Calling all non-English fans

I’m developing a cricket-based service (using SMS or text-messages – so you’ll need a mobile phone) which I hope to launch soon. Could one or more readers from the following countries email me if you have a spare minute: India, Australia, NZ, Pakistan, Windies, South Africa. In fact – anywhere, I’m not sure why I’m limiting it to those countries! So if you’ve got a mobile and 3 spare minutes, let me know – will at mailliw.com is my email

Wagon Wheels on Cricinfo

Pleasant suprise to see Cricinfo are now producing Wagon Wheels and overs graphs on their scorecards. Pretty cool. New to me

Wagons:
Eng v SA
Aus v Pak (well done Pakistan! Would’ve been easier if you’d held onto all your catches though :) )

Over Graphs:
Eng v SA
Aus v Pak

1st ODI Eng V South Africa

A very enjoyable game was cut short by messyrs Rain, Duckworth & Lewis (1 | 2) which England won. South Africa’s selectorial commitee did their utmost to give everyone something to talk about by making some cracking decisions: leaving out De Villiers (hit 190+ in the last Test Match, is young, a good athelete and can also keep wicket) and bringing back Adam Bacher after five years! England made their own oddities by leaving out Solanki (100 in his last ODI) and promoting Jones to open. In fact – although it’s tough on Solanki, I get the impression he’s on his way out…

Needless to say, the middle order was spineless and England ran through them. Although England made a hash of things to keep us interested, the main talking point was of Kevin Pietersen and his welcome. He marched to the crease looking pretty nervous, and the massive partisan croud booed him all the way. The commentators on Sky again proved they don’t read the newspapers by making a big thing of Andre Nel’s antics towards him – at one point, Pietersen came through for a single on Vaughan’s call. Nel, chasing the ball from his follow-through, pushed and barged him all the way much to the enjoyment of the croud. It was a good moment which lightened the atmosphere, and had the commentators read the Telegraph they’d have realised the pair were good mates

It was an impressive innings from Pietersen. South Africa aren’t quite ontop of their game, but the atmosphere was fiercely hostile (and England were in a hole at 44/3). He survived it and played a couple of classy shots, confirming not only his ability but his ticker as well.

The swing (dip’n’curve) of spinning balls

This year, I want to get back to playing cricket. I haven’t played in anger for 9 years (when I was 13), and was [if I do say so myself] a decent leggie and was being pushed for trials with Middlesex Colts. My new school didn’t take sport seriously, and as such I got lazy and turned into a spotty and rebelious teenager.

Anyway – all that baffle and waffle was a precursor to my main point; how does a spinning ball dip and curve? We all know, or pretend to understand, how a conventional seam-up swinging ball works. Shiny-side nearest the batsman for an outswinger, and opposite for the indipper. This all makes sense – the rough side (the left side for an outswinger) prevents the ideal aerodynamics, and the air-flow is more obstructed on that side of the ball than the other (shiny) side.

But spinners hold the seam across the palm/knuckles – the seam is horizontal instead of vertical, if you like – so how can the ball dip in towards the pads (for a leggie) and curvee away from the bat (for an offie)? One thought I’ve just had is quite often, decent leggies like Warne tend to slant the seam towards the slips at a diagonal (meaning it’ll turn and kick on – on flat wickets it’s likely to bounce a lot)…so this would give the ball more chance, through the air, of swinging. It’s a phenomenon I encountered when I bowled (luckily! I’d aim for middle-n-off, the ball would dip towards leg and would often end up bowling them middle stump, so long as it turned enough), but I’ve never had it explained

Sorry to go all technical and anorakish, but let’s face it – if you’re reading this, you’re bound to be a real cricket nut like me :)

Two scathing attacks on Michael Vaughan

Earlier today, Clive Lloyd attacked Michael Vaughan and accused him of lacking respect. And, just now, a scathing attack on Vaughan and his team has been made by Neil Manthrop who I’ve mentioned in a previous post. I’d urge you to read it.

Of particular interest, or more pressingly concern, is the following:

“A couple of months ago, Vaughan walked out of a Test match to be at the birth of his daughter. It was the right thing to do and a special example to sportsmen the world over. In four or five years’ time he will, no doubt, do all he can to be there for her first day at big school. I hope he makes it. Then he can tell me all about it because that’s what I gave up to interview him. Not that I blame him – it was my decision. If the England team never speak to me again but do face up to the fact that adopting a ‘siege mentality’ while on tour is not the way forward to long-term greatness or even success, then it will be worth the sacrifice. I know. I’ve spent the past 10 years trying to write and broadcast the South Africa team out of behaving with similar suspicion and contempt.”

