I love London.

And my heart breaks with the pictures flashing across the internet the last few days.

Yesterday, Twitter was a mess of admonishments and fear as the riots spread from Surrey to Hackney to as far north as Birmingham.  Following it all morning and afternoon and evening was an exercise in depression.  It was like listening to Rome burn.

These pointless riots, and yes they are pointless, tend to peter out, especially now with the world watching, I expect the police presence to strangle the remaining rioters over the next day or two.  The city will clean itself off and move on.  It has to.  Heck, the Olympics are coming in 11 months.

But, hopefully, all residents will take the time to ensure that what is happening now will never happen again.  Is the answer more CCTV?  More police?  More laws? More barricades?  No, probably not.

Maybe it is simply finding a manner of perspective.  Finding common ground.   Figuring out that is okay that London is multicultural and poor and rich and sad nowadays.  That is not your city anymore – nor is it their city.  It is the world’s city.

I love London.

Hopefully the fires go out soon.

And, maybe, a little healing can come tomorrow, for as of this morning, the 3rd test at Edgbaston is on, despite the spread of looters to Birmingham.  Five days of cricket, after the truce, as the fires smolder.

Up early for the first day tomorrow, see you then.

Sri Lanka v Australia at Pallekele, 2nd T20I

Coffee’s hot, cricket’s on.  Too bad it is Monday and I am at the office and blah blah blah got those work-a-day blues.

Already this morning, Zimbabwe completed their return to test cricket with a resounding victory over fellow minnows, Bangladesh, down in Harare.

Fellow blogger Deep Backward Point yesterday wrote that Zimbabwe’s return to full test status, as well as their sporting declaration, represented the real spirit of cricket.  Not Dhoni or Flowers or Bell.  And I really do agree.  Sometimes, in cricket, the best stories happen away from Lord’s, from Mumbai, from the IPL, from the bright lights and the big cities.

Zimbabwe head to New Zealand next year, and I hope to able to watch them at least a little via willow.tv.

Over the weekend, I was able to watch the moderately out of shape county cricket players in the Friend’s Life t20 quarterfinals.  A few observations:  Somerset can bat, but they cannot bowl.  Kieron Pollard is a beast of human.  And it was just wonderful to see packed houses at both Trent Bridge and the Rose Bowl for the Sunday games.  Most pundits will tell you that t20 is saving cricking, saving tests.  But I think it is the other way around: the England-India test series is increasing the average fan’s interest in the game, especially the more accessible shorter version.

The game is sick, but I think this summer, we are watching it heal.  Just a little.

Of course, football returned on Sunday with the Community Shield, so by Wednesday it will be sick again.

Today I will be following the second t20 between Sri Lanka and Australia at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Palleleke, Kandy, Sri Lanka:

via Wikipedia Commons

Sri Lanka won the toss and decided to have a bat, but Brett Lee has lbw’d Dilshan in the 3rd over, which means we have a match on our hands.

Unfortunately, for Sri Lanka, Malinga is hurt and is resting up for the ODIs, but I still think they have a good shot at taking the series from the Aussies.

(Note:  it is 19:21 in Sri Lanka.  Where does that extra half hour disappear to?  I have always wondered that.)

Either way, I am just happy to have a match to follow.  And with the third England-India test starting Wednesday, it should be a fine week.

Until tomorrow.

Hampshire v Yorkshire at Southampton, County Championship Division One (Day 4)

The lull between England-India tests has created something of a lull here at Limited Overs, as well. Which doesn’t make a great deal of sense, as I used to write plenty every day long before India landed at Heathrow. I would talk Associates and Affiliates and County Cricket, but now: I am bowling on a flat deck.

And there is so much happening!

I mean, there is cricket, international cricket, happening not a two hour plane ride from my house, as Afghanistan and Canada play out a four day match in Toronto. Canada was unable to avoid the follow-on, but are leading by just 13 runs with only 3 wickets in hand going into the final day which does not bode well for their chances.

Which, honestly, blows my mind. Afghanistan has been, to put it lightly, war torn for its entire existence, give or take a decade here and there. And yet, here they are, putting the hammer down on Canada, a first world, oil rich, and multicultural nation. It’s interesting about cricket, about how certain nations are just better at the game. There are very, very, very few sports in the world where Afghanistan or Namibia or Bangladesh could give big first world nations like the USA and Canada and most of continental Europe a run for their money. Cricket is one of those games. And I think that really gives the sport an edge over football going forward. Cricket: the sport for the third world.  And the 21st century will be the century for the third world.

And, honestly, it is really amazing and awesome that the Afghani players are in North America this morning for a spot of cricket. It is a sport of truces and peace. When India and Pakistan sign an accord, for instance, the first thing they do is get together for a cricket match.

Zimbabwe has had its share of problems, but now after five years their cricketers are back playing tests again. It is a sport of forgiveness. Here’s hoping one of the big nations makes an effort to tour down there. There are giving Bangladesh quite a lashing in Harare this morning.

