Claire Taylor and Ellen MacArthur

Were Claire Taylor (England women’s cricket skipper) and Ellen MacArthur (mad boater) separated at birth?

Claire Taylor:

Ellen MacArthur

Langer on The Ashes

Slightly old news, in terms of a weblog but noteworthy nonetheless. Justin Langer, in his excellent and always enjoyable BBC diary, can’t wait for The Ashes to start. Given their ridiculous success over the past [how many?!] years, it’s great to see their hunger is still…there/alive. They see beating England as the ultimate – and it’s the ultimate for England in the exact same way. They are, after all, prisoners shipped off from this isle! No offence intended. Incidentally, a barman a few months ago (Australian, like all barmen in this country – and a good thing too, as they always pull a proper pint, and don’t leave it half full like so many in London) said that very thing to me – “we’re all bloody convicts mate, and we wanna beat you to a pulp every Ashes series to show you how far we’ve come.” Which suprised me a bit – not sure whether that’s the general consensus in Australia (!) but it was interesting.

Still trying to get a ticket for Lord’s – they’re going for about £250 a pop on eBay. Crazy money, and you can bet your life it’ll piss down like never before.

Anyway – sorry, I’m waffling. I’ve completely forgotten what it was I wanted to say, so…good night.

Denis Compton



bugkiller

Photo taken by wastedpapiers @ Flickr.com.


Just found this amazing picture of Denis Compton (I’m assuming it’s him – gotta be). He was a Brylcreem boy in the 60s, in his hayday, and here he is bug-squashing. Got to be quite a unique drawing/photo – anyone got any similar trivia like this they want to share?

A kiwi perspective on The Ashes

Dan, a new contributor to the excellent Mike On Cricket, is full of praise for England and thinks their world ranking of 2nd is fully justified.

The rough with the smooth

This article (on why Golfers have it so easy) brought back a heated debate I had a year+ ago with a mate about why, in my opinion, cricketers as sportsmen and athletes that they deserve.

The strain put on bowlers has, in the last few years, been quite well documented in the media and rightly so. Given the incessant schedules these days of international cricket, frequency has meant “body breakdown” for fast bowlers. “Even” spinners like Warne and Murali have had quite serious surgical procedures to cure ailing wrists and shoulders. And, my trump card in these arguments: would a footballer play in 35c heat for 7 hours? I think not.

Only the other day, England A coach Rod Marsh was excusing his player’s performances against Sri Lanka blaming a lack of fitness and training. Which is of course down to the heat that cricketers have to endure. England’s “footballers” played Portugal some months ago, and a TV commentator remarked how tough it would be for them, playing in 23c heat. Well, try 35c heat for a whole day mate! It’s about time they were respected more in the media – the sense of “oh, it’s a jolly fine game is Cricket – a lovely pleasant game” is, I think, still quite prominent in the administration of English cricket, and this rubs off in the media.

Look at someone like Brett Lee, Simon Jones, The Bastard (McGrath), Ponting and Andrew Flintoff. The work they put it to reach a level of fitness is extreme, and I often wonder whether the media give them due credit.

On this day…

On this day, March 30th, 11 years ago, England were bowled out for 46 (not difficult) by a rampant West Indian team. Walsh and Ambrose – it was that series that sparked my interest, and later my love of cricket. But I’m glad we’ve moved on, although am constantly saddened by the decline and fall of West Indian cricket….

Ponting: closest Ashes yet

I know, I know – it’s only March, and here I am getting swept up in Ashes fever already. But it’s about 8 degrees outside, with a thick grey blanket, and drizzling light rain. I need an Ashes fix.

And Ponting provides it with one of his Mark Taylor-esque interviews. The two sound identical to me in how they talk and the manner of what they say. It’s the usual stuff (“”But this England side have a different feel to them. They have a bit of a winning habit and winning culture which they haven’t had for a while.””), but Stephen Fleming sums it all up rather nicely:

“England are going to have to play extremely well,” said Fleming, who captained New Zealand to a 3-0 series defeat in England last summer.

“It’s about playing the game under the least amount of pressure and you’ll win it.

“England always play under a huge amount of pressure. Australia are used to dealing with it and they just roll on.

“If England start well, then they’re in with a sniff.

“But if Australia start well and get them down, then all of a sudden you’ve got the press, the public and basically everyone who watches England cricket on your back.”

Meanwhile at the Bloody Bullsh*t Corporation, they’ve done what only the BBC can do: compile a player comparison table, AND IT’S NOT EVEN APRIL YET. They conclude with:

Player for player, the Aussies remain stronger than England.

But there is still plenty of time for everything to change.

Well well well.

Glenn McGrath a softie?

Just came across this, at Middlesex’s website where McGrath last year spent a whole 30 days. Getting soft in his old age? He highlights 2 players us Middlesex fans have long spoken about, Ben Hutton and Ed Joyce. I think Joyce is a huge natural talent – quite similar in “class” to a young David Gower – but he’s still not qualified to play for England just yet (he’s Oirish)

Postcard from Glenn McGrath

THE Middlesex Cricket Club’s record book for the 2004 season notes my time with the Crusaders was short and sweet; just one month to be exact! However, I’ve marked it in my diary as a happy and fulfilling experience for a couple of reasons.
You see, apart from allowing me the chance to play First Class cricket in England, something I genuinely enjoy, my stint with the Crusaders also allowed me the opportunity to prove to Australia’s national selectors that I was ready for a recall to the international arena after overcoming a troublesome ankle injury.
The Middlesex officials, players and supporters appreciated the nature of my mission and offered me their total support. In return, I gave them my best. Admittedly my appearances out in the middle were limited, but I was determined to take wickets and to bowl as many overs as possible.
As for Middlesex, I am happy to be on record as saying I’m impressed by the nature – and spirit – of the club. It boasts talented young players and from what I observed each possesses a winning attitude towards the game.
Two team members who immediately spring to mind as players to watch are Crusaders captain Ben Hutton and the so-called “Irishman waiting to be an Englishman”, Ed Joyce.
The grandson of the great Sir Len Hutton, Ben, or Gibbo, has the pedigree to be a cricketer of above average ability. However, he strikes me as definitely being his own man. He’s a mature leader who knows how to get the best out of his players. As for his batting, well, it is top shelf.
Like Gibbo, Ed is a talented left hand batsman and once he qualifies to represent England I’m confident the English selectors will see to it that my Aussie team-mates and I have one or two arm wrestles with him out in the middle. It’s a challenge I look forward to!
Ed and Ben are but two of a talented bunch and it’s my view Middlesex will achieve great things if the players can continue to marry their collective ability with their positive mindset. I should credit coach John Emburey for his efforts to put the team on the right track. Indeed, their approach which has impressed me so much mirrors the example John sets at training and in the match day dressing room.
One of the great delights of my career has been playing at Lord’s, the home of cricket. Apart from being the scene of my Test career best of 8/38 during the 1997 Ashes series, I’ve long considered Lord’s as an almost sacred place. To have been privileged enough to call it my “home” ground, even just for a month, is very special. It was nice, too, to sit in the home dressing room for a change and enjoy the view.
I would like to take this opportunity to assure the good ladies of Lord’s who are responsible for the lunches and teas that I rate their efforts as the best ‘tucker’ (that’s Aussie for food) I’ve enjoyed at any cricket field in the world! I faced a definite danger of gaining an extra inch around my waist during my Middlesex stint!
Middlesex, my stay with you was all too brief, but I’ll long remember a month of good cricket, good people and good times. Thank you.

All my very best wishes for the future,
Glenn McGrath
On tour with the Australian team
India.
October 2004

Scott Styris ok for Middlesex debut

Scott Styris won’t be fit for New Zealand’s upcoming 2-Test “series”, but will be fit for his Middlesex debut on April 17. A good signing I reckon (Middlesex is my club).

Playfair on sale

Playfair, cricket-reading-utopia is on sale now for over £5. I must be getting tight in my old age – still, it’s gotta be had.

Playfair Cricket Annual