A Time For Contemplation

We’ve had a busy old winter, and now, before the World T20, we have a time for a little reflection and recuperation.

I thought I’d set up a new post as the previous one had 110 or so comments, and very few of them related to the post itself! Incidentally, if you do follow the basketball at all, Stephen Curry performed one of his miracles last night. But if things merit your attention and comment, fire away here.

There was a very small kerfuffle this week. Don’t want to go into it too much, for fear of giving the individual too much attention, but sad to say as a result I’ve turned my Twitter Feed private for the time being. I have no idea why what I say about our authorities and our media upsets the pearl clutchers so much, but that’s the way of the world.

Yes, I still need to finish Blackwash, but I had other things to do this weekend.  Pietersen has said he’s off social media for a while, Dobell writes the odd article but he says he is off it too while he finishes the Trott book, and all said and done, there’s not a lot going on.

I read an Ed Smith article in an old edition of the Wisden Cricketer about pre-season training. He didn’t show off. He didn’t put in some obscure classical reference, or cultural anchor point. It was really, very good. I wish he’d write like that rather than wanting to be recognised as the smartest guy in the room.

I really can’t be bothered about the T20 and CC changes. Deckchair rearrangement. That may be an excess of cynicism. But it’s how I feel.

Have a good week, all.

 

Advertisements

Glory In Their Hands

Please do try to stick with me through this. It might ramble a little more than usual. It is related to cricket….trust me.

stephen-curry-032515-getty-ftr_65ib5q6vn5uj1ffzkxaxhf8n2

In the United States, some of you may be aware of a basketball team called the Golden State Warriors. They play in “unfashionable” Oakland to full houses, and until last year, had not won the NBA championship since 1975; and when they triumphed last year it was over the mighty LeBron James. They were probably better known for many years as the team who Michael Jordan injured his foot against (which put him out of his second season in the NBA, by and large), but for the most part they wandered around the lower reaches of the Western Conference, obscured by the monstrous Lakers to the south in LA, an afterthought when marveling at the San Antonio Spurs.

Through a combination of good fortune (picking Stephen Curry (the league MVP last year) up in the draft, the development of Klay Thompson and Draymond Green), good business (trading for really good fits for other starting slots and the bench) and a great coaching team, they are threatening the NBA regular season record of 72 wins set by my hero’s team in the 1995/6 season. They pack out houses across the US, they sell a huge amount of merchandise, and the TV companies can’t get enough of them. They are simply wonderful to watch.

I am also reading a book at the moment called “The Ugly Game” and it is the Times Insight Team’s book on the widespread corruption surrounding the Qatar 2022 World Cup bid. I absolutely cannot get enough of the World Cup. It is, to a large degree, a great leveller. It is still, just about, a meritocracy when it comes to on the field play. England, despite having tons of cash, are useless at it. France can come and go, Germany always seem to do well because their players put international football on a pedestal, similarly Italy, and to a certain extent, recently, Spain have bought in. Then there’s Brazil and Argentina, and even the so-called “minnows” now can put up a damn fine show. It’s a fantastic event, run by a bunch of absolute venal c***s. And I don’t use that word every day on here. Every page of the book gets me more and more angry.

At the weekend Manchester City played in the FA Cup 5th Round. They were three wins away from a major final in a year when the league looks out of reach. Their manager threw a hissy-fit about having to play this on a Sunday and then Dinamo Kiev (a three and a half hour flight away) on Wednesday (and I’ll bet they aren’t going cattle class either) so played a team of inexperienced or reserve players and lost 5-1. No-one seems to batt an eyelid, and yet another nail is put into the FA Cup’s coffin. The same Cup competition that meant the world to all football fans twenty years ago.

So what? What do they have to do with cricket?