In Sri Lanka, too, Sangakaara in his famous speech at Lord’s gave cricket all the credit for helping his country rebuild after 30 years (THIRTY YEARS!) of civil war.

It is a sport of truces, and peace. Walk out, flip a coin, play cricket.

You could say that football is the world’s game, but is also a game of nationalism, and racism, and fanaticism, and hooliganism. (Speaking of which, did you see that FIFA put Croatia, Serbia, and Macedonia in the same qualifying group – what the fuck were they thinking!?)

Football is what you play as the war rages, cricket is what you play when the war is over.

(Yes, I know, there is still war in Afghanistan, whilst there is peace in the Balkans. I never claimed this thesis to be bulletproof).

Back on the pitch: Zaheer and Sehwag are playing a practice game against Northamptonshire, which will give Indian fans some hope for the final two tests; something something Big Bash something something; and Paddy Upton blames “mental exhaustion” for India’s failures in the first two tests. Or, maybe, Paddy, England played better and three of India’s best players were injured.

This weekend is the knockout stage of the Friends Life t20 (remember County Cricket?) – most of the matches are on Willow.tv. I hope to be able to watch a couple, before football and the Arsenal swallow my weekends whole.

Until Monday.

Zimbabwe v Bangladesh at Harare, Only Test (Day 1)

As mentioned yesterday, via Google Reader, I have been subscribing to every cricket blog I can get my hands on.  And holy cow there are a quadrillion of them.  A blog for every one of Sachin’s runs, pretty much.  And a great many of them are well written and slick and humorous and awesome.  It is a bit overwhelming, a little daunting, and a whole lot disheartening.  I mean, how is my stupid little cricket blog written by a guy in Minneapolis who freely admits that he knows very, very, very little about the sport supposed to get noticed, get read, get picked up by Cricinfo Page 2 for a million dollars?

One way, and one way only: write every day.

The above match is being played at the Harare Sports Club in Harae, Zimbabwe.  It has floodlights and seats 10,000:

Oh, and here is your geography lesson of the day:

Right now, it is drinks on day one of the last session of the day.  Zimbabwe is 237/2 and Cricinfo has ball by ball coverage.  Huzzah!

Also, just up the road in Toronto, Canada is playing Afghanistan in an ICC Intercontinental Cup test match.  Day 2 was a complete wash out, I am hoping for some play today, as again, Cricinfo has ball by coverage of this one, as well.

All right, that’s all I have today, not a great deal going on.  Until tomorrow!

Canada v Afghanistan at King City, ICC Intercontinental Cup

In non-cricket news:  happy anniversary to my lovely bride, and my loyal reader.  Nine years down, nine years to go.  (I make this joke every year, and every year it is HILARIOUS.)

In the world of cricket, not a great deal going on, however.  Still fallout galore from the 2nd test at Trent Bridge:  Ganguly is calling out the India players for being soft, Flower and Strauss are stridently defending their actions in the run-out-that-never-was scandal (anyone else get the sinking feeling that we are going to be talking about that for years and years and years?), Yuvraj and Harbhajan are out for the final two tests for India (no 100th cap for you, Harbhajan, not yours), and the world waits with bated breath on news on Zaheer, Gambhir, and Sehwag (who supposedly, according to Twitter, is on his way to England as I type).

Speaking of Twitter, yesterday MS Dhoni apologized, via a tweet, to Indian fans everywhere (well more correctly, he apologized to his 62,000 followers, or about .0001% of Indian fans everywhere) for his performance in the first two tests and promised a comeback in the final two.  Now, I like Dhoni, he is a proven winner, but I honestly think he is fooling himself.  Unless the big three mentioned above come back and are at least 90% fit, this England team is streets ahead of them.  And considering all England need to do is draw the final two tests to overtake them in the world test rankings, well, I would be more than shocked if India were able to come back and win the final two tests.

But: they are the world champions. And they still are the number one test team on the planet.  So maybe a tad early for me to count them out.

Also, in the news, the ECB has added two t20s for England in October versus the West Indies.  These are leftover matches that should have happened this summer before that Sanford fella stole all the money in the Caribbean and went to jail.  The players are rankled, of course, and I would be too.  That’s a lot of cricket.

And, honestly, I am coming to realize that international t20 does nothing for me.  The thought of it bores me to tears.  And while I like ODIs just fine, I think I am a test fan through and through.  To paraphrase Wright Thompson, yes that Wright Thompson:  walk out, flip a coin, and then play cricket for five days.  Just a brilliant form of a brilliant game.

I like the domestic t20 tournaments, even the dreaded IPL, but I cannot imagine I will watch many international 20over matches in the near future.

Is it time to change the name of this blog?

(It’s funny, now that I mention it, I went through last night and subscribed via Google Reader to as many cricket blogs as I could.  The game just lends itself so easily to great blog titles:  99.94, Deep Backward Point, Different Strokes, The Reverse Sweep, Short Third Man, Well Pitched, just to name a few.)

And, well, no, I am not changing it now.  I have a brand damn it!  (No, actually, I don’t).

