Willis: Hick and Ramprakash ‘clogging up county cricket’

Bob Willis is never short of opinions. Not all of them are conventional or even particularly thought through, but writing in the latest issue of The Wisden Cricketer he has slammed just about everyone. Ageing players such as Graeme Hick, Mark Ramprakash and Dominic Cork are wasting the money the ECB “create” through their revenue streams, thus impacting on the next generation of England stars.

I don’t have much of an issue with these three, or indeed for any ageing former England player – so long as they perform and contribute to the team. Ramprakash continues to be as prolific a batsman as any – Hick less so, but nevertheless is a reassuring face in a brittle Worcestershire line-up. If their frail frames falter, then goodnight – but so long as they’re producing the goods, their experience is invaluable to younger players.

The Kolpak issue is altogether different, and I suppose I’m contradicting myself if I can allow old English players to play rather than old non-England-qualified Greek/Australian players. But there must be some form of regulation (which, admittedly, comes into force next year) for the selection of third-grade Kolpakians. It’s out of control and impeding the progress of young English talent.

Willis is really off on one, which is always enjoyable to read rather than listen to. Cricinfo has a synopsis and we’ll have the piece up either this weekend or next. Offer your thoughts below.

An odd couple: Colville and Willis

There’s a scathing attack by Jim White in today’s Telegraph on Sky’s coverage of the first Test. It’s done with humour though, and had me in stitches – especially this on Charles Colville and Bob Willis:

While Bhasin is all eager and enthusiastic, bouncing round Boycott in puppyish thrill at being there, Colville has taken it upon himself to become the Mr Angry of the Ashes, fuming about England’s selection decisions, poor bowling and limp fielding.

Anything and everything is capable of sending him into a tailspin of rage. After the first Test ended in ignominious defeat on Monday, he became so incensed he had to be restrained by his guest, Nick Knight.

“Whoa Charles,” Knight said, wearing the startled look of a man who had stumbled into a recording of the new series on Bravo, When Normally Mild Mannered Cricket Chaps Attack. In fact, it was lucky Knight was there to tip a verbal bucket of water over the steaming presenter. Had Colville’s guest been – as it sometimes has – Bob Willis, the blood pressure in the studio would have turned thermo-nuclear.

It takes an act of significant will not to cower behind the sofa every time Willis – almost as angry as Colville – comes on screen. Especially now he has taken to delivering his goggle-eyed rants direct into the camera.

All he needs is to borrow Boycott’s headgear and he will morph seamlessly into the John McCririck of cricket.

There is an obvious solution for Duncan Fletcher as he searches for the speediest way back into the series: put Colville and Willis out there in Adelaide and even the battled-hardened Aussies would take flight at the very sight of them.

Chuck’s great value – I’d rather him, with his passion and anger, than a bland, shiny toe-the-line presenter. More at the Telegraph.

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.

Asking the right questions is half the battle.

So The Guardian ask David Lloyd and Bob Willis if England take the limited-overs game seriously enough. Lloyd says yes, and Willis says no.

But the real question is, do the fans take the game seriously enough? And should we take it seriously at all, given the way that cricket administrators fiddle around with it.

Played properly, on a true surface that helps strokeplay but also has some life and bounce and a teensy bit of sideways movement for the bowlers, limited overs cricket can be as skillful and as demanding and entertaining as you could wish for. It is up to administrators and ground authorities to produce those conditions for the players. I think that world-wide, cricket fans have been let down by the people in charge of the game, and it is high time some serious questions were asked about the direction of the limited overs game.

Shane Warne joins Neighbours

Shane Warne makes his debut in Neighbours tomorrow. Yep. Nothing more to add. Although it does beg the question: which cricketers, past and present, would have appeared in which soap or TV programme and why?

  • Bob Willis – Dr Who (without the genius)
  • John Emburey – Arthur Daley (Minder – but a more explicit, “Fackin’ ell Terry, get wiv it you nonce” version)
  • Graeme Fowler – Pike from Dad’s Army

Quote of the day – Bob Willis

Bob Willis usually comes up with some gems, none better than this:

“Shane Warne’s the next patient for Doctor Flintoff”

I’ll leave you to make your minds up…