Cape Cobras v Warriors at Paarl, SuperSport Series

Writing a proper “Year in Review” is the ultimate aim of my current four day weekend, of which I am only on day one.

Of course, such a post is a rather daunting affair.  Even the best cricket writers on the Internet are keeping the scopes of their reviews limited:  writing about one aspect of the game such as the rebirth of test cricket (was it ever really dead?), the emergence of a dozen new test quick bowlers, using picture slideshows, or simply discussing their best XI of 2011.

For me, in 2011, there were several highlights.

The ultimate personal cricketing highlight was of course starting this blog.  As I mentioned in a post a few days ago, writing this blog has been a real joy, and I am infinitely happy that I started it on an absolute whim right after the world cup.

Because of this blog, and because of the community of bloggers and twitterers that I sought out (great post here from The Sightscreen on social media and cricket), I have far deeper understanding of this wonderful sport, and I love the game more now than I ever thought possible.

To everyone that read, that commented, that hung out with me on Twitter: thank you. This has been a freaking terrible year, personally, but this blog has been a real light in an otherwise dark 12 months.

Also, for me, another highlight was the acquisition of   Up until May of this year, I “watched” all of my cricket using Cricinfo’s (excellent) ball by ball coverage.  I would even opine to those that would listen that cricket is the rare sport that can be enjoyed via only text, that images are not necessary for the experience.  Boy was I wrong.

Watching the first few matches of the England v Sri Lanka series changed everything for me.  I learned that cricket is not just stats; it is atmosphere, and rage, and plot-lines.   It is Kumar Sangakkara and James Anderson.  Real people, real heroes, real villains, not a series of ones and zeroes.

While the above is obvious to most, and I while I understood it intellectually before subscribing to, it really was quite a revolution for my cricket enjoying experience.

Also, a shout out to ESPN3 for increasing their cricket coverage and giving me the chance to watch my favorite test playing minnows, Bangladesh.

Next up:  Attend an actual match.

On the pitch in 2011?  Gah, an almost overwhelming amount of wonderful cricket. There was the conclusion of the Ashes in January, followed by the wildly spectacular World Cup in India, followed by a lackluster IPL.

And then it was summer, with England and India battling for number one test nation status, and another great summer in the County Championship, and there was Zimbabwe’s return to hosting test matches.

The fall and winter brought us simply fantastic test matches, in Johannesburg, in Hobart, in Melbourne, in Durban….

Highlights for me include the World Cup final, course, but the World Cup semi-final was equally as memorable, as was Ireland’s defeat of England.

The 2000th test match at Lord’s was another highlight (remember that queue on the fifth day?), as was the second test between Australia and  New Zealand.

Individually? I loved watching Dravid bat throughout the England series, and watching Zaheer just recently in Australia was eye opening for sure. Two very different personalities, but both game changers of the highest order.

Cook’s 294 at Edgbaston thrilled, as did Sangakkara’s double century in Abu Dhabi.

So many wonderful matches, so many wonderful performances.  What a year for tests, what a year for India, what a year for England (6-0-1)…what a year for cricket.

Finally, on the pitch, big ups for Sri Lanka and their famous win yesterday in Durban.  A wonderful story.  As someone tweeted, the cricket world is better with Sri Lanka in it.

Off the pitch, with a couple of exceptions, the news was not as good.  There was the ICC’s seeming disregard for the Associate Nations, first eliminating their spots from the 2015 World Cup, then putting them back, then decreasing their spots in the T20 cup down to two. Two!?

There was the spot fixing trial, of course, and far too many two test series.  And there was DRS controversy after DRS controversy after DRS controversy.  (I am very pro-technology in sport, but I even think it is best if the ICC throws the whole machine out of the window and starts again fresh.)

And there was England’s ugly behavior behind the scenes after the “run out that wasn’t.”

The last event segues nicely into some of cricket’s highlights off of the pitch: Dhoni did the right thing by letting Bell come out again. And there were the two speeches from Sangakkara and Dravid.  Even if you disagree with every word they said, the fact that current players stand up in front of their peers and make eloquent speeches on the state of the game is something worth celebrating.

Finally, off the pitch, there was The Two Chucks.  A true highlight for me, for sure.

And that, in a nutshell, was 2011.  A great year, overall, I think.  Though, personally, I am more than ready to bid it good riddance and welcome in 2012.

And on that note: tomorrow (or maybe Sunday): a proper 2012 preview.  Cricket, like humanity, needs to look the future more, starting now.

Knights v Dolphins at Bloemfontein, SuperSport Series

Well, that was that, that was the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.

