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by wingate

Hi Chaps

June 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

I wanted to link you to my WordPress blog:

Feel free to have a perusal. As usual it’ll mostly be cricket stuff, with the odd smattering of rugger and football too. I’m sure to be blogging a lot about the upcoming Test series, I’ll also link them to here when I can!

I think this is how it is supposed to work on Word Press, anyway.


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Fortress Nottingham

May 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

There are a few things standing in the path of a Windies upset in the Second Test starting tomorrow, but none more so than the ‘Trent Bridge’ factor. England have won 6 of the last 8 matches there, with the last three games resulting in thumpings by at least 300+ runs.

In particular, it has been the brutal form of the bowlers which has seen such dominance. Whilst Stuart Broad’s bowling average at the ground is impressive with 15 wickets at less than 17, James Anderson manages to maintain that fearsome average and is already the second highest Test wicket taker at the ground with 33 behind just the great Alec Bedser. With third seamer Tim Bresnan currently boasting an absurd 12 wins in 12 Test matches and Graeme Swann bowling on his home ground, the omens look ominous for the West Indies.

There has been a considerable amount of talk surrounding the missing Windians; a lot of calls for Sarwan, Gayle, Narine, Pollard, amongst others. ‘Chris Gayle would have hit that for six’ was the murmur from Lords as the ball swung a poetic hoop around the flailing outside edge of Keiron Powell’s hapless bat and clattered into the top of off stump. I’m not so sure I buy into that theory. Gayle has played a considerable amount of Test cricket and won few matches. His average of just over 40 is lower than Andrew Strauss’, and if you look at his mid30s average against England you see problems further with a swinging ball. He may well be an improvement on Powell, but absence makes the heart grow fonder, one suspects.

Sarwan is a trickier case. He has been in good form for Leicestershire this summer with 2 hundreds already to his name in County Cricket and also has a decent average vs England (boosted by a 291* on the flattest, slowest pitch ever seen at Bridgetown). However, again he is a supposedly ‘world class’ batsmen who scrapes an average of 40, and hasn’t scored a half century in 13 Test innings, or in fact any sort of score for 3 years. We’re not exactly missing a Lara, here.

Then we look at the likes of Narine and Pollard. Neither of whom have ever played a Test but are being lamented in their absence as the West Indian Harbhajan and the new Sir Viv. Tosh, of course. Although I do like the sound of both they would be extra newcomers in a side with a starking dearth of experience already. Of those, Adrian Barath has twice managed to see the shine off of the new ball, looking classy before falling cheaply after lunch, and Dwayne Bravo has looked good in getting two starts, but needs to work on running between the wickets.

So I make that 7 in 9 at Trent Bridge for England. 2-0 in the Series. The Sheriff of Nottingham James Anderson inching towards if not past Alec Bedser. The Pudding of Yorkshire Tim Bresnan reaching 13 wins from 13. And the Morose Chris Gayle carting round some second-rate Indians in the IPL.


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Summer Daze, Come What May’s

May 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

Ah, the great English ‘Summer’! Grass as green as ever seen; thick ropes inanely hauled across those soggy outfields by grim-faced groundsmen; military medium trundlers boasting the figures of Malcolm Marshall; a touring side hidden under vast swathes of woollen jumpers, hands within lukewarm pockets – wishing that at this point in mid-May they were somewhat closer to the equator.

I’m not sure it is fair on whichever country it is that has the privilege of touring England’s green and unpleasant shores as the ‘warm-up’ act for the Test series deemed more important later on in the summer. For the first thing, you are genuinely considered to merely be good enough to ‘warm-up’ England these days, and nothing more or you’d have been given the July/August slot. Last year we had the miserable sight of Sri Lanka looking totally as if they would rather be somewhere else for 3 Tests. Who can blame them – no-one enjoys playing cricket in the cold; stood in the slips hoping nothing comes one’s way as one’s hands are frozen stiff in one’s pockets, trying to warm something else. On the subject of touching wood, we have actually had almost two full days without rain now, which is a nice change; across much of this summer cricket grounds across the country have had more chance of growing rice than producing adequate cricket conditions. If it isn’t great playing cricket in May, just be thankful that you don’t play County Cricket, which started over a month ago.

