Tuesday, 31 August 2010

KP's Twitter "F*ck Up"

Cricket administrators look at Twitter with an air of trepidation, knowing that cricketers are likely to stick their feet in it.

People who follow cricketers on Twitter rub their hands with expectation, knowing it won't be long before some cricketers stick their feet in it.

And Kevin Pietersen is the latest.

Following in the footsteps of such tweeting luminaries as Tim Bresnan and Phil Hughes, KP tweeted (ahead of schedule) that he'd been dropped from England's one day squads, and that he'd signed for Surrey. All stuff he probably wished he hadn't said.

The tweet itself: "Done for rest of summer!! Man of the World Cup T20 and dropped from the T20 side too.. Its a fuck up!! Surrey have signed me for l.."

So what can we garner from this ill advised admission? Firstly that KP won't be in the squads for the one day series - something he evidently disagrees with. To be honest, KP has been in awful form, and a break from the pressures of international cricket may do him some good. However, he clearly wants to prove himself and get some much needed scores under his belt ahead of the Ashes, and isn't too complimentary about his apparant non-selection. (Note - the squads are yet to be confirmed at this stage!)

He's also apparently revealed that he's signed for Surrey. Somewhat surprising, as everyone assumed he was on his way to Middlesex! But he's evidently Oval-bound. Well done to Surrey for signing him up (allegedly...)

So why, how or what was going on with KP's head to make him post that tweet? Well, so far Kev's solely posted via Ubertwitter (iPhone app), and this latest one was by text. So we can perhaps assume that he sent a private message to the wrong contact on his phone... thus publishing it to his 30,000 followers! Oops!

So was it a simple mistake? Or something more sinister? Cricket has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons over the past few days. So was KP told to "mistakenly" tweet that in order to get tongues wagging about something else?

Probably not. He was just being a cricketer on Twitter. Which is why an inevitable "fuck up" was just around the corner.

SMN: The Short Midwicket in "deliberate overstepping" claims

Esteemed blogger PinkyWill, who blogs and podcasts for the world's foremost cricket site The Short Midwicket, is subject of an ICC investigation after revealing that he "deliberately overstepped the mark" in his earlier blog about Alastair Cook joining Twitter.

In "Alastair Cook joins Twitter, banned from it within 20 minutes", Will swore a surprising four times, especially considering it was the first profanity in the previous 100 blogs posted on the site.

At the time, critics saw it as a simple misjudgement from Will, claiming that he was young and inexperienced, but after a sting operation, Will has admitted that there were ulterior motives for his smut.

Thanks to secret filming from a tabloid newspaper, Will boasted of how he was "paid to overstep the mark" by an unnamed fixer, who was working for an Indian betting ring. "I was the longest running cricket blog who hadn't sworn, and a large book had been made as to when I was going to break my duck. After numerous phonecalls, it was arranged for me to swear on the 4th of August at 19.47".

Asked for his payment for the overstepping, Will replied that he was paid "2 bags of Skittles, a Mars bar, and a voucher for 10% off in Cineworld". However, he denied that his podcast Obviously Matthew Spriegel was another deliberate overstep; claiming that he was "just taking the piss". The investigation continues.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Podcast - Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive and Dodge

Go to the new podcast here

The fall-out of the England-Pakistan fourth test and the spot-fixing investigation. Note - remove all sharp objects from the immediate area as you may start to feel very depressed whilst listening to this podcast. Allegedly.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

A hollow morning at Lord's

That was the most bizarre day of cricket, at any form or level I've ever seen.

Walking from Baker Street tube when St John's Wood is closed is never the most fun of activities, but the crowds on the way to Lord's were deathly quiet. Taking my seat in the Warner Stand, I looked around to see at least ten copies of the News of the World. Hardly the normal paper of choice for frequenters of Lord's. But this was not a normal day.

Pakistan started the day four down and 300 runs behind. They were always going to lose. But the result didn't seem to matter. Umpires Bowden and Hill took to the field. England followed them. Then came Pakistani batsmen Ali and Umar Akmal. Nobody quite knew what to do. The ever polite MCC members clapped them on. Was it tradition? Did they not know the story? The sparse crowds followed suit. I was the only audible boo.

Wickets fell regularly. England barely celebrated. It hardly registered with the crowd. There were a few boo's when Mohammad Amir walked to the crease, and a few people ironically called out no-ball for Jimmy Anderson's deliveries to Amir. He only lasted four balls before departing for a duck. He returned to silence. It may be the last time he ever appears on a cricket field.

All the while England were wrapping up the game and the series, rumours were flying around on Twitter. Salman Butt's done a runner. Gangsters have kidnapped Pakistani players families. Phones have been seized. The England players were trudging around in the field - seemingly shell-shocked. For a side winning so comfortably their behaviour was so unusual. Kevin Pietersen told Michael Vaughan that the news had "hit the players hard". It certainly looked it.

