Is 50 the new 40?

My colleague and I were watching Kevin Pietersen crash his way to yet another hundred today when a thought popped into my head. Is the new benchmark for batsman to average 50, rather than 40 as it was a decade ago? He disagreed so we settled on the conclusion that, to be considered a “pretty damn good” batsman you’ll be averaging 45 as a minimum.

And it got us thinking back to the dark old days in the 1990s when none (Alec Stewart apart, briefly, I think) of England’s top-order averaged 40, while some lurked in the dismal gloom of the low-thirties. But these days, they’re all over 40 and two – Matt Prior and Kevin Pietersen – are averaging over 50.

On a similar line, if batsmen’s averages are increasing – and I have no evidence with which to support this claim as I’m rambling like a loon – are bowlers’ also inflating? A decade ago, a really decent bowler was said to be averaging under 25. But with batsmen enjoying such shorter boundaries, and the game’s frenetic pace spiralling upwards with each year, is 30 the new 25?

Thoughts welcome.

Darren DJ Sammy takes seven

Well bowled DJ Sammy. Just watched the highlights, and he bowled much better in England’s second dig; full, straight and intelligently cutting it off the seam. Seven wickets on debut and the first St Lucian to play for West Indies, too. He looks like he’s got something about him. Allied to his rhythmical action and control he’s slick in the field (excellent return catch to dismiss Michael Vaughan).

Best of all, he has some of the most entertaining celebrations I’ve seen in a long while

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.

The bowlers have a good day for once.

Bowlers around the world are actually full of the joy of living today.

In Faisalabad, Pakistan’s bowlers have been right on top in the Second ODI, and have bowled out West Indies for 151.

Meanwhile in Christchurch, Mahela Jayawardene showed that making bad decisions is not a monopoly of the English coach, because Sri Lanka batted on a greentop in the First Test, and were skittled for 154. New Zealand had some early alarms with Lasith Malinga, as you do when he’s sending them down at 94 mph, but are 2 for 85 at stumps.

In Ashes news, Shane Watson has been ruled out of the Third Test, with his hamstring injury not recovering in time.  I really feel for the guy. He has had a torrid time with injuries throughout his career.

And Shane Warne has (and you’ll NEVER believe this) still got plenty to say about Adelaide and the Second Test, and the Third…

“At this stage we are not getting carried away with the win,” he said.

“We are just concentrating on playing good cricket. We said all the way along we are just going to play each Test match and just keep our feet on the ground and keep playing good cricket.

“If we keep playing good cricket then hopefully things will go our way for the rest of the series. Tp win a Test that way has given us a bit of momentum going into next week’s match and we are 2-0 up which means they have to win two of the next three Test matches to retain the Ashes.

“Hopefully we can win in Perth and go 3-0 up and win the series.”

Warne admitted that bowling 27 straight overs took its toll on his body and he was looking forward to the week’s rest before the next Test in Perth, beginning on December 14.

“Yeah, the body is pretty sore and I’ve got a bit of a headache,” Warne said after the Australian team celebrated long into the evening.

“So I am glad we have a week until the next Test.”

Indeed. There are, in effect, three Tests in a row once the Perth Test starts, which is a drain on the players, and even the spectators. Blame Cricket Australia for that one.

Thoughts on Australia’s bowling attack.

Urban design blogger Russell Degnan turns his considerable intellect towards cricket on an agreeably regular basis. His latest offering is an analysis of Australia’s Test bowling options going through until 2009. Well worth a read.

Blast from the past

A blast from the past just now. Or, as Tony Greig would say, “a blorst from the porst, nice and hord and forst”. November 2004 I wroteth the following:

Richie Benaud commented during New Zealand’s first innings against Australia that no Australian bowler exceeded 140kph “which is pretty worrying.” It was a brief comment, but very interesting. The pitch and conditions suited extreme-pace, so it’s odd that Gillespie in particular didn’t make it to 140.

I don’t want to make this blog entirely biased towards England (but!) England’s bowlers averaged around 140 in most innings this summer. Steve Harmison in particular reached 96mph (154kph) (and averaged 94mph in his 10 overs) in an ODI. The Aussies are getting old…

Did whatshisname, erm…Stuart Clark reach 140 the other day? Don’t think so. Not that speed is the be-all and end-all, of course, but a four-pronged pace attack is such a luxury. And Australia’s bowlers are all, well…they need this bloke Mitchell Johnson to have an immediate impact. Left-armer too.

Clever!

First over of the Third Test, and Irfan Pathan takes a hat-trick. Good stuff, I like that guy, and good to see the poor bowlers get some joy in this series. I hope that no innings goes over 200.

Plunkett, Anderson – or both?

Just put this up on the Surfer, and it got me pondering. So I’m pondering over here, like the blogging whore that I am. Liam Plunkett or Jimmy A – who to pick? My doubts about Jimmy A continue, and my optimism surrounding Plunkett’s potential continue to increase – so I’ll opt for Plunkett, especially given his batting prowess.

Thoughts? England are due to announce their squad on Friday (this is for their tour to India, in case you were wondering).

Stop talking and start making runs

Strauss was on Sky News today, trying to calm our and his nerves about his total lack of form. Out for 20ish today, and Pietersen made an uncerimonious 1. So – stop talking, and knuckle down and make runs. Pietersen is in danger of not being picked for The Ashes unless he scores some big hundreds beforehand. Contine reading