Eleven cricketing sex scandals

There’s a great piece from this month’s South Africa Wisden Cricketer which we’ve put up as a special on Cricinfo: Eleven cricketing sex scandals.

Shane Warne owns the list, of course, but Pietersen, Akram, Mushtaq, and the entire West Indies team all receive worthy mention. Well done them.

It’s just an excuse to put up this photo of Coralie Eichholtz…so go and read.

[tags]sex scandal, shane warne, Coralie Eichholtz[/tags]

Australia’s retirements

What does it say of a side who, on the verge of losing three established players to pasture – two of whom have almost single-handedly provided the jugger in the naut for the past 15 years – seem unfazed by the effect it will have? Damien Martyn, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne have both announced their retirements and it seems Justin Langer is next.

It just seems Australia all have their rose-tinted goggles on. It’s certainly time to celebrate their careers, but what the hell about the future? Is this blind, cocky, Australian arrogance that these three can be easily replaced? Langer can – Australia have enough batting reserves to form another side entirely – but what about the bowlers? Stuart Clark has been remarkably consistent since he came in, but how will he respond being the attack leader in the absence of McGrath and Warne? The pair fed off each other for 12-15 years: one sucking the confidence and fluency out of the batsmen at one end to allow a more attacking line from the other. Clark has benefited hugely from both of them. And as good as he clearly is, I refuse to believe he is the new McGrath.

Brett Lee is never going to be the Test bowler Steve Waugh expected he would become. He is brilliant in one-dayers but too expensive, too raw in Tests to lead the attack (which makes Clark’s introduction to the side even more important). So, assuming Langer retires, what would your Australia side look like for 2007?

As ever, they have the best part of a year in which to formulate a replacement team; they’re in India for a Test series in November but, before then, one-day cricket reigns supreme.

Ghosts in the Machine

The ghost-written sports column is as old as sports columns. It is where the sportsman talks to a reporter, who converts the players views into a column that is fit for printing. Or so goes the theory.

Michael Atherton lifts the lid on the ghost-writing process. It is quite an eye-opener to see how the process works. He comes out against the practice, and I have to say that I agree with him.

Just by the by, is it not odd that the cricketers who are often the dullest to watch are often the most interesting sort of people off the field, and vice-versa?

England’s resident Ashes poet

I’ve forgotten all about England’s resident Ashes poet, David Fine, who was despatched by the Arts Council to cover England’s tour. Rod reminds me, and here’s David’s entry from Boxing Day

I saw England collapse again,
Collapse again, collapse again,
I saw England collapse again,
On Boxing Day in Melbourne.

Warnie got 5 for 39,
5 for 39, 5 for 39,
Warnie got 5 for 39,
On Boxing Day in Melbourne.

It gets better.

Grump, grump, grump I’m Glen McGrath,
Grump, grump, galumph, galgrumpalumph, I’m Glen McGrath,
I’ll bend your ear from here to the dressing room
And back again, over after over till you edge or miss
The point of my delivery

I’m not sure what to make of it, especially the first one, but I never quite got my head around stanzas and all that malarky. Your thoughts and submissions, please.

[tags]david fine, poetry, ashes poet, england in australia, ashes, the ashes[/tags]

Meanwhile, some photos from Devon.

Stormy scene on Slapton Sands

Sunny winter scene at Slapton Ley

Norman ‘Mandy’ Mitchell-Innes, 1914-2006

Cricket has such a long history, with deep offshoots at every turn, that it is next to impossible to know it all. Inevitably some people know more than others, and this is especially true at Cricinfo as I’m sure it is with other media organisations. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses.

Ancient history is not mine, but even my ears pricked up this morning when I heard of the death of Norman Mandy Mitchell-Innes who died on December 28. His is a fascinating story, as those from that era often are. He played his sole Test against South Africa in 1935 while still at Oxford University and it was for his uni that he most excelled in the game. As I found out today:

In all, he played 132 first-class matches, scoring 6944 runs – with 13 centuries – at an average of 31.42. He also took 82 wickets at 34.79 apiece. A precocious talent, he once scored 302 not out in a house match for Sedburgh during a single afternoon, causing The Sedberghian to report: “Such cricketers rarely come this way.”

