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November 2008
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John Stern: Time for calm and perspective in wake of Mumbai

November 28th, 2008 by John Stern in England and tagged , , , ,

The chances of England returning for the two-Test series in India seems negligible. I can’t believe that there is much appetite among the players to return so unless the ECB force them to go back, which is inconceivable, then the Tests are off.

This is a shame. Totally understandable, even inevitable, but a shame nonetheless. On the one hand, sport can seem utterly trivial at times of great tragedy and personal suffering. But on the other, this is when sport can show its best side, it can be a force for good, a symbol of public resilience, of normality, a sign that we will carry on with our lives in the face of vile pressure. Above all, it is a chance to remember why we love this game, its capacity to bring fun, entertainment and excitement into our lives.

I didn’t expect Kevin Pietersen to be standing in the lobby of his Bhubaneshwar hotel saying: “We ain’t going nowhere.” Nor did I really expect Lalit Modi to be saying with such certainty that the Tests would go ahead. “There is no problem with that,” is possibly one of the most glib statements I’ve ever heard from a cricket administrator and (to paraphrase Blackadder) you can imagine there’s some pretty stiff competition. Was it stiff-upper-lip Dunkirk spirit from Modi or was it textbook grandstanding from the man who effectively runs world cricket? I know where my money is.

Cricket politics is seedy at the best of times but seeing it intrude so urgently into this tragic situation was nauseating. For Indian cricket, the impact of the Mumbai attacks could be far-reaching. If there is any widespread long-term concerns about safety and security in the country then its status as the powerhouse of the world game is under threat.

But frankly that’s not important right now. Modi needs to show some understanding to his English counterparts at the ECB, whom for once I have some sympathy. They are torn between their players’ well-being which they can’t be seen to take lightly and the commercial needs of the Indian board. If the foreign office do not officially advise against returning to India then the ECB are potentially stuck with a whopping compensation bill.

It is worth keeping a sense of history and perspective here. In 1984-85, Indira Gandhi was murdered by one of her bodyguards and the British High Commissioner was also killed. After much soul-searching, England, captained by David Gower, continued their tour. In 2005, Australia’s tour of England continued despite the London bombings. The difference in Mumbai is the targeting of foreigners in five-star hotels, just the sort of places touring cricketers inhabit.

Players talk of having their security “guaranteed”. That is naïve. Frankly nobody’s security can be guaranteed. Anybody who lives in a major city does so in the knowledge that risks, large and small, to personal safety exist round every corner. That is life.

Cricket cannot insulate itself from real life, nor should it. Pakistan has become a no-go area for touring cricketers, we can’t let India go the same way. And the last thing we should tolerate is the idea that ‘western’ cricketers won’t travel to Asia but they expect Asian cricketers to travel to their countries.

Double standards and hypocrisy are never far from the surface in international cricket politics. It’s time for calm, rational thinking and a bit if perspective. Let’s put the money and greed to one side, just for now.

John Stern is editor of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in England | 6 Comments »

Miles Jupp: England’s lost hours

November 28th, 2008 by Miles Jupp in England, One-day cricket and tagged , ,

As preparation for the Fifth ODI in Cuttack, England opted to have a team meeting rather than a practice session. The following is a transcript of a tape recording of their meeting in the team room at the hotel made by a private detective.

We can hear talking, laughing and the noise of darts and table tennis being played.

Peter Moores: Excuse me everybody. Excuse me.

There is the noise of more chattering and giggling. Someone is doing what sounds like an impression of Bob Willis.

Moores: C’mon now, guys. Let’s have a bit of quiet. Can you come away from the pool table for a moment?

The chattering gets louder.

Moores: (mildly) Kevin, would you mind getting them all to…?


There is instant quiet.


Moores: Peter Moores. Or Mooresy.

KP: Everybody shut up and listen to Morrissey.

Moores: Thank you Kevin. Thank you everyone. I know you’re all busy, so I’ll try to be brief. I thought we could all have that chat you opted for about our game plan for Cuttack. Now, I don’t want to worry any of you, but I’ve done some calculations and we seem to be four-nil down in the series.

