Friday, November 30, 2007

Sohail Tanvir sees the error of his ways

In a prudent mood, Pakistan’s Sohail Tanvir decided to defect from the dark side and become a spinner.

Usually, as an “alright” left-arm fast-medium pacer, he opens the bowling and concedes lots of runs. But as a spinner, he’s dynamite. (Unfortunately, he didn’t bowl Chinamen, otherwise I would have given birth on the spot.)

Briefing escaping ennui at work, I have analysed his bowling stats:

Bowling boring fast: 21-3-99-1
Bowling amazing spin: 3-0-19-0

If they are not incredible figures, I don’t know what are. Just look at his mighty success as a twirler. This is proof that all bowlers should specialise in spin immediately.

Sadly, for the cricket community, Sohail turned back to the dark side to take the new ball as a quick. Frankly, he got battered once when he attempted pace once again. A lesson to us all.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Prior makes bald claims

Some of you may remember that I don’t like Matt Prior. It’s not really, a bitter, obsessive loathing, more a generalised hatred. It’s akin to the feelings you have for the person who has just taken up that seat next to you on the train. Nothing personal; you just find their presence insufferable.

Here’s what he has to say for himself, in a recent BBC column:

“It's been two weeks now since we arrived in Sri Lanka and, so far, pretty much everything has been going according to plan.”

If England planned to lose their best bowler’s boots and the use of his spine; if they planned for James Anderson receiving an injury; if they planned to have no idea who was going to fill the number six spot; if they planned to get humiliated in the first warm-up game then everything has gone splendidly.

He then proffers the usual cricketers’ line of “playing too much” and being over-worked. Then he goes on to say that he is addicted to a non-cricket related computer game. (For shame!) But re-assures us that “[t]he work ethic of this squad is second to none.”

Second to perhaps more devoted people? Perhaps to me, even, who have never been addicted to a computer game involving football.

It’s at this point that my hatred moves from the generalised, to the specific: when the over-adjacent passenger pulls out her mobile telephone and relates to the carriage the romantic failings of her “over half”, Darren.

I imagine we all expect Prior to disappoint on some level. But we’re used to a shambles in the number seven department. And no matter how strongly you argue that there is an obvious replacement in the form of [insert name of mediocre county trudger here] you know that we’re just going to have to put up with nonsense for some years to come.

It’s like the Northern Line all over again.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

News of the World

I have received some requests to provide an update on the neglected, although no less important, nations in world cricket. So here we go.

The West Indies

They’re about to face the fearsome Zimbabweans. This may never happen as there’s an article on cricinfo headlined “West Indies delayed by luggage.” Apparently, Chris Gayle took too many spangly man-bags, or something, and the team had to catch a later flight.

They have also been enjoying turmoil in the ol’ captaincy department. Dwayne Bravo has been appointed vice-captain, which is a bit like employing an Elvis-impersonator as a judge. It’ll probably be alright, but there might be a few fruity decisions now and then.

After Zimbabwe, they will receive a royal battering at the hands of the South Africans


Domestic cricket continues its shambolic exploration through life. The Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association has held up the national administrative process with some constitutional rambles about something. To be honest, I care more about Bjork’s views on whales. Anyway, Steve Tikolo is still from Kenya and he’s Ace. Their next match is in January. It will be against the United Arab Emirates. Fascinating.


Otherwise known as “Sluggo-land”, Bermuda is another example of a cricket board that has stopped responding to my emails. Do you think there’s an international black-list or something; perhaps the ECB has point out a warner? Anyway, the big news is that Gus Logie, Bermudan coach, reckons that Bermuda can qualify for the World Cup again. Judging by their recent performances, Gussie, they’d by lucky to get into my local’s Open Mike night. (The Broker, in case you are unaware, is not known for its discriminating approach to talent.)

The Pimmies

In other news, UAE beat Namibia by five wickets at the Wanderers. This means they are still at the top of Division Two of the World Cricket League. Fantastically, Uganda thrashed Argentina. There’s not many contexts in life that you can say that. But, in cricket, anything is possible. Even making Namibia seem faintly interesting.

Namibia, in case you are unaware, is not, and never will be, interesting.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Angry Cook prepares meal of rage

It is important to keep a healthy level of bubbling hatred within you topped up at all times to maintain a balanced lifestyle. I get mine from walking home over Tower Bridge every evening, and thinking evil thoughts about the tourists who inexplicably stop in my path.

Yes - it’s the London skyline. Brilliant. If you don’t take a picture of it now, it might disappear.

This is the kind of internal bitter ranting that keeps me breathing. And now Alastair Cook, proving his divinity beyond mortal doubt, is starting to adopt these principles.

In a recent interview, he said that he wanted to be “more aggressive”. That’s the stuff, Alastair, being an angry, red-faced, fight-starter is the only way to succeed in life. This is what got me to where I am today.

