’s woozy

Today’s blog combines moaning about the England cricket team, with a review of a gig I saw recently in an unspecified barn in rural Essex, the most unspecific of all the counties.

England’s innings got off to a bad start, consisting of an over-jazzed set reliant on a shouting, screaming, bellowing lead singer who unsuccessfully sought to drown out the happy-go-lucky rhythm section. Also, his hat was rubbish.

The New Zealand innings, rather like the women standing in front of me for much of the night, saved a doubtful performance with an impressive rear action. How the Kiwis managed to pack in such a lively and cheeky little number into such a small pair of jeans was mystifying. But Ross Taylor’s excellent effort certainly shared the same hypnotic qualities.

Hearing that a “burlesque” performer occupied the next billing, I began to feel increasingly nervous. Much like when the announcer heralds a new spell from Daniel Vettori, I feel the need to hide in the toilets.

I’ve never understood this burlesque thing. Reminiscing the debauchery of the 1930s through the power of nudey women is a bizarre art-form. Not entirely displeasing though.


But it’s a strange beast, nevertheless. I once saw a fairly generously-sized women perform with two flaming torches and minimal clothing. She faffed about for approximately three minutes and left the audience in a state of titillated confusion.

The following act was an Australian stand up. His opening remarks were:

“Er… I’m not sure what I’m going to do now. I was planning to get my tits out and arse about with some fire.”

So anyway, the evening looked lost until a final hoorah by England’s foremost spinner, Monty Panesar. We all cheered when he took the stage. We roared when he revealed a new player – a flutist with stripy trousers. We lost the plot when his accompanying guitarist feigned masturbation with his ancient instrument.

Now the evening is delicately balanced. Will Strauss creep home to another century after a painful and heady session at the bar? Should I buy another burger? Why do the girls like that obnoxious South African? Why can’t I stop drinking this god-awful wine? Can England recover the game after fowling it all up by throwing up over the girl in blue?

The answer to all these questions is: Flip yeah!

(Apparently, there’s a picture online of me dancing the “twist” with a leggy brunette. Anyone that finds this image will win a prize of a savage beating.)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hair regrows

Darrell Hair, the man that we all thought was dead, but wasn’t really, is back. He’s going to stand in a test. You’ll notice this because the bottom of your telly will be obscured for half the match,

In his absence, the cricket pavilions have experienced an unexpected over-supply of cream cakes and Chelsea buns. It is hoped that the Australian adjudicator will restore the natural equilibrium of the world’s confectionary market.

Hair’s main problem, in the up-and-coming test, is how to be racist. Applying racism towards the English is difficult. Observe:

Racist: “Oi! Pommy bloke. You and your whole race are rubbish.”
Englander: “Yeah. I suppose we are.”
Racist: “Yeah. Well. You’re Queen is fat.”
Englander: “Spot on, old boy. Good Queen Porker, we call her.”

Similarly, being racist towards the New Zealanders is troublesome. It’s hard to draw the line between racism and stating the obvious.

I’m looking forward to some interesting decisions. Maybe he’ll demand that the entire side should run to tea early if one of the Kiwis asks to take guard. Or, more likely, his confidence has been punctured to the point that he lacks the courage to make those difficult decisions.

This is a pretty major event. Here’s how cricinfo reported it:

“One of the most significant moments of the Old Trafford Test will happen moments before the first ball is bowled. Darrell Hair will walk to one of the sets of stumps, either at the Stretford or Brian Statham End, and put the bails in place.”
As you can see, this is pretty sensational stuff.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Who’s new to hate?

The title for this post was originally “Can Bjork play cricket?”, but I was a bit short on content.

So, instead, here’s the squad that is going to destroy the hopes of millions of small children in the Caribbean.

As Matthew Haydn’s Achilles Heel is still proving his Achilles Heel, we have a lot of room to fill in the “angry at success” box that is in all our tiny, bitter brains. So, here’s the likely team, with their appropriate hate scores.

