Faisalabad Wolves v Multan Tigers at Faisalabad, Faysal Bank Super Eight T-20 Cup

So far, my favorite part about having willow.tv is the archives, as I have yet to have a chance to watch a great deal of live cricket.  So I have been instead watching chunks of the 2010 Ashes in Australia.  It is brilliant just being able to watch and learn.  I am getting to know the fielding positions, the strategies, the pace of the game. It is just wonderful, I love it so much. The game is more than I ever imagined.

Tomorrow morning, I hope to be able to watch the England v Sri Lanka t20 match, or at least a part of it.

Supposedly, I should be able to watch replays of certain County Cricket matches, but I have yet to find them on the site.  That is the one complaint I have: the site is an unnavigable mess.  It’s like it was designed in 1999 by eight year olds. However, the player they use is top notch (none of the Microsoft Silverlight crap), and the video, as mentioned previously, does not jump or skip.

In other news: The match in the title of this post is taking place at the Iqbal Stadium in Faisalabad, Pakistan (link goes to its wiki page, worth a perusal).  Over the years, the lovely ground has hosted 25 international test matches, including this one from 2005 against England:

via Wikipedia Commons

Pakistan, of course, is having a difficult time hosting international matches, due to security concerns after the attacks on the Sri Lankan team.  They are a team without a home right now.  The Israelites of cricket, if you will.  (You won’t, and that’s cool). Which I find just a little sad, especially considering how beloved the sport is there.  Hopefully the Sri Lankans will visit again, and we can all move on.

Also, it is a tad unfair, as Mumbai was allowed to host the world cup final, despite the recent terrorist attacks there.   Yes, India is a tad more stable than the country that was hosting, you know, Osama bin Laden, but I still do not think that is proper cause for isolation and exile.

Or maybe it is.

And there was the whole match fixing scandal last summer in London…

What murky waters I have waded into here.

What else is happening? Well, cricket training is weird; I have a serious double man crush on Two Chucks and I totally want nothing more than to hang out and watch cricket with them; India beat the West Indies by 63 runs despite a strong fight from the Windies; and the ICC’s annual conference starts on 06/26, where they will talk World Cup Format and DRS (instant reply).  Hopefully they will cover other topics, as well, such as the future prospects for what is obviously a very unhealthy sport.  t20 is not the answer, it never will be.  Neither are pink balls or flood lights.   Do I know the answer?  Nope.  But I think that might be the ultimate goal of this blog.

I mean, I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.  And up until 2007, I knew very, very, very little about cricket.  The sport was a complete mystery to me, and it is still a mystery to 99% of American sports fans.  Most will say: so what? Americans have their sport, leave ours alone. I say: the sport is lovely and infinitely interesting, and exposing Americans to at least the basics would be phenomenal for the sport.  As would exposing it to Asia.  Say what you will about FIFA, but their global brand strategy is working.  You can’t swing a stick in any country on the planet without hitting a dude in a Man United kit.

The first step?  Get the sport into the Olympics.

Anyway, lots of cricket to watch this weekend.  Yep you read that right: WATCH.  Including Stuart Broad’s first taste of the armband and a boatload of County Cricket.  Until Monday.

Glamorgan v Sussex at Cardiff, Friends Life t20, South Group

Not a great deal of time to write this morning, late start to the day thanks to a trip to the dentist.

Rollicking test match down in Jamaica, and it just keeps getting better.  Dravid put up what some are calling his most thrilling ton in a decade, all the while setting up what seems to be an impossible run chase for the West Indies.  If they do happen to win this match, however, it might go down in history as one of the most famous wins ever for the Windies.

It seems run chases like the one required, however, just do not happen in Jamaica, specifically on the pitch they are playing on today.  This is a part of the game that I find just fascinating.  Every pitch is wholly different from every other pitch.  Not just because of recent weather, or any other small sample sizes, but based on long sheets of historical data.  There are pitches that are known to be good for bowlers, and pitches that are known to be good for batsmen.  Some have slopes, some have grassy patches, some are hard as rocks. Getting to know each pitch has proven to be tough for this cricket novice.  But if you say the word “Adelaide” to an avid cricket follower, he will be able to tell you all about the pitch.

In American baseball, there are hitters parks and pitchers parks, of course, but those are based simply on the boundaries and sometimes on elevation.

(I love baseball because every field is different. Same with cricket. There is room for magic.)

Back in County Cricket: Sussex are off to Cardiff this evening, while Notthinghamshire defeated Lancashire by six wickets in the County Championship.  There are several other FLt20 matches today, as well, and I am looking forward to the weekend when I will be able to watch them on willow.tv.

Other than the big test series (Ashes, India in England…etc), County Cricket is what most intrigues me.  Some day, I hope to put my feet up in a deck chair at a sparsely crowded county ground, coffee in hand, and take in an entire day’s worth of cricket.  Some day.

