Thursday, June 24, 2010

If god was an Irishman…

…the world would look much as it does now.

England have discovered an incredible talent in their team. And it’s Ireland. Of someone of Irish dissent myself, I have long foreseen the Irish eventually embracing the archaic eccentricity of cricket. And perhaps Eoin Morgan’s rapid elevation to most valuable one-day asset will further spur the sport’s development in the Republic.

Even during the T20 World Cup, Morgan was England’s most prolific batsman, winning the match for them on more than one occasion. Now, his thunderous century against the Australian proves his world-class value.

England must be thinking that, much like KP, his prolific, if unorthodox, talent may translate to success at test level. Morgan has both the temperament and the ability to score a lot of runs, and surely our snobbishness about the shorter formats would do well to focus on these attributes.

Sadly, cricket rarely gets me excited these days. Let alone the increasingly tedious money-grabbing matches. But, that young Morgan gets me going, to be sure.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pietersen: down and out in Middlesex and Surrey

England’s best batsman is homeless. Not only is this hilarious, but the entire process is ludicrously managed.

The first role of handing in your notice is: (1) make sure you have another job to go to.

What does Pietersen do? Well. He suddenly downs tools in Hampshire, mid-season and without warning, and declares his intention to play for a London side.

The reason for this is that he lives in Chelsea – a fashionable barrio of London’s oligarch belt – and can’t be bothered to commute to Southampton. Which is a hole.

Perfectly understandable, of course, but, what we management gurus know, it’s all about the process. More or less every process KP has in life tends to cock up. Except batting of course, but even that is subject to some dubious decision-making. Yet, his genius is only qualified by his raging stupidity in other areas in life. And KP’s range of savant idiocy appears wider than most.

Now, the London clubs are fighting feverously to avoid picking him. Undoubtedly, the ECB is leaning heavily on both teams behind the scenes to pick up their wonder-moron. Pity the county that is left with the short straw.

Pietersen’s gift to the cricket community is not his excellent batting, but his celebrity gossip potential. Much like pre-pubescent girls, cricket fans paw over the former England captain’s failings in microscopic detail. Each hairy shot is magnified, dissected and derided.

That our own figures are woefully inadequate is irrelevant. KP’s gifts the world with repeated blunders. Under the cutting scrutiny of an unloving audience, nearly every non-covering driving activity is a slip-up.

And we wouldn’t have him any other way.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Players want their cake and rights over the sprinkles

As I waiting for my hair to be cut, I flicked over today’s copy of the Mirror. A paper that I am not familiar with, although, to takes approximately thirty seconds to get a comprehensive appreciation of the world according to the Red Top. With the inexorable flick to the back pages, I found an intriguing cricket story.

Stuart Broad delivered a Broadside to the England management regarding his unfair resting during the tests against Bangladesh. He spent two weeks of intensive strength and fitness building instead. About this he was annoyed.

Apparently, James Anderson was also “angry” at being left out on the world cup.

And my barber’s face was fixated into a so concentrated it looked comically angry, I mulled over the English player’s moans. It didn’t seem so long ago that English boys were whining about too much cricket.

Now that the ECB took the logical course of action by resting players against weak opposition, The players aren’t happy about this. They want to play in all games.

Case in point: virtually no one wants another ridiculous series against Australia. (When was the last time we played Sri Lanka?) And the players are expressing doubt.

But none of them want to be “rested”. Ideally, we’d all like less cricket played. But, that’s not possible for the foreseeable solution. So what other solution is available?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Controversy is red flavoured

Old Trafford has a new box. It’s big. It’s red. It has no discernable point. I think it’s fantastic.

One of the best things about modern architecture is amusingly attaching funny names to new developments. It refreshingly demeans the serious and arty pretentious work of people that have spent an extraordinary amount of time and effort on a sizeable undertaking.

I love modern architecture. I especially love the brand that pisses on its ‘historic’ surroundings from a great height. Take a look at your average ‘attractive’ street in any major city, and you will see an angry mix of contrasting style in different periods. ‘Modern architecture’ in a hundred years ago was slammed against more established buildings. People moaned. But then those people died and then the art become an accepted part of the landscape. A horizon that must never be touched again.