"Obviously we don't know what these wickets will be like, but we saw how aggressively [Australia] played, and we know that you've got to be positive and look to score. On those wickets you could probably hit through the ball more, but if you just look to survive there will be a ball that gets you out."
Reading between the standard sportsman’s spiel lines, this essentially means: RRRRAARRR! I’M GUNNA POUND ME SOME MURALI! I think he ripped off his shirt at this point.

You may have thought that Cook was a mild-mannered Essex muppet, not any more! He’s going to attack without mercy.

Although, I found this a little surprising, given his interviews some time ago saying that, because of his conversations with veteran Sri Lankan tourists, he’s going to play more conservatively. Preserving his wicket and scoring slowly was the name of game in Sri Lanka. Perhaps I misheard him?

It is almost as though the England team is desperately swinging from one extreme to the next on some forlorn mission for “a plan”. But, what do I know? I push American photographers into the Thames; the ECB have the tour all sorted. It’ll be fine.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Anderson or Broad?

After the weekend’s embarrassing antics, I felt that some worthy and boring pieces about selection policy should redress the balance. So bear with me whilst I indulgence my ego.

Mercifully, the England management broke into Steve Harmison’s room at night, and attacked his spine with hammers. This injury should keep him well clear from temptation and ensure that we should have proper bowlers in the set-up. For a while, at least.

The remaining places should go to Matthew Hoggard (who’s great), Ryan Hairybottom (who has Done Enough) and Monty Panesar (who is like whelks to the gulls). There is one more spot, but two bowlers: James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

Who should take it?

This is an awkward one, because, unlike the Shah/Bopara debate it’s not a simple matter of old vs. young. They are both young players, and we should hope that they’ll both be in the side when the two old swing bowlers retire to the big swingers’ party in the sky.

So, as bowlers, what do they offer? So far this season, Anderson has taken 14 wickets in three matches (averaging just under five wickets a match), although in 2006/07 he was less impressive: averaging nearly ninety runs per wicket. Plus, he’s yet to take a wicket during this tour.

Broad, on the other hand, extracted wickets and some bounce from the slow Lankan pitches. Although, the difference isn’t great; both offer a similar package. At test level, it seems sensible to assume that Anderson is the incumbent and, as he has not performed terribly, should retain his place in the interests of stability and fair-treatment.

The issue may be decided, however, not by bowling, but by this “three dimensional cricketer” nonsense. As you can see from the picture, but Anderson is not a natural batsman.

If Anderson was picked, Hairybottom would have to come in at eight – leaving a very long and vulnerable tail. If you are picking Owais Shah at six, as a specialist batsman, and Matt Prior as batsman-wicket keeper at seven, you might consider this ample protection for a weak tail.

I’m not convinced by this line.

This may be negative, but in Sri Lanka you must look to extract the maximum from your squad. Furthermore, given that neither bowler offers an obvious edge over the other, then it is reasonable to bring in this additional factor, and consequently, we must side with Broad.

Pick Broad I say.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Shah or Bopara?

According to Peter Moores, the England coach, there is one batting space available in their up-and-coming Test series against Sri Lanka. There are two candidates for the spot: Owais Shah and Ravi Bopara.

As always with this sort of decision, it is not easy. Shah is an established international batsman, and has a strong track record against Sri Lankans in Sri Lanka. Bopara is packed with talent, and famously took England to the brink of victory against them during the World Cup.

Bopara is certainly one to watch. Scoring heavily when so young augers for a successful international future. Also, he has an old head and a proven performer in pressure situations. He also can wobble up with some “handy” medium pacers.

Shah seems to be on form. Having scored a handsome century in the home ODI series against India, and single-handedly saved one one-day match in the recent games in Sri Lanka. His test record is harder to read. He started with a bang, scoring 88 in his first match, and then falling to pieces in his return this summer.

Also, unlike Bopara, he doesn’t have time on his side – at 28 he’s no spring chicken. Whereas Bopara is young, full of potential and certain to have a long England career ahead of him. But, I do not feel that age is a good indicator for selection.

Look at Australia: they have been picking geezers for years and have consistently been wiping the floor with the world. Perhaps English selection policy should re-adjust to reflect the fact that cricketers take a little longer to mature, and most batsman peak during their early thirties. As such, Shah’s best years are still ahead of him, and we’re about to get the best out of him now.

So, on balance, I would back Shah. He is a stylish batsman and an excellent player of spin. Bopara’s record, although superb, is not quite so accomplished as Shah’s and, to be honest, in terms of a test future, it is now or never for Shah.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Some post-pub thoughts

OK. I may be a bit merry tonight. This is not unusual. So, I think that, to add extra spice tonight, I shall write this post whilst continue to drink heavily and muse upon recent humbling experiences involving me, a microwave and rubber spatula.

