Monday, 29 September 2008

In deep

There are a variety of unusually placed cricket grounds around the world. When I was but a lad I played the one or two games at Grenoside CC in Sheffield. Grenoside is on the side of a large hill…and so is the cricket pitch. The wicket area was flat(ish) but not much good. The worst position to field, by far, was in-the-deep down the hill. It was a tricky place to be. For a start you could not see the batsman play his shots because he was over the lip of the hill. When a shot was played down the hill the first I heard was the fielders shouting that there is a ball coming, followed by a short sprint in the general direction of the ball. Of course I had no chance because I am on a steep hill and the ball just accelerates passed and on down the rest of the hill. In reality you are not a fielder but a ball fetcher – a ball fetcher with at least another 100 meters to go. Getting into a position where I could throw the ball back took a while and the fielders just milled about vaguely amused. It really wasn’t much fun fielding down the hill.

It seems that the England cricket team, like those who played at Grenoside, are not playing on a level playing field. The members of ‘Team England’ have a place in the Pavillion at the top of the hill and seem to be forever having their tea while talented county players flail away unnoticed down the hill. The squad for the tour of India was announced today and Michael Vaughan is not on it. We knew this prior to its announcement because Vaughan has been given a three month sabbatical. Sabbatical? Vaughan’s recent Test form has been terrible. He gave up the Test captaincy and made himself unavailable for selection. He then returned to play for Yorkshire so he could make some runs and get some form back – something he failed miserably at. He was rewarded for all this by having his central contract renewed and now has been given a sabbatical… he must have compromising pictures of Geoff Miller and Max Moseley or something. Cricket is supposed to be a competitive game and surely the selection process must be the same. What on earth must the players who just missed out on a central contact feel? How can the current selection policy possibly be on a level playing field?

Tuesday, 9 September 2008


The team to go to Antigua and play the Stanford ‘big money T20’ games was announced today. According to my conspiracy theory it should contain as many of the New Zealand test side as possible… and guess what – it does. It includes Alastair Cook, surely the most unlikely T20 player there is. The only hard hats passed out when Cooky is at the middle are the ones used to have a quick snooze under. It also contains ‘Big’ Steve Harmison. A few months ago people probably thought his international career was over. They had forgotten about the great conspiracy. A test recall and some moderate figures clearly means he is a show-in for Antigua. With people like Cook and Harmison around the likes of Graham Napier didn’t stand a chance…

I have said before that I think central contracts are too long. Steve Harmison, despite spending half the year as not good enough to play for England has been awarded another contract. Michael Vaughan, who made himself unavailable for selection, does not play ODIs and whose form for Yorkshire has been woeful has also had his contract renewed. Is there no requirement for players to deserve their yearlong contract?

Conspiracy, what conspiracy.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Batsman, Captain, Off Spinner?

King Kev is of course the best batsman in the England side - by some considerable margin. He is also the best off spinner, so why is he so infrequently used? It will be interesting to see if he bowls himself in India. I think he should although captains are notoriously reluctant to bowl themselves. This article from the archives makes interesting reading: Hussain impressed with Pieterson well as one amusing comment:

"Vaughan, who was virtually strokeless throughout his tedious 222-minute innings of 45."

That is one thing that has changed, Vaughan is rarely strokeless.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Back from Holiday

I had it all set up in my mind. Just before the T20 match in Antigua on November first I was going to mock up a picture of a wooden spoon on a pile of cash. England and West Indies were seventh and eighth in the ODI rankings and that makes them the bottom two of the ‘major’ nations. I go away on holiday and something remarkable happens: England thrash South Africa. If they win the last match they will move to number two in the rankings. Given the poor form England have shown in one-day cricket recently it seems logical to assume the improvement in form was due to me going on holiday. In a purely altruistic move and for the sake of ‘Team England’ I am willing to go on holiday more, I wonder of I can get a sports grant...