Southern Rocks v Mashonaland Eagles at Masvingo, Castle Logan Cup

One of my favorite movies ever is “Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait.”  If you are unfamiliar, it is simply two hours of watching the greatest footballer ever play, well, football, for two hours.

It was filmed in real time and features Zidane in a match for Real Madrid against Villareal.  It is just wonderful, in my opinion.  There are heroes and goats.  There is a plot arc: rising, climax, falling.  If you have never seen it, I highly recommend it.

(Via the film’s Wikipedia page, it seems the filmmakers stole the idea from a 1970 film entitled “Fussball vie noch nie” – only that film was directed by a German and featured George Best for Manchester United against Coventry.  “Fussball vie noch vie”, however, does not have its own wiki page, and therefore doe not exist).

But I digress: during halftime of “Zidane…”, the viewer sees all that is happening in the outside world during the match.  Protests, war, disease.  It is my favorite part of the entire movie.

I have always been a fan of juxtaposing history against the sports that we love.

For instance, my “one big idea” for making a movie was to use that 11 hour, three day tennis match between Nicholas Mahut and John Isner at Wimbledon 2010 as a back drop for all the other happenings in the world.  That match took place over three days, and the film, interspersed between footage of the match, will clue the reader in on everything else that happened in the world over those three days.  Births, deaths, battles…bombings in Afghanistan, Obama’s firing of McChrystal,  Australia’s first female prime minister, a bus bombing in Turkey, The World Cup in South Africe, the BP oil spill…etc.

Which brings me to my point: test cricket, since it takes place over five days, is the perfect such backdrop to world events.  And I hope to write similar posts using classic matches instead of the above tennis match. (I am saving the tennis match for the movie…even though you are going to steal it anyway.)

(I am writing this after a long work day, I apologize for its haphazardness).

But, to start, briefly:  on this day in 1939, Warsaw was surrendered to the Nazis, and in 1964, the Warren Commission finally released its report on the assassination of JFK.

While in the world of cricket, on 27 September 1939: there were no international matches.  And I am sure it was too late in the year for the county game.

And there were no matches of note taking place on 27 September 1964, either.

This is not starting off well.  And is going to take some research.

I mean, on this day in 1948, Duncan Fletcher was born, and in 1982 Eddie Hemmings took 10 wickets in a first class match, but nothing really of note happened, historically, on those days.

Okay, back to the drawing board.

Until tomorrow.

Kolkata Knight Riders v South Australia at Hyderabad, Champions League Twenty20

Last night I read an article over on BoingBoing.net that said that bloggers aspiring to be successful should shoot for 1000 words a day, every day (sans weekends).

Up until the last week, aside from a few breaks here and there, I had been putting in 500-600 words per post, with four or so posts a week.

But then last week, my dog died and my world, well stopped.  It has only been five days, but I feel like it has been a million years since life has been normal.

So in an attempt to heal and feel more normal* again, I am setting myself a goal of 500 words a day, four days a week.  It’s not BikeSnobNYC pace, but it is better than nothing.

Yes, I know, that is exactly what I was doing before, but it was not intentional, and I did not hold myself fast and strong to it.  That will change, as of tonight.

What this means is that I will have to start posting at various points throughout the day, not just in the morning, but in the evening, as well.  I will have the extra time, and thanks to the oh so general nature of this blog, there will always be something to write about.

So what is happening in the world of cricket?  Holy shit – a lot!

First of all, former Indian captain, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi (aka “The Tiger”) passed away of a lung infection earlier last week.

I was not familiar with the man until after news of his death broke, but just one look at this photo of him and he instantly became my favorite cricketer ever:

I don’t know when or where the picture was taken, but there is no cooler picture of an athlete in existence.

At 21, he was Test cricket’s youngest captain, and led India to their first overseas test win, in New Zealand.

He overcame impaired vision in his right eye to average 34 runs in 46 tests.

He also captain Oxford and Sussex.

Rest in peace.

In other news, England finally lost another match this summer, as the West Indies won by 25 runs in their second t20.  The series ended level as England had won the previous match by 10 wickets two days earlier.

Meanwhile, on the sub-continent, the Champions League Twenty20 is, well, happening.  I am having a difficult time getting ginned up for this one, here’s hoping that changes, as it seems there is some interesting cricket ongoing.

Who am I kidding, no matter how interesting the matches, no matter which players are involved, Twenty20 is just not going to inspire, well, it is not going to inspire 500 words a day, four days a week.