1. Simon Katich 3/10. Low scorer. Seems inoffensive enough. Hasn’t done anything terrible against England yet.

2. Phil Jacques 7/10. Not reached his full potential yet, but we all know he’ll be there soon.

3. Ricky Ponting 9/10. What annoys me most about this bloke is that he’s a useless captain. That and he’s small.

4. Michael Clare 8/10. Despite being rubbish, he persists in the side. He’s like the Aussie’s Marlin Samuels.

5. Michael Hussey 2/10. I don’t mind this bloke. Apparently, he’s better than the Don.

6. Shane Watson 0/10. Pure gold.

7. Brad Haddin 1/10. Anyone’s who’s not as good as Adam Gilchrist is ok in my books.

8. Brett Lee 1/10. Classic harmless Australian. He’s alright. When he’s not singing.

9. Stuart Clark 9/10. How this dude gets any wickets is beyond me. Truly a worthy of target unreasonable disdain.

10. Stuart McGill 1/10. How anyone could have got so far in international cricket whilst suffering goat is worthy of respect.

11. Mitchell Johnson 5/10. Bit middle of the road on the hatred count. I’ll tell you where I stand on him after a few drinks.

So, there you have it. Plenty of room for hating in the future. The only question is: who to hate? (And possible why. Only, that’s not as important.)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Name That Bum #10: Answer

The answer to yesterday's Name That Bum was, of course, Stephen Fleming.

Congratulations to House Monkey, who was the first to correctly identify the bum in question. The prize to the winner is a mirror. Ooh.
Tune in next week to see if you can....NAME THAT BUM.

Anderson: living example of why you shouldn’t look in medical dictionaries

Once again, I can herald the return of Chris Tremlett into the England fold.

Although he looks like a serial killer to me, he’s apparently a bit of a pin-up. Not sure why. But then again, so is Daniel Vettori. All proving that women make as much sense as a George Bush.

Now there’s a comparison you don’t make everyday.

In any case, Tremler’s rightful elevation to the national squad is partly due to Steve Harmison’s continued twattish behaviour, and partly due to James Anderson incomparably awful bowling.

In fact, you can make comparisons to Anderson's bowling. He’s like that weird picture you see in the paper. You stare and stare at it, but you can’t work out what it’s about. Is it a person? A body-part perhaps. Then, oh my god, before you can tear your eyes away, you suddenly see that it’s a spine-chilling, disturbing image of a horrific injury.

Because you’ve been staring at it for so long, every detail is permanently seared onto your consciousness. You have nightmares about joints going “that” way; objects piercing “that” place; flesh wounds going “that” colour.

My sleep is tormented by Anderson’s horrifying long-hops; his painful gropes for swing; his excruciating attempts at yorkers.

We all know that Tremlers is The Hope. The Great Hope. He’s going to be great.

To continue the comparison vein, although AYALAC is unique, the nearest thing you can compare us to is this video. It’s like a visual version of this site.

Now, if an Allison Goldfrapp wondering around in her pants whilst chucking around garden furniture isn't sexy, then I don’t know what is.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Name That Bum #10

Same rules as always, you have to identify the international cricketer in the shots below.

Please give you answers in the comments.

Winners will have a poem written in their honour, or have a paintbrush masterpiece devoted to their genius.

Hopefully, this'll be a hard one. Although, given certain readers' genius for bum identification, I never can tell.

Good luck, and good bumming.
Bum 1
Bum 2
Bum 3
Can you.... NAME THAT BUM?

Oram Orbits like Occidental Orb

Let me set the scene. New Zealand were 120-4. Brenda McCullum was seriously maimed by Stuart Broad. The ball was swinging like Peter Stringfellow. And the English press was refining their pre-written “walk-over” pieces.

In came Jacob Oram, owner of the biggest teeth in international cricket, to steady the boat. Although his early innings was dogged by narrow chances and dodgy footwork, he fended off the under-achieving England bowlers and saw his side home with one of the best centuries recorded on the Lord's Honours Boards.

His Worzel Gummidge hairdo, which is the source of all his strength, flapped gaily in the Spring-time cool as he wofted another powerful boundary.

The cleanness of his striking and the freeness of his scoring was emphasised by his apparently useless partner: Daniel Flynn.

Flynn looks like a young Ian Bell, who has just been told that Katie Jenkins in form 9B fancies him. He hit 29 from 118 balls. I suppose we should say that he preserved his wicket. But I have decided that I don’t like him. I’m not sure why. He just offends me.

Rather like the girl in the office with the “hilarious” sneeze.

