Recent Comments

December 2008
« Nov   Jan »

Steve Harmison: Our Annus Disappointingis

December 31st, 2008 by Alan Tyers in Alan Tyers, England and tagged , ,

England’s premier fast bowler (terms and conditions apply) looks back on an eventful 2008

The year didn’t start as we would have hoped. For one, we were in New Zealand, and that’s about as far away from the North East as it’s possible to get. When you factor in the cool, windy weather, dour locals and massive amount of sheep, it’s easy to see why international sportsmen talk about a culture shock when you go abroad. On the plus side, they have biscuits and speak English.

Secondly, the powers that be had decided that they wanted a scapegoat for that performance in Hamilton. I said at the time that it wasn’t me that wanted to come and play cricket over there so I don’t necessarily see why I should carry the can.

Anyways, I said “I don’t mind sitting this one out”, selfless like and nothing to do with the fact that I’d just had a consignment of primo Lovejoy boxsets delivered to the dressing room. But in the end, me and Hoggy were both dropped. Hoggy likes cricket, and he took it bad. We haven’t seen him since: I heard he’d gone to live in a hole in the ground on one of his favourite moors and make things out of wicker. It sounds like a good life, if a bit exotic for my personal taste. You can’t trust wicker.

They sent us back to Durham and I had a good season. But after they picked Darren Pattinson to play against South Africa in July I have to say I was getting a bit worried. Hoggy sent a message to us, via pigeon, to say that he heard the selection meeting was down to Darren, him, us and this pal of Mooresey’s who’s a builder in Sussex and can turn his arm over if needs must. Apparently, the lad had another job on – a loft conversion in Guildford – and didn’t think he could make it in time, and of course Hoggy doesn’t have a phone up on his moor, so they thought they’d give Darren a shot.

It’s coming to something when they pick players based on their county form, and we’d all hoped that the Fletcher years had put an end to that sort of short-term attitude. But it made me think, what with having already retired from One Day cricket, now out of the longer format of the game as well and having a wife and 43 bairns to feed and clothe. For that reason I realised that I was determined to play for my country again and so when Kevin asked us to come out of one-day retirement I realised how proud I was to pull the jersey on.

We hammered South Africa in the one-dayers, although to be fair some of their lads did appear to have let their standards slip. When we saw Mark Boucher coming out to bat eating a cream horn we suspected that maybe their minds were elsewhere but you can only beat what’s in front of you. It was an exciting start to the Pietersen era. He makes me feel special and loved. Michael Vaughan tried to reason with us, and look how he ended up: crying on the telly.

The Stanford thing went from bad to worse, what with not winning any money and having to watch that bloke bouncing peoples’ wives up and down on his knee like a sort of Texan Santa. There’s something wrong about only getting paid if you win and the whole thing left a bad taste in the mouth.

Talking of which, it’s pretty much impossible to get a decent cup of tea in India. They were a bit too good for us on the day, or rather over a series of days, but there are definitely positives to take from the tour, the main one being that we won’t have to play them again for ages.

Alan Tyers bounced Steve Harmison on his knee at Santa’s Grotto in Newcastle city centre

Posted in Alan Tyers, England | 1 Comment »

Jrod: Why Australia are losing

December 29th, 2008 by JRod in South Africa, Test cricket

There are many reasons why Australia are losing to South Africa.

Australia have never rated South Africa, not really. And why should they? They don’t lose to them in important Tests.

Well they are now and there are many reasons why South Africa is winning. These are by far the 10 most important.

10 Paul Harris has a freaky one-armed bowling action, and he is bowling well with it. Which seems to be surprising Australia greatly.

9 Since they left England, Smith, Boucher and Kallis seem to have been on a hamburger free diet. Healthy bodies – healthy minds.

8 Hashim Amla has discovered a more aggressive batting style of recent times, and has this No.3 spot worked out. He wasn’t even worried about playing in Dean Jones’ home town.

