Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Swanny gets 50 wickets

My man Graeme Swann (well, after Ceci and Mel have finished with him) has made a little bit of history, by becoming the first English spinner to take 50 wickets in a calendar year. The highest previously, or so I am told, was Jim Laker with 48 (in fewer matches, admittedly). He's trusted with a pretty new ball, given the fields that he wants and does the job for Straussy pretty much every time. And he's got some quality batsmen on his list of victims, including Shiv Chanderpaul three times in five matches. If Mitchell Johnson hadn't got undeserved wickets in the Ashes (he really should have offered them exclusively to the fielders for all the rubbish he bowled in that series), Graeme Swann would be at the head of the wicket tally for 2009. In my mind he is.

Admittedly he has a preference for left-handers, but he's still picked up wickets off the righties, including batsmen like Kallis, (P)Ricky, Clarke, Amla, AB, Dravid, VVS, Viru, Sarwan, Bouch and Hadds. Pretty damn good, if you ask me. The Swannster had better keep this up and not go the way of the Mont-ster, though. Or I will be one miserable little chicken come next Australian summer.

JHK's Off Stump: In Memorium

Oh, formerly upstanding spike of wood, you were steadfast - at least for a short while. Four balls, in fact. Cruelly cut down by a bolt from fairyland, you will forever reside in our memories.

Requiescat In Pace.

A letter to Stuart Broad

Dear Ms Broad,

I am writing to you in my capacity as England well-wisher and Powerful-Influencer-of-the-Game-that-is-Cricket. I watched your spell at Kingsmead in Durban last night, and I would firstly like to congratulate you on an excellent display of seam- and reverse swing-bowling. Your three wickets were truly wonderful, despite the fact that you dismissed my hero AB de Villiers for a single-figure score.

I can forgive you that, however, if you listen to a little piece of advice. That feeling you had when bowling those balls, the way your body moved, the way you held the ball, the line, the length - can you remember how that felt? Now, having remembered it, associate that feeling with the one of jubilation at being on a hattrick. Are those two firmly linked now? Good. Now do not bowl anything else ever again. Forget the short stuff, Onions is in charge of that. No point in getting wickets now if you're not getting them in about a year's time when the Ashes is up for grabs. Stuart, darling, England play a game in my home town of Sydney, and if you do not perform, I will be there to deal out punishment as I see fit. And I'm a sadist.

Also, try to let Swann get another three wickets for his 10 tomorrow. He deserves it, and he provides much more entertaining and cliche-free post-match interviews. Just ask him to buy you another Barbie doll out of the prizemoney, and remember if he doesn't win, it will be Bell. None of us want that.

Yours maternally,

England Well-wisher, Powerful-Influencer-of-the-Game-that-is-Cricket and Third-Biggest-Fan-of-Graeme-Swann

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Some boring batting and some very exciting statistics

I woke up late this morning. Lack of food and lack of sleep (due to watching England's tour of South Africa up until the tea break) have conspired to 11AM risings of late. Anyway, I woke up and turned on the radio. Within a few minutes, Australia were in the middle of a second-innings collapse. Not unexpected. Mohammed Aamer is showing once again that if you're quick and move the ball (either off the seam or in the air), you get Australian wickets, just as Onions and Anderson did in the Ashes. He's a zippy young bloke, this Aamer. He and Umar might as well go form their own team, the rest are pretty useless.

Watson is currently in the 90s. If he gets a century opening the batting, something is seriously wrong with cricket. Actually, I already know there is. England are 386/5 overnight against South Africa. Alastair Cook has a century, the third in his last 45 innings, and the South African viewers haven't yet recovered from the comatose state they lapsed into while he batted. Worse still, Ian Bell is not-out 55. Now, cricket could only become more ill if Bell gets to a century, although it will keep intact his record of not getting a century in games where no other teammate has scored a century. But Bell's scored 5 fours and a six. How? How did they let him? Is this just a clever plot by Smith to get the England selectors to pick Ian Bell for the rest of the series?

Meanwhile, I'd like to point out some statistics. In 2009, Graeme Swann averaged 47.77 with the bat at a strike rate of 83.98. He also claimed 49 wickets at an average of 29.67. Now, that's a pretty good performance for someone who fronts a band and is the most entertaining thing on Twitter (making even the great Stephen Fry seem humourless). I'd also like to bring your attention to the fact that in a list of batsmen who have played 20 innings or more in the last 10 years (with games against minnows filtered out) away from home, AB de Villiers has the second best average, behind only the great Andy Flower. My heroes have feet of gold.

Monday, December 28, 2009


Ponting drops Misbah. Drops a sitter. I laugh.