Both teams, I think it is fair to say, performed admirably in rather difficult conditions. Despite what the rabid English press say, England did not run away with it. The sides are even, and the series is setting up to be a real coochie snorcher.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

England are getting the fear

Give us a downer. I've gone and fucked my brain.

So, things are cold, wet and dark in England. The Caribbean and Australian umpires are surprised at this, so take every opportunity to hide in their little officials’ room, which, I am told, is equipped with tea making facilities and an attractive open fire place.

Anyway, the first test match of a twenty game series between England and New Zealand is meandering towards a draw. Neither side really wants it any other way. And when it comes to mutual disappointment, the English excel.

There have been a lot of dodgy decisions by the Englanders in this game. They ran away like little girls from an exhibitionist when they were offered the light. Why they did so is beyond comprehension. Perhaps they’re scared of Jacob Oram’s bowling?

This is exactly the sort of behaviour that Australians jeer at. “Rubbish” they say. And, god help me, I am inclined to agree with all 20 million of them.

Although we have to draw some limits. One of my favourite programmes, Peep Show, guested an obnoxious Australian. She generally found herself in rather unseemly situations. Don’t worry, explains Mark to the horrified natives, she’s Australian – they think it’s OK.

We can’t agree with Ausslers on everything. That would lead to anarchy and barbarism.

In the actual cricket, Michael Vaughan scored a century. I think it’s his fifth at Lords, and the first since he performed the same trick at the first test in the series last year. So, well done him.

Daniel Vettori is making a good case to be deified, by taking five wickets. We’ll have to watch this space on that one.

The weather is really depressing. I had a special correspondent sent to Lords and everything. The only wire he sent me was that it was “depressing”.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Rain rains McCullum McCullums

It it’s all to be expected, really.

As people always say at this time of year, it was “old-fashioned” cricket. People say this because it would have been so long since they watched a proper match that rubbishy one-day cricket has become the norm.

A Kiwi on the radio just said that it was a “technical” day of cricket. He went on to justify this remark. It didn’t make any sense.

I often find that with New Zealanders.

Phil Tufnell is on now. I can’t say things are getting more coherent. He’s like Britain’s honorary little Kiwi.

Anyway, Brenda McCullum was told to behave and bat as if he cared what the bowlers thought of him. He played properly to reach fifty: letting balls go; nurdling singles. He did let go a little after he reached his half-century, but he has long promised to bring a limited overs approach to test cricket.

The New Zealand wise heads, fearing that this might be a bit too mad for them, promoted him up to number five, in an attempt to impose responsibility on the scamp.

The management of your Good Player in small teams is an interesting affair. In rugby, your strategy is simple: give the ball to the big bloke. It usually works out fine.

But in cricket, the situation is a little more complex. You have to consider countless variables. What position should he hold? Who should come in with him? How should he play?

For England, we have long agonised over KP. Should he come in at three? Should he slow down? Should he speed up? He should certainly shut up.

Fortunately, these problems melted away when England successfully imbued Pietersen with our losing ways. He’s one of us now.

New Zealanders are the experts at managing modest resources. Given the size of their country, you wonder how they produce a test standard team at all. But when they do get good players, they seem to know how to squeeze the best out of them.



Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hoggy betrayed

So England have not selected the Hogster for the first test against the Kiwis. Instead, they picked James Anderson, who is cricket’s answer to trouser burns.

Normally, watching England cricket is enough to land you in a self-harm clinic, but there is some hope that England might beat the Kiwis in their first crack at the New Zealand lads in ages.

Do you remember, if you can caste your mind back long enough, the press feelings before the last test? Do you remember? Well, in case you are not 80, like I am, I shall remind you: The media was convinced that we going to crush the Kiwis by an innings in every game. Including the one-dayers.

And what happened? We won some games here. They one some games there. It was like watching two lobotomised quadriplegics trying to play “flip the coin.” Of course, there could only be one winner in such a contest: the coin.

And so the ten pence piece was awarded a Man of the Series award and later attempted to bring down a government. The coin seems more successful in its meeting objectives than Anderson.

In any case, the series was not an over-whelming display of skill.

It is worth noting, however, that the rightful captain of England can exculpated from this comedy of errors, this farrago of farces, this fete of fakes, this festival of farts. He wasn’t there at all (if you completely ignore his presence).

