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Most exciting selection announcement in years

2014 June 4
by Legsidelizzy

The squad for the first Test match of the summer and the first under the new Moores/Cook regime will be announced tomorrow.

It’s set to be one of the more exciting and hard to predict announcements we have had in years.

Upwards of twenty names have been discussed in dispatches for the various spots and they all have a good case for inclusion.

Leave aside Cook, Bell, Root, Broad and Anderson – they’re nailed on.  The rest is up for grabs.

To open alongside Cook – the candidates are  Carberry, Compton, Robson and Lyth.

To be the middle order batsmen (to bat five and six) are   Stokes, Ballance, Vince, Morgan. Moeen Ali, Scott Borthwick, Samit Patel

To spin:  Moeen Ali, Simon Kerrigan, Scott Borthwick, Samit Patel

To be the third seamer:  Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett,Finn

And the wicket-keeper – Prior, Buttler, Bairstow, Foster, Kieswetter and an outsider of Read.

What a conundrum>    I imagine today’s selection discussion at Edgbaston took longer than 20 minutes.

My best guess on the way they’ll go is a squad of 12 (although they might pick 13 just to cover a batting position and a seamer)

Cook, Robson, Root, Bell, Ballance, Stokes, Prior, Ali, Jordan, Broad, Anderson  with Plunkett and possibly Buttler in the squad.

 

 

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Make the laws explicitly clear or stop bleating

2014 June 4
by Legsidelizzy

The Buttler Mankading incident has caused something a furore.  An inexplicable furore in my view. He was out of his crease, he was run out fair and square.  He didn’t even need to be warned although out of politeness they did – twice.

The crux of the problem is that the laws say one thing, the ICC playing conditions 2014 say another and the unwritten code of etiquette (the dreaded spirit of cricket) say another.

Yes – an unwritten code of etiquette.  The set of rules that aren’t written down that are “just not the done thing”.

I’m not entirely sure how one is supposed to know about these unwritten rules but woebetide if you go against them. The cricketing fraternity will call you unsportsmanlike, ungentlemanly or worse – a cheat.

It’s precisely this sort of nonsense that make sports like cricket and golf seem elitist, snobby and inaccessible.

It’s exactly the same sort of furore we have when players nick off and don’t walk.

It is time to put an end to these grey areas and cut out the arguments about ungentlemanly behaviour

1) If we don’t want people to mankad, it needs to be explicit in the laws. Or make the laws explicit that the non-striker shouldn’t leave their crease until the bowler has released the ball (that would soon stop them going walkabouts and gaining an unfair advantage which is essentially what backing up is)

2) Make sure that the laws are the laws and the playing regulations are merely to set out differences in formats such as playing times, points, the colour of the ball and powerplays etc.

3) Either make the spirit of cricket clearer or get rid of it all together. The nonsensical “pre-amble” to the laws is neither one thing nor t’other.  We don’t need to write down that people shouldn’t abuse each other or the umpire. They don’t have a “spirit of darts” or a “spirit of table tennis”. Why? Because there’s no need. We all know that you need to not abuse officials, players or spectators and that dissent towards an umpire is not on (and indeed this last one should be put in the actual laws).

Make the laws explicit on mankading, walking or not-walking, claiming a catch and all the other things that cause furore’s and then let the umpires make their decisions based on these.

In the case of mankading – nowhere does it say you have to warn the batsmen; that is merely another of these “unwritten matters of etiquette” that do nothing but cause hassle.

If we continue with all these grey areas, differences in laws and playing regs and bizarre romantic notions of gentlemanly behaviour I really don’t know how those who are coming new to the game have any idea what’s going on? Even those of us entrenched in the game find it beyond ridiculous at times.

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Our cricketers aren’t famous enough

2014 May 31
by Legsidelizzy

The return of Freddie is great.  It matters not whether he gets any runs or wickets. It doesn’t even matter whether stands on one leg at mid-off without moving for 20 overs.  What he does on the pitch isn’t the point.

Freddie Flintoff is a name that even the most of casual of cricket watcher can roll off the tongue.  Ask them to name who’s in the current England ODI XI and they’d probably struggle.

That a man who retired 5 years ago can still cause such hype and publicity even though his comeback may just be for a few matches in the domestic game demonstrates how truly box office characters English cricket has.

Perhaps Freddie and KP are the only two truly box office English names of the past decade.  Certainly the past few years, whilst they have brought success on the pitch, they haven’t brought us, KP aside, any truly household names.

Of course, most people can name Cook, Bell, Broad, Anderson but they aren’t celebrity in the way that KP is, or in the way that Freddie was or Botham before him.