To be fair to Darren Sammy and his touring West Indian side, they have indeed made the right noises, and the spirit they’ve already displayed looks to be a vast improvement on the limp side the morose Chris Gayle brought here a couple of years ago. However, despite the improved team attitude there is the undeniable feeling that this is a squad which is inadequately prepared, too inexperienced, and perhaps just plain not good enough to test England in the upcoming weeks. Whilst the likes of Barath, Powell, Edwards and Bravo are undoubtedly good prospects with the willow, it is difficult to think of another Test nation who would have them all in the top 4. There doesn’t seem to be much below (the magnificent) Chanderpaul at 5 capable of scoring any runs, either.

More positively, the bowling line-up, shorn of wunderkind spin-bowler Narine who earnt himself $700k by playing in the (otherwise pointless) IPL, has some serious pace in Roach and Edwards, and a decent swing option in Rampaul. England skipper Strauss’s opportunity to break his current spell of 1 century in 50 Test innings isn’t exactly going to be straightforward this summer, with South Africa’s Steyn and Morkel to come later in the summer.

After England were nobbled over the winter quite badly for recent times, I hope it does not come across as condescending to want the West Indies to be at least competitive in the series. I’m not expecting them to go home waxing lyrical miracles about the fun they had during the third time they had to leave the field due to incessant rain, but it would be nice for a couple of them to make some runs and for them to at least learn something so they can be competitive in the future. After all, England could do with a decent warm-up Test…


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Number One in the Universe!

August 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

I’m generally quite an optimistic England cricket fan but I would never have expected this; the 4-0 whitewash against India was simply ruthless. An undercooked Indian side turned up unfit and unadjusted and were subseqently buried by the better drilled outfit.

At the start of the series I was looking forward to seeing the Number 1 Test side on the planet, about halfway through the Second Test I realised that I’d already been watching them for the last 12 months. After 3 innings victories to claim the Ashes in Australia, England claimed 3 innings victories to dish a previously swaggering India.

These weren’t horrible, English swinging conditions either. The only good day to bowl (if there is such a thing) was the first day at Lords, where India couldn’t get past Trott and England finished 100odd for 2. Apart from that, there was just a bit of movement for the good bowlers but the pitches were true and you can’t think of one nasty unplayable ball all series. The Oval was a great batting track, Edgbaston was true and even Trent Bridge where it tends to swing about was pretty bog-standard. England were patient and amassed runs, India didn’t. England took wickets and bowled tightly, India didn’t. I could go on about individuals in more depth, but the imperious Dravid and the impetuous Kumar aside, most of the touring party disappointed.

So number one, top dogs eh? Let’s hope England can give it a proper shot at staying there for a while. This number one in the world stuff is, afterall, completely and utterly meaningless in the short term. As much as the ICC would like it to be otherwise, International Cricket is a sport based on the relationship and rivalry between the two competing nations, the historical backdrop of touring a country and the differing conditions at each and every venue. Unless you can build a dynasty across a generation, as did the legendary West Indies side or the infamous Australians, you will be forgotten in the cricketing annuls as little more than ‘a good team at the time’. Though a side full of some great players, no-one will remember India 2009-2011. Will anyone remember England 2011-?


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A blip of intelligent insight

July 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

The perfect host requires the perfect parasite…

Sri Lanka have failed to impress me during their tour this summer. Ok, so they were billed as an ‘ideal warm-up’ for the Indians coming later on, but this should have been a motivating factor for them to become so much more – rather than an excuse not to turn up.

The Test series was an embarrasingly one-sided affair, the chaps from Ceylon were saved a 3-0 drubbing by weather which refused to allow England more than 3 days worth of play to press victories. This was not unexpected, Engaland are formidable on their own patch, but the arrival of the key players in the Sri Lankan team too late to adapt to English conditions was a shambles. If they wanted to play in the IPL, then don’t play in the Tests. Simple.

After that, we were subjected to The Sanath Jayasuriya Tribute One Day Series. In which the great man could be revered for one last time by a nation in which he has frankly had zero impact. The 43 year old relic of a man played up to the crowd and took his reputation of trademark dashing innings’ to an extreme, making a glistening 2 and then 8. He had no ties to either of the venues he played at. His presence completely cheapened the occasion of International cricket. It was embarrassing. Even leaving aside his political career, where he has of course become part of a government widely condemned for a mass genocide against a significant part of it’s own population, this was pointless and felt like a rip-off. I was hoping for some quality cricket when I parted with my hard-earned to go to The Oval, not this circus act.