And yet despite these cast-iron and only slightly wrong facts, the England selectors have picked some goon that can’t even decide which side of the wicket to bowl his long-hops.

Ah well, one last opportunity for Anderson to prove to us all that he’s really not right for test match cricket. Besides, there’s no way that he’s captaincy material.

Bring back Hoggy.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Celebrity Blog Couples

Valentine’s Day is coming up soon, the air is thick with lurv, so it’s worth lending a helping hand to the lonely hearts of the blogosphere and pairing them up with their hither-to unknown perfect match.

These unions are so potent, that only the power of the celebrity couple can express the vigour of the potential duos.

King Cricket and Line and Length

Celebrity couple: Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas.

The home of the bloggers’ love in, these two hit it off from the beginning. The older, knowing hand of Patrick Kidd helped King Cricket to reach a climax of true blogging supremacy. Line and Length’s experienced and knowledgeable approach to blogging nicely compliments King Cricket - which has people laughing at it across the world.

Miss Field and Suave

Celebrity Couple: Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.

No-one is really sure what Suave did before his Tom Cruise came along, but as soon as Miss Field swept him off his feet, the Cricket Republique has churned out some testing posts with real legs. Miss Field's own approach, although seemingly erratic to outsiders, is in fact immaculately constructed and entertainingly open about her bizarre passions.

David and David

Celebrity Couple: Napoleon and Josephine

David from Pappus' plane has used statistics to prove not only do non-opposites attract, but they elope in secret in France to boot. He is also a power-mad dictator bent on imposing mathematical order onto the world. David from Harrow Drive has taken time to prove the importance of practicing in many different environments before you commit to the big match.

Martyd and Straight Points

Celebrity couple: Nikolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni

One the one hand we have an artist; a true visual feast. Martyd has managed to smooze his way up to the very top of the blogosphere through beauty alone. It has taken a tough, powerful blogger to contain these creative impulses. Although Straight Points may be a little short, he has one heck of a nose that invariably points in the right direction.

Miriam and Unkie JRod

Celebrity Couple: Jordan and Pete

Now that Miriam has married JRod in the holy grounds of the increasingly inaccurately named cricket with balls, a gentler, more feminine touch has been brought to this chart-topping blog. Further maximising their publicity, the sharp and relentlessly witty site, is complimented by a fuller, rounder approach to blogging. A truly mind-blowing combination.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Kiwis do some stuff, some others respond

Sorry for the absence. Been doing some very busy, work-related things, I’m afraid. I’ll promise I’ll respond to all your emails soon…

I’ve been looking around, pondering what to post on. I wanted it to be something original. I even had a look at The Netherlands’ pages on cricinfo.

I decided to compromise with a New Zealand tour game.

The Kiwis recently played against England’s “B” team. Or “A” team. Or team of trained lions. I’m not sure what they are. But it’s essentially a group of blokes that can’t get into the Test team, but receive sufficient pity from the selectors as to warrant a near-test experience.

I’m not sure whether I approve of it. It’s a bit like buying your granny a “zorbing” experience. Sure, she might take it up, and she may even enjoy it, but you’re buggered if she wants to do it all the time. Although, it might heighten your prospects of a quick inheritance wind-fall.

During this game, some blokes scored centuries. Thus increasing the pressure on the incumbents that the selectors are never going to drop no matter how low their form drops.

It’s all rather sad really. The likes of Michael Carberry and Graeme Swann will never play at the highest level. You’re giving them false hopes.

Perhaps these players enjoy their little moments in the lime-light. Which is a bit sad, really. It’s like those people that consider one biscuit a sufficient snack.


But they don’t listen.

Nevertheless, I still follow these diddler games. I’m not sure why. It’s like the world’s fascination with Nicolas Sarkozy’s sex life. Sure, the object is short and unsatisfying, but I still go back for more. There’s a lot of ineffable magnetism going on.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Name That Bum #9: Answer

The answer to today's tricky Name That Bum was, of course, Darren Lehmann.

Well done to Suave, from the Republique Cricket. In honour of the new weirdness of his site, we award him the following Paintbrush masterpiece.

Well done Two Bins. Tune in next week to see if you can... NAME THAT BUM.

Name That Bum #9

Same rules as always, you have to identify the international cricketer in the shots below. Please give you answers in the comments.

Winners will have a poem written in their honour.