Murmurs of surprise can be heard in the room. An unrecognisable voice (Tim Ambrose perhaps?) can be clearly heard saying “But surely we haven’t even started?”

Moores: Let’s not get our heads down about this. It’s just a matter of us thrashing out a solution. Now then, who has an idea of how we should play in Cuttack? Anyone?

There is a long silence, broken only by a waiter taking orders for drinks.

KP: Well we need to score more centuries. That’s what I think.

Moores: Brilliant. An excellent suggestion. Any others?

Collingwood: What about half centuries? I think they’re helpful too. And less stressful.

Moores: Possibly, Paul. Possibly.

Bopara: Sometimes scores in the forties can be helpful too. You know, just work the ball around a bit.

Moores: This is all good stuff.

Prior: What about someone going out there and putting together a really quick nine?

Moores: Well that’s certainly something to think about, Matt. We’ve talked a lot about roles recently, haven’t we? Is there anything anyone is particularly keen to do?

Harmison: I wouldn’t mind going home.

Moores: If we can just focus on the cricket for a little longer…

Ian Bell: I’d quite like to have a go carrying the drinks.

Cook: No, no. I’ve baggsied that. That’s my job.

Moores: I think Ian’s right, Alastair. It might be time to let someone else have a go mixing the isotonics.

Cook: Alright then. I’ll give it a go.

Moores: That’s the spirit.

KP: Remember though Al, this is limited overs stuff, so you’re going to need to play all of your shots. Both of them. Unless there’s a slip in place, obviously.

Moores: Actually, if you need a bit of advice about opening in the one day game, we could probably find Tresco’s number for you.

Prior: Or I could give you a bit of advice. I know a bit about opening in one-dayers.

There is nervous laughter and then what sounds suspiciously like somebody coughing and saying the word “bullshit” at the same time. Then a door opens, and we hear an enthusiastic voice.

L Wright: Oh Hi Guys! I didn’t know we were having a meeting.

Moores: Sorry, Luke, I guess I must have forgotten to tell you.

L Wright: No worries. I tell you what, though, it’s just as well we’re all here because those one-dayers must be due to start any day now. I’m really keen to get out there and do my stuff.

An embarrassed hush descends.

Moores: Anyway, that’s probably everything covered. Bowlers, we’ll be taking your names out of a hat in the usual way. Just remember to keep your chins up, to try and enjoy it, and that no-one at home gives a toss about one-day games. Any other business?

Harmison: Yes, I have an announcement. Tonight’s DVD is disc 2 from Lovejoy series Four. That’s episodes four to six.

There is much enthusiastic murmuring about this.

Harmison: We’re start the showing at seven pm promptly, and there will be a short toilet break between each episode.


Miles Jupp is an actor, comedian and cricket fan

Posted in England, One-day cricket | 2 Comments »

Belly: Being Dropped Is No Fun

November 27th, 2008 by Alan Tyers in Alan Tyers, England and tagged , , ,

It all happened when I went into Broady’s room on the Tuesday and he was playing Nintendo Wee Tennis on the Nintendo Wee with Priory, Sidey, Andersony and England cricket supremo Giles Clarke. Mr Clarke doesn’t get a nickname on account of his being a new member of the tennis club but we said that if he plays his cards right he could be looking at a Clarkey in no time at all. (The nickname Gilo obviously being taken by the legendary Ashley, who is still honorary president for life of the social committee and remains brilliant value in the 19th hole to this day does Gilo).

I was just fancying a game of Nintendo Wee Tennis on the Nintendo Wee but I waited my turn patiently much as I do on the cricket field. If I’m not scoring at a run a ball up front in the innings then so be it. Or even a run an over. It’s all about building to a good strong finish sometime around the ninth over and handing the baton over with a good solid platform. And if that means we’re in double figures, so much the better.