I knew little of him before 8.30am this morning but, in getting the report up for Cricinfo, I’m now far less ignorant and can now bore my mates beyond rigid. Still not sure why he earned the nickname Mandy though…

Buchanan saves the kookiest ideas till last

Sydney is not only the swansong for Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath; it is also the last Test for John Buchanan as Australian coach. And not a moment too soon, if his latest media intervention is anything to go by.

Speaking to reporters at the MCG this morning, Buchanan said Australia was hoping for more of a challenge from England, which he thought had played without aggression, self-belief or thought of challenging the opposition for large parts of the Ashes series.

“I’m hoping that they really enjoy the New Year, come back with a new resolve and are really ready to take us on head-on in Sydney,” Buchanan said.

“I think we’ve been tested at certain periods of time but England haven’t been able to sustain their skills through the course of a five-day Test match. We’re quite looking forward to that in Sydney.

Short of baring his arse at the England team bus, I can’t think of a more insulting thing that Buchanan could have done. As an Australian, I can tell you that I wouldn’t have been too impressed if Duncan Fletcher had come out before the Oval Test in 2005 daring Australia to fire up.

It is a well established rule in all sports, not just cricket, that when speaking to the media of your opposition, you speak of them respectfully, and give them their due as worthy opponents. It does not matter if Australia are playing England, Zimbabwe, or Andorra at Test cricket.

When it comes to religion, I am an atheist. However, I am a devout believer in the cricketing Gods, and I fear their wrath. Buchanan’s actions could provoke a powerful response.

And I give thanks to all the Great Cricketing Gods that this is Buchanan’s last Test in charge. I’ll miss Warnie and Pigeon. Not sure I’ll miss Ned Flanders though.

Thoughts on scribes

The Guardian is touting Gideon Haigh on its Ashes webpage as ‘the world’s best cricket writer’.

That’s the sort of boosterism that I thought those lefties at the Guardian were dead-set against. But I digress.

After all, how would you define someone as ‘the best cricket writer’? Is it because he’s the most readable writer going around, or because he is the most descriptive? And there is two definate styles of writing, the ‘reportage’ and the ‘analysis’. So that makes defining the ‘best’ an even more subjective task.

So in effect, there are multiple writers that could reasonably be classed as ‘the best’, by each individual. And there’s plenty of individuals with their own ideas. Who are your ‘best writers’? And what do you want your ‘scribes’ to be writing about?


Gee, it feels good to be an Australian fan right now. All I wanted for Christmas was a whitewash. I’m not as sure as the media are that I’ll get it, mind you.

Despite everything that has transpired in this tour, I still have a lot of respect for the abilities of this England side. Obviously, I feel that man for man, the Australian team is better. However, England have shown enough on this tour that if they get their act together, they have enough class to win the Fifth Test, especially against a complacent Australia.

There’s nothing like seeing the old Enemy get hammered though. Enough of this rubbish about close series, I say. Norm Geras puts it best:

I’ve been struck by how many people have suggested to me that, even as an Australian supporter, I might have preferred to see a more closely fought series. Yeah, right. Like the time I was at Old Trafford in February 2001 and we’re beating Arsenal 5-0 at half time. Wasn’t I just thinking, ‘Oh damn, I wish it was 1-1, so that there was still a fight on to win the game’? Actually no, I wasn’t thinking that.

Cricket, all by its wonderful self, produces a whole variety of situations, and I find myself able to take pleasure in that variety. The close fought contest does have its appeal; and so, too, does the decisive triumph against a long-standing adversary. (And if there are England supporters who wouldn’t absolutely love to be 4-0 up against Australia with only one left to play, I’d like to meet them.)

Yep. I’m sure if the scores were reversed, there’d be plenty of English fans telling me ALL about it.

England’s leaked plans: thief exposed

TheAshesBlog.com can exclusively reveal the thief who light-fingered England’s leaked plans yesterday.

This marvellous spoof courtesy of the ever hard-working Darryl. Superb! If you can’t see the video above, click here.

Australia v England, 4th Test, Melbourne, 3rd day

The third day from Melbourne, and possibly the last. It’s all gone horribly Percy Sonn for England. But who knows? Two spectacular double hundreds from Flintoff and Pietersen, 600 runs in a day to give England a lead of 300ish. It could happen…but only if England have a peek at John Buchanan’s bowling plans…

Chat away