In defence of AB

I'd just like to state here and now that it was in no way AB's fault that Graeme Smith was run out the other day. AB saw a single - a quick one, admittedly - and knew he could get down the other end if he dashed. The only reason that there was a run-out was that someone was unfit. As I said, not AB's fault at all.

On the other Boxing Day Test run-out, Katich is technically to blame for sending the wrong signals then being utterly selfish by refusing to leave his crease (although one could say that he was kindly putting Watson out of his misery). However, I'd like to blame Shane Watson for this one as well, because I can't stand him. And because there is a huge bias toward dumb blond baby-faces in Australian cricket.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

That time of the year

The most important day on the calendar is almost here. Christmas? Bah humbug! I'm talking Boxing Day - which plays host to the first day of first Test between Pakistan and Australia, and the first day of the second Test between England and South Africa. Two days from now, the only place I'll want to be more than the MCG is Durban.

Chris Gayle has suggested that Ricky Ponting should be bounced out by Pakistan. Unfortunately, when most bowling attacks try this, all that ends up happening is that Ricky pulls and hooks his way to a century and I have to put up with watching the celebration (or turn off the TV). Melbourne is Ricky's favourite ground - I think everyone knows that now, thanks to the Channel 9 commentary team drilling it slowly into our brains like a form of Chinese water torture. And frankly, without Akhtar, and on a pitch that is not the WACA, Pakistan should really be aiming to play to their own strengths. However, if Ponting manages to get fit for this game, it would be nice to see him get hit once or twice.

I do think, though, that they should shake up Phil Hughes if Ponting doesn't pass fit for the next Test. Short and at the body is the way to go with the banana boy. I should probably let you know now that I don't rate Hughes at all, and didn't from the first. However, he did just score a century in Shield cricket, against a fearsome Victorian attack lead by...Andrew Macdonald. Sorry, the only thing dangerous about Ronald is his hair, which might ignite at any moment and set the dressing-room on fire.

Meanwhile, over in the land of the braai, Nelson Mandela and the closest-knit team in world cricket, England are looking to develop a patent on the heartstopping draw. They can't just manage this sort of thing in a nice, calm, boring way, can they? No, they have to ensure they make the headlines by pushing themselves to the brink of a crushing defeat and getting Paul Collingwood and *insert name of tail-ender* to pull them back. This is obviously a cunning plan by that Professor of Cunning Andrew Strauss. They look like they might lose a series, so what does Prof Strauss do? He manufactures a batting collapse (assisted by Sir Kevin) and gets Collingwood (who has no titles but does have an MBE) to set up a morale-boosting victory, thus securing a certain series win from game one.

Oh, and AB took an awesome catch at slip in that last match - springing far to the left, diving low and forward and snaffling a ball of Trott's gloves just before it hit the ground. It's the little things in life that makes one happy.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Test cricket is alive and slapping

The ascendancy in this Test match has been bouncing around like an old WACA wicket. Yesterday we thought we'd seen a bit of a good innings with Haddin's knock - until Chris Gayle decided to remind the world that Sehwag wasn't the only free-hitting opener in the world and slapped the Aussie bowling. Midge is used to this kind of treatment though - I'm sure he gets it all the time from Black Belt Bratich.

Gayle wasn't the only one doing a bit of slapping yesterday. Haddin, Midge and Benn got themselves into a bitch-fight with lots of big talk and bat-pointing. Good. An incident like this might be just what revives the vicious streak in West Indies cricket and, despite my dislike for this sort of behaviour on a cricket pitch usually, this time it might just be beneficial to the game.

Seriously, though, this match has had everything. Vicious fast bowling from Kemar Roach that forced Ponting to retire hurt (ha ha HA!), Gayle's blitzing hundred, THAT hit onto the the roof of the Lillee-Marsh stand, a typical West Indian collapse today, what is now becoming a typical Australian collapse today, Ponting trying to do a Captain Courageous a la Graeme Smith (but not realising that broken hands carry considerably more points than sore elbows) and the possibility of a fascinating last two days with a chase for the West Indies that will be difficult but is by no means unattainable.

One thing that Australian viewers have to put up with, though, are the Swisse vitamin ads. They have drifted between the vaguely silly (Ponting hitting ten year olds around the park) to the incredibly dull (Ponting talking). I mean, what is it with these latest ones? The background is grey, his shirt is grey, his trousers are grey - they sure wanted to spice these ads up a bit! Not only that, one of the featured products is Swisse Hair Nails Skin. Now, I haven't really had the stomach to check out Ricky P's nails or skin, but he sure has plenty of hair - although not necessarily in the place where it's most wanted. Put it this way, he might need to use Head and Shoulders Shampoo for a bit more than just his head and shoulders...

