Sponsorship Deals

A bit different from my usual content, but David Hinchliffe, of Harrow Drive (www.harrowdrive.com) has sent me this.

I think my club is a little too bohemian for anyone to want to sponsor us, but I hope that those a little further up the cricketing food chain will find it useful.

The Day's News

In New Zealand England are stuttering through their one and only proper warm-up match for the Test series, and, in Bangladesh, Graeme Smith and Neil McKenzie are really putting Bangladesh to the sword. In all probability Roy and Mankad's age-old record will fall early tomorrow.

There's every chance that England will, in what is now the traditional manner, enter the Test series under-cooked, with a keeper making his Test debut. However, it's encouraging that Steve Harmison is finding the cut strip with regularity and it was good to hear Kevin Pietersen declare this morning that he was only interested in playing for England and all the money in the world wouldn't tempt him away to the IPL.

I believe him. For the time being.



This struck a real chord with me.

I too thought Patel looked the business when he made his debut against England two years ago, but it's hard now to see him getting back to where he was. It looks to me more like a case for a sports psychologist than good old Venky or Gary Kirsten.

Here's hoping though.


(Un) easy Ryder

It's been interesting watching Jesse Ryder, New Zealand cricket's latest hero, these past few weeks, if only because here was someone who'd obviously ripped up the modern cricketer's training manual and thrown it out of the window in favour of a double helping of pies and a few beers. As David Lloyd said during one of the early ODIs, 'he looks a thirsty lad'.

None of his appearances at the top of the Black Caps' order was complete without commentators referring to his murky past, and that has since become his murky present. He seriously injured his hand punching a window in a Christchurch bar a few days ago and then allegedly gave the hospital staff treating him a mouthful of his accumulated wisdom, including the statement that 'I am New Zealand cricket'.

Well, that's as maybe. It's certainly true that the Kiwis, with Fleming on his way out, Bond off to India and Styris following him, aren't exactly over-burdened with star quality as they head into two Test series with England over the next few months, and it would do them - and him - good to get Ryder sorted out.

He probably won't be fit even for the series in England, but, at just 23, he could have a decent future if he can get his head together.


Not the IPL

Two cracking ODIs in the last couple of days, all or some of which have found their way on to my television screen. As always, the utter mastery of Kumar Sangakkara (well on the way to establishing himself as the greatest batsman Sri Lanka has produced) and the more fragile genius of Yuvraj stood out yesterday, with India eventually coming out on top in Adelaide.

Today England and New Zealand fought each other to a standstill in their tie at McLean Park in Napier, with Jamie How's 139 and the brilliant fielding of James Anderson (the best of any England bowler I've ever seen) the icing on a particularly rich cake.

With the current incessant talk about the IPL, these games were a timely reminder that notable events still sometimes occur on the field of play, and in games where the sides get fifty overs to bat rather than a mere twenty.


Rarely Seen

Many people will know by now that England went on to win the match and hence retain the Ashes, Claire Taylor starring with a match double of 79 and 64 not out. There seems to be a bit of off-field intrigue going on as well, but the result's both more significant and more interesting.

However, this, courtesy of Cricinfo, shows the other side of the women's game.

I'm certainly not poking fun at the efforts of the Bermudan women; it's just that you rarely see scorecards like that on sites like Cricinfo.


Hothouse Flowers

I've never written anything about women's cricket here before, but I reckon England's current women's tour of Australia is worth a mention. Against a side which has historically set the standard around the world, England's women are on top after two days of the only 'Test', and look a good bet to retain the Ashes which they won in England in 2005. They also did well in the earlier ODIs, drawing the series 2-2.

I've never watched any women's cricket live, and I'm only vaguely familiar with a few of the England players, most notably the captain, Charlotte Edwards, who I've seen make a few powerful and stylish runs on TV over the years, but it's good to see aoe England side shaping up so well in the unforgiving hothouse that is Australian cricket.

I'll be following the last two days of the game closely.


Another Life, Another Retirement

Soon it's to be Stephen Fleming. Despite some uneven stats, a fully-paid-up occupant of the New Zealand cricket pantheon.

