The importance of sleep

Delicious irony in posting this at midnight on Sunday, but so be it. A great Ted talk from Russell Foster on why we need sleep, and apparently so much. I need at least 10 hours to function at anywhere near my best.

If atoms are nothing…

My head hurts. I just heard something I’ve long known, that atoms are 99.9% nothing. Just space.

We are made up largely of atoms.

What we see, feel, touch, taste and smell is therefore only 0.01% of *stuff*. So what and where is all the other 99.9% of stuff? These are exactly the types of topics I should not be thinking about at 4pm on a wintery Sunday.

Topics like these have always slightly bothered me, which has been a challenge since I’m absolutely fascinated by them. One of my earliest memories is of being shown a picture of the cosmos, and our planet and its position within the milky way. Various statistics were vomited into my brain: the sun, which to me always felt so close and unbelievably hot in August, even preventing me from riding my bike in the Thames Valley of the UK (not exactly Death Valley in terms of temperature), was about 145million miles away.

I then asked my dad how far away Grandpa lived, a journey we did most weekends and which took 45 adult minutes, or roughly 12 child years (or so it felt). “About 30 miles,” he said. I couldn’t get my head around the distances in space, and at 31 I still cannot. Many of the stars we see at night are dead or dying. The light from their death just hasn’t reached us yet.

Anyway. My response to being told this for the first time was almost to give up on life’s rules and set plans. I remember being told off for drawing on a wall, and my reaction was “Who cares? Nothing matters. It’s just a small mark on a wall. We are nothing!” I probably didn’t use those words exactly, but the sentiment is right. What does anything matter when we are all so insignificant?!

But, regardless, I still absolutely adore tea, even if it’s 99.9% “nothing”.

The first post

onceuponeatime

Hello.

I used to blog a huge amount. I started ten years ago writing about cricket, forming a cricket blog called The Corridor at www.cricket.mailliw.com, and a year later bashed down the doors of Cricinfo.com in Shepherds Bush, who to my immense surprise employed me as a journalist/writer. The blog was very popular and had good traffic, but I couldn’t spend as much time on it as I liked and after mistakenly losing two years of content, I decided to kill it off (the stuff from 2004-2007 is still in the cricket category though).

I’ve been at Cricinfo ever since, though now work for the parent company, ESPN. My relationship with cricket has soured since, but all commitments go through a rocky patch at some point or another and we’ll be reunited again, much as I hope to reunite me and writing through this blog.

When I first began writing about cricket I did so as a personal document. It was for me, and its being online was coincidental. That’s the purpose of this blog; I want to look back in ten years at the thoughts and experiences I had and see what changes. It’s only recently that I’ve realised just how long ten years actually is and how much we change. It would be nice to have a physical document charting this, so we’ll see how we get on.

There will be a lot of cricket, technology, media industry crap, philosophy, and other things written about – basically, all things which make me tick . Let’s see where it goes.

Notes from the pavilion between December 2nd and November 21st

Links of note from the past 24 hours:

Notes from the pavilion between December 2nd and November 21st

Links of note from the past 24 hours:

Shane Warne’s new TV advert

Apparently,

He was an expert at bamboozling England’s batsmen, but now Shane Warne is set to leave viewers flummoxed in a new TV advert.

The spin legend spent hours in make-up to appear as a baby and also as his own mum and dad.

Warne said: “It was a hoot. I absolutely loved doing the ads.”

Do leave a comment if you’ve seen it or, better, have a link to it.

Australia trounce Sri Lanka

So much for my hopes of a good contest- Australia thrashed Sri Lanka by an innings and 40 runs. (scorecard) What went wrong?

Well, while there’s been a lot written about the Australian performance, I think the finger needs to be pointed at the Sri Lankans. They made every mistake in the book, and invented a few more.

Errors in team selection. Check.

Wrong call at the toss. Check.

Dropped catches. Check.

Players underperforming when they were needed. Check.

I must confess to some surprise though when Marvin Atapattu came out with an extraordinary attack on the Sri Lankan selectors, characterising them as ‘muppets’ in an interview after the third day’s play. That sort of mistake was one that was out of the book. It’s going to be interesting to see if he’s permitted to continue with the tour. One batsman has to make way for the return of Sangakkara, after all.

But questions have to be asked of the Sri Lankan bowling line up too. It was generally thought by Australian pundits in the prelude to this series that this was the best Sri Lankan attack that we’d ever seen in this country, but they conceded 551 for 4 at a rate of knots. Had Ponting not been in a hurry to get at the Sri Lankan batsmen, 700 might not have been out of the question. What might have happened if only Malinga had got a game? As it was, none of the Sri Lankan bowlers made much of an impression- of the four wickets to fall, only Ponting was actually beaten by the bowler- Jaques, Hayden and Hussey got out through poor shot selection.