Our cricketers simply aren’t famous enough anymore.   They aren’t household names, they aren’t appearing on chat shows, panel shows, in the front pages as well as the back pages.

And it isn’t as simple as putting this down to cricket not being on free-to-air TV, although that’s certainly a factor.

In the last few years England cricket (again KP aside) has been dominated by nice but ultimately not very interesting blokes who the producers of the Graham Norton show aren’t going to be chasing to appear on his sofa.

So without Pietersen, the public are latching on to the return of a man who when he retired 5 years ago could barely walk.

Cricket needs Beefys and Freddies and KPs.   And at the moment, we’ve got a bunch of Gail Platts.

 

 

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Moores, Cook, Farbrace and “re-connection”.

2014 May 9
by Legsidelizzy

Despite my natural cynicism and my continuing annoyance at the KP decision, I have a feeling this new England era might actually be far more likeable than the old regime had become.

There’s clearly been a conscious decision taken by Peter Moores, Paul Downton and Alastair Cook to try and be more open, a little more honest and less chippy with the media.

The #askmoores twitter Q+A was bland and inane in the content but the intention to try and engage with supporters was clearly there and that’s to be applauded.

At the waitrose sponsorship launch last week, Moores recognised that the way to get England supporters back on side was to “re-connect” with them and the way to do that was primarily through the media.  Leave aside the corporate nonsense phrase, it was a glimmer of hope that under Moores, England cricket might just be more enjoyable, more relaxed and more fun.

Alastair Cook looked more relaxed than I’ve ever seen him, he talked fluently, he smiled, he joked. Despite his protestations that Flower wasn’t too controlling, we all know differently.  Unleashed from the Flower shackles and with fatherhood perhaps having put cricket into some sort of perspective, we might well see a captain who feels empowered to be in charge and relaxed enough to allow his players the freedom that adults who are good enough to have been picked for the country should be afforded.

The addition of Farbrace can only be a good thing too. From all I know of him, he’s a straight talking man who enjoys his life, he’s a man more often than not with a smile on his face and who clearly loves cricket but not at the expense of life.

If Moores can learn to speak English rather than coach as his first language, we have the makings of a new era that even if it takes a while to have sustained success will be more likeable, less chippy, less arrogant and much more enjoyable to watch.

Supporters are much more likely to be forgiving of failure if the management and team are seen to be open, honest and doing their best.   And they might even manage to exorcise the ghost of KP with the right approach – even if the on field results aren’t perfect.

 

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Jonathan Trott – it’s pretty straightforward.

2014 March 17
by Legsidelizzy

It’s been more than a little disappointing to read Trott being accused of being a bottler or a quitter after his interviews in which has said he wasn’t depressed – he was burnt out and exhausted.

At the time, the ECB described it as a “stress-related illness” and one that he had battled with for some time. 

Perhaps, with hindsight, it would have been better to describe what Trott was suffering from a little more clearly and accurately.  The term “stress-related illness” is interpreted as a serious mental illness which could range from depression to anxiety to a full on breakdown.

In reality, what Trott was suffering from was mental and physical exhaustion which rendered him unable to play to the high standards he expected of himself and that we had come to expect from him.  He and the ECB medics took the decision that he needed a break from cricket and he needed to come home.

I spoke to a GP friend to ask what he would do if someone came to him describing the symptoms that Trott has said he was suffering from.  He said that almost certainly he would sign the person off work for a while to start with and see if rest and a break resulted in recovery. If it didn’t, he would investigate whether a more serious mental illness was the cause and then recommend appropriate treatment. 

That’s quite pertinent – Trott leaving Oz was the equivalent of you or I being signed off work by the GP for a bit.  Where’s the controversy there? It happens daily to hundreds of people in the country. 

The notion that Trott was scared of fast bowling is, quite frankly, ridiculous and something cited by people who’ve clearly forgotten the years when Trott has been very successful against fast bowling.  Short memories by some.

Trott was mentally and physically exhausted.  It had rendered him incapable of being able to play cricket or cope with the pressure of the international sporting arena.  In some part, the ECB must take some blame for this.  What we expect of our cricketers is ridiculous.  It’s too much. It’s a serious miracle that more of them aren’t burnt out. 

It is surely a braver decision to admit that you’re struggling and that you need a break than to try and guts it out in a macho bravado way.  In the male sporting environment, it’s not easy to admit a weakness.  It takes some guts to hold your hands up and say “it’s no good, I’m going to have to stop”. This applies to Graeme Swann’s retirement as much as it does to Trott’s decision to quit the tour.

It’s not a weakness, it’s brave. It goes against the grain of the testosterone filled macho environment of the sporting world. 

