27 October 2011

Australia's Little Ones

Awwwww. They are so funny and innocent still.

Patrick Cummins and Mitchell Marsh are doing a tour diary during Australia's current visit to the Saffaland (where the moocows are mooing louder than anywhere else and they also have more meat on the hips, healthy and happy moocows they are, with shaggy fur though and bucket hooves, hence a related story is discussed by the two shy little Aussie rugrats).

I hope that during the Test leg of the tour, when Mitch Marsh is not a part of the squad anymore, Usman Khawaja will join Pat for some banter.  Uzzy is hilarious, as anybody who has read his diary on the NSW website will have to confirm. 

Now watch this:

PS. I know that some of you want to Mrs. Robinson Mitch Marsh.  I can see it down at the bottom of you black hearts!! ^^


25 October 2011

Aussies Who Don't Sledge

The Pitch Invasion guys and girls brought up a very interesting topic in one of the latest shows:

Which players in the recent history of cricket never sledge anybody?

When the question came to Australia, a lot of umming and ahhing filled the room, until one eventually managed to come up with the names of Michael Hussey and Pat Cummins, the latter of who still being too new-born and innocent to spew out any verbal filth, but sure to catch up with Watto and Mitch very soon. I was shocked by this poor outcome and also slightly irritated because I couldn't think of any other players either. This can't have been it already? So my brain started rotating and as usual, the thought process yielded some amazing results:

The first name that popped up was Nathan Lyon. This guy is just too odd-looking and too decent to have a dig at the opponent's female family members. He's awkwardly-spoken, but decent. And how could they forget about Nathan Hauritz, the greatest non-sledger (and probably also biggest sledge-receiver) in the history of mankind! Which takes us to Xavier Doherty... can you imagine Xavi sledging anyone? I can't. And Steven Smith? Well to be frank, he has the balls, but probably keeps his mouth shut for obvious reasons.

Are we beginning to see a pattern here? Yep. Australia's presumable non-sledgers are almost all amongst the recently picked spinners. Now compare both, their success with the ball and amount of foulmouthery, to Shane Warne's. Are we beginning to see a pattern inside the pattern? And why the heck has nobody noticed it yet?

So here's my advice to Australia's recent, current and future spinners:

For the sake of God, fatherland and cricket, start bloody sledging!!!


23 October 2011

India v England - The 'Payback' Series

Does anyone remember how Australia, losing the last two Ashes series,
beat the shit out of England in both of the subsequent ODI series,
away and at home?



21 October 2011

Are You Kakmal In Disguise

Due to not being able to watch yesterday's 3rd ODI between India and England I just read the Cricinfo bulletin and nearly choked one my tongue upon the realisation that Craig Kieswetter had not only fluffed the Jadeja runout, but also two further, very costly chances earlier in the game.

Kies is not considered the next Gilchrist, not even the next Manou. He has his critics. You would expect him to make the odd mistake. But last night he must have had a shocker. Had the subcontinental air, the relative closeness to the Pakistani border, benighted his mind and nullified his skills?

No, I will tell you what it is: the bloke is under immense pressure. With Buttler and Davies and half of England breathing down his neck he cannot afford any hiccups behind the stumps, and let's not talk about his spot as an opening batsman in ODIs, a dance in butter stilettos on glowing embers.

It could not become any more obvious than in this series that nerves turn into failures, failures turn into more nerves, which will turn into more failures. Give the guy a break! Tell him that he's gonna play in the next 10 matches. Let him calm down, settle in and do his job. 

Kies can.


17 October 2011

Are India The Most Boring Cricket Team In The World

India either win by a large margin or lose totally lamely, at least that's what most of the matches look like which I have recently followed. Actually I am wondering if this could be backed up by statistics, don't think so, they aren't Bangladesh or Zimbabwe, and I guess there are as many nailbiters amongst their matches as amongst those of other teams, but that's how it looks to me.

I am waiting for a match involving India that makes me cling to the edge of my seat, the last one I enjoyed was the tie against England during the World Cup about 500 years ago, and I want more of this, moooaaaaarrrrrrrrr!!!

Come on the cappuccino boys, I know you can do it. Give me some sugar, some pepper, some spice! Lose some wickets, get only just over the line, take the series to the last match!

