County cricket

OK, so the ‘interview’ we did with Graeme Smith was spoofed. This one, however, is completely, 100% genuine.

Iain O’Brien, former New Zealand fast bowler, has retired from the international game to move to the UK, build a life with his English wife, and play for Middlesex. The Village Cricketer had the great pleasure of interviewing Iain – interrupting him cooking some wholesome vegetable soup – for the first of Test Match Sofa’s new series of podcasts, which will be available tomorrow.

Subjects covered included his reasons for leaving NZ, the rising stars of NZ cricket, how the NZ side is shaping up, prospects for Middlesex, the fear of batting against quick bowling, the fear of bowling against Sehwag, bantering with Ricky Ponting and how international sportsmen will increasingly use new media to get closer to the common man.

So, please download the Test Match Sofa podcast, which includes a five minute version of the interview and a whole host of other witty banter and cricket chat.

To listen to the full 20 minute interview, use the following link:


Ah Corky… Thomas Rooney’s article provides some colour around his career to date, and why Thomas thinks he’ll be a success at Hampshire. I’d be inclined to agree, a shrewd move by Hampshire.

As a Lancastrian, who was brought up in Derbyshire, who studied in Stoke, and who witnessed Corky’s last test match against India, I have always been a bit of a fan. He may have been (according to Boyc’s) a “show pony“, but I’m fairly sure those that pay for tickets like a bit of a show.

There are those round the Derbyshire scene who tell of a man who sledged his own teammates as much as the opposition (more in some cases, as Tim Tweats might well know), who when he was Captain allegedly cancelled first team nets as they clashed with his wife’s shopping day, and who – it has been suggested – may have chucked his bouncer on occasion.

He may not be the nicest bloke to play against (or even with), however he is a larger than life character, an entertainer, who has had some notable successes on the world stage. His bit on Cricket AM may be horrendous, but Hampshire will benefit from his presence for a couple of years. I’d also put money on him appearing on Stictly Come Dancing before too long!

First of all, I appreciate the news that Dominic Cork has signed a two-year deal with Hampshire after leaving Lancashire is relatively old news. However, I wanted to use the news to take a look back at Cork’s career and why I think that this could be a very shrewd piece of business by Hampshire, writes Thomas Rooney, exclusively for The Village Cricketer.

Upon hearing the decision that Lancashire wouldn’t be offering Cork a new contract at the end of the summer, many reports were suggesting the dreaded ‘retirement’ word that had been relevant for Darren Gough and Graham Hick recently would be used again in Cork’s case. Firstly though, I knew that Cork wouldn’t want to end his professional career at this stage. Secondly, I knew that there would be counties that would happily take him on board as at 37-years-old – he still has a lot to offer. Therefore, I always thought that any retirement stories were fairly wide of the mark.

Before talking about what lies ahead for Cork in Hampshire colours, let us take a brief look at the significant moments in his career.

1990 – Cork made his first-class debut for Derbyshire
1992 – Made his One-Day-International debut for England
1993 – Scored his first century for Derbyshire
1995 – Took 7-43 in his first test match for England against the West Indies
1995 – Took 26 wickets in the series against West Indies, including a hat-trick.
1996 – Named Wisden Cricketer of the Year,
1997 – Accused by Geoffrey Boycott for being a ‘show pony’ and missed the majority of the English summer because of injury.
1998 – Recalled to the England team, but failed to perform in the Ashes series.
1999 – Made Derbyshire captain
2000 – Scored 33* to help England to victory against West Indies at Lords
2002 – Made his last test match appearance for England against India.
2003 – Left Derbyshire to join Lancashire in the hope of winning trophies
2004 – Lancashire relegated to Division Two of the County Championship
2005 – Promoted back to Division One
2006 – Lost C&G trophy final to Sussex.
2008 – Released by Lancashire in order for the side to ‘evolve’

So, as you can see from this brief summary of Cork’s career – it has been a bit up and down. His international career certainly never prospered as much as it should have done. His test match record is something to be proud of though – he took 131 wickets at an average of 29.81. However, he only played 37 matches. In short, this was due to his inabilities to perform abroad. In English conditions, Cork often prospered – like in the series against West Indies in 1995 – but away from home it never happened for him.

Cork became very much a ‘wicket to wicket’ bowler and without some vicious away swing, this doesn’t tend to achieve much away from England. Injury and personal problems often held him back as well, as did accusations of not trying hard enough to cement his place in the England team. His batting always promised much, but with an average of 18 in the test match arena – again, this failed to live up to expectations. Then, typical of his professional career, after moving to Lancashire to compete for honours, this never quite happened either. It was a case of near misses in Cork and Lancashire’s quest for trophies.

