Tuesday 10 December 2013

England team should visit lost property offices

It happened sometime between the middle August and the start of November: the England cricket team lost their backbones. If anyone has seen these then the England side would really like to get them back before playing in Perth.  Without them another spineless display is in the offing.

Monday 22 July 2013

It's just not fair

If you are an Australian fan you might think that your cricket side has been short-changed by the DRS system and umpires. Every decision seems to edge towards England. Every 50-50 decision seems to somehow come out favouring the English. If only the Australian side had the same good fortune as England the overall result may be different. Okay not different. Australia was outclassed at Lord’s but it does seem that things are a little unfair.

I could have written that same paragraph ten years ago and swapped over England and Australia. When Australia was the dominant force in world cricket it seemed like they always had the good luck. The key umpiring decisions always went their way. If a few of those went our way then maybe we would have a chance and they wouldn't be so dominant…

There are two reasons why it appears that Australia are getting the rough end of decisions.

Firstly the victors tend not to complain. England has won the first two test matches so don’t feel hard done by. England fans are not sore that Trott was given out first ball at Trent Bridge (a decision that received an apology from the ICC) or that Agar, who made 98, was given not out when in single figures. He looked out to me. If you are Australian you have probably forgotten about those two events but really remember Broad’s non dismissal! Broad’s innings changed the match, except of course so did Agar’s.

Secondly Australia’s side currently isn't as good as England’s – and by some margin. When a side is struggling to compete, every bit of bad luck is like a hammer blow. When a side is holding on with its finger tips the very last thing it needs is something to go against it. It just cannot afford any problems. It is like having a deadline you might just meet - there is no room for problems. So it is with Australia – they don’t have any reserve; no capacity to catch up because they are already stretched to the limit just trying to keep up. So any controversial (or just plain wrong) decision is amplified and seems to reverberate through the rest of the match.

In sport, luck appears to go with the winners.

Tuesday 16 July 2013

DRS fuss

Stuart Broad’s un-dismissal at Trent Bridge in England’s Second innings has caused quite a fuss. I don’t really understand why. Stuart did what plenty of batsmen do: he let the umpire make the decision. He could have walked himself but he didn't. He knew he had hit the ball, just as Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin knew they had hit the ball when they were given out on referral. It is just that their edges were thinner. Does that really make much difference? I don’t think so.

The real difference between Broad’s case and that of Clarke and Haddin is that Broad wasn't given out. The umpire got it wrong and there was no correction. This is not a failure of DRS or the system. It is a failure by Clarke who used his two referrals unwisely. DRS is supposed to be to stop really bad decisions but it cannot do that if someone tries to use it tactically and gamble with it. As with all gambling there will be losers.

I have heard the argument “let’s just have one referral, that way it will only get used for the really bad decisions”. This seems flawed because once the first referral is used up there is only one left. So any side that uses one referral has automatically trialed only having one. It didn't work then.

I think the DRS works well as it is – we just need captains that know how to use it.

Sunday 10 March 2013

Will the real New Zealand stand up please

New Zealand was soundly thrashed by South Africa earlier this year. It was real ‘men’ against ‘boys’ stuff and I think most people expected more of the same against England in the first test match.  We didn’t see any of that. New Zealand dominated the first two innings. A very batsmen friendly pitch meant that England could get out of their hole and save the test match. England made 421-6 but New Zealand tried really hard to force a result. Trent Boult was still running in and bowling at 140km/h after 30 overs! Neil Wagner bowled one spell of ten overs without reducing his pace. They bowled a good line too. Very encouraging. Let us hope they can produce more of the same …

Friday 28 December 2012

Sri Lankan Shambles

Sri Lanka have not been invited to play a Boxing Day Test Match against Australia for quite a long time – and given their performance in the past few days I can see why. What a dismal performance. Their batsmen completely lacked application and discipline. Several of them played Mitchell Johnson as if he was hurling thunderbolts – which he definitely was not! Poor.

Tuesday 22 May 2012

A sleeping giant stirs

The West Indies were beaten by England in the first Test at Lords. The margin of defeat was not a large one but the better side won in the end. That is the point – the better side won. So often when playing the West Indies the opposition hasn’t really had to try very hard. Over the past decade the West Indies have shown a general lack of commitment bordering on the amateur at times. They have been, no doubt, an embarrassment to their supporters. A push over. Not so at Lords, or from what I understand in the recent home series against Australia. The West Indies have fought. They have tried and it shows. They might not be winning games but they are starting to win hearts and that is the first step. Whatever Darren Sammy is saying to them is working. Long may it continue.

