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August 2008
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Daniel Brigham: The beauty of hindsight

August 14th, 2008 by Daniel Brigham in Miscellaneous

Hindsight’s a wonderful thing isn’t it. Well, actually, no it isn’t. Hindsight is only good for creating smugness. I bet Giles Clarke has a lot of hindsight. I bet he also says ‘I told you so’ a lot.

Hindsight was the theme of the day in the office today (yesterday it was food. Nearly every day is about food). The hindsight was mostly coming from our web-editor Sam Collins and new recruit and Nathan Robertson look-a-like Benj Moorehead (pictured here with Gail Emms look-a-like Daniel Brigham).

Remember the 2005 Ashes? Well, before it started everyone with the tiniest bit of cricket-tragic in their blood was arguing about whether KP or Graham Thorpe should play. Well, not our Sam.

Sam claims it wasn’t KP v Thorpe he was interested in, it was KP v Bell. Yes, everyone was having this discussion as soon as Bell began to look like the kind of kid who’d run a mile if a girl tried to kiss him. Not our Sam though, or our Badminton star Benj. They were saying this before the Ashes, when Bell had shown at Warwickshire that he was the kind of kid who would average in the high fifties for England.

Sam was travelling in Brazil when Bell got the chin wobble from Duncan Fletcher over Thorpe. Most people travelling in Brazil wouldn’t give a fig about the England squad selection. Not our Sam though, he was so apoplectic that he found the nearest internet café and hurled abuse towards the England selectors via the BBC cricket blog. Apparently he had always thought Bell didn’t have the guts to play international cricket.

Or so he claims. Thing is, he can’t find any of the comments he left. There is no evidence of this remarkable piece of intuitive thinking. Which to my and Ed’s eyes makes him a great big liar. Which also means that Ed and I are in agreement, which also means the world is likely to implode. See. That’s how bad hindsight is. It destroys planets.

So, does anyone else out there claim they shared the same gut instinct as Sam and Benj? More importantly, does anyone have evidence of Sam’s BBC comments?

Daniel Brigham is assistant editor of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in Miscellaneous | 11 Comments »

RMJ: The ones that got away

August 14th, 2008 by Robin Martin-Jenkins in County cricket, Miscellaneous and tagged ,

This week I thought I’d try and answer a query that emerged from last week’s blog: who have I played against that failed to live up to expectations?

Every generation of young cricketers contains names that have lorded the game at junior level and have had coaches and observers drooling with anticipation that they’re the next Ashes winning batsman or fast bowler. A few continue to develop into fine county players who might play the odd game for England if they’re lucky. Fewer still emerge as fine international cricketers known the world over. From my generation you can take your pick from any of the following: Flintoff, Trescothick, Solanki, McGrath, Sales, Tudor, Ormond.

But the majority fall by the wayside never to be heard of again (unless you follow league cricket). There are two players from my age group who stand out in this category: Anurag Singh and Kevin Innes. From the age of 14 these two bossed the national cricket set-up and even at under-19 level they were considered the next best thing since the wheel. And while they both played county cricket, neither lived up to the hype. Singh averaged 32 with the bat in 108 matches for Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Notts while Innes played only 45 first-class games as an allrounder in 10 years for Northants and Sussex.

What was it that made them fail where they contemporaries succeeded? It’s our old friend ‘mental strength’. Singh possessed a brilliant brain (he studied law at Cambridge) but often overcomplicated his theories on batting as a result. Innes was less sophisticated and so laid back that he would often drift off to another planet. It appears that, despite possessing the physical skill, neither player had the mental capabilities to cope with the stresses of professional cricket.

There are many more examples such players, too many to include here. So perhaps it would be best to end on a more positive note and look at some of the names of England’s under 19’s opponents from my generation: South Africa. The scorecard of the class of 1995 shows Boucher, McKenzie, Dippenaar and Prince – not a bad group of players! And incidentally Marcus Trescothick scored 358 runs (average 71.60) in the three-match series (which England won 2-0) – what England would have given for those stats this summer! (RMJ was 12th man for a handful of those games, we discovered …)

2008 is Robin Martin-Jenkins’ benefit year, visit for further details.

Posted in County cricket, Miscellaneous | 12 Comments »

Performance of the week: Makhaya Ntini

August 14th, 2008 by Benj Moorehead in South Africa in England, Test cricket and tagged , ,

7. Makhaya Ntini - 7 for 149 (match figures), England v South Africa, 4th Test, The Oval, August 7-11 2008

From the flat bowler at Lord’s who was as harmless as a Harmison in Australia, to the canny operator who took the only five-for of the series last week at The Oval – Makhaya Ntini’s transition over the last four Test matches is remarkable.

At Lord’s it was hard to believe: this was a man who had 344 wickets from 87 matches. Yet he was sending down the sort of predictable straight stuff that ridiculed the pre-match hype about South Africa’s unforgiving quartet of quicks. From 29 wicket-less overs Ntini leaked 130 runs at Lord’s.

He was only marginally better at Headingley, and had Dale Steyn not been ruled out for the final two Tests then Andre Nel may well have replaced Ntini.

What bounce is to Morkel, what swing is to Kallis, angle is to Ntini. He makes batsmen play because the ball is searing in at them (or across for the left-hander). At Lord’s he was criticised for not using this commodity.

Ntini duly made use of the bowler’s crease, and things steadily improved. Three wickets at Headingley, four more at Edgbaston.

Then The Oval. Ntini bowled wide of the crease, then straighter, and even sometimes from around the wicket. Variety brought results. His five-for included England’s top four, and the fifth was Stuart Broad, who was averaging 80 in the series. Ian Bell’s second-innings dismissal, though a poor shot, was a virtue of angle: a ball pitched outside off which took out leg stump.

The series was a study in Ntini’s endurance as a cricketer. And it explains the career stats which seemed so baffling when England were piling up 593 at Lord’s.

Benj Moorehead is editorial assistant of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in South Africa in England, Test cricket | No Comments »

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