Kochi Tuskers Kerala v Chennai Super Kings at Kochi, Indian Premiere League

There is not, truthfully, a whole lot going on today in the world of cricket.  I was thinking about writing a blog on Saturday, mostly to discuss Sachin’s maiden T20 century, and even more importantly, Kochi’s impressive chase of Mumbai’s 182.   And now I am wishing I had, for two reasons:  1.  The moment is gone, I cannot write about it now with any passion and 2. It would have given me an excuse for phoning in today’s post.

As seen above, Kochi do play again today, so at the very least I will have a match to follow as I seep my way though the day.

In other news, well, Sri Lanka picked their captain for the summer series in England.  And while that really is neither here nor there, it does get me at least a little more excited for what should be a glorious summer of cricket in England.  County Cricket, plus tours of the country by both Sri Lanka and India.  Hopefully, both series will be memorable ones, as memorable as India’s lovely spell in England in 2007.

Finally, it seems the boys over at the Wisden Cricketer have started a new website,  supposedly a “cricinfo for white people English cricket”.   Seriously, though, it boasts several of my favorite cricket writers and what seems to be (so far) decent coverage of the County game.  I am looking forward to seeing how it develops.

And, that’s that for today.

Rajasthan Royals v Kolkata Knight Riders at Jaipur, Indian Premiere League

There we go with those names again.

And I realize that it is a “tradition” in Twenty20 cricket to have nicknames (Sussex Sharks, in England, for example), but I still do not care for it.

Many in the (especially) British press see the IPL as the deconstruction of cricket – the beginning of the end for the sport.  While that might be the case, I think the nicknames used during Twenty20 are the real problem.

(Not really).

There are quite a few real problems in the sport.  From the continuing shortening of the game, to match fixing, to TV and sponsors acting as dictators, to Ireland and the Dutch being left out of the 2015 World Cup.   Now I am not well versed enough in the sport to tell anyone how to fix these problems, or if these problems even need fixing, or if they are problems to begin with.  However,  to me, the game, despite its immense popularity in SE Asia, appears to be sick.   If only I knew the cure.

On the pitch, Kolkata looks to be successfully chasing down Rajasthan, needing just 30 from 30; County Cricket Championship matches are in the middle of day 2; and the Mumbai Indians are back on the pitch in about 55 minutes (do they play everyday?).

Also, in the ICC World Cricket Division Two, UAE defeated Nambia in the final by five wickets.  I do not know a great deal about this tournament, and the coverage on the Internet is lacking, but it is interesting to see what nations have been deemed as “division 2” by the ICC.  Nambia, Papua New Guinea, Uganda…not exactly world powerhouses when it comes to sporting endeavors.  Maybe the sport is sick because the ICC is not reaching out to countries with the financial acumen to really embrace the sport long term?

Well, that’s a full lid.  Your cricket photo of the day, follows:

Gautam Gambhir heaves over the leg side, Rajasthan Royals v Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL 2011, Jaipur, April 15, 2011

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

Hey, County Cricket!  I love county cricket, especially the classic County Championship test series.  Weekday mornings at English cricket grounds; 22 clad in all white contesting an ancient game over four days.

I was able to visit Lord’s in March.  Unfortunately, there was no cricket being played, of course, but it was lovely just to see it up close.  I was even able to catch a glimpse of the pitch.  I wanted to see if we were able to get in and have a simple look around, but it was not in the cards.

Worcestershire v Yorkshire, County Championship, Division One, New Road, April 8, 2011 (c) PA Photos

Well, that’s not Lord’s, but that’s pretty much what I am getting at.

Such a departure from the bacchanalian scenes associated with the Indian Premiere League.  It’s almost as if they are two different sports. Which in many respects, they are.  Comparing the long form version of the game to Twenty20 is like comparing a horse to a toad.  Both have legs, and are alive, but that is really where the similarities end.  However, both are relevant and interesting and important. And both are Cricket.

Last night I was able to watch a little bit of the 3rd ODI between Bangladesh and Australia – enough to see Watson and Ponting’s “belligerent” innings.  I think they hit their 100 partnership in about 14 minutes.  How did this team crash out of the World Cup just a few short weeks ago?

Also, in the international scene, the West Indies-Pakistan series starts up soon.  Which is nice because it is in my time zone (or close to it), unfortunately it is not going to be carried on ESPN3 or even on willow.tv.

Finally, the IPL, like a virus scan running in the background of your computer, quietly hums along, with Deccan Chargers v Bangalore Challengers at Hyderabad starting in about 45 minutes.  The tournament has yet to really kick off, which makes me think they should have taken six weeks after the world cup before starting it up.  Heck, Yuvraj Singh is busy car shopping in Mumbai, how concerned could he be with the IPL?

Yuvraj Singh and Ravi Shastri pose in front of a car at a function in Mumbai © AFP

And, well, crap, I hate to turn this into a Cricket version of Tom and Lorenzo, but you have to love Yuvraj’s outfit.  Quietly fashionable and casual.  A perfect combination of sport and hip – I love it.  Also, love that watch.