Anyway, what with poor old Sidey playing I knew it wouldn’t be long and sure enough he felt his stegosaurus abducticator go when he he’s gone for a drop volley and had to shuffle off for a bit of treatment. Meanwhile, poor Andersony was spraying it about left, right and centre and after the Nintendo Wee controller flew off his hand and smashed the telly Mr Clarke said Andersony better sit this one out for a bit because we’re not made of money in the England Cricket set-up especially after us nimrods managed to lose to a (he done a swear word here) pub team in that Stanford fiasco.

So I’m just taking my fleece off and doing my hair in preparation for a right good go of Nintendo Wee Tennis on the Nintendo Wee when who should come in but old choir eyebrows himself, Alastair Cook. Mr Clarke (and believe me, that’s how it is going to stay if Belly here has anything to say about it) goes: “Alastair my boy. Come and have a game of Nintendo Wee Tennis on the Nintendo Wee, you can be on my side.”

I couldn’t believe it to be honest. I haven’t felt so low since they stopped doing L’Oreal Superhold Wet-look Gel two-for-one in the Edgbaston Superdrug. And then Mr Clarke made me go and get him a lemon barley water and a fresh headband from his room like he was Tim bloody Henman or something. And then I had to sit and watch for about two hours and choir face never even managed to hit the ball once. I don’t know why I bother.

Alan Tyers is Ian Bell’s Bebo confidante

Posted in Alan Tyers, England | 2 Comments »

Rob Smyth: India’s Sehwag one of the greatest

November 26th, 2008 by Rob Smyth in Test cricket and tagged , , , ,

Virender Sehwag turned 30 last month. For most cricketers that involves a reappraisal of where they are heading and a modification of their game to begin the slow wind-down to retirement. But Sehwag is not like most cricketers. External factors – age, pitch conditions, quality of bowling, match situation, the alignment of the planets – have never penetrated the enormous bubble inside which he bats, and nor will they now: against first Australia and now England he has simply carried on as he did in his twenties.

Despite that, Sehwag remains relatively unappreciated. In a culture where sporting greatness is seemingly afforded any Tom, Dick or KP, many have declined to honour Sehwag thus. There are many possible reasons for this – his remarkably inconsistent nature, his contempt for the textbook, the shadow cast by India’s legendary middle order, maybe even his working-class background – but they are all irrelevant.

Sehwag is a gloriously unique sportsman, who has been responsible for some of the most staggering feats in cricket history. Like his spiritual twin Adam Gilchrist, he transcends statistics, yet they are still enormously impressive. He averages 51.96 in Tests, mostly opening the batting, and allies that to a strike-rate that is comfortably the highest of any opener to have scored 500 Test runs. Sir Donald Bradman and Brian Lara are the only other men to have scored two Test triple-hundreds. Sehwag brought up his and India’s first, against Pakistan at Multan, with a six. He has scored Test centuries against every country save Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, and in every country except Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and New Zealand. In one-day internationals his strike rate is 99. He’s an all-track bully.

The weakest songs on his greatest hits album are stronger than the strongest on those of 99 per cent of batsmen. This year alone he has played two innings of an audacity that is difficult to comprehend even months after the event. Against South Africa he hammered Test cricket’s fastest triple century, from just 278 balls (think about that: he scored 300 from 278 balls. In a TEST match). And in a low-scoring Test at Galle, against a rampant Ajantha Mendis and Muttiah Muralitharan, he blitzed India to victory with 201 not out in a total of 329.

These are mind-boggling achievements, yet there is an inclination to chuckle and say, ‘Oh, that’s just Sehwag’, like a parent laughing at their child’s eccentricities. Sehwag has been compared to Sachin Tendulkar, with whom he shares a bewitching little mastery, but a more relevant reference point is surely Lara. Like Lara, Sehwag scores monstrous hundreds at breakneck speed; like Lara, his form fluctuates wildly, surely a mark of the truest genius; like Lara, when the mood takes him there is absolutely nothing a bowler can do to avoid being pummeled.

In the eyes of many, those qualities elevate Lara above the other great batsmen of his generation – Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh – yet the fact that Sehwag has extended the Lara template ever so slightly seems to count against him, as if he has crossed the line between greatness and frivolousness. Quite the opposite. It is said of many sportsmen, but with Virender Sehwag it feels safe to opine that, truly, we will never see his like again. He’s not just great. He’s one of the greatest.