It’s not just extra spelling errors and typos you can expect; it’s not just the near-unreadable prose – Oh no. You are talking 100%, bone fide sobriety-liberated incite, my fireinds.

Right. Let’s list the points, I want to make in list format. If I work out how to bullet them, I shall, but don’t be getting your hopes up you silent bunch of judging ingrates.

1. Harmison. He’s rubbish. Unlike mythical African football players, he does not improve when playing with no boots. Like mythical African diseases, he just gets worse the more you are exposed to him. I mean really. He’s bollarks. Really. Why won’t you people listen to me. I have been publishing for yaers now. Bloody useless buggers.

2. Point two. Matthew Hoggard should be made captain. You bastards in the ECB, you may have stopped answering my emails and making subtlke suggestions about court injunctions, but the people will have their way! THE TRUTH WILL OTU!

3. Blooggers should be provided with booze more often. Especially to those who’s Enlish it does improve and makes more lucid. Yeah?

4. WHY IS THERE A GRAEME SWANN. Why the hell would you have a bloke in your side who’s name looks like a drunken typo? I mean Jesus. Why on earth would anyone bother with another Christing spinner when we have Monty? What are they doing?

5. West Indies. Why aren’t they in the news that much? Why do I always have to read about South Africa, or Pakistan or bloody Australia. I WANT TO HEAR MORE ABOUT DWANYE DRAVO, ALRIGHT?

There. That’s off my chest. And, this time, I’m not even going to pretend to proof this post. Proofing is for poofs. Actually, I apologise for that comment. Even I know that’s Beyond the pale. But, it’s ok, I’ve been drinking; and we all think that everything is acceptable when you are drinking. Except if you are a girlfriend of any kind, than you totally lose any sense of perspective, and apply the same “standards” to the drunk. Like muppets.

Inzy cocks up

WOW! I can do videos! OK. Lets do another!

Here is poor Inzy losing his wicket. I thought this was hilarious when I first saw it.

But now I see it again. It is strangely sad. It’s like the loss of your favourite teddy bear’s dignity. I want to cuddle him when I see him rub his tummy. Oh Inzy. Let me protect you from the cruel world! Come and live on my window sill

Misbah cocks up

Spectacularly, I first heard of this hilarious incident from the kindly commenters from the previous post. So cheers you lot. You get a Special Ayalac nob, I mean nod. I mean thumbs up.

We’re trying an experiment today. POSTING A VIDEO. I’m not really sure how to do it. So it might take me all evening, but, damnit, I don’t have work tomorrow or a girlfriend, so I can fiddle with implements as much as I want – all night long if necessary.


Wow. Wasn’t that amazing. It was definitely worth the five hours of fiddling. Especially for the “India must be jumping for joy pun”. Pure Gold.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Pakistan hang on

The one thing I like better than a gritty forward defensive played to a rank half-volley is seeing a team play for draw on day one. Like watching Michael Atherton hang on against Allen Donald, I enjoy seeing batsman sweat it out and fight for priceless runs.

This is what Misbah-ul-Haq, ably supported by Mohammad Sami, is doing in his excellent rear-guard against India. With his 71 off 204 balls, Misbuh showed immense mental strength and stature in moving Pakistan from certain disaster to probable defeat. And, to be honest, losing like an Englishman, is all I expect from an international cricketer.

The Indian dominance is due to one factor: the simply out-standing captaincy of Anil Kumble. Understanding the innate genius of spin bowlers, he quickly brought himself on as first-change bowler. After 15 overs of Pakistani ascendancy, and powerfully positioned on 45/2 it was clear that something needed to be done.

Sure enough, after four overs, the man delivered. Overall he returned figures of 3-38 off his 20 overs. Excellent work Anil.

He also brought the best out of the usually hopeless Munaf Patel. This is the sort of radical turn-around that only a bowler-captain can achieve. Whereas under Rahul Dravid he was told to “take some bloody wickets and stop bowling wides, what’s the matter with you?” Whereas Kumble simply gave him the ball, a steely nod and told “I want to get back in for some tea. Take a wicket you muppet.” And so he did.

Anyway, Anil Kumble is great, even if Ramiz Raja thought he was “prosaic”.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Don’t get Hairy on me

I wish that headline made sense. I really do.

Anyway, Darrell Hair has come out to defend his bonkerness. Not only did he single-handedly ruin a test match, but when the ICC questioned his seriously questionable judgement, he decided to sue them. He lost that.

He also called Murali a chucker. He has frequently been nasty to sub-continental sides. To the point that sub-continental types began calling him racist. Although, every is racist these days. Even Nelson Mandela. Wait, especially Nelson Mandela.

Anyway, Hair is hated by all. And he’s fat.

To amend this ogre’s image, he has said in a recent interview,

"It's easy to say, look, if I'd known how to deal with that sort of issue, the communication and management issues then, if I knew then what I know now I may have done things differently.

