The luck(less) of the Irish

Shoved this story up today and couldn’t stop laughing at it. 31 hours! “I could have driven there quicker.”

The Irish sweets of the Englishmen

Cricinfo ran a story on Nathen Bracken making suggestions that England’s control (use of) reverse-swing wasn’t, erm, entirely legal. (When has reverse-swing ever been entirely legal though?) Bracken suggested the England team might have used mints/sweets, and the sugar contained in them might have assisted the Irish swing, which bowlers like Simon Jones and Andrew Flintoff used to such great success in the summer. And I thought the whinging Aussies had finished their diatribes by now…

A few hours later, Mr Bracken retracted his comments

And while on the Irish theme, here’s a joke for you. Try to say these four words without sounding like an “astonished” Irishman: Well, Oil, Beef, Hooked.

Middlesex chase down 406 – Joyce makes 1000

As if today’s news couldn’t get any better, Middlesex have chased down an amazing 406 to beat Glamorgan – absolutely brilliant, albeit whilst batting on a road. The best news of all, though, is Ed Joyce has made it to 1000 runs for the season – as I hoped he would – and I’m over the moon. His innings today of 70 came from just 61 balls, on top of his first-innings 155 – 225 runs in the match, without being dismissed. Phenomenal.

I’m not really a stats-man, but here are some for those that are. He’s made 1002 runs (1000 runs in a season is the benchmark for batsmen in England – in case some weren’t aware) @ 91 per innings. Curiously, 4 of the top 6 run scorers this season are English – which hasn’t always been the case, and is especially encouraging given the number of overseas players there are this season (and indeed Aussies). They are (Englishman highlighted in Bold):

Name                Mat    I  NO  Runs   HS     Ave     SR 100 50   Ct St Team

EC Joyce              7   13   2  1002  192   91.09  67.06   2  8    5  - MIDDX
AN Cook               9   16   0   901  195   56.31  54.70   3  3    5  - MCC/ESSEX
M van Jaarsveld       8   14   1   858  262*  66.00  56.18   4  2   12  - KENT
SA Newman             8   13   0   842  219   64.76  69.24   4  -    6  - SURREY
A Flower              9   14   4   823  188   82.30  49.69   3  3    5  - MCC/ESSEX
IR Bell               9   14   3   823  231   74.81  58.57   2  4    4  - WARWICKS/ENG

At this stage in the season, to see an Englishman (ok – an Irishman, but he qualifies in about 2 weeks time) be first to 1000 runs (I think he gets an award for this, too – anyone know?) is really encouraging news, as is the number of young batsmen in the top 20. We’re generally accustomed to seeing the Old Stagers, like Ramprakash and Hick, in the top 5 – but they’re languishing miles behind having made 622 and 620 runs respectively. English Cricket is certainly becoming stronger and stronger with every season, and players – like Joyce, Shah, Key, Bell, Newman – are thriving.

Joyce now ready

“When you’re ready, England” might be what Joyce says to himself whilst batting this season. He looks so laid back at the crease, he could almost have a chat with Fletcher on his mobile, whilst caressing a Gower-esque four through the covers.

He’s the Irishman I keep banging on about who today hit another hundred, and a big one – 155 from just 188 balls, albeit on a decent track. He’s now just 68 runs short of 1000 runs in the season – an awesome feat, and if he gets a chance to bat again in this match, he could well be the first to do it in the country. With all the Australians and other foreign players over here, it would be quite an achievement – as well, of course, as almost certainly being the first Irish national to do it.

He might have to wait a bit though – Bell and Pietersen are higher up the pecking order, but Joyce is a Thorpe-replacement if ever I saw one.

Warne on Pietersen, England and Joyce

Shane Warne, writing for The Times, writes interestingly about Kevin Pietersen (who else) – his new best friend – who he’s nicknamed PK. Yeah, exactly! He reckons… Contine reading

Ed Joyce stands alone

As a Middlesex supporter, I’m obviously biased – however, my opinions of Ed Joyce are shared by far better judges than me. Today, he hit 192 out of a total of just 345 ao. The next highest score was a paltry 39 by Ed Smith, posh bloke, author and recently snatched from Kent.

