Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Literature and cricket

Cricking, much like farting in a swimming pool, is all about timing.

As with writing a book. You have to wait a sufficient time before unleashing a self-indulgent attack on the universe.

After some recent dodgy comments, the rugby union community is considering a “cooling off period”, which would ban media statements by players until a certain time after an event. It may be worth thinking about for the cricket world, but one wonders whether any period of time would be enough to prevent Duncan Fletcher making a fool of himself.

The problem, here, as far as I can see, is that cricketers lack creativity. Sure, there are loads of dubious books out there with titles like “Playing a straight bat”, “Time to Declare” and Phil Tufnell’s new book “Bowling into the Rough”. But lets face, these are like chess books. You feel you should read them, but you never will. In fact, they’re nothing like chess books. No one should read those bastards.

These titles are all self-obsessing autobiographies, or stating-the-obvious books on cricket tactics. They never try their hand at poetry. Which may explain why cricketers seems to hate each other.

The point is this: cricketers should use literature to defuse their repressed selves. Fletcher should have turned his experiences into a spy novel or something. Look, it’s easy, I’ll do it:

James Fletcher stalked through the corridors of the enemy’s lair with a careful, but deliberate tread. Who would have guess, Fletcher thought to himself, that the baddies would base their HQ here at Fleet Street. Suddenly, but not entirely unexpectantly, Fletcher heard the tedious grating of a Yorkshire accent, and was seized by the need to hunt down the source of this racket and beat to death its producer.

Thereupon, a behatted bloke in a ridiculous suit appeared, and continued with its Northern moan,
“Oh no. You’re bloody useless you”
“Ha. Cotboyc. We meet again.”
“Ei. Not that it’s much good.”
“It’s time for you to retire hurt.” Fletcher raised his trusty PP-class Grey Nichols aloft and dispatched his interlocutor with a well-timed hook shot. Before the head had chance to hit the ground, it had time to emit one last whine, “Oh no, lad, you’re technique’s all wrong.”
“You’ve dropped your last dolly.”

The path was now clear for Fletcher to penetrate into the heart of Fleet Street, and finish off the head honcho. He burst through the doors of the Media’s most powerful mogul. The most feared, mighty and ancient of commentators. Fletcher, whilst trying to catch his wheezing breath, confronted his old enemy,
“So, Blofeld we…”
“Fuck off.”
“Er well, actually I…”
“Fuck off.”
“Right you are then.”

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fat Zim fights ‘em

Duncan Fletcher, the former England coach, is serialising his autobiography in the media. He regularly releases instalments in the Daily Mail. The latest whiney drawl can be read here. I wouldn’t recommend it, though. It is pathetic.

Ayalac will save you the trouble by taking the best bits out of context and making fun of them.

Firstly, he moans about how much stick he took from the press in general, and Ian Botham in particular. Apparently Botham gave him dodgy and contradictory advice. In one victory, everyone gave Fletcher a huge bear hug to congratulate him...
“Botham just stood there and did not say or do anything. And to think he later said that I had 'taken being miserable to a new level'. What about him that day?"

He thinks the players listen to him but they do not. Often you would go into the dressing room and hear the players in exasperation saying things like: 'Have you heard what Botham is saying about the wicket?'”

Yeah! The big bloody successful bastard. D’ya hear mate my mate Chardonnay said about him? Wait, these aren’t the diaries of a pre-pubescent Basildonian female, it’s a respected public figure. Who’d a thought it?

Other hilarious episodes include Fletcher giving Geoff Boycott an ear-full down the telephone, and then felt guilty. What sort of twisted monster is this?

But, wonderfully, apparently when Fletch approached hero of the air-waves, refined Henry Blofeld, Fletcher writes:

“He did not even greet me but instead just bellowed 'Fuck off. I don't want to speak to you.'”

And when Fletcher persisted in conversation, gentle Blowers reposted with another “Fuck off.” This is the most fantastical thing I have ever heard in international cricket. Marvellous.

Anyway, further to this, Fletch moans about Andrew Flintoff being too pissed to win an Ashes. According to others, though, Flintoff has never had a problem with booze. These people are, in the main, Northerners, though.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Daddy or chips?

Which is better, rugby union or rugby league? The answer is, of course, cricket.

Here's a harder question, who is better, South Africa or Pakistan? Well, maybe there's an easy answer, because, judging by recent performances, South Africa is flying eagle, whereas Pakistan is dying beagle.