But I don't believe so because there's a certain limit to what the umpire needs to do under those circumstances and I believe that both the umpires fulfilled those obligations both with the ball tampering and the refusal to play.”

He did come to a deal with the ICC to go to “man management” courses, and it is clear that he’s still open to learn and took on board a lot of things from attending.

Hilariously, he went on to contend:

"A lot of people have said to me you must be really annoyed with cricket and the fact is I'm not annoyed with cricket. It's just a couple of people made a strange decision to remove me from umpiring."
By “a lot of people” he, of course, means David Forester, his Basset Hound and his demented octogenarian neighbour Phyllis.

Darrell Hair is mad.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

England waylaid by cobras

England continue to be attacked by the wild-life of Sri Lanka. In their last tour, which, I understand, was about five minutes ago, I reported that England were badgered by gangs of feral dogs and hounded by killer pythons.

England’s return has heralded the re-emergence of Sri Lanka’s secret weapon: terrify the crap out of the touring opposition with beasties.

This is a tactic that Australia have successfully employed for many years. Most people erroneously believe that the Ausslers win at home because they are “better” or have wider bats. This is untrue.

Preceding every game, the touring party is harassed by a specialised animal team, which places scorpions into slippers, black widows in coffee and rare Australian Death Eels down the pyjama bottoms of sleeping tourists.

This campaign of using Australia’s weirdly dangerous fauna effectively destroys the nerves of the overseas squad and ensures test victories every time.

The ECB attempted this strategy in 1997, but the tourists got all excited at the “really cute” invading squirrels in the hotel rooms and increased the frequency of barbeques. It was later argued that this gave unnatural strength to touring squad and the mistake was never repeated.

Anyway, TMS, as ever keen to distract themselves from the cricket, took great pains to report in detail the “snake incident”. Apparently, there was a split within the party; Graeme Swann was convinced they were anacondas, whereas Matthew Hoggard was certain that they were just heavy drinking worms.

Here’s a TMS picture so you can judge for yourself:
Personally, I think it's a Plasticus Bottalias, which can be dangerous if you stand on them.

Monday, November 19, 2007

100 6s

In collating 67 effortless runs in Australia’s current test against Sri Babwe, Adam Gilchrist broke a record. He has he more sixes in test cricket than anyone else. Ever.

In fact, he has scored one hundred. Daniel Vettori has received the most biffing, having 17 sixes biffed off him.

Striking one hundred sixes is amazing. Reflect on the one four scored in Geoffrey Boycott’s entire career, in all forms of the game.

In those one hundred balls, Gilchrist has whacked 600 runs. That’s a run rate of 600. I don’t think I have scored that many funs whilst buggering about in the garden over the course of my entire childhood.

To add some context to this incredible achievement, he’s playing against one of the bestest sides in the world, with arguably the best bowler of all time.

The Lankans are struggling to make a come-back in the series (read: England-like desperate clawing for a draw). Kumar Chokshanada Sangakkara hit a valiant century in a brave rear-guard. But we all know that they are doomed.


Bloody Australians. I wish they would get a biffing.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Yawn: Australia are winning

This is like watching your dad playing rugby against your three year old brother. You hope that he’ll eventually stop pounding your sibling into the ground. But he won’t. He just keeps pounding and pounding. Eventually little Jimmy stops moving, and then you have to talk to the police for a bit.

Sri Lanka is just like little Jimmy. Except, there is no coroner’s inquiry or judicial cover-up; Sri Lanka’s defeated corpse is getting relentlessly battered and not even Social Services will intervene.

Again, the Australians eased into hegemony. With two Ausslers notching centuries. One, Mr Boring, scoring 101* overnight – taking his average to 432 for this year. The other, Phil Jacques, not satisfied with a perfect 100 in the previous match, opted for an exact 150. Presumably, Jacques is a mathematician, and likes to score in binary numbers only. Heck, if you’re an Australian, you can do that.

You can do anything you want.

Meanwhile, the impudent Sri Lankans, toil like lobotomised Lions that are too stupified with sun-stroke to grab even a blind quadriplegic goat. Even Lasith Malinga, the supposed savour of the Lankan cause – so badly missed in Brisbane – looked a member of Twickenham’s second eleven.

This is really rubbish. Australia is really rubbish. Please stop battering us Australians. You can’t really enjoy it. Look at the picture, even Mr Chimney finds this dull. Think of your forbearers. You don’t want to make their record like insignificant, do you? Think of you heritage…such as it is.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ninety's plenty

I love watching India play Pakistan. It isn’t as fun as seal clubbing, but still a good laugh nonetheless.

India polished off Pakistan by six wickets, to take the series by 17-12. Two players nearly got centuries, but couldn’t be arsed with those last few runs. Predictably, Yuvraj Singh scored a fifty.

