Saturday, 30 October 2010

Presentation evening

So after my first season of cricket, last night saw me attend my first presentation evening, as the club came together to look back on the year and give out prizes to the best performers.

After a beer or two and a three-course meal, it was on to the presentations. Firstly ties were awarded to all those who had taken hat-tricks or scored hundreds - there were 5 centurions and no hat-tricks - before each team captain in turn described his side's season before picking his player of the year. Only the 3rds seem to have had a decent season, but everyone seemed to have had a fun year.

The Eagle has landed

From: A. Flower, CiC, Ashes Expeditionary Force
To: ECB Command HQ, Lord's
30/11/10 09:10 GMT
All sixteen members of the raiding party have successfully landed behind enemy lines. So far everything is going to plan. Will proceed to acclimatise and prepare before the raid commences on November 25th.
God save the Queen.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Coming soon: the Ashes advent calendar

As I'm completely stumped for what else to fill this blog with between now and the start of England's glorious crusade to retain the Ashes, from the start of November I'll be doing an Ashes advent calender, counting down to the First Test in Brisbane with feature on a different Ashes-related subject each day.

Sadly, since no-one has yet devised a way to send it down a telephone wire, you will have to get your own chocolate...

You've gotta love the Aussies...

Monday, 18 October 2010

Aiming for a place in the record books

I've been having a look at the club's 2010 fixture book and it seems to me there's some low-hanging fruit in the 4th XI records. I would obviously like to get my name in the club's record books even if it's something pretty minor so here's a few for me to aim at.

On the batting front, a few of the records will have been surpassed this year thanks to Bob Singh's amazing season, but some of the partnerships further down the order seem ripe to be beaten. My own highest partnership last year was 18, so with a little improvement to my batting and a good partner I should be able to push this significantly higher. Unless these have been beaten in 2010, the 6th wicket record is 32, 7th is 48, 8th is 41, 9th is 23 and 10th is 25. I fancy those last two but not sure I'd be willing to bat at 10 just for the sake of a record. Perhaps I should persuade the captain to put me in at 8 when possible and have a chance with all of them.

No-one broke any bowling or fielding records this year, so it's simple to know what I'm aiming for. 21 wickets in a season would put me 6th on that list, and match figure of 6 for less than 49 would get me another mention. 7 or more catches would merit a mention in the field, but with all these things it's probably best I think about getting to 1 first...

Of course, most of these records rely on someone properly filling out the scorebook first, so maybe I need to impress this upon my team-mates. I think that in matches where I'm not playing next year I'll take it on myself to do the book, do a full job and and see if that helps encourage them.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Entering uncharted territory

Wonders will never cease - I have at last decided to join a gym. Such a thing would have been unthinkable only a short while ago, but such is the devastating effect that my cricket habit has had on me.

It was clear in a few matches this season that after a couple of hours in the field I was prone to rather too much fatigue, and in those overs where three or four ball-chases came my way the third and fourth were considerably more challenging. I am pretty much the only smoker on the team, which doesn't help, but my overall fitness has had precious little attention in about 11 years and overall I just haven't taken care of myself. Back then I could run a mile in a little over 5 minutes, but today I'm not sure I'd even make it that far.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

A word of caution

So today Australia lost to India again, losing the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2-0 in a series which was all you could ever hope for apart from being at least one match too short. Today was crushing for Australia, as India cruised to victory with not much undue fuss, leaving the Aussies languishing below England in the Test rankings for the very first time. Australia's tail was mopped up in under an hour, and they only managed to get three Indian wickets with some poor bowling, poor fielding, poor keeping and poor captaincy all playing a part. Truly I have never seen an Australian team, whatever the situation, look quite so adrift on a cricket pitch.

So the Ashes should be a piece of cake now, right? Well, no.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

The IPL, T20, Sky, ECB, Uncle Tom Cobbly and all rant

So the Indian Premier League seems to be going through another crisis as the BCCI seeks to remove any trace of Lalit Modi's malign influence (at least, malign in the view of the BCCI). You know what? I don't care. I watched a few live IPL games last year and frankly I thought it was bollocks. You had all the nauseating "DLF maximums" and the "Citi moment of success", and you had the scantily clad women jumping up and down every time anything even remotely exciting happened to the accompaniment of loud, fast-paced music.

I'd say the same to them as I'd say to the dolly birds who turn up inexplicably on motor racing grids - "Move over love, you're in the way of what I came here to see". If I wanted loud music and half-naked women dancing around inanely, there are plenty of places where I could find that. Frankly, if the cricket doesn't excite you enough in itself, what the hell are you doing watching it in the first place? I remember going to Lord's to watch a Test Match against South Africa a few years ago and I didn't need any dancing girls - chatting with the 93-year-old MCC member next to me was quite enough to pass the time. Surely the secret to the attraction of watching cricket is that it's one of seemingly few sports these days that doesn't absolutely crave your attention the whole damn time.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Not bad for a first go

With my cricket withdrawal symptoms reaching a new peak all my obsessive-compulsive tendencies are being furiously channelled towards my kit, and today it was Virginia's* turn for the TLC.

I'm disproportionately fond of Virginia, my first "proper" bat, but unless the most apocalyptic scenario were to unfold I'll never use her in a match. Hyacinth is ahead of her in the pecking order and by the time Hyacinth retires I'll have another member of the "harem" to take her place. Virginia does, however, have an important role to play in the nets, as her extra two ounces and smaller sweet spot compared to Hyacinth will, I hope, mean I can get into position just a fraction earlier in matches, thus evening out a quick bowler's tendency to ease up a bit when practising, and encourage me to really middle it.

Anyway, Virginia's grip was starting to get a little tatty and in need of replacement. I've never changed a bat grip before - I've never before used a bat often enough for the grip to wear out - and it's one of those tasks you approach with an even mix of excitement and trepidation. It's a new challenge (and there's something weirdly awe-inspiring about those who can make putting a new grip on look effortless), but also a new way to utterly humiliate yourself by making a gigantic mess of something that looks so simple. I took the old grip off and had a couple of goes at putting it back on using a gripping cone, which didn't go fantastically well, but the new grip was much more pliable and as you can see, in the end I did a pretty good job of it!

*for those new to the blog I should explain that my bats have girl's names - the Kashmir willow V1 is called Virginia, the English willow Hyper Blade is called Hyacinth Bucket - Hyacinth for short.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

When looks can be deceiving

I had a little time to kill at lunchtime today, so I popped into the sport shops in town on the off-chance that there were any good bargains to be had. There weren't really, but I came across something that absolutely astounded me.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Now that's what I call a test match!


Batting pads fit for a God

I love the way every now and then you come across a story of a man with a tremendous passion. Look at Barnes Wallis and his half-bonkers, utterly brilliant Bouncing Bomb, and those of you like me who love their motor racing will be aware of the story of Connew F1 team where a bunch of three guys literally built a Formula 1 car in their garage at home and ended up with it lining up on the grid in a World Championship F1 race.

Such a tale came to my attention today. It starts with an Englishman called Mr R.H. Lewis, who in the early 1970s had an unconventional idea about how to make the lightest, most comfortable batting pads.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

How to play Pencil Cricket

There’s no cricket being played by me at the moment, so rather than let the blog fill with cobwebs I thought I’d keep it ticking over with a few random (but cricket-related) articles, of which this is the first. Looking at my Google Analytics data I can see a handful of people have sought out this blog in the understandable search for information on how to play Pencil Cricket, so allow me to illuminate the uninitiated as to how this procrastinator par excellence is played…