England Lions v Sri Lankans at Derby, Tour Match

Honestly, I never much understood these tour matches.  I mean, how are the England Lions different than just plain old England?  Or Sri Lankans different than simply Sri Lanka? Yes, I realize the squads are very different, and that the matches are simply a tune up for the traveling country, but why the odd names for the squads?  How about just calling them an exhibition?

Insular American Alert.  Insular American Alert.

In County Cricket, Sussex bowled Somerset out for a paltry 213, then proceeded to fumble eight wickets themselves over 38 overs.  113/8 right now and at risk of a follow on.   There are other matches happening of course, but goodness writing a bulletin for all of County Cricket is something I just not prepared to do.   For now, I will concentrate on Sussex unless other, “bigger” matches are happening.

Over in the IPL, Kolkata looks to seal a playoff spot against Pune.  First ball in 34 minutes.  Should be a fun one.

Finally this morning, great article last night on the evolution of the game thanks mainly to the helmet.  The sport must truly be unrecognizable to those that have followed it through both eras.

Until tomorrow.

Lancashire v Yorkshire at Liverpool, County Championship Division One

This blog is helping me fall in love with cricket all over again.

I am not sure if it is just because it is forcing to pay more attention to the game, or if it is providing me with a deeper understanding, but all I know is that yesterday I pulled up this picture of Lord’s and felt that old familiar thrill that I felt when I initially fell for the sport back in the spring of 2007.

© Getty Images

One of these days I will tell the full story of my courtship with the game, but that is best left for another day.

Last night I watched Gilchrist’s “aggressive” and “violent” IPL innings for KXIP against RCB over on IndiaTimes.  All the pundits were correct: it was an amazing spell.

At first it looked like his batting versus Sri Lanka in the 2007 World Cup (scoreboard here), where he hit 149 off of 104 deliveries over 2 1/2 hours, but as the innings continued yesterday, it was pretty clear that this was something altogether more brilliant.  His strike rate was more than 50 runs higher, and his strikes were like poetry.  No meathead baseball swings, just one beautiful stroke after another.

And, honestly, good thing his batting is so attractive, as Mr. Gilchrist is one funny looking dude.

Also, important question: does he still put the squash ball in his glove?

In other news, there were a couple CB40 matches yesterday: Derbyshire earned a hard fought with the Dutch in Holland (didn’t know Holland played their home matches away from England) and Middlesex beat Worcestershire by six wickets to move to the top of the table.

The ECB live tweeted the latter match from Lord’s, which was a nice treat.  As mentioned before, I was able to briefly visit the ground last March.  I do hope to get back for a match at some point.   From what I can tell, I won’t have to worry about finding a seat.

And, finally, more County Championship matches this morning.  I am off to follow Sussex v Somerset at Hove.  Until tomorrow.

Scotland v Durham at Edinburgh, Clydesdale Bank 40

Love that there is a Clydesdale Bank match to follow this morning.  It was also great to see the West Indies bowl their way through the Pakistani batsmen on Sunday.  Only one more test to go, can the Windies take the series?

Here’s what I do find interesting: there are three groups in the Clydesdale Bank competition in England.  On top of the 18 English Counties, each of the three has an invited guest squad playing – The Netherlands in Group A, Scotland in Group B, and in Group C?

The Unicorns.

I surfed around but found very little information on this oh so poorly named sports franchise on Cricinfo, but thankfully their wikipedia page was more than helpful.

Now, great idea for a team (group of contract-less cricketers or “free agents” formed initially to fill the spot in the 40 Over competition vacated by Ireland….also: they are UNPAID), but oh my goodness who came up with that name?  Is that really the best you could do?

Also, does anyone else feel that maybe Ireland is getting too big for its britches?  I mean, they had a nice world cup and have some fine players, but they  are still an associate member – why turn up your nose at an English competition?

Finally, this morning Middlesex is taking the Sri Lankans exhibition squad in some odd three day test match.  The Sri Lankans are chasing 213 with ten wickets left.

