Category Archives: The Leading Edge

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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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?

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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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The Leading Edge picks the next England XI

Yes, we won the Ashes, something we all kinda thought would happen after Lord’s, then thought would never happen after Headingley then definitely thought should happen after Stuart Broad.

But thanks to the ECB’s decision to exclude the 7 million or so viewers who don’t fancy giving their dollars to Sky there is no call for the nation to celebrate as one. So The Leading Edge will accommodate its necessarily niche audience by looking to the future. So here’s one half of The Leading Edge’s view of what the team should look like for South Africa:

1. Strauss. Of course… Man of the series and the only batsman who the nation really trusts.

2. Key. Its tempting to say Denly, a part of me even fancied Luke Wright, or screw it, even Lord Rory Hamilton-Brown, to make the move. After all Watson proved that you don’t need to be an opening batsman to open the batting. But Key’s the man. He’s done it before and should be solid enough if a little fat.

3. ….which of course opens the door for Cook at 3. He’s good enough to play at test level as the rankings show. Taking the pressure off him could help him immeasurably.

4. KP. Love him or hate him, England are just better with the NOTW hack on the teamsheet. He has that Iron Will to win lacking in the middle order and is just fun to watch.

5. Bell. Although Trott is in consideration, we should not forget Bell’s experience as a No. 5 where his average is much higher. Lest we forget that Bell top scored in the first innings at the Oval when England were on the rack!

6. Prior. Good with the gloves and can counter attack well with….

7. ….Broad. A genuine all rounder who will put on runs with the tail. Does anyone still doubt him as a bowler?

8. Swann. Let’s just forget about Panesar shall we, Swann’s our man even if he was a tad erratic against the Aussies.

9. Anderson. Not always effective but when it swings he’s the best in the world.

10. Harmison. Controversial we know, but what other England bowler is hammering on the door to be Straussies ‘fast and nasty’. Tell Tremlett and Plunkett to take some more wickets and stay fit, but until then its Steve all the way.

11. Onions. As Glenn McGrath used to tell young bowlers, ‘to be great you’ve just got to bowl 99/100 deliveries on off stump.’ Onions may not be the metronome but he’s got the most control in the England attack.

That’s that, not the most inspiring selection I know, but it kept me up all last night as I mused on what a force England would become in the future.

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A little reminder from The Leading Edge

Young Stuart Broad’s heroics yesterday were, indeed, fantastic.  The ‘problem’ of Broad now solved?  Yet this blog must take you back a week or so, when the ‘problem’ was ‘solved’ by your humble writers, an entire 3 days before his feat.  We shall wallow in self-righteousness.

Click here to read the blog ‘How to solve a problem like Broad?’

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ICC to give Broad gender test

In the face of an emerging trend of gender testing of athletes, the cricketing world was rocked today as it emerged that Stuart Broad is to undergo a gender test after an increasing atmosphere of rumour and suspicion built up around the young quick.

Is that stubble?

Is that stubble?

Our ICC source told the leading edge that ‘it is has come to the attention of the ICC that Stuart Broad’s gender has come into question. Our suspicions were raised after it was noted he has longish blond hair and tends to argue with umpires when he doesn’t get his way.’

Questions have been raised with regards to the ICC’s handling of this scandal and the damage it may do to young Broad who has come to view himself as male.

Male rights groups have protested that the accusations are sexist being based purely on Broad’s slightly effeminate appearance. The saga continues.

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