7 There are arrivals and there are arrivals, and then there is JP Duminy’s first two Tests. All he needed was a cape and underwear on the outside.

6 Quota, what quota. They are just picking 11 players and winning, see how much more fun that is?

5 Grant Elliott plays for New Zealand.

4 Charlize Theron is a better actress than Nicole Kidman, is better looking than Nicole Kidman and is not married to Keith Urban.

3 South Africa were always going to come good once they got over the horror of losing Robin Smith. These things take time.

2 Cricinfo seems to think we are seeing Graeme Smith 2.0, which seems to work much better than Ponting XP.

1 Morne Morkel is a way cool name.

Posted in South Africa, Test cricket | 10 Comments »

Jrod: Once a year enough at the MCG

December 25th, 2008 by JRod in South Africa

Christmas day is a warm up in Melbourne.

The real deal starts the next day.

You see in Melbourne, sport is life, ask any one in the town that doesn’t like sport.

And Boxing Day is part of Melbourne’s culture.

That is what we do in Melbourne, we make dates into cultural sporting events.

The last Saturday in September means the AFL Grand Final, The first Tuesday in November is Melbourne Cup day, and then Boxing Day.

It’s the G’s international moment, and the old girl gets anywhere up to 90,000 people in her.

There is an animal spirit in the ground.

She is not filled with cricket fans, she is full of drunken football fans, free corporate ticket holders, and people who think it’s the place to be.

These people get under the harsh sun, with no real deep understanding of cricket: an opposition team as the Christians, the Locals as the Lions, and then they turn into one drunken throbbing wall of angry noise.

They want blood, and for one of the few times they go to the G, they are all as one – the enemy must be defeated, and we must get drunk.

It’s a coliseum with medium strength beer and cricket.

If you haven’t been there when it’s packed, you can’t know what 100,000 drunken people baying for blood, and yelling ‘it’s your shout mate’, sounds like.

This year could be different. Australia have won the last nine boxing days, so the crowd has been drunk, but happy, what will happen if the happiness dissipates?

Well they will just get drunker, and maybe throw the odd golf ball.

People often say cricket grounds have their own personality, if so the G would be a loud drunken woman who is great fun to go out drinking with, but once a year is more than enough.

But you wouldn’t want to hang out with her if she was in a bad mood.

Jrod is an Australian cricket blogger, his site won July’s Best of Blogs in TWC

Posted in South Africa | 4 Comments »

Belly’s diary: Too right I’ve done enough

December 24th, 2008 by Alan Tyers in Alan Tyers, England, Test cricket and tagged , , ,

“Do you think you’ve done enough, Belly old chap?” asked Straussy as we walked off.

I says too right I’ve done enough, I’m dying to get in ‘cos I’ve been out here for an hour and a quarter and I bet you Priory and Andersony have hogged Championship Manager on the laptop and changed all our tactics and everything. Priory’s convinced that the way to win is to shout at the machine as much as possible and jump up and down, and Andersony just presses buttons at random with no sort of plan at all.

Straussy looked a bit concerned which was strange as I didn’t think he was that bothered for Championship Manager but thinking about it he probably just wanted to use the laptop for checking his stock market profiterole and seeing if he is still rich. He said he’d taken a bath in Asian derivatives the other day. I asked mum what it meant and she said that it was a dirty business most likely and I shouldn’t think about such things.

But when we got back up in the dressing room we seen that Official Team Video Technical Advisor Mike Garaway had got hold of it (the laptop, not the stock market profiterole) and was studying it like it was the latest copy of Zoo Magazine or something – i.e. well interesting but quite challenging to read. Tell you what, if we could get him on the Championship Manager team I reckon he could really be something. Brainbox.

But then Coach Mooresy comes over and he says he has given Official Team Video Technical Advisor Mike Garaway a new programme to follow. Apparently he used to sit there and log every single ball that we face and what it does and where the batsman played it. I said that sounds like a well boring job and he says it’s no too bad as long as Colly isn’t in and not to tell Mooresy but if Colly goes on and gets a few he just plays World Of Warcraft instead and then just fills in all the blocks and clever little nurdles down to fine leg later on. But Mooresy has apparently come up with an even better system.