It had certainly hit the crowd hard. I was sat almost in the exact same seat as last year when England beat Australia at Lord's. Flintoff's five-for and all that. The atmosphere that day was spectacular, energy and excitement surging through the crowd. Today was everything but. England were winning, with the same level of impressive performance but there was a very different mood around Lord's.

Umar Akmal made fifty. Extravagant shot followed extravagant shot. All applauded meekly from the galleries. He even put on a fifty partnership with last man Mohammad Asif. Akmal was playing like a man knowing he may never get another chance. If implicated, he may not.

Swann took the last wicket, his fifth in the innings. It's the first time GP Swann will appear on the honours board. He sheepishly raised the ball to the crowd politely acknowledging England's series win. Perhaps Swann realised his name will go directly below Amir's.

The crowd did offer congratulations to England, who simply walked off the pitch. No celebrations. No unconcealed joy. Many of the crowd simply left their seats and went home.

I hung around for a bit, hoping for some gossip. Young autograph hunters were told they were wasting their time - no autographs today. The rumour that Salman Butt didn't even go the ground was gathering momentum. With no sign of a public presentation, I left.

Without wanting to sound cliched I feel cheated. Cricket feels cheated. Days 2 and 3 were the best two days of test cricket, but after last nights revelations, it all feels hollow. Nobody can trust that anything achieved on those days, or this series, or in cricket in general is above board and beyond reproach. People I've spoken to feel angry that the actions of a few can ruin the reputation of a sport. The hope must be that this is the end to revelations. If we are to believe Mazhar Majeed's boasting, this is only the start.

Pakistani Spot Fixing Allegations

I assume you've all seen the story. If you haven't, find out. Quick. Here's the video http://bbc.in/972hjK and the News of the World investigation in full http://bit.ly/cCKf6U


I really hope it isn't true. I really hope that this is a tabloid trick designed with nothing more than selling newspapers in mind. I really hope that the allegations about Amir, Asif, Akmal, Butt (and more) are unfounded lies.

But they probably aren't.

This story is big. I mean mega-huge. If you can't think of how big it is, think of the biggest story in cricket. Double it. And you're part of the way there.

Yes, it's "only" spot fixing. It's "only" a couple of no-balls. But the fixer Mazhar Majeed spoke of how it has been going on for years and of how many players were "in his pocket". How do we know that the no-balls were only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the severity of fixing. What else was manipulated? From the outside looking in, England going from 102-7 to 430-7 seems unlikely; suspicious even. Pakistani fielding this series has been atrocious - but were they being told to drop catches? Lose wickets? Concede runs?

The whole fabric of cricket is under scrutiny. Is this solely a Pakistani thing? Is international cricket a sham? How must Jonathan Trott and Stuart Broad feel now - were they given an easy passage to scripted centuries? England certainly were long odds at 2.30 yesterday - a lot of money to be made out of a lucrative England innings victory.

Friday was my favourite day of test cricket. There was a brilliant contest between bat and ball throughout, before two fantastic innings in a superb partnership turned the game. For me, it's been tainted. England will wrap up the series later, but after tonight's revelations, it will seem a hollow victory. I guess the ramifications will continue well after the last piece of confetti touches down on the Lord's turf.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Stuart Broad's Hundred

Stuart Broad has always been my favourite player. Ever since he played Pakistan in a few ODIs in 2006, he was my favourite. I loved his boyish enthusiasm as he would run in, and his joyous celebrations when he would take a wicket. I followed his career closely; from being snubbed by Fletcher for the Australia ODI tour, to being called up late for the finals; from missing out on the World Cup before replacing Jon Lewis; establishing himself in the ODI side under Peter Moores. I was gutted when Chris Tremlett was picked for the India test series ahead of Broad. I stayed up late to watch him eventually make his test bow in Sri Lanka. Being picked in New Zealand ahead of Hoggard and never looking back. Taking THAT five for and winning the Ashes last year. Winning the World Cup.

Stuart Broad could always bat. His dad had 6 test centuries, it was genetically written in the stars. He had (along with Ravi Bopara) a record England ODI stand. He had a golden summer v New Zealand and South Africa where he regularly made fifties. He even got promoted to number seven for the fourth Ashes test. He had all the shots; drives, cuts, clips through midwicket. He was an elegant late-order batsman - too good to be considered a tail-ender. He was born to score test centuries.

But then.

While his stock continued to rise with the ball, fortunes with the bat decreased. A poor run of form led to relegation to number nine - far too low for a man seen as Flintoff's natural replacement at seven only twelve months ago. But as upset and angry as he must have been, his poor performances had deserved it.

Broad walked to the crease on Friday at 102-7. Ducks for Pietersen, Collingwood, Morgan and the man preferred to him at eight Swann. Amir was getting prodigious swing. Broad wasn't flustered. This was not a tail-enders innings.

Text book drives, pulls and hooks (including a hooked six off Amir). Broad looked every inch a class test batsman, no scratchy edges or chancy singles. Matching Jonathan Trott shot for shot after passing fifty, Broad sauntered through the sixties, skipped through the seventies and eased through the eighties. Yes, he was nervous in the nineties, but who wouldn't be? Passing 91, his previous top ever score was just another milestone after also reaching his 1000th test run.

On 98, left arm run leaker Wahab Riaz gave Broad a leg stump half volley. As Broad lifted it away for three, the atmosphere was electric. The ovation was immediate, and continued well after Broad had gone through the rigmarole of kissing the badge and waving the bat. Lord's rose as one to celebrate an immense innings.

Given the situation, given the conditions and given the moment, it was up there with the best. As a Stuart Broad fan, it was equally as special, and I was glad to be there to witness it. When Broad eventually departed for 169, he and Trott had put on over 330 for the 8th wicket - breaking all sorts of records and turning the game on its head.

Stuart Broad may not be the most popular player around the world, but to me he's amongst my favourites. He may not quite have reached "Swann" status yet, but he's not far off it. It may not have been as good an innings as Trott's, but it was just as important. So congratulate Stuart Broad, for the innings of his life and maiden first class century. Here's to many more!

Friday, 27 August 2010

People Are Stupid

I like going to Lord's. I like it even more when I don't have to pay to go. And I like it better when I get paid to go.

After my work (in which I heard England collapse from an office), I get to pick a seat and watch. Today I picked the Mound Stand. Yesterday it was the Edrich. I also like this.

However, the drawback of sitting in the stands is that I have to listen to people nearby. The commoners. The plebs.

Stuart Broad has been hampered his whole career by being called Chris. For those who watched his dad, calling StuBro Chris happens every now-and-again; a slip of the tongue. Fair enough. What isn't fair enough is continually calling him Chris. Broady Jr has been playing internationally for four years now. How hard is it to learn the name of a World Cup and Ashes winning staple in the side.

Misinformed opinions often grace the stands. A group of five lads who clearly know their cricket were sitting next to me discussing spinners. (Not Shane Warne's pants, actual tweakers). 4 of the 5 would pick Monty Panesar over Graeme Swann. Really? One opined that Swann's (who made a duck) batting wasn't as good as Monty's, who batted well at Cardiff. Seriously?

And don't even get me started on "Tony" who texted into the big screen saying that Anderson could "swing the Effiel Tower"...



Thursday, 26 August 2010

Down Under

Like many cricket fans, I want to go to Australia this winter and watch the Ashes. Back in January, I had it all planned. I'd phoned the tour operators, arranged a schedule and looked at flights. I'd even taken a gap year.

But what with credit crunches and double dips, financially I wasn't able to book anything.

I still want to go to Australia. I have even less money now then I did then (hence the shop).

So I'm trying to win my way in.

I've entered numerous competitions on numerous websites. The Telegraph, the Times. Even the Daily Mail. Obviously, we've all seen the Barmy Army competition (as it's operators have spent the last month spamming blogs), and of course I've entered that. You name it, I'm in it to win it.

My trump card is an app. Basically, every day two new questions are asked. One at 12am, one at 12pm. Each question is worth varying points based on it's difficulty. Once someone gets to 100 points, they win a trip. If a question is answered wrongly, the score gets reset to zero.

I don't know how many people use this app. I shouldn't have thought it's exceptionally popular; maybe a few hundred. Many of those won't be good at cricket trivia, or will forget to do it regularly. This is where my stash of useless cricket knowledge and OCD obsessiveness comes in. (Note - I'm not really OCD but just really want to go to the Ashes). I reckon I'm in with a big chance of winning it.

I don't know how big a chance I have. I don't know if someone's already won. But I don't want to further reduce my chances by namechecking the app (and encouraging potential rivals).

While this is partly a blog about Ashes competitions, it's also a plea. If you have tickets you want to donate, or pay me to go and report, I'd be happy to accept. You'd be my favourite blog reader ever. I'd even change my picture of Andrew Strauss on the header to a picture of you. I'm only saying.

However, I am writing this blog on the way to Lord's for the England v Pakistan test. So its not all bad.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Tim Bresnan. Good lad. Not such a good cricketer.

Tim Bresnan is the sort of bloke the players want in the dressing room. He likes a laugh, likes a pint, and likes to abuse followers on Twitter.

Tim Bresnan is the sort of bloke the ECB were trying to move away from. Not very media or PR savvy, slightly unfit, and northern.

I like Tim Bresnan. As a person, he seems like the sort of bloke I'd like. I'd happily sit and chat with him, let him show me his favourite Yorkshire ales, or watch a game of Huddersfield Town with. As a cricketer, he's all right. I don't think he's one of England's best bowlers, or one of England's best batsmen. He probably isn't the best bat or bowler at Yorkshire.

Tim Bresnan doesn't have much going for him. Yet he keeps getting picked by England. He even has a World Cup winners medal (as an opening bowler!). Tim Bresnan is a great example of how personality can get you places in life. Well done Tim.

But as much as I like him, please don't (as some suggestions have been made) drop Eoin Morgan for Tim Bresnan for tomorrow's final test against Pakistan. Just let him sit in the dressing room, amuse Swann and Anderson, and waddle on to the field with drinks. Just don't let him play.

The Shop Midwicket

I have a shop. It's not much of a shop, you can't buy many nice things, but a shop is a shop. You can buy humourous tshirts, babygros or bags.

So go and buy stuff. If you do, it means I can buy a new laptop, and as such do more blogging and podcasting. So it's win win.

Here's a babygro I made earlier.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Podcast - MoYo, Morgan and Mo Amir

A roundup of the 3rd England v Pakistan test, as well as the start of the Ashes countdown. Sorry about the sound quality for the last 30 seconds - not my fault! (Well, only sort of my fault).

Poll - Podcast Suggestions

I have a podcast. Maybe you've heard of it. Maybe you haven't.

Some people listen to it. I know this because Podbean tells me. I like doing the podcast. Maybe you like listening to it. Maybe you don't.

If so, why. If not, why. If you let me know, I can change for the better. If you don't tell me, I'll keep bumbling along doing what I please. Is that what you want? Vote on the sidebar, let me know, and I'll be happy.


Saturday, 21 August 2010

Not all doom and gloom...

So Pakistan have won. Well done. But England really were rubbish.

But as rubbish as England were, we shouldn't make changes. The only (debatable) question mark in the side was over Ally Cook. And he made 100.

But be happy. This is the first test England have lost since South Africa (well back in January). This is the first test England have looked like not winning since then. But judging by these texts into the BBC live text service, England haven't won a game in 13 years.

From Slingsby, TMS inbox: "England's abysmal effort yesterday afternoon has effectively denied the British cricketing public a whole weekend's Test cricket. What was, at tea, set up to be a fascinating day's play on Saturday was, in a few lazy swishes, reduced to a brisk formality this morning. Fined their match fee? The team should be required to personally refund all ticket money for today, and should turn out for a one-day match tomorrow to compensate. At least."

From Iain from Oldham, via text: "Ponting might be right, 5-0 seems a good bet after this pathetic showing. Big names need to be dropped for next Test."

From Pete from Kempsey, Worcestershire, TMS inbox: "Fully agree with Ramiz's suggestion to give KP a bowl - how else is he going to keep his place in the side?"

From Ian, Barcelona, TMS inbox: "Re: Iain from Oldham at 1337. Big names to be dropped? Not a chance. We don't need selectors at all. They may as well leave a note on the door saying that it will be the same Strauss, Cook, Trott etc etc for all Tests until 2017 and go on holiday for a few years."

Come on - give us a smile! There's no need for knee-jerk reactions to a defeat in which England could very conceivably have nicked it. The reason KP, Trott, Cook, Strauss et al are in the team is because they have justified their places with consistently high international performances in a winning side.

This match wasn't just good for Pakistan - it was good for cricket. The fans who went, watched on TV or by live text will all have come out of the four days having seen a fantastic advert for test cricket. This result means that something hangs on the next test at Lord's. So give us a smile!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Twenty20's Fine Margins

I was at the Rose Bowl for Finals Day of the Twenty20 cup last Saturday. Sure, I've already podcasted about it, but another blog about it can't hurt. I mean, if any cricket tournament ever was to have saturated coverage, it would be the 170+ game extravaganza that has been this year's FPt20.

While the competition had a ridiculous amount of games, the nature of Twenty20 is seen in the fine margins between victory and defeat. Notts missed out in the semis (boo) by slipping just below a high Duckworth/Lewis score (by 3 runs), and Somerset lost the final after a scrambled leg-bye was taken off a ball which should have been lbw, meaning they lost by wickets in hand. Fine margins indeed.

Coaches, analysts and self-appointed experts often speak of how improved fielding can make all the difference in the shortest form, as a boundary saved or a fine catch can be the margin between a win or a loss. And in the semi, we saw that as Kieron Pollard both saved a six and took a great catch to dismiss Samit Patel. This had the double impact of slightly altering the D/L, meaning for the first time in the game Notts slipped below par - and sod's law dictated that less than an over later they were off for rain and Notts were off home.

Obviously anyone who saw the final will be very aware of the fine margins throughout. In the Somerset innings, Dom Cork found the fine margin between Pollard's visor and grill; managing to smack the Trinidadian right in the eye. And in the final overs it was all happening. A dropped catch by Nick Compton from Sean Ervine, Craig Kieswetter failing three times to run out Hampshire as they sneaked byes, Daniel Christian scrambling a run with only one leg, the umpire missing Zander de Bruyn's massive lbw appeal off the final ball which would have won it for Somerset.

So what does this say about Twenty20 cricket? Had one (or more) of those 'events' (as Bumble loves to refer to deliveries in T20) gone differently, they would have been dancing on the streets of Taunton on Saturday evening, rather than Eastleigh. So basically Twenty20 is down to luck?

Yes and no. While Notts ended up short thanks to D/L and a good catch from Pollard, the real reason they didn't have enough runs was that they weren't athletic enough in their running. Patel is notoriously large, and David Hussey is no spring chicken, and all to often clear twos were rejected as the pair weren't able to push hard enough. Yes, in Twenty20 cricket the best team often wins, but when the teams are evenly matched, the result is down to the fine margins between teams. That and a heap of luck.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Pinky the Panther's Finals Day Diary!

Originally written for the Middlesex CCC website...

From the paw of Pinky the Panther!

7:00 – Pinky Towers

Waking up bright and early at Pinky Towers. Normally I don’t have to get up until the afternoon (as our home T20 games start much later), but today I’m awake and ready for Finals Day!

8:00 – Leaving Pinky Towers

After washing and brushing my fur, I’m all set to head down from Pinky Towers (just next door to Lord’s) to the Rose Bowl in Southampton. I’ll be taking the Pinkymobile down the M27 to Southampton – the furthest he’s ever been! Normally he either goes to Lord’s or Uxbridge, and for the T20 game at Richmond I got a lift with Gilly, so I hope the Pinkymobile has enough petrol!

8:30 – On the motorway

I take a quick stop off at the services to check all of my messages on my phone. I’ve had messages of support from all of the Middlesex players, and loads of the fans. Thanks! I hope to do you all proud!

10:30 – Arrive at Rose Bowl

After a small bit of traffic around the Rose Bowl, I finally get inside the ground to find my own designated parking spot next to the other mascots. I’ve been told to meet everyone else at the Golf Club (at the top of the hill) at 1.15 for pre-race preparations, and I’ve been given my tickets for the members’ area in the pavilion. I’m really pleased with the great service and care of the Rose Bowl staff – although I expect nothing less after working at Lord’s!

11.30 – First semi-final starts

Although it is raining (not good for my fur), the first semi-final between the Essex Eagles and the Hampshire Royals starts at 11.30. I want Essex to win this one, as my good friend Alastair Cook is playing. I often bump into Cooky when he is around for test matches at Lord’s so I hope he goes well!

1.15 – Meet up for pre-race briefing

As arranged, all the mascots have to meet up for an explanation of the obstacles in the race. On my way from my seats, I bump into Steven Finn, who’s talking to Nottinghamshire’s Alex Hales! It’s great to see Finny, and both he and Hales wish me good luck for the final. Hales even said he preferred me to Nuts the Squirrel (Notts mascot)!

1.20 – Pre-race briefing

After meeting all of my fellow mascots, two people from the ECB tell us about the race. It starts with us being released in five groups – based on our performance in the time trials earlier in the season. Sadly I was so fast at Lord’s I will be amongst the last to leave in the handicap race! The obstacles we have to deal with are; a giant cricket bat that we have to jump over, a ball pit, a giant wicket we need to clamber through, a giant ball we need to run around, and an army assault course net we need to scramble under! Sounds tricky!

1.30 – Pitchside

After our briefing, we’ve been given an hour to spend to ourselves. A few of us try to watch the last part of the first semi-final between Hampshire and Essex by going down the tunnel to the pitch. However, after we sit on the boundary edge, the groundsmen tell us to go away! Boo! Now we don’t know what’s going on in the game! Harry the Hawk (Hampshire) and Eddie the Eagle (Essex) look really disappointed.

1.45 – At the golf club

We all begrudgingly return to our golf club base until we’re needed for the race. While Caesar the Lion (Surrey) tries to chat up the Friends Provident Girls who will be helping Bumble with the race, I sit and chat to Lanky the Giraffe (Lancashire). He tells me that he’s been really training hard for this one, as he’s been in the gym with Andrew Flintoff who’s been battling back from injury. However Lanky says he doesn’t like the look of the scramble net – it looks very close to the ground for his massive neck!

While I’m talking to Lanky, out of nowhere pops Iain O’Brien! OB is working for BBC Five Live today, and has got some time off to wish me good luck for the race! After having his photo taken with me, OB has to dash back to the commentary box where he is on with our own Shaun Udal! OB passes on the message that Shaggy is also rooting for me. Really good to have such great support!

2.15 – On the way to the pitch

With such a tight schedule on Finals Day, our race starts directly after the Essex v Hampshire game finishes, so we need to be ready and waiting near the tunnel as the final ball is bowled. This means that we have to wait next to the practice pitch at the side of the Rose Bowl while the game is going on. Imagine my surprise when I see loads of faces I recognise! All around the ground are dance podiums, where cheerleaders and street dancers are celebrating boundaries and wickets. Taking a short break from their work as cheerleaders are the Middlesex Pantherettes! After catching up with the girls, they also pledge their support to me! Thanks! With OB, Shaggy, myself and the Pantherettes all at the Rose Bowl, it’s a real shame that the team didn’t make it – but with so many Middlesex people around it really feels like Lord’s!

2.30 – End of first semi-final

While we’re still waiting outside, the first semi-ends, with Hampshire winning with four balls to spare. As we all have to wait in our race ordered rows, I am ironically alongside Eddie and Harry. Eddie is obviously upset, but he and Harry share a friendly handshake in commiseration (and congratulation). It’s great to see such friendship amongst the mascots who have known each other years!

2.35 – Rain!

The semi-final ended just as it started to rain, which means our race is delayed. We’re all really upset, as we all just want to get out there and run! As it is my first year in the race, I am really nervous, but Hugh Bear (Warwickshire) gives me some tips. Hugh won it last year, and has been in every mascot race, so knows what he is talking about! His main tip is to stand up as much as possible, because if you fall over, it may take ages to get back up again!

2.45 – Still raining!

Frustratingly it’s still raining here in the tunnel. Luckily we’re not getting wet, but the longer the rain goes on, the less chance we’ll get to run. Some people are even running around asking to cancel the race! We’re all understandably upset as we all want to get out there!

2.55 – Rain has stopped!

The weather has abated and we get the nod to get out there! Sadly we don’t have much time to prepare, and are thrust straight to the starting line. I take my first step onto the Rose Bowl surface and… splash! My paws are soaked! I trod straight in the biggest puddle on the pitch. Silly me! That’ll really hamper my chances in this race, but I’m still confident I can win. I guess I’m just used to the excellent drainage at Lord’s where I don’t have to worry about puddles! Us panthers don’t like water!

3.00 – And the race has started!

I’m in the third row, and there are five second delays between each row starting...

3.00 and 10 seconds

As I’m in the third row, I’m not ready or expecting to go until the third klaxon is sounded. However, on the second klaxon, all of the other mascots from behind me barge through! They’ve cheated! I’m so stunned and surprised I don’t react until too late and they’ve all raced off miles ahead. I guess I’ve got a lot of catching up to do!

The giant bat

I manage to catch up with everyone by the time of the giant bat, and while some other mascots are struggling with it’s size, I jump straight over and move into fifth place!

The ball pool

I jump quickly into the ball pool after overtaking Stumpy the Dragon (Somerset) before… DISASTER! Stumpy, the 7 foot dragon, falls straight on top of me, and can’t get up! I’m pinned beneath Stumpy as all the other mascots stream past me. And even worse – my head has fallen off! This is the worst possible thing to have happened. And because it’s raining, the ball pool has become filled with water so am now drenched. This really isn’t going well!

The giant wicket

I fineally emerge from the ball pool in last position, as everyone else is far far ahead. However, using my panther speed, I overtake a few people on the approach to the giant wicket, and speed past a few more whilst clambering across. Come on! While I know I can’t win anymore, I am just hoping to get a respectable position!

The giant ball

I approach the giant ball still well behind many of the other mascots, but race round quickly to find…

The scramble net

The low lying net has already trapped a few of my competitors, but it is no match for me! I emerge from the net in twelfth position with only the final straight to go. Come on Pinky!

As I run down the straight, I can see the other mascots tiring and spot my chance. I overtake the old enemy Surrey’s Caesar, as well as Ellie the Eagle and Hugh Bear on the line. I’ve finished 9th!

While I was obviously aiming to win, coming 9th was a great achievement, especially considering that I was in last position at a few stages of the race! And with a couple of mascots being disqualified for using the wrong footwear, I was awarded the position of 7th – not bad!

3.15 – Golf club

After the race, we all congratulate Lanky the Giraffe for a great win. Lanky led all the way around, and deserved to win it. Max Mynah (Yorkshire) came second, with Sid the Shark (Sussex) pipping Nuts for third. Well done to all of them, they ran a good race! Looking back at my own performance I can take some learning into next year’s race, and hopefully come on stronger. Personally seventh was disappointing as I came to the Rose Bowl to win, but I hope that the Middlesex fans who saw my performance were proud of it! I definitely hope to come back to Finals Day next year and win it!