Thirdly, the saga of the Chandimal century. Sure, he played really well and he is new to the international arena. However we will not remember the innings due to the antics of compatriot Angelo Matthews, who blocked out 1 run from 21 balls, in the process bringing the game into a much closer contest than otherwise, in order for Chandimal to get to three figures. Any professional outfit, as per England with Cook left stranded on 95no yesterday, would have closed the game out. Sri Lanka showed a lack of respect, no doubt about it.

Just when I was composing a strongly-worded letter to the Members suggesting that we do not invite these curious fellows back to England for a while if they cannot be bothered to perform with dignity and grace befitting these shores, up steps Kumar Sangakarra. I’m not talking about his excellent knock yesterday, but a ‘Spirit of Cricket’ lecture given to te Members at Lords. The following is the close of the speech, I appreciate the entire thing is quite long but it is certainly worth a look.

A phenomenal speech; heartfelt, intelligent and well presented. This chap must have an English grandfather somewhere, surely?


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A Mention For The Proteas

June 18, 2011 in Uncategorized


Just listening to TMS during the lunch break of the rain-affected Test between England and Sri Lanka. Boycott and Tuffers querying Sri Lanka’s efforts at acclimatising themselves to the conditions. A bit of banter about Sri Lanka’s feeble bowling unit post the curious fellow Muralitharan. They were poking fun at the Sri Lankan chappie in the commentary box, Roshan, about the lack of application in Sri Lankan cricket; their best bowler Mendis isn’t playing as he can’t grip the ball in the cold conditions, Sangakarra and Jayawardene have been dire and the rest of the side don’t have any technique.

I’m sure you can imagine the scene, Boycott is nothing if not antagonistic in his ways and he was trying to provoke a reaction. Anyway, after weathering a fair amount of cop in good humour, it got to the point where Roshan went on a bit of a wild one. He sort of lost it, exclaiming

“no-one can beat this England side in English conditions. What did the English expect, it has been raining all tour and the pitches have been green tinged, Tremlett is unplayable and Anderson is ridiculous. Cook is going to be a world record breaker, Trott is immortal and they bat til 9. Who on this earth could bowl them out? Which side could challenge them?”

Boycott reply was short and smug, pleased that he’d made his colleague lose his cool:

“South Africa would.”

Me, I’m not so sure. I think the Indians would have a better chance.


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Subcontinental World Cups

March 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

Is it a coincidence that 3 of the 4 semi-finalists are Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka?

Sometimes you’ve just got to bite the bullet and admit that your side cannot play spin very well, and even if you manage to set a decent total your bowling armoury is clearly inadequate for the conditions.

I think England just about did themselves justice overall – not in this last game but the chaps have had 4 days at home since early October so a tired performance against a decent outfit can be excused having bust a gut to get this far anyway. The scheduling chaps at the ECB clearly had one aim this winter – The Ashes – and anything else would have been a bonus.

SL to win. They’re a well balanced side and have the easiest semi-final!


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Rugger Musings

March 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

The Six Nations ended yesterday with 3 sides getting drilled away from home by their fired up hosts. Scotland dashed Italy’s hopes of successive wins, Ireland easily overcame the formerly unbeaten England, and the French, well, they Frenched the Welsh.

Obviously the first fixture is irrelevant, 5th vs 6th and two sides who’d be delighted to get out of their World Cup pools. Away from a cold Murrayfield Scotland will do well to see off the physical challenges from Georgia and Romania in order to finish behind England and Argentina. Italy will focus solely on beating Ireland as the key to getting out of Pool C – a feat they have not managed since 1997 although they came very close last time out in Rome, losing 13-11 to a late O’Gara drop goal.