It makes for great filler however.

Also, the first ODI of England’s tour of India is three weeks away.  Yes, only three weeks. And the first, ergh, Twenty20 of Australia’s tour of South Africa is also only three short weeks away.  That series will be on Willow.tv, so hopefully I will finally start getting my money’s worth again.

Oh, and the Zimbabwean and Bangladeshi domestic tournaments have started up, so keep an eye out for some goofy post titles.

Until tomorrow.

*I won’t get into the fact that my world getting back to normal scares the daylights out of me.  Right now, it is all pain and emptiness.  If the pain goes, leaving only emptiness, well, that won’t be the slightest bit healthy.

He was a friend of mine.

No cricket talk today.

This morning my wife and I had to put down our old dog, Murray.

He smelled bad, and was generally kind of gross, but he was still the best dog ever.

Rest in peace, bud.

Ireland v Canada at Dublin, ICC Intercontinental Cup One-Day, 8th ODI

I am not in the office today, and therefore I am able to write a blog post about cricket….while watching cricket.   This is  real novelty around here.

Of course, as soon as I typed that, the Willow.tv feed died on me.  So – I was watching live cricket, now I am listening to the XX and waiting for the next Champions League t20 match to start up (Aukland v Somerset in Chennai Hyderabad, hat tip, Erez).

I watched the last few overs of the Trinidad and Tobago v Leicestershire match in the same tournament, and the ground was so terribly empty it almost gave me a panic attack.   I don’t know, I think it would be oddly terrifying to be playing cricket in a massively empty stadium.  It gives me vertigo just thinking about it.  But, hey, that’s me.

Honestly, though, I have zero interest in this tournament (similar to most of Hyderabad, it seems), I am just glad that there is cricket to watch as I kill a few hours this morning.

I have babbled on for 170 words about nothing.

This is what happens when there is nothing to write about.

And, unfortunately, I was not prepared to be home today, otherwise I would have prepped for a lengthier post.   Maybe done my 2011 Summer of Cricket recap, or maybe one of my promised county cricket posts, but, alas, it’s just not in me today.

I did however, google “celebrity cricket fans” and while I knew that Mick Jagger was a huge fan of cricket, I had no idea that he had supposedly snorted lines with Ian Botham in 1986 and that he regularly wakes early while on tour in the states to watch England play.

He supports Kent County Cricket Club, which puts them right up on my list of possible teams to follow.

And, it seems, he also follows Arsenal.  Good on ya, Mick.

Here he is at a match in what looks to me like maybe…1972?

Love it.

Okay.

Until tomorrow.  

Ruhuna v Trinidad & Tobago at Hyderabad, Champions League Twenty20

Interesting news out of India this morning, as the Kochi Indian Premiere League franchise (you know, the fellas in the bright orange kits) have been booted out of the IPL for failing to make good on a financial obligation in their contract.

Unfortunately, this might be a sign of things to come.  I do not foresee the league itself, or any of the major franchises having similar problems, but I think the smaller clubs are going to have a hard time surviving in the years to come.

I am not rooting for this, please do not get me wrong.  As I have mentioned over and over on this site, I like the IPL, despite the fact that Twenty20 is my least favorite form of the game, and the last thing I want is for the league to fold.  All things being equal: the IPL is good for the game. However the league really needs to look at successful leagues across the globe (Bundesliga, Major League Soccer, the National Football League, and County Cricket) to see how to best run a league financially.  You cannot just throw the best cricketers in the world out onto the pitch every day for 50 days and simply cross your fingers that people buy tickets and kits.  The league and its franchises need to be nursed and weaned and nursed again.

It’s not easy, but considering how wildly popular the sport is in India, I am sure the league will figure itself out sooner rather than later.  There is just too much money to be made.  Or, maybe, that is the problem.

Meanwhile, just up the road, there is a cracker of a test match happening in Colombo, Sri Lanka.  I feel like what has been a wonderful three match series is passing me by, simply because of the time zone it is taking place in.

Yeah, it stinks that I cannot watch it, but if at least it was happening during my waking hours, I could follow the ball by ball.

And after tomorrow, the series is over.  And the Zimbabwe-Pakistan series is over, as well.  Yeesh.

Another curse of the American cricket fan: the time zone.

This week on the pitch:  Ireland v Canada in ODIs today and tomorrow, as well as those positively silly make-up t20s between England and the West Indies.