From now on Official Team Video Technical Advisor Mike Garaway just watches the England batsman and every time the batsmen does something positive then Official Team Video Technical Advisor Mike Garaway presses a big red button on the front of the laptop marked ‘Positives’.

This saves a lot of time and effort and that way, at the end of the day Mooresy knows exactly how many positives we can be taking from the day at the end of the day, which at the end of the day is what it’s all about.

Apparently my innings today had no fewer than several positives to be drawn in that I’ve gone out there in a difficult situation, almost a no-win situation if you like and, although we haven’t won, I had everything to lose and in fact we didn’t lose.

We drewed.

Mooresy says the next step is to take not getting out when there is nothing whatsoever to be gained or lost and try and translate that into not getting out when it might actually make a bit of difference. I said yeah and he said good and then Official Team Video Technical Advisor Mike Garaway let me press the big red ‘Positives’ button a few times and everyone seemed pretty pleased.

Alan Tyers sat next to Ian Bell in English

Posted in Alan Tyers, England, Test cricket | 5 Comments »

Lawrence Booth: KP’s Christmas wishlist

December 24th, 2008 by Lawrence Booth in England, Test cricket and tagged , ,


Tis the season and so on and so forth, which – as far as English cricket is concerned – can only mean one thing: a Christmas wish-list for Kevin Pietersen…

A key to Monty’s mind. If KP can unlock the secret that prevents Panesar from varying both his pace and the angle of his attack, he could be on to an Ashes winner.

A copy of In-Out Fields Made Easy. OK, so this book hasn’t been written yet, but it shouldn’t take long. The trick is not to use them against world-class batsmen riding the crest of an emotional wave while your one-man attack plays gamely into his hands.

A small voodoo doll. Naturally, it will bear a startling resemblance to Yuvraj Singh, who will suddenly find himself wincing in pain every time he amuses friends with his really very good rabbit impression.

A score of over 60 from Alastair Cook. He managed it once last year, but didn’t get beyond 76, so wouldn’t it be lovely if he could be lured closer to three figures, as he was on a constant basis in the first half of his international career.

A How-To guide on the referral system. England haven’t used it yet, and it arguably cost them victory at Chennai. But Pietersen should beware the fate of Brendon McCullum this week. Wrongly given caught behind by Rudi Koertzen against West Indies at Napier, the decision was then wrongly upheld by the TV umpire Mark Benson.

A juicy IPL contract. That Stanford loss was plain careless, and now there’s talk of the IPL staging matches in England next year. The combination of playing at home for lost of money ought to be too much to resist, even if Hampshire do demand he hands over some of the dosh to them.

A big, angry Steve Harmison. We know the score by now. Drop him, make him mad, pick him, call him the best thing since Dean Jones asked Curtly Ambrose to take off his sweatband, then wait for it all to go wrong again. To get him right for the Ashes, Pietersen will have to persuade the selectors to drop Harmison some time in May.

A pressure-resistant No.3. If Ian Bell’s not careful, the Australians will not need Shane Warne to remind them to dust off the Shermanator gags. And he has to hit them with a better retort than “I’ve heard worse”.

A reprieve for Old Trafford. Not quite sure how this one works, but it would be great if it did.

Happy Christmas!


Lawrence Booth writes on cricket for the Guardian. His third book, Cricket, Lovely Cricket? An Addict’s Guide to the World’s Most Exasperating Game is out now published by Yellow Jersey

Posted in England, Test cricket | 1 Comment »

King Cricket: Size matters when you’re chasing

December 22nd, 2008 by Alex Bowden in South Africa, Test cricket and tagged , ,

With India successfully chasing down 387 last week and South Africa making 414 for 4 to beat Australia in Perth, captains of teams batting last must surely start asking themselves: “Are we chasing a big enough target?”