South Africa are a lot like Australia. When they lose, we all secretly cheer, like when a good enemy of ours dies. Strangely, South Africa are not Australia, and yet they produce the same effect. I don’t know why this is. Nor will I speculate further, because I did not experience this dark joy.

Pakistan, with certain victory in sight, lost six wickets for 20 runs in 36 balls. This lost them the match and the series.

This is seriously rubbish. We all like Pakistan. They’re a charismatic bunch, that wade into the crowd with fists flying one minute, only to retreat into an introspective shell by beating the crap out of their team-mates with a cricket bat the next minute. You know where you stand with them. I like them most when they cheat. Lovable rogues.

Unfortunately, Pakistan’s batting let itself down. Mainly because of the buggering about with the line-up and the strategy and stuff. Although Mohammad Yousuf produced his usual unbelievable performance by averaging 70 in the series. Other that him, rubbish. Shaun Pollock out-performed most of Pakistan’s batsman.

If, like me, you are in need of a cheer up, read Stuart’s brilliant cricketing diary series. It reads like a mixture between Sue Townsend, Geoff Boycott and Vincent Van Gough. Top stuff.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sluggo strikes back

Some of you may have noticed that Bermuda have been losing to Kenya recently, indeed, they lost their three match series by three matches. An England-like effort.

Dwayne Leverock, aka “Sluggo”, did alright. He was Bermuda’s third highest wicket taking, taking seven at 20.57 apiece. Not bad really. Better than Ashley Giles, I’d wager. The Slugs also weighed in with a massive eight from his three innings.

Sadly, Kenya won through having more people with their name beginning with the letter “O”. At one stage, the boys in green had eight O-ies in their line up, with all four mainstream bowlers starting their name with O.

It was an awesome display of team spirit and playing as a unit. Bermuda never stood a chance.

Of course Sluggo, like the champion of old, did his best to stem the tide. Although his legs are sturdy and his shoulders broad, it was too much for this giant among men.

However, the Bermudans, in a moment of blasphemy, opted to leave Sluggo out in their match against the Ugandans. Their sacrilege was quickly rewarded with a defeat by 43 runs. Realising their blunder they restored this Greek God to his rightful place in the following match, and the Mighty Figure return match-winning figures of 2-36. Champion stuff.

But it is the loss in the ODIs that will hurt the most. I feel depressed, because Leverock is sad. We have a bond. A connection. I’m not sure his feats deserve God status, but, if he continues with these brave performances, my divine link will surely prove irresistible.

I love you Sluggo.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

PC crowd chants

I am a little worried about the Australian public. They might make fools of themselves. More so. So I have decided to write them a few political correct crowd chants to give the Ausslers something to sing about to make them, and the United Nations, proud:

Equal opportunity! Equal opportunity! Equal opportunity!
Oi! Oi! Oi!
Equal opportunity!
Equal opportunity!
Equal opportunity!
Oi! Oi! Oi!

Jimmy: Everywhere we go
Crowd: Everywhere we go
The people want to know
The people want to know
Who we are
Who we are
Where we come from
Where we come from
Shall we tell them
Shall we tell them
Who we are
Who we are
Where we come from
Where we come from
We are the in the main, but that's not to exclude others, Australians
We are the in the main, but that's not to exclude others, Australians
The ethnically diverse and open-minded Australians
The ethnically diverse and open-minded Australians
We are the tolerant
We are the tolerant
The Multicultural tolerants
The Multicultural tolerants

I said oh, ah, everyone in the car,
I said everyone regardless of their ethnicity or social background,

There. That should improve things. By the way, I’m sorry if I offended anyone yesterday. Of course I didn’t mean that all Australians were bastards. Just most of them.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Australians: Are they all bastards?

A difficult question. Especially when we consider the affliction that is Germaine Greer. What twisted people would willingly exact that thing upon the world? This issue has reached new levels of importance with Sri Lanka’s up-and-coming tour of Oz.

Arjuna Ranatunga, former Lankan captain and heaviest man at the Chorlton-on-Beans May Day Fayre 1998-9, warned Muttiah Muralitharan to stay away from the tour, for fear of the abuse the spinner is likely to receive. Jason Gillespie expects loads of it.

For some reason Australians hate Murali. To me, this is unfathomable prejudice: Murali is great. He also has a medical condition which means he cannot straighten his arm. He cannot help bowling without a bent arm.

