England v India at Manchester, Only T20I

Last night, while I slept, after the rain:  Sri Lanka bowled out Australia for 273 on day one of the 2005th test match at the Galle International Stadium.

Supposedly, the pitch was kind to both the seamers as well as the spinners.  Lakmal and Herath each took three wickets, while Hussey was the lone stand out for Australia at the crease with 95 off of 177.   (He batted for over four hours. It will be a long time before I stop thinking how insane those long stands are).

Looking at photos over on ESPNCricinfo, it looks like the sun came out and it was a lovely day at the ground.  Well, not necessarily lovely, as while the temperatures were only in the 80s, the dewpoints were in the 80s, as well.   That’s awfully uncomfortable weather.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe, it’s England versus India in the only Twenty20 match of the tour.  Yawn.

No Tendulkar, but Dravid will bat and here’s hoping he puts on a final show for the England crowd.  He is all class, and it is sad to think that this will be one of his last matches on English soil.  Hopefully, it is less of a swan song and more of a coronation, though he has already proven himself to be worthy of continued selection with his performance in the tests.

And a big day for Broad.  Can he perform as well as Captain as he did in the tests?

Of course, no one will be paying attention today, as it is Transfer Deadline Day (dum dum dum) in England.  And thanks to Sky Sports, that is all anyone will be talking about over on Twitter today.   Oh well, I follow the right people, they will take care of me.

(As a yank, Transfer Deadline Day (dum dum dum) feels more like the NFL Draft than Major League Baseball’s trade deadline (July 31st).   One would think it would be the opposite, but the NFL Draft is just as meaningless, just as overhyped, and just as preseason-y (which isn’t a word) while MLB’s trade deadline is on the precipice of the pennant race and the trades that do happen are rarely meaningless for the teams involved).

Anyway, it’s nice to have cricket back, not that it ever left.  I think it is one of those sports, unlike football, that one really needs a short break from, every six weeks or so.  Well, break’s over, boys.

Until tomorrow.

Middlesex v Leicestershire at Lord’s, County Championship Division Two

Today is Tuesday, which normally means no blog at all, so…

Wait a minute…

I seriously have no idea why I start every post like that – with an explanation about why there was no post last week or why this post will be short.  How about, instead, I just write a damn post?  How’s that for novel?

The title of yesterday’s post was a match taking place at the Wormsley Cricket Ground in Buckinghamshire.  I didn’t think much of the ground at the time.  I just like poking subtle fun at the Unicorns, and the name Wormsley reminded me of a character from the Lord of the Rings.  Lord of the Rings, Unicorns…perfect.

But then I did some googling, and wow – what an interesting ground.

The ground is also known as Sir Paul Getty’s Ground, and is located inside the late philanthropist’s sprawling park, Wormsley.

via Wikipedia Commons

The story goes, according to Wikipedia and Cricinfo, that after Mick Jagger introduced Sir Paul to cricket, he had a replica of the Oval built on his Wormsley estate, opening in 1992.  The Queen, the Prime Minister, Michael Caine, and Brian Johnston, among others, attended the opening.

At the opening ceremony, the 60 year old Getty remarked that it was the “happiest summer since his boyhood.”

The ground still regularly hosts first class domestic cricket as well as touring international sides, despite Getty’s death in 2003.   The matches are commercial and gimmick free, and are true village cricket games.

Thanks to ESPNCricinfo for the following images:

Sir Paul Getty's XI play the touring South Africans at Wormsley Park, June 23, 2003 @Getty Images
Lancashire play Buckinghamshire at Wormsley Park, C&G Trophy, May 3, 2005 @Getty Images

Until tomorrow.

Unicorns v Glamorgan at Wormsley, Clydesdale Bank 40

I really needed to post something today.  I have done nothing but slack, slack, slack since leaving for Wisconsin like two weeks ago.

It’s not even blog related…I haven’t been eating right, I haven’t been working out.  But school starts tonight and I have switched back to tea and I am looking forward to dipping myself back into autumnal routine.  This starts now:

Last night I watched a chunk of the Friends Life t20 final.  On Twitter I said t20 was to test cricket what slow pitch softball was to major league baseball.  But now I think that is actually not quite correct.  I think it is closer to cricket’s version of MLB’s home run derby.

If you are unfamiliar with the home run derby, then consider yourself lucky.  But suffice it to say it is probably the most boring, most interminable, most annoying event in sports.  Full stop.

And to top it off, it is hosted by ESPN Chris Berman, who shouts “back, back, back, back” every time a player puts another meatball into the seats.

I guess with Twenty-20, at least the bowlers are trying to get the hitters out, but the endless flood of boundaries just reminds me too much of the home run derby.  As does the music and the weird little dances the crowd does with each knock.
So I think I might be a little bit done with Twenty-20 cricket.  For now anyway.

