Daily Archives: July 16, 2009

The dictionary according to Shane Warne

During my stint as over-by-over text commentator for Times online yesterday, I was asked to listen out for a few “Warne-isms”. I’m not quite sure I know what the dictionary definition of a “Warne-ism” is but there were a couple worth the retelling here, if not in a national newspaper.

In his first commentary stint since playing in the Poker Ashes in Las Vegas, the former leggie, articulated this cracker when Mitchell Johnson didn’t quite get it right. “He’s dropped a bundle,” said Warnie, leaving Athers, his co-commentator, bemused and requesting an Anglo-Australian book of slang to be passed along to the box.

“It’s the same as throwing your toys out of the pram,” the Victorian wizard further explained, before later using the word ‘technique’ uniquely as a verb. ” I like the way he techniques it,” he offered as an explanation of Kevin Pietersen’s, er, technique.

The cameraman extended his lens to the kangaroo enclosure at nearby London Zoo and Athers asked the Aussie if he felt at home.

“Aw, look mate,” he responded, as most Aussies will do when asked a question, “England’s like my second home.”

But then, in the final over, his true colours shone through.

As Johnson stepped up to bowl it to Stuart Broad, he had Warnie’s words of encouragement ringing in his ears – a veritable collection of Aussie cliches.

“Come on Mitchie,” he prompted. “Make it a jaffa, make it a peach, let it rip. Give him 95mph.”

It’s good to have you along Warnie. And don’t let us wait too long for more classics. We’ll be listening out.

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Seatwave goodbye to your hard-earned cash

I’ve looked at it with some consternation on the cricinfo site and now the beggars have gone and dropped one into my inbox. Well, two inboxes if you count the email account I keep for those extra special moments (only joking).

Yes, there it is, at the top. Delivered at 9.35pm. “Buy your Ashes tickets on Seatwave”. Sounds reasonable, there aren’t too many about, and why should we settle for watching it from home. OK, I fancy getting down to Lord’s on Saturday, so let’s see how easy it will be for me to “relive 2005” (I’d probably relive it better if England stopped losing clusters of wickets in the second half of the day).

I press the green “view tickets” button and, blimey, there are only 11 for sale. Row J Edrich Stand, quite a nice view, if a bit distant. £375. A bit steep for a couple of seats. A couple of seats? No, £375 each. So. you mean that’ll set me back £750? Well it would do, but then there’s the Seatwave commission. What’s this, like a booking charge you get at a theatre. Hmm. Not quite. That’ll be another £129.38 please. What? It includes VAT. Oh.

Oh and then there’s the delivery charge: £12 if you don’t mind guv. So that’s a total of £891.38. And the face value of your tickets. Um, £75 each.

Well, you get what you pay for.

Or do you? Who the hell are Seatwave anyway?  “An online fan-to-fan ticket exchange”.

Fan-to-fan?

What fan, finding himself suddenly unable to attend one of the great sporting contests of the summer rips off his fellow fan by charging him more than six times the face value of his ticket?

Is this not just a form of touting? And wasn’t it the ECB who said they were clamping down on the secondary market, particularly the auction sites such as eBay, to the point where tickets bought that way would be declared void.

So, what do the ECB have to say about this? I’d love to know. And why is a site such as cricinfo opening its pages for Seatwave to advertise on. Its Wimbledon Debentures writ large.

And it’s just not cricket as far as I’m concerned. I’ll stick to my Sky subscription.

Memo to cricinfo marketing department, however: Do not insult my intelligence by sending me more of this crap.

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Ashes update, second Test, close: England stunned in game of two halves

It was like a game of two halves at Lord’s today, Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook putting England into a very comfortable 2-0 lead, and at that point there was only one team in it, but Australia struck back and once Cook had gone, the weaknesses in England’s spine was cruelly exposed.

And  we must acknowledge Mitchell Johnson’s similarity to a wayward and wasteful striker, who looks for ages very ordinary in front of goal, but, boy, when he gets into the right position and looks up, he picks out the top corner from a good 22 yards and slams it home with quite some style. If and when he gets some consistency, he’s going to be hard to stop. So, from an English point of view, – and perhaps that of Matt Prior, who got the day’s killer delivery – let’s hope he’s some way from that.

And early on today,he was. It was as woeful a bowling performance as I’ve seen from a player at this level, let alone one who’s ranked No3 in the world. He simply had no idea where each individual ball was going to land. Unfortunately he is not a bowler with a captivating aesthetic. At the best of times, his action is like that of an inelegant clockwork toy. At the worst, it’s a slinging embarrassment.

Ben Hilfenhaus was altogether a different proposition, probing from deep, setting up opportunities, exploting weaknesses and giving some balance to the side.

The Tasmanian was a bit of a hit in South Africa, but this is my first genuine sighting of him – take away a meaningless one-day international in Hobart against New Zealand where he did little to catch my eye while being endlessly cheered by a parochial crowd – but a straight reading of his figures from Joburg, Durban and Cape Town does little for his case: seven wickets while conceding 366 runs.

However, he has doubled that haul in three innings here. Some draw comparisons with Terry Alderman. Well he may not have reached that level of accuracy, but when he’s not taking wickets, he’s precise enough to keep a tight economy rate and you can always sense that the slightest mistake will be punished.

As the naive Ravi Bopara found out when he launched himself at a series of outswingers – one of which he sliced just short of backward point – before being pinned by the inevitable straight one. The Essex batsman has much to learn and Shane Warne’s doubts over his temperament may have something to them.

A sound temperament is certainly not lacking in Andrew Strauss who, after two failures and some quite carping criticism of his captaincy, especially his field placing, hit back in fine style.

It seems churlish to point out that it wasn’t a great innings – how much more than 161 not out do you want – but there were plenty of pleasing shots amongst others without so much grace, yet what was most notable was the way in which he carried on at his own steady pace when all around were falling.

As I type, my part of London is under siege from thunderstorms, and if Lord’s is taking a similar battering, Strauss’s progress may have to be delayed tomorrow morning. However, surface water drains quickly at St John’s Wood and the better part of the weather is forecast to come in the morning session. After that, persistent rain is expected to set in.

Maybe the pitch will sweat enough to liven it up for England’s bowlers, even if not before Saturday. It is hard to be definite about what is a good score here, for, as at Cardiff, the team bowling first has appeared to have found life in the ball – and less so the pitch – in the second half of the day. What meteorological explanations there are for that remain undisclosed.

So it’s nicely poised – again. Although Australia’s batsmen may make England pay for their soft centre.

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Reverse Sweep on over-by-over duty for Times Online

If you’d care to join him, access the Times website from about 10.45am.

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