Liquefied Natural Gas

By way of entertainment, I’ve been reading some of our old favourite’s work so you don’t have to.

Who might that be, you ask?

Fox Sports Australia regrets latest appointment
Fox Sports Australia regrets latest appointment

Yes, our old man who used to be at the Telegraph, a man who topped our polls for worst journalist on a regular basis, and yes, who deemed us poor saps who write using blog names as “irrelevances” has got himself an Ashes gig with Fox Sports Australia. In return for some coinage to recompense him for his views and insight, Oman’s cricket consultant (what, you didn’t know) has regaled those Down Under with some tremendous insight.

Here’s something from a piece just after Cardiff…

If England were not quite wetting themselves at the prospect of facing Mitchell Johnson and all the other Mitchells currently operating with menace, they were pretty apprehensive about it. But a Cardiff pitch shorn of pace, especially in the middle where the main Mitchell is most effective, brought about a double play after England’s victory – simultaneously raising the home side’s spirits while depressing Australia’s, a situation obvious to anyone who watched the past few days’ play.

Suddenly Alastair Cook and his men know there is little to fear, providing climate change doesn’t accelerate like Lewis Hamilton and turn the pitches rock hard overnight. Facing fast bowlers without fear gnawing at you is bolstering in a way that is hard to explain to those who have never been pinned to the crease by 90mph thunderbolts aimed at your throat.

I love hindsight. Yes, I was going on about distress signals, but also, this is a tough bunch of professionals now, not some flaky old players with no recent success behind them and I recognised that. I suppose the Aussie audience want some good old fashioned Pommie jingoism, Muppet…

Tours can unravel at an alarming speed when they start as badly as this one has done for Australia. Teams can play poorly, that is the nature of sport, but it cannot help that Clarke, with his chronic back problems, and several other senior players are on their last Ashes tour.

This is it now. All first test malaises are to be measured about a tour that unravelled spectacularly with our lot. You note that Australia lost the first two over here last time and definitely had the better of the third and to a lesser degree the fifth tests because they did not collapse. It does not follow that Australia will act like England did 18 months ago. However, in lazy journo mode, this is the only precedent, it seems, worth considering.

As a captain heading for the exit and no doubt worn down by the prospect of being the first Australian to lose four Ashes series in England, any further setbacks could see him move on mentally to the next phase of his career.

I don’t know. That doesn’t sound like Michael Clarke to me. What say you?

Maybe Shane Warne’s claim that Starc is ‘soft’ will pique him into declaring himself fit.

Oh yeah. That would do it. Wouldn’t be a muppet piece without some snark.

England, hugely buoyed by their swaggering victory, will also take heed of the recent past. They went one-nil up against New Zealand earlier this summer only to be hauled back to parity in the second Test. Yet that was before Trevor Bayliss had settled onto his perch on the dressing-room balcony, an Aussie hawk to lend talons to Cook’s English dove.

Finally, Cardiff, despite being an opening Test, felt like a watershed moment. During the Ashes series six years ago, Cook’s predecessor Andrew Strauss announced that Australia had lost their aura, and was proved right. Expect Cook to advance that claim again.

I do miss him at the Telegraph. It felt like a watershed, there’s a hawk for poor ickle Ally’s little precious dove (the deer shooting callous bastard). Beautiful. Brings a tear to my eye.

http://www.foxsports.com.au/cricket/the-ashes/ashes-2015-england-knows-theres-little-to-fear-from-australias-quicks-writes-derek-pringle/story-e6frf3gl-1227439838392

But there’s a lot more. There’s a podcast that I’m sorry, you can’t pay me enough to listen to. My eyes are sore enough as it is without feeling the need to stick nails in them listening to this man’s wit and wisdom. So I’ll read some more…

OUCH, that hurt.

Mitchell Johnson may not have bruised many England bodies at Lord’s, but his fast aggressive bowling broke their resolve.

Three wickets did not do his savage brilliance justice, but Australia will tell you it is a team game and the other bowlers certainly benefited from his efforts as England’s second innings disintegrated in a measly 37 overs.

You changed fast, Muppet.

Less edifying is the sight of craven capitulation, something England were guilty of and something their selectors have a fortnight to come to terms with.

