Awwwww moment of the week.

This is apparently what Mushtaq Ahmed says to Graeme Swann, according to Graeme Swann obviously,

“I love it when you have a smile on your face. You and me, Mr Swanny, we enjoy our cricket and we must always have a smile on our face.”

Something tells me that Shah should spend a week with the England spinning coach.

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Sussex fluff super over!!!

In a minor miracle yesterday Sussex managed to take the Eagles to a super over having defended the pathetic target of 119!

Mr Cool Rory Hamilton-Brown (so good they named him twice) bowled like a trooper to set up a cracking last 6 from Arafat who only narrowly missed out on winning the game with amazing consistency.

At this point my dad came in (big sussex man) and he happily sat down to see the final exciting moments! Yas bowled another great over restricting the eagles to 9…. easy, easy. All Wright and Smith had to do was hit 2 fours and they were home.

Instead, in the greatest sporting anti-climax in history, smith comes out and gives the first straight ball the haymaker, misses and gets cleaned bowled. On comes Rory Hamilton-Brown to save the day or at least get Wright on strike.

Instead he opts to copy Smith but with a little more finesse and gets bowled too! My dad, who’s just sat down with his tea mumbles something about 20/20 being stupid and we switch onto the one show… Sigh!

The only consolation was being able to watch cricket on Eurosport…. amazing!

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ICC CT final!!!!!

For those who doubted whether the final would be a barnstorming event, I give you the New Zealand starting XI.

1 Brendon McCullum (wk, capt), 2 Aaron Redmond, 3 Martin Guptill, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Neil Broom, 6 Grant Elliot, 7 James Franklin, 8 J Patel, 9 Kyle Mills, 10 Shane Bond, 11 Ian Butler.

…….Oh god!

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What a difference a month makes

This half of the leading edge staff has a confession to make, one that may well deter readers who visit us for our insight and rigour. The truth is as follows, I have been out of the country for month in the decidedly cricketless (and some might say gutless etc) France.

During this time I was vaguely aware that England seemed to be losing every 50 over encounter with Australia, Stuart Broad had appeared with ‘Woss the Toss’ with what can only have been an appalling intro from 4 poofs and a piano (you can see them live u know. Why!?), and Oasis have split up.

Needless to say I was only glad to hear the latter piece of news, although the demise of Manchester’s biggest has been’s may well explain the unconvincing performances of Graeme Swann against the ozzies. Perhaps Jimmy got him out of his malaise for the final one dayer by sitting young Graeme down and saying,

‘Look mate, Oasis died in 2000 with the release of… [takes a moment to think] Standing on the Shoulders of Giants, which we all now was crap. We should be thankful it’s over. Now get out there and play!!!’

We can only speculate.

Then I returned to find England redux. With exactly no expectation on their shoulders, they have coasted past Sri Lanka, crushed the Proteas and topped it all off with a perfectly timed self-inflicted battering from New Zealand to calm everyone down in anticipation of a semi-final with the Ozzies. This latter loss has got to be the greatest piece of captaincy since Younus Kahn shrugged off Pakistan’s opening defeat in the 20/20 by claiming that it was a joke tournament and they weren’t really that bothered anyway! Then they went on to win it! Genius!

Owais Shah, I remember him as well, a precocious talent who just seemed to lack a basic enjoyment of batting. Now Flower’s given him some courage pills and he can’t stop hitting sixes. It’s like friends of mine (not me obviously) who spent the whole of their uni lives shuffling around various dance floors wondering whether to ask a girl if she wanted a drink. More often than not they wouldn’t get round to it and be forced to return home for yet another wank and weep, consoling themselves that there are overweight people in the world who never even have a hope with girls. Then one day they just thought, ‘screw it’, and snogged the face off the first female who fleetingly caught their eye line. He who dares wins.

Then there’s Morgan, the Irish international who plays for England somehow avoiding any public outcry, despite the fact it is basically cheating. Eduardo Da Silva may dive but at least he doesn’t change his national allegiance on a whim…. oh… wait…. he does.

Anyway, he’s become England’s first one day specialist (I would say since Bell was a specialist ODI opener but the outcry would be too great). As a result we no longer have to sit through the last ten overs of a game praying that Foster will somehow fluke a six and crying ‘wither Paul Nixon!?’

And Collingwood, dear, dear Collingwood. I’ll admit, sometimes I just wish he’d be consistently bad so we wouldn’t have to endure another one of his droughts and have everyone pointing out that he’s a ‘good trainer’, followed by one heroic innings that makes him ‘undroppable’ for the next year. But even he is threatening to be consistent now.

In short, a month of me being away has changed a lot. Long may it continue.