But, as they say, a picture's worth a thousand words:


Hmmm. Seems like I've already broken my self-imposed embargo on Ricky Ponting photos.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

CricPics Part III

The only photo of Ricky Ponting I will ever post. Unless the next one's really really funny.


Ah, we must cherish the good moments...

I really want to read Graeme Smith's latest book

Now, there is a small chance (if you haven't been long in the world of cricket blogging) that you may have missed a major subtheme to watching any match involving South Africa. That is, the love between AB de Villiers and Paul Harris. We all know they play for the same domestic team and seem to be rather chummy. So are many other players. But there is something about this particular relationship that makes it special.

The late, great Amy S, who tragically passed away this year, was the first to make it known to the cricket-blog-reading public (the first to introduce it to blog-watchers in general was the Gay Sports Blog) and I enjoyed her pieces on the subject immensely. But for me it started before that. It started with a picture:


And developed into an obsession. As I stated on a previous post, I have a large collection of photos (around 40) of AB with Harris and various other guys expressing some deep and passionate feelings. Ok, some of them are completely my imagination. Others are pretty damn obvious.

However, this is not all hot air, smoke and rumour. Today, while randomly trawling AB's website, I discovered a comment on his fanmail page, dated August 23, 2009:

"HI AB 1 more month to go- Yippee!!! Just finished reading Graeme's book. You seem to be quite the prankster! My favourite is where you hide under Paul Harris's bed with the remote!! Hope the training is going well (<: "

He hid under Paul Harris' bed? And Graeme Smith has confirmed this? I really gotta buy Smitteh's book - details are desperately needed!

PS: I know, I know, Harro's married. But hey, I'm allowed my crazy theories - and besides, it could be totally one-sided!

CricPics Part II

Yes, yes, actually Part III. I'm not going to mention this again...

Out of the vault (which incidentally is entitled AB Loves Men because that's what the majority of its contents depict). Siddle and Huss looking like they belong on the cover of a cheesy soap opera season DVD. Probably not the Bold and the Beautiful though, because I sure can't see any beauty in this pic, especially as the batsman with his back to us is not AB. Anyway, in the tradition of Bennifer, Branjelina, TomKat and other famous pairings, I've decided to title this relationship Suss (Siddle + Huss, geddit?). I hope I haven't doomed it, this one might be quite fun.


CricPics Part I

Well, really Part II after the Stuart Stargirl pic, but this is the first official one. And there'll be plenty more, because pics are easier than words. 1:1000 is the ratio, I believe.

Spotted it when trawling the net and thought it deserved a thought bubble.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The end of an era...

... of Fat Kallis jokes. What can one do now that he's not really fat anymore? Switch back to the old comments about how boring his batting is? He's not even that slow anymore. Looks like it's time to go back to pointing out how boring he himself is. That will never change.

And just to set the record straight, despite him being boring, formerly unfit and formerly soporiphic batsman (not to mention world class minnow-basher), I really do like Jacques. It's just that he was such an easy target for cheap lulz.

WIndies shove it right back at Australia, thanks to Bob Marley

Well, if you were relying upon my blog as your only source of news, you might have missed the small event of an innings defeat for the West Indies at the Gabba. I try not to mention those sorts of things. However, I am back blogging like the fairweather blogger I am now that the WIndies have redeemed themselves and nearly pulled off a win in Adelaide.

Now they're off to Perth. Australia have not had the best of times westward in recent years, and a bowler like Roach could seriously test them. Sheesh, he's fast - one of the few good things to come out of the WICB/WIPA spat.

But what really made this match for me was the little things. Like Ponting throwing away two referrals on marginal decisions. Like Bollinger losing it and ending up in my black book (and I dare say Asad Rauf's) after Ricky had wasted them. Like Ravi Rampaul's batting (can't see him staying at ten or eleven for too long). And best of all, Ricky getting out for two pretty poor scores, showing that even if he does get a start, he's vulnerable. It's a nice thing to know.

What wasn't so nice to know was the possibility that Hauritz is a little cheat. Sorry, but I saw not one shred of evidence that he got anywhere near that ball, with any part of his anatomy. This is somewhat sad, I was beginning to really like Haury and didn't want him to end up in the little black book, alongside teammates Ponting, Bollinger, Haddin and Katich. I mean, the only thing worse than my little black book, is my little pink book. The one with Shane Watson's name on page one.

And the Bob Marley reference? Redemption Song, of course!