Getting bowled out in the fewest overs ever in the fourth innings in a Test at Lord’s has created an unholy mess and James Whitaker and his panel must now figure out how, and who, they need to cope with Mitch and the other Mitchells.

It will not be simple.

Three of England’s top four are ailing badly though there are hardly a plethora of worthy candidates bashing down the door.

Less a watershed, more a boggy swamp. One week eh? Needed rock hard pitches, eh? No-one seemed to consider the Aussies came into the first test a little undercooked, did they?

Now, there are hardly a plethrora of worthy candidates bashing down the door. That’s partly because the ECB locked one in the cellar and chucked away the key, the duplicitous lying bastards. There is no way this Muppet will mention his name. Here comes the insight:

Jonny Bairstow reached a hundred for Yorkshire the exact moment Jos Buttler edged Johnson to Peter Nevill and has been in purple form all summer.

But it wasn’t long ago he was discounted for Test cricket because of a problem against the short ball.

The Romans may not have minded one-sided contests in the colosseum, but unless Bairstow has overcome his apprehension against the bouncer it would be cruel to pitch him against Johnson in this mood.

There will be advocates for batsmen like Alex Hales and James Taylor, but neither has done well for Nottinghamshire in red ball cricket this season.

James Vince, from Hampshire, has been on the fringes of England selection and can pull well, but like most young players he is the spawn of T20.

“The spawn of T20” being spat out like it’s vile. David Warner is the spawn of T20. One could argue Virat Kohli is. Our wicket-keeper made his name in T20. Why the bile, Degsy?

I thought I’d also highlight this magnificent piece of muppetry that I want to stick on a plinth and polish every day:

In another era Ben Stokes would have been dropped for sheer stupidity after he was run out by Johnson, a dismissal that would not have occurred had he the whit to ground his bat.

Stokes is a huge talent but will never fully realise it while he refuses to engage his grey matter in the sporting process.

There it is. Right there. What is wrong with English cricket. People who write this absolute fuckwittery retain paid positions.

Australia now have all their batsmen, Clarke perhaps the exception though he did make an unbeaten 32 setting the target, and all their main bowlers, confident and firing.

Suddenly, the woes of the world are England’s — a feeling Cook and some of his players know only too well when it comes to Ashes cricket.

A week is a long time in cricket. So it is in cricket writing.

http://www.foxsports.com.au/cricket/england-eye-michell-johnson-breaks-england-resolve-with-savage-fast-bowling/story-e6frf3g3-1227448731650

Do you want more?

How about this from Day 2 of the 1st Test:

It looked like hopeful thinking until Smith, who came into the series with some serious plaudits about being the best batsman in world cricket, got in a horrible tangle and poked the ball to Alastair Cook at short mid-wicket, instantly transporting England’s captain into the realms of tactical genius.

Yes. Good captaincy, good field position, snark at Smith, job done. Smoke blown up Cooky’s backside. Lovely.

Next – how about Derek’s marks out of 10…

http://www.foxsports.com.au/cricket/the-ashes/ashes-2015-derek-pringles-england-report-card-from-second-test-at-lords/story-e6frf3gl-1227450609751

I think some of this is accurate, but some of the digs…well….

At the moment he looks jittery at the crease and is not watching the ball, a problem Mark Ramprakash, England’s batting coach, also suffered from when uptight, which was most of the time.

No personal vendetta there given who he replaced, Muppet?

But 128 runs in his last 12 Test innings suggests chances aplenty and the selectors should move on.

Remember, there are no replacements. So drop him (Bell).

He has tired quickly during series before and it may be that back-to-back Tests hit him hard.

Someone check that out with Root. Thought it was technical issues and opening/ number 3 in previous series v Australia, but swear he got a big hundred in the 5th test at The Oval last year, didn’t he? Where’s this nonsense come from?

Three ratings for Stokes, a supremely gifted cricketer though one you would not necessarily want in your pub quiz team.

Being in your pub quiz team = a requirement for great test teams. You snob.

Trouble is idiotic tendencies do overcome him, like his naive run-out in the second innings where he failed to ground his bat despite being well in.

His dismissal did not make a difference to the result but its carefree nature was suggestive of a team who does not give a fig about losing and England supporters won’t tolerate that.

