undyingking: (Default)
OK, Sri Lanka are strong favourites to beat New Zealand today. But as he's half-injured (although, bafflingly, playing in this game -- surely it would have been safer to rest him for the final?), this might be the last time we see Muttiah Muralitharan in any form of international cricket.

Murali is the only man playing today who has a clear shout at being described as the greatest ever. Certainly the greatest ever offspinner; perhaps the greatest ever slow bowler of any kind.

He took his 800th wicket with his last ball in Tests: 22 times he's taken 10 in a match, and 5 in an innings an astonishing 67 times. (The next contender, Shane Warne, managed 10 and 37 times respectively.) The 16-220 he took at the Oval in 1998 -- the fifth best match analysis of all time, on his first appearance in this country -- will live vividly in the memory of anyone who saw it. He also has 532 ODI wickets -- another record, although perhaps one more likely to get eventually overtaken -- and in all international cricket, has more than double the wickets of any other cricketer playing.

What has made Murali a great bowler? His variation. We've been long used to legspinners varing their standard delivery with the topspinner and googly; Murali is the only player to have introduced a similar range of variation as an offspinner. And, because of the offspinner's more natural action, he matched it with superb control and accuracy. The game against England the other day was a classic example. The batsmen knew they needed to score more quickly, but didn't dare to take him on, because they couldn't tell what the ball was going to do, but were sure that if they missed or edged it it they would be dismissed.

And what has made him a great player? His importance to the team. When he came into the Sri Lankan ranks, in 1993, they had only won 4 matches out of the 45 played in their previous 11 years of Test experience. They really were a minnow nation, more or less on a par with Bangladesh of today. But when he's played, they've won 54 out of 132 -- well over a third. Of course, there are other terrific players in Sri Lanka now. But there weren't back in the 90s, and maybe there wouldn't be now were it not for Murali setting them on the road towards success. I think a player who, above his team-mates in ability, manages to drag them upwards and onwards, deserves especial respect. As we now, looking back, think of George Headley as the father of West Indian cricketing success; so we should view Murali after he's retired.
undyingking: (Default)
OK, Sri Lanka are strong favourites to beat New Zealand today. But as he's half-injured (although, bafflingly, playing in this game -- surely it would have been safer to rest him for the final?), this might be the last time we see Muttiah Muralitharan in any form of international cricket.

Murali is the only man playing today who has a clear shout at being described as the greatest ever. Certainly the greatest ever offspinner; perhaps the greatest ever slow bowler of any kind.

He took his 800th wicket with his last ball in Tests: 22 times he's taken 10 in a match, and 5 in an innings an astonishing 67 times. (The next contender, Shane Warne, managed 10 and 37 times respectively.) The 16-220 he took at the Oval in 1998 -- the fifth best match analysis of all time, on his first appearance in this country -- will live vividly in the memory of anyone who saw it. He also has 532 ODI wickets -- another record, although perhaps one more likely to get eventually overtaken -- and in all international cricket, has more than double the wickets of any other cricketer playing.

What has made Murali a great bowler? His variation. We've been long used to legspinners varing their standard delivery with the topspinner and googly; Murali is the only player to have introduced a similar range of variation as an offspinner. And, because of the offspinner's more natural action, he matched it with superb control and accuracy. The game against England the other day was a classic example. The batsmen knew they needed to score more quickly, but didn't dare to take him on, because they couldn't tell what the ball was going to do, but were sure that if they missed or edged it it they would be dismissed.

And what has made him a great player? His importance to the team. When he came into the Sri Lankan ranks, in 1993, they had only won 4 matches out of the 45 played in their previous 11 years of Test experience. They really were a minnow nation, more or less on a par with Bangladesh of today. But when he's played, they've won 54 out of 132 -- well over a third. Of course, there are other terrific players in Sri Lanka now. But there weren't back in the 90s, and maybe there wouldn't be now were it not for Murali setting them on the road towards success. I think a player who, above his team-mates in ability, manages to drag them upwards and onwards, deserves especial respect. As we now, looking back, think of George Headley as the father of West Indian cricketing success; so we should view Murali after he's retired.
undyingking: (Default)
Today's is another valedictory game -- it will definitely mark the end of the one-day international career of either the South African or the New Zealand captain, as they've both declared their retirement. Curiously, both are much younger than you would expect for such a declaration: but the pressures of captaincy have probably taken a pretty heavy toll.