Hopefully, this'll be a hard one. Although, given certain readers' genius for bum identification, I never can tell.

Good luck, and good bumming.

Clue One

Clue Two
Clue Three

Can you....NAME THAT BUM?

Monday, May 05, 2008

Australians moving to England

The tour details of Australia’s tour to England in 2009 have been announced. They arrive in May and depart in late September.

That’s four months. They’re probably going to claim squatters’ rights. Well, I suppose that’s only fair, seeing as that’s how we claimed Australia in the first place.

The administrators, displaying how hip and “wiv it” they are, decided to pack the tour with seven one day internationals. Yes, remember those? Fifty over cricket was what our granddads used to play, before Bollywood took over the sport.

I used to think that five-match ODI series were too long. Then seven became the norm. Then everyone decided to hate fifty-over cricket.

All except for bureaucrats in Australia and England. They think everyone else are bastards, and are going to stick it to ‘em with as many tediously drawn out out-moded competitions as possible.

In fairness, ruling out tyrannical self-indulgence, if I ran these sorts of things I would do it in the same way: aim to piss everyone else just so I can bellow with malevolent amusement.

They’ve also decided to give the Welshies a test match. Also, Hampshirians, a county so non-descript that its residents have no name (except for Southampton folk, who are affectionately known as “scummers” bless ‘em) have been awarded a test match as well.

It’s sad that Trent Bridge doesn’t have a test. I can only assume that this is because their ground is “too good” and not at all in Cardiff.

The tourists play only one four-day match against a county side. Rain will probably reduce this to a two day match. Meaning that Australia’s preparation is pathetically short.

Having said that, the Aussies won’t need much practice before playing against the pathetically short Englanders. But, it’s the thought that counts; at least pretend you take the opposition seriously.

That’s all we ask.

We can take repeated humiliations and spineless slumps. We’re used to it. Just say that you think we’re "not to be underestimated” or something and the English nation will be happy enough.

You can take our dignity. But please don’t take our pride.

Or is it the other way around?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Special report from Antigua

The AYALAC news wires have been buzzing busily this afternoon: I have just received an exclusive report from my Special Antigua Correspondent.

My mum has just returned from a holiday in the Caribbean, and kindly provided me with a cricket report. Well, sort of. Most of the time, her testimony discusses obviously irrelevant details: many non-cricketing references to things like sun and cocktails abound strangely.

Anyway, I was charged with picking up the ol’ alma mater from the airport, on Saturday. Oh, did I say Saturday? I meant Sunday. You didn’t drive all the way to Gatwick at five o’clock in the morning on Saturday as well, did you? Oh, sorry. The ticket said I took off on Saturday, I just assumed that I was going to land on the same day. Besides, waking up at four o’clock in the morning at the weekend is good for you.

I would have been more annoyed. But years of infrequent telephone conversations and general filial neglect have swung moral righteous decisively in a maternal direction. Besides, I’m glad she didn’t arrive on Saturday, when she may have noticed the bloke who was waiting to give flowers to his inward bound mother.

Those people should be ostracised.

Anyway, pointlessly waiting in Gatwick’s South terminal was a small price to pay for the gold-mine of exclusive cricketing information I can provide to you today.

As you can see from this image hurriedly taken from a speeding taxi, the Stanford Ground really does exist. My reporter described this shocking development as looking “really posh”.

See? It's real. We weren't being lied to.

In a further unexpected turn, it was revelled that the small Caribbean island was covered in large billboards displaying images of “men wearing white. Does that mean they’re cricketers? Are they famous then?”

At this point, the report becomes hazy. Apparently, my journalist spotted Giorgio Armani three times, and even swapped good mornings when making eye contact. I think young master Armani is an up-and-coming quick who reputedly possesses excellent seaming abilities.

I’m hoping for more incisive details when my Dad returns in six weeks after he’s sailed back from the Caribbean. So good luck to him… wherever he is.

Bloody parents. Smug ones, at that. It's not like I have a compensation: I hear Geoffrey Boycott's mum averages over 43 in first class cricket. She's no mug with a stick of rhubarb.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Atherton unpicks seam of Vaughan enigma

I have been vaguely aware of Michael Atherton’s ascent through the journalistic ranks. It hasn’t been full-on, consciousness, just a steady, distant understanding: like the catholic view of the Trinity.