Having followed English cricket for over 10 years, I’ve never heard anyone attack a team and his captain in this way – and it disappoints me. I don’t doubt for a second what Neil writes is true – the article is written with a great deal of feeling, and I hope England’s media-men and management take it all on board. Duncan Fletcher – an apparently soft-spoken, mild-mannered “people’s” coach – is another who doesn’t come off well. This is a very sad end to an excellent tour.

The Kevin Pietersen factor

A lot has been written about Kevin Pietersen over here (UK) in the past few days, so I thought I’d do my own summary of events and of the man himself.

Pietersen left South Africa 4 years ago, with the claim that South Africa’s quota system prevented him from getting a game (and more specifically, he felt, prevented his chances of playing international cricket). He qualified to play for England last September, thanks to his English Mother, and has terrorised County bowling attacks for the last 2 or 3 seasons (5512 @ 54.03). So that’s his background.

The South Africans have, unsuprisingly, not really taken to him very politely; this is, after all, the country of his birth and many South Africans, rightly so, resent him for jumping ship. Smith has said: “He ran out when things got tough. If he didn’t want to be here then we don’t want him here.”

In short, this is a cricketer with immense talent and awesome power – perhaps the Saffers are jealous (much as the English were when Andrew Symonds decided to play for Australia instead of England). On top of all this, he just happens to be the most confident and arrogant cricketer around at the moment – a trait which forced his moving to Hampshire after upsetting his first county Northamptonshire Nottinghamshire. You have to hear him to beleive him! Lots of Aussies regard Flintoff as an arrogant sod – rightly or wrongly (wrongly) – but this guy wrote the script on arrogance, and does himself no favours whatsoever. Arrogance is all very well if it’s justified, but he’s setting a dangerous precedant by making these comments without having established himself as an England player

Yesterday, in a simplistic solution to national identity, he said he’d do a Gough and have the 3 lions tatooed on his arm:

“That’s not a Christmas present,” Pietersen said, “that’s there for life. Anyone who abuses me, tells me I’m not English…” He slaps his shoulder. “I would do it now, but tattoos scab over and then I wouldn’t be able to dive.”

“I know I can expect that sort of stick during the whole series,” Pietersen said yesterday. “It was only stares and swearwords really, nothing serious. I just laugh about it because they can hardly speak proper English.”

Not the best thing to say to calm down the situation! England has had a number of South African and Zimbabwe players come and play for England – many of them bristling with ability, not least G Hick (remember him? Many who saw him play regarded him as the most talented player they’d ever seen….). And now they have another. All this bravado and bullish talk will be very quickly forgotten if he doesn’t perform – but, dare I say it, he’s already threatening having just hit a brutal/brilliant 97 against South Africa ‘A’ 2 days ago. Rod Marsh, his coach at the Academy, can perhaps conclude this piece better than I:

Rod Marsh, Pietersen’s coach at the National Academy, is adamant that his country of origin played no part in his omission from the South Africa tour, adding that England will benefit from his desire to play at the highest level. “English cricket’s spirit will be strengthened by him, not diluted,” said Marsh. “He has made an enormous sacrifice of leaving his own country. Maybe English cricket’s spirit has been diluted in the past by those English players who have not wanted it enough.”

Problems with Internet Explorer

For reasons beyond my understanding, it looks like this site doesn’t display properly in IE. All I can suggest is to get a better browser (Firefox). I’ll try to fix it at the weekend, but I really don’t know why it’s happening (the right-hand-menu is being shifted to the bottom of the page).

Sorry about that – displays fine in Firefox though :)

Miniature cricket

Found the following excellent photo of the miniature cricket field in Canberra, Australia, courtesy of the equally excellent Flickr

Gilly in the supermarket

Just stumbled across this post from someone in Australia who stood in front of Adam Gilchrist in a Coles supermarket (brings back happy memories of my trip to Aus, Xmas 2003…). Vikram wasn’t sure what to say – obviously in a moral dilema – but I have to admit, I’d shake his hand and have a chat if I saw one of my heroes in Tesco or Sainsbury’s.

Mind you – it’s never happened to me. Closest I got was seeing Steve Waugh in one of the posh Lord’s lunch rooms (restaurants, Will – they’re called restaurants) an hour after Australia had crushed England in 2003. He walked in, in his whites, with his baby and no one batted an eyelid. I nearly choked on the £50 meal I was eating – STEVE WAUGH IS IN THE ROOM!

Anyone met or spoken with cricketers whilst shopping or in the pub? Post your comments and thoughts, this could make for some interesting discussion. Also – which 8 cricketers (you’re paying remember), past or present, would you invite round for a meal/bbq/bottle of wine? Mine are below, but I’ll probably need to make some changes!

Steve Waugh
Mike Atherton
Richie Benaud
Imran Khan
Sachin Tendulkar
Barry Richards