Author Archives: Liam

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.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under The Leading Edge

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under The Leading Edge

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.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Match Highlights

Is Adil Rashid the best player in the world?

Probably.

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?

Leave a comment

Filed under The Leading Edge

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.

1 Comment

Filed under The Leading Edge

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 bastard...in a good way

What a bastard...in 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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Who'zat?!

Duncan Fletcher’s Guardian B-Sides: “Where now for England?”

England should look to Mahmood, Rashid, Brsenan to conquer all

Posted by Duncan Fletcher, Wednesday 19th August

England did really well.  Well done.  Winning the Ashes is never easy.  People keep asking me if this team is as good as my team in 2005.  Indeed, I occasionally offer them an answer.  The key to England’s success was Andrew Strauss, who is a very good player.  He scored 474 runs, which really is a lot of runs. An interesting statistic is that he scored 26 more runs than Michael Clarke, who is a very good player. People keep asking me if I should have made him captain for the 2006/07 Ashes.  However, I know that I always make the right decisions, and always stick to them, mainly because they are often right.

Where now for England? How do you replace Andrew Flintoff? The trip to South Africa will be very tricky, and England need the best three-dimensional young unproven cricketers they can find.  In the last two Tests Broad was exceptional and if anything proves that my old mantra that young, rounded, 3 dimensional cricketers are a good idea, is correct. On that basis, England must get Sajid Mahmood back in the side. I know I talk about Saj a lot, but he really is one of the most intelligent, rounded and brilliant all-rounders I have ever worked with. He could fill Flintoff’s boots.

An example of his intelligent bowling was in an ODI a number of years ago. Saj used his brain brilliantly, sending down 5 of his marvellous slower balls, bamboozling the batsman into only scoring 9 runs off the over, a good economy rate for Saj. Plus of course, he has pace. Pace is the single most important thing a bowler can ever have, and Saj has plenty.

I will never forget the brilliant match-winning 22* he scored against South Africa in 2006. It is probably up there as one of the best lower order batting displays in one day cricket history, but often gets overlooked. I believe that, as a genuine all-rounder, he could be slot into the no. 7 slot, allowing Broad to bat 8, and Swann 9.

I also think that Adil Rashid and Tim Bresnan must tour.  The case for Rashid is obvious, so I will not go over it again.  Bresnan is one of those players whose both his bowling nor batting are quite Test standard, but he offers an overall three-dimensional package that can boost the middle order.

South Africa will be very tough opposition, and England must play to their best to win.  They must also field their best side, and by playing lots of all-round cricketers with multiple skills it could be done.

Duncan Fletcher is the former coach of the England cricket team, who also writes for the Guardian. This column is a selection of his articles that, sadly, were not deemed publishable quality by The Guardian.

Leave a comment

Filed under Duncan Fletcher's Guardian B-sides, Special Guest Columists