PS: I said Morgan was England’s first one day specialist for effect. Of course we all know Paul Nixon was the original specialist, just like everyone knows he was playing the ‘Nixon sweep’ long before Dilshan stole the idea.

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The Problem with this Natwest Series…and why the Champions Trophy sucks

At the beginning of this tournament, I was fairly upbeat, and in support of 50 over cricket.  But it’s been dreadful, and England’s selection and tactics have been sometimes particularly painful.

One particular issue for me is, why no Trott?  This perplexed this blog for a while, until that beautiful eureka moment finally occured.

It’s the bloody Champions Trophy.  Trott is not in the squad for that, because the squad was picked bloody ages ago, before he was knocking the door down and other similar cliched metaphors.  So there’s no point in picking him, because he’d have to be dropped, even if he performed amazingly.

The issues of changing the team now, perhaps by bringing players in such as Trott and other non-CT squad players, is obvious, and pretty valid.

Yet its annoying.  Why can’t England just change the Champions Trophy squad?  It’s probably for some benign reason, like all the squads have already recorded their little TV intros whereby they describe their favourite bat or whatever, and to bring new players in would wreck the TV producer’s favourite thing: continuity.

So there we have it: the problem with the Natwest series and why the Champions Trophy sucks.  Thank you, and good night.

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How Good is County Cricket? (And Why ‘Tweeting’ Cricketers are Sometimes Actually Good)

The answer to the first is, pretty rubbish.  The answer to the second is, because I can esoterically read them to make a point in a blog.  More on twitter later.

County Cricket frustrates me no end.  This is hardly a revelation, I don’t think anyone actually likes county cricket, they just put up with it because well, otherwise there isn’t any non-International cricket to follow!  Apart from journalists, some die-hard CCC fans, Telegraph readers and the odd uncharacterisable (ie this blog) no one seems to care.

I am a massive sports fan.  I follow both football and cricket with an almost life ruining passion.  I particularly follow the County Championship, I even go to a couple of games a year, I read every scorecard and look at all the stats, I know most of the players.  Yet the table means nothing to me.  When compared to the Premiership (as in the ol’ football), this seems absurd.  I could find out, but to be honest, I can’t be bothered, because it doesn’t really matter.  Yet, as a 21-year old unemployed graduate absolutely brimming with enthusiasm, I should be the type of person the ECB should be after!  I lament.

Of course, one the biggest problem is that many of the matches are below standard.  Below standard players, below standard facilities, overpriced ticketing “fighting out” draws.

Today’s only Championship game between Notts and Yorks should be an exception to this: two Test ground counties, with a couple of “big”-ish draw players (erm, Mark Ealham and Matthew Hoggard…?) should be an exception.  It wasn’t.

Lancs went into the 3rd day batting the third innings, with a lead of around of 137.  They could have batted aggressively, pushed on and made an attacking declaration, maybe half-way through the 2nd session, with a 300 lead.  Nope.  Yorkshire batted out the day.  They made over 500.  Chris Read, probably in frustration, even had a bowl.

The funny thing is, I think Joe Sayers, the promising young Yorkshire opening batman who played in this game, agrees with me (this is the bit about Twitter).

Sayers, who tweets on his twitter, was tweeting throughout the early part of the game.  “The final day at Trent Bridge. Can we negotiate a chase?” he says, the zeal I believe even clear (admittedly, rather esoterically) from those 11 words.  Three hours later: “Time running out for a result at Trent Bridge…”.  I wish young enthused cricketers like Joe Sayers were captains.  I’d be happier.

Maybe its a self-fulfilling prophecy: no one cares about the outcome of the game, bar a few fanatics, so the players don’t?  Mayeb  when Joe Sayers is an old county-gent at the age of 35, he’ll be tweeting about how he cannot wait to get to the pub after yet another draw.  It’s a pretty eccentric crack-pot theory, but I thought I’d throw it out there.

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Stuart Broad LIVE on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross – Highlights

If our young Stuart Broad, angelic faced Premier All-Rounder™, is now a national treasure, with MBE’s and Gillette (the best a man can get?) adverts just around the corner apparently, he should, no must!, master the skill of the chat show.

Jonathan ‘Woss’ Ross is his adversary tonight, will he mock his girly looks (like The Leading Edge cruelly does)?  Joke about that time he went mental at Bopara for misfielding off his bowling and went all “Rav!  Rav!  Rav!”?  How many times will he mention Flintoff?  And what about his old man Chris?  Get your bingo boards out.

23:06 – The man is walking out!  He’s walking out!  Yes!  To the national anthem and confetti.  Even the slightly offensive and massively unfynny ‘4 Poofs and a Piano’ are standing in salute.  Wonderful.