Rob Smyth is a freelance journalist

Posted in Test cricket | 22 Comments »

John Stern: England robots no match for Indian flair

November 25th, 2008 by John Stern in County cricket, England, Miscellaneous and tagged , , , ,

England’s limp performance in India has reopened the ‘over-coaching’ debate. In the dark blue corner you have the super-correct Ian Bell, the ultimate product of the ECB system, while in the light blue corner you have Yuvraj Singh, England’s long-handled nemesis who golf-shots yorkers for six.

This is not about who’s the better player – after all Yuvraj does not command a Test place. This is about innovation versus orthodoxy, individual versus robot.

Awash with Sky TV money, the English game is investing like never before in academies and other strands of its grass roots. In theory, this has to be a good thing. Anybody who has been to the facility at Loughborough cannot fail to be impressed. At the elite end of the game, nothing, it seems, is left to chance.

English cricket has always been conservative, hamstrung by class, tradition and convention. The concern is that our efforts to improve standards and compete with Australia and the like has made the game more institutionalised and is curbing individualism rather than encouraging it.

The two least conventional specialist in England’s one-day side are Kevin Pietersen and Owais Shah, both learned much of their cricket overseas (almost all in KP’s case). Shah has had a huge struggle (still ongoing) to have his quirky batsmanship accepted and trusted at the highest level.

In Loughborough at the start of last week, Kevin Shine, the ECB’s senior fast-bowling coach, made an impassioned assertion about the importance of strength, conditioning and injury prevention. Shine has been accused of trying to clone fast bowlers, notably Stuart Broad and Liam Plunkett. He denies all charges but there are a number of experienced and expert witnesses around who testify that his ethos is counter-productive and stifles the sort of match-winning individuality that England need.

Two days later at a new school in a deprived area of Bristol, the ECB chairman Giles Clarke was waxing lyrical about a boy who had never picked up a cricket ball until that morning but found he could bowl a natural inswinger. Clarke revelled in the rawness of the talent, the unconventional action and made analogies with the organic talent-spotting on the streets and maidans of Asia. Yet for this boy to ‘make it’ even as far as a local club requires commitment and conformity that may not be entirely inclusive.

In the next issue of TWC (out on December 19) we have a feature about Leicestershire and their admirable quest to wean themselves off their Kolpak habit and populate their side with home-grown players. Of the six young players we have highlighted, five are at private school. This is not to decry the productive links that Leicestershire have forged with their local private schools.

But it does raise the question about how wide the net is really being cast when it comes to elite selection. Is cricket in England becoming less rather than more egalitarian?

John Stern is editor of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in County cricket, England, Miscellaneous | 8 Comments »

King Cricket: Another format, another failure for England

November 24th, 2008 by Alex Bowden in England, One-day cricket and tagged , , ,

This winter, England have failed at Twenty20, failed at 50-over cricket and last week they even failed at 49-over cricket.

Yesterday, however, they had an excellent chance to turn their luck around in a Twenty-two22 match. We don’t have the exact figures to hand, but England have rarely lost in this format.

Alas, it was not to be. When they needed 20 runs off two balls, we were still quietly confident. But when that became 20 off a single delivery, the game was as good as up. Sure enough, Stuart Broad failed to make the ball turn invisible and thus couldn’t push through for the all-run 20 that would have kept England in the series.

We have a three-point plan for how our national side should arrest the decline:

1. Stop doing Riverdance at the crease. If you’re going to repeatedly miss or mishit the ball, do it from a stationary position. Wait and see where the bowler’s bowling the ball before doing the ‘wander and a jig’ thing.

2. Play ludicrously straight. England hit almost all of their boundaries and lost no wickets when the batsmen aimed at the opposite set of stumps.

3. Unofficially rename power-plays. The word ‘power’ seems to bring about a testosterone-fuelled red mist whenever the fielding restrictions are in place. We’d call the shots played ‘agricultural’ if it weren’t that modern agriculture rarely depends on a man trying to turn himself into a spinning top by heaving a bit of wood around with all his might like a frightened caveman in a knobhead competition.

See King Cricket’s regular blog at King Cricket is a cult figure in the world of cricket blogs and was TWC’s first Best-of-blogs winner in April 2008.

Posted in England, One-day cricket | 11 Comments »

Sam Collins: Will the real England please stand up

November 21st, 2008 by Sam Collins in England, One-day cricket and tagged , , , ,

So just what is wrong with England? Three games, three defeats and Yuvraj Singh and those old grumps Duckworth and Lewis have firmly squashed the optimism of the summer’s 4-0 ODI victory over South Africa. But does Kevin Pietersen warrant a dissection similar to that afforded Ricky Ponting, or have England merely been outplayed in foreign conditions by the world’s form side?

Pietersen has helped the media by writing his own headlines throughout his career, yet his tendency to be a man of extremes looks like it has rubbed off on his team. Just as Test and one-day success over the country of his birth made for an extraordinary start to captaincy, so the Stanford debacle and the chaotic beginning to the Indian tour have appeared catastrophic.

Without doubt, England were overly feted for routing a drained South African side that had already won the Test series. The return of Steve Harmison, the rebirth of Andrew Flintoff the batsman and the emergence of Samit Patel did provide genuine plus points amid the hysteria. That all three have to date (Flintoff’s warm-up hundred excepted) provided little evidence of being match-winners in India has not helped Pietersen or England.

But, despite the emphatic nature of the defeats in India, England appear closer to having the nucleus of a successful one-day side than they have for some time. Of those who have played ODIs for England this year, only Dimitri Mascarenhas, Phil Mustard and Tim Bresnan are not in India. England have clearly picked the best men for the job, and if results have not reflected this, then Patel, Ravi Bopara and Stuart Broad have provided glimpses of an exciting future.

Perhaps Pietersen’s England should be afforded some slack, after all, the previous England team to visit these shores lost a similar series 5-1 in 2005-06. And there are questions. What is the best opening pair? What has happened to James Anderson as a one-day bowler? Can England expect to beat the best teams consistently without a frontline spinner? Pietersen must answer them quickly before the real audit begins.

The apparent success of the Matt Prior-Ian Bell opening partnership (stands of 101, 85 and 77) was the misleading headline of the South Africa series. For a decisive man, Pietersen was slow to respond to Prior’s limitations as a one-day opener – an average of 22.75 from 31 games (with a solitary half-century), at a strike rate of 73.89 are not figures to give opening bowlers sleepless nights. While Sehwag bristles with intent at the start of the Indian innings, Prior merely bristles. The promotion of Ravi Bopara worked in Kanpur and has diverted attention to England’s big-name yet misfiring middle-order, conspicuously short of substantial innings on the subcontinent.

At the other end, James Anderson’s struggles in the short-form, as he establishes himself in the Test team, have become a concern. His failure to take a wicket so far in India leaves him with just one wicket in his last nine ODIs and a record of 10 wickets at 71 in the 19 ODIs since he returned to the Test side in New Zealand in February. He’s bowled that shorter length that is more reliable at Test level and this could have blunted his knack of taking ODI wickets. In the enforced absence of Ryan Sidebottom and with Steve Harmison refusing to take the new ball, it is a problem that Pietersen and Moores cannot ignore for much longer.

It’s not all doom for England. They are a decent side (certainly better than they were a year ago) but India are on a high, with a full cupboard of relentless quicks and a slighted genius in Yuvraj finally producing the goods. How England respond in the remainder of a long one-day series will provide the insight into Pietersen’s capacity to inspire.

Sam Collins is website editor of

Posted in England, One-day cricket | 2 Comments »

RMJ: So … what do we do in the off-season?

November 21st, 2008 by Robin Martin-Jenkins in County cricket, Miscellaneous and tagged , , ,

“So what do you cricketers do in the off season?” The question I have to answer most often at drinks parties; possibly even more times than “what’s it like having a famous cricketing name as a father?” My answer to both is usually brief as I try and move to the other side of the room as quickly as possible.

With a few exceptions county cricket is a seven-month job and after the last ball is bowled in September we are left with a strange mix of emotions. School term has ended and, regardless of how much success you’ve had, it’s worth celebrating. Five months of down time stretch out lazily ahead. That might sound like bliss to all hardworking souls out there who get four weeks holiday a year. And it is bliss. For the first four weeks. But then the boredom sets in and you quickly start to ache to get out in the sun and play cricket again. And so, a horrible thought begins to dawn in your head: you need to get a job. A frightening prospect indeed and one that might explain my scuttling across the room at parties.

Of course you can always play club cricket in Australia or South Africa. If you’ve played some first-team county cricket it shouldn’t be too hard to find a club willing to pay your airfare, give you some paid coaching work, a clapped out Vauxhall Astra and a grotty flat downtown, in return for your services as a pro. And I’ve tried that in the past. I’ve spent winters in Cape Town, Mumbai and Chennai and I’ve come back a better player each time. But a wife and family tend to make that harder and harder as the years roll on.

And then there is the prospect of life after cricket. I suppose you don’t start seriously contemplating this strange phenomenon until your mid-to-late 20s but a serious injury here, or severe loss of form there, could mean an end to your cricket career at any stage. So a little bit of thought as to what to do afterwards never goes amiss.

This is exactly the stage I reached about five years ago, at which point my winters took on a more earnest rhythm. An ex-Sussex colleague, turned wine buff, Toby Peirce, told me there was a three-month vacancy at the wine distributor he now worked for. “Not much money I’m afraid but lovely people and a great subject matter!” I decided that wine would be my thing, hired some wine books from the library, signed up for several courses and went for an interview. The interviewer’s first two questions? What’s it like having a famous cricketing father … and … what do cricketers usually get up to in the winter … ?

And so my next three winters were spent learning about the fascinating world of wine and helping out the sales team in the run up to Christmas, the busiest time of year in the wine trade for obvious reasons. I don’t think I sold much wine. In fact I seemed to spend more time talking to prospective customers about cricket than wine but I enjoyed it immensely. And it has become a possibility for life after cricket. Toby was right. Lovely people and a truly great subject matter. But there really isn’t much money in it.

And then my benefit year has come along which has comfortably taken care of what to do both last and this winter. When it finishes at the end of December (as years are wont to) I shall still have three months to go until the 2009 season begins. The post-Christmas wine trade won’t need me and so I’ll have to find something else to do. I’m thinking of writing a book. Perhaps a novel. It might be about cricket although I’m fully aware that there have been no good novels about cricket ever written. But I may give it a try. First scene: the Championship winning side go to a drinks reception in Buckingham palace to collect their medals from the Duke of Edinburgh. He shuffles into the room and straight up to the captain of the team and says: “Now tell me, what is it you cricketers do in the off season?” …

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

Posted in County cricket, Miscellaneous | No Comments »

Miles Jupp: Plans? England don’t need plans….

November 20th, 2008 by Miles Jupp in England, One-day cricket and tagged , , , , , , ,

There’s an exchange in Blackadder Goes Forth when General Melchett is roaring at Captain Blackadder about all of Britain’s battle plans being leaked to the Germans:

Melchett: “You look surprised, Blackadder.”

Blackadder: “I certainly am, Sir. I didn’t realise we had any battle plans.”

I’m not suggesting that Peter Moores and Kevin Pietersen share a great deal in common with either of these comic characters but there does seem to be more than a whiff of confusion about quite what England should be attempting to do in this one-day series.

Thanks to the BCCI’s strange scheduling decisions and an unwillingness to acknowledge when the sun sets, England were left literally in the dark at the end of this game – yet one suspects they might have been able to achieve this without any outside help.

I wrongly imagined that this seven-match series would drag on and on and on but it is racing by. Every time I’ve turned on the radio this week there are tales of yet another bashing and all of a sudden seven one-dayers doesn’t feel like such an absurd length. In fact, it doesn’t feel like enough games.

It looks as though we might be slowly selecting our best side over the course of the whole series, taking our time to tinker gently with things, rather than risking shockwaves through the touring party by making any big changes. We may arrive at a well-chosen team with a sensible batting order just in time to put on a competent display in the final game at Delhi and then take that momentum with us into the Test series.

It can’t be the case that we don’t have any plans, it’s just hard to guess what they might be – especially when most questions fired at the management during press conferences are fielded with a vague promise to improve on, or at least look, at “certain areas”.

KP continues to be impressive and thoughtful in his post-match interviews. “We need to score more centuries,” he said today. They’ve scored two and we haven’t scored any.” Then he added that since England have been playing one day-internationals against India in India, we had scored very few hundreds: “It’s either six or nine, I can’t quite remember.” That’s quite a sweet confusion to find him in, as if he’d written the correct number on a post-it note on his fridge, Jessica had knocked it off taking out a carton of soya milk, and put it back the wrong way up. (It’s six.)

He also rightly pointed out that we are getting better, because the results are getting closer. This is a simple point but a correct one. But while some of England’s changes today did make a difference, there’s no way it will be the same XI at Bangalore. I can’t imagine Harmison will stay out of the team long or KP’s energy to convince him to return will be wasted.

It could be that KP’s sense of drama is underpinning all of this. There’s been too many series in which the balance of power has constantly swung back and forth between the contestants. What England want now is to make a major comeback as seen in duff but heart-warming sports movies. And by ensuring that we’re three down and with four to play, they have set this up perfectly.

Miles Jupp is an actor, comedian and cricket fan

Posted in England, One-day cricket | No Comments »

Matt Prior: The Triumphs And Tribulations Of England’s Wicketkeeper (at time of writing)

November 20th, 2008 by Alan Tyers in Alan Tyers, England, One-day cricket

They’ve changed my role in the team but it’s nothing personal. Instead of my shouting, which Mooresy says is one of my biggest assets, they want me to focus more on chirping.

In these Indian conditions you have to be a little bit more clever, wait for your opportunities. For instance, in England, I’d just shout: “BOWLING!” after every delivery, or: “SORRY, I DIDN’T SEE IT IN THE LIGHTS.”

But here, I’ll adapt, try and unsettle the batsman. I’ll say: “Bowling… Or is it?” or maybe get inside the opponent’s mental space area by whispering: “I could have caught that if I wanted” in a haunting falsetto.

All good keepers know exactly the right thing to say to each batsman. Today for instance, I said to Yuvraj: “What do you keep winning man-of-the-match for? You can’t even ride those motorbikes.” I could tell it got him thinking, because he was shaking his head in disbelief. He didn’t score a boundary for the rest of the over, apart from a four.

It’s almost like being a psychiatrist really, except that you are not trying to interpret unconscious behaviour as the manifestation of sublimated subconscious wants or traumas, just trying to get up in their grille if the ball’s doing a bit outside off. I’ll leave the head-shrinking to Snapey and his ‘Jung And Malibu Consultation Sessions’. It’s fascinating stuff and if you want to learn a bit about the mental side of the game, get yourself down to the pool bar area at 6pm of an evening (bring own mixers).

It was disappointing to lose today on the Duckworth/Lewis, but you can’t legislate for everything, as Mooresy quite rightly says. Who would have thought it would get dark at the same time two days in a row? But there are a lot of positives for us to take from the performance: the fact that Yuvraj didn’t get a motorbike, to name but one.

England are in the fortunate position at the moment of having several keepers who can contribute things other than just runs and catches and stumpings. Timmy’s got his guitar, I’ve got my mental disintegration as mentioned above, Phil Mustard’s knocking on the door with his René from ‘Allo ‘Allo. You throw in Foster and Read – who are admittedly both a bit one-dimensional (OBSESSED with catching!) – and it must be a nice selection headache to have. I can tell, as Mooresy is often rubbing his temples after wickie practice.

Matt Prior was ‘chirping’ to Alan Tyers

Posted in Alan Tyers, England, One-day cricket | 2 Comments »

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