No, this isn’t plea to bring back old money. That’s the total Somerset declared on earlier today. I may have missed the point, but presumably the thinking was to have a crack at Middlesex while the conditions were right and stop the opposition from getting full bowling points. It hasn’t worked in one sense, as Middx are currently 71 for 0. As far as bowling points, perhaps it was very shrewd of their skipper Justin Langer. (If this has already been discussed on The Corridor, then I apologise.)

Ordinarily, I might launch into a rant about cheating Aussies bending the rules, but I happen to be a big fan of Langer, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. But it does leave a bad taste in the mouth, not least as one of my fantasy team bowlers was denied the chance of filling his boots! (I also have Langer, who got a duck…)

Is it bad sportsmanship, clever captaincy or even a missed opportunity? What if Caddick had slapped a quick-fire 40? It could have changed the momentum entirely.

Beginning of the end for Flintoff?

It might be premature to say this, but Andrew Flintoff’s latest ankle surgery could signal the beginning of the end. If that’s too grand a statement then, at the very least, I cannot see him leading England’s bowling attack ever again (certainly not in the way he did in 2004-05 and especially during the Ashes).

The other alarming problem is he’s forgotten how to bat. How, then, will he get back into the team if he is not firing in either discipline? For his captaincy? Er, perhaps not.

Crusading through France

The Crusaders, an Australian team comprising former Test, first-class and league players, will travel to France to play a match just outside Paris on June 27 in their 42-day tour of Europe.

The highlights of their tour will be matches against a President’s Italian cricket X1, Switzerland, Duke of Norfolk’s XI and the MCC at the Lord’s Nursery Ground.

The Australian’s will spend a whole week in France visiting the Burgundy vinyards of the Cote d’Or, explore Paris and the Palace of Versailles and admire the beauty of Monet’s gardens at Giverny.

The Crusaders will play a match against Standard Athletic Club 24th June (2pm) at Meudon. From Paris they will travel to the Somme battlefields of northern France and the adopted Australian village of Villers Bretonneux. Then south to the Loire Valley and Chateau Chenonceau and Chateau Villandry and the highlight of the tour – the match against l’Equipe de France de Cricket.

Full story at This French Life.

Purple balls

Just remembered an incident that happened a week or so ago. We were playing against a local team of young lads, who were much better than us. So we were fairly peeved when their first batsman knocked the cover off one through to the keeper and stood his ground. It was one of those edges you don’t really need to appeal for, but given the batsman wasn’t budging, we turned as a team to the umpire. He was the same age and doubtless a good friend. No reaction. Therefore, not out.

Not much you can do, save for the odd choice comment, other than carry on. The next over, no less, his opening partner gloved one outside the off stump to the keeper. I was at extra cover and ran through to congratulate the keeper who had taken a smart catch low down. Again, no need to appeal. But, again, the batter had stood his ground. In fairness to the umpire, who was quite a bit older, he said he couldn’t be sure, but he expected batsmen to walk in a Sunday friendly. So, again, not out.

Bowler goes back to his mark, steam pouring from ears. Next ball, he finds the edge of the bat once more, but this is an inside edge that canons into the firecrackers of our villain and he goes down like the proverbial sack. Eyes rolling, tongue lolling, face as white as Fred Trueman’s backside. Laugh? We nearly wet ourselves.

After five minutes and a magic sponge, he’s back at the crease. Hanging gingerly on the back foot, he steps across his stumps and gets rapped in front. Probably going down leg, but we go up anyway. We hadn’t managed the ‘HOW’ before the umpire’s finger goes up. What goes around….

The first batsman goes on to get 70. Was he justified in standing his ground? I don’t think so. But if he needed it that badly, then good luck to him.

Golden balls

Gutted about the latest no-show from the West Indies, although I guess that if England can’t win a Test match in early season freezing Headingley against a team of under-prepared novices from the Caribbean, then we never will. Hardly a level playing field.

Of course, it wasn’t just England handing out a thumping this weekend. India gained some sort of revenge for the ignominious defeat at the World Cup, by dismantling Bangladesh. At 408 for 0, has there ever been a worse decision to bowl first? (Well, yes, Nasser, probably…)

My sympathies go to Javed Omar. A first ball duck is never a good feeling, as I reminded myself in a 20-20 match last week. I’ve earned the Primary Club tie on my mantlepiece many times over (five, at least), but I’ll put another note in their online bucket (www.primaryclub.org) for good measure. I’ve also got two diamond ducks (first ball of the innings) on my CV, which is enough disappointment for one lifetime, I hope. Can anyone better that?

Poor old Javed can, I’m sure, as he bagged two in the match. Has that ever happened before? In fact, what do you call that? Is it a King Diamond Pair? Or a Sapphire Pair? Did anyone see the commentary – I suspect someone answered that at the time?

Slow but steady wins the race

Neither of the last two Tests has provided the kind of intrigue or tension to really kick-start this summer’s cricket. At least, such as it may be called summer when hail stops play. While the crowds may rue the decline of a once great Test nation, however, the England selectors have some cause to smile.

