It’s all very slow

Thanks for the many emails – yes, I know the site’s not working but there’s not a lot I can do about it! It’s just slow – keep refreshing and it’ll work eventually. Sorry about that. Will

No more Ian Botham pitch reports, please!

So in response to England’s 288, Pakistan are 4 for 185. Flat batting track, huh? Thanks for nothing, Beefy.

And add to that, Inzamam has retired hurt and is off having x-rays. I’ve not seen any news as yet as to how bad the injury is, or whether or not he can resume his innings tomorrow.

I think honours are about even here, and neither side has taken a clear advantage. Mohammad Yousuf needs to kick on, and the lower order need to help him. I saw a couple of deliveries in the latter part of the day that kept low, so I think Pakistan will need a first innings lead, the more the merrier.

Pakistan v England, 3rd Test, Lahore, 2nd day

“England waste golden chance” was the headline which led Cricinfo after about midday at Cricinfo, which sums things up. England did waste their chance, in what has been a forgettable series for them and a rather anticlimatic one at that. I’m speaking as an English supporter firstly, but I’m not naive enough to ignore the efforts of Pakistan who have been shown immense pride and fight in all three Tests. Anyway, I’m back at Cricinfo tomorrow so will have my eye closely watching the events at Lahore. In the meantime, chat away.

Aussies turn green

Australia”s famous and sickly-yellow kit is to be dumped in favour of a green outfit – the same colour as online roulette Pakistan”s, Bangladesh”s and South Africa”s. It”s their “away strip.” As Mike says, perhaps it”s because they”ve rediscovered their mongrel…maybe Scott can enlighten us on this :)

End of the road (for now) for BSkyB deal

The ECB’s decision to give BSkyB exclusive rights to show all Tests on PPV (pay per view) TV is now, almost certainly, non-overturnable. (I don’t know if that word exists, but it’s a cracker.) The following people participated in today’s Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee:

Mr David Collier, Chief Executive, England and Wales Cricket Board, Mr Richard Bevan, Chief Executive, Professional Cricketers’ Association; Mr Roger Mosey, Director of Sport, BBC, Mr Mark Sharman, Controller of Sport, ITV, Mr Andy Duncan, Chief Executive, Channel 4, Mr Colin Campbell, Director of Legal and Business Affairs, Five, Mr Vic Wakeling, Managing Director, Sky Sports (at approximately 10.30 a.m.); Lord Smith of Finsbury and Lord MacLaurin (at approximately 11.00 a.m.); Mr David Brook, Mr Anthony Wreford, and Mr Stedford Wallen, Keep Cricket Free Campaign (at approximately 11.30 a.m.); Rt Hon Richard Caborn MP, Minister for Sport, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (at approximately 11.50 a.m.).

There’s nothing yet at Hansard (incidentally, my family descend from Luke Hansard – the House’s original printer), but Cricinfo have a report here. In it, Caborn says:

“If you are asking me ‘Can a deal be done?’, I don’t think it can,” Caborn said. “I am making no bones about it. I am supporting the ECB in what it has done.”

2009 is how long we’ll have to wait for it to return to terrestrial – although that’s only the end-date of Sky’s contract which will go up for review again. John Howard wouldn’t put up with it, would he? (Scott or whoever – fill me in on the state of play as regards cricket on TV in Australia)

View on the other side

I always like to read the views of fans from both teams when I’m watching a series. For the Pakistani viewpoint, I discovered the excellent Sundries, by Zainub. She provides an excellent session by session wrap and she doesn’t miss much.

Zainub is also fearless, willing to ask the really hard questions that the media don’t ask. Her analysis of Jimmy Anderson’s hair (caution-disturbing images) is harsh but fair.

Common Sense

So England stumbled to 248 for 6 when bad light brought a halt to proceedings. It seems to me that this is the custom in Pakistan. Given slow over rates, there is always the demand for the ‘extra’ half hour to get the regulation 90 overs in, so the chances of this happening in Lahore at this time of year are possibly nil.

In fact, Pakistan managed to bowl 77 overs today.

This situation is farcical. Between slow over-rates and bad light, 78 overs were lost during the Second Test, which almost certainly cost Pakistan the game. The solution of course is to schedule Test matches in Pakistan to go for six days of five hours, rather then the traditional five days of six hours.

That way, cricket would be conforming with the natural geography of Pakistan, rather then trying to force the natural geography of Pakistan to conform with cricket. It is just common sense.

Australia clean up

Australia made short work of the West Indies target, winning the Third Test with few alarms. Matt Hayden went on to 87 not out, narrowly falling short of getting five centuries in five Tests. Meanwhile Michael Hussey picked up 30 more runs, and he finishes his first Test series with a batting average of 120.

For all their troubles, the West Indies did look like they have made some improvement in their team on this tour, and they are less weak then they appear. Dwayne Bravo is the obvious ‘find’ of the tour, but the economy and line of Collymore is another positive.

From the Australian fan’s view point, it is good to see ‘normal service’ resume, but the real pleasing thing is the emergence of Hussey and Hodge in the middle order. We now have six Tests against South Africa to look forward to, and that is a good chance for the middle order to settle in, before the real challenge against England next summer.

Pakistan v England, 3rd Test, Lahore, 1st day

Can England pull it back to level the series, or will Pakistan be too strong? Both teams have lost key players and I think Osman Samiuddin sums up the situation rather eloquently and simply:

Eventually though, all these factors (weather permitting of course) will go into the making of only one question, one that decides this series. Is winning a series after two years more important to Pakistan than avoiding a series loss after two years is to England?

Bore draw at Lahore?

Blimey, the third Test is already upon us. How Test cricket moves these days – winter tours are no longer the long-drawn-out affairs they once used to be, or is that just because I’m getting older and wiser?

Michael Vaughan is going to return to opening, where he’s had a lot of success and James Anderson might well get a recall. This tour has come and gone in such a hurry, I’ve hardly had time to digest it – least of all now, and will miss all of tomorrow’s first day. I’ll stick a post up for the night owls able to courageously manage another disturbingly-early start (well, there’s always one!)

Last note; Inzy, spokesman from the department of the Bleeding Obvious. Wonderful batsman though he is, he wouldn’t get much more than 4 out of 10 for his public relations. He makes Duncan Fletcher sound – and look – like Max Clifford:

“Younis is our team’s main batsman and a key player. His loss definitely makes a difference to the side and especially to our batting. But we have players to take over; Asim Kamal is coming in as No. 3. His performances are good for us internationally.”