Cricket - It's a funny old game

Cricket - It's a funny old game

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Beige Archives: NZ aim to lose in final for once

This article first appeared on the BBC's 606 forum on the 30th of September 2009. It was my last article on 606 before I moved over to

New Zealand cricket captain Daniel Vettori has revealed his side is "desperate" to win their semi-final clash against Pakistan so they can lose in the final. "New Zealand always crashes out at the semi-final stage of big competitions and we are looking to step up to the next level,” said Vettori earlier today. "We've been known as perennial losing semi-finalists for years and I'm now wanting the team to be known as perennial runners-up. This is certainly our objective over the next decade, particularly in light of us having given up playing test cricket to concentrate on the shorter forms of the game."

However, England captain Andrew Strauss was quick to point out New Zealand had their work cut out for them if the two sides were to meet in Monday's final. "We have a great deal of pedigree when it comes to losing in major finals as we have done so on three previous occasions" said Strauss, "and if we met New Zealand I think their inexperience at losing at the highest level could cost them."

When asked who they thought would claim the loss if NZ and England were to meet in the final, Australian and Pakistan captains Ricky Ponting and Younis Khan merely smiled quietly to themselves.

The Beige Archives: England face match losing allegations

This article first appeared on the BBC's 606 forum on the 15th of September 2009.

The England cricket team was rocked today by allegations of Match Losing following their latest defeat to Australia in their current One Day International series. The claims come on the back of random scorecard testing, undertaken after every international fixture, which revealed most of the England team had alarmingly high levels of incompetence.

The accusations come as a huge blow to Andrew Strauss’s team and make a mockery of England’s much publicised campaign* to stamp out rampant and wanton awfulness following the 2006-07 Ashes series loss in Australia.

Andrew Strauss, one of the few England players to emerge unscathed from the testing procedure, was quick to defend his team. “We’ve come a long way from the 1990s when casual losing was commonplace in the England dressing room and out on the field. The lads are much more professional now. They know that excessive complacency leads to poor shot selection and, for the bowlers, an inability to get it up….er, pitch it up, rather. We don’t have a problem and we can give up losing whenever we like.”

England batsman Ravi Bopara also stated that he blames the Aussies for taking it all too seriously and asked “Why can’t they be more like us and just treat these games as a waste of time?”

England are not the only side currently under the spotlight however. The West Indies have been dogged with allegations of staggering levels of ineptitude for the last couple of years, but, uniquely, the charges have been leveled at the administrators and not the players. New Zealand are also having to answer to accusations of excessive levels of losing, particularly in Test cricket, but this forms part of a larger investigation that has been on-going since the late 1980s.

* England’s Campaign slogan: “Just say no!... to Giles”

The Beige Archives: "Best out of 7?" - Ponting

This article first appeared on the BBC's 606 forum on the 23rd of August 2009.

Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting has called for the Ashes 2009 series to be extended to a best of seven contest, instead of the current five test series. “It has been such a closely fought contest that it would be a real shame to end it now.” said Ponting in his post-game interview. “This is nothing to do with who won what and who became the first Aussie captain in a hundred years to lose the Ashes twice or anything like that but is about entertaining cricket fans all round the world.”

England captain Andrew Strauss was quick to disagree with his counterpart, saying “you must be joking”. He went on to qualify this by stating that “there is no way we are playing any more tests. For starters, we’ve already got Flintoff stuffed and mounted for display in the Lords longroom, and there is no coming back from that”.

Ponting wasn’t easily dissuaded however. “I realise there might not be any suitable test venues ready for a game here in England, but I’m sure we can get a pitch prepared in Australia. How about Adelaide? We’ll even let England bat first”.

The Beige Archives: Aussie fans lament poor cricketer names

This article first appeared on the BBC's 606 forum on the 6th of August 2009.

Australian cricket fans have admitted that the lack of punning opportunities within their Test squad has dented the hopes of Australia retaining the Ashes.

