November 2008

Charity cricket match in aid of the Everyman Male Cancer Campaign
The Village Cricketer’s English All Stars v Cricket with Balls Aussie Code of Conduct XI
Monday 29th June 2009, 3.30pm start
Barnes Cricket Club, Lonsdale Road, London SW13 9QL

International blogging pride at stake

Cricket can be a brutal sport at times; I’ve been called the worst names under the sun, by Australians in Weybridge and Englishmen in Denby, Heanor, Southgate, and some even more dreadful places. I have been hit on the head numerous times, broken bones, had my fingers, arms, legs, and ego bruised on numerous occasions. I have seen unpleasent sites in the showers, have changed beneath the M40, shivered on the side of a hill in Sheffield, seen legs broken on a Maltese outfield, laughed as a team-mate ran into a hockey goal positioned on the outfield, witnessed an overseas pro dig his finger nails into a new ball in a beer match. Cricket can be brutal, it can be unkind, it can be ugly…

…it can also, however, be a thing of beauty, kindness and joy. It can also be a force for good. And that is why, shortly before the Ashes series starts in the summer of 2009, The Village Cricketer has joined forces with Jrod, big cheese of Canary Yellow blog Cricket with Balls.

On Monday 29th June 2009, the great and good of the English and Australian cricket worlds will gather at Barnes CC, London, for a charity cricket match held to raise awareness of and funds for the Everyman male cancer campaign, part of the Institute of Cancer Research.

In the white corner – representing England, St George and warm beer – is The Village Cricketer’s English All Stars, a team of hugely talented, exciting and above all modest Englishmen. In the other white corner – representing Australia – is the Cricket with Balls Aussie Code of Conduct XI, a team descended from convicts and colonists.

The Village Cricketer is currently looking to recruit its team, you can volunteer via the comments. Priority will be given to those that can (a) donate the most amount of cash, or (b) help raise the profile of this very worthy cause, or (c) help us give those pesky Aussies a right good thumping!

More details will be posted soon. However, you can support us and help make a difference in the fight against cancer by making a donation here.


Star Wars and star batsman. The Village Cricketer has noticed similarities in the apperance of Mahela Jayawardene, fine batting technician, captain and native of Sri Lanka, and Nien Nunb, small, jowled, mouse-eyed native of Sullust, who served as co-pilot to Lando Calrissian aboard the Millennium Falcon during the attack on the Death Star in Return of the Jedi.

Nien Nunb, co-pilot to Lando Calrissian, and star of Return of the Jedi

Nien Nunb, co-pilot to Lando Calrissian, and star of Return of the Jedi

Jayawardene, captain of Sri Lanka and batting superstar

Jayawardene, captain of Sri Lanka and batting superstar

It seems that there is at least one Englishman that has taken positives from England’s diabolical start to their tour of India. Former opening-batsman Marcus Trescothick believes that watching England struggle in the One Day International series has confirmed that he has made the right decision in retiring from the game, writes Thomas Rooney, exclusively for The Village Cricketer.

As we all know, Trescothick hasn’t represented England since September 2006 after suffering with stress-related illness that meant he couldn’t live the life of an international cricketer. He has since released a book about his troubles called ‘Coming Back to Me’ – which is an excellent read for any cricket fan by the way.

The latest revelation from Trescothick though is that he is happy sitting at home ‘drinking a pint of Guinness’ while watching his former team-mates outplayed by their India counterparts in the opening four ODI’s. The Somerset man went onto reveal that since retirement he ‘has been really good’ and that discussing his problems has actually been a ‘humbling experience’.

It is pleasing that Trescothick is happy in his personal life now, however – boy do England miss him on a cricket field. I’m aware that this next couple of paragraphs will have hindsight brushed all over them, but what if Trescothick had never been forced to retire? How differently would England have faired in recent matches? Cricket betting would have been affected, I’m sure of that.

First of all, it is worth noting that he is still only 32 years old and could comfortably be playing for another three of four years. So, in that sense – it’s a crying shame that he has had to call it a day already. This is a man with nearly 6,000 test match and over 4,000 ODI runs to his name, after all.

It is my opinion that England have never been able to replace him – in either form of the game. He was such a significant presence at the top of the order and always gave the innings so much impotence with his aggression in the early overs. When you see Ian Bell scratching around while opening the batting in the 50 over game, it really does make you cast your minds back to the times of Banger.