Small targets are notoriously difficult on the last day. When everyone expects a side to win, they often veer between trying to knock off the runs in no time and batting so sensibly that they slip into dot-ball paralysis. It’s far better to have nothing to lose and to play your natural game with a target of 380 or 400. By the time the target’s down to a more dangerous total, you’ve worked up that most elusive cricketing attribute: momentum.

If you’re chasing a total in the fourth innings, you want to face complacent bowlers with no sense of urgency and you don’t want any pressure on you, the batting side. You want to be chasing 300 at the very least. You might need to manufacture this situation somewhat. In the previous innings, if your opponents are 150 ahead and six wickets down, send down some wide half volleys and some mid-paced long hops. Make life easier for your openers.

Maybe consider letting through a few byes. If the batting side see what you’re trying to do and start using their feet to smother leg-side wides with good solid forward defensive strokes, resort to no-balls. Batsmen can’t do much to stop the bowler overstepping and there’s the added benefit that you won’t accidentally clean bowl someone.

You’re in dangerous territory here though. Push it too far and there’s the chance that the opposition might declare, leaving you a tricky chase of 176. If you’re chasing 176 in the current cricketing climate, you’ll have to pray for rain. You’ve no chance. You’ve got barely half the runs you need to go at.

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 South Africa, Test cricket | 1 Comment »

Jrod: Not all gloom for Australia

December 22nd, 2008 by JRod in South Africa and tagged ,

Put your panties back on Australia haters, this isn’t quite champagne-and-skittles time yet, and for you Australian fanatics, get off Punter’s back and grab a beer, things aren’t that ugly.

In the last six tests, Australia is without a win.

They have huge problems.

An opening batsmen old enough to have spawned a replacement, who is batting like a team of killer gnats are attacking him, a captain who thinks of excuses more creatively than field placements, a fast bowler with a broken heart, young bowlers looking good but adding little, a star middle-order batsman with a average that is in constant nose dive and the sudden realisation that 20 wickets a Test is not a possibility.

That and the loss of this “aura” I keep hearing about are their problems, but there are almost as many positives.

Australia’s record at the Waca in the last four Tests is 1-2. Their next Test is at the MCG, where they have won nine on the trot, a place Hayden and Ponting own, and if anywhere is going to fire up Lee, it’s in front of 70,000 screaming Victorian animals.

Australia still got 400 runs ahead in a Test without a centurion.

They still were in the game until the last partnership with only one bowler firing.

They pushed the most inform team in the world around for days with only five players performing at anywhere near test standard.

Mitchell Johnson is pushing Steyn for title of best fast bowler on earth.

Brad Haddin still fumbles a bit but his last three innings have been good enough for any top order in the world.

Simon Katich maybe the ugliest thing this side of a kitten massacre, but you can’t get him out.

Michael Clarke is finally becoming the batsmen that Australia has pretended he has been for some time.

Andrew Symonds can still change a game in a session, when behaving well.

I didn’t pick these names out of a hat either.

These are the newer boys, they haven’t been dominating people with Warne, Gilly, McGrath, Langer and Martyn around, they have done their best work since the big boys left.

Johnson and Haddin never played a Test with the old guard and Katich averaged 30-odd when he played with them, he averages 60 since he came back into the side.

Clarke and Symonds were carried in great teams but last year Symonds became the teams best batsman and Clarke has got in a recent habit of saving Australia when they are struggling, something he almost never did when playing with the adults.

This is a team under reconstruction, so you don’t want to get caught pantieless if they get it right, or sober if they get it wrong.

And there will be plenty of both in the future.

