Friday, 30 July 2010

Why Mo Amir is making me grow a beard

I like Mohammad Amir. I like how he's burst on to the scene with his destructive left-arm swingers. I like how he doesn't respect the cricketing order. I like how he got under Ricky Ponting's skin, leading to an elbow from Ponting.

What I don't like about him is his age. He is credited as being 18. He patently is not 18. No 18 year old is able to swing the ball like him, or have that level of temprament. And no 18 year old has the facial features of Amir, which make him look closer to 25.

I'm 17. I look much closer to 14. When people have spoken about Amir with me, I have been compared to the Pakistani swinger. And laughed at. While Amir is not 18, he is giving us late-teens a bad name.

I can just about grow a beard. Not a very good one, but a beard is a beard. I've given up shaving until the end of the test series, just so I can look slightly more Amir-esque. I still think England will win 3-0 though.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Podcast - Murali's 800, Iain O'Brien and Pakistan

A lot happened this week in cricket. Sadly I was on holiday so I missed it. However, I can bring you my thoughts on Murali and the Australia-Pakistan tests, as well as a look ahead at the England-Pakistan series. And an interview with a twittering Bon Jovi fan called Iain O’Brien.

Go on, have a listen. You won't regret it...

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Murali's 800

I am by no means an expert on the career of Muttiah Muralitharan. He made his international debut before I was born, and took most of his wickets while I was in even shorter trousers than now. Sri Lankan games never featured much on TV, and I never saw him play live. So much of my opinion of him is second hand.

There are two distinct schools of thought about Murali. The Hussain-Hair-Howard view is that he is nothing more than a cheat, whose chucking of the ball makes all 800 void. The alternative opinion that he is the greatest bowler of all time also stands up, especially when you consider that the ICC ruled that Murali's bent-arm deformity was within the laws.

Personally, I am torn between the two. Yes, his bowling action probably should have been outlawed. Yes, his doosra is a throw. But what a throw. I defy anyone to bowl with such control, such mystery and such effervescence for 18 years, chucking or not, with that degree of success. There may have been an element of suspicion about Murali's action, but as a birth defect it was hardly deliberate. All he could do was bowl and bowl, and take wicket after wicket. Even with the furore surrounding him for the past 18 years, he kept a smile on his face, and the wickets kept stacking up. It would be wrong to condemn Murali for doing what he did for so long, and as test cricket's first (and probably only) member of the 800 club, the cricketing community should pay their respects to a true legend of the game.

As a player, he enticed millions to take up the game. As a person, he united a warring nation. As a cricketer he was a legend of the game. Whatever you think about Murali, this week of all weeks, cricket should celebrate the achievements of the little man from Sri Lanka who did so much for our sport. Even if Shane Warne was better.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

SMW Podcast - England v Bangladesh ODI series review

I know, snappy title. It's basically a review of the ever-so-exciting England v Bangladesh ODI series, as well as more bagging of Luke Wright.

Here's a preview.

Click here to download this current episode.

Click here for the back catalogue of Short Midwicket Podcasts.

Monday, 12 July 2010

More Wright than Wrong...

Luke Wright: 0 from 1.
Ravi Bopara: 45* from 16.
Who would you rather have in the team?

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

The Maiden Short Midwicket Podcast

Yes. The rumours are true. After roughly 27 hours (sadly I'm not making that up!) I've finally managed to write, record, produce, edit, and upload a podcast to the world wide web. And here it is.

I basically vent my spleen about Luke Wright, as well as chatting about the England-Australia ODI series and the FPt20. It's pretty low rent, I even have to sing my own jingles.

Click here to subscribe to the podcast

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Wright or Wrong?

Yesterday, amongst other things I was doing at Lord's, I watched a bit of cricket. I saw Hussey and Marsh win the game for Australia. I saw Collingwood have a really good go at winning it for England. And I saw the wickets of Wright and Bresnan.

Both are useful bits-and-pieces batsmen. Both hung around with Collingwood in 50+ partnerships. But neither could be counted on to make a Collingwood / Pietersen or Morgan-esque winning contribution on their own. But for Yardy's inexplicable rise to number three, Wright is meant to be England's number 6. A position in the team who needs to make runs. Wright will not make runs. Sure, he'll hit a handy 20 or 30 while keeping someone company, but when the back's against the wall (like it was when he was batting yesterday) he needed to stand up and make an unbeaten 70 or 80. But he didn't.

Wright doesn't get to bowl much - he's only really used as a 'sixth' bowler. Wright isn't good enough to get into the team by virtue of either his batting or bowling. So at number 6, England are playing a specialist "we'll only bowl him if we have to, and he's not going to make many runs" all-rounder. Which begs the question what he's doing in the team. If he's there fulfilling the role as a batsman who can bowl, he's not good enough as a batsman when Collingwood or even Ravi Bopara could do the job much better.

Also at Lord's yesterday; hanging around and looking generally bored (which he has done for the past month) was Steve Finn. Presumably England will want to play him in ODIs at some point, which means he'll either come in like-for-like for a bowler, or for an "all-rounder". England will want to play their new strategy of two spinners (Swann and Yardy), so they're safe. And Broad and Anderson are fairly secure in the side. If Wright is replaced by a proper batsman, Bresnan's place is under fire.

England will be gearing up over the next 12 months for the World Cup next spring, and they'll want to get the balance of the team right. Patently at the moment, the balance is all over the place. England don't need six bowlers (seen in the World T20 when Australia got to the final with four and Watson), so Wright must go. Finn will play at some stage, and the tail of Swann and Broad is plenty strong without Tim Bresnan. So Bresnan must go as well. Wright and Bresnan were big parts of England winning the World T20, as we "got away" with playing only five proper batsmen. We also "got away" with it in the first three ODIs of the series (just). However, the imbalance was exposed by a Shaun Tait-inspired Australia for the final two games, and changes must be made. England are a handy ODI side, but against top quality bowling the batting line up is paper thin. Changes must be made if England are to make it two World Cups in a row.

My England World Cup team

Strauss (c)