Class batsman, shrewd captain and one of the easiest and smoothest slip catchers you will ever see. The sort of cricketer I'd like to have been in another life.

Cricinfo has it all here.

Opening Up

This, courtesy of Cricinfo and Peter Roebuck, has a bearing on what I was saying the other day and I can only agree with every word.


The Great Leap Backwards

A few months after an encouraging one-day series win in Sri Lanka and a mere few days after winning both their Twenty20 games against New Zealand with something to spare, England are 2-0 down in the 50 over series. What is more, they were dismantled so comprehensively in Hamilton that redemption currently seems about as far away as the ball which Jesse Ryder hit clean out of the ground this morning.

That's always the way with the England one-day operation: As soon as you think they've taken a few steps forwards, they immediately take a series of huge leaps backwards. Dopey running, fatuous and profligate short-pitched bowling, errant fielding; this 'performance' had it all.

Earlier this winter Paul Collingwood was starting to earn a few plaudits for his captaincy in the one-day arena. The next three games will be a really severe test of his, and his players' mettle.

Three wins? Well, you wouldn't bet on it.



After the psychological problems which Marcus Trescothick has been confronting over the last two years it's been sobering indeed to read about the similar issues currently being faced by Shaun Tait and Lou Vincent.

A number of writers (most notably David Frith in his ground-breaking studies of cricket suicides and David Foot in his great book about Harold Gimblett) have considered the fact that cricket appears to attract people who are more prone to illnesses of this sort than other sports. Or does cricket, with its protracted nature, mental and physical intensity and harsh statistical verdicts on its participants, lead people down the road of mental torment to a greater extent than other games?

I'm not sure, but with reference to the ceaseless and often devalued treadmill which modern international cricket has become, I tend towards the latter explanation, certainly as far as Marcus and, to a lesser extent, Vincent, are concerned. It doesn't hold good for Tait, who's never really been given a chance to step on to the treadmill, but then nor do the views of Geoff Boycott, who's seemed very unsympathetic towards him.

As regular readers will know, I have the highest possible regard for Marcus, who I've been watching regularly since he was eighteen. I don't think I've ever seen Vincent play in the flesh, but I know him to be an innovative attacking batsman and an excellent fielder. Shaun Tait I have seen, and my lasting memory of him sees him scrabbling around in the Oval dust as Kevin Pietersen opens up against Brett Lee after lunch on 12th September 2005. For his sake it'd be nice to see him do something better at another time.

Good luck to one and all.


Reeve Rides Again

On a less welcome note, England were comprehensively thrashed earlier today by New Zealand in the first of five ODIs between the two sides; that after winning the two Twenty20 games earlier in the week and a rather rash Ramps predicting on Sky that the ODI series would be 'one way traffic' (or something like that).

I've only caught bits and pieces of all the games on radio and TV but one of the most interesting things about the TMS coverage has been the return of Dermot Reeve, last seen retreating from UK broadcasting with his tail between his legs after some cocaine-fuelled commentary on Channel Four when New Zealand last toured England in 2004.

In the interim I'd occasionally wondered what had happened to him. Now I know.


Coming from Behind

As one of those English eccentrics (are there any others?) who always follows the Indian domestic season closely, even when the 'England Lions' don't feature in it, I was pleased to see England's second string finish up with a win over Central Zone after coming from behind.

While many people's attentions will inevitably be focussed on Panesar and the side's baby (and most promising player) Adil Rashid, it was good to see the usually unsung Middlesex seamer Alan Richardson take a number of economical wickets. It's very hard to work out why he was selected, since, at 32, his chances of carving out a prolonged career in the England attack are barely better than mine (well, quite a lot better, actually), but he's been a very useful and typically English operator for many seasons, initially in his native midlands and more recently at Lord's.

And then there's Michael Carberry, on his third county at 27, but just starting to shape up as an opener, with his second innings ton the major contribution to the English victory.

While the one-day circus gets under way again for England in New Zealand there's a bit happening elsewhere; the players are even wearing white.

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