Archive for the ‘Asides’ Category.

Wanted: An England Cricket Captain

For anyone who follows the England cricket team, the talk about their current captain, Alastair Cook, is pretty much unavoidable.

The successor to the pretty successful Andrew Strauss, he was always going to have to tough act to follow but, initially, it seemed to be going well. He avoided a potential banana skin in Bangladesh in Feb/Mar 2010 (scoring plenty of runs in the process) whilst deputising for the rested Strauss and started well by leading the side to 2-1 series win in India (again scoring heavily) in 1012/13 in the first series after Strauss retired.

Sadly for both Cook and England that has proved to be the high point of his reign (a 3-0 win in the Ashes in 2013 not withstanding). Since the end of the 2013 Ashes series England have lost 5-0 to Australia in Australia*, 1-0 to Sri Lanka and look likely to finish second in the current India series. His personal stats with the bat are no less grim: 277 runs @ 27.70 in Ashes 2013, 246 @ 24.60 in Ashes 2013/14, 78 @ 19.50 against Sri Lanka and, so far, 15 @ 7.50 against India.

Against this there is also the continuing fallout of the 2013/14 Ashes whitewash to consider. Those who know the full story aren’t telling which leaves everyone else speculating. All we know for sure is that the England management called time on Kevin Pietersen’s international career shortly after the team returned from Australia. There is no doubt that KP, on his day, was a brilliantly destructive batsman. However it is also not in doubt that he has fallen out with many of the teams he has played for (Nottinghamshire, Hampshire and England being three obvious examples). Strauss may have been an idiot for calling him a complete c*** on an open microphone but that doesn’t make the description any less true.

All of this leaves us where we are today: a rudderless team lead by a man who is, to put it very bluntly, horribly out of form with the bat, looking clueless in the field (even compared MS Dhoni – hardly a great skipper himself!) – as the third session of the first day of the current game ably demonstrated – and increasingly forlorn (as this picture after his dismissal on Friday shows).

Also, just to add to the woes, the current wicket keeper (Matt Prior), is also out of form, dropping relatively simply chances, and is, possibly, several games past what should have been the end of his international career.

My reading of the current dilemma is that Cook won’t quit (but he’d probably be quite happy right now if he was sacked) whilst the ECB won’t sack him (but would be quite relieved if he quit).

However I think there is a solution – one that will kill two birds with one stone.

If the ECB won’t sack him then the face-saving answer will be to say that he has picked up an injury and will be unavailable for a month or so thus ruling him out of the rest of the series (first day of the last test is 15th August). Conveniently Essex (Cook’s domestic team) do not have another First Class game until 15th August and certainly wouldn’t miss him in the shorter stuff between now and then. This gives him time to take a complete break from the game and perhaps clear his head.

In the meantime, England will need a new skipper and a new opening batsman. Given that nobody in the current side is pushing their captaincy credentials (Ian Bell is a foot soldier, not a leader; Stuart Broad’s attempts to do the T20 job have been poor and James Anderson seems unable to lead the bowling attack for any length of time) the selectors need to look outside of the team.

My suggestion would be to select either James Foster or Chris Read. Both captain their counties and both are wicket keepers. Pick either of them (I’d prefer Foster but I am biased**), tell them that the job is theirs come what may until the end of the 2015/16 season just so long as they get the players functioning as a unit and take that time to identify where the leadership group amongst the current (or near-future) group of players is. Add in an opener (Carberry or Compton probably) and then see how it goes. A new spearhead will be needed to replace Anderson (probably after Ashes 2015) and there is the lingering problem of a spinner but those are not decisions for the captain.

Give the ODI and T20 captaincy to Eoin Morgan (he’s unlikely to figure in the test side again) and tell Broad to pick no more than two formats (hopefully Tests only) to play.

In the meantime Cook can, if he wants, return to Essex colours for some of their last 4 First Class games this season. If he starts scoring runs then consider him for the 2014/15 season. If not then he gets a winter off and starts again in 2015 and gets picked for England (as a batsman only) when he is back in nick and scoring without difficulty domestically.

* A stupidly timed series that owes everything to the ECB chasing money. A more sensible approach to ensuring that the away (for the English) Ashes series doesn’t fall in the same season as the Cricket World Cup would have been to push the away series back a year rather than bringing it forward a year. The end result of this is that there will be 3 Ashes series in 2 years.

** Foster on test duty allows Ben Foakes to keep wicket regularly for Essex thus keeping him with the county before he wanders off like Adam Wheater did and we end up scrabbling for a new ‘keeper once Foster retires.

