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…

‘minda Vaas Vaas Vaas

The dusty MCC and Middlesex traditionalists will have a new song to chant next summer: “‘minda Vaas Vaas Vaas” as they point their finger, football-hooligan style, at Middlesex’s opponents.

Okay, it’s unlikely, but today’s signing of Chaminda Vaas is probably the best news the club has had all season. It has been a forgettable summer for my club – the worst I can remember, albeit only 11 seasons following them.

The final curtain

The English ‘summer’ finally drew to a close today, at least as far as cricket is concerned. Predictably, Glamorgan were relegated in the Pro40 playoff, where the form 2nd Division side was guaranteed the home advantage in the competition’s rules. While I use the word ‘relegated’, a more accurate description for their performance against Hampshire would probably be ‘thumped’.

As a format, Pro40 has seen quite a bit of stick in the press. As a spectator, I quite enjoyed it as a competition. Certain aspects of our domestic season are to be taken as read. Firstly, we play too much cricket. This comes from the irresolvable situation where players and officials want to play first class cricket, whereas counties want to stage as many one-dayers as possible to draw crowds. Secondly, there are days and periods that simply are not conducive to good cricket, be that due to poor weather or diverted media attention.

Pro40 was tasked with several burdens. It was given the dregs of the season to pull in crowds that were increasingly drawn away by football and frequent showers, and an uphill battle to establish itself as a format. Where I feel it succeeded is in improving dramatically on the 45-over league of last year.

While placed in a part of the season where interest in cricket usually starts to wane, scheduling was quick to ensure that most of a team’s eight matches were played on Sundays. Although questionable as an international format, day/night matches at county level ensure a higher crowd, and sensibly all mid-week games were played with later start times. The decision to drop the amount of overs to 40 is one for which I have the utmost praise. I never understood the need for 45 overs. Especially considering the increased C&G 50-over workload, an extra five overs simply provides a drag on a game struggling to maintain Twenty20’s excitement.

There were also very few dead rubbers. Competition for places both up and down was still hotting up until the last round of fixtures. Although the decision to place the game on the last day of the Ryder Cup weekend lacked a certain amount of sense, the decision to have a playoff added the opportunity to retain a decisive season ender. Considering the third rule of domestic cricket is there is always someone who will disagree with whatever you change, I would much rather that the last ball of the season was bowled in a match that mattered than a game played for the prestige of finishing Nowhere Special, Division 2.

The season draws to a close

Surely it’s not that time again. September? It still feels like mid-May! Yet it’s true; another season draws to a close, and what a hectic summer it has been. I’m off to Southampton on Wednesday to see Lancashire and Hampshire – should be a belting match, one Lancashire need to win if they’re to see off Sussex for the title. What have been your highlights and lowlights of the summer?

Ramprakash reaches 2000 runs

Good grief. 2000 runs is a lot of runs. He last did it in 1995, a season I remember well and I watched much of his batting then too. Somehow, his form this year seems even more fluid than back in '95.

He reached the landmark against Worcestershire, the second time this season he has scored one against them. It was his 8th in Championship cricket and he is now just 13 away from a century of centuries.

County imports to be restricted.

County teams will be restricted back to one overseas player per season, from the 2008 season. Interestingly, this is not a response to an outcry about the lack of ability of English talent to get into teams. No, the stated reason is that there’s a shortage of overseas players who are able to spend a full season in the ranks, what with all the overseas international events that impinge on the English season these days.

Kiwi invasion

From the Daily Telegraph:

County supporters, brace yourselves for the second wave of the Kiwi invasion. Now that their tour of duty in South Africa is finished, the New Zealanders have no more commitments for months, which makes them doubly attractive to all the anxious counties who have lost their overseas players to Australia’s A tour.

The four men already signed up are captain Stephen Fleming (Nottinghamshire), Daniel Vettori (Warwickshire), Hamish Marshall (Gloucestershire) and James Franklin (Glamorgan). Now Nathan Astle (Lancashire), Jacob Oram (Kent) and Lou Vincent (Worcestershire) are on their way over to join them. We are well on the way to getting the full team. The one major player missing is Shane Bond, who is – as usual – injured.

Mark Ealham goes beserk

At work today, we weren’t sure if the scorecard was faulty/wrong or whether Mark Ealham had, actually, hit a blistering century. It looks like it did happen though:

Nottinghamshire 2nd innings                                     R   M   B  4 6
DJ Bicknell                              b Bresnan              0   2   4  0 0
*JER Gallian          c Cook             b Panesar            171   0 230 27 1
RJ Warren             c Davies           b Bresnan              4  14  10  1 0
DJ Hussey                                b Bopara              19  37  23  4 0
WR Smith              c Clarke           b Footitt             39   0  15  5 0
+CMW Read             not out                                 110   0 156 14 2
MA Ealham             not out                                 112   0  53 11 8
Extras                (b 2, lb 7, w 3, nb 4)                   16
Total                 (5 wickets declared, 93.4 overs)        471

53 balls for 112!

MCC v Notts, Lord’s, 1st day

The NatWest Media Centre at Lord'sA great day today. Not only did I get into Lord’s for free thanks to my golden ticket (otherwise known as a media pass) but my boss got me into the pavillion and took me on a guided tour. What a place! What a bloody place. It was like a hotel or, as one of the stewards put it, “a lovely old museum” which was spot on. There are many bars (5, Martin?), many plush and comfortable seats and countless stunning paintings, most of which are original and many date back well into the 1800s.

The long room was particularly amazing. The name rather gives away its essence, for it is a rather long room – and, apparently, packed on match days. The whole place was like a village, a cricket-fan’s slice of heaven, with a slightly different and invariably better view of the play from whichever room/floor you happen to be in.

At the very top is another bar, and on the terracotta-coloured brickwork on the outside are the engravings of player’s names. Rain has stopped play since the game’s inception, but it’s nevertheless magical to see written proof of a player’s boredom, stretching back to the 1800s. Priceless. Let’s hope they remain there for ever.

Jason Gallian defendsBefore the pavillion I was introduced to the media centre. The lift heaved us to the top and, when the doors opened, my initial reaction was “Shit. I’m in a Big Brother house” which does a huge disservice to the centre’s architect! The design is ultra-modern and incredibly well-planned. All emphasis is on the ground, on the playing area, and the view is astonishing. The roof’s curve naturally dip down onto the glass, and so does your focus; you can’t get away from the view. It’s massive, and “there” – quite brilliant. Lots of blue everywhere too. And free coffee!

I didn’t watch any of the game from the media centre – play didn’t begin until 2pm – but on first glance, it felt…detached, somehow, from the game. The view is so clear, so uninterrupted, you could almost be watching a TV. I imagine I might prefer sitting in the stands for much of a day’s play, or perching somewhere, instead of spending the whole day in the media centre despite its’ many obvious benefits. Oh, it’s all bloody wicked.

Photos are here. More tomorrow.

James Kirtley banned by England

James Kirtley has again been banned from bowling by England (full report at Cricinfo). I can’t say I’m surprised; I don’t know if his action is illegal or not, but, well…it’s certainly different……………………………….

I think you can find a video of his action to download here – discuss!