Cracker at Trent Bridge

The two main reasons we lost?

1. Went to the toss with a ‘We can’t’ rather than a ‘We can’ attitude. Thinking that Trent Bridge is a run fest is one thing, but you need to think – we can protect a target, rather than we can’t protect a target.

2. Fielding.

But when all is said and done, that was a seriously great game to get the punters interested in the World Cup, if they weren’t already.

I was glued.

Joss (103) and Joe (107) batted so well, but chasing 348 was never going to be a walk in Central Park.

Pakistan are certainly mercurial, yet that was a very good time to lay to rest their run of 11 games without a win. As we near the end of Ramadhan, Safarawaz commented to Atherton at the end of the game that Allah had played his part today.

Eoin Morgan will pick his excellent team up. Losing by 14 runs is frustrating, but it was a brave effort. Interestingly it is the first time in ODI history two players have both scored centuries on the same team and lost.

Afghanistan v Sri Lanka tomorrow. Loving this world cup.

Opening match of Cricket World Cup 2019

What a ‘feel good’ match to start off the tournament. Google is obviously far too clever for me and understands where I am living so I needn’t have converted the time difference. Mattered not. I only missed Bairstow’s Golden, and Root and Roy rebuilding to each post 50s.

That seemed to be the common thread among the top order, 50 and out.

Stokes’ 89 was an excellent innings. He deserved the MOTM with a couple of wickets to finish off the South African team and a catch which was utterly phenomenal.

Jofra Archer has a beautiful action and looks so natural. It is going to be a great World Cup.

Mumbai Mumbai

The IPL is such a fantastic tournament. I recommend every cricket fan travel out to India and experience it. I pored over the schedule for a few weeks in February and when it was confirmed that elections would not mean certain Mumbai matches would be played in U.A.E, I booked my flights.

Of the two matches we saw, Mumbai won one, and lost one. We saw a great 89 from Joss Buttler in fetching Pink playing for the Rajasthan Royals, and a few days later AB de Villiers for Royal Challengers Bangalore scoring 75.

The atmosphere in the ground is electric. ‘Mumbai Mumbai’. ‘Boom Boom Bumrah’. The tournament is heading towards its climax now, and the nation is gripped.

But more than just watching cricket, I got to play a match for the Malabar Pirates on the famous Maidan, nine slightly overlapping pitches long down in the southern part of the city near the Gateway. Harry, our Skipper, let me turn my arm for a few overs, and I really enjoyed hitting a few boundaries at the end of our innings. We were more than a few dozen short of their total, but it was fantastic to meet the players and share a beer afterwards.

The cricket buzz in the city during the IPL is wonderful. Every bar is showing a match, everyone is talking about it, everyone is playing in the streets.

Just when you might have thought I’d had enough cricket, along comes a half hour conversation by a poolside with none other than England Coach, Paul Collingwood. It was his day off, and I didn’t really want to be a pest but I just had to fire a few questions his way.

His favourite place to tour? Australia. But only when you’re winning, otherwise it is the worst! Caribbean is always nice, and Cape Town special too.

Thoughts on Ireland and Afghanistan? Afghanistan will rise no doubt. Massive talent there.

Will International cricket be played any time soon in Pakistan? The security cost £2.5m for about 10 days recently when he went there with a World XI, so it’s hard to see.

Excited about the upcoming World Cup? Er yes. Jofra Archer one to watch and although the squad needs to be announced now, changes can still be made further down the line.

The Magic of Mumbai! What a special experience.

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Chunabatti. Kids playing alongside parked trucks. Any strip of land will do.

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From dusk till dawn. Cricket.

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Me at the famous Maidan.

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Our run-chase started cautiously.

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Never far from someone off to play cricket.

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The Craftsman.

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The Maidan, where dreams start.

 

Sir Spin.

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Harry from Hampshire gave me this after a game of Badminton in the New Year. I enjoyed it. Perhaps it was just the vernacular buzzing about the planet in the 1990s, but with Y2K coming up, in the film Basic Instinct you had the ‘F*** of the Century’ and in 1993, during an Ashes Summer, we were treated to the ‘Ball of the Century’. I was doing my A levels, and on a break from attempting to revise GATT (General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs) sneaked off to the TV Room and watched a far more interesting Gatt – bewitched, bothered and bewildered was he.

Warney and Mark Nicholas by all accounts sat down over a few dozen Brewskis and managed to pound out the Bio. From Hurley to Poker to the Art of Leg Spin, it’s all covered. You have to admire the man. He is a born bluffer. Perhaps when you’re totally self-made, you’re less cautious. Maybe, maybe not. But 708 Test Wickets. That is something.

The chapter on the first season of IPL in 2008 is fascinating. The man sticks to his guns. It’s possible that not making it as a professional Aussie Rules Footballer made him all the more driven. He seems to have a knack for creating a story, whether good or bad, and that is perhaps why the Press hound him. I emailed Harry from Hampshire to say that I was enjoying the read, he replied, “Yeah, what about the threesome followed by a 7-for against Middlesex”. It’s true, the man is larger than life, and whilst he and ‘Pidge’ (McGrath) made me have to dig deep in the 90s as an English cricket fan, the sport owes him a doff of the cap. Sir Shane?

2-1 after St.Lucia

2-1 looks better than 3-0. In the history books it may even look as if it was close, but by-and-large this was a series to forget in a hurry. Just as it was lost in a hurry. Root went into the sixth innings of the tour with only 55 runs to his name. Yes, he is a world class batsman, but 122 when the series is dead and buried is nothing but consolation.

I have listened to both ‘The Cricket Social’ on BBC, and TalkSport’s coverage. The ‘Social’ did a good job of bringing in Coaches and Executives to chat at length about the life of cricket and business around them. This was occasionally interrupted by Aggers out in the Caribbean with his lost puppy Sir Alistair trying desperately hard to remain optimistic.

Was Aggers a roving reporter this series? Presumably there was no TMS box? Derek Pringle has always had an intelligent eye for the game, and he’s starting to acquire the Cricket Commentator’s red wine raspiness, which may serve him well. TalkSport’s team just seems to be Sky’s team in their hourly break. It’s good to still be able to get ball by ball commentary. Incidentally, never heard so much ‘Times Literary Supplement’ advertising.

There is a ENG v WI ODI series to look forward to and a 20/20 tagged on at the end,  followed by a 4 day test against Ireland in the early Summer in England. It will be a great summer of cricket for the fan. June will be packed with the World Cup, with the final at Lords on the 14th July, immediately followed by the Ashes.

 

 

 

 

Tanzanian Cricket

Youngsters turn up to practice with Coach Michael over the holidays. Coach Michael bringing the Dennis Lillee headband back into fashion.

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I am looking forward to this term’s Cricket Elective. If the enthusiasm from the first session is anything to go by, we will have a barrel of laughs, and learn a few things.

I’ve already seen the Dil-scoop employed.

I’m dreaming of a school trip to the IPL. Let me dream.

 

The Lord’s Test

You look forward to it for months, and then in the blink of an eye, it’s over. It’s a little like Christmas when you believe in Father Christmas, I suppose. Still, what a treat! A wonderful win for England, and all done in 2 days and 1 session (excluding rain). India I fear are in desperate need of a bit of Sunil Gavasgar tutoring. Good job he’s coming in for Saurav Ganguly for Channel 5 coverage for the last three tests then!

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On the right tube then.

Day 1 was a washout. It doesn’t happen too often, and it’s sad when it does. Absolutely nothing doing. I’m sure the Insurance will pay out for the loss of revenue, but it will probably be reflected in next years’ ticket prices. I stood for about 50 minutes under a tree dodging the rain, watching the likes of John Emburey, and Jonny Bairstow waltz by. To me, as a fan, it’s almost as magical seeing them up close as watching them on the pitch itself.

The good and the great really were out in force, and I even had eye contact with Sachin as he made his way for an interview with Aggers. But when all is said and done, not a ball was bowled and that’s a shame.

Day 2 was also hugely rain affected but to have stuck it out and see India collapse in the final session for 107 would have been a treat.

Day 3 dawned beautiful.

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England batted all day. Woakes scored a ton, and Bairstow so nearly put right that 95 we saw him get in 2012 against SA at Lord’s. Alas not this time, falling 7 short of the ton, but playing beautifully.

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England had the best of the conditions, but the margins were to prove just too big to be weather-accountable.

Mark Ramprakash and Mooen Ali strolling back from a quick net practice.thumbnail-4

I don’t think anyone, including TMS commentators, were sure of quite why England continued to bat into Day 4 with the ball swinging as it was, but it was academic in the end.

India only managed 130 in their second innings and it was just wonderful seeing Jimmy Anderson get his 100th Lord’s wicket.

The celebration. View from the Tavern Stand.

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A memorable match and one that shows just how difficult it can be to play swing bowling in England. We all hope Kohli’s back trouble clears up for the third test starting in 6 days at Trent Bridge, as at the moment, he seems to be the only batsman with any spine.

Curran continues to impress. Vaughan thinks he has as much if not more talent as a Batsman, but he was getting huge amounts of ‘seam wobble’ out in the middle. Rashid did not get an over, but he’ll not worry too much, it’s a team game. The question is, presuming this fiasco of a court case out in Bristol is done and dusted by next weekend, who is Ben Stokes coming back in for?

1000th Test

What a cracker!

Who wouldn’t have been tuned in last Saturday morning? With England needing 5 wickets and India 90 odd runs, it was a classic (fourth day) final morning.

Enjoyed listening to TMS with the descriptions of fancy dress; Bananas turning up alongside Kim Jong Un. Enjoyed Graeme Swann getting defensive of his accent imitations when Simon Mann had a pop. All good fun.

I was surprised the Indian team didn’t manage to knock off the required runs to take the First Test, but congrats to England on a tight victory.

Stokes is the X factor in this team, and having missed him all Winter Down-Under we now have to do our best at Lords without him.

The Egdbaston test was a great result for Curran, and he deserved Man-of-the-match.

We’ll miss Blowers’ commentary forever, but particularly at the 1001st Test tomorrow.

Three Men in the Concourse Stand

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The sun rose uncontested into a fine blue sky and I made my way up the Bakerloo line to HQ. Ten years in the pipeline, and some twenty still to go, but who’s counting? I carefully read the website instructions as to exactly what could and could not be worn, and on a day when temperatures soared, I was thankful to be wearing tailored shorts.

With an iced coffee in hand, I parked myself up and no sooner had I taken in the immediate surrounds than I spied a fellow it warmed my heart to see. We sat out the England innings, and against current form Root posted a super ton, with Willey Jnr slamming a rapid 50 at the end. 320 was a fighting total, especially after no shows from the big guns such as Buttler and Stokes.

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A man a plan a canal Panama (my all time favorite palindrome).

Sitting together through the India innings was a joy, as the tourists just kept getting snuffed out. Dohni should have led the charge earlier, but then by the time his partners were down to Kuldeep, perhaps he must have felt a responsibility to just stick around.

A truly splendid day. 1-1 in the ODI series. All to play for at Headingely tomorrow.