Daniel Vettori (32) was NZ's youngest ever Test player, and I guess can unequivocally be considered their second-best ever all-rounder (after Richard Hadlee). He is one of only 8 players to reach the 300 wickets / 3000 runs Test double. With 281 ODI wickets, he's 15th on the all-time totals, with no other NZ player getting much past 200. As captain, he's won 55% of matches -- better than any other NZ captain, including his distinguished predecessor Stephen Fleming. But injury has been frequent in recent years -- his long frame has taken a battering -- and the public role of the captain has never seemed to suit a modest and taciturn man. He will be remembered fondly not just by New Zealanders, as a man who by personal example helped his team outperform expectations -- but without either ever approaching true greatness.

No-one would describe Graeme Smith (30) as taciturn or modest: his abrasive, even provocative persona has been a strong feature of his career. He's played just 91 Tests and 171 ODIs, not a lot by modern standards, over a period of less than a decade. But almost all of those have been as captain: he was appointed at just 22 years old. He averages nearly 50 in Tests and 40 in ODIs, with 30 centuries for South Africa. But it is as captain that he has made the biggest contribution. After the disgrace of Hansie Cronje, South Africa needed someone whose integrity was unquestionable, who would lead the team forcefully, and who had a chin strong enough to take all the criticism that disappointment generates. Smith has excelled at all those traits. He hasn't managed to build a great SA team -- the record of choking at one-day tournaments must be counted against his leadership, although the lack of strength in depth that has hampered them in Tests cannot be. When playing South Africa, he is very much the man you love to hate. But this current World Cup is as good a chance as they have ever had of getting their hands on silverware. It would be a great way to go out...

I should also mention Jacques Kallis, who we may also be seeing for the last time. His record indicates an all-time great: fifth on the all-time batting aggregates for both Tests and ODIs, with 57 centuries, at high averages. And he also has well over 500 wickets, more than just a useful contribution: in both forms, he is behind only Pollock, Ntini and Donald as a bowler for his country. And nearly 400 catches. But while his professionalism, concentration and dedication are admirable, I don't think he would be considered much loved, even in South Africa. His career has been dogged by the accusation of selfishness: suspicion that his batting has been for the benefit of his own figures at times, rather than for the team's prospects. It may be that he's appreciated more after he's gone. It certainly seems unlikely that South Africa will turn up a replacement any time soon, and they will be much the more beatable team without him.
undyingking: (Default)
Today's is another valedictory game -- it will definitely mark the end of the one-day international career of either the South African or the New Zealand captain, as they've both declared their retirement. Curiously, both are much younger than you would expect for such a declaration: but the pressures of captaincy have probably taken a pretty heavy toll.

Daniel Vettori (32) was NZ's youngest ever Test player, and I guess can unequivocally be considered their second-best ever all-rounder (after Richard Hadlee). He is one of only 8 players to reach the 300 wickets / 3000 runs Test double. With 281 ODI wickets, he's 15th on the all-time totals, with no other NZ player getting much past 200. As captain, he's won 55% of matches -- better than any other NZ captain, including his distinguished predecessor Stephen Fleming. But injury has been frequent in recent years -- his long frame has taken a battering -- and the public role of the captain has never seemed to suit a modest and taciturn man. He will be remembered fondly not just by New Zealanders, as a man who by personal example helped his team outperform expectations -- but without either ever approaching true greatness.