For the Golden State Warriors, lets take a slight flight of fancy here and look at the recent performances, if not results, of New Zealand. Here’s a team with very limited resources, unfashionable, but with some excellent new talent allied to the old, and playing in a way that attracts fans. They are immensely popular with neutrals. They reached last year’s World Cup Final. They played attacking, attractive cricket in England. In the NBA they’d be inundated with requests to be on TV. They’d be the talk of the town. McCullum’s century would be played on every media network for a few weeks. Williamson would be feted as a genius, a talent to savour. Australia can even be their LeBron to New Zealand’s Steph. But they are small-fry, “not a big draw”. As far as the ECB are concerned, New Zealand away is now a tour to be tagged on to the end of the next Ashes. Or a prequel to a home series. Bravo!

For FIFA, we have the ICC. I am in no position to cast aspersions on their fiscal probity, but let’s face it, as Death of a Gentleman showed, the secrecy is there. Where curtains are drawn, and the probers kept out, there’s a high correlation that there are people up to no good. Like FIFA, they hold our love of the game in their hands, and like FIFA, they use it to make lots and lots of money. It is not enough to say that we can’t do anything about it, and if we do, we’ll get squashed. Sport may be a business but it doesn’t have to make that its “virtue” (and subsequent vice). The win at the back-slapping, ain’t we all jolly marvellous, Sports Journalist Awards for the film should have shamed all those cricket journalists present. They had done nothing to do what Sam and Jarrod did. OK, very little. Because they are scared of the ICC, and by extension, the ECB. We’ve gone down that line before. Because I hate their actions, I can’t give their public persona, the international team in the case of the ECB, my total support. Maxie puts the case more strongly than me in a lively old post today, but I’m not a million miles away from his view.

And then there’s the Manchester City question and their treatment of the FA Cup (and they are by no means the only ones – see Arsenal). Again, another read across for the sport of cricket. For the FA Cup, read test cricket. The 142 year old history puts it alongside test cricket for longevity. Its history gave it its lustre, and the fans of my age group loved it. My team even made the Final in 2004, a lifetime’s ambition. Winning that semi at Old Trafford was one of the greatest sporting occasions of my life. Three seasons ago we made the semis again. I never went. Didn’t care. We were beaten by Man Utd in 2004, who barely broke sweat, and whose fans treated the win like a visit to the dentists. I remember drawing Southampton away in 2003, and looked back at when we played them in four matches in 1986 (both cups), which contained one goal between them, but in the case of the two at The Den, were pulsating matches, played in front of pretty full houses, certainly for the FA Cup. When we went to St Mary’s, there were a distinct lack of Southampton fans. They’d voted with their feet. This 4th round tie wasn’t important, at all. Sure, they got more into it when they reached the Final, but they’d voted with their feet. Not important enough. The other competition, the league, meant much, much more. Because of money. And that’s what is happening to test cricket. T20 is more important because of money, whether you like it or not, to the players, and increasingly to the fans.

These are three examples of sport to have hit me in the last few days. While I watched most of the T20 match on Sunday and sat there only really enjoying the sheer magnificence of Jos Buttler (and I will always want him to do really well) from an England perspective, I wondered what I’m doing. I saw Hashim Amla’s early assault and loved to see a class player fit right in to this format without the biff bang wallop and realised that this sport has a lot to offer. But that’s just it. When you know that your love and passion is fuelling the cynicism, the money-grabbing, and yes, probably the corruption too (mainly focusing on how India fans devotion to IPL is being abused), it’s soul destroying. For some, this can be separated, for some, it can’t.

Which takes me back to Golden State. I am not a devoted, lifelong supporter of the Warriors (although I liked their team of the early 90s with Mullin, Hardaway and Richmond) but I make sure I record every game of their’s this season when they are on the TV. Without wishing to be a hostage to fortune, it is a well run sport (Adam Silver, the Commissioner, is highly regarded), I know nothing of the Warriors owners antics, and I therefore watch a wonderful sporting team, playing superb, exciting basketball and enjoy the sport. Maybe it’s me deliberately not wanting to know there’s something wrong. It would spoil the enjoyment I’m getting. You can’t un-know what you know. But the general consensus is that this is a good thing. A less fashionable team, through a mix of good luck and good management have a great thing going. It’s lovely to watch.