Finally, this morning, the Sri Lanka-Australia starts up on the 6th with the first of two, well, t20s, of course.  Followed by five ODIs and three testes.  And the first and only test between Zimbabwe and Bangladesh (Wright, are you there, Wright?) starts tomorrow, followed by five ODIS.

Both should be cracking series.  Unfortunately, as I have already whined, I will be able to watch exactly none of it.  Just me and Cricinfo for these two.  Oh well.

Okay back to work.  Until tomorrow.


Glamorgan v Essex at Cardiff, County Championship Division Two

First of all, ever since, oh, about 2006, I have been vehemently anti-ESPN.

Allow me to qualify that: I love Cricinfo, it is an absolutely wonderful sports website. Probably the best in the business, no matter the sport of focus. But it was wonderful before the Worldwide Leader swallowed it whole.

And I will admit that I get most of my football news from ESPNsoccernet, but I think that is simply out of laziness. The site is navigable and clean and has everything I need, but I bet I could get better information elsewhere just as easily.

Finally, ESPN3.com is one of the greatest inventions ever. It is something ESPN does very, very, very well.

But when it comes to their flagship channels and their flagship website: I do not watch and I do not visit (again with a qualification: when Arsenal are on ESPN2, I do watch).

Thankfully, I do not have cable, and therefore can avoid the utter trash that the channels have become. It is celebrity gossip based bullshit these days with an extreme east coast bias. The website is more of the same.

And from what I have heard, the magazine is trash, as well.

Therefore, despite the fact that I consider myself well read and well informed when it comes to sports, both American and otherwise, I seriously have no idea who the fuck Wright Thompson is.

Up until last night, that is.

The irony of this indignation will become clear very soon.

Last night I listened to Sam and Jarrod (aka, the Two Chucks) interview “Wright” at Lord’s during the first test. (I also listened to them interview Ravi Shastri and it was very obvious that the normally cool Sam Collins was more than a little intimidated, it took him 10 minutes before he asked a question that was not of the yes or no variety, but I digress), and it seems “Wright”, a Mississippi born writer for ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine, had been sent over to “cover” the first test for ESPN, in order to write an article about test matches. He has written a couple different articles already, one on the World Cup and one on Bangladeshi cricket, EVEN THOUGH UP UNTL APRIL HE HAD NEVER EVEN HEARD OF SACHIN TENDULKAR*.

I don’t mean to get all old man on you, but it was so frustrating to listening to this hick (albeit a very nice hick) make jokes about English teeth and English smiles in the home of cricket. I am sure there are several well respected American Sports Journalists who know who the fuck Sachin Tendulkar is and would be able to write wonderful articles about tests and Sachin and Bangladesh, but instead the Worldwide Leader sent this fish out of water who seemed to be drinking his way through day 3 to cover the 2000th test, at Lord’s, involving the two best cricket teams in the world, not to mention featuring the greatest batsman to ever live.

It was an insult to cricket, it was an insult to Sachin, it was an insult to Lord’s, and it was an insult to ESPN.com’s domestic readership. One more black mark on the Worldwide Leader, it seems.

Entertaining interview, however. Great job, Chucks. And the Shastri interview was brilliant. Initially I thought Sam just sucked at interviewing, but he seemed to relax as it went on. I still do not believe Ravi about the Shastribot.

Oh, and on the pitch: England destroyed a poor India in four days. This series might very well be over. Unfortunate.

Until tomorrow.

*I freely admit that this is 50% cricket’s fault, and 50% Wright’s fault.

England v India at Nottingham, 2nd Test (Day 4)

I woke up this morning and thought:  you know, if India can bowl out England before lunch, that gives them a day and a half to score 450-500 on a flat deck with Dravid and Tendulkar and Laxman.  And I thought: this is doable.  This is more than doable, in fact.

And then I woke up at seven am to see that India had bowled out England before lunch, but unfortunately Dravid had fallen early, and for me not only was that the match, but the series, as well.

As I type this, India are 53/4 and still need another 429.  Laxman, Mukund, and Raina are gone.  However, Tendulkar, the best batsman in the history of cricket is at the crease.  England will need a Herculean effort to take his wicket, but considering India’s massively long tail they might not need to.  Here’s hoping that we get a day five, because India’s only hope might be the 50% chance of showers tomorrow.

I am not going to write a great deal about the “run out that never was.”   At first, I thought it was simply brilliant on the part of India.  It was something one would never see in any other sporting contest on the planet.

But then, on the same note, I was disappointed, because it might have cost India the match, and thereby the series.  India should have been a tad more cold hearted, should have taken the moment by the throat and strangled England into an even series.

But, finally, I was just bored.  So much wonderful cricket happening right now, but this is all we are going to talk about for days on end.

On a housekeeping note: I had to move desks at work, and therefore I have lost a little of the privacy I formerly enjoyed. This might very well affect my blogging, we shall see.  If it starts to go pear shaped, I will have to start blogging in the evenings.

Until tomorrow.