I was out last night and was unable to watch any of the fourth day, but I was able to follow it on my phone and it looked as though Australia really had India’s number.

The day started with Australia already in the ascendancy, but a 43 run ninth wicket stand put them in the driver’s seat for sure, leaving India needing 292 runs to win.

If their batting clicks, of course, that is more than a doable total for Sehwag, Sachin, and Co.  Heck, it wasn’t even lunch yet on the fourth day and there was no rain in the forecast.  I even had visions of Tendulkar winning the match AND getting his 100th century with the same swing of the bat.

But then Sehwag fell after only seeing 12 balls, and as soon as that happened, you just had this feeling that this was just not going to be India’s test.

One after the other, the visiting batsmen fell to a vicious attack from the Aussie quicks, finally taking Yadav in the 48th over of Indians second innings to win the match by a healthy total of 122 runs.

For me, I can pinpoint two sessions that seemed to turn the tide for India and both involved weak Indian bowling after lunch: on the first day when Australia were cranking along at 4.55 runs an over, and on the third when Dhoni seemed absolutely unwilling to set an attacking field.  In both cases, absolutely no pressure was put on the Aussie batsmen and they just plugged along, piling on runs.  And that’s your 122 run different right there.

In fact, if not for the brilliant Zaheer, Australia could very well still be batting.  And that’s why, for me, he is Man of the Match (Pattinson was the official MotM, deservedly so.)  Zaheer though kept India in the match and, less objectively, played with a flair and an aggressiveness that made me really love him.  He also took 10 wickets while restricting Australia to 130.

Other heroes? was a hero for sure, brilliant streaming.  Except after tea, for some reason.  The stream always got dodgy after tea…

Also: Eddie Cowan, of course, and his slow but fun to watch 68 in the first innings.  Ponting Leared his way to 62, as well, taking Australia to a respectable, despite the haters, first innings total.

Yadav was expensive, but impressive, and of course all of the Aussie quicks impressed: Pattinson, Hilfenhaus, and Siddle took 19 of the 20 wickets.

Moment of the match?  Again, in a losing cause, it was the first couple of hours of India’s first innings.  Tendulkar, and Sehwag, and Dravid raged for around three hours, giving the hosts a real scare.  I had fantasies of 600 runs by lunch on day three.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be, but it was a treat to watch.

The best part of all of this?  Three are THREE more tests to come.  Next up, Monday night in Sydney.


Meanwhile, in Durban, another Boxing Day Test match is happening. Sri Lanka are taking their time, and South Africa are hanging on, but this looks like the visitors match to lose.  I think I will sign off here, and follow the match on Cricinfo, old school style.

Until next time.

Why We Write

This particular post has been banging around inside my head for a few weeks now.

Well, truthfully, it has been in me I think in one way or another for my entire life, and just in the last few years it has been bubbling near the surface, but three events over the last few weeks have finally brought it up to breathe.

I am really setting this up to be something spectacular, aren’t I?

Unfortunately, it’s really not gong to be anything, but bear with me – and apologies ahead of time because this all a ramble, I have no outline, just a series of ideas.

My wife and I talk a lot about doing something that isn’t a 9-5 eking out of an existence.  Of actually spending our few short hours on this planet doing something we love for just enough money, instead of working jobs we hate to pay mortgages. To concentrate less on things, and more on moments.

Just last week, she (my wife) tweeted a link to a blog post about how to go about getting paid to do what you love, and it really amped me up about doing something that isn’t my mind numbing, soul sucking job, that there is a path there that I can follow if I want, that will lead me out of this cookie cutter existence does not make me all that happy.  Off of the grid, in a way, but still with electricity and high speed Internet.

We know several people who do this: painters, musicians, poets.  People who have figured it out.

Then, just this past weekend, I listened to an episode of the best podcast in the world that isn’t cricket related: Jordan, Jesse, Go.  The two hosts themselves are two examples of the people I described above: self made, off the map, on the fringes, not doing the put the khakis on and go to the office and make money for someone else thing.  Jordan is an aspiring comedy writer who puts food on the table by hosting podcasts and doing commercials and writing webisodes.  Jesse started his own public radio program distribution company (for lack of a better term.)

On the most recent episode there were talking about what it takes to create your ultimate creation.  To take something and put every last ounce of yourself into it.  Make it something you are so terribly proud of.  And if you can do that, if you can find the time and the means and the idea, then, well, you have accomplished what we are all here for to begin with.

And that brings me back to this blog.  Despite the factual errors, and the lapses in posting, and the god awful typos (I am actually an above average speller), I am really quite proud of this silly little blog, and I really feel it could be the one thing that I do, that I make perfect, that I put everything into, that I sacrifice for.