Does Jos Buttler deserve any sympathy?

Jos Buttler is run out during the 5th ODI against Sri Lanka on 3rd June 2014

In a word? No.

He was backing up far too far and Sri Lanka were well within their rights to tun him out, as stated in Law 42.15:

The bowler is permitted, before entering his delivery stride, to attempt to run out the non-striker.

I suggest that he stays within the crease until the ball has been delivered in future.

Rugby WC2015

2015 Rugby Union World Cup draw

Group A looks like it’ll be interesting as England, Wales and Australia slug it out but SA and NZ should easily top their groups and it’ll probably be France and Ireland from Group D – although I wouldn’t want to put money on which side will finish top.

Musical Interlude: IoW Festival 2013 (Sunday)

I’m down at the Isle of Wight Festival (I’m not camping though) so I thought I’d post videos from some of the acts I see each day.

Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel – “Here Comes the Sun”:

Newton Faulkner – “Dream Catch Me”:

Boomtown Rats – “I Don’t Like Mondays”:

Paloma Faith – “Just Be”:

The Script – “Hall of Fame”:

Bon Jovi – “Always”:

Blondie – “Heart of Glass”:

Musical Interlude: IoW Festival 2013 (Saturday)

I’m down at the Isle of Wight Festival (I’m not camping though) so I thought I’d post videos from some of the acts I see each day.

Laura Mvula – “That’s Alright”:

Bonnie Raitt – “I Can’t Make You Love Me”:

Billie Arnold – “Valerie” (Cover):

Ben Howard – “Esmerelda”:

The Maccabees – “About Your Dress”:

Bloc Party – “One More Chance”:

The Killers – “Miss Atomic Bomb”:

Musical Interlude: IoW Festival 2013 (Friday)

I’m down at the Isle of Wight Festival (I’m not camping though) so I thought I’d post videos from some of the acts I see each day.

First up, it’s T’Pau with “Heart and Soul” (although I considered “China in Your Hand”):

The Levellers – “Another Man’s Cause”:

Jake Bugg – “Country Song”:

Fun. – “Some Nights”:

Paul Weller – “A Town Called Malice” (yes, I know that it’s actually from The Jam but the crowd didn’t get going until he wheeled out the old stuff):

I’d finish with something from The Stone Roses but, quite frankly, they were so damn boring I’m not going to inflict them on anyone else.

Comment Loonytunes

Whilst clearing out the spam folder today I came across this piece of utter nuttiness:

News from American Patriot Group: Sandy Hook school disobey the terrorist organization Bilderberg Group by not house training the little children to worship Satan. The Bilderberg Group also known as the illuminati sent a kill squad over to execute all those little children in school to make an example out of them. The message was: You must house train your little children, little niece, little nephews in America to worship the Devil in school or they all must die.

Less tinfoil hat, more full on Faraday cage.

About the world-renowned author Dan Brown…

As I have mentioned before, I have never tortured my eyeballs by subjecting them to a Dan Brown novel. This was a personal choice and Geoffrey K. Pullum’s The Dan Brown Code simply further entrenched my desire never to do so.

However it is because of Pullum’s piece that I am able to appreciate Michael Deacon’s excellent skewering of Brown in the Telegraph on Friday:

The critics said his writing was clumsy, ungrammatical, repetitive and repetitive. They said it was full of unnecessary tautology. They said his prose was swamped in a sea of mixed metaphors. For some reason they found something funny in sentences such as “His eyes went white, like a shark about to attack.” They even say my books are packed with banal and superfluous description, thought the 5ft 9in man. He particularly hated it when they said his imagery was nonsensical. It made his insect eyes flash like a rocket.

If you haven’t already, do please go and read the whole thing. If, like me, you have chosen to avoid Brown’s oeuvre then read Pullum first.

Eeny meeny miny moe

Following on from the launch of Inspiration Mars, billionaire Dennis Tito’s project to send a middle-aged couple on a non-stop a return trip to Mars, I had to wonder who my readership would want to send (involuntarily) on this trip.

Tony and Cherie Blair?
Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper?
Chris Hunhe and Vicky Pryce?
Neil and Christine Hamilton?
John Major and Edwina Currie
David and Victoria Beckham?

Or are these all people we’d like to send on a one-way trip?

The comments section is open for further suggestions…

Calling a spade a spade

It seems that someone at The Telegraph has the same opinion of Kier Starmer and his authoritarian ways as I do. I wonder if he’ll claim to be grossly offended by this?

The original image is in use on this article and (at least until they take it rename it) can be found here.

h/t @iamDarragh