No-one would describe Graeme Smith (30) as taciturn or modest: his abrasive, even provocative persona has been a strong feature of his career. He's played just 91 Tests and 171 ODIs, not a lot by modern standards, over a period of less than a decade. But almost all of those have been as captain: he was appointed at just 22 years old. He averages nearly 50 in Tests and 40 in ODIs, with 30 centuries for South Africa. But it is as captain that he has made the biggest contribution. After the disgrace of Hansie Cronje, South Africa needed someone whose integrity was unquestionable, who would lead the team forcefully, and who had a chin strong enough to take all the criticism that disappointment generates. Smith has excelled at all those traits. He hasn't managed to build a great SA team -- the record of choking at one-day tournaments must be counted against his leadership, although the lack of strength in depth that has hampered them in Tests cannot be. When playing South Africa, he is very much the man you love to hate. But this current World Cup is as good a chance as they have ever had of getting their hands on silverware. It would be a great way to go out...

I should also mention Jacques Kallis, who we may also be seeing for the last time. His record indicates an all-time great: fifth on the all-time batting aggregates for both Tests and ODIs, with 57 centuries, at high averages. And he also has well over 500 wickets, more than just a useful contribution: in both forms, he is behind only Pollock, Ntini and Donald as a bowler for his country. And nearly 400 catches. But while his professionalism, concentration and dedication are admirable, I don't think he would be considered much loved, even in South Africa. His career has been dogged by the accusation of selfishness: suspicion that his batting has been for the benefit of his own figures at times, rather than for the team's prospects. It may be that he's appreciated more after he's gone. It certainly seems unlikely that South Africa will turn up a replacement any time soon, and they will be much the more beatable team without him.
undyingking: (Default)
Today's quarter-final between Australia and India will (almost certainly) see the last World Cup appearance, and possibly the last one-day international appearance, of either an undisputed all-time cricketing great -- Sachin Tendulkar -- or an almost-great -- Ricky Ponting.

In Tests, Tendulkar is the highest scorer of all time, has played most matches, and has scored most centuries; Ponting is respectively second, fourth and third. In ODIs, Tendulkar again leads in all three stats; Ponting is fourth, third and second. Ponting has been captain for a large part of his career: and in terms of percentage of matches won, is the most successful of long-serving Test captains apart from his predecessor Steve Waugh, and in ODIs the most successful apart from Clive Lloyd. So what makes Tendulkar clearly the greater player?

I think even Ponting's dear old mum would admit that his captaincy has been fortunate. He inherited a hugely successful team, including a number of really great players, and hasn't really had to show great inspiration or creativity. When that has been called for, he has often seemed petulant or grumpy. He has to some extent sacrificed his own batting form for the sake of the captaincy, something Tendulkar has been sesnisbly wary of doing.

Tendulkar, on the other hand, came into a poor team. We think of him now in combination with Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly in the super-powerful Indian middle-order, but he actually predated both those players by several years. Remember this game? At 17 years old, he single-handedly saved India from a heavy defeat -- and there are any number of other similar innings we could point to. And, lest we forget, he has also taken 200 international weickets, including four 4-wicket ODI hauls.

But the question is probably better answered by just watching the two of them bat. Ponting is a very good player -- no doubt about that. He scores all round the wicket, against all types of bowling, and in all conditions. But he bats like a human -- you can see what he's doing. Tendulkar, on the other hand, at his best -- ie, usually -- bats like a god. His two centuries at this current World Cup are perfect examples. The strokeplay is so beautiful and fluent; the emotion conjured is not admiration, but awe.

I used to be quite dismissive when excited Indian fans claimed that Tendulkar was on the same level as Don Bradman -- the man who for seventy years has been head, shoulders, waist and hips above any other batsman in cricket. But I must admit that these days I am starting to wonder.
undyingking: (Default)
Today's quarter-final between Australia and India will (almost certainly) see the last World Cup appearance, and possibly the last one-day international appearance, of either an undisputed all-time cricketing great -- Sachin Tendulkar -- or an almost-great -- Ricky Ponting.

