Fourth day thoughts from Headingley

What an interesting day, and a very good one for Chris Read who I wrote about at Cricinfo. The match is definitely in the balance, even though it will take a monumental and record-breaking effort from Pakistan to win. They have three of the best batsmen in the world to do it. Tuesday will be a thriller.

I’m exhausted and have nothing else to add. There is a batch of articles at Cricinfo so go and check them out

England v Pakistan, 3rd Test, Headingley, 4th day

So, we’re looking at a one innings match here. It’s all about how quickly England can score today – I don’t think the pitch will deteriorate enough to worry Pakistan in the fourth innings, if they’re set a tempting total. We have a match on here. Chat away.

If you’re very bored, read The Week That Was and our new feature for Mondays, Shots of the week (you can guess who’s behind it)

England v Pakistan, 3rd Test, Headingley, 3rd day

The third day from Headingley. Chat away you ‘orrible lot.

Scorecard

England v Pakistan, 3rd Test, Headingley, 2nd day

Odd first day. England raced along at more than four-per-over yet some of the decisions by the umpires – Billy Doctrove and Darrell Hair – were criminal. All worked in the favour of England and, in particular, Kevin Pietersen who nevertheless rode his luck with typical audacity and bullishness. Despite the loss of Chris Read – making his comeback after two-and-a-half-years – and the nightwatchman Matthew Hoggard, England ended the day on top. Pakistan, luckless throughout, looked lifeless and dispirited for much of the day; only Umar Gul showed any form or control. Mohammad Sami, though occasionally quick, lacked any semblance of control.

Day two – what will it hold? Chat away!

England v Pakistan, 3rd Test, Headingley, 1st day

Religion has, it is said, unified Pakistan and under Bob Woolmer they are a revitalised team with a greater togetherness. This wasn’t evident at Manchester last week though, when England stamped all over them. Expect a backlash tomorrow: there’s a lot of talent and a good dose of pride in this Pakistan team, and they could easily explode back into form as quickly as it deserted them at Old Trafford.

I’ll be on ball-by-ball commentary at Cricinfo, so keep the scorecard open for my and Jenny’s descriptions and musings of the day’s events. Ought to be a cracker.

Get chatting like the cricket-crazed people that you know you are.

England v Sri Lanka, 5th ODI, Headingley

The final one-dayer. Hurrah! Come on England, let’s at least see if they can compete this time.

Is too much cricket really never enough?

With all this media blather about over-worked cricket, I might as well put in my 0.02 cents.

Look, in one sense, it’s a bit rich for cricketers to complain that they are over-worked. Yes, Australia have played eleven Test matches and 18 ODI’s since October, but it is April, now. That is 70 odd days work in six months. Hardly the most onerous of work loads. And Australia have got a few extra days off in that lot by defeating opponents in Test matches in pretty short order. And they get paid literally millions. And they get the best groupies, as you might have noticed if you watch the Allan Border Medal night. So, you know, it’s not that hard a life being an international cricketer.

But on another level, it IS hard work. Adam Gilchrist is not only a fine keeper, passable stand-in captain, mighty batting hero and all round good guy, but he’s usually quite particular about his appearance. I’m not accusing him of being a metrosexual or a wannabe David Beckham, he’s just normally a neat and tidy guy. But in the First Test, he gave a fair impression that he was dressing like a flood victim. Overdue for a shave, too. Miss Zainub would NOT have approved.

Because it is what they are doing on those days off that really tells on the players. English domestic cricket is far more demanding because you are playing cricket day in, day out for months on end. However it takes far less of a toll on the players because they don’t have to travel nearly as much. For a player in a midlands county, away games are just a shire away. None of this intercontinental travel stuff. If you are playing for Derbyshire, half your away games are in driving distance. I’ve had daily commutes longer then the distance between Headingley and Old Trafford.

But for the international cricketer, it is a way bit tougher then that. The cricket is more intense, the pressure higher, the distances are further, and the time away from family is more crushing. Away from the field the temptations and distractions of fame slowly become a burden, the aches and pains dull the senses and it is a wonder that players stay as switched on as they do.

I’m not sure the current surfeit of international Test cricket is entirely good for the fans either. I think something is lost from the anticipation point of view, and that takes away something of the ‘specialness’ of the occasion. Test Cricket, like caviar, should not be indulged in every week of the year. It isn’t good for the players or the fans. When the players identify with Bob Segar, we know we have a problem

Headingley Carnegie

As you’ll no doubt have heard by now, Headingley has been renamed Headingley Carnegie, and I’m reliably informed that the name comes from Andrew Carnegie. He was a self-made rich bloke who, in later life, gave away most of his money to fund public libraries and so forth. So now you know.

Rotten name, though…bloody sponsorship deals ruin names.