And Muralithiran? Well 2 for 170 was a pretty fair reflection of how he bowled. He did bowl a good spell after tea on the first day but apart from that stint, he was pretty unthreatening, and he copped some hammer from Ponting and Clarke. It is worth pointing out that for all his success, he doesn’t have much of a record against Australia, and also worth noting that finger spinners rarely do well here. You have to go back to the days of Phil Edmonds and John Emburey to find finger spinners that have had success in Australia. Bearing that in mind, perhaps expectations should be lowered a bit.

The Sri Lankan batting was somewhat disappointing too. Only somewhat though, because they were under constant pressure, first from the scoreboard, and second by the Australian attack. It was easy for the Australian batsman as they were fed a steady diet of pies, but Sri Lanka’s batsmen had to take risks to score runs, and except during the Vandort/Jayawardene partnership in the second innings, no batsman looked secure. Of the Australian bowlers, Lee gave his best performance in a long time, Macgill was probing, Stuart Clark continued his McGrath impersonation, and Johnson showed enough to suggest he has what it takes at Test level.

Can Sri Lanka regroup in time to make things a bit more even for the Second Test? They have the players to do so, but it must be hard. The Hobart wicket isn’t the sort of wicket that bowlers who are low on confidence are likely to take wickets on.  Australia’s bowlers on the other hand, will fancy their chances. But I still think that the margin in this Test isn’t a true reflection in the gap between the teams. Here’s hoping for a closer match starting on Friday.

I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue

Don’t worry. I haven’t turned into Cricket365 with their Addiction To Capitilaising Every Word In Headlines. I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue is my favourite show, on TV or radio, and returns for its fiftieth series on Monday at 6.30pm on BBC Radio 4. It is brilliantly stupid and gets better and better. If you’ve never heard it before, try to catch it tomorrow. You’ll thank me.

This from the Guardian’s Leader tomorrow:

Mrs Trellis of north Wales will no doubt be sitting by her wireless at 6.30pm this evening when the start of I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue’s 50th series is announced by the show’s bumbling brass theme (based on a tune by Haydn). What follows is guaranteed to be brilliant. It always is. Listening is like being welcomed back into a comfortable club on a wet winter’s night, a cheerful refuge from a dour, serious world outside. There may be people who are tired of its routines, its in-jokes and innuendo – but they are the sort of humourless listeners who write in to the BBC asking for the rules of Mornington Crescent to be explained (200 do every series), who wonder why Samantha hasn’t read out the score in years and probably question the need for the licence fee to fund Humph’s expensive laser display board, too. Everyone else appreciates the show’s relaxed brilliance. Many things contribute to this, starting with Humphrey Littleton, who has chaired the show since it began in 1972, getting funnier and bolder through the years. He does deadpan gags better than anybody else in broadcasting and gets more smut past the BBC, too. Without him the show would not have made it through 10 series, let alone 50, a magnificent score matched only by the even longer-lived Just A Minute. By rights Clue should have stopped being funny years ago. But there is nothing dusty or exhausted about a programme that still asks silly people to do silly things, and gets away with it every time.

And a very late arrival at pharmacists’ ball, would you please welcome Mr and Mrs Bollock-Steroids and their charming – if well-built – daughter Anna.

Australia are killing the game

Weather permitting, at some stage on Monday Australia will beat Sri Lanka, probably by a large margin. It’s becoming an annual trend, re-discussing Australia’s dominance and why it is hurting the game so much. But I’m not going to bother mentioning India and Pakistan’s one-day series, which interests me not a lot, so let’s go round in circles and debate why you think (or not) Australia are killing the game.

Malcolm Conn:

The sadness of Australia continuing to raise the bar in Test cricket means the foundation of the game is becoming less and less relevant in more countries as the Twenty20 phenomenon multiplies the excitement in shorter forms of the game.

This is even so in Australia, which has the strongest tradition of Test cricket with England. If Australia was playing a one-day or Twenty20 match at the Gabba it would have sold out long ago.

But modest crowds of little more than 15,000 on the first three days, followed by just 7629 yesterday amid showers, left many empty seats among the 40,000 at the recently redeveloped, world-class Gabba.

This is despite one Queenslander, Mitchell Johnson, making his Test debut and another, Andrew Symonds, playing his first Test at the Gabba, not to mention Matthew Hayden, as Ponting and his men try to extend their winning streak to record levels.

Victory here will give Australia 13 in a row since South Africa hung on for a draw in Perth almost two years ago. It is the second-longest winning streak in history, behind the 16 in a row Steve Waugh’s side set from October 1999 to March 2001.

Australians in defence of their juggernaut will point to the all-conquering West Indians of the 70s and 80s, and they’d have a point. But was the void so great as it is now? And were they, as we are now, so flummoxed as to a solution?