You see, the one thing I think about Ben Stokes is that he doesn’t give a toss. All that anger and rage in him, shows up his lack of giving a toss. What the effing hell is this muppet on about? He made a mistake running between the wickets. Jesus. It’s hardly a death penalty offence. But no, he’s a bit rough round the edges, a bit angry, a bit not my type, so the lectures rain down on him. Stokes had better watch out, because they need a new KP, and he’s prime candidate.

Blue-eyed boy, literally and metaphorically. Or at least he was until his star began to wane to the point where he has made just two significant Test scores (fifty plus) in his last 11 innings.

More famous in the last Test when he walked, Adam Gilchrist-style after nicking off to Nathan Lyon, but wicketkeepers have always been strange beasts. His ‘keeping has been decent enough but he needs to deliver a telling knock soon.

This is drivel. Pure drivel.

Another with two ratings but another cricketing schizophrenic. He carried the home side’s attack manfully on an unresponsive pitch (at least for England’s bowlers) yet he appears to have excused himself from getting stuck in with the bat.

His shot-a-ball insouciance, when England could have done with some hard grind, was inexcusable except in the second innings when the end was nigh. A classy Test bowler but a vaudeville act with the bat.

He’s resorting to madness now.

Wonderful stuff. As I say, I miss him. Like a dog misses fleas. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

The more you read of this, the more gems. Some more from other articles…

The other predictable outcome was that Ian Bell is too good a player not to make a major contribution, eventually, having been in deep torpor since last summer.

I’d love thepoetseye to do a job on that shite.

Then there’s talent spotting:

Smith came into the series being lauded by his countrymen as the greatest batsman currently in world cricket. He made 33 in each innings but to this observer he looks too fidgety to be worthy of such a grand claim. His dismissal yesterday, to a ball many would have done well to reach, does not suggest the inner calm possessed by the true gods of batting.

Most of us got over those reservations a few years ago. Here’s what Smith is….. a quick learner. Also, it’s not just the Aussies claiming that title, the ICC rankings seem to concur. Maybe we should have the Muppet Rankings instead.

A few days later…

Smith, who brought his hundred up with a pull for four off James Anderson, played the more fluent innings, if anyone that fidgets as much as he does at the crease can be so described. His shuffle across the stumps is one of the more expansive trigger movements in the game but despite his head moving as the ball is on its way he meets it with the middle of the bat so often that England’s bowlers started to wear that put upon look and pose the rhetorical question of whether this was really a home Test?

Still on about the fidgeting…. how does he do it, you can see him asking himself.

Quite what Cook could, other than rotate his bowlers and hope for a mistake from the batsmen, was not obvious. He needed to dry up the runs and build pressure but none of his bowlers was able to achieve that.

Genius. “Ah, eff it” captaincy.

The last time England took only one wicket in an Ashes Test was Headingley in 1993. On that occasion Australia went from 307 for three to 613 for four. After the match, which England lost, Graham Gooch resigned the captaincy something Cook will not be doing should the same fate befall his team this time.

Not really sure what the point of this was other to mention two England captains from his county.

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326 Not Out – Part 1

Not Wanted

For some context, and a piece that sums up my views on KP, try this.

Where on earth do you start on a day like this? Let’s set the scene a little. As some of you know, I’m on holiday (vacation out here) in a place called Cape May, New Jersey. It isn’t the Jersey of Springsteen, with the New York overspill or the refineries and factories. It isn’t the Jersey Shore of TV infamy, nor is it Atlantic City, where I’ve been today, but a quiet, sleepy seaside town, with one side on the Atlantic Ocean and the other on the Delaware Bay. I’m 200 yards from the sea. It’s lovely.

