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.

KwaZulu-Natal v South Western Districts at Durban, CSA Provincial Three-Day Challenge

I was going to write about Sussex County Cricket Club this morning, but I am going to hold off until Monday, or maybe even this weekend, as I had to leave the office early yesterday and I am playing catch up this morning.  I still wanted to write a post this morning, so I will keep it on current material, and make it short.

One thing of note: Bangladesh has been a test team for 11 years now, most recently completing a two match series against the West Indies, a series that they lost 1-0, despite the fact that they were on home soil and were playing one of the weakest West Indian test sides in a generation.

Over those eleven years, their final tally: played 71, won 3, lost 61, and drawn 7.  Not exactly a stellar record.

Now, I am not in a position where I can say something like: “they don’t belong here, they belong with the likes of Namibia and Ireland and Canada.”  I am not familiar enough with their development to make such a claim.  But three wins in 11 years?  It almost feels as though Bangladeshi cricket would be better suited if they were moved back into the Associate Wilderness.

Again, it is not my place to say, but I bet there are at least six current Associate members who could double Bangladesh’s win total within five years.

At this point, however, there really is no going back.  Bangladeshi Cricket has invested in their team (have they?) and pulling the rug out from under them now would be a major blow.
Something I do want to read and learn about is how countries go about getting “promoted” to full test status.  That would be worthwhile, I think.  That way I would stop spouting off at the mouth on subjects I know very little about.

(I was going to make a comment on how the ICC should take GDP into consideration when promoting countries, as they would be more likely to have the infrastructure to build a successful test playing side, and that Bangladesh maybe should not be promoted, considering their low GDP, in comparison to other Associates.  However, according to the IMF, Bangladesh is ranked at 57 out of 183 countries.  Top third, not bad.  Only five spots behind New Zealand, only 10 behind Pakistan, and 15 spots ahead of Sri Lanka, who is ranked 5th in the world in the test rankings.  So, yeah, I don’t know what I am talking about.)

All of the above said: I love that Bangladesh is a test nation because ESPN3 has all the rights to their home matches, so I get to watch test cricket live and with ESPN3’s top notch media player.


On the pitch: South Africa collapsed, and then Australia collapsed, and we are in a bad light delay near the end of day two.  Meanwhile, in Dubai, Pakistan put a respectable 257 for Sri Lanka to chase.  The match is only in the third over of the 2nd innings, so I am looking forward to following this one all morning.

Until next time.

India v West Indies at Kolkata, 2nd Test

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2011 County Champions: Lancashire.

The club was founded in 1864, as the American Civil War raged across the Atlantic, and played its first match a year later. They have won the County Championship nine times, most recently, of course, this past season. The last time they won it out right was 1936, during the great depression. (No, not this great depression, the other great depression.)

Despite the long drought between championship titles, the club has enjoyed a great deal of success at the one day game.

They play their home matches at (ugh) Old Trafford Cricket Ground in Manchester:

Old Trafford: via Wikipedia

The ground has hosted test matches since 1884 (the last one in 2010, England v Bangladesh) and has been the home for Lancashire since its inception.   It seats around 20,000 and is going through a major renovation as we speak.

Sachin Tendulkar knocked his first test century there in 1990, at the age of 17.

Notable players in Lancashire’s history include Ernest Tyldesley (1889-1962), who scored the most runs for the club with 34,222; and Brian Stratham (1930-2000) who took the most wickets with 1,816.  Oh, and Archie MacLaren knocked a quadruple century for the club in 1895 against Somerset.

Archie MacLaren: via Wikipedia

And, of course, last but not least, the great Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff all-rounded for the club from 1995-2000.  His only club side if you don’t count the Chennai Super Kings (which I don’t).  He played in 183 first class matches for his home county, scoring over 9,000 runs (including 15 centuries), taking 350 wickets, and making 185 catchess…all for Lancashire.  He also once hit for 38 runs in a single over against Surrey.  (6-4-4-4-4-6-6-0 and two no balls for two runs each.)

I had a very difficult time finding celebrity Lancashire fans, so I am just going to assume Noel Gallagher is a fan.  Because, you know, he is from Manchester.  Oh, and Freddie Flintoff I guess is a celebrity fan of the club, but I don’t know if he counts.

While searching, however, I did see that current Doctor Who, Matt Smith, is a Blackburn Rovers football fan.  Holy crap that is disappointing.  How could Doctor Who support that clan of knuckle-dragging Neanderthals?  Doctor Who should be an Arsenal fan.

And that, dear readers, is Lancashire.  Short and sweet.

Sources: Wikipedia, Cricinfo, and Lanchashire’s official site.


Back on the pitch, the Windies still trail India by 283 runs with 7 wickets in hand.  It’s stumps on day three.  Good fight back here from the West Indies, though the hometown team is surely still in control.

Until tomorrow: Kent.

Tasmania v South Australia at Hobart, Sheffield Shield, 11th Match

Over the last few weeks, I have let this blog slowly slip through my fingers.

I don’t mean to be so dramatic, but if you knew me, you would know that’s just how I am: dramatic.

Not only have I been putting off posting, I have been more or less ignoring the sport all together.

And I feel like I have written this post, and nothing but this post, for the last few weeks.  It’s almost as if I have run out of things to write about.

That’s right, despite the fact that the topic of this blog is a sport that has been around for 150 years, features year round competition, and is constantly amazing me with its stories and its controversies, I cannot find a topic to write about.

I mean, how many times can I write about the weather in Dhaka and a stadium in Guyana?  Not as often as I would hope, it seems.

So despite the fact that there is SO MUCH HAPPENING in cricket right now, (India v the West Indies, South Africa v Australia, Pakistan v Sri Lanka (mouth watering!), the spot fixing trial in London, not to mention domestic competitions throughout the southern hemisphere,) I need to get back to basics: the English County Game.  With sprinklings of the aforementioned tours and tournaments here and there.

This will start tomorrow with my post on the 2011 County Champions, Lancashire.  I will go over their history, their stadia, their celebrity fans, their heroes, and their villains.  And I promise to not make it a copy and paste job from their wiki page.  After Lancashire, I will write about Mick Jagger’s preferred club, Kent, followed by Sussex, and then each division 1 and maybe division 2 county cricket club.  That should last me through the winter, and maybe re-inspire this blog a little.


Back on the pitch, India is taking a 600 run lead into day three against the West Indies.  Of course, the Windies have eight wickets in hand and it is only the first innings, but it looks as though Dhoni is determined to regain his country’s number one test rating, as he put up 144 off of only 175 balls at the crease earlier today.

That is the only big international match happening right now.  The 2nd (and, sadly, final) test between South Africa and Australia starts on the 17th, and the third of five ODIs between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Dubai starts on the 18th.  I missed the tests of that series during my hiatus, unfortunately.

Okay, until tomorrow, when I bring you: Lancashire.

Oh, and also: this is my 100th post.  Better late than never, right?  RIGHT!?

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

Last night I read an article over on 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, 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.

Scotland v Netherlands at Aberdeen, 2nd ODI

I thought for sure the above match was part of the ICC’s plan for an ODI tournament for the Associates, which would run alongside the Intercontinental Cup.  But it seems it is simply just part of a Dutch tour of England and Scotland.  Hm.  The ICC just needs to come up with a plan for the Associates and stick. with. it.  Every 18 months or so it seems like a new process our tournament is being announced to slowly feed the Associates into full Member status.  It is oh so confusing.  Hopefully this latest complicated structure of matches will do the trick.

Okay, I just spent 15 minutes reading about the Intercontinental Cup, the Intercontinental Shield, the World Cricket League Division 2 and holy crap now I am even more confused.   But, wait, I just found this article over on (where else?) ESPNCricinfo – wonderfully entitled:  The Mystery Unraveled. While that post is a tad old, it does clear it up a little, I guess.

But I still have found very little about this mysterious ODI tournament for the Associates – isn’t that simply the World Cricket League, division one?

Maybe this is why the ICC tried to leave the Associates out of the 2015 World Cup.  The qualification process would be just too laborious.

Alas*, the ICC changed its mind yesterday and expanded the 2015 World Cup to 14 teams.  They probably just could have made it 11 and allowed Ireland to play, as they seemed to be more upset about the snub than anyone.  I will freely admit, however, that I don’t read a great deal about Afghani or Kenyan cricket.

(Not really “alas”, as I am happy they expanded it).

Back on the pitch: England destroyed Sri Lanka yesterday in a rain shortened ODI.  It was a good old fashioned thumping, thanks mainly to James Anderson and his four early wickets.  Swann also took three, while poor Stuart Broad was 0-32.  Down in Bridgetown, the pitch is the man of the match so far, with yesterday seeing 13 wickets in the first day’s play.  Back in England, Sussex are finally playing a County Championship match again – it feels like it has been nothing but t20 for them lately.  Unfortunately, it is showing, as they have lost five early wickets. Nash, Joyce, Wright…all gone.

Oh, and finally, while reading the early notes on the test match in Bridgetown, I learned players can earn up to one million USD for playing in Australia’s t20 tournament – also known as the Australian BIG BASH.  Which is, seriously, and excuse me, the dumbest fucking name for anything…ever.  I will take corporate sponsorship names for tournaments over that any day.  What’s next, is MLB going to rebrand itself as AMERICAN SUPER HOME RUN TOWN? Or maybe the Friends Life NOTHING BUT SIXES?

Why am I shouting?

The ESPNCricinfo commentator says it right: give me test cricket any day.

I don’t mind twenty20 cricket, but this super premiere league cash grabs just feel…gross.  And there is just one after another after another.  I guess I am on the anti-t20 bandwagon now.

But I am still excited to watch the Sri Lankan Premiere League on ESPN3.  Mostly because I like the league’s name.

I am fickle.

Until tomorrow.