Chris Jordan: one to watch

Talent spotting is an inherently unreliable business. Mark Lathwell, Mark Ramprakash. Matthew Maynard and Graeme Hick are just four gifted batsman who, in their own way, were earmarked for world domination when I was a nipper. They all failed.

My cynicism grew further when Angus Fraser, my biggest hero growing up, penned in Wisden Cricket Monthly one issue that Paul Franks was destined for great things. How could Fraser be wrong about anything, I thought? But he was.

So it’s with decided trepidation that I read David Fulton’s crystal-ball gazing in The Times, though I can’t help but find the prospect of Chris Jordan anything other than fascinating. 18, born and brought up in Barbados, he has played just five first-class games for Surrey. Fulton says:

Jordan has the kind of natural fast bowling gifts that so characterised the West Indies attack of a previous era. Generating genuine pace with the smoothest of actions, this young man was born to bowl.

What sets Jordan apart from a lot of young speedsters is that he already looks like the finished article. He has command of line and length, an ability to work batsmen over – and out – and the capacity to dig deep on flat wickets. In the last round of county championship matches against Lancashire on a typically true Oval pitch, Jordan knocked over Lancashire’s tail in the first innings with the type of short-pitch bowling that gives lower order batsmen nightmares. More impressively he put in a mid afternoon burst in the second innings when Lancashire were cruising that touched 90mph and wouldn’t have looked out of place in Test cricket.

Jordon hasn’t decided which country to pledge his allegiance. And given the the calimitous state of West Indies cricket, I hope for his sake he chooses England. But wouldn’t it be great if we produced a quartet of terrifyingly quick bowlers in the next 12 months, all ready for Australia in 2009? (yes, it’s not that far away)

Darrell Hair under the spotlight

Darrell Hair, the rotund Australian umpire, returns to the back pages of newspapers and homepages of websites next week when he appears at a London tribunal. Hair is suing his employers, the ICC, for racial discrimination – and here’s a brief overview of why.

England v Pakistan, 4th Test, The Oval, 4th day. August 20, 2006. Five penalty runs are awarded to England when Hair signal to the umpires of his conviction that the ball has been tampered with.

An early tea is taken, but Pakistan stage a protest after the interval and refuse to play. Hair, his colleague, Billy Doctrove, and the two England batsman walk out alone and wait for 15 minutes before the covers are brought on signalling the end of play.

Pakistan eventually do make it out onto the field, but by this stage Hair and Doctrove have already decided that the match has been awarded to England.

Cricket’s Law 21.3: “in the opinion of the umpires, if a team refuses to play, the umpires shall award the match to the other side.”

The match was then forfeited, England winning. In the following days it seemed likely that Hair’s position was increasingly untenable, with the Asian bloc threatening to gang up on him. So he responded in a quite remarkable manner by offering to leave, but only for a retainer of $500,000. This was a huge mistake and the ICC exploited his greed by revealing all, as they should have done.

In November he was banned from umpiring in internationals, owing to immense pressure from the Asian bloc who voted for his removal. England, Australia and New Zealand were the three who wanted him to stay. Billy Doctrove’s career, however, could continue and he was not banned.

In February he instructed his lawyers, Finers Stephens Innocent, to issue an application to the London Central Employment Tribunal alleging racial discrimination.

And this all kicks off on Monday, so I thought it best I get my head around it all beforehand. And there’s another twist: Inzamam-ul-Haq, the former Pakistan captain, has been summoned as a witness. If he doesn’t turn up – this is Inzy, remember – the tribunal have the authority to issue sanctions which could then lead to his arrest.

Nasty times. Keep your eyes peeled on Cricinfo for the latest.

A necessary evil

I have to disagree with what Will’s written below, if only indirectly.

By this I mean that I too wish that there were less cricket, and fewer meaningless one-day nothings. But the reality is that international cricket must turn a hefty profit, seeing as domestic cricket everywhere in the world – and Test cricket in some countries – does not. To fuel the intense growth the sport needs in order to survive, it has to reach as many people as possible. And if you’re not sure that’s a good thing to be aiming for, consider this: a generation ago, the only way of following overseas tours was in the paper the next morning or in a 30-second report on the news. TV and the web have made cricket global, and it’s benefited all of us.

And thus the pointless but necessary one-day treadmill. But it’s not like all this extra cricket is being shoved down our throats against our will. If real cricket fans weren’t prepared to watch and pay for it, it wouldn’t happen. The cricket boards, the ICC and the executives are only meeting demand.

Of course we’re worried about standards, and we’re right to rail at the greed of those in charge. But we shouldn’t discard a formula that has given fans greater access to cricket than ever before. Besides, the only people who could realistically do something about it if they wanted to are the players themselves, and apart from the odd muttered protest, they’ve been strangely inactive on the issue.

A final thought. This time last year England were in exactly the same position – thrown into an Ashes series straight after a major tournament. Back then the criticism was not that England were playing too much cricket, but not enough. We have to strike a balance somewhere.

I hate treadmills. I hate one-day cricket

This is wrong, so wrong. A fascinating summer of cricket has barely finished and yet already England are playing their first match of the winter, with a friendly today against a Sri Lankan XI ahead of a series of five ODIs.

Writes Patrick. It’s a huge bugbear of mine that so much cricket is being played, and so little is being done about it. The season hasn’t had time to catch its breath, yet off England traipse for another bloody one-dayer on Monday. This treadmill just doesn’t stop.