Should we ban Shane Watson from international cricket for having pathologically crap hair? No, he can’t help being a twat – he was born that way.

The arm business is only half it. The remaining abuse is likely to come from the fact that he is not Australian. An unthinkable crime, I know. But Sajid Mahmood and Monty Panesar suffered from these malicious attentions during the last Ashes series.

We can only surmise that Australia is a bastardly place full of, in the main, bastards. That may be unfair. Not everyone that lives there is nasty. There’s some British ex-pats, for one.

But if this frequent racial abuse is to continue, we may have to consider the possibility of Australia forfeiting the right to host international matches although. This may give the rest of us a chance. But, you know, something has to be done. I don’t know what…or how. All I know is that I don’t want to pay for it. Or anything else.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Shahid Afridi: still amazing, if alarmingly likeable

Afridi is rather like a pair of jet-powered roller skates: fun to nip to the shops for a pint of milk, but you wouldn’t want to commute to work in them.

This one-man myth helped Pakistan dispatch the South Africans by a handsome six wickets. Not only did he whack 32 off 18 to get his side off to a great start, but he also bowled a decisive 3-37 off his ten overs.

Afridi is finally finding a permanent place for himself in the side. Previously, people expected lots of runs from the man. Let’s be honest with our selves: Afridi will never do that. Quick runs, yes; many runs, not really.

But his bowling is becoming increasingly dangerous. I fancied him as the best bowler in the twenty20 tournament, and his weird brand of… well, I don’t know what you call them, spinning sneezes, or something, anyway, whatever the heck he bowls, it seems to do the job.

I remember seeing him bowl once. I thought to myself, “he bowls fast for a spinner.” And I was right. What was I talking about? I yes, I was saying that Afridi is now a Really Good Bowler, he provides handy, if mad, runs. This is his place. Moving the spotlight from the batting, if impossible, is probably the best way of handling his unique talent.

Most people love Afridi. Usually, the slightest sniff of popularity in a player is enough to put me off them (the Monty excepted) but there is a charm in Afridi’s rather slack-jawed approach to the game. Like home-brewed scrump, there’s a rustic honesty to him made all the better by the random dead animals that they threw into the vat.

As a rule, I like the players that everyone else loathes. Jacques Kallis and Rahul Dravid: champions among younger and more exciting men. Show me a solid forward defence played to a harmless half-volley, and I will show you a happy Atheist. Everything is in its place, and the world is as it should be.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Strauss: I’m just unlucky

In a response to his royal dropping by the selectors, Strauss has said:

"I have been a victim of some poor umpiring decisions, some unfortunate dismissals and a few incredibly good balls delivered at just the wrong moment.”
Which, frankly, is just bollocks.

Ian Bell went through an “unlucky” period. This involved him getting lots of “incredibly good balls” which resulted in nicks to the slips. Then, he adjusted his technique, and now hits loads of centuries. But perhaps that is just a co-incidence.

It is also a co-incidence that all the test match bowlers reckon that Strauss has serious flaws in his technique. And once you eliminate square cuts from his game, apparently the only way he scores runs, then he looks desperately under-prepared for international cricket.

Remember also that he has been moaning about “too much cricket.” In fairness, so have we all, but you must be careful what you wish for. However, you may have expected a little more sensitive treatment of a former England captain, and out leading run scoring in many series. He seems to feel a little injured by the whole affair:
"To say that it hurts is a massive understatement. In truth it is the culmination of a long, tiring and immensely frustrating 12 months in which little has gone my way,"
Of course, this is whinge. I think that last statement could apply to pretty much everyone in the world. Look at my last year: shit carpets my life’s journey, but do I moan to the Daily Telegraph? No, I just get on my bike and blog bitter complaints to no one in particular - like a real man.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ramping up again

Stephen Brenkley, the Independent’s cricket correspondent, was making an extremely strong case on TMS for the inclusion of Mark Ramprakash into the Sri Lanka tour in November. He based his argument on the following fact: he is the best batsman in England.

Apparently, for him, that’s ‘nuff said. Which is fair enough, frankly. Yet, people were making the same argument at the end of the 2006 season. I think even Tim, from Third Umpire, was advocating his use during the Winter Ashes.

The idea was dismissed at the time. “He’s old” they said. “He’s had many chances before. He wilted. He’s old news.” Even I accused him of being a Harmsprakash.