I take it back, rain is not the real cricket killer, television is.

Oh, and the t20 Champions League qualifiers are happening this week, as well.  Mildly interesting, I guess.

Until tomorrow.

England v India at Cardiff, 5th ODI

Well, congrats to Lancashire on their first County Championship in 77 years.

What’s funny, but not “haha” funny, is that 77 years ago the world was embroiled in a financial crisis just as it is now.  Which means, of course, that it is Lancashire’s fault that I am upside down on my home.

But really, no really, congrats to Lancashire.  It is quite the achievement.  And it was fun to watch the Championship being decided in the last session of the last day of the summer.  The internet was alive with the county game yesterday.  It’s not dead yet, folks.  In fact, I think the game in all its formats and leagues is having a bit of a renaissance this summer.

Of course, after reading articles about Lancashire, I immediately wanted them to be my preferred county.  But then I remembered that that would ruin my blogging plans for the winter, so that was out the window.  Plus they play their home matches at Old Trafford, so far obvious reasons, they can never, EVER, be my team.

On the pitch, today is the last ODI between England and India at Cardiff. India are, erm, stuttering along at 3 runs an over through 7.2 after England won the toss and chose to field.

So with the County Championship over, and England’s summer international season 93 overs (at best) away from concluding, we can finally start saying goodbye to what was a really fun summer of cricket.  I had a blast blogging about it anyway.  From that awesome final day at Lord’s, to the run out that wasn’t, to the Friends Life t20, to Sangakkara’s speech…so many highlights.  Been a great summer.  Look for recap here next week.

Okay that’s it for today.  I am off to follow the above ODI, as well as Pakistan v Zimbabwe, and I need to read the bulletin on the first day of Sri Lanka v Australia.

There is always cricket.

Until tomorrow.

Leicestershire v Middlesex at Leicester, County Championship Division Two

I was unable to post yesterday, because of a project here at work that needed special attention.  But again, probably for the best, as not very much is happening in the world of cricket.

One story I found interesting was about Sangakkara’s comments on how he dislikes two test series, and I could not agree more.  Just one more reason why he is my favorite cricketer.

I know this makes me sound like the silly American who complains about draws in European sport, but I really think it is important to at least make it likely that there will be a result when you are playing a series of matches.  Otherwise, it feels completely unfulfilling, like a bad indie movie.

But there I go again, clamoring for more cricket, when just last week (or was it the week prior?) I was clamoring for the ICC to start paying attention to the amount of cricket being played by the world’s best players, as it was degrading the quality of the games being played and players were getting hurt.  And Sri Lanka, of all countries, was one of my prime examples in that post.

But why not play three tests and two less ODIs?  Oh, that’s right, television doesn’t like tests.  I forgot.

And it is going the other way, as Cricinfo in the same article pointed out that Australia’s visit to South Africa now only features two tests instead of the three that were originally planned, in order to make room for…the Twenty20 Champions League.

So not more cricket, different cricket.  That’s all I am saying.

As Sangakkara says, “Test cricket is still, to my mind, the most important form of the game out there. There’s nothing like it, there’s nothing that comes close to it. This is the only arena where you can really make your mark as a cricketer. If you are successful at Test cricket, that is all that matters I think.”

Amen, brother.

And speaking of tests, the third test between Sri Lanka and Australia starts tomorrow (or tonight on my watch).  Sri Lanka is down one-nil but can draw even with a victory.  Goodness I wish willow.tv would cover this match.  I have a feeling it is going to be a good one.

Finally today, over on Twitter I mentioned that I need to pick a county to follow, that following ALL matches is just no fun so I end up following none.  I have tried and tried to have Sussex be my team for years now and it just has not stuck.  I think because the reason I chose them was so haphazard and rushed.

(I know all of this sounds ridiculous, that you should never choose a sport team, that you should let them choose you, but I have been waiting for that to occur for years now and it just has not happened.  So this is a process I must initiate).

A few years ago, a writer for ESPN.com went through the process of choosing a Premiere League football team, you can find the article here (it is worth your time, for reals) and I plan on doing something similar for the counties, except exploring each county individually in a single post instead of one long post.  I will write about the history of the club, the ground, the pros, the cons, the celebrity fans, the famous players, the famous matches…etc.  So: look forward to that. Or not.  At the end, I will have a team to follow, hopefully.

If you are reading this, and have a county in mind for me, then let me know.

That’s it, until tomorrow.