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February 2009
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Daniel Brigham: ECB bungling means EPL is an accident waiting to happen

February 5th, 2009 by Daniel Brigham in County cricket, Twenty20 and tagged , , ,

There are very few good things to come out of the credit crunch but here’s one: the scaling down of the ECB’s rival to the IPL, the EPL.

Gone are the two overseas teams, with the ECB blaming it on the recession and Yosemite Stanford’s sudden allergic reaction to cricket. According to a report in The Times, it will feature only the 18 counties, each with four overseas players, and two leagues with relegation/promotion.

So not much of a scaling down, just a trim. What started off as the most bloated, hideous and misjudged idea since Mr Creosote ate a wafer-thin mint is now just a very bad idea. But it’s the ECB’s idea, so little surprise there. It’s received very little media attention, which must please Giles Clarke to bits, because the whole thing really needs further scrutinising.

There are still too many teams for it to be called ‘premier’; there still aren’t 72 box-office stars to enable all 18 counties to fill their four overseas slots with crowd-pulling quality players (which probably means Dwayne Leverock should be waiting by the phone); still no one wants to watch Leicestershire v Northamptonshire. It’s a non-starter.

The ECB should either make it properly premier by halving the number of teams or abandon it altogether and leave the current Twenty20 Cup format alone - it’s worked wonders so there’s no need to tinker. Instead, the ECB has gone Hollywood and started indiscriminately jabbing it with Botox to hold on to its youth. As always, the scarring is all too visible.

Posted in County cricket, Twenty20 | No Comments »

The trials and tribulations of poor Owais

February 5th, 2009 by Alan Tyers in Alan Tyers, England and tagged , ,

My phone rings.

“Hi mum!” I say. “How are you this mor—“

“Don’t ramble, Owais dear. Is Belly there?” she says. “Grandma wanted to check that he got the hamper we sent him. And the dog wants to say hello.”

“Oh cool, put him on,” I say. “Who’s a boy? Who’s a boy? How are you, boy?”

The dog growls. Mum comes back on the phone.

“Not to you, to Belly,” says mum. “Chop-chop.”

I go into the dressing room. The guys are all sitting round, eating the hamper.

“Owais is really pushing hard for a go on this delicious cold chicken,” says Straussy with his mouth full.

“But unfortunately we’ve eaten it all,” says Collingwood. “It looked like I weren’t going to get a piece but I’ve just snucked in at the last moment and grabbed my chance with both hands. It weren’t pretty, but it were necessary.”

“He’s very much the man in possession,” shouts Cook. “Of the chicken! Straussy! Straussy! I done a bonding!”

Cook runs off to write it down in his Big Book Of Leadership Credentials. As he passes me in the doorway, he tries to poke me in the eye again. He misjudges it.

“Is there anything left?” I say.

“Absolutely,” says Straussy. “You’re very much part of this hamper, Owais old boy. Look, there’s a pickled beetroot left and a packet of Wine Gums.”

“Sorry,” says Flintoff. “I’ve had them.”

“Oh,” says Straussy. “Well, a bit of beetroot then – can’t say fairer than that, eh? I’m afraid Belly’s had a bit of a chew on it.”

“It looked great to start with but then I just lost interest and threw it away,” says Belly.

“Thanks a lot guys,” I say. “I suppose, as official 12th man, I’d better tidy up.”

“That’s alright Owais,” says KP. “I’ll clean up all their mess. Again.”

As recorded by Alan Tyers’ wiretap

Posted in Alan Tyers, England | 2 Comments »

Miles Jupp: Hardeep, Hair and making the call

February 5th, 2009 by Miles Jupp in Miscellaneous and tagged , ,

Umpiring, as Darrell Hair will tell you, is a difficult and thankless task.

I had a go at umpiring a couple of years ago. I got a call, out of the blue, from Hardeep Singh Kohli. Hardeep is a busy and successful man. He presents Newsnight Review, numerous Radio 4 programmes and many television documentaries. He even came second on Celebrity Master Chef to the famously modest and self-deprecating Matt Dawson.

I’d only met him once before; why was he calling me? Perhaps he wanted to collaborate with me on a documentary about Hawaii? In fact it was better than that. A mutual friend had told him that I liked cricket and Hardeep and his pals needed someone to make up an 11 for a game in Surrey the next day.

So, he picked me up in his sporty two-seater and after three hours of winding country lanes we arrived at a stunningly picturesque ground. We batted first and seeing as I was not due in for a while and the weather was clement, I volunteered for a bit of umpiring.

Hardeep came in first wicket down and I was standing at the bowler’s end. The sun was shining, the outfield was green and our kit was dazzlingly white. Nothing could have been finer. But then Hardeep flicked a ball to leg and called for a single just as midwicket gathered and threw a swift return to the bowler’s end. I quickly got in line with the popping crease, squatted in position in that way that umpires do and watched the throw come in. The bowler caught it cleanly and broke the wicket. Their whole team appealed enthusiastically.

Now, as I say, I had only met Hardeep once before that day. The rest of the team were complete strangers to me. It was Hardeep who had answered the call from the team captain to find an 11th player; Hardeep who had collected me and then driven me here. To even contemplate giving him out would have been insane. Yet I was quite convinced that at the moment the stumps were broken, Hardeep’s bat was on the crease – on it, but not over. Before I had time to think about what I was doing, I’d raised my finger.

Hardeep stared at me in disbelief. The rest of my team jeered me from the boundary. The opposition celebrated at their enormous slice of luck. I felt terrible for Hardeep. It was only as he trudged off that I remembered him telling me that he hoped we batted first as he wouldn’t have time to stay for the second innings. I had ruined his day.

The rest of the match was a success. We scored quite a lot, they scored very little. Although I fell into a stream at long on, I also managed to hit the stumps with my first and fourth deliveries.

But all I could do was think about my umpiring decision. I’ve seen Hardeep a few times since and he usually mentions his run out. It’s one of those incidents that I suddenly find myself thinking about for no apparent reason when lying awake at night, or stuck on a train somewhere, the moment of his dismissal playing over and over again in my head. I always feel guilty and embarrassed. But all the same, when I close my eyes, and I really think about it, I know that I was right.

I imagine that Hair is feeling like that this week.

Miles Jupp is an actor, comedian and cricket fan

Posted in Miscellaneous | No Comments »

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