And then Ramps went to repeat his batting dominance in the 2007 season in the First Division. Total dominance of all bowling attacks that he faced. He is the Don of the Domestic Game. Consequently, new force is being brought into the pro-Ramps arguments.

2006 was not just a blip; class is permanent. And, without doubt, Ramps proved that he was the classiest in the county circuit.

The anti-Ramps, continued their arguments. “No good at international level, though. Besides, it’ll be a step backwards – we need to build a team for the future.”

Yeah, but if he does perform, under this new enlightened regime, I wouldn’t say no to his runs. Even Owais Shah has publicly said that he’d be perfectly happy to give way to the Surrey run-machine.

It’s not an easy one. Surely Ramps’ mental attitude has improved? Yet, I’m all for giving youth a chance and building for the future. I think if one of the senior players, like Michael Vaughan or Kevin Pietersen was out, then there would be a very strong case for him. But to lose Owais Shah, who is ten years younger, may be too costly in the long term.

(Has anyone else heard Brenkley? Is he really a journalist, or is he just Mark from the Peep Show in a radio incantation. I think that it’s all a bit creepy. Although, I think calculators are creepy too. What do I know?)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Jones: I’m not Welsh

Simon Jones has now decided that he’s from Worcestershire. And who could blame him?

Statistically, you are less likely to be mugged or fat than when in Wales. Better weather, better cricket, less Welsh people and you are certain to get your hands on a lovely pear.

Since Jones received that impossibly bad knee injury (I mean, honestly, it’s like there’s a piece of shrapnel in there) the England bowling unit has wilted. We really need Jones to be fit.

Steve Rhodes, director of cricket at Worcestershire described Jones as a "quality bowler". He’s not wrong.

However, at 28 and with a dreadful fitness record, it doesn’t seem probable that he could get a game for Worcester.

His decision is a bit odd, considering that Glamorgan has been awarded an Ashes test in 2009. Surely he’d want to make a come-back on his home ground? Maybe he felt intimidated by the new broom quicks that are emerging ominously from Welsh. Anything that emerges from Wales is ominous though – just look at the M4.

Maybe he just fancied the quiet life? Rhodes goes on to say:

"Worcestershire deep down is a very close friendly club and it's not unlike the dressing room is at Glamorgan. It's not one of the major Test playing grounds but it is certainly an ambitious club that wants to go places."

Steve Rhodes. There’s some happy England memories. Ambitious but never went anywhere. Remember him. Remember him batting? Why did we ever bother? He was like a hopeless Chris Read before his time.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Flintoff: I won’t go away

Rather like those stains on your tea cups, Andrew Flintoff is refusing to go away regardless of how many times he’s been through the dishwasher.

I think it’s fair to say that I’m probably the only person outside of the MCC that doesn’t like Flintoff. I’m not really sure why I feel this way. It’s probably because he has “personality” and all I have is a bitter disposition.

Anyway, he now reckons that he’ll being coming back soon, because he’s employed the services of a reasonably priced Dutch surgeon, Professor Niek van Dijk. (Tells you all you need to know about the state of the NHS.) Prof van Dijk has had a good prod about in Flintoff’s mighty ankle and, like any self-respecting cowboy quack, thinks he can sort it no problem.

This will mean that he’ll be back in action in early 2008. He’ll be 30 then. It’s not Ming Campbell old, but it’s not Wayne Rooney old either.

Meanwhile, England have been doing splendidly without him. He’s certainly a reliable bowler, but his batting has been like watching a party of shepherd’s pies attempt the four minute mile. Consequently, he’d have to prove his fitness as a specialist bowler.

But England have been “really good” at bowling recently. Not just individually, but as a thoughtful and complementary unit. They work well as a team. It certainly isn’t broke.

And if there’s no room for Monty, then, by buggery, there sure as hell ain’t any room for that fat bloke from Preston.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Doing good the English way

The performance of England over the course of this surprising ODI series against Sri Lanka has been unremarkable. If we were to point for a couple of “key players” who performed at “key moments”, we may be left stumped.

Perhaps Owais Shah’s crucial 80 on the second match genuinely won the match, but other than that, English players have been quietly successful. Even Kevin Pietersen didn’t play any booming centuries. No one bowler ran through the Lankan line-up. They were hushed, but still had a force – like a girl’s burp.

