Lucky? Don’t be such a bastard

I am apparently, among other things, a bastard. I dared to suggest on Cricinfo’s commentary today that India had enjoyed a slice or nine of good fortune. Edges flying past fielders, or falling short; edges sneaking past stumps; balls passing the bat countless times. Yet the feedback we received from our loyal India fan-base suggested I was watching a different game entirely. “You bastard,” fumed one of them. “How dare you suggest luck has anything to do with it. India deserve their position.”

I don’t deny any team deserves their position – England are on the back foot, and rightly so – but the criticism was a little unfair to say the least, especially when the evidence was so damning. If a team enjoys their share of luck and then capitalises upon it, they fully deserve to have their noses in front, as India currently do.

But why is luck treated as such a dirty word? Judging by some of the emails, my use of “luck” implied India had had an easy ride; that they were relying on luck alone to drive them forward. This is simply not true and not what I meant in the slightest, but the India fan is a passionate beast and not to be argued with. Not often, anyway. India got lucky today, but England might enjoy all the luck tomorrow (and they probably will if it continues to tear down with rain, as it currently is).

But it did get me thinking about how much luck plays its part in sport, and of course it features heavily in cricket. The toss, the weather, the players themselves – how will they perform? Will they be fit and last five days? If a bowler gets a fingertip on a fiercely struck drive, and richochets it onto the non-strikers’ stumps, is that luck? Anyway, enough rhetoric from the bastard.

Sambit Bal, our esteemed editor, has written of similar musings so go and read it immediately.

91.3% of England fans rate Ashes over World Cup

Cricinfo has been running a survey to find out English fans opinion of the Ashes and the World Cup. That the Ashes is the more significant competition in the eyes of the English comes as no surprise, but the actual percentage – 91.3% – is quite amazing.

A survey conducted by Cricinfo has revealed that a massive 91.3% of English respondents would prefer their country to retain the Ashes than win the World Cup. Only 8.4% believed that the World Cup, which takes place in the Caribbean in March and April next year, was the more significant tournament.

For all their excitement about the Ashes, however, the respondents to the survey were a pretty pessimistic bunch. Only 28.6% believed that England would win the series outright, compared to 47.3% backing Australia to reclaim their crown. But, and it’s a big but, 24.1% favour the draw (something that hasn’t happened in an Ashes series since 1972) and that would be enough for England.

More at Cricinfo.

An interruption while the sightscreen is adjusted….

In other words, there is sod all news. There’s a new round of county championship matches going on, if that is your cup of tea. Personally, I prefer Bundaburg Rum.

Journalists asked Mike Hussey for his thoughts, and all he could come up with was some lame talk about how reverse swing won’t have such an impact in Australia. That’s not really news; Pakistani bowlers have been coming to Australia for ages and keep getting carted.

I don’t think that reverse swing by itself is a magic bullet, and to keep going on about it, I think, takes away some of the gloss on just how well Simon Jones bowled last year. It’s kind of like a wrong-un that a leg spinner brings out of the hat. It’s a great ball, sure, but the other deliveries have to be on the money as well.

See, it’s not that hard to have opinions!

In desperation, the journalists went to the old firm c Marsh b Lillee. Rod Marsh obliged with some nice things to say about Monty Panesar.

While much of the focus has been on the pace attack, Marsh — Panesar’s former coach — said the bowler had what it took to succeed on Australian wickets.

“Technically, I think he’s a very fine bowler,” Marsh said. “He’s got as good an action as I reckon I’ve ever seen on a finger spinner.”

The 24-year-old left-armer, the first Sikh to play for England, rocketed into Ashes contention with eight wickets in England’s morale-boosting innings victory over Pakistan at Old Trafford this week. Panesar took 5-72 on the last day.

“They’ve got to bring him here (for the Ashes),” said Marsh, who helped guide Panesar’s development at the England Cricket Academy. “He’s become a bit of a cult figure in England. The crowds will love him here — one way or the other.”

Former England captain David Gower is another who thinks Panesar has what it takes, saying: “His big challenge will come in Australia this winter … where the home crowds will be quick to seize on any signs of weakness.”

The home crowds will be full of English tourists so Monty’s got nowt to worry about.

Meanwhile DK Lillee was waving the flag for Australia’s up and coming pace duo of Tait and Mitchell Johnson, and saying that England would miss Vaughan.

Well, yeah.  And????

That slacker Will is lazing on a beach, without a care in the world. It’s a tough life for some. How about for you?