Bangladesh v Australia at Mirpur, 3rd ODI

Honestly, I am not sure if I should be saying “at Mirpur” or “at Dhaka”.  It appears that Dhaka is a city outside of Mipur, where the actual stadium is, but Cricinfo waffles on where the match actually, offically…is.

Which brings up the blog post titles: these are not meant to be match reports, or anything remotely similar to match reports.  I just love the fact that there is cricket going on every day of the year (at some level) on every corner of the world, and so each day’s post will bring a new cricket match to think about.  Some days it will be England v India at Lord’s, and some days it will be two Zimbabwean club teams playing 30 over cricket on some shit ground a thousand miles from anything.

Yesterday Malinga did not disappoint, bowling Agarwal for a duck…with the very first ball.  Meanwhile Tendulkar continued his fine run of form with 55 off of 46 to lead Mumbai to a nine wicket win.

Meanwhile, MS Dhoni returned to the pitch for the first time since captaining India to the promised land, as his Chennai side took on Kings XI in the IPL.  However it looks like Kings XI is going to spoil the party, as they require only another 21 off of 18 balls to seal the win.

Speaking of Chennai and Kings XI: what is with the names of these teams?  I am sure it is simply Indian sporting tradition, and I am coming off as an idiot insular American, but goodness me were the teams named by schoolchildren?

For the uninitiated, their full names are Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab.  The former is far worse than the latter, but they are both poor names for clubs.  Say what you will about football, but they know (knew?) how to name their squads:  Arsenal, Manchester United, Real Madrid, AC Milan.  Now those are proper names for clubs.  Heck, even Major League Baseball gets it right here and there. The NHL has its moments, too.

I also heard some complaints yesterday on the kits in the IPL.  Some are uglier than others, but some are sublimely beautiful, like Kings XI, for instance.

Until tomorrow.

Paul Valthaty scored the first century in IPL 2011 to lead Kings XI Punjab's chase of 188 in Mohali
Paul Valthaty scored the first century in IPL 2011 to lead Kings XI Punjab's chase of 188 in Mohali © AFP

Rajasthan Royals v Delhi Daredevils at Jaipur, Indian Premiere League

Ashok Dinda bowled Amit Paunikar after Rajasthan Royals had got off to a brisk start in their chase of 152 in Jaipur © AFP

I love cricket photography.  I love it so much.  Someday, I will learn why.  Maybe it is the uniforms, maybe it is the green, maybe it is how far the players are from the crowd.

In the real world of cricket, the IPL continues to grind along.  Supposedly, the stadiums are half full and the crowds lackluster – according to some India has been to the cricket mountaintop and is taking a break from the sport they love.

The cricket so far has been, well, okay.  No barnburners to speak of quite yet, but it is still early days.

In about an hour, the Mumbai Indians play.  They are the closest thing in the IPL I have to a favorite squad.  Mostly because I could watch Malinga bowl all day, every day.  Remember before when I said it was great to follow cricket matches via text only descriptions?  Well, scratch that when it comes to Malinga.

The dead rubber between Bangladesh and the Aussies is tomorrow – live on ESPN3…at 3:40 in the morning.  I might be able to catch a couple overs in the morning before work.  We shall see.

Kolkata Knight Riders v Deccan Chargers at Kolkata, Indian Premiere League

I stayed up for about 90 minutes of last night’s match before having to hit the sack.   There were a couple well taken wickets by the Aussies, but I missed Watson’s “brutal” innings in the chase.

Cricket writing uses such violent imagery for such a pastoral sport.

And now I am at the office, following the IPL matches on cricinfo‘s wonderful live match coverage.  This is how I “watch” the majority of my cricket.  It’s funny how the sport lends itself so comfortably to text only viewing.  And the live match commentary provided by the site is full of humor, knowledge, and passion.  Also: I think it might be my dream job.

Two IPL matches today, should be a lovely day of 20 overs cricket.

Bangladesh v Australia at Dhaka, 2nd ODI

This match is on ESPN3 tonight at 10:20pm Central.

Now, of course, both squads (and their respective nations) will be suffering a bit of a World Cup hangover, so I am not expecting much excitement.  However Australia is always fun to watch, despite their recent struggles.

And really: cricket for free on the Internet in USA really is, ahem, priceless.   Therefore I will watch and it will be awesome.

Meanwhile, the IPL and County Cricket started up fresh campaigns this weekend.  It is difficult for these tournaments to really strike a chord with me, as I really do not have a dog in the hunt.  I just like to see fun cricket and great players and unforgettable performances.  For that reason, international cricket is a bit more of an interest – however you really need to say that the IPL crowds (and the 20 over format) really make it a tad more interesting than, well, an ODI in Bangladesh.

The above will be a constant theme:  how to stay interested without having a team (or country) to cheer for?  And if I have to choose: then how?