And I know to everyone reading this that that will sound ridiculous.  How many cricket blogs are there out there?  Thousands?  How many of those blogs are of SERIOUS high quality?  Scores?  What do I think that I, the silly American, could do differently?  I mean, this blog was started on a whim in April, and while I think I have offered something a bit different than most cricket blogs, the writing and the opinions and the knowledge contained here at LimitedOvers are extremely, well, limited.   In scope, in humor, in ideas.

But then I think about the article that I linked to above, and I ask myself:  what gets me really excited?  Well, lots of things: Arsenal Football Club, baseball, my studies, history, music, art, progressive politics…all things I have been incredibly passionate about at one point or another.

But then I think about it a little more, and with all honesty, two things jump out:


And cricket.

The former is easy.  I mean, we all dream about traveling the world, seeing everything.  But when I fantasize about travel, I start to get really, really amped up about the prospect of setting foot on as many continents as possible.

I dream of London, and Bangladesh, and Zimbabwe, and India, and Tasmania, and South Africa and Dubai, and wait a minute: those are all related, aren’t they?  But how? Oh, that’s right: those are all places where they play test cricket.

This brings me to third recent event that inspired this post: the Boxing Day Test between Australia and India at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

I have enjoyed watching this match so intensely, it almost shocks me a little.  But then I remember that I have always felt this way about cricket, ever since I “discovered” the sport back in 2007, much in the same way that Ben Franklin discovered lightning, or Newton gravity.

It gives me a thrill that I cannot explain, and that hasn’t gone away in the four (almost five) years since I first started reading about the sport.

And then I think: oh, to be in Melbourne for this match. To be at the MCG with 70,000 other cricket lovers.  And then I think, why do I have to be there as a fan?  Why can’t I be there as a writer?   Isn’t that the perfect marriage between the passions discussed above?  This blog, travel, and cricket?

I think about traveling from Melbourne to the U.A.E. to cover Pakistan-England, and then to Mumbai for the IPL, and then back to London for County Cricket.

But then I come stumbling back to earth.  I mean, isn’t that every cricket fan’s dream?  And who the fuck am I to think that I could be the one that does that for a living?

I am thirty-five years old, I am an American, I am newer to the sport than seven year olds in Islamabad who live, eat, and drink the game.

But then I think, why the fuck not?

It is what excites me, it is what I love to do, so why should I not at the very least give it a try.

I look at my wife, who out of nowhere started playing her songs in front of people, and then recorded an album, and now is recording another – and there is my inspiration! Right in front of me!

And I look at Jarrod Kimber, who admits that his whole cricketing empire began with a blog, which led to a book, and a column and a videocast and a podcast and now HE is in Melbourne, in the press box, drooling over Eddie Cowan and writing about cricket.

So I ask again: why not me?

And if the answer to that question is: no reason why not, then the next question is simply: what next?

Continue writing, I guess.  Make a real effort to do turn this into, well, a part time job that does not pay me.

In the above podcast, Jordan talks about how guys like Ryan Gosling and James Franco can afford to be Renaissance men because they will never, ever have to worry again about putting food on the table, which frees them up for learning the lute and getting multiple doctorates.   And, so, I guess I need to figure out what I am wasting my time on, and stop doing those things.  Simple, enough, eh?  But that’s really about it, for everyone who wants to do something: figure out what’s really important.

Also, maybe Conan said it best: “Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”

Anyway, apologies for the all too personal nature of what is supposedly a silly little cricket blog, but hopefully you will all read this and we can all become full time cricket bloggers together and talk about the sport we love over coffee in Kolkata.

Until next time, I am going to watch this test match.

South Africa v Sri Lanka at Durban, 2nd Test

Just a few notes from last night’s test match:

1. I was able to watch the final 60 or so overs of the day.  I missed the first two wickets, but I saw Ponting’s 50, and Cowan’s 50, and the two wickets that weren’t, and the two wickets that were.

2.  Regarding the above commentary:  The wicket’s of both Cowan and Hussey would surely have been over-turned if a review system was in place.  Yes, I know, it is a flawed technology, but it is better than nothing.  Those two wickets changed the entire day and turned the match in India’s favor, and it is really unfortunate that both decisions were wrong.

Further, I think not having DRS available puts more pressure on the umpires, not less as some would suggest.  And I believe that that added pressure is a big reason behind why both calls were flubbed.

The technology exists, and for the flaws in it to be ironed out, the technology needs to get used on stages such as the Boxing Day test match at the MCG.