In Tests, Tendulkar is the highest scorer of all time, has played most matches, and has scored most centuries; Ponting is respectively second, fourth and third. In ODIs, Tendulkar again leads in all three stats; Ponting is fourth, third and second. Ponting has been captain for a large part of his career: and in terms of percentage of matches won, is the most successful of long-serving Test captains apart from his predecessor Steve Waugh, and in ODIs the most successful apart from Clive Lloyd. So what makes Tendulkar clearly the greater player?

I think even Ponting's dear old mum would admit that his captaincy has been fortunate. He inherited a hugely successful team, including a number of really great players, and hasn't really had to show great inspiration or creativity. When that has been called for, he has often seemed petulant or grumpy. He has to some extent sacrificed his own batting form for the sake of the captaincy, something Tendulkar has been sesnisbly wary of doing.

Tendulkar, on the other hand, came into a poor team. We think of him now in combination with Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly in the super-powerful Indian middle-order, but he actually predated both those players by several years. Remember this game? At 17 years old, he single-handedly saved India from a heavy defeat -- and there are any number of other similar innings we could point to. And, lest we forget, he has also taken 200 international weickets, including four 4-wicket ODI hauls.

But the question is probably better answered by just watching the two of them bat. Ponting is a very good player -- no doubt about that. He scores all round the wicket, against all types of bowling, and in all conditions. But he bats like a human -- you can see what he's doing. Tendulkar, on the other hand, at his best -- ie, usually -- bats like a god. His two centuries at this current World Cup are perfect examples. The strokeplay is so beautiful and fluent; the emotion conjured is not admiration, but awe.

I used to be quite dismissive when excited Indian fans claimed that Tendulkar was on the same level as Don Bradman -- the man who for seventy years has been head, shoulders, waist and hips above any other batsman in cricket. But I must admit that these days I am starting to wonder.

Olympians

Feb. 11th, 2011 03:35 pm
undyingking: (Default)
I have complex and mixed feelings about West Ham moving to the Olympic Stadium, but overall am happier for us to have it than for someone else to.

This post though is about the little-explored cricket dimension. West Ham have an agreement with Essex (the two clubs have always been friendly, and have shared training facilities etc) to hold Twenty20 matches there in the footbal off-season -- county games, and perhaps internationals too in due course.

When I was a kid Essex used to play at Ilford; and until 1933 the county HQ was actually at Leyton, even further into modern London. So although the Olympic site isn't officially in Essex, it's in that part of East London that is historically Essexian for cricket purposes.

The stadium is likely to have a capacity of around 60,000 -- for compairson, that's bigger than Lord's and The Oval put together. We have always been one of the best-supported counties in terms of membership and occupancy rates, but have never had a decent sized ground to capitalize on that. Or, of course, big enough to host internationals -- which is where the real money is made. So this could be a really big step on the ladder to allow Essex to join the wealthy counties and stop having to punch so far above our weight.

What I'm not sure about is: how on earth is a cricket pitch going to fit inside the running track? I'm sure they've got something dead clever planned though...

Olympians

Feb. 11th, 2011 03:35 pm
undyingking: (Default)
I have complex and mixed feelings about West Ham moving to the Olympic Stadium, but overall am happier for us to have it than for someone else to.

This post though is about the little-explored cricket dimension. West Ham have an agreement with Essex (the two clubs have always been friendly, and have shared training facilities etc) to hold Twenty20 matches there in the footbal off-season -- county games, and perhaps internationals too in due course.

When I was a kid Essex used to play at Ilford; and until 1933 the county HQ was actually at Leyton, even further into modern London. So although the Olympic site isn't officially in Essex, it's in that part of East London that is historically Essexian for cricket purposes.

The stadium is likely to have a capacity of around 60,000 -- for compairson, that's bigger than Lord's and The Oval put together. We have always been one of the best-supported counties in terms of membership and occupancy rates, but have never had a decent sized ground to capitalize on that. Or, of course, big enough to host internationals -- which is where the real money is made. So this could be a really big step on the ladder to allow Essex to join the wealthy counties and stop having to punch so far above our weight.