England’s success has come from solid team performances. Rather like how England crushed the Australians in the rugby World Cup and knocked them out of the tournament, England’s bowling “pack” have been well organised, disciplined and good. This is a huge change from normal.

They have succeeded in a reserved way. No one wants to show off too much, they all just stuck in and did their bit. And quite right.

Most of the press seem convinced that this “resurgence” is solely down to Otis Gibson, the new bowling coach. Alan Donald and a year of improving performances account for nothing when there’s a chance for a badly researched but plausible article to write.

I put their success down to this: no Steve Harmison. I’m no statistician (although I tried, once) but I reckon England’s overall success rate has improved about a jillion percent since he decided to injure his cleavage or something. We need accurate bowlers that get wickets now. This is 21st century cricket, after all.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Guest blog: Beware of Virgins

Another special from my intrepid guest columnist:

So it looks like the bearded gnome is going to buy the (Northern) Rock. This troubles me, as it should every cricket lover. For those of you including the Bank of England and the Financial Service Authority who are unaware of the workings of the Rock, they sponsor my adapted team of Durham. A team that has managed to compete at the echelons of English cricket this season without relying on a bunch of washed up annoying English and Australian bastards.

According to a man I was talking to who specialises in investment analysis and happens to be on the board of the Club, there is major concern that any takeover will put in jeopardy the sponsorship agreement and finances that the club relies on to survive.

The Rock may be run with undue care for investor’s money, but they are very generous with it to Geordie sport teams. A situation that is unlikely to continue if the rebrand to Virgin Money takes place. Does a man on a never ending ego trip that makes Mohamed Fayed look media shy really care about being a Geordie bailiff or the institutions that hold this desert like land together? I doubt it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Kallis gives Pakistan The Death

Jacques Kallis has scored his third century of the series against Pakistan to take the Saffers into a commanding position in the fourth day of the second test.

With his partner, Graeme Smith, who also notched up a hundred to his name, extended South Africa’s led to an impregnable 450 odd. He did this by a gradual, wearing grind. As always.

There were some who supported such an approach to twenty20 matches. It was the winning strategy in some games. Maybe South Africa could have used this approach, given that they badly flopped below their potential in the tournament.

Yet Kallis was dropped from the Proteas’ twenty20 squad because he was too boring. I don’t think they could have done much worse, to be honest. You might as well pick your best player, eh?

Kallis, however, bravely moaned like an eight year-old, but also mopped around Pakistan for a bit, scoring centuries left-right-and-centre to show he’s pretty good at cricket. Not just when faced by minnows, but he can play serious opposition too.

The man is much maligned, and unfairly so. I think he should move to Derby and captain England’s rugby team. Talking of which, did you know that England knocked Australia out of the World Cup?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sri Lanka meekly crumble

Apparently, therefore, they should inherent the Earth. So perhaps this is a crafty trick to win the next World Cup? I doubt it, though.

In a deflating performance, Sri Lanka lost the match and the series to the inferior and more rubbisher England side.

The Lankans got off to a dreadful start, with the first three wickets falling for just twenty runs. Although Kumar Sangakkara and Chamara Silva put on a defiant 126-run stand, the England seamers dominated their innings.

In reply, Alastair Cook dug in for a characteristically dogged 80 off 123 balls, and KP looked similarly gritty before unleashing a flurry of boundaries to bring England home and record his first fifty in literally donkies.

The Sri Lankan’s lack of application has rather deflated the meaning of this series. It is as if the relentlessness of international cricket has worn their desire down to the size of my weekly pay-cheque.

This is understandable, if even predictable. Perhaps England played a master-stroke by brining in previous outsiders, untainted by the endurances of past defeats. They arrive, fresh-faced, keen and surprised as heck to be there and clean up.

Just look at Graeme Swann. Carefully crafted by the great dibbly-dobbly factories of no-where in particular, like a customised, pimped-up Jamie Dalrymple, and yet he dominants one of the best teams in ODIs in all areas of the game.

How on Earth is an honest, if bitter, blogger supposed to respond to such things?

By swearing, that’s how. Bollocks.

Wait, England won! I suppose I should be pleased. I am, in a way. Mainly because I have a lovely glass of wine in front of me, and my boss is away for the next fortnight. But anyway, well done boys. You clearly know a lot more about cricket than I do, which hasn’t always been the case.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Hair cuts short

Daryl Hair has dropped his case against the ICC. In dramatic scenes at the Tribunal in London nothing happened today as the barristers decanted themselves to a local pub to count their fee.