There’s great sport in many places, but everywhere it is under threat where the principle is to make money before considering what you are putting out there. When sport does this, it loses. When it loads the dice, it loses. When meritocracy and hope are suppressed, it loses. Cricket, and in particular our board, really need to think about it and not take the current slow-ish ticket sales for this year’s international cricket as evidence to retrench some more back to safe, money-making series. Because if you build good sport, and don’t take your fans, your customers, for fools, they will come. One day, that problem may hit the great behemoth that is football. You can never be too sure.

Death of a Gentleman – update

Just a short note to add this blog’s congratulations to Jarrod Kimber and Sampson Collins for winning Best Documentary at this evening’s Sport Journalism Awards.

This was a film of the utmost importance, and raised issues that much of the cricketing press in this country preferred to ignore.  That it received the attention it did, and is now the Award Winning Death of a Gentleman is fantastic news and thoroughly deserved.

If you missed it, our piece on just why this film was so important, and why all cricket lovers everywhere should see it, our Review may provide some explanation.

Well done gents – the recognition your hard work and persistence warranted.

South Africa vs England: 2nd T20 Review

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Enter The Cauldron…You Get Boiled!

For reasons which have never been entirely clear, the BBC in their wisdom decide that while Test matches and tournaments are covered on the Radio Four long wave frequency, a T20 like this one isn’t, with them advertising coverage of Sports Extra which is of absolutely bugger all use to most people driving a car at the time as without digital radio there’s no way of listening to it.  It’s a curious policy for the BBC to have – one would think that those who listen to TMS usually would probably also listen to a T20 match, but apparently not.

All of which is by way of explanation that this afternoon was spent driving back from a family engagement, tuning in to try and listen to South Africa’s reply, and being unable to.  Having watched England perform a collapse that was spectacular even by their exalted standards, the final total was unlikely to ever be enough, but the hammering that followed wasn’t entirely expected.

All of which means that this is going to be a short post due to an inability to reasonably assess the defeat, except to say that the collapse was partly bad luck (the run out of Morgan) and partly self-inflicted (the run out of Hales).

What isn’t surprising is that the response concerned it being an inexperienced side and the various excuses therein.  As so often, there may be a grain of truth in it, but at some point those have to stop – with a global tournament next month you couldn’t say England go into it as one of the favourites, no matter how some have tried to big them up.

Over to you to tell me what the hell happened.

 

South Africa v England – 2nd T20

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The Wanderers taken from the Unity Stand

So to the end of the tour. The final game. Lord knows when we’ll return, given it’s been six years since we last turned up. Maybe we can squeeze in two more Ashes tours before the next visit? That’s what we all want, right?

England will be smarting from the defeat on Friday. Well, if they aren’t they bloody well should be. They didn’t make enough runs, but not by as much as we thought at half-way, and then bowled and contained well to get themselves into a winning position. The ending summed up the game. England lost the game on a fielding error that prevented the match going to a Super Over.

Today the game is in Jo’burg. The legendary bull ring. The graveyard of bowlers in T20 cricket. There have been eight scores of over 200 there in the limited history of T20 international cricket. Last year South Africa posted 231 and lost.

But we heard all this in the run-up to the ODI and it was, by recent standards, relatively low scoring. So who knows what we’ll get.

Comments on the game, if you care, below. “These people” on the blog will be honest and forthright and tell it as it is. And that’s from me.

UPDATE – South Africa win the toss and bowl. England bring in Billings for Willey.

Rainy Days And Mondays

I drafted a piece for the blog on Monday (15th) and decided not to post it. I thought it was all getting a bit repetitive. But the Bogfather, through a comment in the post below, made me rethink.

P1030628-01
Sometimes I feel like Meaker in this picture

You can sit up last night and watch people fall over themselves watching a tour de force by Brendon McCullum that was as fortunate as it was exhilirating and still be entranced by this sport. This was the test equivalent of my club side sh*tting it when someone started hitting the ball really hard. But watching it, communicating with the Tweeters you like, ignoring those that you don’t, or you think have really gone off the boil, and think this sport still has a ton to offer. So read this as someone who hadn’t watched the 1st day’s play last night.