Despite all this though, Cork is undoubtedly a cricketer you would rather have in your side than playing against you. His enthusiasm for the game and his aggression towards opposition batsmen is priceless. Despite never being the quickest bowler, he has always followed through and started at the batsmen like he’d just bowled at 90mph. Over the years, he has got under the skin of certain batsman and this would have cost them their wicket. Often Cork wouldn’t have been the one to take the wicket, but he certainly played his part.

Hampshire are not just gaining someone with enthusiasm and aggression though. They will have in their ranks someone with vast county cricket experience and someone that has taken 895 first-class wickets. Dominic Cork will win matches for Hampshire next season, I’d put a lot of my cricket betting money on that. I’d especially like to see the cricket odds on him producing a man-of-the-match performance against Lancashire because that’s just the sort of thing Cork would do. He has, after all, vowed to ‘haunt’ his old team upon his return.

Overall, it’s a superb signing for Hampshire and a massive loss for Lancashire. They said his release was aimed at ‘promoting younger players’, but with Stuart Law stating that Cork shouldn’t have been released because ‘very few players can do what he does on a cricket field’ – it might be a decision they will regret. Hampshire will be laughing.

The new Wisden is out. Kevin Pietersen (not naked) is on the front cover. Scyld Berry, the new editor, complains about ticket prices, violence on the pitch, Twenty20, the county championship and a whole host of other things. You can read Mr Berry’s full article here.

Kevin Pietersen on Wisden

Were it not reported in a respectable publication, and in mid-November rather than early-April, I wouldn’t believe it. However, it appears as though cricketers may be playing with pink balls before too long.

According to The Times, John Stephenson, MCC’s head of cricket, has been researching different coloured balls for the past year. The hope is that a fluorescent pink ball will be more easily seen by a batsman than the customary dark red one, particularly in poor light.

A load of balls

Scientists at Imperial College in London will be working during the winter on developing this new projectile, which will be used in university and second XI matches at the start of next season and, depending on whether it retains its colour, in county cricket the next summer. The aim is then to use it in one-day internationals.

Whats going on at Derbyshire? Tthe worst county on the first class circuit in recent years is being transformed with a raft of new signings. Despite losing the incredibly unloyal Boyd Rankin to Warwickshire (a player Derbyshire signed, who promptly got injured for a season and has now jumped ship to a more fashionable county), Derbyshire have been in the transfer market big time during the close season. This week Derbyshire have signed batsman Wavell Hinds, who has played 45 Tests and 114 one-day internationals for the West Indies, on a Kolpak for next season. Hinds, 31, who has captained Jamaica since 2005, has accepted a one-year contract and becomes Derbyshire’s fourth new signing this month. The Telegraph summarises the new signings: “The county’s new coach John Morris has already recruited England all-rounder Rikki Clarke, left-arm-spinner Nayan Doshi and left-hander John Sadler, and the Sri Lanka batsman Mahela Jayawardene is expected to be announced as their new overseas player later this week.” These are quality players, lets hope there can be some good times ahead at the Racecourse Ground.

Storming victory of England in the first ODI against India, here is what the papers made of it:

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan, Cricinfo: India were lethargic on the field and static with the bat. Not only did they lack a fifth bowler but also missed the twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth fielder. It might have helped if they had 70 overs to bat. A runner for every batsmen would have come in handy.

Richard Hobson, The Times: With two hundreds from the top three, a Monty Panesar run-out and an outstanding leg-side catch by Matt Prior, England saw fantasy turn into fact at the Rose Bowl last night. Add some 90mph balls by Andrew Flintoff on his international comeback and an incisive first spell by James Anderson and it made for a near-perfect display.

Jonathan Agnew, BBC: Neither Bell nor Cook is known for being comfortable at improvising. But how well they played, and the fact that they have both shown that they are able to score centuries in this form of the game will have a huge impact on their confidence. There were no silly shots and, importantly, no getting out when they were set.

Derek Pringle, Daily Telegraph: Big Freddie bowled fast and furious, his choirboy haircut at odds with the brutal energy he imparted on the ball, which, according to the speedgun, occasionally reached 92mph. It was certainly too much for Mahendra Dhoni, India’s big hitter, taking 60 balls before gloving a short ball from Flintoff behind. There was redemption too for Matt Prior.

Angus Fraser, The Independent: The selection of Cook and Bell ahead of Owais Shah surprised many of those attending a dank and dreary Rose Bowl yet the combination provided England with the pivotal partnership, adding 178 for the second wicket. The pair are two of the less glamourous members of England’s one-day side and it was brain rather than brawn that dominated the 31 overs they spent together.

Paul Weaver, The Guardian: Andrew Flintoff threw back his head and screamed at the night sky like a werewolf. In his comeback match and his first home one-day international for two years he had already bowled heroically fast.

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