I am officially a convert to Twenty20. If we ignore what money will do to the game of cricket, possibly devaluing Test cricket and all the rest, there is one very good thing about Twenty20 - you can wander down after work and watch a full game of exciting play. The days are long enough in England that you don't even need to turn the ground lights on - not that many of the grounds have lights anyway. And the teams play lots of games so there is a game on most nights of the week.
This week I saw Hampshire play Surrey at The Oval, and it was fantastic. When Twenty20 was first played in Australia, it seemed the side that batted first always won, but the county teams have sorted the game out, and nearly every game in this year's Twenty20 Cup has gone down to the last over with run rates of more than 8 an over. The game I saw was no different, with the bizarrely named Surrey Brown Caps failing to defend 175 against the Hampshire Hawks, with Hampshire winning with 6 balls to spare.
The funny thing about cricket though is that it is not like football or rugby. No matter how much you condense the game, the spurts of action are still very short and you spend a lot of the time talking to your mates, reading the paper, drinking beer and simply soaking up the atmosphere. You don't watch it like you watch football. This means you end up missing some of the action. and whilst there is a lot of action in Twenty20, the game is so short that if you blink or go grab a drink, you can miss 50 runs. I remember the first game of Twenty20 I saw at North Sydney Oval (with one Mr Nick Scott actually); Brad Hodge scored a century and I can barely remember it, yet 100 in a Twenty20 game is astounding!
I still prefer the intrigue and mental clashes of a Test match, but any form of cricket whereby I can drop by after work and watch some high class play is good by me. We really must have a debate about the various forms of cricket (why is there a county 40 over competition? That's simply weird), but that topic is for another day. It is worth noting that now there is lots of money available in Twenty20, no one seems to be whinging about playing too much any more. Funny that...
Sunday, 22 June 2008
Friday, 20 June 2008
It looks like Simon Katich is about to become the unluckiest cricketer ever. With Matthew Hayden set to come back into the Australian Test team, Katich will probably be dropped despite the fact he has scored back-to-back test centuries. This has happened to Katich before when he was dropped following a century in order to make room for Andrew Symonds.
But it seems The Kat has a new relaxed attitude, and doesn't seem as bothered this time round, which helps his cause as I still think he should be a contender to be the next Australian Test captain. It's premature to look to Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey has the very unfortunate ODI captaincy record of 0 from 4 - including failing to defend 346, 336 and 272, as well as a 10 wicket loss - and who else is there if Ponting gets injured?
Just because a batsman is dynamic and young doesn't make him necessarily a good captain, and Clarke has no pedigree. Mark Taylor was one of our least dynamic batsmen, but in my opinion has been the best and most interesting captain during my lifetime. I'd love to see The Kat step up next time Ponting is injured, even if he is not in the current XI!
Wednesday, 11 June 2008
I remember seeing this a few years back in New Zealand, and thought it was the funniest thing I had seen in a long time. Watch the first video, then watch the second for an explanation. Good stuff from the kiwis!
Tuesday, 10 June 2008
In a further attempt to make Twenty20 cricket a cash cow like soccer, another blatant name rip off has been announced in the form of the Twenty20 Champions League. The "announcement" wasn't much of one if you ask me. Didn't we already know about this? And considering they didn't even say where it was going to be, I guess all we really found out was that it's actually happening (they weren't bluffing) and that it's happening about the Champions Trophy. This year is truly a year for champions I suppose.
I'm looking forward to it. I only hope that it takes place at a time that I can watch it because as interesting as the IPL seemed to be, it was mostly lost on me because of the hopelessly inaccessible time it was broadcast in Australia. However, considering now I'm in New Zealand, and that there are no kiwi teams in the inaugural Champions League, I wonder how much attention it will really get over here. Perhaps another reason to get Sky TV...
I'll be curious to see how Australia fares, I think the most interesting thing to come from this is that, despite all the big bucks thrown around in the IPL, the eventual winner the Rajasthan Royals was actually a cheap team without big stars. If you look at the Victorian Bushrangers and take the IPL salaries of players like Cameron White, David Hussey, and whatever other stars that played for IPL teams that didn't make the Champions League and so therefore will play for the Vics, and let's say we just slap every other player with the average IPL salary, I wouldn't be surprised if you end up with a theoretically more "expensive" team of stars than the Royals. (Marc you're good with maths and stats, are you able to confirm or deny this?)
Tuesday, 3 June 2008
Petrol prices have recently risen. What is it caused by? Energy insecurity or the Iraq war? No! It's the fault of cricket, in particular Aussie cricket. Let's check out the Australian Cricket Team's Test winning percentage between 1982 and 2004 and compare it to the oil price rise over the last 8 years.
As you can see, the correlation is remarkable! So, when you fill up this week and notice the latest price rise, you can blame Allan Border, Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh for improving the results of the Aussie Test Team! By the way, the data are completely real - make it for yourself at Cricinfo.
I put this together over at Mr Science to show how things can look correlated when they actually have nothing to do with each other - check it out for some more info on the maths behind it.
An interesting group on Flickr is the Test Cricket Photographs group.
The (audacious) goal of this group is to bring together photos of every day's play in every Test of cricket played. Pretty audacious, but it's looking good for recent tests. Using the flickr tags, you can search for whatever day of whatever Test you like. Check it out. My recent Test photos are up there too.
Monday, 2 June 2008
So after years upon years of living in the shadow of the greatest leg spinner in Australian (and Test history), arguably Australia's second greatest leg spinner Stuart MacGill has decided to retire. It seems like a rash decision, but at the same time it made me think it was very in keeping with the kind of personality MacGill has given off during his career.
He's always come across as a bit of a hot-head, or to be more specific very hot and cold. He was a great bowler who could turn the ball at near right angles, and was at times unplayable. Unfortunately at the same time he could bowl long hops and full tosses that would make Michael Bevan blush. When things didn't go his way, like an appeal turned down, he would get very fired up - like a guy frustrated that it wasn't all turning out the way he wanted it to.
And I suppose that has in many ways typified his career. It never quite went according to plan. He would've had an amazing career at literally any other time in Australian cricket history - he just had to pick the Shane Warne era. I can't even say I will particularly miss him because he never really had a chance to get much of a foothold, in the team or in the fans hearts and minds. Now was his time, but for him, it had already passed.
The saddest part of it all is, Beau Casson is next in line. Dear god.