Daily Archives: July 18, 2008

Dear Mr Miller – are you having a laugh?

Question to the England selectors. What would have been wrong with this team?

1 Strauss

2 Cook

3 Vaughan

4 Pietersen

5 Bell

6 Collingwood

7 Flintoff

8 Ambrose

9 Broad

10 Panesar

11 Anderson

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There’s cheating and then there’s…..AB de Villiers

Well, that was some morning of Test cricket, wasn’t it: an awful umpiring decision – not to mention the no-balls that were missed by Mr Bowden – a great ball to dismiss Vaughanie and a controversial catch that wasn’t.

I must admit when Strauss edged Morkel, my immediate reaction was that the ball did not have enough pace on it to carry, but suddenly Sky switched to a wider angle and there was AB de Villiers holding the ball aloft with all his team-mates running round to congratulate him.

The slow motion replay showed that it was one of the least convincing attempts to hoodwink an umpire (even if Billy doesn’t need much hoodwinking) I’ve ever seen. However, it would be too simple to call De Villiers a cheat.

For AB, I have been there too, if at a much lower level and without the cameras to reveal my dishonesty.

I was fielding at extra cover in club cricket one afternoon when an opposing batsman carved the ball towards me. I dived forward, the ball rolled up my arms and after it touched the ground under my chest, somehow ended up balanced on the top of my wrists and forearms. I wasn’t going to claim it, but as I looked up, a number of my team-mates came running towards me, delight on their faces and all keen to congratulate me on pouching a good ‘un.

I knew it wasn’t out, but I didn’t want to let them down, so I simply carried on as if I had caught it. The batsman, who had had a better view, wasn’t so convinced and, after he was confirmed out by the umpire, walked off ranting and raving and then proceeded to verbally abuse me from the boundary edge for the rest of the innings.

Which, in retrospect, I think he was well within his rights to do.

So, if we’re being kind, let’s say that this was what happened to De Villiers at third slip; Mark Boucher and Graeme Smith started celebrating and Morne Morkel, naturally, was convinced. It would have been hard for him to admit that it had gone into his right hand, rebounded out on to the ground into his left and that he had then seemingly pressed it back into the ground as he got up to claim it.

Otherwise, he must have known that the replays would condemn him.

Although, maybe he just didn’t care. And if so, perhaps the match referee should have something to say about this.

And even if he doesn’t, I think there should be a rule that consigns AB to field on the boundary in front of the Western Terrace for the rest of the innings. After that sort of experience, he’ll make sure the ball is well and truly wedged in his hands before making a friendly request of the umpire.

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Miller’s future should be riding on bizarre selection

Bizarre! That’s the only thing you can say about Darren Pattinson’s selection for the second Test this morning. His inclusion in the initial 30-man squad for the Champions Trophy lifted my eyebrows heaven-ward a few weeks ago, but this has to be the biggest kick in the teeth for some hardworking fast medium bowlers in the English first-class game.

Pattinson, it appears, is not actually Australian – he was born in Grimsby – but until this year he had played all his first-class cricket Down Under, plucked seemingly from obscurity by Victoria in 2006 when they were hit by a spate of injuries, and then earned a contract for 2007.

Now, after some impressive performances for Nottinghamshire, he finds himself brought in ahead of such luminaries as Matthew Hoggard and Steve Harmison, both of whom have not been bowling badly for their counties, and honest triers such as Steve Kirby and Graham Onions, who appeared to be in Geoff Miller’s thoughts at the beginning of the season when they were called up for the MCC match against the champion county. Not to mention Chris Tremlett.

Maybe Miller has seen something not many others of us have  – I have to admit I have not seen Pattinson play – and he thought it important to lay claim to him in case the Aussies were having thoughts about including him for next year’s Ashes, but the length of  his tenure as the chief selector may ride on this hunch.

I know that these days nationality is a changeable commodity, but I’d be interested to hear what accent was prominent when he was being introduced to his team-mates in the England dressing-room this morning: one more regularly heard in Cleethorpes or Melbourne.

Of course, if he picks up six wickets I shall be lauding Mr Miller and congratulating him heartily on unearthing a diamond from the other side of the world.

But, leaving aside national loyalties, something about this just doesn’t taste right.

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