I hope the Poms will buck up and win the next one to insert some life back into this tour. Otherwise I will be doomed to follow the rest of the series just for the sake of listening to Pitch Invasion. Don't get me wrong, it is brilliant on its own, but it would be even more fun with the panelists killing themselves and each other with excitement ^^

So come on Poms, pull the socks up and come back hard!!!


14 October 2011

Ollie Rayner Has Joined Middlesex And Nobody Tells Me!

Ollie Rayner in his Middlesex attire
I think my eyes just popped out of my head!

Ollie Rayner has joined Middlesex in a permanent deal, the news was hidden at the bottom of the Dalrymple departure article. Oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god?!?

To anyone who has been following Middlesex's fate in the County Championship Division 2 over the last two years with at least a quarter of an eye (like me) it is fairly obvious that Sussex mercenary, Teutonic hunk and PFCNFS pet Ollie Rayner has single-righthandedly dragged Middlesex out of what you can basically call the utter gutter, and effected their promotion to Division 1.

This post was actually a draft I never published  -had a tummy feeling that there was still something coming in this regard- , originally about Middlesex exploiting Ollie Rayner's invaluable services in order to get promoted to Division 1 and then leaving him to rot with Sussex in the basement, but there is justice and decorum in this world, and Ollie has been signed for good, yes for good, because they would  be fools, with barn gate sized holes in their heads, to let him go again.

So what can we look forward to next year?

A full freaking season of Gareth Berg and Ollie Rayner, the Snow-White & Rose-Red, the Hänsel & Gretel, the.. well... Stan and Ollie of County Cricket. Berg has been absolutely outstanding this season again, if you don't believe me look up his figures, I have shamefully failed to acknowledge his performance appropriately thus far;  and we shall not forget how the these two Marilyns kickstarted Middlesex's 2011 season to put the club's promotion aspirations on a solid basis.

Anything else?

Ohhhh yes. Another year in the centre of Middlesex's frontline significantly increases his chances to spearhead the German ascension to Test Cricket. And when the glorious day has come we shall commemorate his 2011 season in our Hakas Schuhplattlers. A furore germanorum libera eos domine! Harg harg.

On a more serious side note, gratz the Middle! Too bad Hampshire have gone down... will  my two favourite county sides ever play a four-dayer against each other? Perhaps in two years already, when Middlesex have inevitably returned to Div. 2 due to their lack of Owais, and should Hampshire fail to get re-promoted (likely, given Howell's, Tahir's and Hamza's absence, as well as Corker's full and Macca's gradual retreat from the county of brain.)

Anyway. Lobet den Herrn!!! ^^


11 October 2011

Match-Fixing: Australia's Bracken-, Excuse Me, Bracket-System

The Mazhar Majeed tapes are keeping the cricket pundits on their toes, as more and more details from Majeed's meetings with NOTW Journalist Mazher Mahmood are cropping up during the London spot-fixing trial.

I am sure that most of you are informed about the latest proceedings and everybody has more or less already made up their minds about these news, however, there are a few things that need to be taken into consideration:

What speaks in Majeed's favour is that his revelations have proven sufficiently true in the past. Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif have all been found guilty. Furthermore Majeed has now also thrown the names of Imran Farhat, the Akmal brothers and Wahab Riaz aka Jacket Boy into the mix, out of who Kamran Akmal and Wahab had been under scrutiny by the pundits anyway (and the letter combination S-Y-D-N-E-Y is starting to hover above my head again). Majeed nebulously stated they were "his" players. Interestingly, he did not mention Danish Kaneria.

It never gets old: Wahab Riaz aka Michael Jacket (Pak v SA ODI 3, Dubai, 2 Nov 2010)

Apart from that the past has shown that not even the most reputable men are able to resists the call of cash, and in the world of corruption there exist no frontiers.

The bracket fixing, of which Majeed speaks, sounds like a proper plan due to its relative undetectability. Bowling-wise, depending on the match situation, only one player is required, however if you want to fix the batting things get a bit more complicated.

Ummmm. These were the thoughts that crossed my mind when the fear crept up that any Aussies could indeed have red stains on their hands as well.

Here's how James Sutherland reacts to Majeed's claims. I am not sure if he has understood in which way the allegations against the Pakistan trio emerged, since he keeps harping on the fact that the ACSU has not approached him over any suspicious observations, and hence suggests that Majeed's statement holds no water.