But to get there, I first need to sell some things.  So: until tomorrow: Here’s one of those grounds:

Radcliffe Road end of Trent Bridge, via Wikipedia Commons

Scotland v Netherlands at Aberdeen, ICC Intercontinental Cup

I honestly don’t know how any cricket gets played anywhere, ever.  It just feels like soggy rain delay after soggy rain delay.  I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for the players and the media, but especially for the fans who I can only assume have to take a day off work to attend a week-day match, only to have it canceled by rain…again.

Then again, the unemployment rate in Scotland is, what, like 50%?  So, maybe they didn’t have to take the day off…

Back on the pitch and India and the West Indies are locked in what is blossoming into a thrilling test match in Jamaica.  India hold a slight edge going into day three, but I foresee a fierce day from the Windies bowlers, as well as some rain.

In USA television news, it seems ESPN3, the worldwide leader’s online component, is planning on showing the Sri Lankan Premiere League, starting with the debut match on July 19th.  The matches must be on during prime time in Sri Lanka, as they are actually on at unfortunate viewing times here in the states: 5:30am and 9:30am, mostly on weekdays.  There will be replays available, it seems, but it won’t be the same.

Speaking of SE Asian Premiere Leagues:  Last night I was watching The Two Chucks (more on that in a second) – it was the episode where England was in Cardiff, the first test versus Sr Lanka, and the same day as the IPL final.  I was SHOCKED at the filthy bile being spit at the IPL as the two hosts asked spectators if they knew which two teams were in the final. It was, goodness I hate to do this, but it just seemed a little a little racist, and a lot xenophobic.

Yes, the IPL is a little gross, with its cheerleaders and its rock music and its flash and its money money money. But it is still cricket.

The point is I was shocked at how much hate was directed at it.  I just assumed all the IPL bashing by sport punditry was the English press stirring the pot, but it seems they are simply reflecting the mood of the average cricket fan in England…errrrr…Wales.

I am curious to see how the Sri Lankan Premiere League will be treated – and, well, I am excited to be able to watch at least some of it live here in the states.

Finally, regarding The Two Chucks, I think their show just might be my favorite thing in the world right now – and it could very well be my favorite cricket related thing ever. For serious.  The two hosts GET IT.  The obviously know the sport backward and forward, but they also don’t take it so freaking seriously.  And it shouldn’t be taken seriously, it is a silly bat and ball game played by grown men.  If only the Welsh bile spewers understood that, too.

Until tomorrow.

 

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

Over the weekend, Saturday night to be exact, I finally decided to sign up for Willow.tv.  Within minutes, all I could ask myself was “what took you so long?”

It is only $15 a month, and all the major tours will be shown: Sri Lanka in England, India in England, Australia in South Africa, Sri Lanka in South Africa, New Zealand in Australia, India in Australia…and, supposedly, English County Cricket.  The latter, I must admit, I am most excited about.

Since I ordered it on Saturday night, on Sunday morning I was able to wake up, drink instant coffee, and watch cricket.  Specifically: England v Sri Lanka.  I was able to see Bell and Morgen’s fantastic partnership, followed by Strauss’s surprising declaration.  It was just wonderful to watch live cricket that was not either text based or audio only or a choppy illegal internet stream.

To the chagrin of my wife and my grades, I plan on spending a great deal of time with my new pal, willow.tv.

The only real drawbacks were the picture quality and the commercials.  Regarding the former, I am not going to whine too much. I could blow it up to full screen without losing too much quality, but it is not HD by any means.  Both ESPN3 and foxsoccer.tv are of better quality, for example.  And I was annoyed at the lack of a pop-out-able, re-sizable window.  But only Hulu offers that, so again, I am not going to complain too much.

I will say that the stream was not the slightest bit choppy.  It never froze and it never jumped.

The commercials were JARRING.  They were obviously not part of the live broadcast feed and they were consistently interrupting the calls of the broadcast team.  However, I did kind of enjoy the commercials – I have always loved foreign advertisements. Unlike in Southampton, every cloud does have a silver lining, I guess.

Final grade: B+

Back on the pitch: Sangakkara and Samaraweera’s 5th wicket stand at the Rose Bowl has halted England’s pursuit of an outright victory.  I must say I was impressed to see Strauss go for it yesterday with the early declaration, but it slipped through their fingers this morning.

The first test between the West Indies and India’s B team starts today in Jamaica, as well.  And the County Championship is back, too, with a host of four day matches throughout England.

And being that my head is throbbing and I am half asleep, that is all I can muster today.

Until tomorrow.

Leicestershire v Durham at Leicester, Friends Life t20, North Group

Honestly, not sure what all I am going to write about today.  It’s 8:36am CDT already, which is late for any sort of excessive cricket-related wordiness, but I don’t want to put out two short blogs in a row either.