The perfect antidote?

Test cricket, of course.  And as I mentioned last week (I use that phrase way too often on this blog) there are two test matches this week.  The Sri Lanka v Australia test will be taking place at the Galle International Stadium, which was built in 1876 but did not become a cricket ground until 1927.  It is widely considered to be one of the most picturesque grounds in the world (this according to Wikipedia anyway), but I was unable to find any great pictures, except for ones that show it wrecked by the 2010 Boxing Day Tsunami:

The last test it hosted was in July of last year, Sri Lanka v India.  Sri Lanka won by 10 wickets.  Malinga took nine wickets in one of his last test performances.  And looking over the scoreboard, I think the cracks in India’s armor were already starting to show.

Okay, until tomorrow.

Ireland v England at Dublin, Only ODI

It wouldn’t be a match in Ireland without a rain delay, right?  At least, that is what I think is happening this morning in Dublin, as England are being limited to 42 overs and I can only assume that this is a full fledged ODI.

And they have already batted for 37.4 of them, and Ireland have put them on the back foot, for sure.  Taking six wickets and limiting them to 166 with only 24 balls remaining.  Trott’s unbeaten 67 and Captain Morgan’s (hahahahaha) 59 off of 65 the only highlights from the England side.

Meanwhile, I am pretty sure the entire Ireland squad has bowled at least an over.  Well, not the entire squad, but seven of them have.  Is this a cricket secret?  Throw as many different attacks as possible at a team?  It probably only works for lower class teams like Ireland.

So: where do they play cricket in Dublin?

At the Clontarf Cricket Club, Castle Avenue, Dublin:

(This is usually where I post a breathtaking view of the ground, but I honestly could not find one.  It seems it is really nothing but a field…no stands, no terraces…Google Streetview didn’t even provide anything.  Heck, I couldn’t even find a decent picture of Clontarf Castle that supposedly casts its shadow over the ground.)

Oh, down goes Trott, and here comes the tail.

Anyway, the ground was built in 1958 and is the home of both Clontarf Cricket Club as well as the Clontarf Rugby Club. It is one of two established ODI grounds in Ireland.  That’s about all the information I have.

My take out of this?  If Ireland want to be taken seriously: build a proper cricket ground.

Oh wait, you’re broke?  So what!  This is sports, damn it!  The state of Minnesota is so broke we shut the government down for three weeks, yet there is still talk of a publically funded NFL stadium!

Actually, no, don’t do that.

And Woakes has 13 off of ten deliveries.  England only have seven balls left, but if they can get over 200, they could end their innings on the ascension.

Now, I was going to end today’s blog with some notes on “The Troubles” (I just read a book), but I will save that for another day.

Until tomorrow.

Gloucestershire v Somerset at Bristol, Clydesdale Bank 40

Falling out of a daily blog habit is easy, picking it back up is extraordinarily difficult.  It’s like when you stop going to the gym, or maybe the opposite of when you want to stop smoking cigarettes.

But as short as today’s post might very well be, at least it is a post.  A step in the right direction.

While I was away in lovely Ashland, Wisconsin, England white-washed India and were crowned the world’s number one test team.  It really is a remarkable achievement, and a remarkable squad.  With a couple notable exceptions, nationality aside, these are the some of the best cricketers of the current generation.

Now, many pundits will argue: England are not the world beaters the media is making them out as.  They limped their way through the Sri Lanka series, they say, and India, due to injuries, exhaustion, and apathy, are just simply a very poor test cricket team at the moment.  They say that England will lose the number one ranking within the next 12 months anyway.

And I might have agreed with all of that, if England had not dismantled India in the manner in which they did; had not dismantled Australia eight months ago in the manner in which they did.  They didn’t scrap out two wins and two draws, they went 4-0 and won two of the matches by entire innings.  They retained the ashes IN Australia.

This is a very, very good cricket team.  One of the best in the last 25 years.

So what’s next for England?  Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates it seems, in January of 2012.  India?  Australia.  Four tests starting in December.  It would be an understatement to say I am looking forward to the latter.  Unfortunately, I will not be able to watch the former (shakes fist at willow.tv).

Before that, however, we have the simple matter of five England-India ODIs to handle, not to mention a t20 match.

Meanwhile, speaking of Australia, their first test (of three) in Sri Lanka starts on 08/31.   And the only test between Zimbabwe and Pakistan starts the following day.  Plus India has a tour match against Sussex at Hove starting this weekend.  Oh, and there is County Cricket, including the semi-finals and the final of the Friends Life t20 which is THIS WEEKEND.

Too.  Much.  Cricket.