One legal representative was quoted to have said:

“Bringing international cricket into chaos is the best way to bring home the bacon. And what bacon! Have you seen the size of my meat?”
Apparently, some evidence was given that proves Hair has been talking bollocks. It was shown that he was never offered money in return for silent compliance.

Nevertheless, the case has thrown open a can of worms at the ICC – this was possibly the reason why Hair took the action he did.

The trial has exposed the Council’s unprofessional practices present at all levels. With key meetings not being minuted in case they “end up in court” the case has revealed the ICC’s amateurish and poorly run infrastructure.

Poor communication is rife. And senior management conducts itself through gentlemanly agreements, ignoring the need for transparent and accountable procedures.

The only member of the executive board to have retained his reputation is Malcolm Speed (interestingly, the only such member to have any professional experience outside cricket). He claims that his actions were ham-strung by his poor relationship with the Indians, who would have refused to co-operate a priori to any of his supposedly reasonable requests.

It was precisely this reactionary, high-personalised set-up that got the ICC into this position, and resulted in Hair’s poor treatment. For that, we must applaud that otherwise twatish Hair.

Weirdly, he is now on a “rehabilitation programme”. Well, he has put on a lot of weight in the last thirty years. He must be an alcy.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Australia crushed like tiny shrimps

Continuing the theme of Antipodean sporting defeat, Australia were battered by the mighty Indians. Snapping defeat from the jaws of victory, the Aussos looked well set at 122-1, with the first hundred coming in just 13 overs. Both Matthew Hayden (92) and Andrew Symonds (75) looked dominant.

And then, for no particular reason, they lost. Not only did they lose, but they FAILED as well. Knowing this, humanity wept with joy and sacrificed many goats to the gods of justice and incompetence.

I rather suspect supernatural involvement. Unwittingly, the entire population of mankind (if you are feeling generous with your definitions, excluding Australians from this class) were sending a mental message to the boys in Tacky Yellow: Lose.

It appears to have rubbed off on the rugby too. Which is excellent.

Other noteworthy events was Sachin Tendulkar’s breaking of the most fifties in ODIs record. Surpassing Inzamam-ul-Haq's 83 by one. This isn’t bad. Especially by someone who has looked “out-of-sorts” for the last year or so.

When I look “out-of-sorts” it usually means I have to pull another sicky at work, and spend all day thinking about eating cornflakes. By Tendulkar goes out and breaks cricketing records. I am, in many ways, inferior to Tendulkar. I bet he doesn’t have his own blog though. Loser.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Tyin’ in Notts

Graeme Swann is infuriatingly good. Match-winningly good, in fact. It’s not for these reasons that I don’t like him. No. My problem with Graeme Swann is that he is not Monty Panesar.

Worse still, England won a match. This reinforces the misconception that Monty should not be played in all matches, and be given the ball at every opportunity. The more Swann plays, the less likely it is that Panesar will open the batting.

Swann complements well with his Nottingham shire team-mates, Stuart Broad and Ryan Hairybottom. The mid-lands trio took nine wickets and scored 52 runs.

However, the chief reason for England’s victory was Sri Lanka looking out of sorts. Sure, the pitch was hopeless and the ball moved around like a dysfunctional gypsy family, but they’re a quality outfit. They should be able to see off difficult patches.

I suspect some anti-Monty match-fixing was going on. It can be the only explanation for England’s success. Heck, they certainly don’t have the talent. It’s just not natural that they win.

An England victory always makes me feel a bit dirty. No. Not that kind of dirty.

Thankfully, my mood improves with the knowledge that Fiji lasted longer than Australia in the Rugby World Cup. It was a good job that a rubbish team knocked out those Ausslers.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

South Africa look a bit better, really

In the first test of the serious, South Africa beat Pakistan by 168 runs at Karachi. Jacques Kallis scored two centuries; Shaun Pollock was dropped; Mark Boucher broke keeping records; and Inzamam-ul-Haq announced his retirement from international cricket.

So there’s lots to talk about. So, feel free to go to the pubs and chat these things over with some mates.

I like it when Pakistan play South Africa. There’s a parity between their standards, but I also have them both marked as “mercurial” and “occasionally brilliant”. You never are quite sure what’s going to happen.