Now, what are the factors that make Majeed's claims appear like the incoherent mutterings of the Crazy Cat Lady?

Majeed states to have close connections to Brad Pitt, Roger Federer and other celebs, who he could recruit for a cricket tournament; as well as to have managed Chris Gayle and Nathan Bracken, and to know the agent of Ricky Ponting; the latter two of who had their respective representatives deny any such claims vehemently. Further names he mentioned during his boasting fit were those of Brett Lee, Yuvraj Singh, Habhajan Singh, several retired England players, Lalit Modi, and even that of former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf.

Another argument against Majeed's claims is brought forth by the ACA CEO Paul Marsh, who rather harshly replies that "...one of the differences between the Pakistan players and our players is we've got a proper player system in place here. Our guys are paid well, they are educated well and you would have to question the motivation our players would have to get involved whereas in Pakistan they are not paid very well, are not educated very well and they leave themselves open to approaches from blokes like this."

Also, unlike in the case of the no balls, which can be executed individually by single players, the bracket system applied to the batting period can only work, if a certain number of players collaborates. Since Majeed speaks of ten brackets per match a considerable part of the Australian line-up would have to be involved in the fixing, which currently overstrains my imagination.

But: since Amir, Asif and Butt have been found guilty, one cannot even approximately estimate at which point in this cascade of swaggering and name-dropping the truth ends and fantasy begins.

So although it seems that Mazhar Majeed might simply have exaggerated the facts grossly, these "new" revelations, recorded over a year ago in the course of the investigations by NOTW undercover journalist Mazher Mahmood, have opened a new can of worms. It remains to be seen if any consequences accrue from these claims apart from Nathan Bracken litigating the bejesus out of Majeed.

What a huge pile of dung.


8 October 2011

Help Save BBC Cricket!

Last night I saw this article on Will Atkins' The Short Midwicket blog:

It came to me as a major shock to hear that the BBC wants to cut costs exactly there where it hurts not only us continental and overseas county cricket followers most. Will, a well-known and popular Middlesex pundit and aspiring cricket journalist, details why the the move is wrong, and tells you what you can do to protest the decision, and thus the most likely consequences.

I'd like to add that the live coverage of the county cricket matches, broadcast not only via radio but also internet stream, does not only serve as an umbilical cord between the expats and their home clubs, but it also recruits new county cricket fans and followers in the most unlikely corners of the world, and thus helps spread the word of cricket (and should therefore actually be ICC-funded, but that's another story ;)).

Had I not stumbled upon Kevin Hand's excellent Middlesex live coverage, not got addicted to the highly emotional commentary and hilarious banter between him and his guests and co-hosts there would not have been any Middlesex section on this blog. No Berg-bandwagon, none for Toby Roland-Jones and none for Ollie Rayner.

I wouldn't have a clue about the delectable rivalry between Middlesex and Surrey, Mark Church's excellent and charming coverage of the Surrey matches, and first and foremost I would not have started this mindless, highly enjoyable Tim Linley hype during a time when he was still trying to get picked for the first string side regularly.

I also would not keep my fingers crossed for Somerset and Sussex, and godcanyouimagine I would not know anything about Hampshire. The mere thought makes me writhe in pain. In fact I have met so many  great people through following the county cricket I can't even recall all their names.

Thanks for all that, Kevin.

And due to the insights into the whole county cricket circus I've also grown a soft spot for some of the English players.

No thanks for that, Kevin :P

To cut a long story short, a summer without the BBC cricket coverage has become unthinkable for me.

So please guys, join the moan and support the protest against these cuts, if you want to keep enjoying how Kevin nearly kills himself trying to pronounce archipelago or Satyanarayana Srinivas. And if you love your county cricket!!!


5 October 2011

Champions League T20 - The Redbacks Are Out

Royal Challengers Bangalore v South Australia at Bangalore

Don't know what to say. Anybody who has seen the match will understand what I mean. 

Dan Harris with his gorgeous 100, Ferguson with his well-timed 70, and at the end Dan Christian piled on a total of 214, of which I thought the Redbacks could defend it rather easily. What a foolish thing to believe. Klinger's injury, which earned him a free ride in an ambulance, now seems like a bad omen.

