Monday, 28 June 2010

A proud day for England

England yesterday played one of their old foes. Luckily, after previous disappointments and embarrassments, England managed to sneak over the line (no pun intended), and will look to build on this success in the forthcoming few days and weeks. Sadly, I am not talking about the football (I write about that somewhere else) but the cricket, where England have beaten Australia incredibly comfortably (safe for the closing few overs yesterday).

Sadly, due to other engagements (pesky exams) I haven't actually watched any of the cricket, and due to yesterday's disappointment I actually forgot that the 'other' match was on. However, while it does not really compare, we shouldn't forget the achievements of Strauss et al, and celebrate that. If only so we can forget the misacheivements of the other England team.

Last Week's Poll - Which cricketer has the fattest arse?

For no real reason, last week I asked which cricketer had the largest arse. I picked a shortlist (or widelist) of six, with five current players, and perhaps harshly, former player Mike Gatting. As a now retired player, it's only right that Gatt won (or lost, depending on how you look at it) with a landslide 62%, mainly because he spends much of his time sitting on his wide posterior.

Insurance v Beer

For this One Day international series, England are sponsored by Brit Insurance. Australia are sponsored by Victoria Bitter. England have played safe, solid dependable, profitable cricket. Australia have started with a bit of fizz, but has ultimately had a bad taste and ended flat. England have won the series after only three games. Moral of the story? Drink cider. It's much nicer.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Twenty20 in 20 Words - South Group

Did you like the one about the North Group? Really, didn't you? That's a shame - here's one about the South Group.

Sussex (W8 L2): T20 winning machines - best overall team I've seen this year. Have big hitters, nurdlers, tight bowlers and canny spinners. Will go far.

Essex (W5 L3): Been in tight contests, and have nerve to succeed. Will miss heroics of ten Doeschate, but have compensation in international quality Bopara.

Somerset (W5 L3): Great hitting power of Kies and Tres at top weaked as keeper plays Aussies - but Pollard is a match winner without doubt.

Surrey (W5 L5): Have somehow won despite not being that good. My old mate Jason Roy hits hundred; credits me for feat. Inconsistent.

Hampshire (W4 L4): Amazed to see KP play, not amazed when he announced he's leaving. Lumb yet to hit Caribbean heights but still strong side.

Middlesex (W4 L4): Now will miss match-winners Gilchrist and Morgan, will hope Dexter captains well. Have strong team but threat of shocker lurks. Come on the Middle!

Glamorgan (W4 L4): Tait worried county players but has now left - will look to win it with spin attack.

Kent (W2 L7): After previous T20 successes were tipped to go far but haven't fired. I blame injury of Denly. Very poor.

Gloucestershire (W2 L7): Gladiators yet to hit previous limited over heights, lack of match winners costing them at crucial times. (Probably)

Table correct as of 27th June

Twenty20 in 20 words - North Group

So here we are, at the halfway stage of the FPt20 groups. Yes, it's been constant every day cricket for the last month, but we are only half way. So purely to take my mind of the other big game of the day, here's each county team's T20 campaign so far. In 20 words.

North Group

Notts (W7 L1): Fired by Nannes and Hussey, have strength throughout. Should make quarters easily; perhaps even trip to Rose Bowl?

Lancashire (W5 L3): Quietly useful side missing international attack. Will miss Katich but could have enough wins already to progress further.

Warwickshire (W5 L3): Very strong team with great new ball attack. Luckily better than awful kit suggests. Woakes FTW.

Yorkshire(W5 L4): Have mix with experience and a youthful captain. Just need to check registration of players.

Derbyshire (W4 L4): Unglamorous, but inconsistent. Have powerful middle order hitters, but will need a bit of luck if they are to progress.

Northants (W4 L5): Team without many flair players but very capable. Have missed Sehwag (haven't we all), but not out of running.

Durham (W3 L6): Disappointing start for County Champions; possibly strongest batting line up compromised by weakened attack leaking runs. Pity.

Leicestershire (W3 L5): Prodigious Taylor keeping them together, captain Hoggard's unorthodoxy can be both a help and a hindrance. Doubtful to qualify.

Worcestershire (W2 L6): Winter departure of key players left poor squad, will need to rally spectacularly just to save face at this stage.

Table correct as of June 27

Sunday, 20 June 2010

From the computer of Giles Clarke...

(September 2009)

From Giles Clarke:
to Anne Ecbaccountant:

Giles here

Quick question - which touring country has brought in the most money? Am up for another seven match ODI series so I can afford to buy Allen Stanford's stadium in the police auction.