Ireland thrashing England was a bit more of a shock, mind. With the Grand Slam on, a trip to Dublin was never going to be easy – I had the Irish down as slight favourites. To be beaten without throwing a punch as Johnson put it actually quite aptly, was a bit more surprising. The pack let England down here. That first scrum against the bristly Irish front row was horrible and set the tone for the rest of the game, not committing enough to mauls, being out-physicalled in the loose. That’s unacceptable, really. When Flood and Wilko did have the chance to kick us a foothold, they missed. I think England struggle as favourites against decent opposition who are up for the challenge. Remember the Bok’s last visit to HQ, when everyone had written them off and England were supposedly flying? I guess that’s one of the non-perks of having such a young team. Let’s hope it is lesson learnt. England will get out of their group but need to scrag Argentina ala ’82 to avoid the AB’s in the quarters. Ireland, away from Lansdowne Road, shouldn’t pose a threat to South Africa in the last eight.

Wales and France are the two more enterprising NH sides and both could surprise if they turn it on. If they don’t, both will be making early exits from the tournament, possibly Wales even at the group stage with tough fixtures against Fiji and Samoa. It wouldn’t surprise me if they ran the Boks close and then lost to both to leave the tournament. France on the other hand could even beat the All Blacks in their pool, and seem certain to at least get through their otherwise weak-ish group. From there either England or Argentina, two of France’s nemesis’s, await. If they can get through to the semis, France are a real threat. There is something romantic about the French rugby set-up, it is difficult to describe but I am envious of the grounding the game has over there. England has it in parts, in the the shires of the Home Counties, the Westcountry hotbed and in the public schools, but the main emphasis across the nation is football.

I expect the AB’s to win the tournament, still. France, England, SA and Australia are all contenders. The latter two have easier quarter finals but it’ll take a bleddy good side to unseat the hosts!


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Oh dear, fellas!

March 6, 2011 in Uncategorized


No, now is not the time to gloat, just as the Irish debacle was not a time for mass panic and finger pointing. The World Cup is as such that the group stages of this thing are only an inconvenience. Get through them and then the crunch comes. England’s progress was always going to be decided by their results against the Bangers and perhaps the Windies.

As for the game, I thought England were under-par with the bat (as expected after being 3-3, but it would have still been nice to be defending 200). Then with the ball I thought we under-used Broad and Anderson almost criminally. Credit must go to Trott and Bopara for giving the bowlers something to defend.

England are very strong in parts, namely the three strike bowlers (the two above plus Swann) and the top order, but lack back up to either of these units. You can get away with that in t20 and even in Tests, but if 20 overs have to be found from Yardy, KP and Bresnan then we’re struggling. If one or two players has an off day, again England are struggling. On the flip, if England go 4 or 5 wickets down and still need runs, can you rely on Bresnan Broad and Yardy at 7, 8 and 9 to eke some runs out? Probably not. The nature of this England side is that we are almost as likely to get beaten by Ireland as we are to beat sides like SA defending 170.

Can England win the tournament on the back of not losing to either India or SA? Perhaps. More likely is that we will be a dangerous last 8 opponent who might surprise one or two but are still outsiders, as we always have been.

Should SA worry about this result, as one of the favourites? No, but they will do so anyway, and if placed under pressure when it counts later in the tournament, it would have been nice to have eked a close one at this stage to fall back on.


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Education, Education, Education

February 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

Mohammed Amir:

Today was the worst day of my life. Cricket has given me everything and it has been everything and if I don’t play it I have nothing. I left education to play cricket and I have nothing other than cricket. For a cricketer whose life is cricket, this is like destroying their life. Two no-balls should not be five years punishment, they have said this themselves. I will also say it is too much and I wasn’t expecting it.

Crikey, you can tell this chap isn’t a scholar!

It is almost like he does not realise the gravity of his crimes. All we want from sport is a contest with integrity and fair spirit. We can take wins and losses as they come, but the very notion that the elite sportmen do not give 100% sickens me to the core. Amir has betrayed every sports fan in the world and now has the damned cheek to claim he has been hard done by.

For me, he ought to receive a life-time ban along with his degenerate compatriots Butt and Asif.

These are frankly awful, awful people. I cannot abide them and I for one am not looking forward to Amir’s return in 5 years time. Whatever he does will be tainted in my eyes. He could turn out in Test cricket as a 24 year old as some form of Waqar/Wasim/Imran hybrid, but I will not care or praise the man. He might bowl England out for under 100, but I will remain silent and refuse to acknowledge his feat. I will rejoice upon every failure of his. I hope his time out the game ruins him, as a cricketer, personally. I hope he never gets out of club cricket and I do not have to hear his name again.


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