What I'm not sure about is: how on earth is a cricket pitch going to fit inside the running track? I'm sure they've got something dead clever planned though...
undyingking: (Default)
Very sorry to hear about the death of Trevor Bailey overnight. He was a living legend in Essex when I was a kid, perhaps the most eminent of our former players – 28,000 runs and 2000 wickets for the county, and 61 England caps. Plus of course one would regularly hear his brisk and reassuring tones on Test Match Special. I never met him, but he gave the strong impression of a decent sort: serious, hard-working, unflashy, but amiable and easily amused.
undyingking: (Default)
Very sorry to hear about the death of Trevor Bailey overnight. He was a living legend in Essex when I was a kid, perhaps the most eminent of our former players – 28,000 runs and 2000 wickets for the county, and 61 England caps. Plus of course one would regularly hear his brisk and reassuring tones on Test Match Special. I never met him, but he gave the strong impression of a decent sort: serious, hard-working, unflashy, but amiable and easily amused.
undyingking: (Default)
For once I'm actually going to present the results of one of these polls. You may remember a few days ago there was a post about Steve Smith, which asked about relative familiarity of cricket vs poetry. Well, this is what it came out like:
click to see )

(The paler colours represent more limited familiarity ("know a bit"). Strangely, there was no-one who "knew a bit" about both cricket and poetry (so-called "CP violation")1.)


1 Physicists' joke.
undyingking: (Default)
For once I'm actually going to present the results of one of these polls. You may remember a few days ago there was a post about Steve Smith, which asked about relative familiarity of cricket vs poetry. Well, this is what it came out like:
click to see )

(The paler colours represent more limited familiarity ("know a bit"). Strangely, there was no-one who "knew a bit" about both cricket and poetry (so-called "CP violation")1.)


1 Physicists' joke.

Smiffy

Jan. 8th, 2011 04:03 pm
undyingking: (Default)
Bit surprised that (afaics) no journalist has invoked "not waving bur drowning" in relation to haplessly flailing Australian all-rounder Steve Smith. I only found it raised in a couple of user-contributed comments (although none predating my own use on Facebook of a few weeks ago, hem hem). Yet I would have thought it was a headline-writer's dream. Perhaps my cultural referents are off, and there's no overlap to be expected? Or perhaps it was repeatedly considered and discarded?

[Poll #1665811]

Smiffy

Jan. 8th, 2011 04:03 pm
undyingking: (Default)
Bit surprised that (afaics) no journalist has invoked "not waving bur drowning" in relation to haplessly flailing Australian all-rounder Steve Smith. I only found it raised in a couple of user-contributed comments (although none predating my own use on Facebook of a few weeks ago, hem hem). Yet I would have thought it was a headline-writer's dream. Perhaps my cultural referents are off, and there's no overlap to be expected? Or perhaps it was repeatedly considered and discarded?

[Poll #1665811]
undyingking: (Default)
The English dominance in the Ashes has been mostly down to excellent individual and team performances, but you have to acknowledge that Australian rubbishness has also been a big factor in the margins of victory. The terrific Australian teams of a few years ago seem like a distant memory. Their selectors are not famed for sentiment or for giving a bloke another chance, so it seems likely that Ricky Ponting -- the man who has won 48 Tests as captain, more than anyone else in history -- will be deprived of the role in the next few days.

The only thing that might keep him in place -- for the concluding Sydney match,at least -- is the absence of an obvious successor. Michael Clarke has been being groomed for the Test captaincy for the last few years, and has already taken over in the shorter forms. But his batting form recently has been diabolical -- almost as bad as Ponting's own -- and now the team is in adversity, he doesn't give the impression of the toughness that will be needed to see it through. Plus, he has a problem back, and is likely to miss games injured.