From Anne Ecbaccountant:
to Giles Clarke:

Hi Giles

The most lucrative country to tour is Australia. However, you shouldn't hold another seven match series, we've just had one against them, remember? Won't cricketers, fans and pundits be really bored of another one-sided series against Australia, (especially ahead of us going Down Under next year) and without the slight compensation of an Ashes series surely people will only resent the idea of having a series and will only see it as a money-making tool?


From Giles Clarke:
to Anne Ecbaccountant:

Nah, we'll get the MCC to sponsor it, and call it the 'Spirit of Cricket' series, and nobody will realise. Scratch that - get NatWest to sponsor it as well.


Last Week's Poll - Which cricketer would make the best footballer?

As it's the World Cup, I asked which cricketer would make the best footballer. After thinking long and hard, I came up with a list of cricketers who have the required qualities for a footballer; athleticsm, gracefulness and steely determination. Unsurprisingly, you judged AB de Villiers to be the one of the list who has those qualities, with 42% of you picking him to be your chosen cricketer-as-footballer. However, after watching Middlesex yesterday, I can tell you that you're all wrong, as Steve Finn has the skills to pay the bills. And that Pedro Collins is cack in goal.

Friday, 18 June 2010

I've moved!

Due to a reshuffle in the field from the captain, I'm now called The Short Mid Wicket. (Don't worry, I checked, and there's definately nobody called that). Everything will still be the same, my fantastic punditry will not change, nor will my witty repartees. But you'll have to type rather than I'm sure in time, we'll get used to it. I'm used to it already.

Will (the new Short Mid Wicket)

Why KP should move to Middlesex

Yesterday Kevin Pietersen announced he was leaving Hampshire. Some members were shocked – they had no idea that KP played for Hampshire. Despite an illustrious record of one first-class game since his England debut, KP has had to make the emotional decision to leave his first love Hampshire. Or was it Notts? Or was it KwaZulu Natal? Anyway, I think KP should sign for Middlesex. And this is why.

Why not?

Let’s face it, he won’t play. Other than the occasional ECB directed t20 game, KP will not don the pink of Middlesex. But Middlesex might as well get him on the books for those occasional t20 games, purely to stop Scott Newman playing.

He’s free

KP will not cost any one anything. As a centrally contracted player, Giles Clarke will be keeping the Pietersen family in nappies and Oakley sunglasses for the foreseeable future. And if Middlesex sign him, they’ll be able to flog loads of KP related tat, and use him to publicise fixtures (a la Gilly and Warner this year).

It's close

The only reason KP didn’t want to play for Hampshire was that it was too far away from Chelsea. So he should go and play for the closest county to Chelsea. Which is (nearly) Middlesex.

He shouldn’t play for Surrey

Because Surrey are rubbish. Just forget about last night.

The lunches at Lord’s are good

Another bonus.

The pink kit’s cool

And he get’s to high-five cricket’s leading mascot, Pinky the Panther. And who doesn’t want to do that?

Excellent crèche facilities


But the reason he’ll definitely move…
He can wander around Lord’s pretending to be England captain again

And who amongst us hasn’t done that?

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Standing up for the T20

I know this year's FPt20's had some negative press from certain parts of the cricket blogosphere. But I like it. There have been some really close games, some outstanding performances, and some superb dancing from an oversized panther.

Yes, the fact that each county now has to play 16 times does mean there are close to one thousand matches this year. But this isn't the IPL. Fans aren't expected to watch every single minute of every single game. Sky aren't showing a three-hour build up show before Gloucestershire Gladiators v Kent Spitfires. There isn't an invasive reporter asking inane questions to Michael Di Venuto. Sky are showing one game a night, and giving updates on the other games around the country. And this is enough. Most people will probably only watch their county (if any at all), before going back to their lives. The T20 is not taking over the British summer, and due to clashes with the World Cup, isn't getting any other media attention. Twenty20 overkill is certainly not happening.

The FPt20 is bringing new fans to cricket who would never have previously travelled to Lord's, the Oval, or the Emirates International Cricket Ground. Yes, English counties don't do IPL style cheerleaders or DJs that well, but it's better than the captain's mum and nan being the only two fans in the ground. And when counties have been encouraged to pay through the nose for world-class stars like Gilchrist, Warner and O'Brien, it makes sense for fans to have the opportunity to see them a few times. (Get well soon Iain!)

While some traditionalist players aren't fans of T20, ones I've spoken to (and have had smack me on the top of the head) certainly are. Although that may be because the ones I've spoken to are Middlesex players, who are quite good at this 'whack-it'. Which probably explains my enthusiasm for the FPt20.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Last Week's Poll - Who should be England's bowlers for the First Ashes Test?