Contrast this with the Ashes summer of 1993. Six Test matches were served up, drizzled with a light sprinkling of three one-dayers (Texaco Trophy!). The Championship finished on September 20 and England’s next international was on February 16, 1994 against West Indies, a gap of 4 months and 27 days. I was approaching 12-years-old at the time, and must admit that the hiatus for someone of that age was too much to bear. Fast forward 13 years and cricket is now a constant in our lives. It’s not so much “when” the cricket is on as “who’s playing?” or “where?” Someone, somewhere, will be playing a meaningless one-dayer, earning lots of money for it, and/or forming the beginning of a career-threatening injury which will cut short the number of Test matches he plays.

Some more figures for you. Between January 1 2006 and January 1 2007, England played 14 Tests and 20 one-dayers – a total of 170 days of cricket. In the same time period, India played 30 one-dayers and Australia 29.

We want less cricket. We want fewer one-dayers, and a greater focus on Tests; the less cricket – the less the physical and mental strain on the players – the greater the quality they will produce. Cricket (and sports in general, for that matter) must start to look after itself better and not wring itself dry. We’ll survive with less, honestly. TV companies will too. Yes, the executives might not be able to afford their great-grandson’s private education, or a shiny new Porsche 911, but who is this bloody game for?

Ranting now. Join in below.

India arrive home

A quiet and dignified welcome by Mumbai to India’s World Twenty20 winning team. An understated reaction as ever.

More people

Even more people…

Cars and more, more, more people

TWC commentator’s poll

The latest issue of the Wisden Cricketer features the now regular poll on readers’ favourite commentators. Geoff Boycott takes top spot, followed by Jonathan Agnew, David Lloyd, Michael Atherton and Michael Holding.

What does everyone think about that?

And why was Mark Nicholas only eighth? Am I the only person around of the opinion that Nicholas is an unheralded broadcasting genius and at least the equal of Richie Benaud? Or do I go too far?

Rest in peace, 50-over cricket?

Today’s match, the final of the World Twenty20, was a real cracker; a low-scoring thriller decided in the final over. A fitting finale (if not tribute) to the tournament, some are saying. And I dread to think of India’s reaction to it all. “The greatest day in Indian cricket history!” will be a penned as a headline, somewhere, on a newspaper, website, blog or city wall shortly I’m sure.

But hang on a minute. Is this tournament a viable replacement, as many advocate it should be, to 50-over cricket, a format that has been in place for 45 years? Are we not shortening the games for shortening’s sake?

One-dayers began as 65 overs. Then they were reduced to 60; cut to 50; snipped to 40; bolstered to 45 before levelling off at 50. Until the ECB, panicking at a decline in gate receipts, thought they’d try something new and they cut the whole thing in half again.

Twenty20 appears to have re-energised an ageing format (and game), and so it has. But how long before this too becomes stale and we watch hour-long Ten10 games?

My hunch is that we’re a few years away from Twenty20 becoming the dominant one-day format, but I’m sure it’ll happen. It’s fun, it’s new and different but it’s still one-day cricket and, thus, it sucks rather a lot. As long as they leave Tests well alone; in fact I think Inzamam-ul-Haq wants them extended to six days! Much, much more like it.

Your thoughts please.

ICC World Twenty20 Final: India v Pakistan

So, the final is upon us, and it is the dream one for the ICC- India vs Pakistan. The success of both teams in this tournament will do more then anything to popularise this form of the game. There’s no doubt we shall be seeing a lot more of it in the years to come- a fact that must engender mixed feelings in the players as well as more traditionally minded fans.

Both India and Pakistan have made it to the final thanks largely to the efforts of some of their less heralded players; the new format has given a new lease of life to some fringe players too. The final will add the weight of expectations to the players, which I hope will not dampen the freedom with which they play.

I saw the group game that took place in Durban between the two sides, that ended in a tie, with India winning the subsequent bowl-out. I think the final will not be quite as close but at this stage, I cannot pick a winner. Although given that it is being played at Johannesburg, traditionally favouring the chasing side, the toss might be as crucial a factor as anything else.

Keep an eye on Cricinfo’s scorecard, and leave your thoughts on the match in the comments below.

Dash off and away

It has been a disastrous day for the hyphen. Nearly 16,000 of them have been cast into oblivion by the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, according to the BBC.

The sixth edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary has knocked the hyphens out of 16,000 words, many of them two-word compound nouns. Fig-leaf is now fig leaf, pot-belly is now pot belly, pigeon-hole has finally achieved one word status as pigeonhole and leap-frog is feeling whole again as leapfrog.

Wicket-keeper with 10 broken fingers

Well, eight broken fingers and two broken thumbs. This is David Morrison, a league wicket-keeper who like most Britons has been using that underrated medical solution to ease his joints: a frozen bag of peas.

‘My fingers still work, more or less. I can bend them all from the first knuckle, although I do have a physio who manipulates the joints to soften the tissue.’

Mr Morrison, a taxi driver from Scruton, suffered most of his injuries in his younger days wearing flimsy chamois leather gloves.

He said he had considered retiring from wicket keeping in 2002 but could not bring himself to walk away.

Last weekend he picked up both a Darlington and District League championship medal and a black eye when a 16-year old leg spinner caught him unawares.

‘I’ve told him that his eyes have gone, his fingers have all been broken and he’s far too old for wicket keeping, but he just won’t listen,’ said his long-suffering partner, Valerie Tait, a 62-year-old former landlady.

‘He’s back playing for Barton as if nothing’s happened – then he creeps home on Saturday night with yet another black eye.’

Via Metro.