All the mascots say their goodbyes to each other, as many of them are travelling home. However, I want to watch the cricket, so Bomber the Spitfire (Kent) and myself retake our seats and enjoy the action. Tired and sore after the race, I am lucky to watch two great games between Somerset and Notts, and Hampshire and Somerset. Despite rooting for ex-Middlesex men Murali Kartik and Nick Compton’s Somerset, Hampshire steal victory by virtue of wickets in hand after a tied score! Wow!

1.00 (next morning) – Pinky Towers

I return home after a really tiring, but amazing day. I’d like to say thanks to the Middlesex fans who sent me their well wishes either via Facebook or in person at the Rose Bowl. Sadly I didn’t win this year, but hopefully we’ll be able to celebrate a double victory at next years Finals Day – a win in the mascot race for me, and a win in the T20 for Middlesex! 


Sunday, 15 August 2010

SMN: Lanky the Giraffe exposed as Tyson Gay

In an astonishing twist to yesterday's Friends Provident Mascot Derby at the Finals Day at the Rose Bowl, winning mascot Lanky the Giraffe (Lancashire) has been exposed as sprint-king Tyson Gay.

Gay, who is straight, ran a world's leading time of 9.83 seconds on Friday night at the Crystal Palace London Diamond League 100 metre event, before reportedly heading to Southampton to take part in the Mascot Race on Lancashire's behalf.

An ECB official said "Our suspicions were raised when Lanky clocked a time almost three minutes faster than any of the other mascots. It was only afterwards in the changing room that we were alerted to the fact that Lanky was in fact Gay". The ECB were alerted to the prescence of Gay by an anonymous mascot, although Yorkshire's Max Mynah has been quick to quash allegations that it was him. The ECB are unsure whether to disqualify Lanky and award the trophy to second placed Max (or even to 9th placed Pinky the Panther).

In other news, Hampshire won.

Podcast - T20 Finals Day Special

“It’s a Super Over… It’s a TIE! … Is it?” The Short Midwicket’s all-inclusive Finals Day podcast, complete with commentary of the final over, and an in-depth interview with Marcus Trescothick.

Click here to see the back catalogue of podcasts

Monday, 9 August 2010

Podcast: Cooking up a Fuss

The review of the second test podcast,with some informed advice for both the English and Pakistani selectors. Obviously.

Download the latest podcast via Podbean
Have a look at the back catalogues

SMN: Short Midwicket sued by Matthew Spriegel, BBC

The Short Midwicket Podcast is released regularly, and has never courted controversy. However, the latest edition Obviously Matthew Spriegel has led to the Short Midwicket unusually being sued from two parties.

The first lawsuit comes from the BBC, who obviously were upset that the Short Midwicket blatently ripped off their interview from a podcast. However, the second came from Matthew Spriegel himself, who obviously sued for defamation.

"He's obviously made me seem stupid" remarked Surrey middle-order mainstay Spriegel. "Obviously I'm upset and disappointed. Obviously on the back of it, the boys have obviously been giving me grief in the dressing room".

(If Spriegel did have any problems with the podcast and ensuing game, this news article is obviously only going to make things worse.)

Podcast - Obviously Matthew Spriegel

Surrey's Matthew Spriegel was obviously interviewed by BBC London's Mark Church, and I obviously had a bit of fun at his expense. Obviously.

Any advances on eleven?

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

100 up!

And with a tickle to fine-leg he brings up the hundred... and what a hundred it was! The crowd stand to give him a standing ovation, and he laps up the applause...

I guess what I'm getting at is that this is my 100th post. Sure, like a good innings there have been highs and lows (like the cricket election... remember that! What a mistake that was...) but I got there in the end.

Here's to the next hundred!

SMN: Alastair Cook joins Twitter, banned from it within 20 minutes

English cricketers have a long and difficult history with Twitter. Tim Bresnan famously told a fan to "fuck off" after calling him fat, Under-19 captain Azeem Rafiq called his coach a "wanker" and Graeme Swann induced a fatwa after insulting ginger people worldwide.

However, despite the incredibly likely negative publicity that being on Twitter will inevitably cause for cricketers, England's cricketers have continued to sign up. Realising that he was the only player to represent England in the last twenty years who is not on Twitter, mild-mannered part-time sheep farmer Alastair Cook braved the new technology by registering for the site.

Under the name AllyCooky26, Cook has already been suspended from the site by the ECB pending a full investigation. Within 20 minutes of his first 'tweet', Cook had called teammate Kevin Pietersen an "arrogant prick", captain Andrew Strauss a "tosser", and sensationally told Jonathan Agnew's dog to "funk off your not even real" (sic).