The cricket odds might even have fancied England’s chances of chasing 190-odd against the Indians on Sunday had Trescothick been in top form. At this moment in time, there is no-one that can have the same impact he used to have. He could turn a game on its head.

It isn’t just the limited overs game that he has been missed though. Yes, Alistair Cook has had a relatively impressive start to his test career, but how many big hundreds has he got to date? How many times has he won a game for England?

Overall, the England team misses Trescothick a great deal. Had he still been able to play for them, he would probably be England captain and be heading towards 10, 000 test match runs. As it is, we have to settle for discussing how important a player he was and how much the current England set-up could do with him at the top of their often frail batting order.

Following England’s defeat in the second one day international against India, Kevin Pietersen praised match-winner Yuvraj Singh who dominated England with bat and ball in Indore. The 26-year-old scored his second century in as many games before proceeding to take 4-28 to condemn England to defeat, writes Thomas Rooney, exclusively for The Village Cricketer.

Unsurprisingly this meant that Yuvraj received the man-of-the-match award for the second time in the series and Pietersen admitted that the Indian is very much a man on top of his game. The England captain said that ‘the boy’s playing good cricket’. Perhaps a slight understatement from KP – but true none the less.

As for the man himself, Yuvraj believes that his recent success is down to sheer hard work by saying that he has been ‘trainer harder than ever’ and that the ‘electrifying atmosphere’ inside the stadium also played its part. It certainly seems that Yuvraj is the type of character that revels in big occasions – the bigger the stage, the more he will perform.

Pietersen wasn’t just talking about the Indian talisman after the defeat though. The Hampshire man also revealed that to win cricket matches ‘we need the bowlers to take wickets and the batsmen to score runs.’ Hmm. It’s that type of analysis that got him the job I presume?

Seriously though, what KP is getting at with this comment is that each player needs to be more defined in their role. I’m not convinced that enough players are aware of what their specific duties are in the team. Take Ravi Bopara for example. He isn’t getting a sniff with the ball and is batting at number eight. This just doesn’t suit him. If selected he should be much higher up the order. If not, you may as well stick Graham Swann in at eight for the extra spinning option.

In fairness to England though, at least they competed in this game. Chasing 293 to win, they were in the game at times. When Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff came together, the cricket odds suggested that England could get within touching distance. In reality though, the game was lost when the bowlers allowed India to reach 292. A score of 240 would have been much more achievable.

As Pietersen says though, England did improve from the last game and will hopefully improve once more when the teams meet in Kanpur on Thursday. In terms of whether changes should be made for this game, well I’d have had Swann in from the start so he needs to come in. Even it means replacing Bopara of whom I am a big fan.

Other than that, I’m not sure how many changes can be made given the other players in the squad. It will just be a case of hoping India have an off day and England can improve a bit again. Cricket betting will undoubtedly favour an India win, but if KP’s men can bat first for once, it will be interesting to see if the hosts are as successful chasing down a total.

Final word has to go to Yuvraj Singh though. This is a man that has lost his place in the test side recently, but considering he has smashed around England bowlers that will be playing in the tests and dismissed top-order England batsmen that will be playing in the tests – I think there is every chance he will get the nod for the longer form of the game.

Hmmm, India were very good today, but we were not great. Good to see Kevin Pietersen and Ravi Bopara clearing the boundaries, however, sloppy run-outs and a couple of poor decisions meant that we never got close to getting within a 100 of the India today. Having said that, irritating Youvraj Singh was sensational, he cleared the boundaries without trying, and our bowlers were a little rusty. 7-match series so we can bounce back, need to improve though.

What advice would you give to a bunch of chaps travelling to the sub-continent? Don’t drink the tap water? Be careful with the prawns? Keep hold of your bags at the airport? Don’t upset the locals by refusing to buy a Buddha statue? Nope, South Africa coach Mickey Arthur has given some top cricketing tips to The Wisden Cricketer on how to adapt to the unique conditions in India. The Wisden Cricketer has given them to The Times, which means you can read them for free, here. Perhaps you could pass them on to Mickey Arthur? Only then would the circle truely be complete.

