Campaign for Rotund Cricketers – CAMRUC

Hello from Dubai airport – quite possibly the arse-end of the world – where many overfed businessmen have been spotted. Which leads me onto Ramesh Powar, India’s round offspinner; how good it was to see him hustle up to the wicket in the second one-dayer at Bristol. And it’s equally pleasing to read Mike Atherton has also made note of Powar’s waistline.

“When Chawla was removed from the attack 15 overs later – 15 overs bowled in tandem with the magnificently rotund off-spinner Romesh Powar – England were 214 for five and defeat was inevitable.”

So let’s start a campaign for the rotund cricketer to make his sizeable presence known. And list your favourite fatties below. I’ll start with the predictable, Mike Gatting – but I also have tremendous respect for WG Grace who, towards the end of his career, appeared to be pregnant with triplets.

Yours?

The Geoffrey Oi!cotts (disGrace on bass; Alan Knott on drums)

Further to Scott’s post, and Andrew’s piece, comes this example of YouTube at its brilliant, bizarre best. Among the historical gems, a lot of the other videos there are fairly drab’n’dull recollections of fans playing village cricket. Boring. But searching for “cricket” throws up the odd seemingly inexplicable video, such as this: a band called the Geoffrey Oi!cotts. Their MySpace entry reveals the following:

Band Members
Freddy Skintoft (vocals) W.C. disGrace (bass) A.P.E. sKnott (drums) Devon Malcolm McClaren (guitar) The Dickie Birds (backing troupe and groupies)

Influences
Yorkshire pride.

Sounds Like
The thwack of willow on leather on a sunny yorkshire afternoon..

Record Label
hahahahahaha

What a brilliant image that is. Alan Knott on drums (still equipped with wicketkeeping gloves, and a toothy grin); Devon Malcolm, massive 1980s bottle-top glasses, attached to a Fender and – best of all? – several Dickie Birds, rolling up their sleeves and tottering in the background. The Geoffrey Oi!cotts, based in Leeds, also do a passable cover of the Cockney Rejects’ only decent song, Oi! Oi! Oi!, as below (click here if it doesn’t show up).

All of this musicery begs the question: which five cricketers, past or present, would be in your band? The stupider, most unlikely the better. Tony Lewis would have to be lead vocalist for a start, closely followed by Mike Smith on drums…

The first day of Test cricket in England

Patrick reminds me that today marks the 126th anniversary of the first Test in England, against Australia. What a thing. 126 years! Better still, you can have a look at the scorecard at Cricinfo, a modern-day summary and a brief report from the 1881 Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack which, brilliantly, begins as follows:

The compiler much regrets that the limited space allotted to the Australians’ matches in this book precludes the possibility of giving a lengthened account of this famous contest.

What a bloody great game cricket is.

Andrew “Roy” Symonds starts repaying what he owes.

Andrew Symonds’ big night out on the day before an ODI against Bangladesh in 2005 will go down in infamy in Australian cricket lore, and probably will be celebrated in Bangladesh for a while to come as well. But he did redeem himself somewhat with a match-winning century in Dhaka to win the 2nd ODI for Australia yesterday.

It must be said, in all honesty, that at the moment he looks like he’s been on an even bigger bender then his 2005 effort. The dreadlocks look scruffy and the beard makes him look like a vagabond. At the moment, if any Australian cricketer is crying out for a makeover by the folks from ‘queer eye for the straight guy’, it is Symonds.

He may look like a drunken derelict, but his 5th ODI century for Australia was a most sober and abstemious effort. He came in with a bit of a crisis happening and Australia struggling after losing 3 for 10 after Adam Gilchrist got interrupted just as he was really warming up. That brought to mind his innings in Sydney against Sri Lanka, where Chaminda Vaas roughed up the Australian top order. Starting this time at 3 for 65, he combined with Michael Clarke to compose a brilliant but ungainly knock.

It’s one thing to score a glittering century on an easy paced but reliable SCG wicket; this wicket at Dhaka was simply diabolical. It was slower then a Madagascar sloth and deader then WG Grace. He came out wearing a helmet but there was no way Mashrafe Mortaza was going to get a bouncer to get beyond rib high at best. Pitch preparation is a black art at the best of times, but whoever was in charge of this one should hang his head in shame. Bangladesh may be poor, but if they can afford to put on a gloriously manicured outfield, there’s no excuse for a pitch like this.

So once the fast men finished their spells with the new ball, we had the rather dreary sight of spinners bowling and the batsmen working them over for singles. It is this sort of cricket that drove the ICC in frustration to introduce monstrosities like power-plays and supersubs. It is hardly the batsmen at fault in situations like this; in Michael Clarke and Andrew Symonds, Australia had two of its most positive minded batsmen at the crease. But Clarke only scored 2 boundaries in his 54.

Credit must go to the bowlers, especially the redoubtable Mohammed Rafique. The veteran spinner has clearly been the pick of Bangladesh’s bowlers right through this Australian tour. Of course, it does help his cause that as a slow left arm spinner, he is a member of the spin caste that has troubled Australians the most over recent years. Daniel Vettori is another that springs to mind.

So Symonds played Rafique with respect, picking him off, working him over for the singles, and waiting for the loose ball from the other end. These were not in short supply once Bashar had to face the chore of juggling to find ten overs from his ‘fifth’ bowler, but again the conditions conspired, and the lack of bounce clearly frustrated Symonds. However, instead of losing his head and his innings, he managed to keep his composure, and his wicket, and in the end his century came off 122 balls; slow by his standards but fast in the conditions.

Bashar perhaps missed a trick; he seemed content to allow Australia to pick off singles, and I wonder when a captain is going to be bold enough to try keeping his inner fielders close enough to the batsmen to make singles hard work. It could have paid dividends.

But it was never tried, so they tied Australia down for a while but they could not get them out though, and a late burst saw Australia through to 250. And once the Australian fast men knocked off the top order of Bangladesh’s batting, that was it as a game. Habibul Bashar played a good captain’s knock to ensure Bangladesh had some respectability with their reply of 183, but Symonds was the man who made the difference. And a good thing too, because against this opponent, Symonds owed his country a match-winning innings or three.

W.G.Grace MP3 from The BBC


Rick Eyre has found one of Mark Steel’s lectures – on W.G.Grace. The world’s first superstar. I’ve grabbed it and converted it to MP3 which is probably breaking some law, but what the hell. Quality’s not terrific, but at least you can listen to it whenever you want now. Download here.

Info, should you need it, on the man himself here, here and (superb) here