It’s here I have to declare an interest.  I struggle to be entirely objective when discussing Jonathan Trott for this reason.

Earlier in the year, a great friend and the owner of SPIN cricket magazine, was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given weeks to live.  Jonathan wrote this friend a very personal, hand written letter. I won’t divulge the contents as they were personal.  But despite everything that was going on with Jonathan at the time, he found the time and the compassion to write a heartfelt letter and make a phone call and in our friend’s darkest hour – when he was dying – Jonathan brought some light and a smile. 

Trott is a straightforward and honest man.  Cricket is and has been his life – to his own detriment.  There’s no conspiracy here.  There’s no hidden agenda.  There was no attempted. cover up of a man quitting cos he couldn’t hack it. 

It really is very straightforward.  Trott was exhausted – mentally and physically.  He’d burnt out and stress was a factor.  If he’d been a “normal” person, he’d have gone to the doctor and the doctor would have signed him off work for a bit.  How is this any different?

It isn’t.  He had some time off to rest and recuperate.  And now he’s ready to get back in the saddle. 

He hasn’t assumed that he will walk straight back into the England team – he has merely thrown his hat into the ring for selection.  He knows that he needs to demonstrate to the selectors and the public that he’s back firing with the bat and inside his head.  He wants to do that.

It’s really not sinister – it’s a simple thing. 

The ECB may want to think about how he got into that state in the first place and whether they way they described things to the media and public at the time was the correct way but Jonathan himself has nothing to feel guilty or sorry about. 

It’s disappointing that some are so ready to cast stones.

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The return from the U19′s

2014 February 16
by Legsidelizzy

The ICC U19 World Cup provides a opportunity to play the fun game “which of these lads is going to go on and play Test cricket”.

This is the tenth edition of the u19 world cup in its current guise and it takes place every two years. Before that there was something known as the “Macdonalds Bicentennial Youth World Cup” which took place in the winter of 1987/88.

I’ve had a look back at all of these world cups including the one sponsored by Chicken Mcnuggets to see how many of the young talent that played for England went on to have a fully fledged International career.

1987/88  Bicentennial Youth World Cup 

The “England young cricketers” squad that took part in this tournament in Australia contained eight who went to play at least one Test match.

Mark Ramprakash, Mike Atherton, Nasser Hussain, Chris Lewis, Warren Hegg (2 Test matches), Martin Bicknell (4 Tests), Simon Brown (One Test)

and those who didn’t go on to play Test cricket:  Harvey Trump and James Boiling (Surrey and Durham)

We then have to skip forward ten years to find a new reincarnation of a World Cup for this age group.

1998 

The u19 World Cup winning squad of 1998 was the subject of an excellent book by David Tossell called “Following on” which tracked the differing paths that those who were part of the squad followed after the World Cup.

The Squad contained 4 players who went on to Test honours:  Rob Key, Graeme Swann, Owais Shah and Chris Schofield.

1999/2000 

The tournament took place in Sri Lanka and was won by India.  The England squad contained such names as ex-Pippa Middleton Boyfriend Alex Louden who played just one ODI plus Ian Bell, Michael Carberry and the very famous sub-field Gary Pratt.   (so just two who went on to Test honours).

2002 

The 2002 U19 World Cup took place in New Zealand. Three of the England squad – Nick Compton, Samit Patel and Tim Bresnan have gone on to Test honours.

2004

Took place in Bangladesh and was won by Pakistan who beat the West Indies by 25 runs.

7 of the England squad have gone on to full International honours.  6 of them with Test caps and 1 with ODI caps only.

Test honours:  Alastair Cook, Samit Patel, Steve Davies, Tim Bresnan, Ravi Bopara, Liam Plunkett

2006

Played in Sri Lanka. Pakistan beat India by 19 runs in the Final

As yet none of this team have received International honours.  The squad was captained by Rory Hamilton-Brown and contained names such as Durham’s Mark Stoneman, Notts Steven Mullaney and Graeme White and Middlesex’s John Simpson.

We are getting a bit more recent so many of these players still have every chance of breaking into the Test team – players such as Wark’s Varun Chopra and Worc’s Mooen Ali who has just been called up to England’s World T20 squad.

2008

Held in Malaysia and won by India.

From the England squad James Taylor, Steven Finn and Chris Woakes have gone on to Test caps but others such as James Harris and Stuart Meaker may yet still

2010

Held in New Zealand and won by Australia.  2010 is too recent to assess who will go on and have an England career but so far Ben Stokes and Joe Root have Test honours.  Jos Buttler and Danny Briggs have ODI and T20 caps.

2012 

Took place in Australia and was won again by India.  Too recent for any to have broken into the full Test team but names such Ben Foakes, Jamie Overton and Reece Topley are tipped for bright futures.

