July 2009
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John Stern: PR gone mad amid Ashes fever

July 10th, 2009 by John Stern in Miscellaneous, The Ashes


The consensus is that Glamorgan have pulled off a major – and successful – charm offensive with the staging of this Test match. Friendly welcomes and close-harmony singing everywhere.

But spelling might be an area they want to address next time and I don’t mean the bilingual signage that greets visitors from across the Severn Bridge. In one of the thousand or so banal press releases that litter cyberspace around this time, Glamorgan managed to mis-spell the name of their favourite daughter Katherine (or Kathryn according to Glamorgan) Jenkins, the singer who belted out the Welsh national anthem before the start of play on Wednesday.

The two-line missive telling the world how Miss Jenkins thought it “lovely to be back home in Wales” wins shortest press release of the week. But there are plenty of other candidates vying for some prestigious other accolades:

Rip-off of the week goes to the Royal Mint who announced that they had crafted a gold medal (rather than a coin) for Andrew Strauss to toss with on Wednesday. Of course, they didn’t produce just one though. Better safe than sorry so they minted 150 of them which can be purchase at a mere £1,595 each. If you’re too tight to match that reasonable asking price there are 50,000 cheapo nickel-bronze versions for a tenner. Did they say toss?

Tenuous link of the Test goes to the revelation that three of England’s “football-mad” players (Collingwood, Anderson and Bell) were backing the 2018 football World Cup bid, based on the fact that “all the lads enjoy a kick about during training”, according to Sunderland fan and Alan Shearer soundalike Colly.

Stating the bleedin’ obvious award was the extraordinary claim by Freddie Flintoff that “the Aussies are notorious for sledging” as told to Tim Lovejoy’s channelbee.com.

And finally, the Bandwagon Jumping Hasn’t Fred Got Better Things To Do With This Time – a press release from Red Bull about Flintoff playing table football (?!) against Aussie F1 driver Mark Webber. If I played Scrabble against Gideon Haigh, would that count?

John Stern is editor of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in Miscellaneous, The Ashes | 4 Comments »

King Cricket: Ponting and Katich fail to read Ashes script

July 10th, 2009 by Alex Bowden in England, Test cricket, The Ashes


We could watch Ricky Ponting bat all day, provided he was working on a major technical fault in the nets after being dismissed for a golden duck. Not even Simon Katich’s mum enjoys watching Simon Katich bat.

This pair haven’t read the script. The people and the media wanted to watch Phil Hughes bat. We got to see a bit of him yesterday and our own thoughts are that he’ll be a half-decent batsman just as soon as he works out there’s a whole extra half of a cricket field into which he’s also allowed to hit the ball.

Ponting and Katich though? There weren’t too many Ashes previews fantasising about this kind of partnership, which has perhaps helped create a vast collective blindspot about Australia’s middle order.

Comparisons of the two sides have often deemed England’s bowling attack slightly superior. Brilliant, think the English - but this isn’t a bowl off. England’s bowlers need to be better than Australia’s batsmen not their bowlers. Simon Katich has hit six hundreds and averaged 57 since he returned to the Test team in 2008. Ponting’s just hit his eleven thousandth run and averages 56. Michael Clarke’s averaged 50 over the last couple of years and Mike Hussey’s average has plummeted all the way down to 55. With Mitchell Johnson at eight, we can look forward to a lot of innovative field placings while England are in the field. Unless it starts swinging, in which case Australians suddenly start pretending they’re on a campervan holiday back home: doing lots of driving a long way from anything.

At least we hope that’s what happens, because watching Australians bat all day is only barely more tolerable than listening to them bitch and moan about the cold when it’s a positively balmy 14 degrees. Perhaps nesh, Antipodean refugee, Jrod, can explain why his people are so soft on Monday, provided his middle order haven’t bored him to death over the weekend?

King Cricket blogs at www.kingcricket.co.uk. He 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, Test cricket, The Ashes | No Comments »

Edward Craig: The Duckworth/Lewis Method hit The Oval

July 10th, 2009 by Edward Craig in Miscellaneous, The Ashes and tagged , , , ,


A packed Oval, a cheering crowd yelling abuse at Shane Warne, a sing-a-long – it could have been 2005. But instead it was the eve of the Ashes series and the Duckworth/Lewis Method, a new band created by The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon and Pugwash’s Thomas Walsh, were rocking their way through their debut album.

Over 200 people crowded into the England Suite in The Oval’s new(ish) OCS stand to hear Hannon (think Jack Russell in front of a keyboard, he even had the hat) and Walsh (an Irish Brian Blessed) enjoy a lively, cricket-adoring atmosphere with The Oval as a back-drop. “Just look behind me!” said an amazed Hannon, as he settled down with a can of Guinness.

They worked their way through the record in order – which inevitably starts with ‘The Coin Toss’ and finishes with the evocative ‘End of the Over’ (containing a simple backing vocal counting from one to six).

But it is the clever, cricket-knowing lyrics with a variety of styles that makes this incongruous match – Irish musicians and cricket – work so well. The rock ballad ‘The Sweet Spot’ (“About cricket, of course,” said Hannon), the anthemic ‘Meeting Mr Miandad’ (“A song about when we went to Pakistan, in a VW camper van and met Mr Miandad,”) and the heart-wrenching love song ‘The Nightwatchman’ all show cricket up as the slightly silly sport that it really is.

The big crowd pleaser, much to Duckworth’s (Walsh) and Lewis’s (Hannon) surprise, is ‘Jiggery Pokery’, the Noel Coward pastiche about Warne’s Gatting ball. As Hannon belted it out, The Oval reached a noisy, patriotic conclusion as everyone screamed: “I hate Shane Warne!”

As a taster to the Ashes, this was a fantastic occasion. As an accompaniment to the series, the album is pure genius.

Buy it here.

Edward Craig is deputy editor of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in Miscellaneous, The Ashes | No Comments »

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