Until tomorrow.

Yorkshire v Sussex at Scarborough, County Championship Division One

Starting tomorrow, and lasting through Sunday, I will be on hiatus.  No new posts until Monday, the 22nd.  This is not a sabbatical or a period of rest, I am just heading out of town for a friend’s wedding.  (I just didn’t want my reader to think that I felt that this blog was so exhausting that I needed a break).

The bummer is that I will miss the majority of the final England-India test.  Dead rubber though it might be, it is still unfortunate. Of the four tests this summer, I have been out of town for the bulk of two of them.

Which brings me to what I want to write about today.

Yesterday, due to normal Tuesday work BS, plus Willow.tv’s rights restrictions, I missed two absolutely cracking ODIs:  Zimbabwe v Bangladesh at Harare and Sri Lanka v Australia at Hambantota.

(Side note: Hambantota, a beauty):

via Wikipedia Commons

I barely was even able to follow Cricinfo’s ball by ball, much less enjoy television coverage on Willow.

In the good old days, before LimitedOvers.com, I was completely satisfied to follow the random match here, the random match there.  I would follow just on Cricinfo, occasionally watching the (legal, legitimate) highlights online. (I don’t like illegal streams, it’s not because I am a super ethical dude or anything, I just worry about security.)

But now in the ALO (after Limited Overs) period, I am frustrated when I miss a match, any match.  It is overwhelming.  I used to love how much cricket there is, now it just makes my “job” more difficult.

Going forward, I think as this blog funnels down into a more specific focus, the above won’t be too much of a problem, but I do need to learn that I cannot watch all of the cricket.  There is simply just too much.

That said:  I will be checking in via my phone on the test match all weekend.  Plus:  the County Championship is back!  I think this is my favorite cricket tournament, domestic or otherwise.  It is too bad Willow only has CB40 and FLt20 matches, and crap Cricinfo doesn’t even do a ball by ball…if only I was at home I could listen to the BBC’s radio coverage…and there I go again…

That’s enough, back to work, until Monday.

Somerset v Nottinghamshire at Taunton, Clydesdale Bank 40

Just a few short months ago, Sri Lanka was on the verge of a world championship.  Then they went to England where they lost the ODI series 3-2.  Now they are back home, and about to lose another one day series to Australia.

Now, of course, England and Australia are not, say, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, but I do find it interesting that they are totally unable to compete at the same level as they did in February/March.  Is it simply too much cricket?  (World Cup, IPL for some, England, Australia)?  I mean, the last ODI at Manchester was on 9 July.  On 13 July they played Scotland in the mini-tri-nations-tournament, and then just three weeks later on 6 August they were playing Australia in a 20 over match.

If it is simply too much cricket, then the ICC and the country boards really need to examine the situation.  Force countries to rotate their squads, for instance.  Or simply limit the number of tournaments a player can play in, like the BCCI does – (India players still play too much cricket however.)  Does a player really need to play for his country, his county, in the Big Bash, AND in the IPL? Are they that underpaid?

I don’t have the answer, but something needs to be done.  Watching a proud cricketing nation like Sri Lanka have their team fold due to simple exhaustion is simply no way to advance the game.

And I have talked about this before, but American athletes are coddled like no other athletes in the world, and that is not necessarily a bad thing.

For example, a pitcher throwing more than 100 pitches in a major league game is positively unheard of these days.  Meanwhile, at the Edgbaston test, Praveen Kumar bowled like 240 deliveries in two days as England batted on and on and on.  Not only would a major league pitcher never throw more than 100 pitches, but they only pitch every five days or so.

And again, at the World Baseball Classic, which is baseball’s answer to the World Cup, because of the timing of the tournament, starting pitchers have severely limited pitch counts when pitching for their country.  Could you imagine Nottinghamshire telling England that Broad can only bowl 10 overs during any given international competition?  And England agreeing!?  Much less during the world fucking cup!?

I am sure it is simply a cultural difference, or maybe it is the strength of the American players’ unions, but I think cricket (and football) needs to take a long look at how it treats its players.  American athletes might be overly coddled, but I bet there is a happy medium.

All that said: fans like me are partially to blame.  We clamor and clamor and clamor for more tests, more tournaments, more cricket.  And the ICC is simply responding to that request.  But maybe, just maybe, a break for fans is a good thing, too.

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Back on the pitch:  England are the number one test team in the world after crushing India by an innings and 242 runs.  The match at the Oval is now disappointingly a dead rubber, the only excitement being the prospect of Sachin’s 100th 100.

And there is plenty happening internationally this week in cricket, too: ODIs between Sri Lanka and Australia, plus Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.

And there the County Championship is back and ready to be followed.

Back to work.  Until tomorrow!