Dear Fellow Outside Cricketers,
I am so sorry you have not heard from me, via a post, for quite a while. As some of you may know my mother-in-law was taken seriously ill in early January which meant my wife had to fly out to be with her, and I’ve come over to lend support etc. for a couple of weeks. This has meant that there won’t be a holiday this year, which means I won’t be disappearing off the site for a whole month or so when the cricket season is in full swing in the UK, but it has meant not a lot from me, save for the odd comment here and there on here. As always Chris and Sean have kept the pot boiling, and, of course, the brilliant guest posts we get too!
It also means that the only ball I have seen of any cricket was a catch by Saha on one of ESPN’s top 10 plays of the day segments. This was, sadly, characterised by the usual lack of knowledge from the hosts who said that India lost anyway, which was incorrect at the time because this was on Day 2 of that test match. Or maybe they had a premonition that a team unbeatable at home were going to stuff it up completely second time around, as they had the first. But a little more of that later on.
On the personal front, the mother-in-law is recuperating in a very decent care facility. The main problem with this is it is 90 miles away from her house, where we are staying, so we are seeing a lot of New Jersey’s road network and I’ve not had a ton of time to devote to cricket. I could write many a post on the plusses and minuses of US healthcare, but that’s for another time. We hope the mother-in-law comes home shortly after I return to the UK (next week), but that’s not entirely clear at this point. I’ve had some down time, and this has coincided with record high February temperatures last week (mid 70s fahrenheit), so I can let you all know that on the same day as Storm Doris, here is a picture of where I was in 75 degree heat..
So what has happened in the cricket world since I left? Well, of course, most notably, Australia handed India a hell of a thrashing in Pune. I’ve seen none of it, but it is not hard to draw one conclusion – we were handed a pup by all the know it alls who said that India were unbeatable on their home turf, and that 4-0 was a result we really all should have expected. I’m not saying this now, I was saying it then. You talk down a “potentially great” England team like that, you are going to look stupid when another team gives them a game. A proper game. Rajkot should not have been an outlier, but the standard. The ultimate stain on that team, and that leadership, is that a bloke scored 303 for India against them and was dropped the next match. Karun Nair sits there as a total outlier when it comes to test triple centurions. I’m sure history will frame things differently, but the Tendulkars, Dravids and Gavaskars of this world have not made 300. I’m sure they found M25 surfaces somewhere, somehow, in their time in test cricket (and of course, lets not forget England collapsed in a heap on that Chennai surface the following day).
Australia, of course, were a dead team walking after they’d lost the first two tests against South Africa, and the pundits were on BT Sport having a good old laugh, giving the impression that all England had to do next year is show up and the Ashes would safely remain in out hands. I have my own nickname for Australia, and it is the cockroaches. Not because they are vermin, but because when you think you’ve killed them off, that they won’t return, that you are on top of the “problem”, they pop back up again, and return with a vengeance (this is based on my childhood in a tower block in Deptford – we could not shift those bastards. Cockroaches, not Australians). I will never write that country’s cricketers off. They may go on to lose the series, but Australia showed that they would stand up to India. It wasn’t just getting the best of the wicket, because Australia made 200+ after India were dismissed for 105. No-one is seriously claiming that Nathan Lyon is better in India than Ravi Ashwin, or that Steve O’Keefe is better than Jadeja? Are they? It may be, as I’ve not seen the game, that the pitch suited the Aussies better than expected, but it also show some bloody character in the Aussie make-up that we just excused in the English press prior to Christmas. Of course, let us see how the rest of the series pans out. I’m also keen on not jumping the gun and anointing a team a champion on one result, but you have to admit that this doesn’t cast our media’s supine attitude to the Cook Farewell Tour in a wonderful light thus far, does it?
I’ve not really followed the ODI series in New Zealand at all, if truth be told. I also note England are out in the West Indies, in my time zone (sort of) but there will be little chance of seeing anything until I get home. In the following six days I will have at least three, possibly four visits to the care home, which takes out the entire day, and when I do get home there will be some really good NBA games to watch live at a sociable hour, including the Warriors at the Bulls on Thursday. US sports TV is an interesting behemoth to study, with the amount of talk programming, and “embrace debate” stuff that can lurch from totally perceptive to utterly idiotic within a five minute span. It’s also interesting how much football from England we can get on main sports channels. I was in the care home last week with the Watford v West Ham match on. I couldn’t see the League Cup Final as that was on a less mainstream cable channel (BeIN). Cricket, of course, doesn’t get a sniff anywhere as far as I can see. I sort of know the horror I will face if I ever emigrate.
New Jersey is my second home now, and yet cricket has a part to play in keeping me from it. I would miss not being able to see matches that I want to pay for via some all embracing website that would allow me to do so in one central location – like the US do on NBA, MLB and to a lesser extent NFL – but as I’ve said before, that would require foresight, prescience, vision, altruism and a price set fairly for all. I’ve as much chance of becoming Donald Trump’s Press Secretary than that happening.
Finally, I packed the edition of the Cricketer with the Paul Downton interview in it. I really must finish that piece. I just need to get angry again. Any suggestions.
All the best from South Jersey. Missing England…
Wish you were here,
First of all, best wishes to your mother-in-law.