Here are some of Mickey’s missives (TVC coments in italics):
* Be prepared to play boring cricket (we invented boring cricket)
* In India the game is very slow to begin with (especially if Cook and Collingwood are batting!)
* Win the toss and bat first (no useless tossers required)
* Stay leg side of the ball and score through off (avoids LBWs on the piss poor slow wickets)
* You need two key scoring options against India’s spinners (shots would be nice)
* Stephen Harmison is crucial (oh dear!)
* Bowl reverse swing (sounds sensible)
* In India “caught cover” is as good as “caught second slip” (suitably village)

Some time ago, to coincide with the World Cup in the Windies, TVC selected its most annoying ODI XI. Today, it comes bang up to date, announcing a team for the test arena that is so annoying, were we to be invaded by aliens and challenged to a winner-takes-all cricket match for the future of the earth, the aliens would up sticks and leave the planet before the toss was even made.

1. Gautam Gambhir: A revelation in the Indian side. A short fellow, he makes up for his lack of stature with agro, glaring and elbow barging. Managed to upset the whole Australian side in one innings (good), but also the match referee (bad), and land himself a ban (very bad, unless you are Ricky Ponting, see #3, where a ban would have been an honourable sacrifice)

2. Matthew Hayden: His middle name is Lawrence. Haydos is a still a flat track bully who relishes life on one-way-streets, but is past his best and still gets a game because Austalia are now officially rubbish. Quite prepared to give it out, however he gets very upset when he gets it back, such as when Simon Jones accidentally hit him with a ball during a match in 2005.

3. Ricky Ponting: It was only a matter of time that Punter “he can’t fight” Ponting found himself on the narky step. Controversy follows in his footsteps. A fight outside a pub in 1999 landed him a suspension, in 1998 he was reportedly thrown out of a night club in Calcutta, he’s used dodgy bats, oh and of course there was the row with Duncan Fletcher after Gary Pratt ran him out. The final straw, however, was going soft against India, when his team seemingly abandoned their quest for victory to save him a ban for slow over rates.

4. Graeme Smith: I changed my mind, and so Smith makes the side. Less irritating than in the past, however the brash South African skipper (and child of the eighties) has been getting right up the noses of opponents since he made his ODI debut in 2002. Irritating swagger and an inability to score runs on the off-side fuel his inclusion.

5. Kevin Pietersen: The final name on the team sheet. Was a close call between KP and Youvraj, who would have special dispensation given that he should be a shoe-in to get selected for the Indian test team following his sensational  form so far in the ODIs. We are, however, going with the comments. KP is in. Sorry big Kev, you are a legend in white, and although you have calmed down a bit since you got the captaincy, you still say silly things like how financially poor the Stanford Superstars are.

6. Shane Watson: Can’t bowl, can’t bat, can’t field. Even the Aussies don’t like him. If he spent as much time learning to bowl as he does sledging and hurling abuse at players that are obviously far better than him, he’d be a half-decent player. Amazing that a guy of so little talent gets anywhere near the Canary Yellow starting XI.

7. Brendon McCullum: See #9, Daniel Vettori. Kiwi proponent of the one-way-street theory.

8. Harbhajan Singh (captain): Yep, yep, great call from Leela on the comments. As ABBA might have said – my, my, just how could I have missed him? The aptly nicknamed Harbhajan ‘(argy)Bhajji’ Singh (I made the argy bit up myself, did you like it?). Hot head. Doesn’t walk when bowled. Slapped his pal Sreesanth. Allegedly called Symonds (who is only not in this side because he’s not in the Aussie team) a monkey. Caused an international controversy of bodyline-esque proportions, and upset the Aussies big time. Outed by Hayden (see player #2) an “obnoxious weed”.

9. Daniel Vettori: Oh Danny-boy… you used to be such a nice boy. Then there was the row over Sideshow Bob knocking over Grant Elliott and being run out, and you jumped up and down screaming “f*ck off, f*ck off” at everyone you could. Where were you complaining about bad sportsmanship when Brendon McCullum ran out Murali?

10. Zaheer Kahn: Grumpy in England last summer, a right whinger in India this winter. Sealed his inclusion in this side by choosing to complain to the umpire that Lawrence (see #2) ran into him, rather than celebrating the run out that happened as a result.

11. Andre Nel: a bludgeoning medium pacer who has amassed one of South African cricket’s most chequered disciplinary records. Was once stopped by Tasmanian police for drink driving, was found guilty of smoking marijuana during a tour of the West Indies, makes ridiculous facial gestures, uses language that would upset his mum and was once told by Adam Gilchrist to “show some respect”. More a figure of fun these days, however still more annoying than most.

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