23:07 – First mention of Chris Broad.  Why?  Boooring.  “I never got pushed or forced by my Dad to play cricket”.  By all accounts it was his Mother who did all the ‘work’, i.e. throw downs and what not.

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Is Adil Rashid the best player in the world?


He’s probably even better than Freddy Flintoff and Stuart Broad…combined, probably.  On a similar note, I wonder if Stuart Broad’s reign as Premier All-Rounder™, about a week along, is the shortest in English cricketing history?  He even could beat Derek Pringle or Rikki Clarke (seriously, read this article on Rik circa-2003 and feel, throughout your body, the hilarious power of hindsight).  Perhaps Statsguru can inform The Leading Edge of the answer to this extremely important question.

But with one of the most breath-taking 31*’s ever scored, at the very un-English strike-rate of 134 that would more at home in that darn Indian Premier League thing than it would in the wonderful surrounding of the Brit Oval, and 10 wicketless overs at 4 over that only contained 4 full-tosses, Rashid has not only secured himself a plane ticket to South Africa and a 413-year central contract but the most important accolade of all: a place in English cricketing folklore.

When people reminisce about England’s ODI cricketing fortunes over the years, this will be up there with that weird tournament we won whilst Adam Hollioake was captain (don’t tell me it’s not as good as the World Cup), that magical time Collingwood scored a century and took 5 wickets in the same match (against, erm, Bangladesh), the time Jimmy Anderson bowled 10 overs for 12 with 6 maidens against Australia (now we all cheer if he goes for under 6 an over).  Next on the list will be Adil Rashid versus The Australia, circa 2009.  Will the next Freddy Flintoff please stand up?

In all seriousness though, he did play pretty well didn’t he?

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Is Graham Onions the best player in the world?

Apparently he could be!  According to the ICC anyway…

Graeme Onions, along with a heap of others, has been nominated ‘Cricketer of the Year’ and ‘Emerging Player of the Year’ in the ICC awards.

Is the ICC serious?

How can anyone seriously contend that Graham Onions, Graham Onions(!), is the ‘Cricketer of the Year’?  Like, he’s alright.  But realistically, he’s only just about the 4th best English bowler.  Christ.  Why?  ‘Cricketer of the Year’?

‘Emerging Player’ though…he could well be in with a shout.  Mainly because there’s not many emerging players.  Phillip Hughes can’t win because he can’t play the short ball.  Martin Guptill can’t win because he’s shit.  Ben Hilfenhaus, Jesse Ryder and Peter Siddle are our Onion’s main contenders.

The whole thing is ridiculous.  But no one gives a shit anyway.  So there you go.

In other completely-irrelevant-cricket-based-award news, the ECB has recently announced that The Leading Edge’s favourite Aftab Habib has been nominated for the prestigious ‘Most Loved Underpeforming Bit-Part 1990’s England Test Player’ along with Ian Salisbury, Mark Ealham, and Ronnie Irani.

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Who’zat?! #2 – Rory Hamilton-Brown

Rory Hamilton-Brown

Rory Hamilton-Brown

Name: Rory Hamilton-Brown

Teams: England U-19s, Surrey, Sussex

Links: Wikipedia / Cricinfo

Rory Hamilton-Brown, essentially, is a young one-day player for Sussex, who occasionally opens the batting in an “explosive” way, and bowls off stump off-spinning darts – my personal favourite.

Rory is basically famous for two things: for the ECB thinkin’ he was a naughty boy for drinking alcohol before an U-19 Test match (when he wasn’t, uh oh!), and for his matchwinning performance against Warwickshire in the Twenty20 quarters.  Oh, and he’s mates with Danny Cipriani.  “How cool?”

What a a good way

What a a good way

Rory is more than that though: he’s just pretty cool.  He is just so cool.  If most young English players appear to be the zany dork with oversized magnified NHS spectacles who can barely mutter a whisper of even the most mundane cricketing doublespeak (Will Beer perhaps?), Rory Hamilton-Brown is the bully.  He’s big, he’s strong, he looks like a bit of a bastard.    I bet he’s nutted someone before.  And he’s pretty talented too.

At the Twenty20 game against Warwickshire he was getting a bit of stick from the crowd – ‘Oi, so who’s a pretty boy then?’ etc.  Some alternate fledglings may have wimpered and quivered, but not our Rory – he went out and took 3 wickets.  Oh yes.

Could he play for England?  At this time, he’s about as close to getting into the team as Mark Ramprakash (which is quite a long away indeed).  He has the potential to be a decent one-day player, but is a batsman or an off-spinner?  Hopefully he can be more than what Jamie Dalrymple offered.  Which shouldn’t be hard.

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