“We’ve gone a long time with some great players whose names have inspired some excellent newspaper headlines and banners at the ground” said an Australian fan after the Edgbaston test, “and that has helped us be so dominant as a nation for so long”.

Whereas Australia used to be able to always rely on a quick joke using the names of Waugh, Border and Warne, the current crop of Katich, Clarke and Hilfenhaus aren’t proving to be the world beaters the Australian fans and players are used to.

“Through-out the 80’s and 90’s we had the measure of England,” said Australian captain Ricky Ponting “when they struggled with the likes of Atherton, Gooch and Stewart. But now they have Cook, Swann, Bell and Onions and it is just killing us”.

Ponting has been criticised in recent months for his lack of inspiration in his selections with some commentators saying he relied on Warne for too long and now the frailties in the remainder of the side have been exposed.

Cricket Australia was quick to deny that they had hired a large team of linguists to try to get any comedy mileage out of the names of Hauritz and Manou, but there have been reports of young Queensland fast bowler Gavin Wynne-D’Ashes being considered for the fifth test.

The Beige Archives: NZ stripped of 'dark horse' status

This article first appeared on the BBC's 606 forum on the 16th of June 2009.

The ICC has revoked New Zealand’s status as the ‘Dark Horse’ team following NZ’s failure to progress to the semi-finals of the on-going World Twenty20 tournament.

“For many years, New Zealand has enjoyed starting tournaments as the ‘dark horse’ and they have been successful in that role, routinely getting to the semi-finals ahead of some of their more fancied opponents.” said an ICC spokesperson. “However, they have only beaten Scotland and Ireland in this tournament and that is not good enough for them to keep their top ranking in this category”.

“We will review the rankings at the end of the tournament, but either the West Indies or Pakistan are most likely to be given the mantle”.

This marks the first step in a comprehensive review of the ICC’s official tournament tags on the back of widespread criticism of the rankings used for the World Twenty20.

Ireland are expected to keep the ‘Plucky Underdog’ tag after getting through to the Super 8s whereas South Africa are only two wins away from being stripped of their ‘Chokers’ tag.

Australia are also likely to lose their status as ‘Team-To-Beat’ now that everyone, well, has.

The Beige Archives: India develop plan to combat Gayle

This article first appeared on the BBC's 606 forum on the 12th of June 2009.

Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has admitted that watching Angelo Matthew's superb fielding for Sri Lanka against the West Indies has inspired him to develop new field placements in an effort to negate the power of West Indian batsman Chris Gayle.

"When we saw Matthew's catch the ball beyond the boundary but with his feet off the ground we knew we could use this to combat Gayle's big hitting. We will have a fielder at Long Off, and then beyond him we will have a fielder stationed in the stands at a position we've called Long Way Off. So if Gayle smashes it into the stand, the fielder can catch it whilst jumping and relay it back to the fielder inside the boundary."

"We will also have a fielder patrolling Deep Backward Carpark to cover Gayle's hooks and pulls".

The ICC has announced that they have no problems with India's innovative field placements but have stated that they may introduce a restriction of having only one fielder outside the stadium during the Powerplays.

When asked whether he'd use such tactics when playing England, Dhoni said "Err, unlikely".

However, he did add that "field placements against England have their own challenges. Like whether you should put in that 4th slip".

The Beige Archives: Gracious hosts give Dutch victory

This article first appeared on the BBC's 606 forum on the 5th of June 2009.

England, the host nation for the World Twenty20, graciously stepped aside and let their unfancied opponents The Netherlands win the opening match of the tournament today.

“How bad would we have looked if we had beaten our guests?” said England Captain Paul Collingwood at the completion of the match. “We wanted to uphold the spirit of hosting that we had during the one-day World Cup back in 1999 and we are really pleased with how things went exactly to plan.”

“All that’s left is for us to lose to Pakistan which we are looking forward to as they have had a hard couple of years and we’d like to do all we can for them while they are here”.

England had happily claimed the underdogs tag before the start of the tournament, but their commitment to living up to that tag has taken most experts by surprise.