It was a strange old knock by Pakistan, which seemed to be always behind par and building “recovering partnerships”. India, conversely, seemed comfortably ahead of the rate, and built lots of “this is a piece of easy cricket” partnerships.

It’s nice to see someone other than Yuvraj score the runs for India. Sachin Tendulkar played imperiously and didn’t appear to be “winging it” as was his impression in England. Maybe he’s going to stick around for another few years to beat Murali’s record. But, it really shows you have scary the Indian ODI line-up has become.

Being English, I backed Pakistan as the underdogs, and when the third Indian wicket fell I thought “oh good, perhaps we’re in for a chance”. And then Yuvraj strolled in like a batting bastard from hell. It was all over within a twinkling of paedophile’s newly polished glass eye.

I wish the underdogs were less rubbish. But they always are. Just look at New Zealand.

It’s a good job that this serious is so reasonably short, otherwise the remaining matches would just be a meaningless bore.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Harmison: how quickly we forget

Now that Steve Harmison is away from test cricket, safe in South Africa to be molly-coddled and loved, he seems to be doing alright. He is playing for the Cape Cobras which is some sort of reptilian cricket team, or something.

Hillariously, he said he suffered from rustiness when he opened up with a series of wides and no-balls. Upon witnessing this, most Harmison watchers were pleased to see him back to normal.

Let’s be honest. Steve Harmison is a bit rubbish. Ok – he’s tall. Ok – he’s quick. But, if we were to be frank with ourselves and our mums, he is rubbish. But this glaringly obvious fact aside, Peter Moores, the England coach, has backed him, brushing blatant failure under the carpet:
"He had a tough last season. He struggled for form early on, then started to find some form, then got injured and missed the rest of the season, which was obviously disappointing for him.”

By "tough" Moores means "useless"; "got injured" means "increased in uselessness".

Ages ago, I accused him of being a Harmsprakash – some sort of hyper-talented beast that falls to pieces at international level. I stick by that. Especially when we have committed and performing bowlers like Ryan Hairybottom and Champion of the Nation, the People’s Captain, MATTHEW HOGGARD, it becomes harder to justify the self-obssessed Geordie’s spot in the side.

Let Harmison play for his snake team and let him slither out of international responsibility with Warne-like dignity.

In other news, the ECB has stopped responding to my emails regarding Matthew Hoggard. Their last one mentioned something about “harassment” and “lawyers”, but I think they must have been typos. They probably meant “Hoggy” and “is ace”.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Cricket: it’s not for girls

Well, apparently, I would be wrong. The MCC, not content in letting in female members, it now allows them to make non-tea-related decisions. The girls, proving that they are not useless stereotypes, took this opportunity to turn cricket balls pink.

This may, or may not, be a crime. I’m not sure how exactly I feel about this one, but I have a vague desire to break into the offices of Heat magazine and transform the back-pages into a nag-hoping form guide for up-and-coming horse races.

Cricket in the UK has experimented with orange balls, blue ones and most recently white balls. None of them really worked. People don’t stop complaining about balls. Especially girls.

Even the traditional red one has come in for some stick. Hundreds of years of successful battering; now batsmen are moaning that they can’t see them. Frankly, I see this as a bonus. It would be a great game if the batsman couldn’t actually see the ball (maybe we could paint it green or overcast grey). Seeing batsman getting hit is a major attraction for spectators.

But I suppose bowlers have it all their own way anyway. It’s only fair.

Mike Gatting, who is expert on talking balls (although, not as much as this bloke), has stated,

“This is a very interesting and a very wise development."
Being a cricket fan I naturally fear change. I oppose this move. Given that the number of runs scored in international matches is greater than ever, I can’t really see a need.

Other than another pointless marketing gimmick than brings in so much…stuff. Yeah, the ECB, great at brining in the stuff.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Cricket averages: a rebuttal

Andrew Mosey has written a response into my own analysis into the validity of cricketing statistics. In an overview of Michael Atherton’s test career, I argued that his average of just under 40 didn’t adequately reflect his likely performance on the day.

I rather regretted this conclusion, as Athers was one of my all time favourites, and mused on the possibly devastating effects this method would have on an Australian invincible of old. Indeed, Andrew rose to the challenge and analysed the test career of Don Bradman.

Annoyingly, Sir Don didn’t look as useless as I hoped. His median score was 167. This is, unfortunately, still pretty good. Most interestingly, the standard deviation is 87, which we could argue seriously damages the validity of his research. Especially when we compare it to the former England captain’s standard deviation of 37.

However, there is a more mature criticism we can offer. When looking at Athers’ glorious years I was surprised at his success to failure ratio. Indeed, I found that three quarter’s of his innings resulted in what we would term “a failure”.

Similarly, Andrew found:

“Looking at the number of 50+ scores achieved by the Don, you'll find this occurred in 42 of his 80 innings; an incredible 52.5% of times he walked out to bat he was soon raising it to the crowd.”

OK – this record is better than our Michael's. Obviously, Atherton was a superior to Bradman in many ways, and these petty statistics only detract from that fact.

However, what they do show up is the astonishingly high number of batting failures. If, say, I cocked up five times out of ten at work (you know, I spilled the tea whilst on my way to brown-nose my boss) my office test career would be of Zimbabwean proportions. And yet, this half-present batsman is considered the greatest player of all time.

If Pete Sampras lost half his matches we would assume he was English. If every other Shakespearean play was shit we would assume the Bard was American.

Yet these are the appalling standards that international cricketers expect us to accept. Why are their standards so shoddy? Why do we tolerate these failures without question?

Frankly, I have had enough of it. No more excuses you lot. Pull your socks up.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Spin bowlers: Their hour cometh

There aren’t too my successes in my life. There was that one time the cat sat down on my command. But no one else saw that. And I suspect he was just messing with my mind.

But, on this occasion, we can safely say without doubt that Anil Kumble’s elevation to captain of India is solely down to my tireless campaigning. Don’t worry, I don’t expect any thanks. The smile on your face is my reward, Anil.

Anyway, now that Daniel Vettori is captain of all of New New Safferdom, perhaps it is time that the world finally acknowledges the limitless genius of spin bowlers. It is surprising that the world didn’t realise this before, but a mixture of short-sightedness and stupidity had kept spinners away from their rightful spot: The Top.

Now, we can hope that all international sides appreciate the experience that their twirlers provide and appoint them captains.

There are so many obvious candidates for these positions. England has Monty, Bermuda has Sluggo and Sri Lanka has the enormously experienced Malinga Bandara.

The next stage of this take over would faze medium pacers out of the game. Next would follow the unnecessary and showy fast bowlers. Followed by the specialist batman and finally we would axe the wicket-keepers. Only then would cricket be played as it should be.

Should New Zealand exist?

I have given my advice to New Zealand’s Cricket Board, Embassy in London and Prime Minister. All of whom were too proud to take it. Now, their pigheadedness is reaping that which it sewed.

South Africa wiped New Zealand from the face of the planet, in a fashion that reminded the world of the Roman invasion of Dacia. In fact, an emergency session of the UN Security Council has been called to discuss a motion to rename New Zealand “New New Safferdom”.

To be honest, it was an embarrassing performance. With the Proteas doing as they promised, by obliterating the Black Cap’s batting line-up with an awesome display of aggressive bowling.

I used to like New Zealand. They are rather like Sri Lanka – small, plucky and occasionally good in a conspicuous un-Australian manner – that deserved a sort of absent minded, distant encouragement.

Then a Kiwi started commenting here. This required immediate New Zealand bashing. Eventually, he tired of arguing with me, and my relentless Kiwi-bating that he, and all his kin, never returned to this blog.

This means it’s safe to say I like them again. New Zealand, I like you. You deserve to exist. But please try to lose less. I get enough of that at home.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Oh, what's the point?

Putting in the opposition, rather like farting in the shower whilst not alone, is rarely advisable. This is the schoolboy error that Sri Lanka made in the first match in their series against Australia.

Australians being the predictable buggers that they are, set about crushing the Lankans for their naivety, with Phil “I’m not as shit as you hoped” Jacques scoring exactly 100 runs. Which, frankly, is just showing off.

Another error was dropping Lasith Malinga for some useless goon who reckons bowling with leather pants on constitutes good swinging. No, people of Sri Lanka, Malinga is great. He bowls really fast and gets wickets. This is a good reason to select him. Really.

God, it’s so depressing when Australia win. Sri Lanka are such a good side, they don’t deserve to be crushed like this. Oh Jesus, give me some mercy from this endless drudgery of bastardly hegemony! Just break one, tiny little leg somewhere please. Just one more rogue ball…

In other news, Muttiah Muralitharan bowled well. Which is great because Australians hate him. I know, that’s like hating Jimmy, your nephew’s adorable hamster, but that’s what they’re like over there. However, the Ausslers employed the tried and tested strategy of blocking the good bowler, whilst murdering the rest. Thankfully, they treat the weird-eyed wizard with respect these days.

In another hilarious development, all the people that take photographs of people playing cricket in Australia have been banned. Why this is, I have no idea, but it makes life difficult for us bloggers who rely on innocent internet theft for pictures to liven up an otherwise dreary entry. So I decided to go for this one. It almost looks genuine. It is, in fact, Graeme Hick celebrating his 16 at the Wanderers in 1995.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Yeah: Kumble for King

The man for the moment. The achiever. The doer. The manically-eyed spinner. The obsessive weirdo. Anil Kumble, hero to billions, has stepped forward to offer his services as Indian captain.

Surely, no one can better this king prawn amongst lower, peasant prawns. His record speaks for itself. Well, actually, it doesn’t. It just sits their placidly on cricinfo, but when you’re reading it in your head you think “blimey, all this and he’s an invertebrate?”

Not only that, but at 118 test appearances, his experience could prove decisive. It’s not just Mark Ramprakash turn up for a few decades here and there experience, it’s consistent “I’m going to win now, ok?” experience.

Not only that, he’s so cool.

"I would certainly do the job if asked to. I don't know what the big deal is, why so much is being made of this. I have said this before also."
I’ll tell you what the fuss is, Anil, you’re a god, and you have offered your services to the feeble underlings below you at their hour of greatest need. It’s like Jesus coming down to heaven and talking sense about which horse was going to win the 3:15 at York, instead of whining at you about being nice to ungrateful bastards all the time. It’s like daddy coming home from work bringing chocolates instead of violent beatings.

Some Ayalac research has discovered that I apparently predicted Kumble’s promotion in February – that shows you the true quality of this blog. To quote myself:
I think bowlers are better people than batsman, and they are routinely and unfairly over-looked in the captaincy. They need some support.
All this is still true, and more. Further investigation has uncovered a mad picture of him.

When I think about this further, I think that Anil Kumble is the best thing in the world. And maybe my sole reason for existence is to worship in His Greatness. Perhaps he was the only one who could have stopped twenty20?

I love you Anil Kumble.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tendulkar: I’m just a temp

Weirdly reminiscent of the Ukes of Hazzard’s “Just a Temp” classic, Sachin Tendulkar has refused the imposition of further responsibility and said NO to the captaincy. Most people would say YES if they were offered the captaincy of their country. But, then again, most people aren’t Indians.

Niranjan Shah, the BCCI secretary, said in a statement.

"He [Tendulkar] was of the view that presently the Indian team was doing extremely well and the Board must think of appointing a younger person as the captain, looking at the future of the team."
Clearly, this is a weird thing to say, which obviously leads to the conclusion that Tendulkar is only in it for the free pens. A hero to cricket fanatics and work-shy temporary staff alike.

Now the BCCI has a bit of a problem. Rahul Dravid’s natural successor would be MS Dhoni, but most people that he needs another year’s test cricket before he can lead in the longer format. Once again, Indian cricket reels in chaos. Which, to be frank, is their standard way of managing things.

Throughout all this, there is an obvious solution, but concealed to all eyes. All but, of course, mine. Appoint Anil Kumble as captain.

“Wait! That’s crazy! You can’t appoint a bowler as captain. If you did that, the slip fielders would revolt.”

No, this wouldn’t happen you crazy, prejudice, ranting world. He’s the next most experienced player. He knows loads. He’s a spinner. And he’s been Official God here for ages. I have said before (sorry, can’t be bothered to link) that bowlers should be captains. But this time, I actually mean and I'm not just trying to pad out another blog.

Appoint Kumble. Really.

I would consider MS Dhoni, but, like Shane Watson, I think he has other unattractive features which are not suggestive of captaincy material.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Cricketers: hard as frostbite

In an article I’m gratefully stealing from the BBC, I note that a group of cricketers are planning to play cricket on Mount Everest. For those of you who don’t know, cricket is a game played with a bat and ball which takes forever.

This is a standard textbook definition of the game. However, every single cricketing guide neglects to point out one key feature: the presence of oxygen.

Kids, try this at home: attempt to play cricket in a low oxygen atmosphere. You’ll find that your lead bowler swiftly collapses to plead for a quick mercy. It’s next to impossible score many runs – even when you force your disabled aunty to act as a runner. It’s funny how the MCC missed something so rudimentary from their supposedly authoritative literature.

Anyway, three teams from the Professional Cricketers' Association will play six-a-side matches of five overs each. When you look at the picture of the flat terrain and the predictable weather conditions you wonder why no one thought of this before.

Andrew Baud, spokesman for the Professional Cricketers' Association said,

"They are taking 40 spare balls up there - I can imagine they will need them."

I doubt it. Your seam bowlers will expire in the first three strides. Your leggie’s fingers will snap in the cold. Forget slog-sweeps into cow’s crevice; imagine the effect on the digits when a ball rears off a length. Appendages will fall to the ground like dollies in the Indian field.

It is for this reason that I am praying to my absent god for video footage from the surviving stragglers. It’s always the fat blokes that last. Here’s hoping that Darren Lehman will do his bit for his country and malicious sadists everywhere.

The climb starts Monday.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Guest blog: Clinical Addiction

Another from my guest columnist. Remember, lawyers, I didn't write this:

It’s a funny thing although the general consensus is that’s its not good. Many careers have been ruined as a result: George Best, Keith Moon and dictators who general got too big for their boots and were taught a good lesson. Then there are those who seemed to have been made by their addition: Crack Doherty, Charlie Kennedy and Bill Clinton. So where does Freddie “I’m named after a Flintstone” fit into this?

Well ignoring turn up to training pissed off your head in the middle of an Ashes tour the first point of contact in answering this question is our beloved NHS. If you see a doctor, maybe you have fallen off a pedalo in the middle of a world cup, then the first thing they will do is run two tests two to assess you. The first is CAGE:

Alcohol dependence is likely if the patient gives 2 or more positive answers:

- Have you ever felt you should CUT down your drinking?
- Have people ANNOYED you by criticising your drinking?
- Have you ever felt bad or GUILTY about your drinking?
- Have you ever had a drink first think in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover (EYE- opener)?

Taking into account I scored three and I also have the additional affliction of starting to sing Duran Duran songs when drunk, lets move on the more comprehensive assessment, MAST.

Alcohol dependence is likely if the patient has a total score of 6 or more:

- Do you feel you are a normal drinker? Yes No(2pts)
- Do relatives or friends think you are a normal drinker? Yes No(2pts)
- Have you ever attended a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous? Yes(5pts) No
- Have you ever lost friends because of drinking? Yes(2pts) No
- Have you ever got into trouble at work because of drink? Yes(2pts) No
- Have you ever neglected obligations, your family, or your work for 2 or more days in a row through drink? Yes(2pts) No
- Have you ever had delirium tremens (DTs), severe shaking, heard voices, or seen things that were not there after heavy drinking? Yes (5pts) No
- Have you ever gone to anyone for help about your drinking? Yes(5pts) No
- Have you ever been in hospital because of your drinking? Yes(5pts) No
- Have you ever been arrested for drunken driving? Yes(2pts) No

Now thankfully I only score 7 on this scale and that’s because I got a whopping 5 pointer which is defiantly in the past. So where does Fred stand….

- Do you feel you are a normal drinker? Yes
- Do relatives or friends think you are a normal drinker? Yes (he is northern)
- Have you ever attended a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous? No comment for legal reasons
- Have you ever lost friends because of drinking? Yes (Duncan)
- Have you ever got into trouble at work because of drink? Yes
- Have you ever neglected obligations, your family, or your work for 2 or more days in a row through drink? Yes
- Have you ever had delirium tremens (DTs), severe shaking, heard voices, or seen things that were not there after heavy drinking? No
- Have you ever gone to anyone for help about your drinking? No
- Have you ever been in hospital because of your drinking? No
- Have you ever been arrested for drunken driving? No

So it can be pretty well assumed that Fred scores at least 6 which makes him an alcoholic although less than me; lightweight. Obviously this test is a load of bollacks and Andrew does have a serious problem. Personally the fact that this is news is like saying that it has recently been discovered that David Cameron is in fact a man of principle. For goodness sacks his nick name is Fred Flintstone.

So where does this leave Andrew? Obviously in need for some personal reflection and help. Have ever much the nation hates Duncan he does have a point that turning up to practice pissed off your head is not on. By writing what he did was best for him (money money money) but also best for English cricket and Andrew. Alcoholism is a terrible disease and hopefully Andrew can get back to what he does best, being happy and playing fantastic cricket.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

New Australians: They’re coming to get us

Those relentlessly competent Antipodeans have produced the next generation of names that you will smite in those violent dreams you have about blowing people up with guns and stuff.

This is their squad against the Sri Lankans:

Ricky Ponting (captain), Adam Gilchrist, Stuart Clark, Michael Clarke, Matthew Hayden, Brad Hogg, Michael Hussey, Phil Jaques, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Stuart MacGill, Andrew Symonds, Shaun Tait.

New faces worth noting are Phil Jacques, who’s like Don Bradman, only more reliable; Vlad Hogg, who is, as far as I can tell, useless; Shaun Tait, who might be good; Stuart MacGill, who is not Shane Warne.

Interesting, Australians exciting young generation of players are probably older than the current lot. The baggy brains have been picking old blokes for a while now. We all laughed at Stuart Clark and Michael Hussey and the rest of them. “Ha ha ha” we said, “you’re old.”

But we forgot the times when our dad would beat us again and again at everything. He was old. He was ancient. He was unbeatable.

This is Australia's tactic. Pretend to be the opposition’s dad, and the younger side is cowed into deference and defeat.

There is one way of beating your dad though. That is by moving him into the proximity of a young female. He’ll immediately make a prat of himself and thereby fall to pieces. Therefore, we need to pack our sides with attractive young women.

Seeing as this against the rules, we need to encourage our boys to grow long golden locks and large pink breasts. That’ll distract the Ausslers and ensure trans-sexual dominance in international cricket for years to come. Boys with breast: it’s the only way to beat the Australians.