Monthly Archives: June 2008

No-balls: where do they come from?

OK, a quick plea. Does anyone there in blogland know where I can find a condensed history of the no-ball Law online. Don’t direct me to Wisden because it ain’t in there – or if it is I can’t locate it.


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Selvey (& friends) talk more nonsense again

I’ve copied and pasted the following quotes from cricinfo just to emphasise that there is nothing more sickening than jounalists getting all self-righteous. Paul Newman takes the first prize for hyperbole, but of course, Mike Selvey, as ever, is in there. Even Simon Hughes has a go. Editors getting on your backs were they, chaps? Collingwood’s reputation has been enhanced in my view: he may have been better advised to call Elliott back but the collision WAS AN ACCIDENT. Get over it boys.

“This was the worst incident involving an England captain since Mike Gatting argued with umpire Shakoor Rana 21 years ago and Paul Collingwood’s reputation may be sullied forever.”
Paul Newman takes the historical view in the Daily Mail

When a man as decent as Paul Collingwood gets drawn into temporarily seeking a win at all costs, it is just further confirmation that cricket has sacrificed any right to the moral high ground.”
Simon Hughes ponders what a pass the game has come to

“This was a match that will be remembered for England cocking a snook at the spirit of the game, something enshrined within the law.”
Mike Selvey thinks the spirit of cricket has taken a beating



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Quiz question of the day UPDATE

Quiz sorts of fellows out there are put to shame by J-Rod, who doesn’t normally do quizzes but beat you all with his assertion that Curtly Ambrose’s mum did indeed run out on her balcony in the Antiguan village of Sweetes to ring a bell every time her son took a wicket.

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PRATT: join the people’s revolt! (A guest writer writes)

Well, after days of cajoling over several pints in the Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem in Nottingham, Jack S Pratt (his real name’s John and he lives in York if you want to look him up and rant at him down the telephone at his reactionary stance) has put pen to paper (acutally his partner typed it out for him otherwise we’d still be waiting for it) to describe his opposition to Twenty20. Bizarrely, it involves monkeys, Mike Selvey and the Oxford English Dictionary…read, enjoy and let us know if you think we should set up a petition to fight the evil that is the short game
 If, like me, you subscribe to the theory that an infinite number of monkeys on an infinite number of typewriters (or IPhones in this day and age) would eventually write the complete works of Shakespeare, then it was always possible that Mike Selvey would say or write something sensible 

This happened in the Guardian Sport Section (June 26) when he described Twenty/20 cricket as superficial. Since its inception I have been trying to discover the part of my inner self which finds Twenty/20  so abhorrent but have struggled to find an answer which doesn’t involve ranting or recourse to language too foul even for Nigel Henderson’s wonderful site. (ed’s note – currying favour with the editor does not mean he owes you a pint)
This moment of enlightenment happened during my routine morning toilet visit (ed’s note- too much information) and simultaneous reading of Selvey’s column.
‘Superficial’ I thought, that’s it is, but just to  be absolutely certain, I found the nearest dictionary to confirm that an accurate definition would describe my feeling for the lowest form of the game.
My battered O.E.D. tells me that superficial means “on the surface only, without depth, (of persons) with no reserve of knowledge or feelings”. With this one perfect word  Mr Selvey has summed up my, and I suspect, many others’ opinion of Twenty/20.  Cricket, the game I have known and obsessed over for 40 years, requires infinite knowledge and goes far beyond the “surface only.”
I don’t have a problem with Twenty/20 existing and being played wherever and whenever people want to watch it. To many, it is obviously highly entertaining, and provides what most people want from a sport. It is exciting, there’s lots of action, you get a result, it’s over quickly, and you can wear your team’s kit. My contention is, that it’s not really cricket (as we know it, Jim). Could it be soccer in disguise? The money certainly seems to suggest so.
It is profoundly worrying to hear profesional cricketers themselves alluding to Twenty/20 being the way forward. Sure, if you want to go out and smear a few decent length deliveries for six over midwicket for half an hour, then this is the game for you. Strip away the skills a batsman needs to be worthy of the name, and you have a successful exponent of Twenty/20. Just why a bowler would want to play the game however, is a complete mystery, unless they genuinely believe going for eight an over is a good hour’s work.
Cricket was invented as a game of consummate skill and subtlety, as can be seen at a hard fought days test or county cricket match. Where Pieterson hitting Murali for six is a tactical victory of thought, and these days patience, over a skilled adversary and is therefore to be savoured. It is not just one of thirty or forty cross-batted fast food slogs dished up at your MacDonalds Stadium of Darkness.
One of cricket’s apocryphal, but endearing definitions, and indeed attractions, is that it’s a game which Americans don’t understand. Now witness what has happened – cricket has sold its soul to a Texan who offers s**t loads of money, to encourage the globalisation of a game that has more in common with baseball than cricket. In fact, looking ahead, cricket is inventing a game of such limited scope that it could be included in the Olympics, where it would almost certainly mean another gold for the bloody Aussies.
I could go on much further, but I won’t. Instead I call upon true die-hards and cricket nuts to stand up and be counted (and I don’t mean in a Mexican wave). Edmund Burke once almost said: “All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men and women do nothing”, so how about a mass movement denouncing the proliferation of Twenty/20? The People’s Revolt Against Twenty Twenty (P.R.A.T.T.). We could recall a time when Boycott reigned supreme, we could describe to youngsters what a defensive shot is, and persuade them that bowling is a worthwhile trade.
But, most of all, we could agree that, yes cricket is insane, incomprehensible, and for many bystanders defies all logic, but that’s precisely why we love cricket and hope it will continue as W.G. intended for another hundred years.