At the end of the day, Indian, Australian, or neutral, you have to feel for Eddie Cowan.  He played a marvelous debut innings, and he should still be out there batting.

3.  I mentioned in a post a few days ago that “three magical deliveries out of nowhere will change everything” – or something like that.  And that is exactly what happened last night.  The wickets of Ponting, Clarke, and Hussey were taken with just wonderful attacking balls.  And whether or not the decisions would have been overturned by DRS does not diminish the quality of those deliveries.

Zaheer Kahn really is a special bowler.  The only real match changer out there for India, and they are lucky to have him.

That is not to discount the performance of his fellow fast bowler, Umesh Yadav, who took three for 96, but Kahn is just simply a step ahead of him, skill wise.  For now, anyway.

4.  For the first 25 or so overs last night,’s quality was impeccable.  After tea, unfortunately, the quality started to decrease, but before that it was just lovely.  Hopefully it was a sign of things to come.

5.  During the match last night, there were a few promos for the KFC Big Bash League.  The juxtaposition of that circus to a wonderful test match was impossible not to notice.  BBL is all noise, signifying nothing; while the test match was of the highest quality, and was operating on multiple levels.

As I have said before, I truly believe there is room for both forms, and I understand that money-printing domestic competitions such as the BBL have to exist, for financial reasons, but gah the BBL makes me a little ashamed to be a cricket fan.

6.  Twitter is a real hoot during big matches.  At one point, nine of the ten trending topics in India were related to the Boxing Day test match.

7.   I am going to start writing down ideas for blog posts.  I thought of one yesterday while writing my match preview but now I cannot remember what it was and it is DRIVING ME CRAZY.

8.  I did not watch a single ball of South Africa v Sri Lanka.  Maybe tomorrow.

9.  Only one over was lost yesterday due to rain.


A cynic could even attribute that lost over to Indian’s notoriously low over rates instead of Mother Nature, but I am not a cynic.

10.  70,000 people at the MCG yesterday.  And my rough estimate says that 1/3 of them were India supporters.  So much for home-field advantage.

11.  During the first hour or so of the second session, the Aussies were cranking along at 4.55 runs per over.  That, for me, is the story of the match so far.  India’s bowlers were very poor after lunch and if not for Kahn’s heroics and the two dodgy decisions, the visitors would be in a whole lot of trouble.

12.  Day 2 begins in five hours and 25 minutes.

13.  Until next time.

Australia v India at Melbourne, 1st Test

Writing a proper test match report is a skill that is a little bit beyond my pay grade.  It takes a deft touch that I simply do not have, not yet anyway.  You want me to sum up 30 hours worth of play in 1,000 words – are you insane?  I will leave that for the professionals.

(Speaking of which, are we going to get more songs during this series?  I sure hope so.)

And, I guess, writing a proper match preview is another task that is best handled by an expert.

That said:  here is what I have to say about the upcoming Boxing Day test match.

Most, if not all, of the pundits I have read over the last week have concentrated on the weaknesses and inherent flaws of both Australia and India (primarily their batting and their bowling, respectively.)  Now, I agree to some degree that those flaws are the story of the series that is worth telling right now, and the opposing weaknesses might make for four intruiging games, but I am a glass-is-half-full guy at heart, and prefer instead to on positives.

Positive #1:

The weather.  Several different weather sites have confirmed for me that we are to see perfect cricketing conditions over the next five days.  Dry (!!!), sunny, highs in the 70s, lows in the 50s (Fahrenheit.)  If the two teams can make it through the first match without losing a single over, then the most important people win: the fans.

Positive #2:

We all get to see Sehwag, Dravid, and Tendulkar et al, bat on a perfect pitch, in the sunshine, in a test match.  These are the best batsmen in a generation, if not ever. If that does not get you a wee bit excited, then I don’t know what to tell you.  Of course, Dravid and Sachin do not really have a history of magical performances at the MCG, but Sehwag did throw up a double century in his first and only Test appearance in Melbourne.

And I honestly believe with all of my heart that Sachin will get his 100th 100 during this match.  Bank on it, in fact.  Another positive.

Positive #3:

On a more statistical note, we are pretty likely to get an outcome of the first match, as a Test match at the MCG has not ended in a draw in 14 years.

India have won two test matches in Melbourne, lost seven, and drawn one.  Which, really, is not a terrible record.  Winning two tests in Australia is never anything to sneeze at.  And considering there penchant for losing the first test of an overseas series, I think having the first match at a ground that has been successful for them bodes well for the Indians.