“Treadmill”

The treadmill rolls on to a T20 series. England’s winter tour is reaching its denouement and all eyes will soon turn to an ICC tournament to be held next month in India. England have won one test series and lost one test series. They have won one ODI series and lost one ODI series. They have won one T20 series, so let’s see how this one goes…. there is a pattern there.

This blogger, though, finds himself in a different position than before. Previously there was true anger. A rage fuelled by my view that there was an injustice done to a player, and a contempt shown to the punters. While it was not about getting KP back, getting him back would have been a rapprochement of sorts. If it was just a T20 World Cup, then it would have been a sound cricketing decision. Of course the ECB would never pick him. Imagine what would have happened if he’d been a roaring success, like the time we won the competition. Leaving him out was by far the safest option. By the end of this farce the main reason I wanted him picked was to see the reaction of some of the resident obsessed online, more than the freak show another performance for England would be.

But there is not so much anger now. Not really. Oh, don’t get me wrong, the ECB have absolutely no right to think that I’m back on side, and all is right with the world. They are wrong if they believe that in finally accepting the end of KP in an England shirt means I’m back on the bus. They could not be further from the truth. They’ve lost me as an England cricket supporter.

This is a monumental achievement, and you’d have seen it coming from two or so years ago. Let me put into words the scale of this achievement. From a child I’ve loved the England cricket team. One of my commenters said how he used to listen to TMS on the overseas tours overnight, so that he was sleep deprived. I once sneaked a radio into a mock exam room to listen to the 4th day of the India v England test in 1985 (when it appeared as though we couldn’t get Azharuddin or Amarnath out). I started going to test matches, went on three tours (two to Australia, one to South Africa) when I had money, and tried to watch as much as I could. I recorded cricket for posterity, have most England tests on highlights since 2005 (having had to throw the rest out before due to compatability issues) and at times probably knew too many stats for my own good. I bought replica stuff, even as an older man who should know better, kept the stubs, the programs, the memorabilia. As you will know, I took photos, lots and lots of photos. The sport was one I played, I loved and still do. But England, I’m sorry, have lost me. If Adelaide 2006 happened now, I reckon I wouldn’t care. Back then, it was devastating.

This is running over “Schism” again, and I expect the same old same old. But I don’t care if this is repetitive. TLG’s excellent piece on the interviews with Cook last week put a lot of my concerns, a lot of what I had been saying, in context. Did you notice that the selection of an ICC tournament team did not merit a press conference with either the Chairman of Selectors (the man responsible for the selection of the side), any of his panel, nor with the Director, England Cricket (the man responsible for the team), the CEO (who was there when the decision not to go with KP was announced by Strauss) or the Chairman (he’s in Downton’s cupboard)? None of them thought this squad was worthy of explanation. If they did, I missed it. If the press asked, I missed it.

What followed was a soft toss interview with Cook. Only they will know, but that looked to me like certain questions were said to be off limits, so off limits they remained. This was preceded by Hussain’s Daily Mail interview with Eoin Morgan. I’ve seen mentioned that by saying what he did, Eoin Morgan has become a target for the KP fans. Apart from providing us with a great catchphrase, and that’s from me, this was an advance message sent by a captain who, as far as I am aware, is not part of the selection panel. At the time we were 2-0 up in the series and lots of wind was being blown into Mr Morgan’s sails. Six days later, and the series lost, such bravado, such confidence now looks like arrogance. I’m sad our captain, who clearly had no beef in the past with KP, nailed his colours to the mast. But I’m not berating him for it. I put it down to media strategy and such forth. Call me what you want, but you know I’m not going to be a million miles off (no way Morgan puts that statement out without clearing it first).

But this is all mere fluff. The other side of the debate is claiming the spoils. The other side never really cared about the main themes, seeming to concentrate on the one that drove them the most – antipathy to KP, antipathy to those calling for his return. For many, an explanation was not what was required. Ed Smith once told us that Alex Ferguson never told the public why he sold Beckham (he did, later). For some, they just wanted the whole thing to go away. Given our politics at the moment evoke the same response from me shows wishful thinking – you still have to deal with it.

We wanted to be treated as adults. As proper supporters of the team. Not as part of the decision-making process, but true, to use that abhorrent word, stakeholders. A national team is our team. It brings out the best, and worst, in all of us, but above all, it is our team. It represents us. As do those who run the game, who administer the sport, who make the decisions. They should be making them on behalf of us, using their judgement, reporting back and explaining. We have had too much decision making and not enough transparency. Even when they say they have. By not saying anything about the Pietersen non-selection, when it was out there, being talked about, they were representing only themselves.

I am a blogger. A fan of the game. I know I am representing just one person. Myself. Others may agree with me, others may disagree. It is clear that those who agree with me will comment on here. I think I’ve been quite fair, if forceful in what I would like to see happen. I’m not naive. I know how “business” works. I know, to some degree, how “comms” works, and I know a cover-up when I see one. I’m pleased that the other side of the argument approves of this. I really, really do.

So, it’s not good to be angry for too long. We have the press we deserve, always keen to shoot down the infantry when there’s an officer class to protect. We have the coverage we deserve, slick, on message, vacuous for large parts of the time, names over substance, and never really questioning the powers that be. And we have the bloggers we deserve; inveterate moaners, massive smart arses, those in love with their own prose, those in love with their own voice (and yes, I am more than one of those!).

I’m fearful, actually. I have said many times that I walked away from Millwall. I’m not a season-ticket holder. I don’t have any desire to go to games any more. I don’t really love the sport any more. But I still get happy when they win, and still a little miffed if they lose. I do care. The authorities at my football club have to strike a pretty precarious balance, but with a couple of exceptions (one Chief was a complete lying prick) they weren’t against me. I don’t feel that about those who run English cricket. They do not give a shit. So it’s time to reciprocate. It remains to be seen that my lack of respect for them will manifest itself in constant output on the blog. I’ll try. But it’s hard to get enthused to write, when it’s hard to get enthused about the team you are, mainly, writing about. You don’t want a piece like this every week. And I don’t want to write it.

 

As I said, written last Monday. Thoughts and feelings evolve, even in that short time.

South Africa vs England: 1st T20 review

If we’re honest, then generally speaking the outcome of an international T20 tacked on to the end of a tour would be worthy of limited comment and response, sometimes we don’t even get round to writing anything about them, which may say more about us than anything else.  It’s the disposable Christmas present of international cricket, that one you look at, smile politely, toy with for a few minutes then put back in the bag never to be seen again.

With the World T20 approaching though, there’s more interest than normal, not least because of how these matches are to all intents and purposes part of the warm up for the competition.  It does have to be said that South African pitches bear no relation whatever to the conditions in India, but as an exercise in seeing how this new, exciting (®ECB) England team perform, then it has merit.

And how did they perform?  Well, for a side whose bowling has been decidedly average in the one dayers, this was a marked improvement.  To nearly defend 134 on a pitch where all the forecasts (for what they’re worth) had suggested 180 was the target was a pretty good effort.  But the reason that pretty good effort was required was down to another batting performance where England lost wickets while trying to be aggressive and stumbled to a modest score.  This is a difficult one, because if England are going to play this way, then there will be days when it all goes wrong, and the worst thing that can happen is for them to be criticised accordingly, while celebrating the days it goes right.  It’s the old “score at ten an over, but don’t take any risks” exhortation.  What can be said is that going hell for leather in all circumstances is not that much of an improvement in terms of consistently winning matches than being overly circumspect in all circumstances.  The very best teams adapt to conditions in a way that at this stage England don’t seem able to.  Given the choice of two limited tactical approaches, this is by far the better, but it would be nice to know that they had a Plan B from time to time.