Kevin Pietersen may have sneaked the Man-of-the-Match award with his maiden international double hundred, but Headingley was Ryan Sidebottom’s Test. After the Durham pair of Plunkett and Harmison had comprehensively failed to look threatening at Lord’s, or even manage to find both line and length with any frequency, the prospect of a return for the equally unpredictable Anderson or Mahmood was not one of eager anticipation. Sidebottom’s selection, whilst somewhat left-field and seen by some as a backwards step, certainly served purpose. His experience and discipline was priceless to an attack whose two frontline ‘strike men’ seemed as unsure as the opposition batsmen as to where each of their deliveries was going to pitch. Michael Vaughan possibly summed it up the Aesopian predicament most accurately:

“If you’ve got someone bowling 90mph in the right area, it’s fantastic, but pace bowled on either side of the wicket is something that’s quite nice to face.”

Sidebottom, like Prior, had not had the most successful start to the cricketing calendar. Handed his second Test cap, he took his best haul in all competitions this season in the first innings, with his second innings figures costing a mere two runs extra. Prior’s two first-innings outings have both been far in excess of any of his scores for Sussex this year. Is Moores simply blessed with good fortune in his early selections, or does he have Fletcher’s Midas touch for the international performer? It is surely too soon to tell; but for the moment it seems likely that Nottinghamshire will have to wait a little longer to regain their curly-haired left-arm seamer.

Not all of the selection decisions have paid off. While Graveney et al cannot take blame for Harmison’s curious lack of consistency, Plunkett’s rather robotic action accounts for much of the troubles that went unhidden by his flattering figures at Headingley. Sidebottom has just highlighted the quality that can be found and developed in the county system that Duncan Fletcher had come to distrust. Unless Donald is able to make a swift and significant impact, a return to Durham for the young man may be the best way to improve his game.

Excuse me, there’s a bug in my turkey

26% of the British population, an estimated 16m people, shop at Tesco every week and I am one of them. Generally, I think it’s a reasonable shop and I’ve never had any ill effects or need to complain. Until today.

Shopping for a culinary extravaganza later this evening I browsed the turkey. It’s all pre-packaged and all looked fine, until a customer next to me started laughing and pointing at one of the packets. There was a bug in it. He was a tourist here on holiday, and found the whole experience very amusing. I’m not sure where he was from, but he didn’t seem to particularly care, and grabbed the next nearest one.

Naturally, I kicked up a fuss on his behalf. After last week’s Panorama investigation into out-of-date food (and other horrors) prepared at both Tesco and Sainsbury’s, I was pretty shocked. The bug appeared to have wings but, from what I could see, had embedded itself into the turkey. God knows where it had been before it landed on this particular strip of exquisite meat.

Tesco’s response was revealing and encouraging. The bloke I approached was absolutely shocked and went into a mild panic, telling me he had to find his manager. “I’m meant to report this, I’ve got to report this,” and so he did. 10 minutes later the manager had been coaxed down from his office onto the floor who was very, very wary of me indeed but apologetic and assured me it would be looked into. According to him, it will be sent away for testing. What about all the other food there? He was less certain – and of course, there’s not a lot Tesco can do short of issuing a public health warning that some meat bought on May 27 from Hammersmith might be infected or contaminated. And they won’t do that unless absolutely necessary for fear of eating into their vast profits.

The manager ordered all of “that batch” of food be taken off the shelf, but the damage has already been done. The shop was closing, the bought food now winging its way across London into people’s kitchens. No one will be any the wiser and, if someone is ill, then so be it.

It was a lesson though. I tend to pick stuff up, make sure it’s not blue or green etc and hopefully find something that isn’t coated in fat, and that’s that. But to see an actual bug, a fly, nestling in the meat…it does make you think.

Celebrity commentators: Jools Holland

As predicted, the rain is tumbling down. Not quite as bad in Leeds as it is here in London, which is encouraging, but I doubt there’ll be any play at Headingley until mid-afternoon. Hey ho (Flint), stick some music on, make a cuppa cha. I’m watching Jools Holland’s Later from last week with a frightening looking Joan Armatrading bitching it on a Fender. Rawk. Incidentally, Jools would be a shoo-in for my Celebrity Cricket Commentators list – welcoming everyone in the comm box. “And here, today, we have the brilliant, the extraordinary, the multi talented…AGGERS! Thank you!” etc.

So Jools would be one, Alan Partridge another. Who else?

England v West Indies, 2nd Test, Headingley, 3rd day

It seems unlikely that there’ll be much play today, if any. However, with England in such a strong position, they might not need many overs to wrap the game up. Follow the weather on cricinfo, and if I’ve got the HTML right, here’s Ceefax

Chat away

Changing of the West Indian guard

It was the third over of the day on a sprightly Headingley pitch. The clouds hung heavy, there was a stiff breeze hurrying across the ground, and England were facing a bearded West Indian at the end of his run-up. 10 or 15 years ago, those previous two sentences would have been code for an England collapse, several of them nursing serious injuries, but not now.

Denesh Ramdin, the wicketkeeper, received the signal from Corey Collymore to stand up to the stumps. And still they refused to take the new ball. Enough said.