As a Norwegian resident, I’ve had to “improvise” ways to watch cricket, because otherwise the only sport I’d be getting all winter is cross country skiing. I’m not 100% sure of the legality of the service I use, but as there is no official way to view cricket in Norway I’m not losing any sleep over it.
I even attempted to contact the ECB through email, facebook and twitter last Ashes to ask if there was any way to pay to watch, and received no reply whatsoever. I’m not sure why it isn’t a priority for the ECB (or any other cricket boards for that matter). At one point it was, because the 2013 Ashes were broadcast live on Youtube to countries without a broadcast deal, sponsored by The Times I think it was, but I don’t think anything like that has ever happened again.
Glad to hear that things are going well. Anecdote : I spent a week in Dallas /Fort Worth in Dec 2010/11. I was staying in a shitty motel, don’t ask, staffed by Indians. They were following the Ashes on torrent streams and talked to me about Cook and Trott. It strikes me that the audience for cricket in the US is wide but maybe shallow. Maybe wide enough to get into a broader cable package. Indians in Texas! WTF
I do hope your mum-in-law will soon be very much better. Lots of love.
Fascinating stuff on the Pune pitch:
So this incredibly meaningful WI tour claims its first injury with Ball’s knee-knack. Tom Curran gets the call-up despite averaging 42 with the ball in f/c cricket last year (and his List A average of 27 at 5.3, while better, is still not exactly earth-shattering. Coles, Dernbach, Gurney and Lewis Gregory – to name but four – had better records). Still, he impressed the Lions’ coaches and sounded suitably grovelling about being called up and that’s what really matters these days…..
Meanwhile, Farbsy gives another of his little DM exclusives:
The players mustn’t be distracted? Getting his excuses in first? If they’re really worried about the players not taking this tour seriously enough, perhaps the main coach should be with them? He needs a break – but the players don’t?
“the Lions’ coaches”
Is Flower now talking about himself in the Royal plural?
Dobell points out another problem with Curran’s selection – he’s another RFM bowler:
GD’s tag-line makes interesting reading:
“George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. He will be covering England’s tour of the Caribbean in association with Smile Group Travel, specialists in hosted supporters’ packages”.
These corporate tie-ins are bad enough when it’s the players – but when it’s happening with the journos as well (especially the ones working for wealthy employers who don’t absolutely need this sort of thing)…. .
Perhaps GD will criticise this tour and say it shouldn’t be happening or some senior players should have been rested. Perhaps he already has and I’ve missed it. Perhaps he genuinely doesn’t believe either of those contentions.
And the DM know Friday’s team in advance –
Where could it be coming from?
I own to being somewhat perplexed recently about the very low key reporting of Liam Livingstone’s remarkable batting on the Lions tour. He got a brief nod of acknowledgement from Flower, but he has consistently outbatted Hameed and Jennings, who have both failed. I wonder where he will be in the pecking order come the next test?
have Hameed and Jennings both failed?
I can’t get their stats from work, but my memory is not of failure (maybe not of them as saviours either though).
Hameed was unlucky to get injured and could have kept going / improving.
Will admit to not having heard anything about Livingstone, but that should not surprise anyone as I don’t tend to hear these things!
Not a fifty between them in 8 f/c innings. Jennings averaged 30 and Hameed 8. Batting conditions don’t seem to have been particularly difficult.
Livingstone’s FC batting ave. 54.52 at a strike rate of 59.88
Thinking of you Dmitri. My in-laws were in the Philippines. Mother in law died 2 days after we arrived for a holiday – almost as if it was timed. Amazing story. I’ll tell you at the Oval this summer. Delighted yours is getting better.
Cricket is strange at the moment. There’s stuff happening PSL, Aussiesin India, Saffers v Nz but, must confess, it needs our English guys to bring it alive for me. Hate ECB but need England cricket team – in any coloured shirts.
Don’t/won’t read the press so I don’t know what they’re vomiting at the public at the moment. Suspect they’re out of ideas. Hopefully, Pringle is one of those signed up for the Spacex trip round the moon.
Hameed unlucky to get a broken hand? I agree that the Indian quicks were quite rapid but not exactly Brett Lee at Perth rapid. Let’s not big up a young guy until he does a Neil Harvey in 1948 at Headingley, or Cowdrey at Melbourne in 1954.
Maybe we could have a contest for the job description for Trevor Bayliss.
Coach required. Plenty of time to stay at home with family. Generous sick leave. No duty to watch county cricket. Ignorance of players he is required to coach to international standard is assumed. No requirement to take responsibility for the team’s results. Unconditional support for the ECB captain is required at all times. Generous financial package.
We’ve gone back to the old school definition of coach as being the friendly middle aged bloke who pats the players on the back and puts out the cones for the warm-ups.
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Contrast with Eddie Jones. Almost every week some club pops up to say how he visited, chatted with the staff and ran a coaching session. While he is running an international team. And every week his team is not playing, he is spotted watching a game somewhere.
Just saw that John “Jackie” Hampshire has died. My first memory of televised cricket was Hampshire scoring a century at Lords against West Indies in 1969. And the poor guy lived through the 70s as the focus of the Yorkshire dissidents who hated Boycott. He became a top notch umpire. But he loved the leg side too much to be a proper Yorkie. Rest in peace
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Kent chairman who was vociferous against the new T20 tournament and about Hampshire remaining in D1 is going:
Coincidence? (Genuine question – maybe it is, anyone know?)