So you’ll understand that I wasn’t up with the lark this morning, and rather enjoying a lie-in. I awoke, at around 2pm I think, UK time to be greeted with a number of comments on the blog remarking that KP had made a century. “What a lovely start to the day” I thought, and then chuckled to myself that those haters would be tripping over themselves to diminish it. Also, taking the game situation into context, Surrey really needed those runs, and needed more. What did I do though? I tweeted

Lawrence Booth got back to me (he didn’t know how the day would end up)

I responded…

I calmed down a little, and had a little walk, and came back to see the Pietersen machine rolling along, allied to a tail that didn’t give it away. 150 was up…. and I was busy working out what he needed to make to get the average over 100 if he got out (188). When he passed that, the next target was 200, and so that was passed. By now the joy was let forth. I never believed he would get back to smashing any attack around for these sort of scores. A century or two would be ignored, because, well, anyone gets them. But a double is not easily ignored – as Sky Sports pundits and hosts kept saying “if KP churns out a double hundred or two, then what…” As I left the house with a spring in my step and a little joy in my heart, I got on my international sim phone and followed the score up the Garden State Parkway. 220, 240, 255 (past his best score), 270, 290 and then….300.

Now, I don’t care what standard you play, but 300 is nothing to be trifled with. It is not to be ignored. If this were a player who had shown no aptitude for test cricket, had tried and failed, or was a promising youngster, maybe there’s an excuse. That isn’t what we are talking about here. We are talking about a test cricketer of proven ability, who not that long ago was making very decent centuries (anyone forget his Old Trafford hundred less than two years ago?) and had answered his critics by coming back to first class county cricket, a format that he doesn’t particularly cherish, and he’s smashed it everywhere. 326 not out. Ignore that.

I was so happy, I should have popped into the Golden Nugget and put money on 24.

So, I’m wandering around the shops and left the international phone in the car. Treated myself to a couple of things, and then went back to the car. As we’re crossing Little Egg Harbour, I saw the TMS Tweet.

And I went ballistic. Absolutely fucking ballistic.

You may have seen my twitter outpourings, but if not, just go on there and look for @DmitriOld . The ECB had chosen this moment to announce that they were not picking KP for England again. Ever. This would not happen. Not in a blue moon. No chance. Cut off without a prayer. Brought hope forward by intimating he had a chance, and when he stuffed it back at them, they said “no, sorry”.

Make no mistake, for all the weasel words we’ve heard since, where there has been some suppsoed back-tracking, we’ll get a restatement of Andrew Strauss’s position tomorrow (the one we read about weeks ago, and why we so opposed his appointment now) which will be all about building teams for 2019 blah blah blah and that KP will be 39 by then. If you fall for that old pony, you’ll fall for anything. They are blocking his way, no matter what. There will always be a reason not to pick him. If he followed this 300+ up with another monster score in his next outing, it won’t matter to these idiots, for idiots are what they are that they would rule out a monster talent returning to monster form. It IS one innings, and it IS just part of the road back. But this lot want to block it for what? Personal reasons? If he’s the best batsman, in form, in the country, you play him. It really isn’t that complicated. Let me effing well repeat that. IT REALLY ISN’T THAT COMPLICATED.

This is the ECB in a nutshell. Cricket is meant to be exciting, it is meant to be fun to watch, it is meant to thrill as well as enthrall, to appreciate graft and genius in all its forms. It’s not a bloody game won by management consultants, self-help books on army drills and team-building nonsense. It’s won by talent, it’s won by attitude, it’s won by seizing the moment, not ticking some Belbin Analysis or a team leader assignment on a marines assault course. This team we have now can be as together as it likes, but it collapsed like wet cardboard at Headingley last summer after an abject display by its captain. It hooked its way to a loss after another abject bowling display at Lord’s v India, and despite a turnaround which has been praised as if we’d turned into the Invincibles, we went to the West Indies and collapsed in a heap in Barbados. They are so together, they collapse in a heap in synch. I’m not saying KP makes you immune to that, but it also doesn’t mean that these batsmen are set in stone, no matter how much they say they are. If I could have a pound for all the times someone says to me “who would you drop?” then it would have paid for my shopping today. That’s not the way to look at it. It is “who are the best batsmen in the country?” If the answer is KP, then Ian Bell, Gary Ballance or Joe Root will just have to get over it.

Which is all I want. Pick our best team. Pick our best players.

Watching some of the jealous muppets on Twitter is sickening. Honestly, they act like the Katie Hopkins of the sporting world. Muppet Pringle, a man who got the sack for not reading the runes it appears, had this absolute gem, which in its brevity sums up why English team sports are absolutely Donald Ducked.