Of course the same batting conditions applied to the opposition as well and the Kohli/Dilshan partnership took the match away from the South Australians. Until Shaun Tait, omitted in the last two matches, came back for an incredible, mindfunking three over spell, and the wickets fell in bunches. Dan Christian, who had been granted the honours to bowl the last over, had to defend six runs with the last ball... and gave them away.

I still can't believe it. Hats off to Bangalore for chasing this total down. I had a feeling at the start that it would be Kohli-Day.

After the previous match against Somerset had been abandoned without a ball bowled, and the teams earned one point each from it, both South Australia and the English side were in the position to reach the semis, if they won today. Somerset lived up to the expectations and kicked the Warriors out of the competition.

Now it is up to NSW to keep carrying the Aussie flag. I hope they and of course Somerset will reach the final.


3 October 2011

A Cricket Post On New Germany's Birthday

Happy 21st birthday to my home country New Germany. This bulky, yet kinda handsome young bloke from the heart of Europe is now allowed to drink in the USA! But I guess he'll rather just have a glass of water^^

On this occasion I would like to say thank you to everyone including my mum, who dared to stand up for a democratic change in 1989 and risked their safety and lives, and those of their families, to make East Europe a better place, and to finally end the Cold War.

Without these guys I wouldn't be sitting here writing these lines on my own blog.

Without them I would not be reading English cricket websites, would not be talking to cricket players -and their mums- from Israel, to fellow Redbacks supporters from Adelaide, or cricket-obsessed maths teachers from New Zealand.

I would not be able to engage in heated discussions with cricket wits from Asia, I would not be sharing big hopes with fans from Zimbabwe, I would not debate cricketing buffaloes with Bangladeshi Saffa-fans residing in Canada, I would not be watching live matches on the internet, or laughing my arse off listening to an Indian cricket radio station.

Without these guys, Rana-Javed Iqbal would not have taken 8 for 9 against the team of the Czech Republic. I would not know who he is. I would not know cricket. There would not be a Czech cricket team. And there would not be a Czech Republic.

Now, like every cricket fan I tend to view life as a match of cricket, and to explain and describe it in cricket terms and metaphors. So, here comes the inevitable question of the day:

What sort of cricket player is New Germany?

As a right-handed batsman he is a heavyweight in the middle order, who can always be relied upon to save the innings, if the top order has imploded. Not a Hussey yet, but he's working on that problem with Katoesque determination. Gifted with seemingly infinite patience, he would rather scratch around for a whole day than chuck his wicket into the bowler's throat. The tailenders and younger players generally like to bat with him because he protects them well and makes them feel safe, so that they can concentrate on doing their job. He is a player of the classical Test mould, has a fairly good range of shots and uses his feet against the spinners to some success, but takes no risks. Unlikely to get stumped, run out, or caught in the deep. When he middles it, the ball tends to fly out the ground.

Fantastic ODI batsman, but will never really make it into the T20 team, because he values his wicket too much. His Test average oscillates around 48, but not everyone in the team appreciates that. Everybody knows that he could bat at the top, but he insists that he's happy with what he calls "opening the middle order batting".

He is a handy medium pacer known to bowl in precisely the same spot for hours and hours, but he hardly has any tricks or tactics up his sleeve, and if he knew any, he probably wouldn't make use of them. Once or twice in a day he likes to bowl the odd bouncer, just to underline his standpoint.

Whenever the captain tells him to field at slip or short leg he starts to grumble, because he does not like running around with a helmet on. Eventually he gives in, realising that everyone in a team has to take responsibility. However, if the captain employs all-too-offensive tactics, he often would just like to leave the field. In such situations he is unmotivated to the point of stubbornness, and needs to get kicked and dragged along. He believes that he will not change his mind on this issue in the foreseeable future and therefore is assigned tasks of a more auxiliary nature, which he can accomplish enthusiastically and reliably.

He doesn't understand the concept of sledging and will thus often be seen shaking his head and sighing sadly.

As the vice captain of the side he knows how to guide and motivate the team, but he sometimes tends to try and do all the batting and bowling by himself. Although he encourages the less experienced players and those that are going through a form dip, he needs to dare delegate work more efficiently to the other seniors in the team.

In the dressing room he is not considered the greatest entertainer, he hardly ever sings, and he dances like a bear. Often he can be found sitting in a corner pondering his technique, the mistakes he made in past matches, and how to do better in the future. He likes to share these experiences with the younger players, but some just roll their eyes over his endless repetitions of "this mouldy old shit". Sometimes he has his 'special five minutes', in which he audibly wonders if winning is the primary goal of the game, and if it is fair to crowd eight fielders around a No. 11.