Australia have won 58 of the 103 test they have hosted at the MCG, which is not all that convincing, really.  But they will be home, with a big crowd behind them, and I think they will feed off of that a bit.  And considering their recent implosions, both on Boxing Days of late as well as against New Zealand and South Africa, I think the Aussies might be due for a good performance.

Positive #4:

The match will be live on  I hope, HOPE, to be able to watch at least a bit of the first day’s play, but I am not getting those hopes too high.  It is Christmas after all.

Positive #5:

Eddie Cowan.  And Australia’s young seamers.

Positive #6:

Twitter.  @limitedovers.  Hashtag: #ausvind

Positive #7:

The MCG:

And that’s what I have for you today.  There is a lot more to be excited about, of course, but like I said, it’s Christmas.

Happy Christmas, readers, hopefully I will see you all later tonight.

Baroda v Bengal at Vadodara, Ranji Trophy Elite

Today is my last work day before the Christmas holiday, and I won’t be returning until the day after Boxing Day.  I am looking forward to some time off, as well as some time to write, and to watch cricket – and there will be plenty of cricket to watch:

The Boxing Day test between Australia and India at the MCG is number one on the list of must watch matches.  The first ball might be on the morning of the 26th in Melbourne, but it will the evening of Christmas day here in Minneapolis.  My family is getting a bit of a late start on festivities this year, so hopefully I will be able to rush out and get home in time to watch.  But if dinner goes late, and Australia wins the toss and elects to have a bat, and I miss Eddie Cowan’s first test innings, well, my Christmas will be ruined.

Here is a fun article on Mr. Cowan from Mr. Cricket With Balls.

I am excited to see Australia’s young bowlers again, and I am excited to possibly see Sachin’s 100th 100, and I am excited to see if what happens if both teams collapse on the last day of the test – will the universe explode around them like a dying star, like when a person meets themselves from a different dimension on Doctor Who?

Only one way to find out.

Also on Boxing Day, with the first ball actually on Boxing Day here in the states, is the second test between South Africa and Sri Lanka.  Sure, it is not the marquee match of the two, but South Africa is the third best test nation on the planet right now, and Sri Lanka, while struggling, has some exciting young players to watch.  Hopefully, Sri Lanka can make a match of this one.

Oh, and the best part: both matches are available live on Willow.Tv.

It’s funny, test cricket.  The whole cricket loving world will pause and pay attention to the Australia-India test starting Sunday night.  Prime time here in the states, but morning in Australia, late evening in England, middle of the night in India.  At around lunch, England will go to bed, as India wakes up, and sees the scores.  Over five days (hopefully, weather permitting), this cycle will continue.  Five days, a work week, watching 22 men play out one of the greatest dramas in sport. At this point, we like to think we know who the heroes will be…the villains, the goats…but no one really knows for sure, which is why we will all watch, as much as we can, to see the plotlines develop, the heroes emerge from the pack.  It will at first feel a little slow, but then you will blink and there will be a 100 partnership, and the batting side will have the momentum, only to have it shattered by three magical deliveries from nowhere, and the batters will build again, only to be destroyed again.  And the pitch will change as the days progress, as it is a player in this too.  The G’s pitch is known to provide an even playing field for both bat and ball, but will it continue to do so? Will it favor India’s spin?  Will it swing for Australia instead?  And lest we forget that the match is taking place at one of cricket’s greatest stages: The Melbourne Cricket Ground:

It seats 100,000 people, it has hosted test matches since 1877, and the ghosts of almost 134 years worth of cricket haunt its outfield.

In summation: I am looking forward to this one.  As are two billion other folks.  See ya’ll on twitter.

Hobart Hurricanes v Sydney Sixers at Hobart, Big Bash League

Writing about each of the 18 counties that form the current County Championship in England and Wales has honestly been a real joy.  Not only I have learned a great deal about the English domestic game, but it has allowed me to churn out blog posts like never before, as choosing a topic to write about has been a constant struggle here at Limited Overs.

I am hoping against hope that no longer having counties to write about does not kill my recent prolificacy.  (Holy cow that’s a word!)

Now, as I have gone through the counties one by one, I kept thinking to myself: who exactly has won all of the County titles?  No less than three teams have won exactly zero (I had this wrong in a previous post, unfortunately), while five more clubs have won three trophies or less.

Sure, Middlesex has won 10, and Surrey 18, but something was not quite right – the official tournament has been around since 1890, that’s 121 years!

It just took me 17 posts to solve the mystery:

Ladies and Gentleman, Yorkshire County County Cricket Club, who were founded in 1875 and made their first class debut in 1882, have won 30 titles:

1893, 1896, 1898, 1900, 1901, 1902, 1905, 1908, 1912, 1919, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1935, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1946, 1959, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1966, 1967, 1968, and 2001.

