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.

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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.

 

 

So much T20.

Met up with ex-work colleagues to go to a 20/20 bash at Lords. It was a fun evening. A London Derby of sorts. Middlesex v Surrey. It was a pleasant, well supported event. Morne Morkel put down a catch just infront of us under the media centre and perhaps had he taken it, and Cartwright had been sent back to the pavilion things might have been different, but as it was, Middlesex went on to win by three wickets.

England went to Bristol to play the deciding T20 in the sweltering heat. Root was dropped to make way for Stokes, but 198 didn’t prove to be enough, and India knocked them off with ease. Rohit managed to post an unbeaten round 100*. The T20 World Cup in Australia in 2020 has a nice ring to it. Meanwhile, the old country is in the grip of a wonderful heatwave and Football World Cup fever. It can’t really happen can it?

5-0

What a joy to listen to Rashid and Buttler hold the fort on Sunday afternoon. On a day when England spanked Panama in the World Cup to the tune of a tennis match score, 6-1, the England cricket team performed wonders up at Old Trafford, under a cloudless sky.

Utterly fantastic. Bring on the 20-20 today.

Also interesting to read of a match between Peterborough and High Wycombe over the weekend where the hosts took 7 wickets in 11 balls to win by 1 run.

 

Whitewash on the cards.

At 4-0 up in the 5 match ODI series against the Aussies, it feels good. To score 480 odd the other day at Trent Bridge was record breaking. What a performance. I’ve watched the highlights twice and could watch them again and again. Just hope we can transfer this kind of play to the World Cup stage. It is high time we won the tournament.

3 Wicket win at The Oval

Lost some crucial wickets at the wrong times, but chased down 214 in South London yesterday. Funny seeing Broad and Anderson in the various commentary boxes, and an era definitely feels as if it is coming to an end.

It’s funny how cricket stays in the family. What with Willey hitting the winning run yesterday (in fine style – a six straight back over the bowlers head), it made me think of how his father used to have such a unique stance. 1-0 up, with 4 to play.