Mrs. New Germany:
Hides inside the house, terrible WAG
Doesn't really have a best friend in the team. People who know him better are ok with him around. He is expected to deliver and usually does; he considers these expectations an indirect way of expressing appreciation and is content with that. He benefits from his thick skin when it comes to putting up with the different kinds of personalities in the team.

In private life he is married with a gorgeous girl, who buzzes with energy. She likes to cook, to sing and dance, and to wear beautiful dresses. People turn their heads after her when she shows up outside the house, but it doesn't happen very often. He loves and admires her exuberance and joyfulness, but they just won't rub off on him.

Overall, he looks like he's still gonna have a long and successful First Class career ahead of him. Some say he has peaked already, but with his skillset, learning aptitude and the game changing so quickly, predictions are really hard to make.

I'd pick him any time. Would you?


2 October 2011

Master Of Puppets

I just spotted a great post by Tim Holt, it is called Cricket Marketing 101- Use The Name Of Sachin Tendulkar, in which Tim de-constructs the cheap and obvious strategies employed by Shoaib Akhtar's PR consultants, who use the name of Sachin Tendulkar and the remote-controllability of his easily manipulable zealots, to increase the sales of his silly little book, and the hype around it. On this occasion Tim also mentions how bloggers more or less blatantly exploit Sachin's name to trigger a deluge of blog visitors.

From the top of my head I can name several blogs who played that card. I did that, too, as a rather obvious pisstake on this strategy of "no given f*k + little effort = many clicks"; put Sachin in the title and gazed at the jump in visitor numbers with disblief. It is hilarious, and it gives you a feeling of power over the masses, to summon them just by pronouncing the magical two words, but at the same time it is also scary to get overrun by a raging mob, and logically copping a fair bit of stick from them as well. Tim, in his article, calls them fanbois, I used to call them "Sachin zombies" and Sachin the "zombie master", and if you adopt the role of a high priest, by singing his gospel and giving the Sachin sermon, you can control them as well, which is exactly what these bloggers are doing. The same crazy effect does, BTW, also apply to Shahid Afridi.

Which means that the current constellation of Tendulkar, Akhtar and Afridi involved in one and the same incident is getting mirrored as a superangry multi-climax in the visitor figures of any cricket-related medium. This peak in the traffic stats, and subsequent slump, also seems to suggest the other way round that the respective audience doesn't care about much else (but I guess most people I personally talk to are "meta" cricket fans, who are interested in cricket in general and will click any headline that promises a good read).

What I find interesting as well is how different the priorities of the fanbois are, if you compare Sachin and Afridi as players, their image, personality, reputation and aura, and what they have accomplished in their careers. But I guess it takes a bunch of bored sociologists to analyse the motivation of the two kinds of fanatics, and their reasons for picking these two specific, opposite types of national sports icons to idolise.

But back to Tendulkar, the tactic of utilising his name while actually not giving a shit could be observed excellently when Sachin had made his ODI 200. Everybody wanted to have their share of the traffic cake, and Sachin posts kept popping up on blogs on which you would otherwise not find a single article about him, let alone India in general. Some even posted two posts in a row about him, making it fairly obvious that they were just trying to stay at the top of everybody's blogrolls *ahem*.

Most bloggers are amateurs, hobby writers who don't earn a single penny with their texts. So why this frenzy, this anxiety, if you couldn't care less about the player? Apparently the blogger's currency, in which his or her efforts get rewarded, is attention, reputation, response, approval, and the great summoning powers described above; measurable by the number of clicks, comments and shares. Shoaib Akhtar however is milking the holy Sachin cow for real monetary profit, measurable in his bank account, and willingly aided by anybody who picks up his cheap manoeuvre and helps him deliver the word to the potentially outraged.

I would say Akhtar 1, Bloggers 0

And while we, the media, the bloggers, readers, consumers and Akhtar, are getting lost in this secondary theatre of war, there is a guy whose market value benefits most from these permanently and continuously bubbling emotions, which provide him with seemingly eternal public omnipresence... his name is The Little Master, and he needn't even pull the strings :)


This post also appeared on DieHard Cricket Fans