A quick read.

I think there were parts of Fred’s early time at Lancs I would like to have read more about, and of course 6 extra chapters on 2005 wouldn’t have gone amiss, but entertaining, and he seems like a man who just gets on with getting the very most out of life.

On the Eve of The Ashes.

We gave India a run for their money in England this Summer. India beat Australia Down Under earlier this year. There is nothing like The Ashes for getting us fans excited about the Cricket to come. It is superb that it is going ahead. Front page of The Times today was Joe Root up against Pat Cummins. No Archer, no Stone. A shame. But Ben Stokes will be there. Hooray.

It is a simple format England. Enjoy it from the word go. What a fantastic country – enjoy it. Take 20 wickets, and post 500. There, job done. 😉

Hoping Mo Bobat has done all that is needed. There will be some kind of bubble fatigue. There is no doubt of that. Keep drinking the Pickle juice to avoid the cramp! With all the Strength and Conditioning Advisors and Nutritionists at hand you’d think the team are well prepped. Here is to Brisbane.

T20 World Cup / YCCC / Greg James

The T20 has been fun to follow. In the true nature of the ‘whizz/bang’ tournament, we have seen England and Pakistan ejected in the semis in the final overs. Jos Buttler played so well and it was a shame he was dismissed for 29 LBW against NZ as he had recently become the first player to score a hundred in all the disciplines of the game.

It will be a good final on Sunday I am sure. Many have said that it has been better to lose to NZ in the semis than AUS in the final. The 1987 ODI World Cup still hurts, yet so does the 1992 one. Many of the matches have not had large crowds which is a shame, but at least they have gone ahead (in the blistering Middle Eastern heat).

Lord Patel has taken over the reins at Yorkshire County Cricket Club. Vaughan is not currently presenting his podcast with Tuffers on the BBC. Headingley will suffer enormously financially unless it can start to host international matches again, of this there is no doubt.

I’m becoming a huge fan of Greg James and his broadcasting style. He loves a soundbite. I loved the way he pointed out Mark Nicholas’ tendency to insert “Boy” in to his commentary. I’ve started listening to the Alan Stanford episodes. Learning a few things about his past. Tailenders is always well put together and a very enjoyable listen. Good luck to Jimmy Andersen in Australia.

Bob Willis Trophy and Tailenders

The cricket season is over for another year. Boo.

I went to watch Tim Bresnan bowl a few overs last week in the Warks v Lancs match.

The victory was immense.

Hammersmith Apollo was alive and a complete sell out for Tailenders last night. Simply wonderful.

It is a special groundbreaking, off-the-wall zeitgeist niche that Tailenders have devised. Some call it nonsense, most call it nonsense. Long may it continue.

Cricket – it’s like baseball but better.

Eng v Ind Oval 2021

50 years in the making! A shame England could not make it over the line, and as Tuffers said it was a match that would’ve enjoyed (and warranted) seeing Woakes and Root there after Tea on Day 5 for the run chase, but it wasn’t to be. After 13 sessions it really was Shakin’ Even Stevens. However, Mr Boom Boom Howl Howl turned the pitter patter dripping tap into a frenzied waterfall returning a Wimbledon-worthy ‘speediest of the series’ spell of 6-3-6-2.

From that there was no coming back.

It was a truly superb Test, with no side out of sight until the hour before Tea on the final day. Capitulating on the final day has become de riguer at London venues. England came back strong at Headingley and fingers crossed the same can happen in Manchester on Friday.

Eng v Ind Lords 2021

When historians scan an eye over the bottom line it won’t make for pretty reading, a loss by 151 runs. As usual, the real story is so much deeper. The first day’s play was tough viewing. India grinding out a superb platform, which they failed to capitalise on during Day 2. Day 3 belonged to Joe Root. It was joyous to see him play so well.

Day 4 was again a grind. Viewing this kind of Test Cricket isn’t for the faint hearted. A couple more wickets in the evening session when the Umpires took the players off 8 overs early would have made all the difference. It wasn’t to be. Day 5 started well with two quick wickets but the tail was allowed to wag and then England were bowled out in just under two sessions. So disappointing. England will have to come back stronger, I believe we can.

Warsaw Nets

I was not expecting to bowl a ball in Warsaw. A few years ago I read ‘Slogging the Slavs’ by Angus Bell, and was given to understand that I shouldn’t expect much in the way of Cricket in Poland, but I think the presence and standard has increased in the past few years.

After a day at work, I’d strolled back to the apartment through the beautiful Lazienki Park, when lo and behold I saw half a dozen men walking with Cricket bags. A sight for sore eyes. I watched them through the iron railings as they set up, and then made my may back for a cup of tea.

I drunk the tea on the balcony and decided to go and have another look. The astroturf was at the back of a School. There were quite a few Indians, one or two Poles and a bearded Irishman called Mike who seemed to be in charge. I took a business card from an Englishman called Ben and later emailed to see if I could join.

I went along the following week and it was great to turn the arm. I was asked if I’d like a bat, but without a box I didn’t feel too comfortable so gave it a miss. The Warsaw Hussars evidently play quite a few games. I never made it to their pitch which was apparently somewhere West of the City, but it was heartening to see these men gather on a Wednesday evening on Ulica Rozbrat and have a net session. There was even a bowling machine one week, I’d love to have been a fly-on-the-wall at Customs when that was unearthed.

Evening entertainment

I moved into an apartment in Warsaw overlooking a splendid park, think Prince of Wales Drive meets north side of Hyde Park. Once a salesman, always a salesman. I listen to a lot of classical music. I watch the sunset from the balcony, I cook asparagus. I read Zadie Smith and Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. I promenade along the river, and I don’t have a Telly. But, thanks to a computer, an internet connection and a password, I have managed to watch an hour a night of ‘The Test’ over the past week.

After Staff Friday Football, which I have surprised myself in enjoying way more than I thought I ever could, we were having the customary Zywiec and talking about good Sports Films. I was put on to ‘The Test’. I’ve watched a couple of great Cricket Productions over the past few years, which I have ashamedly and blatantly failed to blog about. ‘The Edge’ and ‘Packer Series’ were both engrossing but produced no copy from Nowak.

JL – not to be confused with J Lo gives a candid account of his position and that of the Aussie team after Sandpapergate. Sandpapergate was really not that long ago, but the world moves quickly and there is a lot of water under the bridge as they say. I remember an Aussie colleague (remarkably I seemed to work in China with the only 2 Australian men who didn’t seem to follow Cricket) telling tale of a Vietnamese based British Headmaster ex colleague of his who put little pieces of sandpaper in the pigeon holes of all the Australian staff. As JL says himself, “There’s Banter, and there’s abuse”. Pigeon hole prank is undoubtedly the former.

I enjoyed the series a lot. Dressing Room access to players is a tough one. Where do you draw the line? For example, not a shot of the recent Oscar winning Hopkins film ‘The Two Popes’ included the Vatican. Not permitted, niet, outruled. Absolutemente non. But despite some Rugby playing and supporting Kiwis thinking it, sport is not a Religion, and these fly-on-the-wall docs are two-a-penny now. Yet, ‘The Test’ will appeal to Cricket Lovers. What do you do when two key men are suspended from playing?

From the heat of UAE, and the decision to let the Press know that ‘Aussies love Heat’, to the difficulty in losing on home turf to Captain Kohli and his team, this series shows us just how important it is to gel as a team. It is great to see Tugger, Haydos and Hick in the background (if that is not a name for a World Renowned Cricket Academy I don’t know what is), and despite the conference rooms and PowerPoints being about as boutique as a Political Party Conference, one gets the sense that some deep analysis and data is being mined. You know what they say, ‘Fail to Prepare and you…’. C’est vrai Monsieur.

It all obviously culminates with 2019, the World Cup and The Ashes. Bombastic, it was not. These matches really meant something to a lot of people. All the main interviewees, from Langer to Payne to Finch to Lyon to Starke, Cummins and Warner and Smith themselves open up. Langer says he’d have taken a Semi Final World Cup position and retaining the Urn on the plane over to England, but forgivably it is only human nature to want more. Watch it.

60 day tour of India

It started so well, the fiesty Test Victory, shortly followed by a total capitulation. The 20/20s were a hoot as they always are and then so near yet so far in the ODIs. Sam Curran proving he’s up for it. Well played England. A close but no cigar kind of tour. And still they play to empty stands.