Jrod is an Australian cricket blogger, his site won July’s Best of Blogs in TWC

Posted in South Africa | No Comments »

Sam Collins: My Favourite Cricketer – Mark Ramprakash

December 19th, 2008 by Sam Collins in Miscellaneous, My favourite cricketer and tagged , , ,

Every month TWC publishes a My Favourite Cricketer by a different established writer. Recent submissions have included DJ Taylor, John Inverdale and Simon Hattenstone, and now on we are giving you the chance to tell us your own memories and win a free subscription to the magazine in the bargain. Submit no more than 600 words to [email protected] (subject line: favourite) and we’ll publish the best ones in January. Our web-editor Sam Collins has had a go below, and we’re sure you can do better than him, so get writing.

You can’t control your first loves. Gazza, Lineker and consequently Spurs post Italia ’90. Mark Ramprakash – England against the Windies at Edgbaston in ’91. I had played cricket before, but it wasn’t football. I don’t really know what happened that week, but I remember Ramps, and from then on cricket made sense.

He caught my eye straight away – making two stylish 20s as Tony Lewis and Richie Benaud willed him on, infusing their desperation to an eight year old huddled on his grandmother’s living room floor in Scotland. Even then there was an air of tragedy attached. He was too young, too flawless of face, technique and timing. And his eyes, dark and deep and unnervingly intense.

He never knew it, but I did everything with Ramps. I changed to GM with him, netted obsessively with him and struggled against Pakistan with him in ’92. I even had my hair cut like his.

His maiden half-century at The Oval in ‘93 was a great day in both our lives. I had seen my favourite player score runs on my first taste of live cricket and been stung by a wasp. He had scored 64 against Hughes, Warne and Australia.

I felt guilty, but I didn’t go with him to the West Indies in 93-94 – I may have been young, but I wasn’t stupid, and more to the point I didn’t have Sky. They called it the Caribbean Crusade, but Ramps was crucified, hung out to dry at three against the most brutal opening pair in world cricket. I couldn’t see it, but I felt his pain.

I didn’t know it then, but my betrayal was the beginning of the end. I soon moved back to Gray-Nicolls, seduced by the promise of guaranteed runs with Lara’s Scoop 2000. Worse still, I then became a bowler. He sent me a postcard from Perth in ‘95 with 42 and 72 – as if to say ‘See – I can do it against the Aussies, keep believing’, and thanks to TMS I hardly missed a run of his 154 in Bridgetown in 1998, much to the annoyance of my teachers and disruption of my sleep pattern, but things just weren’t the same.

He never kicked-on and by the next year was batting at six, sometimes seven, my protestations sounding more hollow by the day as Hussain and co. grabbed hundreds and respect at the top of the order. Solid 70s and effective marshalling of the tail had not been part of the bargain in ’91.

When he made his final Test century in 2001 – 133, again against Australia, again at The Oval– we weren’t even talking, his ridiculous stumping at Trent Bridge had seen to that.

Our paths would finally cross in Wellington the following year, where time the healer had me considering reconcilitation. I was travelling and watching, he was playing, and failing. He was on the outfield, stalking off after the warm-down when I approached him.

“Mark, er… Mr Ramprakash… could I have a ph…”.

“Fuck off”.


Sam Collins is website editor of

Posted in Miscellaneous, My favourite cricketer | 12 Comments »

Miles Jupp: Memories of Mohali

December 18th, 2008 by Miles Jupp in England and tagged , , ,

Mohali is a ground I will always associate with frustration. Two-and-a-half years ago, I arrived at the Mohali ground for the second Test still without a press pass.

I had expected to be given one when I arrived at Nagpur for the first Test, but owing to some bureaucratic difficulties concerning the BCCI it had not materialised. I was given a temporary pass for the Nagpur game but assured, after a great deal of emailing, queuing to meet people in offices and punching the air with frustration, that there would be one waiting for me at Mohali.

So the day before the game, as the press all gathered to watch England practise, the gentleman who I’d been told would have my pass appeared in a blazer and sashayed around asking if anybody had any problems. I asked him if he had a press pass for me.

“No”, he shouted. “I do not have any press passes for anyone.”

“But I was told you would have one for me.”

“I don’t. And I’m not giving any more out. Who do you work for anyway?”