In Southhampton this morning, Tremlett has taken five wickets and Sri Lanka are hanging on by a thread at 144/7.  Lots of chatter on Cricinfo about the ineffectiveness of Stuart Broad – some even calling for him to be dropped, as his style is no longer needed in the squad.

I think the calls for him to be dropped are more than a tad pre-mature.  He is a young talented face of English cricket.  He is flashy and sells replica kits.  And on his day is a damn fine seamer.  He will find his knack again.  Goodness, the 2009 Ashes were only two years ago (5 for 37, anyone?) and he is only 24 years old.

Dropping him now would cause serious (I am not kidding) harm to his psyche.  Cricketers are fragile beings and the sport requires a focused and clear head.  Again, I am being serious.

Yeah, he could turn into the next David Beckham, a one trick pony with very little other than his hair and his striking good looks going for him (which for most ordinary folks, is plenty), but I honestly do not see that happening.  He will be 32 when England host the world cup in 2019 – Broad needs to be there.

I would love to talk more about his, you know, actual bowling skills, but I am just not there yet.

And this is where the manner in which I “watch” cricket fails me, as a cricket writer.  Not being able to watch bowlers bowl and batters bat really leaves me in the dark.   Seeing the stats and reading match reports only does so much.   Yes, I can watch highlights (legally) online, and yes on occasion I can listen to the BBC coverage, but that still does not do the sport justice.

Therefore: It might be time to finally pony up for willow.tv.  Since it is summer and there is no football, I can cancel foxsoccer.tv and use the savings to pay for Willow.

It’s either that, or get Direct TV.  And I really do not want to start spending a million dollars a month on cable again, and I really do not want to put a satellite dish on the house.

What I need is a bar to open up within walking distance to my house that shows cricket matches all day long.  Make that happen, will ya?

Finally, today, there are t20 matches throughout England, plus the test in Southampton.  Work-wise: today is going to suck.  But like always, there’s cricket to follow to make it better.

Hey, look at that, Swann gets Jayawardene to fly out to deep midwicket.  158/8.  Come on, Stuart, get the last two.

Until Monday. Happy weekend.

 

 

England v Sri Lanka at Southampton, 3rd Test (Day 1)

Short blog today.  England and Sri Lanka are back in their dressing rooms this morning waiting out the rain.  The Sri Lankans lost an early wicket, so the rain delay probably came at a good time for them.

Supposedly, the sun is back out at the Rose Bowl, and play should start again at 9am CDT.

Down in Kingston, the West Indies won the toss and will bowl first. That match is due to start at 9am CDT, as well.

In other words, loads of cricket to follow today, not to mention two County Cricket t20 matches.

Finally: this coffee is way too hot.

Until tomorrow.

Kent v Gloucestershire at Beckenham, Friends Life t20, South Group

Today, I am writing from home.  Which means: better coffee, better company (my thousand year old mutt), better music, better atmosphere, better everything.  Will this mean a higher quality post today?  Probably not.

Which begs the questions, if a blogger writes a post that nobody reads, can it still be superior to the other posts that no one read?

That said, I did fix the errors from Monday’s blog.  It was 8:00am on a Monday and I for some reason believed that the West Indies were simply a western part of India.  At least, that’s what it looked like I believed.

Further: because I am home today, I am able to listen to the BBC’s coverage of county cricket.  Must admit excitement.

Not a great deal happening otherwise.  The 3rd and final test between Sri Lanka and England starts tomorrow, and the final ODI down in the WEST INDIES is tomorrow, as well.

I had thought about writing about the ground the match in the title of this post is being played at, but I hard time finding a great deal of information on it.   Kent plays their majority of their home matches at the St. Lawrence Ground in Canterbury, but it seems they also play two of their home t20 matches at the Kent County Cricket Ground in Beckenham, a suburb of Kent.  Not a great deal to say about the ground, but here is some nice information (well, a picture and a map) from Kent’s website.

Now I am listening to BBC Bristol cover Kent v Gloucestershire. The “Gladiators” (ugh) are 18 without loss, despite darkening skies.  There also seems to be a nice crowd who are taking full advantage of the beer vendors, again despite the darkening skies. And, AND, there is a row of “flats” that overlooks the ground where the occupants are having friends over to watch the match. (All of this via the commentary team).

One of my all time favorite fantasies is to live in an apartment that overlooks a sporting ground.  Be it rugby, cricket, football, whatever. I am sure it is expensive, and I am sure it can be very, very annoying, but I think it would be just wonderful.  I actually did some research (in vain) on the flats that overlook Leyton Orient’s football ground:

Football pic in a cricket blog. Is that allowed?

Well, rain in Kent this morning, of course, it seems.  Good thing there are four other matches today, let’s hope it is not a complete washout.

Oh, and finally, here to the best of knowledge, are the “flats” the commentators were discussing.

Sometimes the Internet ruins things.

Until tomorrow.