Some context?  Sure:

The Yankees, of course, have 27 titles, the most by a sports franchise in North America, the Montreal Canadiens have won 24 Stanley Cups, to finish a close second.

In Europe, Real Madrid has won 31 La Liga titles, while Glasgow Rangers have won the Scottish League a jaw dropping 53 times – but those two don’t really count as there are only two teams in each of those leagues.

Liverpool and Manchester United have each won the first division in English Football 19 times, which I honestly think is more impressive than the accomplishments of Rangers and Madrid.

So, yeah, Yorkshire’s 30 titles is not an obscene number in sport, and I bet the Yankees will catch them sooner rather than later, but it is still pretty damn impressive.

Interestingly enough, however, Yorkshire have only won five one day cups, most recently the Friend’s Provident 40 in 2002.

Their home ground is Headingley, of course, a test cricket ground located in the city of Leeds:

The ground has been Yorkshire’s home since 1891, but they have actually hosted a great many first class matches at three other grounds: Bramall Lane in Sheffield (391 first class matches), Park Avenue in Bradford (306 first class matches), and North Marine Road in Scarborough (233 first class matches.)

Considering their success, Yorkshire have been rather nomadic, having hosted matches in all formats at 23 different grounds.

Headingley was purchased by the club in 2005 and recent renovations have ensured that it will continue to host test matches and Elton John concerts for years to come.

Oh, and of course, Headingley was the site of the one of the most famous comebacks in test cricket history, during the 1981 Ashes. England were forced to follow-on yet still beat Australia by 18 runs, only the second time a team has comeback to win in a test match after being forced to follow-on.

For my American readers: the follow-on:  “a situation where the team that bats second is forced to take its second batting innings immediately after its first, because the team was not able to get close enough (within 200 runs for a five-day match) to the score achieved by the first team batting in the first innings. It is applicable only in the longer (more traditional) two-innings-each match.”

Thanks for everything, Wikipedia, I mean it.

And just for fun, let’s post this again, too:

I love the Internet.

Notable players?  Yeesh, honestly too many to count.

Martin Hawke, who was a nobleman and known as Lord Hawke, captained the side to eight of their 30 titles, while Brian Sellers wore the armband for six Yorkshire Championships.

Here’s a drawing of the former, first published by Vanity Fair in 1892:

Lord Hawke, the 7th Baron Hawke of Towton:  a Cricketer.

And lest we forget:

Most first class runs:  Herbert Sutcliffe with 38,558.

Most first class wickets:  Wilfred Rhodes with 3,597.

Rhodes was the first Englishman to complete the double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in test matches.

That’s him on the right, with Yorkshire teammates Schofield Haigh and George Hirst in 1905.

And that’s it, that’s Yorkshire.  And that’s also all eighteen English and Welsh cricket playing counties.

I hoped you enjoyed reading about them as much as I enjoyed writing about them.

Back on the pitch: pretty damn quiet.

Until next time.

Bangladesh v Pakistan at Dhaka, Pakistan tour of Bangladesh

I used to put Worcestershire sauce on my eggs.  This was years ago.  Worcestershire sauce AND ketchup.  Those days are over now, of course, and in fact no one at any age should really be eating that much salt, but when I was a teenager it was one of my favorite weekend meals.

And the useless anecdote above brings us to today’s County: Worcestershire.

(These posts are becoming so entirely formulaic, and for that I do apologize to my loyal reader.)

Formed:  1865.  First class debut: 1899.  Admitted to the Championship:  same year.

The club has won five County titles.  The first in 1964, 99 years after they formed, but their fans did not have to wait nearly as long for their second title, as they won it again the very next season.

They won a third in 1974, and then went back to back again in 1988 and 1989.   The club also won back to back Sunday Leagues in 1987 and 1988.

Since then, however, the team has fallen on hard times, with only a handful of one day wins to sate its faithful, the most recent being a Pro40 title in 2007.  Looking over their current roster speaks volumes, as they employ only three players with international caps on their resume, and I have not heard of any of them.

The club plays its home matches at the New Road, and the ground has been their home since 1896.

The second picture looks like just a lovely to spend the day, eh?

As I have been writing this, and while look at pictures of New Road, I briefly entertained the idea of choosing this as my club to support (that is the ultimate goal of this entire exercise).  I like their name, I love their quaint little ground, and I like their understated nature.   Worcester, the city, while not really near anything, has the English country village vibe that I think I could get on board with…but I am starting to think that I really need to choose a London based team, as I want it to be at least mildly easy to attend a match when I am in England again.

