Photos from MCC v Sussex, Lord’s

Some cracking photos from Peter Meade of MCC v Sussex.

Matthew Hoggard in typical unrestrained, relaxed, un-mediary pose:

Matthew Hoggard

Steve Harmison. Pensive as ever.

Steve Harmison

And finally…

Friends Provident

An unmissable horror show

By the time I’d reached double figures, my brother had subjected me to most of the vile horror and thriller movies Britain and Hollywood had churned out. Older brothers are good for this. I’d worked through the initial mind-bending disgust and learned to appreciate their cinematic qualities, or so I insisted. And today, watching Adam Gilchrist smack the second-fastest Test century, I was transported back to my youth.

Like England, I no longer feared Gilchrist. Bring Freddie around the wicket and let the ball do the rest. But once Gilly passed fifty, everything clicked spectacularly. England were sinking like ten Titanics piled on top one another, and Australia were beating the urn from them like an unruly bouncer confiscating a teenager’s alcopop. The sixes were worthy of 12 and the unrestrained violence was just too delicious to ignore. You wanted him to get there. Viv Richards? Who’s he? Let Gilly beat it, and some. I was urging him on like a true blue Aussie (or a true green’n’gold).

One feedbacker to Cricinfo proclaimed Matthew Hoggard as the most unsporting bowler ever to draw breath (or words to the effect of) by preventing Gilchrist from taking the record from Richards. Yes, Hoggard did send the ball wider and Gilchrist couldn’t quite reach it – but that is the bowler’s job. I’m not convinced Hoggie was even aware of the record, anyway…

Epic. Sometimes, foes are just impressive not to admire. (read his full innings via Cricinfo’s ball-by-ball. Shouldn’t take long…)

Hoggard’s 5th video diary from Australia

Couple of days late, but here’s Matthew Hoggard’s 5th video diary from Australia. (see previous videos)

Click here if you can’t see the video above.

Hoggard’s 4th video diary from Australia

Matthew Hoggard’s fourth Ashes video diary. Usual nonsense but he does it better than most cricketers could and it’s good to see behind the scenes at Adelaide. It ends with him in an ice bath…click here if you can’t see the video below.

Fast, and not so fast, bowlers

There’s been more ink and bytes spilled on the Steve Harmison issue then any other English player in the last week or so then I can remember. Given that so many English hopes rested on his shoulders, that is understandable.

Jagadish crunches some numbers on Harmison. Meanwhile, his fellow fast bowlers escape scrutiny.

England’s other bowlers deserve some stick as well. Matthew Hoggard is an honest toiler, but he will struggle in Australian conditions. The lack of reverse swing has gone a long way to de-fang him. And, let me make it clear, it would have de-fanged Simon Jones as well, if he had been here. There might have been a few less half volleys, but it is wishful thinking to think that England’s attack would be much more dangerous with Jones about. At best, he might have stemmed the tide.

Since Jones is not around, England called upon two younger sorts. Jimmy Anderson got the nod at Brisbane, and he was mediocre. His bowling figures reflect that too. He was not able to bowl a consistent line or length to develop any pressure on the batsmen and Australia’s batsmen just waited for the bad balls and picked him off.

And there’s no excuse for that- his performance was barely worthy of first class cricket. Anderson needs to stop worrying about his hair product, get a copy of his Brisbane pitchmap, and get his arse in the nets and start working.

He certainly doesn’t deserve a place in the Adelaide Test but he might get it; the only other pace alternative is Sajid Mahmood. I saw Mahmood in the first game of the tour against the Prime Minister’s XI, and he was even worse then Anderson. If England seriously bring him into the XI for Adelaide, it will be Christmas come early for the Australian batsman.

Much more likely is the introduction of Monty Panesar. I’ve not seen him bowl except for highlights, but everyone that has seen him was surprised that he wasn’t included at the Gabba. From what I can tell, England’s best option is to include both spinners, and rely on Flintoff to attack with short sharp bursts, including the new ball.

Giles is not regarded as a serious wicket-taking options, but he does have the merit of keeping it tight. That is a handy virtue to have while Panesar is attacking at the other end. It is a huge ask to Panesar on Ashes debut, but England’s bowling plight is desperate, and there’s nothing else for it.

Anyway, that’s my take. Tim de Lisle has his take here. What’s your take?

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:

Video of Hoggard’s 7 for 61 against South Africa

A really great video of Matthew Hoggard’s 7 for 61 against South Africa, January 2005. The only blemish to an otherwise enthralling few minutes of video is the diabolical commentary from Bob Willis. He “described” (reacted to) the first five wickets, so you can turn the sound up on the sixth.

This was one of the first bloggage things I blogged about; the victory in South Africa was quite something to watch. Click here if you can’t see it below.

As if six injuries weren’t enough

Matthew Hoggard gave the media a scare today by pulling up with a possible side strain. I’m trying not to get too carried away with this, as we’re bound to be twitching over twinges for the next ten weeks. It’s just that almost every injury problem England have started off with something small. Simon Jones gets cramp in the outfield, falls over in the nets some months later, and is on crutches for months. Flintoff plays a first class game as a final warm up, and then has to hobble off for the rest of the summer. Trescothick leaves a ground in tears, then leaves the country, and now can’t go back for medical reasons… and it goes on. So I’ll postpone my sigh of relief until the second MRI tomorrow.

Regardless of the test results, the scare has already left a mark on Yorkshire’s search for the vital points they need to pull themselves from the bottom spot in the Championship’s first division. Whilst they have yet to field, the Northern county will surely miss the Hogster’s guile and experience, as they look to set nothing more than a par first innings score against Notts.

Hugo Boss to sponsor English cricket

We get all sorts of press releases at Cricinfo. Some are breaking news of a player’s injury; others are more PR-related (“Gloucestershire announce new chef – stop the press!”) and most are plain banal. This, however, takes the biscuit:

Hugo Boss are to sponsor English cricket. According to the sickly email we received, Andrew Strauss said “The photo-shoot was a great experience and good fun, with all the boys really getting into it,” a statement bordering on the hilarious yet with a hint of the disturbing, too.

I suppose it’s a good thing. Could you ever have imagined England cricketers being sponsored by anyone other than a tractor company, or Mrs Brabbleflop’s pork pies in Shrewsbury, in the 1990s? Although perhaps that’s just the point: with success (or at least an increase in popularity) comes commercialism, and hungry marketers desperate for a slice of your fame.

I’ll leave the opinions of those pictured up to you. One final thought: is it significant that Strauss is pictured in the middle of the photo…?

Pensive Matthew Hoggard

Fine portrait of Matthew Hoggard yesterday, who is by some margin short of his best in this Test. His expression rather captures this.

Matthew Hoggard