It’s been a while but here’s a brand spanking new audiocast. Not much prep went in to this but I thought that the Commonwealth Games merited a mention. What a great opportunity it could be to help provide more exposure to Associate nations and cricket in general.
There’s a major flaw in regard to my cricket blog. It’s that I don’t actually watch much cricket! I don’t have a TV and I certainly don’t have BT Sport or Sky Sports. I don’t spend all my days camped at county cricket grounds either. When I woke up this morning and checked the score of the second Ashes Test, I realised that being a day/night match and a delayed weather interrupted one at that, that if I popped around to my parent’s house I could catch plenty of the action. I gained authorisation from the wife and got in the car (Having got dressed obviously!). I’d missed Cameron Bancroft’s cricket class day one dismissal but saw David Warner’s impatience and necessity to keep scoring cost him his wicket. What the silly little jump was for I don’t know! I then saw Mark Stoneman drop a catch. I like Stoneman’s phlegmatic demeanour but the drop was a shocker and had Usman Khawaja made 150, would Rocky have been ruffled come his turn to bat? Fortunately James Anderson did for Khawaja straight after the interval, courtesy of a smart catch by Hampshire’s James Vince. Then came the moment. I remember watching cricket on TV during my teenage years. I remember Dominic Cork’s knock against West Indies, Ryan Sidebottom being robbed of an LBW against Pakistan and Usman Afzaal celebrating an Ashes fifty as though it were a double hundred. I remember being in a small cabin in Scotland watching Geraint Jones hold ‘that’ catch via a tiny, fuzzy, black and white TV. I’m honoured to say that Craig Overton’s maiden Test wicket, that of Steve Smith clean (Or dirtily?!) bowled in Adelaide will live with me forever. In a world where footballers are yellow carded for celebrating, the unbridled joy on Overton’s face, the reaction of his teammates confirmed that sport is a better place for a show of emotion. Had Anderson or Broad claimed that wicket, England would have been cock-a-hoop but not in the way that they were for the Somerset man. Of course it will never be the same for Overton. You only take your first Test wicket once and he may never take another. Whatever happens in his life though, he will have that moment to share with the grandkids!
Ian Ward, Anthony McGrath and Alex Wharf all played international cricket for England. Some supporters may look back on those times as dark days for English cricket but I actually think that all three players were rather unfortunate when it comes to how their international careers played out.
In the case of Ward, Wardy to his mates or maybe Wardos (No that’s too Ozzie!), probably just Wards, he’d made a name for himself as an obdurate pitch a tent style opening batsman for the A-Team and had notched up quite a few hundreds in the West Indies if my memory serves me correctly. I watched him make 39 on Test debut against Pakistan. I actually did. Cricket was on Channel 4 back then. Unfortunately Ward then spent the rest of the summer failing to reach 39 again as the Ozzies took him and not only him to pieces. Ward seemed to bat everywhere from about three to eight. I think that on at least a couple of occasions he survived late in the day only to have to start again the next morning and the use of nightwatchman saw him shunted down the order as well. When he was eventually dumped, Michael Atherton suggested there were some technical flaws to eradicate. Ward then departed Surrey for Sussex and transformed himself into quite a destructive limited overs player before taking up a presenting role with Sky Sports (Boooo!). By all accounts, Ward has made a good career behind the pay per view wall.
As for Anthony McGrath, his grandmother insisted it was pronounced like paper not Glenn. A-Mac is statistically one of the greatest players ever to play the game. He averages 40.20 with the bat and 14.00 with the ball in Test cricket. He was performing a decent containing job with the ball in ODIs as well but then a newspaper article came out saying how rubbish the likes of he and Ian Blackwell were and McGrath never donned an England shirt again.
As for Wharf, now an umpire, he averaged 23.77 with the ball at an economy of just 4.39. Those impressive stats were spread across 13 ODI appearances. That’s a lower bowling average than his last international victim Shaun Pollock! Wharf owed his chance to the fact that he’d worked with England coach Duncan Fletcher whilst at Glamorgan but proved his worth during his short international stint.
Cricinfo sums up the end of his international career in a callously blunt but seemingly incorrect assertion … “After this Wharf faded from the international scene due to a combination of injuries, loss of form and not being good enough…”.
Shrewd selectors will notice that Worcestershire opening batsman and part-time spin bowler Brett D’Oliveira (Listed as an all-rounder in the CC/ODC comp) is listed as a bowler. Get him in your team! Meanwhile, Essex’s Tom Westley’s seven career wickets in 54 T20 outings get him listed as an all rounder! There are a few players with generously low ratings based on their efforts in last year’s comp/career T20 records. Obviously the Telegraph can’t rate people on potential but players such as Liam Livingstone (5), Paul Collingwood (3) and Mason Crane (1) are the surely the sort of candidates to sneak into your XI… if you can afford it/if you can afford it (If you know what I mean?)!
No Ball: The Women’s World Cup is on the horizon. Just like the Champions Trophy, there are no matches taking place anywhere near my abode. Come on the White Knights! (England’s flag is white and the team are captained by Heather Knight!?).
Surely the best cricket player that Japan has ever produced, errr, England’s Natalie Sciver…