The Beige Archives: 606 Cricket- Guide for Beginners

This article first appeared on the BBC's 606 forum on the 25th of March 2009. It summed up my views on everything that was wrong with 606. Sadly, nothing changed.

Time to get the 606 Cricket Rulebook dusted off, particularly since the Ashes is coming up and lots of new people will be coming onto these boards and might need a bit of help getting up to speed.

  1. Statements and statistics will be ignored unless followed by “FACT” or “End of”, at which point they become binding and irrefutable.
  2. Kevin Pietersen is English
  3. Kevin Pietersen is South African
  4. Kevin Pietersen is England’s best player for a generation and a proven match-winner
  5. Kevin Pietersen is an egotistical mercenary who must be dropped
  6. Any articles praising Flintoff must contain the words and phrases “talisman”, “hero” and “gives 110%”.
  7. Any articles criticising Flintoff must contain the words and phrases “pedalo”, “injury-prone” and “not a test number 6”.
  8. If you don’t care about a particular player, competition or form of cricket, you must demonstrate this by writing as many articles and comments as possible stating your position. See Rule 1.
  9. An article comparing Tendulkar, Lara and Ponting must be written every week. Having three such articles on the go at once is the norm.
  10. Don’t bother writing an article comparing Murali to Warne or Bradman to Tendulkar. No-one will comment on it.
  11. Any comments about women’s cricket must be on the basis of attractiveness of the players and any mention to their ability as cricketers is frowned upon. Double-entendres involving “maidens”, “balls” and “fine leg” are always hilarious.
  12. Changing your mind based on evidence and logic is banned.
  13. Changing your mind based on which team is involved is mandatory.
  14. Any discussion regarding England’s squad for the Ashes must contain at least one of Ramprakash, Key or Trescothick or it won’t be taken seriously.
  15. Every match must conclude with an article stating the umpires were incompetent and/or biased.
  16. If you write a comment criticising Twenty20 you are a dinosaur.
  17. If you write a comment criticising Tests you have no attention span.
  18. If you write a comment criticising Tests, ODIs and Twenty20 you have come to the wrong forum.
  19. Valid excuses for why your side lost include “the pitch”, “the toss”, “the umpires”, “the weather”, “the selectors”, “the tour schedule” and “injuries”.
  20. Invalid excuses for why your side lost include “the opposition played better”.

The Beige Archives: Dyson blames 'lack of maths practice'

This article first appeared on the BBC's 606 forum on the 20th of March 2009.

West Indian Coach John Dyson blamed his side’s lack of arithmetic preparation before the first one day international against England for the loss by 1 run under the Duckworth Lewis scheme.

“Obviously, if we’d spent less time at fielding drills and a bit more time working out that six plus one doesn’t equal six then we wouldn’t have got ourselves into this situation” said a despondent Dyson.

"I also shouldn’t have been reading my 'Understanding Duckworth-Lewis' book by Shaun Pollock. It’s a cracking read, but I should really have noticed Ramdin getting out”.

England captain Andrew Strauss was delighted with the result. “We have won one match in a row so I’m absolutely over the moon. We were also doing the Duckworth Lewis calculations, and we thought the West Indies were ahead by an innings and 2 away goals, so it just shows how tricky it all is. I think for the next game we’ll replace Harmison with a maths boffin to help avoid these situations. The bloke can fill the ‘bowling ability optional’ slot in our line-up too”.

The Beige Archives: Fred Goodwin announced as new England coach

This article first appeared on the BBC's 606 forum on the 8th of March 2009.

The ECB today made the surprise decision to appoint former banking chief Sir Fred Goodwin as the new England cricket coach. ECB Chairman Giles Clarke said that he had spoken to Goodwin and that he had been impressed with Goodwin’s knowledge of catastrophic collapses and record losses and that this would be crucial for a role in English cricket.

“This is a decision which is in the best interests of both parties” said Clarke. “We need a coach who isn’t afraid to make the big decisions that no-one else understands, and Sir Fred is a bit short of cash, being unemployed and all, and he also wants a role that takes him well away from the public eye”.

When asked whether he thought it was wise to appoint a media pariah who wasn’t English and had no comprehension of cricket, Clarke said “maybe you are right. He is a bit too perfect”.

The Beige Archives: Harper Defends Chanderpaul Dismissal

This article first appeared on the BBC's 606 forum on the 28th of February 2009.

Third Umpire Daryl Harper defended his decision to uphold the LBW decision of West Indian batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul saying that it was “for the good of the game”.

“Seriously, was there any other way England were going to get Chanderpaul on that pitch?” Harper continued. “He’d have been on about 700 at the end of day five. What kind of advert is that for test cricket? This way there is a tiny chance of a result and as such I don’t see what the problem is”.

ICC President David Morgan was quick to defend Harper. “Something needed to be done in this series between the West Indies and England to keep international interest up. First there was England being dismissed for 51, then a test called off, then a draw. Test cricket doesn’t need another draw, and if we as the custodians of the rules can inject some excitement into a particular match, then that exactly what the referral system should be used for. I’m just disappointed we didn’t introduce it years ago. I see Harper being the hero here, and quite frankly, if he doesn’t get man of the match then an inquiry will be instigated”.

David Morgan declined to comment on how the ICC were going to dismiss Sarwan.

The Beige Archives: Fury as Sachin Tops All-Time Worst List

This article first appeared on the BBC's 606 forum on the 18th of February 2009.

There was widespread anger and disappointment today after India’s Sachin Tendulkar came first-equal on the ICC’s recently published All-Time Worst Batsmen list. This controversy comes a month after their All-Time Best Batsman list was slated for having Tendulkar as low as 26th.

“This does not necessarily mean he is the worst batsman in the history of the game,” an ICC spokesman said. “The rankings give an indication of how players performed across their entire lifetimes, and the simple fact is that all batsmen were a bit rubbish during the first few months of life and as such they are all joint-equal in first place. It does not give a full picture of those players who were consistently poor at Test level. People need to understand what the list shows and how it needs to be interpreted”.

But many observers remain unconvinced. “I am appalled at the ICC’s methods of devising the worst batsman” raged Kapil Dev. “It is disappointing to see Sachin so high on this list. To have him alongside the likes of Atherton and Border isn’t right, but as bad as Chris Martin? You’re having a laugh”.

However, there was no such controversy with the All-Time Worst Bowlers list where, despite the same methodology being applied, Peter Such came out on top.

The Beige Archives: West Indies Level Farcical Series

This article first appeared on the BBC's 606 forum on the 13th of February 2009.

Following England’s brilliant batting collapse at the end of the first test, the West Indies responded by having the second test abandoned after just 10 minutes play to level the Farcical Test series 1-1.

England captain Andrew Strauss was quick to congratulate the hosts: “Full credit to the West Indies Board. They would have been hurting after they let us get the first farce of the tour in down at Kingston, but they didn’t let that get to them and it was a team effort by all their administrators and groundstaff to pull this response together”.

England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff was quoted as saying that England hadn’t underestimated the West Indies before the second test. “We knew they’d bounce back. The Windies are great with pulling such farces out of the bag – just look at the last World Cup”.

When asked how England would respond Strauss said “Well, we’ve got a couple of ideas for the rest of the series. Maybe we’ll turn up to the wrong ground or something. We need another big farce though to fully prepare ourselves and the fans for the Ashes later this year. But we haven’t decided yet. Who knows? Maybe we’ll re-select Bell”.

The Beige Archives: England Use Referral on Team Selection

This article first appeared on the BBC's 606 forum on the 6th of February 2009.

The England Cricket team today confirmed they were ‘confused’ as to how the referral system worked after it was revealed that they had attempted to use one of their referrals to query their team selection for the first test against the West Indies.

Television official Daryl Harper has said that at the end of the second day’s play, England captain Andrew Strauss had approached him and asked him to check whether picking Bell ahead of Shah was a good idea and whether he should have gone in with two spinners.

“This shows a lack of understanding with how the referral system works and what my role is” said Harper “I can’t use any of the predictive elements of television replays so the Hindsight-o-meter is not available. I think they just have to accept who they have picked and get on with it. And this goes for the fans as well”.

When asked his views, umpire Tony Hill said he “didn’t have a clue”, although it is uncertain whether he was referring to the make-up of the England team or umpiring in general.

The Barmy Army also used up one of their referrals when they queried whose turn it was to get in the next round. Upon hearing it was his turn, Gavin “Sly Dog” Harrison was said to be “well gutted”.

The Beige Archives: Australia Trial Eleventh Mode of Dismissal

This article first appeared on the BBC's 606 forum on the 1st of February 2009.

The Australian cricket team’s introduction of a new method of dismissal (“bowled – wicketkeeper assisted”) claimed it’s first victim today when New Zealand batsman Neil Broom was dismissed by Australian bowler Michael Clarke after Australian keeper Brad Haddin broke the stumps before the ball had reached them.

“This is an exciting development in cricket” enthused Australian captain Ricky Ponting, “too many of the recent developments in cricket have favoured the batsman and it is good to test out some methods of redressing this balance. We tried something similar last year with the “one hand-one bounce” rule when India toured, but we are hopeful this new one will be more popular”.

Clarke outlined one of the other benefits of the new rule when he stated “the keeper can now also attempt to collect the ball in front of the stumps. This will help can cut down the time between deliveries which will be a boost for our over-rates which have been a little slow over recent months”.

When questioned about the legality of the new development, particularly in light of it not being officially approved prior to the game commencing, Ponting said “If the ICC overrule the umpire’s decision then that’s their call, but we are pretty confident they’ll do a u-turn in about six months and award the wicket back to us.”

The Beige Archives: NZ Cricket Announce Plans to Clone Bond

This article was first published on BBC's 606 forum on the 19th January 2009 and was my first satirical article. It was treated as if it was a genuine news story.

Following Shane Bond’s decision to end speculation regarding his return to international cricket, NZ Cricket have announced plans to clone the fast bowler using samples of his DNA.

Justin Vaughan, chief executive of NZ Cricket said “We are very excited about re-opening speculation that a Shane Bond, any Shane Bond, might be back playing for the Black Caps. We hired expensive management consultants using money we won betting against ourselves in the recent test series loss to Australia and they came up with this innovative yet brilliant plan”.

Vaughan also outlined the forward thinking nature of this plan. “Obviously, it will be around 20 years before the new Bond will be old enough to represent his country, but that’s the kind of forward planning that the Black Caps need if we are to be serious about the 2029 World Cup.”

Canterbury team-mate, and former Black Cap, Chris Harris said “In 20 years time I’ll be coming to the end of my career, but the chance to play with another Shane Bond is very exciting”.

Shane Bond wasn’t available for comment on this latest speculation.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Australia to tender for new Ashes opponents

Cricket Australia today announced that they are putting the Ashes cricket series out to tender for the first time since the original Ashes contract was drawn up back in 1882. At that time, England were the successful applicants in what turned out to be a one-horse race. Cricket historian Basil Wynne-Jones said this agreement was massive for the sport. “It was a fantastic development that the premier rivalry in the sport should be contested by the only two countries who played.”
However, Cricket Australia have, astutely, noted that cricket is no longer played just between these two teams. “Our contract with England for the Ashes has served us well throughout the last 130-odd years but we feel that it is time to review our options and consider injecting fresh blood into a conflict that England, quite frankly, have been mistreating for abut the last 5 years”.
Former Australian cricket captain Steve Waugh agreed with this saying, “The contract with England has run its course. The arrangement was perfect during the 1990s but this is the 21st century now and we can’t just keep the status quo.  Cricket is entering a bold new era, and Australia needs to be at the forefront of that.  We don’t need England holding us back”.
Cricket Australia have said they are particularly interested in hearing from New Zealand, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.