(While reading about Worcester, I learned that Worcestershire sauce was actually invented there, by two chemists, and has been manufactured at a plant located in the county since 1897, one year after the opening of the New Road ground.  A banner couple of years for Worcesterians.)

(The original brand was purchased by Heinz in 2005.  I don’t know about you, but I find the stranglehold that Heinz has on the condiment market really annoying.)

(I digress.)

During the two different golden ages of the club, in the mid-sixties and the late eighties, the club featured some real cricketing heavyweights: Don Kenyon (34,490 first class runs for the club, the most in its history), and Norman Gifford (1,615 wickets, the second most in the club’s history (Reg Parks had the most with 2,143)) in the former period and the late Graham Dilley and Ian Botham in the latter.

Indian World Cup winning captain, Kapil Dev, he of the most wonderful moustache, also played for the club briefly in the mid-eighties.

And, hey, that’s Worcestershire County Cricket Club.  17 down, one to go.  Hopefully I will have time tomorrow, and will spend less time writing about condiments and more time writing about cricket.

Back on the pitch: Sri Lanka were bowled out on day three by South Africa, totally ruining my plans to watch cricket all morning both yesterday and today.  Further, it looks like there is fog in Dhaka delaying the start of the third day’s play between Bangladesh and Pakistan.   (It is 54 degrees in the capital city this morning, which I assume is really freaking cold for that part of the world.)

Until next time.

Griqualand West v Namibia at Kimberley, CSA Provincial Three-Day Challenge

I was planning on writing this post with the sounds of South Africa v Sri Lanka in the background, but shoot, the match is already over, so its Fulham v Bolton instead.  What is wrong with Sri Lanka cricket?  A post for another day, I guess.

Warwickshire County Club, while not nearly as successful as our friends Surrey, have been able to raise the County Championship trophy on a handful of occasions:  1911, 1951, 1972, 1994, 1995, and 2004.

Based in Birmingham, the club was formed in 1882, made its first class debut in 1894, and was admitted to the Championship in 1895 (a full year before the first Summer Olympics in the modern era, for those interested in a wee bit of context.)

They’ve also won 11 one day titles:  five Pro40s, four Sunday Leagues, and two Benson and Hedges.

(I still cannot get over the fact that a cigarette manufacturer was the lead sponsor for an athletic competition for like 30 years.  Didn’t anyone question this when the deal was signed?  I know times were different, and that cricket was not alone in this regard, (professional tennis and cigarettes have had a long and storied relationship, for instance, a relationship that just recently ended, it seems) but the surgeon general’s report came out in, what, like 1960?  It’s all a little gross, actually.

Say what you will about the big four sports in America, but at least they haven’t used tobacco peddlers as their tournament sponsors…imagine the Marlboro Light Super Bowl…

The Premiere League has also stayed away from using cigarettes as a sponsor, but now that I think of it, big banks like Barclay’s have probably done more harm to the world than Joe Camel…and Major League Baseball has maybe not actively promoted the use of chewing tobacco, but they certainly have glorified it…and all sports surely don’t think twice when it comes to taking money from alcohol manufacturers…

Okay what is this blog about?

Oh, right, cricket.

The Ground

Edgbaston: Lovely:

The ground was established the same year as Warwickshire and has been their home ever since.  It seats 25,000, the second highest capacity cricket ground in England, and is widely considered to be one of the nicest grounds in the country.

As seems to be the case for many  cricket stadiums in England, it recently went through a major renovation with an entirely new stand built in 2010, which required the demolition of parts of the ground that had been in place since the 1890s.  I am all for progress, mind you, and I know cricket clubs are businesses that need to compete with forms of entertainment not even imagined 20 years ago, but hopefully they also understand that their long and storied history is part of their equity, part of their selling point…it’s not all corporate boxes and Fosters.

Finally, as you know, rain is a big top of discussion here at Limited Overs, and Edgbaston, interestingly enough, had the fewest minutes of play disrupted by rain between 1979 and 1988, with 90.  (Old Trafford had the most: with 480. Ouch.)

Wikipedia’s source for the above stat was this book:  Rain Stops Play.  Looks like an interesting read!

Notable Players

Warwickshire’s greatest all rounder was (and still is) Frank Foster.  He captained the club during its first County Championship winning season (1911).   However, he only played in 159 first class matches for the club, as a motorcycle accident while on military duty during World War One prematurely ended his career when he was only 25 years old.   During his far too short career for the club, he did take 717 wickets and scored 6,548 runs.