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Quiz question of the day

Here’s an easy one: How did Curtly Ambrose’s mum celebrate when her son took a Test wicket?

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Disingenuous Smith way out of line

Good to see the Village Cricketer (see comments on Collingwood below) is of similar mind to me regarding the NZ Run-Out Incident. And he raises the very valid point about their treatment of Muralitharan a couple of winters ago – not the first time the Kiwis have indulged in a bit of underhand run-out business if my memory serves me correctly.

I also meant to comment on Ian Smith’s commentary on The Incident when he seemed to suggest that it was the most unsporting act since Trevor Chappell’s Underarm. I’d like to hope that Smith was simply angry in the heat of the moment, but to compare the premeditated act of Greg Chappell with the heat of the moment approach of Collingwood is disingenuous. I like Smith as a commentator – he’s better than half the big names in the Sky commentary box who constantly indulge in a smug, we’re-all-ex-cricketers-and don’t-we-have-a-great-life-on-a-big-salary love-in – but  I would hope that one of his bosses might have a quiet word about making those kinds of comparison



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Collingwood right to act and ask questions later

After disappearing for a few days to work on a book and take in some tennis at Wimbledon, I return to cricket duty to discover a huge controversy erupting over a run-out in a one-day international. Apart from feeling grateful that England and New Zealand had provided such good copy for my forthcoming volume (you can never have too much good material) I was slightly surprised by the outcry about Grant Elliott’s dismissal.

Now, while absent in the grounds of the All England Club, the only news I had heard about what was unfolding at The Oval was that the Kiwis needed about 80 off the last 18 with six wickets in hand, and still in the dark when I arrived home in the dark (great five-setter on Court 14 didn’t finish until gone 9pm) I found the Sky highlights had just started and so decided against looking the details up on Ceefax.

What a treat that was, as NZ began to implode and it looked as if England might pull this one out of the fire. But then came The Incident. It was hard, because it all happened a bit too quickly for the Sky director, to see what had occurred at first – but even before a replay had been prepared, Nasser was calling it a sad day for cricket, boos were ringing out and the Kiwi dressing-room were issuing hand signals that would shame a football terrace in the direction of the England balcony, which they looked set to storm in a frenzy of righteous indignation.

There was a slight sadness in my stomach that it had come to this because, according to most reports, the atmosphere between the two teams in this series and the one that preceded it in New Zealand, had been very good.

But once I saw the replay, the pictures of umpire Mark Benson’s arms resting on Collingwood’s shoulders and the captain’s readiness to pull his team away from Elliott, who seemed ready to take them all on at the chance of an untoward word, I had to side with Collingwood.

As he said afterwards, the collision between the bowler and batsman was completely accidental. It was just hard luck – and it must be remembered that the misfortunes of individuals in cricket are myriad. England took advantage and while that may have been harsh, it was certainly, within the rules, fair.

We are often concerned that our cricketers are not ruthless enough and when, in the heat of the moment we are, everyone comes down on us like a ton of bricks. Now, in a future Ashes contest, the urn resting on such a moment, our players will be too scared to act in such a manner. How would Ricky Ponting have acted in a similar situation? I think we know the answer to that.

Collingwood was a decent enough bloke to apologise about an action in the heat of a tight contest he was desperately trying to win, and Daniel Vettori a decent enough bloke to accept that and move on – though whether he would have felt the same if England had not made a mess of the final ball must be doubtful.

But I, for one, think Collingwood was right to act and ask questions later.  


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