Late cut

KP won’t have been too happy with his dismissal yesterday, but there was an extra shock as he removed his helmet en route to the pavilion. The big man has a formal short-back-and-sides barnet, no less conventional than Alastair Cook at the other end. Not a skunk in sight.

KP’s tastes may have moved on (improved?) but there is still a legacy from the stripy mullet that was unleashed a few years ago. It seems that the skunk ‘do has only just arrived in my part of the Cotswolds. It is often said that country folk are slow to pick up on fashion trends and popular culture, and there were no less than three members of the opposition last weekend who sported a KP tribute, no doubt hoping to feed off the success it brought him.

They were not identical, although the diamante ear stud came as standard. One wore the classic windswept badger brush, complete with puffed out chest, rolled up sleeves and bared biceps. He smacked a rapid 70-odd, including an enormous six that dented his boss’s Range Rover, so perhaps this hero-worship has paid off.

His opening partner had chosen the road-kill racoon, streaking the black-and-white with a fiery red. He didn’t make many. The third member of this tribute band had the full KP skunk, but he had chosen to fleck the tail with crimson dye. Heaven only knows how. He got a first ball duck, although he did take a few good catches. He was an Aussie, so it was unlikely KP had inspired him. Perhaps it was just a fashion thing. Or maybe he’d be better off with a Nathan Bracken Alice-band?

It got me thinking that a hairstyle makeover might help my own form. I could probably sprout a WG beard by the end of September. Any other recommendations?

Cricket’s coming home!

Ahhh, Victory!

To be honest, 3-0 after 3 is no reflection of the tightness of the contests, or the gap between the teams. I have a lot of respect for the power of this English team, and especially its batting potential. Even this morning I pondered the odds of an English victory, because in my view, Pietersen is good enough a batsman to orchestrate it. He just needed someone to stay there at the other end. He was unbeaten at the end as well.

How much harder Australia would have had to work if Hoggard, a tough defensive batsman, had been able to hold an end up with him, I leave to your imagination.

But how do I feel? This picture sums up my feelings. I’m having a Bundy Rum and coke, and lapping it up!

The Ashes at the Herald on Sunday
(Via Tony the Teacher)

Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth, 5th day

I’ve a feeling England won’t last until lunch. Andrew Flintoff has forgotten how gifted he is in simply hitting the ball; Geraint Jones is far too desperate to impress anyone and there begins the tail. Kevin Pietersen’s still in though, the freak, so how about he gets his fourth score of 158 and puts on 220 with Monty Panesar, who ends up 121*?

Yeah, ok. Chat away.

Live: Australia v England, 1st Test, Brisbane, 5th day

The fifth and final day from Brisbane. It looks as though the rain will hold off for Australia – late thunder is forecast, but that’s about all – so England will almost certainly enter the second Test on Friday 0-1 down. But all is not lost. Yesterday, they competed at last. Paul Collingwood – my secret tip for this series – looked increasingly fluent and combative in the afternoon, falling four short of a richly deserved hundred. And Kevin Pietersen batted with controlled mania for once, which was both exhilarating to watch and heartening for England’s cause; his duel against Shane Warne was not to be missed. Friends turned foes.

So let’s hope for everyone’s sake England can delay the inevitable and give Australia something to think about. Get chatting. I’m in work at 6 and will turn on TMS (for the first time in years, it seems) at about 5 to hear our fate…hopefully with Pietersen approaching 300 and England either scenting the most extraordinary win of all time, or a draw. Yes, quite.

Hoggard’s video diary from Australia

Matthew Hoggard is probably the most candid of the England side – intelligent, certainly, but endearingly mad – so it’s no surprise that he is video-blogging his tour in Australia. (vlogging, or some such ridiculous term I suppose you might call it). The Times are using YouTube which is a good sign, and below is his first entry. (Click here if you can’t see the video below).

And here’s the second:

And the third:

Ashes: biggest event for Aus since 2000 Olympics

A very insightful piece on Kevin Pietersen by Donald McRae in today’s Guardian – and a real lesson (for me, if no one else) in how interviews should be conducted. In it, among many topics, Pietersen says:

“We had a meeting earlier this week to discuss the tour and we were made to understand that the Ashes will be by far the biggest event in Australia since the 2000 Sydney Olympics. It’s going to be massive and the key thing is that it’s not something to fear – it’s something to be 100% excited about because, whatever the result, it’s going to be a humongous series. And I promise you, china, I’ll be ready for it.”

Go read it.

And coming out to open?

So who exactly will be opening the batting tomorrow? It seems as if Trescothick is not expected to, though I have not seen any mention of his being removed from the squad. There are also murmurs that Pietersen might be promoted to open. David Lloyd has been consistent in his belief that England don’t, and should, make more of the early powerplays. Could Pietersen do the trick? I’m not convinced. But I think Ian Bell should open, so what do I know.

Thoughts, anyone?

Kevin Pietersen’s autobiography: Crossing the Boundary

Ying from Random House emailed to remind me of Kevin Pietersen’s biography, which is due to be published on September 9, 2006. It should be an interesting read – and I’ll have two copies to give away on the blog shortly after publication. In the meantime, pre-order your copy from Amazon.