The Test captaincy in Australia is rather different to the English version. They've only had six in my cricket-watching lifetime, going back to the mid 70s -- Ponting, Steve Waugh, Mark Taylor, Allan Border, Kim Hughes, and Greg Chappell. Of those, all but Hughes filled the role for several years. England must have had double the number in that time. You'll also note that all those Australians are batsmen -- even the most talented and thoughtful bowlers have not been entrusted with the captaincy duties.

So who might be a candidate in the current team, if not Clarke? Mike Hussey, Brad Haddin and Simon Katich are reliable and experienced players who are good enough to hold their places in the team, but all are well into their 30s so would only be an interim appointment -- not the Australian style. Also not their style would be the option of bringing in a captain from one of the State teams who's not currently worth a place as a batsman -- even England have done this only rarely.

Shane Watson is perhaps the only other batsman guaranteed a place, but he has shown a disturbing mental fragility. Having passed 50 fifteen times in Tests, he's only gone onto 100 twice. In the four matches of this current rubber, that's been 0 from 4. You would imagine Australia would want to sort that out before entrusting him with further responsibilities.

Is there any chance they might break with tradition and appoint a bowler? Looking over the current crop, only Peter Siddle has really shown the consistent application and spirit. And he does not impress with his acumen.

I guess if it was me I would like to see Haddin (who I think is a very capable and admirable cricketer -- he looks, when playing, as though he could have walked in from an earlier era) given the captaincy for the next couple of years. Or Hussey, if they are unwilling to see a wicket-keeper burdened with the role. And in that time, hope that either Clarke comes good, or Watson matures.

I expect though that they will just name Clarke as planned. In which case, he will have to work really hard to avoid becoming a second Hughes, who eventually resigned in tears at the demands of the job and the poor performance of his side.

Whoever takes over the Australian captaincy, they're due for a lot of losing matches over the next few seasons. Border and Taylor in the past showed they were mentally tough enough to work through the troughs and shepherd a bunch of youngsters onwards towards regeneration. Will the next man be made of the same stuff? It's going to be interesting finding out.
undyingking: (Default)
The English dominance in the Ashes has been mostly down to excellent individual and team performances, but you have to acknowledge that Australian rubbishness has also been a big factor in the margins of victory. The terrific Australian teams of a few years ago seem like a distant memory. Their selectors are not famed for sentiment or for giving a bloke another chance, so it seems likely that Ricky Ponting -- the man who has won 48 Tests as captain, more than anyone else in history -- will be deprived of the role in the next few days.

The only thing that might keep him in place -- for the concluding Sydney match,at least -- is the absence of an obvious successor. Michael Clarke has been being groomed for the Test captaincy for the last few years, and has already taken over in the shorter forms. But his batting form recently has been diabolical -- almost as bad as Ponting's own -- and now the team is in adversity, he doesn't give the impression of the toughness that will be needed to see it through. Plus, he has a problem back, and is likely to miss games injured.

The Test captaincy in Australia is rather different to the English version. They've only had six in my cricket-watching lifetime, going back to the mid 70s -- Ponting, Steve Waugh, Mark Taylor, Allan Border, Kim Hughes, and Greg Chappell. Of those, all but Hughes filled the role for several years. England must have had double the number in that time. You'll also note that all those Australians are batsmen -- even the most talented and thoughtful bowlers have not been entrusted with the captaincy duties.

So who might be a candidate in the current team, if not Clarke? Mike Hussey, Brad Haddin and Simon Katich are reliable and experienced players who are good enough to hold their places in the team, but all are well into their 30s so would only be an interim appointment -- not the Australian style. Also not their style would be the option of bringing in a captain from one of the State teams who's not currently worth a place as a batsman -- even England have done this only rarely.

Shane Watson is perhaps the only other batsman guaranteed a place, but he has shown a disturbing mental fragility. Having passed 50 fifteen times in Tests, he's only gone onto 100 twice. In the four matches of this current rubber, that's been 0 from 4. You would imagine Australia would want to sort that out before entrusting him with further responsibilities.

