Aye up and away

Yorkshire have been battling hard to match England’s dreary winter and, in some ways, they’ve bettered then. No coach, no captain, two overseas players (not sure they’ve been confirmed) and no less than three Kolpak registered players: Deon Kruis, Gerard Brophy and the latest, Jacques Rudolph. Eeeee, a reet mess.

Commiserate yourselves, then, with this witty non-cricket sardonic video:

If it’s outside Yerksha, it’s not worth bloooody visitin…

An Ashes Christmas Carol

Gather round, boys and girls, and let dear old Uncle Scott tell you a cricket story. This especially goes out to all you smartarses out there that think this series is over bar the shouting.

Once upon a time, there was a country called England. They played cricket, but they weren’t very good at it, and they hardly ever got to have the Ashes. But eventually, they gave the captaincy of their cricket side to a hardcase Yorkshireman, and after a very tight home series, the Ashes were regained at the Oval, and there was much rejoicing through the land.

Needless to say, the Australians weren’t very happy about this state of affairs, and later in the next year, the English came to Australia to defend the Ashes. And at the First Test in Brisbane, Australia absolutely smashed them, scoring over 600 and winning by a mile.

England had put their hopes on a new fast bowling sensation, but he had gone for 1 for 160 in Australia’s innings and the Australians were not very worried. It seemed that the Ashes were coming home to Australia for sure. Then this happened, and this happened and this happened, and Australia was very annoyed indeed because the English had beaten them three Tests in a row for the first time in 25 years.

So the lesson is, boys and girls, is that it’s not over till its over. And if England were to bounce back and thrash Australia in this series, it would be no more then history repeating itself. Especially if Steve Harmison were to be the agent of Australia’s undoing.

Wanted: County Captain

Rumours of Chris Adams’ move have been greatly exaggerated. At the beginning of the month, the man who captained Sussex to victory in both the Championship and the C&G Trophy this season was ‘unveiled’ at Headingley, both as Captain and and Director of Pro-Cricket. Whilst this was mildly surprising, it wasn’t earth-movingly so. Test ground clubs, after all, have that bit of extra cash to squander.

Not long ago, it was Younis Khan who faced public embarrassment when he claimed he was to take the role after quitting (somewhat temporarily) the same position for Pakistan. This time, it is Yorkshire who have made the mistake by parading a man who hadn’t yet signed on the dotted line. Considering how closed-lipped counties normally remain over their offers and potential signings, Adams can only have pulled out at an advanced stage of negotiation.

Whilst Sussex are over the moon by all reports, potentially less chuffed might be Murray Goodwin. The Zimbabwean was reported by local paper The Argus to have been interested in the position.

A day for umbrellas

Someone needs to find Chris Adams and ensure that he is in no way performing any kind of rain dance. After a morning deluge washed out Thursday’s play at Old Trafford as well as Edgbaston, Lancashire’s chances of staying level in the title race are becoming faint. With Sussex sitting out this week’s round, they have been unhampered by the bad weather. Mark Chilton’s men, on the other hand, have now suffered two games running, with good performances against Warwickshire going to waste for the same reason. Requiring maximum bonus points and victory to grab top spot, they have only taken four Durham wickets, and are running out of time.

At the other end of the table, Yorkshire will also be rueing the lack of play in today’s Division One matches. With their two remaining bats skittled in what little action they saw at Headingley, the win Craig White’s side desperately need will be a hard task. The last thing they will want to see is third from bottom Durham holding on for a draw, especially as they will be playing each other next week. Maybe they will take some heart from the fact the only Harmison they will face will be batsman Ben – his older brother has been ruled out as a precaution.

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.

No Asian influence at Headingley

A thought-provoking letter at The Times giving a possible explanation to the lack of Pakistanis at Headingley (indeed, at each three grounds roughout this series). I’m pasting it here in full for posterity. In full at the paper’s website – thoughts very welcome.

Sir, Your article “Yorkshire upset as the Asian invasion fails to materialise” (Aug 5) attempted to explain the poor turnout of “Asian” cricket fans at the first day of the Headingley Test. The usual arguments were rehearsed — the problems of racism in sport, particularly in Yorkshire, and the apparent preference for one-day contests among those of South Asian heritage.
Having endured the second day of the Test in the West Stand on Saturday, another obvious explanation sprung to mind. Within about 30 minutes of the Pakistan batting session, a large proportion of those around us had obviously lost interest in the cricket and seemed more amused by tearing up sections of tabloid papers and flinging them on to the pitch during Mexican waves. Just in front of us, heavily built, alcohol-fuelled, shaven-headed men hurled abuse and expletives at the stewards. Although the usual costumed posses of young men were a spectacle, the overall impression was one of Grange Hill on a Friday afternoon. The only difference was that most secondary school children tend to have a more developed attention span.

The childlike behaviour of the crowd may or may not have explained the glaring lack of interest in Pakistan’s brilliant batting in the afternoon. It certainly made concentration on the game well nigh impossible. More seriously, it was a situation that would probably be very intimidating and discouraging for those who do not drink alcohol.

The cult status of Monty Panesar might seem to be a mark of how British society is now comfortable with its diversity, but English, Welsh and Scottish sport continues to expose pugnacious and belligerent tendencies reminiscent of earlier eras. One day, perhaps we will be rid of them.

Lecturer in Indian History
University of Leeds

All out for…five?

Five all out. Brilliant. It’s been all over the press but in case you missed it, read here.

Fred Trueman dies

Fred Trueman, the former England and Yorkshire fast bowler, has died aged 75 to cancer. More at Cricinfo.

My thoughts on him tonight.

Vaughan’s not batting

That didn’t last long.

Vaughan is batting

As speculated, he’s returned for Yorkshire’s Championship match against Hampshire. See scorecard here.