As an aside, Kevin Pietersen got runs again, and is in his third T20 final of the winter.  There may be no way back, but it doesn’t mean he has to stop embarrassing the ECB.

It does mean that when all goes well they are a thrilling side to watch, and they did at least get some kind of score to defend, thanks to Buttler in particular doing just that kind of adapting.  Unfortunately, we’re still not really sure what kind of side England are, or what they’re capable of achieving.  Imran Tahir taking 4-21 is not a terribly promising sign for next month though, even if many of the dismissals were remarkably careless in nature.

What England did do rather well was squeeze in both the field and with the ball.  Chris Jordan has had a fairly miserable time of it so far on this tour in white ball cricket, but here he was outstanding, taking England to a position where they really should have won the game.  That they didn’t, well poor Reece Topley.  Having dropped Chris Morris first ball, he then had the over from hell, with balls two and three going for four and six; then missing a straightforward run out that would have tied the game and taken the sides into a super over.  The best thing that can be said is that these things do sometimes happen, and better now than in a knockout match in the World Cup.

For South Africa?  It’s hard to say.  They bowled well but made incredibly hard work of what ought to have been a straightforward target.  As ever, it’s a question of whether that was down to England playing well or them badly.  But it’s unlikely they’ll have learnt too much from this one.

It was quite good fun though.

South Africa vs England: 1st T20

Apologies for the tardiness of the post, meetings etc this morning.

Today is the first of two matches between the sides with the World T20 looming on the horizon. Comments on the game below, and a review of it to come later.

The women’s match is coming to a conclusion at the time of writing. These double headers are a great idea for getting people into the ground, and of course ensuring television coverage.

As Easy As ABD…That’s From Me

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
From 2008. AB.

You’ve got me. TLG was at The Who last night, and is working(ish) today, so it’s Dmitri for your “sort of” match report.

In the end we were well beaten today. Alex Hales can hold his head high. Reece Topley can do so too. The rest… well we’ll be charitable and say some might look at themselves. However, to use an awful phrase, the direction of travel is still pointing the correct way. Setbacks are natural.

There’s a temptation to view ODI cricket as black and white. England’s previous tactics, exemplified in the World Cup, were out of date, out of time and out of ideas. The new approach is attacking, aggressive, more in tune with the requirements of the 50 over game. The meme today is that the latter is good, except when it doesn’t work.My personal view is that this is exceptionally lazy, and easy, punditry. Laud the excitement, scold them for being reckless. It’s called having your cake and eating it. Nasser Hussain, I’m talking about you.

Too many were bemoaning the England team hitting out and getting out, and not “playing the conditions”. Remember when we scored the 400 at Edgbaston last year – it wasn’t from 200 for 1. The punditerati seem to love this attacking stuff, except when it fails. You have to wonder if they are suffering from ADHD or something. I expect it from professional Yorkshiremen (and shiny toy ones too). You need to work out what is most likely to win. There’s commitment to the plan. That’s not a bad thing, as a whole.

The fact is that these games are of their moment. England won the World T20 in 2010, and have not won an international tournament other than that (I mean ICC of course). These bilateral series scarcely have any relevance. We beat New Zealand in a decider last June, and lost to Australia in a decider in September, but we don’t really recall them (you hear anyone mention Bairstow’s Houdini act in the NZ game?). This is the journey to massive event, and there will be bumps along the way. The only way to win games consistently playing this way is to continue to play this way. I know some will rue the lack of brains (I did) and it’s a fair comment, but this team approaches a game aiming for 300 minimum. I’d rather see them fail in trying than just whimper up to a score.

Well done to Alex Hales for his sensible, well-made hundred. Sure, his partners let him down, but it’s still good to see the tyro opener knuckle down and make a century. This will do him the world of good. He’s had a fine series. Reece Topley’s opening spell opened up the match, but class and experience in AB and Hashim steadied the ship and then took the game by the scruff of the neck. While this is a young England team, it’s also a quite young South African bowling attack, and the differencce in ODI caps, as Simon pointed out earlier, isn’t vast. But experience is married with maturity in the senior pros in the home team, and this was clever, sensible batting chasing a mediocre total.

Lots will be made that we lost a series from 2-0 up. Shrug your shoulders. So what? The next two international tournaments at 50 over level are being played on our fair shores. Let’s get to be the best in those conditions. These overseas jaunts sell tickets for home grounds, get people watching on TV, and can provide some stunning entertainment. But they mean little. We all know that. We know now what we knew before, but with more evidence.

Hales – more solid presence at the top of the order, and now nailed on for his spot after top scoring this series.

Roy – Still more miss than hit. Might find himself under pressure.

Root – World class, the anchor man who scores at a decent lick. Two centuries in losing causes. First batting name on sheet.

Morgan – Disappointing with the bat. Disappointed with him for that interview. Sure it’s a coincidence the series went downhill after that.

Buttler – One magnificent hundred, one impressive closure, then failed. He’s this team in a nutshell. When he’s good, we’re very very good.

Stokes – Absolutely infuriating at this form of the game. Some good contributions but we know there is more.

Ali – Frustrating series. I await the siren calls to get him to open if Roy doesn’t make some strides.

Rashid – You know, I like him. Bowled well when I saw him. He’s not going to be lights out.

Broad – Not really made a compelling case to play in this squad, rather than just save him for tests.

Woakes – The dullest enigma going. Some like him, some don’t. Good squad man.

Willey – Absolutely not convinced he’s international class.

Topley – Made some strides. I’m not convinced he’s the solution, but I’m also sure he’s not the problem.

Jordan – Doesn’t appear to have progressed. Got to be under pressure.

Be interested to hear your thoughts.

AB was majestic after a relatively quiet South African summer. He took his time to get in, and had the luxury of knowing a target in doing so, and timed it to perfection. It was a wonderful captain’s innings. It clinched a series that looked lost. He reminded us of his ability. Appreciate it while it is here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Another from 2008

The Decider

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Memories of Newlands – Being Able To Walk On The Outfield

At 8am tomorrow morning (just, as I start writing this at 11:50) the decider will commence at the iconic Newlands ground. South Africa have clawed it back to 2-2, with a skin of their teeth win I’ve not seen a jot of. I have the highlights on my Tivo so I’ll get around to it. But it’s not exactly a priority at the moment.

You can share your comments below, as always. I’m not sure when I’ll surface from my pit, but it won’t be 8am, that’s a certainty.

I did describe myself to someone, after a particularly superb flounce on Thursday, as a world-class sulker. Difference between me and many others is I’ll admit I can be a right old stroppy sod. But this series is doing nothing for me. It changed tack a little more when the media strategy, about as transparent as the cleanest of windows, to build up to the World T20 announcement, and then throw Cook out to do his “aww shucks, down on the farm” routine, and I’m honest in that. Me and English cricket are currently in a phase of conscious uncoupling.

So while we look at the loss of Waitrose (worth reading George Dobell’s tweets on this) and the rearrangement of the deckchairs on SS Cricketer Magazine – and Evans-Tipping entrepreneured brilliantly – there’s a series to be decided. The essence is in the lack that this really matters. Do we care who won the deciders in our ODI series in the summer? Not really. We enjoyed it when we beat New Zealand, shrugged when we collapsed in a heap against the Aussies. It’s the overall, and I hate this phrase, “direction of travel” that matters. The Champions Trophy in 2017 is the target.

Simon Hughes - The Analyst

So enjoy this piece of cricketing fluff if you like – yeah, I know what I said before, but let’s face it, I have to face reality – and get involved emotionally if it’s your thing. I’ll be around mid-morning if you need me.

Meanwhile Adam Voges becomes the third man to make 239, while dropping his average below 100. Andy Ganteaume stands alone, still.

P1030679-01
Was someone thinking of Mr Yellow?

Happy Days!