 

 

 

 

 

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Cricket News in Brief: 27th January 2014

2014 January 27
by Legsidelizzy
  • Almost all of the news today centres around the ICC position paper which will be voted on this week at a meeting of Chief Executives in Dubai.
  • Mike Atherton has been particularly critical of it in The Times (the quotes are on cricinfo). I’d also recommend reading Mike Selvey’s piece in the Guardian and Sambit Bal’s piece on cricinfo – both of which provide some balance.  Essentially almost everyone is agreed it’s a terrible proposal that is steeped in self-interest but as Selvey and Bal both point out it might be the necessary one to keep India “in the tent” as it were.
  • Shaun Marsh and James Faulkner are both injury worries for Australia ahead of the T20 series and the South Africa Tour.  Both picked up injuries in the final ODI. Marsh has had a scan on his calf and Faulkner has had a scan on his knee. Faulkner was not due to fly to SA with the rest of the squad as he was due to be playing in the three T20s against England.
  • Durham have signed Scotland batting all rounder Calum Macleod.  Macleod is currently representing Scotland in the 2015 World Cup qualifiers and recently scored 175 against Canada.  The 25 year old has played 11 first-class matches averaging 23 and has played for Scotland and Warwickshire.
  • Glamorgan are set to appoint Mark Wallace as captain for the LVCC and 50 over competitions. Jim Allenby is in line to regain the T20 skipper role which he held in 2012 until relinquishing the role to Marcus North last season.
  • Graeme Swann has said that not even Mike Brearley could have captained England better than Cook did this winter.  I’ll let you make your own mind up about that. (clue – it’s bollocks)
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Cricket News in Brief: 26th January 2014

2014 January 26
by Legsidelizzy

Another slow news day today. Weekends are generally a bit slower than week days.

 

  • Most of today’s news has centred around how on earth England managed to lose the fifth and final ODI of the series.
  • Graeme Swann has given very public backing to Kevin Pietersen saying England shouldn’t ditch him and that there is nothing wrong with his attitude. If even Swann is saying that it seems the only person with a problem is Flower (and possibly Cook)
  • There’s been more criticism of the ICC position paper. This time from Clive Lloyd, Malcolm Gray and Malcolm Speed. Whilst Imran Khan has said that the draft proposal might have some benefits for the West Indies Cricket Board.
  • As we’ve known for a while, England’s squad for the West Indies tour will be the T20 squad even though the tour comprises 3 ODIs and 3 T20s.  England had hoped to change it to 6 t20s ahead of the T20 world cup but that wasn’t possible.
  • New Zealand have announced their squad for the forthcoming Test series against India (a two Test series).  It contains no real surprises but Jesse Ryder is in as cover for Ross Taylor who’s wife is expecting their second baby during the series.
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ICC Draft proposal – here it is in all it’s bonkerness

2014 January 25
by Legsidelizzy

Here’s the ICC draft proposal in case you haven’t seen it – which I am sure you have

ICC FCA draft-page-001

ICC FCA draft-page-002

ICC FCA draft-page-007 ICC FCA draft-page-006 ICC FCA draft-page-005 ICC FCA draft-page-004 ICC FCA draft-page-003 ICC FCA draft-page-009 ICC FCA draft-page-019 ICC FCA draft-page-020 ICC FCA draft-page-021

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Cricket news in brief: 25th January 2014

2014 January 25
by Legsidelizzy

I fractured my shoulder playing hockey today but as I am so dedicated I’m bringing you the news in brief anyway.

Slow news day today though

  • Unsurprisingly Haroon Lorgat (CSA Chief dude) will be in Dubai for next week’s vital ICC meetings at which the position paper will be discussed but he cannot take part in any of the deliberations due to restrictions placed on him by the BCCI.   CSA will instead be represented by their chief financial officer Nassei Appiah.   – Under terms of an agreement last year with the BCCI, Lorgat is not supposed to enagage in any meetings of the ICC chief executives – even though he is a chief executive.  Yes really.
  • Chris Tremlett has returned to England having been ruled out of the rest of the Big Bash with a “slight” elbow injury
  • Ben Stokes has been fined 15% of his match fee for breach of the ICC code of conduct during the 4th ODI.  He was fined for the “offensive language” he used to James Faulkner whilst giving him a good old send off
  • The rest of the news is mostly about Ravi Jadeja who I think has been made some sort of deity in India after carting 18 off the final over to tie India’s match against NZ.
  • Also Darren Lehmann has singled out Glenn Maxwell for criticism after Australia’s loss in the 4th ODI. Seems a bit harsh to me
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