Normally, Pakistan tend to blink first, and South Africa manage to squeeze home. However, this series promise a new era for Pakistan cricket: consistency and dedication.

Shoaib Akhtar looks finished, Younis Khan has become a Yorkshireman, Inzy is off and Mohammed Yousef’s retirement loaming. The big names of Pakistani cricket are moving off, but also allowing in a new age of apparently “reliable” cricket.

Judging by this first match, they’re still liable to fall into the ridiculous (opening with Kamran Akmal was a little….unexpected), but you cannot fault their ambition. Although OLD Abdur Rehman looked pretty handy, picking up eight wickets in his debut test. It’s alright though, spinners can be old.

So, all in all, I’m looking forward to the rest of the series. Yeah…I don’t want to big it up too much, though; it might be rubbish, and then you’ll blame me.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Snakes and dogs attack England

In a week of biblical plagues, the heathen Englanders managed a win despite the wrath of a vengeful god. The England captain, Paul Collingwood, was bitten and killed by a poisonous cobra during nets.

Fortunately, although dead, England selected his cadaver as a fifth bowler, and his body was supernaturally re-enliven by the slobber of local stray dogs. It is thought that they were attracted to a Colly on heat.

In other news, England won a cricket match. Well done them.

They won by boring the batsman out of their wickets. Annoyingly, Graeme Swann bowled with maturity and batted sensibly. His irritatingly competent performance is likely to keep Monty out of the series.

People are also saying a lot about Owais Shah. Mainly because his match-winning century against India is still fresh in the memory, and when people score big in a handful of games it means they’re the next Don Bradman. Or, in ODI parlance, “the new Michael Beavan”.

I think that Shah is the new Kevin Pietersen, in that he gets runs where as most of his colleagues cock up. Whereas KP is the new Shah of Iran, despite having plenty of support, he is over-thrown by fundamentalist zealots and exiled to foreign country cosseted by Western indulgences.

Mustard also looked good. I’d still like to see Jack Russell in the position.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Australias look at Indians and laugh

In a seemingly relentless barrage of international matches, one blogger picks a game at random and tries to talk about it. Will this blogger make a stand? Well, momentarily.

I did wonder why so many people were complaining about the length of the World Cup. I thought that it was great. It is a WORLD Cup. It should be massive. Like the world.

But this dizzying torrent of ODIs overwhelms even the most fanatical of fans.

Take the England team, for example. After a seven match series against India, they had approximately a day’s rest before heading over to SA for the twenty20 fiasco. A day after this was completed, England’s finest shot off to Sri Lanka to receive another hiding.

Obviously, this constant battering leaves no window to breath, or even hope. It is a continuum of pain, with only a Zimbabwe for rest-bite.

I vaguely remember kingcricket moaning about the specialness of test cricket being removed through over-familiarity. I endorse these sentiments, and suggest they are equally applicable to all areas of international cricket. But it's especially applicable to England, who just lose all the time.

Anyway, moaning aside. Australia won another game. All Indians, except MS Dhoni, crumbled like an under-educated girl in a stock broker’s office. India: pull your socks off. The Aussies must be defeated.

Monday, October 01, 2007

England fall to pieces

The one-day trick still isn’t working for England. They have fielded more than forty players since 2005 (apparently) in their limited overs set-up, and decided to use some more in Phil Mustard and Graeme Swann. Neither proved particularly incompetent, nor were they match-winning.

Mustard was chosen out of necessity more than anything, and Swann was preferred over Monty Panesar because He Bats A Bit, and England can’t understand spinners that don’t bat. Lordy Lordy Lordy, I HATE YOU ENGLAND CRICKET TEAM.

Not really. It’s more that they really piss me off. It’s like the people who hand you out free papers in the morning, although you don’t mind taking tit-bits off them occasionally, you just want to batter them to death with their own product sometimes.

Anyway, lets cut to the pain. England lost again. They lost to a better team, that was better. Also, our team can’t cope with the warmth; England players just turn bright red in the heat and collectively transform into a drugged-out geriatric women.

In fairness, Mustard looked…the mustard. Ryan Hairybottom looked useless. Others failed as well, we all know who they are. Don’t we?

On the other hand, Sri Lanka looked excellent. Mahela Jayawardene struck an impressive 66 and Sanath Jayasuriya still keeps going. Where were they during the World Cup, though, eh? What’s the point of being good if no one can get any decent bet-money out of them?

All in all, Ayalac says: rubbish.