Tag Archives: England

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?

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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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.

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England Player Ratings – Oh yes.

Well, well, well,  England won the Ashes.  Any team that has Peter Siddle’s pathetic excuse for facial hair in them is always going to lose as far as I’m concerned.  Easy.  Marcus North, the most English-like Australian to ever play for Australia, the man who scores century in easy circumstances but when it comes down to it goes for a slog and gets stumped, with bowling about as effective as Owais Shah, is my fellow scapegoat.  Anyway, it’s that time: ratings.  England first, obviously, because they’re … better.

Oh, and because doing rating is so cliched, yet so damn good, The Leading Edge will offer comments in a unique Haiku form.  Expect the Guardian to rip us off next series.

Andrew ‘Andy’ Strauss 474 runs @ 53
What a man, What a
Man! A cut, a nudge to square.
Captain hero!  Runs too.
9/10 (would have got 10 if he’d scored a couple more centuries)

Alistair ‘Chefy’ Cook 222 runs @ 25
Sort of looked in form,
Alas, lost his off-stump.  Where?
Blowin’ in the wind.
4/10 (fielded well, and got us off to a flyer at Lords)

Ravi ‘Hit ‘n Miss’ Bopara 105 runs @ 15
Oh Ravi, Oh Rav!
Rav, you used to be alright,
What happened? Crash, burn.
1/10 (How could he have possibly been worse!?)

Ian ‘Tinker’ Bell 140 runs @ 28
My question to you:
Score a century at 3?
Will it ever come?
5/10 (Bleurgh, I love our Ronald, but he’s got to go)

Kevin ‘KP’ Pietersen 153 runs @ 38
Oh, your poor ankle!
Oh, how do you sleep at night?
Dreaming of bad sweeps?
5/10 (Remembered only for his sweep and his heel, won without him, God forbid)

Paul ‘MBE’ Collingwood 250 runs @ 28, 1 wicked @ 76
Saved us at Cardiff,
But really you are complete
Shit.  Please go away.
5/10 (Bare minimum that could be expected, probably will be culled sooner rather than later)

Ian ‘Jonathan’ Trott 160 runs @ 80
Where is Robert Key?
It’s not ‘Where’s Wally?’  When we
have our new Trotty.
10/10 (Compare to Bopara: What more could you ask for?!)

Matt ‘Wicketkeeper’ Prior 261 runs @ 33, 11 catches and 1 stumping
Stump the night away!
Slog the damn Aussies away!
Keeps Haddin at bay…?
7/10 (Could have done with more runs from six, but kept admirably)

Andrew ‘Frederick’ Flintoff 200 runs @ 33, 8 wickets @ (look away now…) 52
Why are you so broke?
One good spell with one good throw?
Yet we love you so.
6/10 (As the Haiku so wonderfully points out: one good spell and one good throw out was slightly underwhelming)

Stuart ‘New Freddy (…Barney Rubble?)’ Broad 234 runs @ 29, 18 wickets @ 30
Yeah, yeah, like I said,
You’re pretty good, but my gosh,
don’t you just know it?
7/10 (Might have won us the Ashes, but no excuse for 3 games of complete dross with the ball)

Graeme ‘Massive Chin’ Swann 294 runs @ 36, 14 wickets @ 41
Funny runs, big chin.
Always bowlin’ with a grin,
You bowled ala fin.
7/10 (4th in both batting and bowling averages.  Who would have predicted that?)

James ‘Jimmy’ Anderson 12 wickets @ 45
Hola, King of Swing.
King for a day, oh alas,
where is the ‘Plan B’?
When ball swings: 10/10.  All other times: 2/10 (‘Nuff said.)

Monty ‘Monty’ Panesar 1 wicket @ 115
Oh Turbanator!
Why do you bowl like a bore?
When will you come back?
2/10 (Bowled terribly on a ‘spinning pitch’, but did get one of the best 7 not out’s ever)

Graeme ‘Funny Headline’ Onions 10 wickets @ 30
Lily Allen thinks
he’s so cool. When in S.A.
he will rule the roost
7/10 (He did pretty good really, was very consistent)

Steve ‘Uh oh!’ Harmison 5 wickets @ 33
3 wickets on the
last afternoon, not enough.
Shit, please go away.
5/10 (Literally completely average. Best contribution was probably at Worcester when he exposed Hughes to the short ball)

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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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Shane Warne’s Legspinning masterclass – Highlights

Hold the ball like this I guess?

Hold the ball like this I guess?

Some of the most exciting, exhilirating televised sport involving Englishmen and Ozzies is on today.  No, no, no, not ‘the Ashes, but ‘Shane Warne’s bowling masterclass’, LIVE during the lunch break.  Oh boy!  Shane Warne, the Sheikh of Tweak, the, er, best wrist-spinner of all time, the American Pie-loving beach bum, is going to be giving a leg-spinning masterclass to two young English legspinners, Max Waller and Will Beer, both of whom played Twenty20 Finals Day.  The Leading Edge is offering LIVE blogging for this momentous occasion (blogging the actual game is so cricinfo).

The anticipation is utterly murdering me, and it’s made that little bit sweeter because of the participation of Sussex’s own Will Beer, who, of course, is an amazing prospect.  More importantly, will the mystique of leg spin finally be unravelled, live on TV?  Hey, it could happen…

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