Until tomorrow.

Yorkshire v Hampshire at Leeds, County Championship Division One

Yesterday, I followed Sussex as they thrashed Nottinghamshire by 9 wickets, afterward I watched as Pakistan’s spinners ripped through the West Indies batsmen.

It is Day 2 down in Guyana, and Day 4 across England in County Cricket, so again lots to follow as I put my head down and try to get through another work day.

Honestly, having Cricket to follow throughout the day really does help the hours seem a little less painful.  It is always welcome to have scores to check and tweet about.

If only I had a position where I could listen to the BBC’s coverage of the County game – now that would be ideal.

In other news, Sri Lanka’s tour of England unofficially starts tomorrow, with an exhibition match against Middlesex.   The match is only three days, so I seriously have no idea what type of match it is going to be…. Also, the match is being held in Uxbridge on the deep outskirts of London.  Why not at Lord’s, Middlesex’s home ground?

Also, I love looking up Cricket grounds using Google Street View:

I had fun checking out Hove yesterday during Sussex-Nottinghamshire, as well.  Great little neighborhoods there on the South Coast.

Directly across the street from the main gate

Until tomorrow.

West Indies v Pakistan at Providence, 1st Test

Hey, welcome back test cricket!

Pakistan has never won a test series in the Caribbean and this is a very legitimate chance for them to break that unfortunate streak.  I am looking forward to enjoying a few five day matches – it seems it has been months since we have had any real test cricket to savor.

Of course, there is a 60% chance of showers in Providence this morning, so we will be really lucky if they get a full day in.

The first test is at the Providence Stadium in Guyana.  Which looks to be a real peach of stadium:

It was built in 2006 for the 2007 World Cup in what looks to be a farm/industrial area 50 miles south of Georgetown, Guyana.

I also found it interesting that Guyana is not part of the Caribbean island grouping, it is instead actually part of South America.

The things you learn whilst writing a cricket blog that nobody reads.

My point is this: it would be wonderfully awesome to be at the ground this morning.

My other point is:  is Guyana really in the Caribbean?  Will Pakistan technically break their streak even if they win all three tests? I mean, really, one of the matches is in South America…. I don’t know.  It’s  a judgment call.

In other Cricket news, there is talk of a pink ball for test matches.  Not because the ICC is interested in breast cancer awareness like the MLB here in the states with their pink bats on mother’s day (though I am still not sure how having known steroid user David Ortiz swing a pink bat is supposed to make us more aware of breast cancer (and that aside, who isn’t aware of breast cancer?) but they are looking to use the pink ball, of course, because it is visible under floodlights.  Floodlights mean prime time test matches.  And prime test matches mean more TV revenue.

I am not trying to sound bitter, and I am not ruing the influence of TV money on the game, but I just wish the ICC would be a little more up front about their motives.

They also proposed at the recent ICC meeting the continuation of the “Decision Review System” aka “instant replay”.  Which I think is great news and hopefully it will extend to all levels of the game, where applicable.  I am all for getting the calls right, every time.

That’s that for today. Until tomorrow.

Sussex v Nottinghamshire at Hove, County Championship Division One

No real post this morning, but if you have twenty minutes to kill (and, really, who doesn’t?), you can read all about the IPL knockout stage scenarios.  Trust me when I say it is just about the most boring thing you will ever read (other than this blog, apparently).

I would love to write more, but I have a meeting this morning.  Until tomorrow.

Rajshahi Division v Dhaka Division at Dhaka, National Cricket League

I have thirteen minutes to write today’s post.  And I just wasted two of those minutes logging into Twitter, Gmail, and WordPress.  There has to be a better way!