Last week I asked you to play the role of Geoff Miller, Ashley Giles and the other one (Whitaker???) and pick your bowlers for the first Ashes test in Brisbane. Unsurprisingly, 100% of you wanted Anderson, Broad and Swann as your bowlers. However, there was some debate as to who should be the fourth bowler (assuming England will play four bowlers). The man in possession, Steven Finn, has 75% of your support, with injury hit Graham Onions still having the support of 37% of you. There was a ripple of support for Sidebottom, Shahzad and Bresnan, with the three men of Yorkshire picking up 12% each. Harmison, Woakes (left field...), Tredwell, Panesar and Rashid were the ignored men who didn't get any votes. Interesting stuff. I'll ask again a few times to see how the opinions of the cricketing public change over the forthcoming months.

This week, as the football World Cup has started, I ask which cricketer would make the best footballer. Why not, it's fairly topical.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Kieron Pollard - like me, but better

Anyone who has seen me play cricket will know I'm not very good. While by my age most players of any talent have decided whether they're a batsman or a bowler, I am still undecided. As I am equally poor at both.

So when a lunchtime game of cricket was suggested yesterday, I thought I was only playing to make up the numbers. So imagine my shock when I was the best player. As informal as the game was (even using a fire extinguisher and a bin as wickets), my quickfire innings, was only equalled by my sharp work as wicketkeeper, where I performed three top stumpings. I even took a few wickets with my crafty spin. Thinking ahead to the Middlesex v Somerset game later, I was likened to Craig Kieswetter; a big hitter who was like a hawk behind the stumps.

At the game itself, Kieswetter did not fire. So while I was busy congratulating myself for being better than Craig K, I myself was outperformed by someone else. Kieron Pollard, having taken three Middlesex wickets, came out to bat when the Sabres were 4 down and in trouble. Pollard then smashed 89 from only 44, in a knock remniscent of mine earlier. Including the longest six seen at Lord's since 1888, Pollard demolished Middlesex and won the game with 20 balls to spare (an absolute drubbing by T20 standards).

Pollard was a class-apart from the honest county pros of both Middlesex and Somerset, with him belting sixes in a partnership with Peter Trego who stayed at a sedate run a ball. It's very rare that a player wins a game almost totally on his own, and Pollard did just that. Had he gone cheaply, Middlesex would have won the game comfortably. But he didn't, and won Somerset the game on his debut.

Middlesex are yet to win in this year's FPt20, yet they can take a lot of heart from a very good performance. The only difference between a solid win and an embarrassing loss was one man - Kieron Pollard. Just like the lunchtime game I played in. Somerset could do a lot worse than to sign me up to play alongside Pollard. The only difference between our innings? His was at Lord's against an international-packed Middlesex attack. Mine was in the Sixth Form Centre against a few mates, using a history folder as a bat.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Pecking Orders

Yesterday I wrote a serious post. It was a post where I had to do research, and be reasonable. The England / Bangladesh test was drawing to a close, and Ajmal Shahzad was bowling. If all was equal, Shahzad would not have been bowling. In the England pecking order, Shahzad is well down.the list, nestling between Steve Harmison and a light breeze. Shahzad, as useful a bowler as he is, will struggle to make the plane for the Ashes tour; let alone the reckoning. Batting at five for England was one of my favourite players, Eoin Morgan. But as much as I see Morgs obvious awesomeness, he is not a test batsman. Last year, he averaged about 23 for Middlesex, and before the tests he'd only played one FC game in the past 9 months. As world-class a 20 and 50 over player as he is, he is not a test player. Ravi Bopara and Michael Carberry (who probably are) must be sitting at home wondering where they stand. As must Steve Davies, Tim Ambrose and James Foster (who have all played for England in the past two years), who appear to have been usurped by Craig Kieswetter as Matt Prior's successor. This rotation policy has probably also confused Geoff Miller.

So, in the order of public service, I've decided to handily create the pecking order list, for future reference for the Pakistan tests and beyond.




No need to thank me Geoff...

You can be Geoff Miller or Ashley Giles by voting on the Short Third Man's latest poll - "Who should be England's bowlers for the first Ashes test in Brisbane?"

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Last Week's Poll - Who's going to be the worst overseas player in the T20

With the start of the new FPt20 came a wave of overseas stars, and a wave of potential overseas flops. None more so than my new mate Gilly, who scored a meagre 2 as Middlesex folded to a tame defeat at the hands of the Sussex sharks. However, I still have confidence in Gilly, as do you, judging by the results of the poll. 66% of you think part-time member of parliament, full-time OAP Sanath Jayasuriya will be the biggest flop, mainly as his 76 year old body may find it difficult to run about in the physically demanding T20. Fair enough.

A brave new direction for polls this week, where you can become Geoff Miller or Ashley Giles by selecting your English bowlers for the first Ashes test in November. How exciting!

Where Bangladesh can go from here

Bangladesh as a team aren't a bad side. In certain conditions, they can be a useful side, as seen in the fact that they took England to a fifth day in three consecutive tests. However, in each of those tests, Tamim made runs. In this game, Tamim has made runs, but noone else has. Tamim is super-awesome, and would play for anyone else in the world. However, no other Bangladeshi player would get in any other team in the world. Kayes is barely a county player and the attack of Shahadat and Shafiul would struggle to get me out. There are some 'useful' players; Mahmudullah isn't a bad number eight, Musfiqur Rahim is a good keeper and handy batsman, and cap'n Shakib gets Pietersen out for fun.

But no Bangladeshi player (Tamim aside) is really that good. Yes, there have been signs of improvement, seen in the elongation of games, but at no stage in any of the four tests have Bangladesh even looked like drawing. An exercise in futility underestimates the pointlessness of England playing against Bangladesh. The fact that England couldn't even be bothered to play two middling players in Broad and Collingwood doesn't suggest that the two seriesettes have been the 'ultimate test' (which test cricket should be).

I want to put it out there - I like Bangladesh. I like Tamim's swashbuckling style, where he can smash the hardest ball into row Z, and swish and miss the simplest half-volley; I like Shakib's plucky captaincy, where he randomly places fielders in positions where the ball never hopes to go; I like the fact that they field three spinners who don't even attempt to turn the ball. As patronising as it may sound, I like the underdog. So ultimately, I want what's best for Bangladesh, and what I feel is best for them is to play in a second tier of test cricket. Playing against Holland, Kenya, Ireland et al would give their players valuable experience of first-class cricket, rather than learning on the job (which they are forced to now). Tamim has played as many tests as other first class games, and cap'n Shakib has only played 45 first-class games. No wonder he has no idea how to position a field. By comparison, his adversary in Bangladesh, Alastair Cook, has played over 50 tests, but on top of that, over 120 FC games.

The infrastructure of Bangladeshi cricket is what it is, and while there are over 150,000,000 people (well over double the number eligible for England - not including South Africa), clearly there is not the level of youth development and scouting as there is in England or Australia. So the only way of improving Bangladeshi cricket must be allowing them to compete and develop against a more appropriate opposition. Surely the only thing gained from the tour of England (on a test level) was the realisation that Tamim was a world class player. They haven't really found out more about the respective talents or abilities of the rest of their team, as their team couldn't compete against England.

England clearly don't think it to be worth their while playing against Bangladesh for the foreseeable future, as no tour has been arranged for the next decade. How long before Bangladesh are cast into the international wildnerness by other countries who follow the same path? Bangladesh have improved, and they will improve in the future. But they'll need to raise their levels of performance even higher, even quicker, if there's going to be any point in teams like England playing them anytime soon. Which means it's vital that they play against likeminded countries; as a big fish in a small pond, if they are to gain the much needed experience to compete in the international arena.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

When I met Gilly

Yesterday I met Adam Gilchrist, for his first presser as a Middlesex player. I won't write what I really feel about him, as I'm likely to meet him again today, and it could make things very wierd. I'll wait for when he goes home.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Twenty20 Bingo

So, the FPt20 has started and is off and underway. Dug-outs, cheerleaders and fireworks ahoy. And of course, everyone's favourite part of T20: commentator's cliches.

Tick each one off when you hear it, winner's the one who gets the most by finals day.

"Start the car!" (0.1 points; 100 points when said by someone other than Bumble)
"Fielding is very much a key part of T20" (50 points)
"In the early days it was seen as hit and giggle, but it's a serious business now" (40 points)
"Counties are taking it much more seriously this year" (20 points)
"It's a real shame that Tendulkar / Segway / Yuvraj haven't been allowed to play, but don't worry, Kent have Malinga Bandara" (250 points)
A player being described as a "young man" (100 points - an extra 100 points for every year that he's over 30)
The word's "razmatazz", "entertainment industry" and "pyrotechnics" (10 points each)
Nasser describing "Fortress Chelmsford" as though it is the MCG (30 points)
A fat / unattractive / garishly clothed spectator being likened to Paul Allott / Nick Knight (25 points)
An inappropriately pervy remark from a commentator about a cheerleader (10 points)
A male cheerleader being called "Napoleon", or told to "go on son" (50 points)
Serious cricket analysis (lose all points. Do not collect £200)