Is there any chance they might break with tradition and appoint a bowler? Looking over the current crop, only Peter Siddle has really shown the consistent application and spirit. And he does not impress with his acumen.

I guess if it was me I would like to see Haddin (who I think is a very capable and admirable cricketer -- he looks, when playing, as though he could have walked in from an earlier era) given the captaincy for the next couple of years. Or Hussey, if they are unwilling to see a wicket-keeper burdened with the role. And in that time, hope that either Clarke comes good, or Watson matures.

I expect though that they will just name Clarke as planned. In which case, he will have to work really hard to avoid becoming a second Hughes, who eventually resigned in tears at the demands of the job and the poor performance of his side.

Whoever takes over the Australian captaincy, they're due for a lot of losing matches over the next few seasons. Border and Taylor in the past showed they were mentally tough enough to work through the troughs and shepherd a bunch of youngsters onwards towards regeneration. Will the next man be made of the same stuff? It's going to be interesting finding out.
undyingking: (Default)
This page has some interesting figures from the county Twenty20 group matches earlier this season – during which each county hosted eight home games. As an Essex fan I am particularly interested to see that we had the 3rd highest revenue, and the 6th highest attendance, of the 18 counties.

For one thing, it suggests we are charging people a lot more per head than the other counties are. Which is certainly how it has always seemed to me, but good to have it backed up with figures.

For another, it shows that the arrogant attempts of the counties who have Test grounds (Middlesex, Surrey, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire, Hampshire ad Durham) to restructure the system in their favour, and to force the supposed lesser counties to merge together, is profoundly misguided and should be firmly resisted. As the article points out, Essex's revenue was more than that of Yorkshire, Warwickshire and Durham combined. Our attendance was better than Hampshire, despite their ground being three times the size, and them actually winning the tournament. And this is not because Essex were doing unusually well: we only won three of those eight games.
undyingking: (Default)
This page has some interesting figures from the county Twenty20 group matches earlier this season – during which each county hosted eight home games. As an Essex fan I am particularly interested to see that we had the 3rd highest revenue, and the 6th highest attendance, of the 18 counties.

For one thing, it suggests we are charging people a lot more per head than the other counties are. Which is certainly how it has always seemed to me, but good to have it backed up with figures.

For another, it shows that the arrogant attempts of the counties who have Test grounds (Middlesex, Surrey, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire, Hampshire ad Durham) to restructure the system in their favour, and to force the supposed lesser counties to merge together, is profoundly misguided and should be firmly resisted. As the article points out, Essex's revenue was more than that of Yorkshire, Warwickshire and Durham combined. Our attendance was better than Hampshire, despite their ground being three times the size, and them actually winning the tournament. And this is not because Essex were doing unusually well: we only won three of those eight games.
undyingking: (Default)
We've just waved goodbye to the glorious Test career of Muttiah Muralitharan, who with his last ball took his 800th wicket -- a total which may well never be matched, with Tests likely to grow less common in future. No current bowler has more than 350 or so, and those who are up in that region are already towards the end of their careers. Even nore impressively, he took five in an innings 67 times -- almost twice what any other bowler has managed. 77 of his wickets, including the last, were caught by Mahela Jayawardene -- another record.

I think it's pretty pointless to debate whether X was "the greatest ever", as context is everything -- Murali took a lot of his wickets against weak teams, and on helpful pitches -- but he pretty much single-handedly sustained his country's bowling attack over a long period, whereas Shane Warne for example had the great advantage of Glenn McGrath and co operating alongside. Without Murali it's difficult to believe Sri Lanka could have been competitive. And, more importantly I think, the way he bowled -- his attitude, expressions, variations, and mix of tremendous combativeness with disarming charm -- enlivened world cricket in a way that only a handful per generation manage.