Kevin Pietersen, Crossing the Boundary

More questions than answers in the morning after

Are you all set for an exciting final day’s play today? It is a pity that in all the noise, there’s been very little said at all about the cricket itself, because England played some magnificent cricket until tea, with Kevin Pieterson to the fore once again. It would have been interesting to see what might have happened if England had been able to force Pakistan to chase 150 on the fifth day with plenty of help for Monty Panesar.

Well, if ‘ifs and buts’ were berries and nuts, we’d have Christmas every day. Of course the big story is the Great Oval Farce of 2006.

A couple of bored or overexcited journalists have called it the biggest crisis since Kerry Packer, which is just a bit over the top; there was the general match-fixing crisis and the Hanse Cronje affair, after all. What this farce is, when it comes down to it, is just a massive dummy spit that has been badly managed.

There’s been a lot of ill-informed commentary about this affair all over the internet already. However, you can not blame the commentariat for that; we still do not know all the facts about what has gone on. The failure of just about everyone involved to come out with timely information has simply added a layer of frustration to the whole mess.

We still do not know about what has happened with the state of the ball, and in talking to the BBC this morning, Malcolm Speed was pretty delphic with his remarks.

“The ball tampering charge, that will be dealt with, and there is power there for the match referee to fine or ban the player there. Similarly, if other charges are laid, the player could face fines or, if he is found guilty, he could face a fine or a ban.”

So it is quite possible that the umpires had someone specific in mind. I will await with interest the ‘charge sheet’ that is brought in the wake of all this, because if there is no particular individual charged with ball-tampering, then I have to say that the umpires have been way out of order.

It also appears that Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq may be charged with bringing the game into disrepute, by staging that ‘sit in’ after tea. Now bear in mind that he’s already been penalised by means of the forfeit, I think the ICC should tread carefully there. I basically agree with Aggers that the whole idea was pretty infantile, but having the game forfeited is actually a pretty severe penalty already.

I have to wonder about the Pakistani management though; how well was Inzamam advised? I do not blame him for not being aware of the ins and outs of cricket regulations; I think it is perfectly possible that he was not aware that in staging his protest, he ran the risk of forfeit.

And there is nothing wrong with that- a cricketer has enough on his plate without becoming the equivilent of a cricket lawyer. Inzamam is busy enough as it is avoiding training drills and actually playing the game. The role of being aware of every contingency is the role of the team manager. He is the fellow who should have got things moving.

Here is the timeline, once again:

4.40pm – Although play is officially due to resume, Hair and Doctrove wait in the middle, England batsmen Ian Bell and Collingwood remain on the dressing-room balcony while Pakistan do not re-emerge.

4.44pm – The match officials leave the field of play.

4.50pm – England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive David Collier is seen addressing England coach Duncan Fletcher.

4.55pm – The England fifth-wicket pair and umpires Hair and Doctrove return to the middle but Pakistan again are absent.

Now, to me, it seems that at 4.55pm, Pakistan should have emerged- they had staged their sit-in, made their point, and should have got on with the game. Clearly the players feelings were running high, and when that happens, people do not think as clearly as they ought, and it is at that point that the Pakistani hierarchy should have insisted to their players that they resume.

Because we don’t clearly know what happened, we can only guess that sometime in the next few minutes after 4.55pm, the umpires decided on declaring the game forfeit. However, if they did so, they were plainly in the wrong in clearly explaining this to the teams and the relevant ground authority.

England seem to have understood clearly enough- when Pakistan walked onto the field at 5.23 pm, they stayed confined to barracks. After all, they had been awarded the game. So if England knew it was all over, why did Inzamam lead his men on the field? Either they did know, and were trying to force the umpires to reverse their decision, or they did not know, in which case the umpires and Mike Proctor were incompetent in explaining the situation to Pakistan.

However, if the game had been forfeited, why was the ground authority not told? Play was ‘officially called off’ at 6.13pm, so from that we can infer that the game was still live at 5.23pm when Inzamam led his team back on the field.

In which case, why did England and the umpires not appear at that time as well?

Are you confused yet?

This is what happens when people aren’t kept clearly informed.

Where do we go from here?

The ICC needs to have a full inquiry into the mess, and to release its findings of what actually happened to the public. Beyond that, it is clear that dispute resolution procedures need to be improved. Also, the ICC needs to reform the way that it appoints umpires to fixtures. It is pretty clear that some teams have problems with Darrell Hair, and while it is a pity, it is also the case that cricket teams are entitled to play the game with confidence in the officials who are standing.

It is worth remembering after all that the whole point of having neutral umpires in the first place was to give both teams confidence in the integrity of the match officials.

Kevin Pietersen’s Porsche 911 up for sale

Kevin Pietersen is selling his Porsche 911. It’s done 5000 miles and is a snip at £63,995.

2005 05 Reg PORSCHE 911 S Tiptronic S Cabriolet Autobahn 2 Doors, Automatic, Cabriolet, Petrol, 5,000 miles, Metallic Arctic Silver. Aluminium Dials, Aluminium Handbrake and Gearlever, Automatic Air Conditioning, Black Hood, Black Leather, Electric Memory

More details at Auto Trader