People, especially those that are well-informed, talk rubbish about architecture. People object to new buildings simply because of the change. What is your reaction when a website with which you are familiar changes its design? That’s right. You hate it. You need to think a bit, and work out new ways to find the stuff you like. Then you accept it.

This is how our urban environment works. Designs, over which we have no influence, are thrust upon us either before or after we are born. Good designs survive. Bad designs are replaced. Over-stylised Victorian terraces remains; concrete carbuncles are dynamited.

The Point has that magical, 'floating' quality - that strange sense of a large object levitating above the ground. The lines are clear, and interesting. It is, despite the reactionary instincts against the new, beautiful.

Top work Old Trafford.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Hoggard’s captaincy

Be careful what you wish for. Years ago, I started a campaign for Matthew Hoggard, hammer of the metrosexuals, to be appointed captain of the England cricket team. Considering that he was beaten to the post by Kevin Pietersen, England once again overlooked my sagely advice.

However, for flimsy reasons, Hoggard was expelled from the England side for good. Another badly treated player, despite talent and good heart.

Replicating his success with England, Yorkshire also sacked him, despite years of service and being from Yorkshire. Which, apparently, counts for something up there.

So. Off he went to Leicestershire. Suicidally, they gave him the captaincy.

What could go wrong with giving the leadership and future of your entire team to man whose autobiography boasts that “he’s mad as a box of frogs”?

Last weekend, I watched Hoggard’s captaincy with interest. Essentially, it involved give the ball to his excessively tall spinners and watch Surrey do the jig of asthmatic doom. He was perhaps overcautious. Refusing to place a silly point, despite the ball lobbing up there repeatedly, and a massive first innings lead.

What struck me about Hoggard was that strangely corporate approach to management.

Of course, giving Hoggard an entire team to shape in his image was asking for trouble. Will Jefferson, for instance, loudly followed a train of thought from mentioning Nelson, then musing on Nelson Mandela and then a few tasteful references to Robin Island.

The captain, however, was the king of the endless dribble. Hoggard’s late session bleating about varieties of wine, Guinness and Bulmer’s eventually faded into the background. Much like the irritating nagging of an unwanted grandmother. AYALAC, as you would have noticed, is all for mindless, non-sensical chatter. But it's all about the context.

Weirdly, it was Hoggard’s insistence for “energy” that struck me. This rang discordant bells of shitty managers from years ago. Managers that would use phrases like “gang”, “guys” and “let’s do this!” Managers that used mindless dribble as a force for evil - instead of good.

Players that didn’t produce sufficient quantities of mindlessly bleating were publicly admonished. When a boundary was scored after the dressing down was delivered, the person would be isolated further with a few more barbs.

Occasionally, Hoggard would muse at length at the verbal reticence of targeted individual. The team would fall into an embarrassed silence. The worst way to build a team’s “energy” is by an authority finger victimising them with sarcastic comments.

Today the Hoggard for Captain Campaign dies. With regret.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

England's team is made up of South Africans, Australians, Irish and now a Finn

Commeth the man, commeth the cliches.

Steven Finn, England's best bowler, is no Steven Finn. He is a combination of other older people. Some of those people are dead. Angus Fraser, for instance, has a claim to Steven Finn's bowling.

Others include Glen McGrath, Joel Garner and Shaun Pollock.

Of course, one day, people might say that young Jonny Badgers has something of the Steven Finn about him. Of course, the more mediocre Finn's career, the more knowledgeable this apparently obscure reference will seem. Then again, most Finnish players do seem destined to receive history's cold shoulder.

Lovers of cricket trivia may wish, therefore, for Finn's career to sputter and fail to history overpowering muscle, much as the 1939 capitulation of the Winter War. The rest of us, however, will hope that Finn becomes good.

It has been some time since England had a good bowler. The side normally sports a revolving turbo door of mediocre seamers, whereas the batsmen's name lingers long in the annual of national success. That Ryan Sidebottom ever played test cricket, is testament to this disbalance. And James Anderson? Exactly. James. Anderson.

The Finn, whose favourite meal may or may not be raw reindeer testicles, could offer England an "interesting" bowling option. Not a potentially frightening prospects, such as Steven Harmison or Andrew Flintoff, but, if he continues to plug away a consistent he'll probably get more wickets than either of them.