“Well,” I said, “I suppose I’m a freelancer.”

It is true that I didn’t have a great deal of actual journalism to do, although I had some. And if I was perhaps a little guilty of over exaggerating in my attempts to secure a pass at least I had gone to the bother of over exaggerating through the correct channels.

“If you’re a freelancer, you’re definitely not having one.”

“Can you tell me why?”

Suddenly he erupted at me with the anger of a man trying to sell me something and not taking no for an answer.

“Just shut up! Shut up and stop asking me things. That is it.”

And then he just wandered off, leaving me shell-shocked and everybody else staring at me wondering what I could have said that offended this man so much. I was later told that Duncan Fletcher himself had stopped to watch me getting yelled at and found it funny. It may sound ridiculous now, but seriously, Duncan Fletcher. Laughing. That’s what I was told.

The next day, after considerable wrangling I turned up to the ground with a temporary pass secured elsewhere and made my way to the press box. Despite assurances in fairly aggressive terms that I was not expected, I found a desk reserved for me.

As play got underway I sat at my desk. It was only then I realised why: it was impossible to see any of the field of play. All I could see was a huge pillar. I stood up to get a better view but was told to sit down. In the corner of the room there was a television and I asked if somebody might turn it on. It flickered to life and after a few minutes it was possible to make out definite cricketing action.

It was New Zealand versus West Indies.

Posted in England | No Comments »

Monty: Learning the ways of the Gilo

December 18th, 2008 by Alan Tyers in Alan Tyers, England and tagged , , ,

In a maze.


Sachin chasing me. Can’t get away from him. He’s hitting me. Again and again. He’s too clever, too strong. I try to go faster. Faster. Faster. Faster is better. But still he comes. Now Kevin is shouting at me, asking me where everyone should stand. I don’t know, I can’t think properly with Sachin hitting me and cackling. I tell Kevin to make them stand in the way, stop Sachin from hitting me. But it’s not Kevin. It’s my aunt. And I’m in school. Why is my aunt in my school?

Alarm rings. A dream. Just a dream.

Pick up the alarm clock. Throw it at the wall. Rebounds and hits the mantelpiece, knocks over my ‘Greatest Lutonian 2006 (Runner Up)’ trophy. Bloody Nick Owen. Pick the alarm clock up again. All about practice. Throw it in exactly the same way. Hits the trophy again. Same throw, same result. Strange. Try it again. Same thing. Try throwing it a bit faster. Same result. Good areas? But trophy broken now. Try again. Same thing.

Some hours later, I’m ready to start the day. I have a one-on-one session with Ashley Giles.

I have to meet him in the hotel gift shop. Gilo collects interesting paperweights, both domestic and international. He says it keeps him sane. He’s buying one when I come in. “Check this beauty out,” he says, and throws it to me.

After I have bought him a replacement one, and said sorry to the cleaner, we start the tutorial.

“The hang of bowling over the wicket into the rough nearly got you have,” he says. “Taught you well I have.”

I ask him why he is talking in that weird way. He says it’s like in Star Wars, he is the ‘Jedi Master’ and I am the ‘Apprentice’.

“I haven’t seen it,” I tell him.

He looks disappointed. He asks if I want to see his impression of somebody called Frank Spencer instead. I don’t get it. I’m not familiar with the TV show ‘Allo ‘Allo, so that’s wasted on me as well.

Gilo’s rubbing his temples now, sighing.

“Look,” he says. “Being a spinner is about more than taking wickets.”

“That’s good,” I say.

“Too right,” he agrees. “It’s also about being good value in the dressing room, about being part of the team, keeping spirits up.”

We spend the rest of the session practising telling golf jokes very, very slowly. Apparently I’m getting the hang of it. Gilo is pleased.

Alan Tyers does a nice line in alarm clocks

Posted in Alan Tyers, England | 2 Comments »

« Previous Entries

Site by Anson Robson Marketing © 2010 The Wisden Cricketer All Rights Reserved