Andrew Strauss, who has never been on Twitter released a statement saying that he was "surprised" by Cook's behaviour, and warned players from going onto the site, as it is a "bad influence". Following this statement, Short Midwicket News has learned that Matt Prior has signed up, and has already retweeted a Ceci Masters photoshop.

If you want to read more about England players and Twitter, buy the new edition of the Cricket Sadist Quarterly. I'm in it, talking about England players and Twitter.

Also, it's the first time I've sworn on the site, so be nice. I'm surprised it's taken this long.

Monday, 2 August 2010

SMN: Pakistan call up Inzamam, Akram for second test

Following the humiliating defeat at the hands of the English in the first test that finished yesterday, Pakistani selectors have been quick to add experience to their youthful side.

40 year old potato shaped batsman Inzamam-ul-haq, and 44 year old swing bowling genius Wasim Akram have been added to the squad ahead of the second test which starts on Friday. Despite both players announcing their retirements a number of years ago, both were convinced to restart their international careers ahead of the next test by current captain Salman Butt.

However, despite the joyous celebrations on the streets of Lahore at the news, Inzamam and Akram are unlikely to play in the next test, as they will not be able to receive visas in time. There was also the shock news from Inzamam that "I don't even have a bat anymore, let alone whites or pads". In hindsight, this appears to make a mockery of the PCB's decision to release 8 members of the Pakistan squad, meaning that Pakistan could well line up with only nine players on Friday.

Salman Butt called the move "risky", but still claimed that "I back nine of us to score more than the 80 eleven of us got last week". A senate inquiry has already begun in Pakistan.

SMN: Ian Bell - "I don't really want to go to Australia"

While continuing his rehabilitation from his foot injury which has seen him miss out on the current England-Pakistan test series, Ian Bell has surprisingly revealed that he "doesn't really want to" go Down Under for this winter's Ashes tour.

Another ball bounces off Bell during last years Ashes

Bell, who still carries the scars (both mentally and physically) of previous Ashes humiliations, announced to Short Midwicket News that he would prefer to miss out on the tour in order to "have a nice Christmas with the family; play a bit of golf, have a bit of me-time".

Warwickshire batsman Bell, 28, boasts an overall test average of 43 , but this is boosted by his average of 378 against Bangladesh. However, against the fearsome Australians, he averages a measly 8.2. "I still have nightmares" confesses Bell, who is visibly shaken at the mention of Warne and McGrath. "The Aussies have ruined American Pie for me", continued the Sherminator lookalike, who had begun to rock in his chair.

England chairman of selectors Geoff Miller seemed upset that Bell appears set to miss out on his fourth Ashes, but revealed that Bell was only in the team for ethnic reasons. "Belly used to fill the quotas for us; he was our only ginger. But now with Collingwood and Morgan in the side, I see no reason for us to pick him. He really isn't that good", before adding "but what a cover drive".

Not Sky Sports News...

Yes, I have donned my reddest tie, and am sitting next to Jim White to launch my new feature - The Short Midwicket News. I'll be bringing you the biggest cricket stories of the day* (*not in any way factual), as well as player interviews and match previews. I may even break out Microsoft Paint and bring you a few pictures.

The Short Midwicket News - reporting for duty.

Pakistan should listen to my podcast...

I recorded a podcast yesterday afternoon. England had won the first test very comfortably, and I pottered down to my podcast recording studio (it's not as glamourous as it sounds - it's just a glorified shed) to speak about it. I said that I back Danish Kaneria to take loads of wickets in the next test, and that Pakistan would be stupid to pick Mohammad Yousuf as it would only disrupt the team. I also said that it wouldn't happen.

Cue my surprise later on when I saw that Kaneria had been dropped, and that Yousuf was in the squad for the next test at Edgbaston. Incidentally, this was before I had done all of my fancy editing (ie removing my awkwardly unfunny jokes and frequent 'eeeeerrrrrm's), but I decided to leave my advice to the Pakistani selectors in there. Because I know that I'll be right.

Pakistan will miss Kaneria's fix of spin (see what I did there?)especially if Edgbaston's a turner. And Yousuf won't be able to stroll into a team after a few months away from cricket and make runs. In fact, he may not be able to stroll into the country at all due to issues with securing a visa. If neither Yousuf or Kaneria play and Pakistan are further humiliated by England (which I also predict), I await the call to become the next Pakistan chairman of selectors. I might as well, everyone else in cricket's had a go...

NB - A few days ago I said I was growing a beard in an attempt to look older than Mo Amir. With MoYo back in the team, I've had a shave. There's no way I can compete with that bad boy.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Podcast - Cosmic Short Midwicket

In this podcast I look back at the first England v Pakistan test. I said that Pakistan should not pick Yousuf, and should persevere with Danish Kaneria. Oops!

Even so, have a listen. It'll be the best 15 minutes until the next test.

You can download the latest podcast, as well as look at the back catalogue here