Sachin Tendulkar’s 50 at The Oval

Tendulkar hit 50 against Pakistan tonight but Shahid Afridi and Inzamam-ul-Haq powered Pakistan to victory. It was a (wet) charity game at (a very gloomy) The Oval. They raised £250,000. Stuck a brief report up at Cricinfo including photos.

The Pakistan tour of England, 2006

Earlier this summer, as England were apparently unable to beat Sri Lanka as easily as they would’ve liked, I described their opponents as “cockroach-like”. It was intended as a compliment, for their ability to hang on by the skins of their teeth. In retrospect, it was a mistake and was altered immediately. The fact is, I – and England, and the public – underestimated the side who were considered nothing more than an hors d’oeuvres before the Pakistan pie (sorry, couldn’t resist).

And look at them now. The one-day team is in disarray; Fletcher’s blaming injuries (quite fairly so, I might add); our Ashes plans are in meltdown (burnout might be a more appropriate adjective to use come November, though); half the squad are missing injured (career-endingly so and “he’ll be back next week” in equal measure, if the ECB are to be trusted). And now Pakistan are in town.

Their apparent weak-spot at the top of the order showed little sign of fragility today, too. Imran Farhat and Salman Butt, the two openers, put on 145 for the first wicket on the second day of their three-day warm-up match against Leicestershire. When the first Test gets underway (July 13), behind those two sit a frightening array of batting talent: Inzamam-ul-Haq, Younis Khan, Shahid Afridi and Kamran Akmal.

So forget the Ashes. Forget anything else. Wistful longing for a repeat of Edgbaston 2005 will get you nowhere. This Pakistan side are a tremendous force, superbly coached and (dare I say it?) captained with enthusiastic vigour by the bearded mountain himself. I’m tempted to say England are in trouble – but that’d be stating the bleeding obvious.

Who should captain World XI for the Test? Results

Well, you’re all very hilarious. Stupid Will decided to allow you to add your own entries to the poll, to decide: Who should captain World XI for the Test? The last entry was for someone’s Grandmother, which just about sums up the poll’s pointlessness! Unless………nah.

Anyway, Michael Vaughan was the clear winner, with 33% of the 184 votes; Inzamam-ul-Haq was second, with 11% closely followed by, yes, Gary Pratt. He’s NOT EVEN PLAYING! But thanks for the joke, it did raise a smile.

Last time I let any of you loose on deciding who else should be in a poll :)

Bowling Mushy!!

Enthusiastic cries of support from wicketkeepers are one of the game’s great joys, and usually have me doubled over in laughter. I always used to crack up listening to Alec Stewart: “Oooh! I like that, Crofty! Oh yes, liking it Crofty son.” And this summer we’ve been treated to Gilchrist stating the bleeding obvious with “Baaaaaa-rrrr-ling Shaaaanne” (like he needs confirmation).

But the best has to be when Mushtaq Ahmed was in his pomp, whatever that really means, and Latif would shout, repeatedly, “Bowling mushy mushy, booowwwlingg.” Actually that has me thinking; I remember on previous Pakistan tours hearing “Shabash shabash” shouted by the ‘keeper. What does it mean? “Well done” or “well bowled” or something?

Anyway, back to Mushy. I see he hit 90 today – yes, 90! My boss was there, and wrote about it here. Couple of days ago, Inzamam hinted at a possible recall for Mushtaq which is utterly brilliant news. Always enjoyed watching Mushy bowl, and always surprised me how he actually managed to spin the ball…quite an odd action.

So, we might once again get to hear “Bowling Mushy!” On that note – Shabash.