So Sri Lanka thrashed India in that match, but over here an interesting contest is developing between Pakistan and Australia. Having been bowled out for a pitiful 88 first time round, the Australians are fighting back, and as I write are 14 behind with three second-innings wickets down. A few months ago they beat Pakistan having been 206 behind on first innings -- and clearly haven't given up hopes of a comparable feat here. For the sake of cricket generally, though, I would like to see Pakistan score a heavy victory -- their morale desperately needs it.

Closer to home, I expect at least one of you will be watching events on the last day at Chelmsford as keenly as me. Essex currently have the upper hand, thanks to a second century in the match from Ravi Bopara -- hopefully Alastair Cook, on 90 overnight, will soon join him in three figures. With Notts having won yesterday, Yorkshire have to take risks and push for victory today, to stay in contention for the Championship. Their batsmen have shown they can score heavily and quickly, so at a small ground like Chelmsford, judging the declaration target is going to be tricky. I wouldn't be happy setting less than 350, and I'd be happy to sacrifice an hour's bowling time for that, as Yorkshire may well lose wickets rashly in the chase. And if the weather's showery like yesterday, that may play a part too... it's going to be interesting!

Edit: Well, it was interesting, but it ended in a draw -- Yorkshire needed 36 more runs, Essex needed 3 more wickets. At one point the Tykes had over half the runs with just two wickets down and a whole session left, and looked like strolling home, but three quick wickets put a spoke in their chase. Honours more or less even, I think.
undyingking: (Default)
We've just waved goodbye to the glorious Test career of Muttiah Muralitharan, who with his last ball took his 800th wicket -- a total which may well never be matched, with Tests likely to grow less common in future. No current bowler has more than 350 or so, and those who are up in that region are already towards the end of their careers. Even nore impressively, he took five in an innings 67 times -- almost twice what any other bowler has managed. 77 of his wickets, including the last, were caught by Mahela Jayawardene -- another record.

I think it's pretty pointless to debate whether X was "the greatest ever", as context is everything -- Murali took a lot of his wickets against weak teams, and on helpful pitches -- but he pretty much single-handedly sustained his country's bowling attack over a long period, whereas Shane Warne for example had the great advantage of Glenn McGrath and co operating alongside. Without Murali it's difficult to believe Sri Lanka could have been competitive. And, more importantly I think, the way he bowled -- his attitude, expressions, variations, and mix of tremendous combativeness with disarming charm -- enlivened world cricket in a way that only a handful per generation manage.

So Sri Lanka thrashed India in that match, but over here an interesting contest is developing between Pakistan and Australia. Having been bowled out for a pitiful 88 first time round, the Australians are fighting back, and as I write are 14 behind with three second-innings wickets down. A few months ago they beat Pakistan having been 206 behind on first innings -- and clearly haven't given up hopes of a comparable feat here. For the sake of cricket generally, though, I would like to see Pakistan score a heavy victory -- their morale desperately needs it.

Closer to home, I expect at least one of you will be watching events on the last day at Chelmsford as keenly as me. Essex currently have the upper hand, thanks to a second century in the match from Ravi Bopara -- hopefully Alastair Cook, on 90 overnight, will soon join him in three figures. With Notts having won yesterday, Yorkshire have to take risks and push for victory today, to stay in contention for the Championship. Their batsmen have shown they can score heavily and quickly, so at a small ground like Chelmsford, judging the declaration target is going to be tricky. I wouldn't be happy setting less than 350, and I'd be happy to sacrifice an hour's bowling time for that, as Yorkshire may well lose wickets rashly in the chase. And if the weather's showery like yesterday, that may play a part too... it's going to be interesting!

Edit: Well, it was interesting, but it ended in a draw -- Yorkshire needed 36 more runs, Essex needed 3 more wickets. At one point the Tykes had over half the runs with just two wickets down and a whole session left, and looked like strolling home, but three quick wickets put a spoke in their chase. Honours more or less even, I think.

Profile

undyingking: (Default)
undyingking

March 2012

S M T W T F S
     123
4 5678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 23rd, 2017 09:58 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios