Sunday, November 30, 2008

ECB shafts players. Again.

I’m quoting cricinfo, here:

“England's cricketers will not be forced to return to India for the two-Test series, Hugh Morris, the ECB's managing director for England cricket, said as the squad arrived back in London on Saturday evening.”

I am considering putting in a Freedom of Information Request to see which tours players are forced to attend. But, although it seems sensible, the response is a typically spineless, confusing and probably the worst possible announcement for the England players.

I strongly suspect that this position was borne out of Captain Fantastic’s recent comments:

“On a cricket field I might ask people to do things in a certain way but I will never tell people to do anything. A man is a man and he can make his own decisions.”

Which is all very good, but leads to a curious overall position. Presumably, if a player wished to withdraw a normal tour, then the ECB would penalise him in some way. Perhaps drop him from consideration from future tours.

But we must assume that if players’ personal perception of the security situation India is unfavourable, then they do not face this penalty.

But, if a player on the margins takes this opportunity to play for his country, then would the established, backer-outter feel obliged to stay on? Oh, I don’t know. But by shifting the responsibility on to the players, the ECB is buggering up with the careers of its most valuable assets.

It’s a mess. The whole thing is a mess.

In fact, just cancel the tour. I, for one, haven’t enjoyed one moment of it. Well, except for its crushing the will of KP. That’s been fantastic.

But generally, this tour has left me numb.

It’s like the emptiness that you’re left with after you’ve failed, for the second year running, to get into Jenny from Account’s pants at work’s Christmas Party, despite the fact that you managed to get her completely plastic.

Isn’t life great?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

England so bad that, even when they scored more runs than the opposition, they lost

As many animal torturers have noted, cricket is a funny game. It’s hard to explain its rules to muggles.

You might say something like: “They idea is to score more runs that your opponent. Then you get pissed.”

Then, along comes the latest England game. England and India both faced 22 overs. India scored 166, England scored 178. Obviously India won.

It’s the unpredictability of the game that makes it so interesting.

However, to their credit, the one quality that England have displayed for many years has been predictability. I lauded the ECB management for its parsimonious approach to altering the team management.

Keeping with the same useless team for the sake of stability was a courageous move. But, then they turned out to be as brave as Ishant Sharma’s moustache.

Then they bugger about with every aspect of the team make-up and lose repeatedly in humiliating fashion.

It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so wrist-cuttingly depressing.

Normally, as a fan, you believe you know more than most sages. And more especially more than team selectors. If push came to shove, however, most people would defer to the “experts”, and let Patrick Moores get his way. “Sure Pete, me ol’ mucker, you’ve won a few Championships. What have I done? Memorised the entire script of 24? That’s nothing. You, mate, are a god.”

But now we know. We all know.

I now know that I am better than them. THIS IS KNOWLEDGE. In fact, the drunken, jobless German that harassed me on my way home yesterday would exhibit greater team-selecting skills than England. And he only had one eye.

Don’t worry though. It’ll all be fine next time. They’re having a Team Meeting.

And we all know from our respective workplaces how productive and motivating Team Meetings are.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's happening again

Remember the World Cup? Remember how we all enjoyed this vibrant international spectacle, and didn’t complain at all. From the very first, hesitant moment, to crescendo of well-organised joy at the tournament’s climax. Let me take you back to those times.

It was the heady days of 2007. Anything seemed possible. Religious fanatics controlled a superpower. An ex-superpower was killing spies on the street. And sub-prime mortgages were worth more than a stapler.

Throughout the course of the cricket World Cup, I spent my time talking about England (and dancing cricketers). I repeatedly made one point about their approach: OH MY GOD WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU PEOPLE PLAYING AT?

Their approach was this: “See off the first few dangerous twenty overs, and then we’ll consolidate for the next twenty. Perhaps we’ll see where we are after that.”

Against South Africa, we scored four runs in ten overs.

Remember Jamie Dalrymple? Do you remember opening with Ed Joyce? ED JOYCE!

Not even the person that Ed Joyce murdered with an Ed Joyce name badge would remember who Ed Joyce is.*

But, poor old whathisface was subject to the ECB’s wonder strategy of playing for time. Obviously, we got completely humiliated. That goes without saying. We’re English. But there are degrees of loss.

And the inept, spineless, moronic, self-inflicted, thick-headed losses of the World Cup were particularly hard to endure. And now, once again, familiar concerns are returning. You look at the Englanders, and they look at you, blinking and red-skinned, clueless. Utterly clueless. There are, quite literally, without clue. Well, they might have one clue between them, but that’s a rubbish clue that erroneously leads them to Professor Plum.

AKA: Grauieame Swann.

*On further reflection, this victim might struggle to remember quite a few things.

(For those economists, stats geeks, and other bored people, check out the OECD’s new data mapping tool. It’s surprisingly fun. Now I know that New Zealand’s North Island is richer (in per capita terms) than all Australian states, whereas, the South Island is poorer than the lot of them. Interesting that. The IMF one is also worth a check out – although no where near as fun.)

(As another aside, I went to watch the football last night. I don’t normally do this, but England was playing Germany in Berlin, and I felt I should make an effort. So, off I went, with German in tow, to an “Irish” “pub” in central Berlin.

There, I found England.

England in all its glimmering glory. A mirror to the world’s best parts. The parts that sing about wars long since past, about enemies now crippled with anxiety. Parts that try to chat up German women with the worlds Spatch-chen zie Anglaise? Parts that, when you are amused by the loud sweary scousers and huge St. George’s Cross emblazoned with the words like “Darlington” will challenge you with a sharp “Wot yaw smilin’ at?” It’s astonishing how I could live without this cultural assurance, without these people that make us all feel so proud.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

We’re back in business baby

Some of you may have noticed a drop in post frequency recently. To those that did, please consider yourselves a proud owner of a gold star. To those that didn’t, consider yourself official Enemies Of The Glorious AYALAC Peoples.

You see, I now have the internet at home again. This, of course, is excellent because, despite having internet access at work, and despite being paid less than my previous position, I am still manically busy and unable to blog at the office.

So! Now, a new era of AYALAC-rest of the world relations begins. Rejoicing breaks out. Women swoon. Parrots die.

Much has changed since we spoke last.

England lost the rugby. England lost the cricket once. And then once more. An Irish fellah bought an election in the New World. And England will probably lose the football tonight. So, as we can see, the world continues to move as normal.

It’s really great having internet at home. I listened to Today Programme for the first time in ages this morning. I was surprised at the amount of slang British English they used. Shocking, really. But, I was also buoyed by hearing the dulcet tones of Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party, and also Nick Clegg, leader of some other party. I forget which.

So! Yes. Cricket.

Well, it’s the usual depressing stock for us Englanders. You know that things are bad when you see headlines end in the word “again”. However, to make a series point about actual cricket, I will say this:

For ages, the test side has shown that stability in selection has resulted in improved results. Of course, illness and injury can and have taken their toll, but overall, it seems that England do better when England know who England is. Yet, conversely, the ODI side has been all over the shop.

Pick a player here. Pick a player there. Stick him in as an opener. Pick a team with three batsman. Put him at eight. Kill all the spinners. It has been a progressive, morphing chaos for years now. So, it seems eminently sensible to me that now, the ECB has decided to draw the line and let the “current” team settle for a bit. Enough, say they, is enough.

And you know what? Bugger me, if I don’t agree with the England management. Heck, give them all medals, say I. Nay, OBEs!

To all this talk of “Bell and Prior aren’t working” and “drop Collingwood, pick Smode” and the “let’s drop him to 10 and promote him to 5” and all the rest of it, to this I say this: Stop it. Just leave them alone. It’s the best of all possible worlds. It’s time to start pretending that we’re New Zealand.

We’re not in Kansas any more.

We're in Berlin. Where we're about to launch an attack on allied German-English hooligans. Come on you rioters!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sweeping generalisations affect cricket teams everywhere

In a surprising development, all the cricket teams in the world have began to generalise about everything.

Tony Sporkington, captain of the Upper Schleswig-Holstein XI, and therefore representative of the entire cricketing community stated,

“I woke up one morning, and had a strong urge to project my nonsensical values onto the entire world. I rolled over, to consult my wicket-keeper, stumpers have a special perspective on these things, and, blow me! He had the same problem!”

Australians, Belgians, Bhutans, Bolivians, Bosnians, Bulgarians, Burkinans, Indians, Romanians and even Americans all felt the same thing. On the same morning. At the same time.

Peter Mandyson, a surprisingly well-informed journalist from Venezuela stated,

“Look. The future is, like, always like the past, right? So, we can expect India to dominant for at least eleven years in international cricket. Despite the fact that all their players are about to retire or riddled with arthritis, they’re going to be the new Australia. Yeah?”

His moderately attractive wife, John, added:

“Yes. Australia will become the new England: annoying and whiney. Whereas England are set to the new Bermuda: rubbish, but trusting all in their largest player.”

The global community concurred.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Australia: HA!

I would say I was sorry for the long silence. But I’m not. I’m glad.

So. First thing’s first: Australia are unbelievably useless. We always knew it, but only today has it become a tangible truth.

Nevertheless, this is a special moment for all peoples everywhere

It is wonderful. Truly fantastical and delightful and perfect.

You know why?

I bet you don’t. You look a bit thick in the brain department, so I’ll tell you.

This is a wonderful moment not just because the Australians lost in such a comprehensive, feeble, weak, humiliating fashion. Oh no. It’s because they whinged all the way down the plug hole.

There is much talk of the Indians being “unsporting” by ensuring that Australia couldn’t win. What these means in English exactly, I’m not entirely sure. I can only assume that Australians are now “playing fair” and, presumably, beginning to play by the spirit of the game.

Although a match fine for a slow over rate undermines this claim slightly, Ricky Bunter claimed that he acted in the best interests of test cricket. How we can translate this from the incomprehensible logic that prevails in the Australian captain’s mind to common reason, is known only to a select group of ACB mind melons.

One can only assume that, in Bunting’s head, he is a knight in shining leather, defending the ancient institutions from evil (and Indian) onslaught. Only Australians truly understand the game. They are good, if simple, people.

All this guff, coupled with the bleating, makes this defeat especially sweet. Obviously, 2005 was good. But the Australians deluded themselves believing their loss resulted from bad luck. But, in this series, their rank incompetence is public and undeniable.

So, how do they respond?

By insinuating that the Indians cheated! AAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

This is one of the best moments of my life. We are witnessing the breaking of a test team. AAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA.