Ponting the ‘smart arse’

Lou Rowan, former Test umpire, has branded Ricky Ponting a ‘smart arse’ and says he’s a disgrace to his country. Just put this up on Cricinfo.

“Ponting is a smart arse and a disaster as leader. The conduct of him and his players is absolutely disgraceful,” Rowan told Fox Sports. “He has no control over his players. It is an insult to former players and people associated with the game.”

Thoughts?

What drew you to cricket and why?

What drew you to cricket and why? Was there a particular moment which highlighted the game to you, or which made you see the game in a new light? I was asked this by a friend today, so am replying via the blog…

I first “noticed” it in the 1993 Ashes, watching Paul Reiffel trundle in and bowl deceptively well. Then, the following winter, addiction set in while listening to the West Indies practically kill England in the Caribbean. Seeing brief highlights on the news in the evening; watching Mike Atherton do his utmost to rally his young side; Alec Stewart’s two hundreds; most of all, it was the West Indies and their passion, energy, natural grace and ferver which spoke, to me, more than any other sport. Almost overnight, maidens, point, silly midwicket, overs and everything else made sense.

I’d listened to my Dad curse me and my brother in the car for fighting. Not that he was particularly against us trying to kill eachother, more that it was drowning out TMS’ valiant attempt to relay the score to him, some several hundred miles away in France. And I thought, time and again: “What the hell are you listening to, or trying to listen to?”

Little did I realise that, a few years later, I too would be scaling mountains (ok, raised bits of land, but you try lugging a bloody backpack round Greece in 40c heat) to find reception. It’s these strange things cricket fans do – which include crowding around Dixons or a TV shop in high streets – which almost make me like the game more.

Your turn.

Only Fools and Broadcasters

When I impale myself with a sharp object, I resolve to first, remove the said object, and second, avoid impaling myself in the future.

Brendon Julian, the former Australian all-rounder, takes a different view:

FORMER Test all rounder Brendon Julian has called for a radical overhaul of the “super sub” rule in one-day cricket, suggesting teams use a 14-man squad, with bowling rotations similar to those used in baseball.

Julian said the number of one-day matches on the international schedule put too much strain on players, particularly pacemen, and called on the game’s law-makers to investigate ways of reducing player burnout, starting with an alteration to the 12th man rule in limited-overs games.

At present teams must nominate a super sub before the toss, who can then replace anyone in the starting XI during the match.

The new law has been roundly criticised by international skippers, with Pakistan’s Inzamam-ul-Haq, Australia’s Ricky Ponting and South Africa’s Graeme Smith all pointing out it unfairly advantages the winner of the toss.

However, rather than scrap the rule, Julian has called on the International Cricket Council to expand it to include three potential substitutes, allowing bowlers to be rested when required.

“It was a good idea but the rule isn’t working in its present format,” Julian said.

“I think the best way to go would be to increase one-day squads to 14 and allow teams to make three substitutes throughout matches as they see fit.

Three sharp objects, clearly better then one.

C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas la guerre

That was a French General reacting to the Charge of the Light Brigade in 1854. It is also my reaction to the First Test, where India, as I write, are 0 for 403, and they’ve just gone off for bad light. Sehwag is 247, and Dravid is 128. This is in response to Pakistan’s 679 for 7 declared, a total that could have been far larger had Pakistan put their minds to it.

So by my creaky mathematics, we’ve had 1,083 runs and 7 wickets.

Great. But to me, this is almost as much nonsense as that Twenty-20 rubbish. Sorry to be an incurable snob, but to me, cricket is a contest between bat and ball, not a batathon. If there is any justice in this world the curator should be impaled with a pristine cricket stump, and I am sure Shoaib, Danish Kaneria, and indeed Harbhajan Singh and Irfan Pathan would endorse my sentiments.

Is that a podcast in your pocket, Sunny?

Apologies for the crude title. Apparently, Sunil Gavaskar is podcasting. I daren’t listen. Brave souls who venture further may report back here in the comments…

[via Rick (ta)]

Commentators allured to Twenty20 madness

Last week in Australia was one which may in hindsight be seen as a
historical turning point. Monday night brought the first home Twenty20
international won comfortably by Australia in front of a record crowd for
the Gabba of 38,894 patrons who left slightly deafer than when they came in
thanks to an atmosphere more reminiscent of a disco than a cricket ground.

But this was not the historical event: everyone has known for some time the
potentialities of Twenty20 cricket and their implications, not so much for
Test cricket as for one-day cricket, whose humdrum nature is shown in even
more stark relief. The truly fascinating development was the role of the
Channel Nine commentary team, who abandoned all pretence of being
disinterested critics of the spectacle before them, and turned into carnival
barkers: ‘Hurry hurry hurry, step right up and see the AMAAAAZING cricket
match!’ During South Africa’s insipid and incompetent reply to the
Australian total, viewers were told repeatedly that what they were watching
was the most exciting innovation since penicillin. One expects this from
Tony Greig, of course, who has been selling ghastly gew-gaws for years. But
here were Mark Taylor, Ian Healy, Mark Nicholas and Michael Slater, almost
tumescent with excitement, essentially doing the same: selling us a
one-sided one-dayer as though it was the Tied Test. No wonder Rich and
Chappelli had the night off; George Galloway on Celebrity Big Brother was a
model of parliamentary dignity compared with Slater’s desperate attempts to
endear himself to his temporary bosses. This reinvention of cricket
commentary as infomercial raised some provocative questions. Is the
commentator there to call the game, or to sell it? Is his duty primarily to
the viewer, to his employer or – strange anachronistic notion, this – to the
game of cricket? The commentators here are on a slippery slope, but they
look determined to slalom down it.

It was almost a relief to watch the comparative dignity of the opening VB
Series game on Friday evening, another damp squib thanks to the serene
inertia of Sri Lanka’s Martin Van Dotball, but with a soundtrack neither so
hysterical nor hyperbolic. It was possible to savour instead the
restoration of heart-warming traditions like the sound of Murali being
no-balled by one of those famously knowledgeable and hospitable Melbourne
crowds – something, of course, to which the commentators were far too polite
to refer. But ho! What have we here, with Nicholas and Healy at the
microphone? Mr Smooth and Mr Shrewd wearing false moustaches as part of a
beer promotion involving a talking Boonie doll! Pure ruddy gold. Kerry
Packer might have gone to his reward, but his spirit is alive and well. If
you can bear to sit through the eye-glazingly dull games, there’s some
veeeeerrry interesting stuff going down in Aussie cricket at the moment.

“Guests welcome”

No, I haven’t turned this blog into an elitist London bar which only allow members (“guests welcome” in smallprint at the bottom). I’m delighted to announce Gideon Haigh, author of several tomes and renowned cricket writer, will be guest-posting here at the CoU.

Gideon’s been writing about cricket longer than many, and is rather good at it too – so count yourselves fortunate that we have someone of his stature here. On that note, it’s over to the man himself…

Hussey’s catch

If you have Sky, or some way of watching Mike Hussey’s catch, then do. It was stunning. (Aus v SA). He ran 13/14 paces – a sprint – then dived and caught it in his left hand. Special bit of fielding that – quite brilliant! Is there anything much better in cricket than a great, great catch?

Sun setting at Adelaide

How good is this shot?

Flipping brilliant I think you’ll agree. From a recent South Australia v Tasmania cup game at the Adelaide Oval