Brian Lara is perhaps Warwickshire’s most famous player, helping the team to its back to back titles in 1994 and 1995, as well as several one day titles (they even won a rare treble in 1994.)

The most first class runs?  Dennis Amiss (35,146).  Wickets?  Eric Hollies (2,201).   The latter has a stand named after him at Edgbaston, and based on his wiki page, he seems like a great guy to grab some pints with.

These days, the club features internationals such as Ian Bell, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, and Chris Woakes.

Oh, and of course, the incomparable Jonathan Trott is a Warwickshire Bear, as well.

Hooray for Warwickshire!

Only two counties left to write about, tomorrow: Worcestershire, and then Monday, the mystery is solved.  And I mean SOLVED.

Bengal v Delhi at Kolkata, Ranji Trophy Elite

Okay, now we are starting to get somewhere.

Based in London, and therefore a key rival of Middlesex, Surrey County Cricket Club was formed in 1845, made its first class debut in 1864, was admitted to the modern day championship in 1890 (its inaugural season), and won outright County Championships in 1890, 1891, 1892, 1894, 1895, 1899, 1914, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958 (that’s seven in a row, for those counting at home), 1971, 1999, 2000, and 2002.  18 titles to Middlesex’s 12.

The club has also won five one-day competitions, most recently the brand new Clydesdale Bank 40 in 2011.

Those seven titles in a row during the 1950s are truly an amazing feat, and deserves a bit of further exploration:

In the NFL, no team has won more than two consecutive Super Bowls.  Again, however, the competition as we know it has not existed for all that long, relatively speaking.   The Green Bay Packers did win three straight NFL titles between 1929 and 1931.

Major League Baseball?  Again, no team really comes close. The Yankees won a jaw dropping five in a row, starting in 1949.  That is nothing to sneeze out, especially considering it was during a golden age of baseball, but it still falls three short of Surrey CCC’s eight.

In the National Hockey League, the Montreal Canadiens also won five in a row between 1956 and 1960 (but think there were only like six teams in the league at the time), while in English Football (both pre-Premiere League and post-Premiere League) no team has won more than three consecutive first division. (I actually find that a bit shocking.)

In the NBA, however?  Yep, that’s right, the Boston Celtics won eight in a row starting in 1959 (wow, the 50s were a utopia for dynasty fans.)  The Celtics actually 11 titles in 13 years which really makes it slightly more impressive than Surrey accomplishment, but I am not sure of the quality of the league in that period, as the NBA as we know had only been around for eight seasons when Boston’s run began, so I am giving the edge here to Surrey.

The Ground

Surrey has played the vast majority of its home matches at The Oval, in Kennington:

It has been their home since 1845, the club’s entire history.  It seats 23,500, and is an almost guaranteed stop for any test team touring England.

The ground went through a massive renovation in 2005, which included the construction of the OCS stand seen in the middle picture above.

It regularly hosted football matches in the late 19th century, and was actually the host of the first ever international football match (England v Scotland in 1870).  It even hosted FA Cup finals for 20 straight seasons from 1872 through 1892.

Regrettably, however, it is now known as the Kia Oval. Le Sigh. Somewhere, David Foster Wallace is grinning.

Notable Players

Stuart Surridge was the club captain for five of the seven consecutive titles, but Wikipedia, in a rare show of subjectivity, gives credit instead to the cricketers playing beneath him, rather than to the captain.   The same entry did point out that he was a defensive minded captain, that his key philosophy was that “catches won matches”.  I think a lot of current cricket teams could be well served by that simple strategy.

Jack Hobbs scored the most first class runs for the club, with 43,554 from 1905-1934.  Tom Richardson took the most first class wickets, despite only playing for the club for 12 years (1892-1904).

In fact, in just four seasons, Richardson took 1,005 wickets, and along with Hobbs, was chosen by the Wisden Cricketer as one of the “Six Giants of the Wisden Century”.

The club’s current squad features a who’s who of English cricket: Kevin Pietersen, Jade Dernbach, and Chris Tremlett.

In so many words: that’s Surrey County Cricket Club.

And I am really starting to look forward to the County Season…


On the pitch: Not a whole lot going on.  The first test between South Africa and Sri Lanka starts tomorrow, which means I will have a test to follow here at the office: good news.  Also, the second test between Bangladesh and Pakistan starts on the 17th and will again be live on ESPN3.

Meanwhile, I will just wait with bated breath for the Boxing Day test at the MCG.

Also, today, on the Internet: Dravid calls for the ICC to explore day-night tests.  Worth a read.

Until next time.