Today he has an interview in The Times.

Now, just to set the scene, my view on interviews in papers is strong: especially when the hack attempts to set the scene. These pieces usually begin with the word “As” and then brutally followed by a “I walked into the strangely dark café…” Thereupon you are treated to ten full paragraphs of this failed novelist’s desperate musings as he gropes for some literary merit in an apparently cruel world where useless journos are excluded from excreting their clichéd, half-thought out piffle onto hard-back.

Sadly, this just system does not extend its regime into the world of newspapers. Any over-optimistically coined phrase is acceptable so long as it meets the deadline.

So, it was in this context that I met Atherton’s recent interview with some reservation.

These qualms were hastily confirmed when he began with:
“Nonna’s is a clean, well-lighted place on Sheffield’s…”

Oh no. Athers broke my rule. I only had one, you bastard, and you bloody broke it. Not only that, but references to Earnest Hemmingway in cricket pieces are a bit too university – don’t you think?

I would normally, at this point, throw my head back in disgust, yodel angrily and assail the random passenger to my right.

However, seeing as Athers, like an aortic tumour, has a soft spot in my heart, I gave him a second chance and continued reading.

Although he waits another four paragraphs before he reaches the point of the piece, he spends his acres of room wisely: he insinuates some insider property trading by the England captain and gratuitously insults Yorkshire folk as “pathetically self-absorbed”.

The Times needs to produce more of these cheap shots; I approve of them greatly.

Troublingly, the piece repeatedly points out its origins in Sheffield. Yet, the previous page has Michael Vaughan in Leeds. Surely, Schrödinger couldn’t have accidentally placed Michael Vaughan in his box? More likely: it took the recipient of a first class degree from Cambridge about a fortnight to toss off this piece.

Probably too busy down the pub. Or the bookies.

The actual interview part is rather plastic, so I would avoid reading the middle bits, if I were you. Just skim along to the final sentence, nay paragraph.
“Summer has arrived, and England’s captain bounces out into the sunlight in optimistic mood.”
I recommend re-reading that sentence. There is a lot of depth to it. It is a sentence laden with sunny metaphors. We asked by the author to imagine the England captain as if he were a beach ball, leaping into the salty air above a crowded beach in July. The sun beamishly leers the bouncing objects with warmth and approval. All is well.

It is a celebration of the ever-sizzling English weather. A climate which never disappoints us with constant, numbing drizzle or tamely knocking a catch to second slip after an attractive thirty.

So, Atherton’s not quite a heavy handed hack yet, but he’s getting there. We, in AYALAC, shall scrutinise his blossoming career with great attention.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Indian premier yawn

I’ll try not to be too smug, but isn’t the IPL boring?

Does anyone care any more? What’s more interesting: the IPL or the English county championship?

An obvious trick question. However, if you are a) a cricket blogger; b) not well disposed to twenty20; c) obsessed with international test cricket; d) me, then you were always going to struggle for consciousness whilst watching this marketing spectacle

A great many people who satisfy none of the above criteria but are still reaching for their remote controls and hitting the “Big Brother” button. Or a film. Whatever floats your boat. Personally, I’m a news 24 man. Except when there’s no news. Then news 24 is pretty much the least informative thing outside of a White House press conference.

With 59 games scheduled in total, you don’t have to be Malcolm Speed to work out why interest is waning. Indeed, television audiences have been dropping steadily as the novelty of this event begins to fade.

I’ll chuck in my usual self-congratulatory anti-twenty20 rantings here: perhaps people are recognising the shallowness, the artificiality and the limited possibilities that twenty20 offers as compared to even a 50 over match.

The subtle nuances, the competition of bat versus ball and the developing strategies are all removed from this format of the game. Once you watch a bloke smack a ball 70 yards you have exhausted the game’s entertainment possibilities. It’s just more of the same.

I’d like to think that viewers are assessing these weaknesses and are deliberately boycotting an impoverished version of the game. However, the fact is that they’re just getting bored by it. No one really cares about the teams, the play is predictable and the results unrelated to skill. They’d rather watch reality television.

Heck, I'd rather watch reality television.

People make a big deal of twenty20’s potential to pull in cricket-haters into the fold. But, judging by this league, twenty20 might result in putting people off from the game.

Take that establishment!