Monday 1 August 2011

Ian Bell

Ian Bell has had his fair share of criticism on this blog. Some people didn’t like it, I am not sure why his form was terrible as can be clearly seen on his career graph above which resulted in his average dipping below forty in December 2009. Whatever it is that has happened since then has had a remarkable change in his form and statistics. His career average has gone from 38.9 at the end of 2009 to 47.58 today. In that time he has averaged a very impressive 84.6. His record this English summer is remarkable having made 566 runs at an average of 113. So may it continue.

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Stop wasting time

Ever since I started watching cricket on TV on issue has raised its head time and time again: over rates. Hardly a match or two goes by without someone remarking that the over-rate is poor. So it was at Lords earlier in the week with India getting the criticism. Here are a few measures which would help:

1. Stop people moving behind the bowlers arm. It’s amazing this not only happens but it happens a lot. The administrators spend months planning some test matches. They fiddle with all sort until every little thing is perfect. We get four balls into a match and DOH, people can move behind the bowlers arm. It is ridiculous. Stop them; prevent them from being there; threaten them with expulsion. something. Sachin Tendulkar had lots of problems on Monday with people moving behind the bowlers arm and it wasted quite a bit of time. He shouldn’t have had the problem in the first place.

2. Drinks for batsmen. There is a drinks break every hour so why do batsmen have to have a drink or new gloves every ten minutes (yes Graeme Smith I am looking at you)? Make them wait until the hour is up.

3. Injuries to batsmen. This one David Lloyd gets in a lather about. If a batsmen is hurt either through injury or the ball hitting him he should have two minutes to get ready for the next ball. If he isn’t ready he should retire hurt and continue later. Bowlers don’t get a ten minute break if they stub a toe so why should a batsmen. They have plenty of protection- if they get hit it should be “get ready or retire hurt”. If they need a runner then they should either come out with one at the start of their innings or session.

4. Stop wicket keepers bowling. This doesn’t happen much but it did happen at Lords and wasted lots of time. If the wicket keeper wants to bowl then someone else should keep wicket for that session. We don’t need a protracted swapping of pads in the middle of a session.

5. Don’t go off for light unless it is at the end of the day. It is never that dark in the middle of the day. Sometimes it goes very dark but that is accompanied by lots of rain. The batsmen and fielders should just put up with it. They don’t go off because the ball is swinging a lot, so why for a bit of bad light?

6. Stop fielding substitutes. Players seem to be always leaving and re-entering the field. The substitutes have to swap and be moved into the correct position. Stop it. Don’t allow substitutes and fielders will not leave the field! On Monday I saw Anderson and Broad leaving the field together. That is fine but they shouldn’t get two substitutes there is no way they are injured.

I think that is enough of a rant for now. Does anyone have any more suggestions?

Tuesday 26 July 2011

DRS takes a leap backwards

So the Indians don’t like the DRS being used for LBWs. I had assumed this was for completely selfish reasons: they believed their batsmen would suffer compared to other countries. Today was a perfect example of this. Sachin Tendulkar and Suresh Raina were both given not-out to balls which were not only clearly out but would have been overturned using the DRS system used against Sri Lanka. Billy Bowden seemed to claim that Raina’s decision was because he had hit it. He didn’t get near hitting it. It was simply a poor decision. We have had 2000 Test matches now and we have a system that can stop these poor decisions and we should be using it.

Monday 18 July 2011

Party like its 1999

England will host India at Lords on Thursday. This will be the 2000th Test match! The first match now designated as a Test was in March 1877 at the MCG. The 1000th was played between Pakistan and New Zealand in November 1984. Test matches come thick and fast in 2011 and so I wonder how long it will be before the 3000th Test match. Of course that always assumes there is a 3000th Test match and that we are not just playing Twenty20 cricket. I am pretty confident that Test cricket will outlast the Twenty20 fascination mainly because Test matches, by far, produce the best cricket.

A few comments on the last 1999 matches:

A tied Test match is a one in a thousand happening: there have been two (both concerning Australia)

There have only been seven matches abandoned without a ball being bowled. Old Trafford and Dunedin hosted two each. Old Trafford ‘s were prior to World War II.

Only three tests have been won by a side that was made to follow-on. Not unexpectedly the recent two at Headingley and Kolkata are infamous . Australia was on the receiving end of all three turnarounds.

Sachin Tendulkar, who will play in the 2000th Test match, has scored 51 Test centuries. His nearest competitor is Jaques Kallis who has 40.

Muttiah Muralitharan has taken ten wickets in a match 22 times. His nearest competitor is Shane Warne who did it ten times (yes Murali more than doubled Warne’s ten wicket haul count)

Don Bradman has the highest batting average in Tests at an astonishing 99.94. His nearest competitor is currently Jonathan Trott at 62.23. Jonathan will also play in the 2000th Test.