Principles over PR? What is he on about? Principles…. oh yes, they’ve worked so far. We backed a captain who took two years to make a ton, and has little or no tactical acumen over and above chuck it to Anderson and Broad and hope it works. We’ve had principles that Cook is sacrosanct in the test arena, and for a while in the ODI arena, and will work to the detriment of English cricket and hamper preparation for major events by backing him until it’s too late. Yeah, principles. Teams with principles are usually rigid, inflexible, and bound to them. Principles means authority rules, so shut the hell up.

Meanwhile, making 326 not out in a county game, I suppose, is PR. Jesus wept. Oh, and there’s a dig about tweeters too. Genius.

But it seems that our ECB would rather follow this “play the game chaps” approach, rather than countenance that they might have made an error. In part 2, which I’ll write later, I’ll go on to all that. And the unprecedented reaction I saw on Twitter after that TMS tweet. This is a fire that just will not go out. The ECB, instead of dampening it down, seem to want to put petrol on it.

Parky

Opening day of the County Championship and as I can confirm, it was a bit blowy and cold out there. Got to love April cricket. There were interesting performances out there – Sussex struggled early but Wright and Brown pulled them out of the abyss; Colly rolled back the years with the ball at batsman-friendly Taunton; Worcester put up a decent opening day show as they played the champions; and Brendon Taylor made a debut ton for Notts against the North London mob.

Down in division two Northants made the highest team score of the day, while Glamorgan posted two centuries in their very solid start v Leicestershire, before the Surrey Circus comes to town next weekend. Rudolph and Bragg making hay while the wind blew (so much that they played without bails according to Twitter).

Spring is here, and so is cricket. County cricket may not be to all tastes, but I have to say I love my days out when I go far more than the T20 games, while recognising this is a personal choice and not something I want to dictate on anyone!

But it was a game outside the County Championship that is going to grab all the headlines, and even now, the attitude of some to it is just off the charts churlish. Kevin Pietersen turned out for Surrey in a friendly match at Oxford. He made 170. The world went mad.

Now, I’m telling you when he got to three figures, I laughed. A lot. I felt the rage swelling inside the anti-KP mob, and knew it would burst through at some point. Let me put this to you straight, ladies and gents, we are not stupid. We do all realise the quality of opponent he was facing. But let’s also have some context here. For right or wrong, this was his first game of red ball cricket at this sort of standard (didn’t he play a Grade game pre Big-Bash) for well over a year. He was fresh, but not proper match hardened. Wickets fell around him at the start of the Surrey innings and he needed to bed in. He did all that was asked of him. Then he made hay and took the score to safety and made 170. It’s a bloody good start, but we know there’s much tougher tests ahead.

Now, keep in mind the main newspapers sent people like Lawrence Booth, Ali Martin and so forth to this game. This is the lead cricket story in all the papers. The bloke is box office, and gets the hits because he’s divisive and compelling in equal doses. As many of you know, a journalist I defended because I’ve really liked his work had a bit of a bad hair day when the news came through:

{I have deleted the part about Chris Stocks. He’s been really good to apologise, and I don’t want to settle any more scores. Fair play requires a fair acceptance.}

Derek Pringle was there, and his bizarre retweet of this beauty (to be fair, the original tweeter, when it was pointed out that if KP had pulled out at 100, Surrey would have been 220 for 6) speaks volumes.

He’s also burbled on about this:

I mean, really? You need to be there to know how he played. Sounded like a KP knock to me – a bit iffy early, a few whiffs, into a rhythm, bang. Does Mike Newell or James Whitaker need to be there to know that. Good grief.

We can see what a circus this is going to be, can’t we?

Meanwhile, I’ll leave you (and thanks to Vian for this) with this lovely quote from our beloved captain:

“It’s a big Test series we want to win. I think my position should not really be a talking point as it has been over the last 15 months. I know it is, but I’m here for the most important thing – to help England win games of cricket. I feel I’ve still the energy to do that and the experience over the last three-and-a-half years to lead this young team forward.”

I get more than one correspondent saying my attacks on Cook are tiresome. and yet I think I’m one of the more mild ones on here. But this is tone deaf. It really is. There’s backing yourself and then there’s being deluded. Alastair, you’ve not made a hundred in international cricket for two years, and no-one is confusing your captaincy with Mike Brearley’s. Please stop saying these very silly things. Thanks.

It’s been a day.