An article yesterday from Andrew Miller was 50% wonderful and 50% of the usual IPL bashing.  His musings on the County game were brilliant as usual (though writing articles about the pastoral beauty of County Cricket is like shooting fish in a barrel with a barrel sized fish annihilator) but then he ruins it by calling on the ECB to defend the “sanctity” of Cricket by limited the encroachments of the international game.  It is a valid point, in some ways, the Sri Lankan series should be a real barn burner, but instead it is going to be 22 exhausted cricketers playing in English springtime mud.  But why must he have a go at the IPL?

Note to Englishmen: you invented the game.  Kudos.  But time to let it go.

Until tomorrow.

Rajasthan Royals v Chennai Super Kings at Jaipur, Indian Premiere League

Good morning from a rain soaked Minneapolis.

There wasn’t going to be a blog this morning, but then a few meetings were moved around at work and, well, here I am.  With nothing to write about.

It’s a quiet morning in the world of Cricket.  There was the announcement of the Sri Lankan Premiere League, a T20 league that is due to start in July of this year.  The winner of the tournament will qualify for the T20 Champions League.

The format is similar to the IPL:  a few internationals, but mostly local players, playing for teams representing their region or county.  What is interesting is that the players will be allocated to the team from the region they hail from.   That is something that just does not happen in any other sport.  (Albeit, yes, most other major sports are not birthing new leagues every 18 months.  There’s a difference, I know.)

But still: I like it.  It is a good way to go about business and drum up local support for the new league.

However, it looks as though all the matches will be played at the national ground in Colombo.   Sri Lanka is a small country, but I still think that will hurt the atmosphere.  But we shall see.

Very, very little going on on the actual cricket pitch this morning. So we will wrap things up with a geography lesson:

Now you know where Sri Lanka is.

Until tomorrow.

Glamorgan v Essex at Cardiff, Clydesdale Bank 40

Yesterday, I watched the trailer for the new film, Fire in Babylon.  Hopefully, it will have a North American release at some point, as I am very anxious to see it.   Not only is it director from the same folks who brought us the wonderful “One Day in September”, but it centers around West Indian cricket and their dominance of the sport between 1975-1990.  I am utterly and completely enamored with that period in cricket. For me, personally, it was the golden age of the sport.

You can watch the trailer at the above link.

I also watched a four part, 20 minute documentary on Malcolm Marshall (available on YouTube) – what an amazing athlete.

Writing this blog has given me the motivation to seek out such documentaries, and if that is the only real benefit, then that is okay with me.

Not much more today, as I have to leave early this afternoon.  Until Monday. Here’s Sir Malcolm:

Courtesy of Cricinfo.com

Somerset v Worcestershire at Taunton, County Championship Division One

It really is disappointing that Cricinfo does not supply ball by ball coverage of the County Championship.   I assume it is simply a manpower issue.  Hiring an army of laptop toting 19 year old journalism majors and deploying them across England comes with a price tag, I am sure.  However, what about using interns?  I mean, at the end of the day, who doesn’t want to be a cricket writer?  And if you have a position that you know everyone wants, then you can usually find people to do it for free, just for the “foot in the door.”  Or they could just hire me.

Griffiths to Panesar, no runs

Griffiths to Panesar, no runs

Griffiths to Panesar, one run

Griffiths to Anyon, OUT

Watching Sussex this morning bat for 438 all out on day 2 of their Championship match against Hampshire at Southhampton, whilst ignoring another lackluster ODI down in Providence.

The IPL is still…going…on…of course, too.  The table has actually become quite interesting, with four clubs within three points of each other.

I must admit, watching the highlight packages on India Times has really changed my views on the IPL. I am finally starting to “get it”.  It is the Premiere League of cricket, and maybe, just maybe, exactly what the sport needs.  Club level football, for instance, is infinitely more entertaining and interesting than international football.  And I love that India has taken charge and is building this billion dollar boondoggle.

However, even though I “get it”, I am still annoyed with the pop music between overs, the cheerleaders, and the all around circus like atmosphere.   And for that reason, if I had to choose a league, I would right now choose the County Championship.  Just a little more my speed though.  Beat reporter for Lord’s Cricket Ground: make it happen.

Until tomorrow.