I’m incredibly excited by this. Joyce, as I’ve mentioned once before, is Irish and finally qualifies to play for England in July. He is a great talent, an eye-catching player and this innings took him past 4000 runs averaging 45 in 63 matches.

Last year, when Hussain injured himself in the nets, Andrew Strauss was called upon (“plucked from obscurity”) – and we know what he’s done since. 5 hundreds, over 1200 runs, averaging 56. Whilst it’s unfair to compare the two, Joyce does have very similar and slightly better statistics. About a third fewer FC matches, but already has 12 hundreds to Strauss’ 16. This bloke can play. Don’t discount seeing him in the winter touring party if he continues to score hundreds like the one today which, incidentally, a radio journalist called “The best hundred I’ve seen for years.”

Glenn McGrath a softie?

Just came across this, at Middlesex’s website where McGrath last year spent a whole 30 days. Getting soft in his old age? He highlights 2 players us Middlesex fans have long spoken about, Ben Hutton and Ed Joyce. I think Joyce is a huge natural talent – quite similar in “class” to a young David Gower – but he’s still not qualified to play for England just yet (he’s Oirish)

Postcard from Glenn McGrath

THE Middlesex Cricket Club’s record book for the 2004 season notes my time with the Crusaders was short and sweet; just one month to be exact! However, I’ve marked it in my diary as a happy and fulfilling experience for a couple of reasons.
You see, apart from allowing me the chance to play First Class cricket in England, something I genuinely enjoy, my stint with the Crusaders also allowed me the opportunity to prove to Australia’s national selectors that I was ready for a recall to the international arena after overcoming a troublesome ankle injury.
The Middlesex officials, players and supporters appreciated the nature of my mission and offered me their total support. In return, I gave them my best. Admittedly my appearances out in the middle were limited, but I was determined to take wickets and to bowl as many overs as possible.
As for Middlesex, I am happy to be on record as saying I’m impressed by the nature – and spirit – of the club. It boasts talented young players and from what I observed each possesses a winning attitude towards the game.
Two team members who immediately spring to mind as players to watch are Crusaders captain Ben Hutton and the so-called “Irishman waiting to be an Englishman”, Ed Joyce.
The grandson of the great Sir Len Hutton, Ben, or Gibbo, has the pedigree to be a cricketer of above average ability. However, he strikes me as definitely being his own man. He’s a mature leader who knows how to get the best out of his players. As for his batting, well, it is top shelf.
Like Gibbo, Ed is a talented left hand batsman and once he qualifies to represent England I’m confident the English selectors will see to it that my Aussie team-mates and I have one or two arm wrestles with him out in the middle. It’s a challenge I look forward to!
Ed and Ben are but two of a talented bunch and it’s my view Middlesex will achieve great things if the players can continue to marry their collective ability with their positive mindset. I should credit coach John Emburey for his efforts to put the team on the right track. Indeed, their approach which has impressed me so much mirrors the example John sets at training and in the match day dressing room.
One of the great delights of my career has been playing at Lord’s, the home of cricket. Apart from being the scene of my Test career best of 8/38 during the 1997 Ashes series, I’ve long considered Lord’s as an almost sacred place. To have been privileged enough to call it my “home” ground, even just for a month, is very special. It was nice, too, to sit in the home dressing room for a change and enjoy the view.
I would like to take this opportunity to assure the good ladies of Lord’s who are responsible for the lunches and teas that I rate their efforts as the best ‘tucker’ (that’s Aussie for food) I’ve enjoyed at any cricket field in the world! I faced a definite danger of gaining an extra inch around my waist during my Middlesex stint!
Middlesex, my stay with you was all too brief, but I’ll long remember a month of good cricket, good people and good times. Thank you.

All my very best wishes for the future,
Glenn McGrath
On tour with the Australian team
October 2004