Sunday, August 29, 2010

Rudi tells it straight...

I will keep my counsel on the Pakistan match fixing stuff. It is as sad as it is inevitable, that's all I'll say.

So onto more important matters. The conduct of the Australian national cricket team. Don't take my word for it, how about this recent interview from one of the most respected world umpires, Rudi Koertzen...

"Rudi Koertzen, the former South African Elite Panel umpire who recently retired from international matches, has said the Australian players were quite a handful to officiate, singling out former fast bowler Glenn McGrath.

In an interview earlier this month, Koertzen said Shane Warne was the hardest bowler to umpire purely because of the pressure he used to exert. However, he wasn't always pleased with McGrath's conduct on the field. McGrath, who ended his successful Test career as Australia's second-highest wicket-taker with 563 wickets, had a few run-ins with match referees and umpires.

"He wasn't one of the happiest guys. He always moaned and whinged," Koertzen told "If he wasn't getting wickets and the batsmen were hitting him for a few fours, he got a bit personal and upset. I thought I was very fortunate to get on with probably 99% of the players in world cricket.

"There was always the odd individual who had to be babied all the time. You had to be like a policeman to them. A fielder like Matthew Hayden or Andrew Symonds, you always had to be alert when they were on the field because something was going to happen. If you didn't pick it up as soon as possible things were going to get out of hand."

Let's be honest, this is hardly news. That McGrath, Hayden, Symonds were (and indeed are - the distasteful attempt by McGrath and Hayden to try and re-brand themselves as loveable rogues and "fair dinkum" aussies is sick enducing) hateful individuals is old hat. It’s just amusing to see it formally confirmed bu Rudi. I note the photo attached to the story on Cricinfo is of that infamous incident when McGrath nearly physically assaulted the much smaller Sarwan in the Windies. That incident alone should have seen McGrath banned for a year. His snarling, vicious mouth spitting obscenities directly into Sarwan's face. Hayden was well known for being thoroughly distasteful throughout the game when he was fielding but would cry like a poncey hairdresser if anyone had a go back (step forward the mighty Simon Jones in the pre-Ashes 20 20 in 2005).

Hayden, McGrath, Symonds. Classic bullies. Never afraid to hand it out, but simply could not take it if anything was given back. Preening, loud mouthed, obnoxious bullies. Lauded in Australia but despised and derided everywhere else. This is why players like Tendulker, Dravid, Pollock etc are still celebrated and would be welcome back to Lords any day, while McGrath prances about with his ludicrous pink cancer charity, and Hayden tries to sell the benefits of going to some pisspoor feeble Queensland based water park.

When the lists of great cricketers is made, McGrath and Hayden may well challenge based on pure stats, but they will always be viewed as hateful, aggressive yobs with no redeeming characteristics whatsoever. Good riddance.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cook and the law of averages

So I was an innings out... I thought Cook would score runs in the first innings, but he failed again there too.

As expected, Cook's former player chums in the media have heralded his low ton as affirmation of his quality, cementing his place in the test side. The reality is, Cook could have scored ducks in the next 3 innings and he would still have gone to Australia. The man is totally undroppable. He scratches around for 12 months, then finally spawns a ton and suddenly he is a good batsman? Bullshit. Cook is sub standard and no lucky ton will change that. I continue to believe he will fail in both innings in the fourth test, but the media will (with the notable exception of Boycott and I note Ben Dirs cribbing some of my statistical analysis of Cook as well on his BBC blog), the media will point to this ton and come out with platitudes such as "Cook shows he still has the quality etc."

Let's not forget, if Tresco was not off crying every other day (boohoo I'm so unhappy etc."), Cook would still be cleaning Gooch's boots at Essex. He is in the Test side by default, not because he is a leading opener.

When Cook did finally stumble over the line, I said immediately he would not get past 110. Sure enough, a couple of overs later, Cook is out. Why? Because he knew then his job was done. Nevermind he fact England needed him to stick around. Nevermind that any good batsman is greedy for runs and would have started again. No, for Cook, his three figures were merely about securing an Ashes berth and his next grotesque central contract. Carberry knows the score, hence his comment two weeks ago ("that ships has sailed"). Carberry knew Cook would eventually score some runs and he also knew commentators and the ECB would climb all over him when he does.

But let's not focus only on Cook. England's tail starts at 2. Trott is in a world of his own. He looks like a wicket every ball. There is no authority about his batting and he's not even English. Neither is Morgan and he has been badly found out as quick as I expected. KP is shot (see previous blogs). He too is so far away from any kind of form it is madness to put him on the plane to Oz. The whole batting order is weak and has only looked good due to the terrible two tier nature of world test cricket these days. Any good club player would score against Bangladesh or the Windies. This is village bowling (and in the case of the news Pakistan quick, he really is village - who did he play for? Some Shropshire village side?!)

No, no, no. Engand will be humilated by the arrogant, preening, ghastly yobs in Australia. Our batting is dismal. When Lord Snooty looks like the best player we have got, you realise the kind of trouble you are in.

And our bowling is also laughable. Finn is a lanky beanpole who falls over. Jimmy only gets wickets if it swings (as he will readily admit), while Broad I would hardly describe as a bowler. Yes, Swann looks all class, but wouldn't it be nice if he didn't back away to square leg the moment someone bowls at over 75mph to him?

This batting collapse was as inevitable as it was disgraceful. The media reaction was the same. Cue right-on journos, desperate to keep their jobs, spouting the usual politically correct crap like "this shows how fantastic Pakistan are etc etc." which frankly I imagine they would find rtather patronising. Pakistan are a mess, as I am sure their entire team would admit. Bowling out this dismal England team is hardly an achievement.

Frankly, I find the whole episode disgraceful. I hope Pakistan win easily.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Cook Saga part 3

So… let’s revisit once again the debacle, the disgrace, that is Alastair Cook’s continued presence in the England test team. I’m sorry to go on about this, but enough truly is enough. It is keeping me awake at night.

Let’s put aside the brazen cowardice, the utter contempt for the county game and its many players as shown by the ECB, now rivaling the FA as the most incompetent, spineless, dismally weak of all our nation’s sporting bodies.

Let’s take a moment to look at the statistics. Disraeli may well have been right when talking about damned lies and statistics, but this simply cannot extend to cricket, where the stats are there for all to see. There simply can be no other way to measure one’s fitness to play test cricket. The fact he is tall, has long eyelashes and volunteers to field short leg, simply will not do, Ashley Giles.

Firstly, the feeble justification from that hired goon Geoff Miller:

"Alastair's a battler and he'll battle his way through it. We back our players and we want them to continue on the road that they're on. They're playing really well having won six matches on the trot. We've got a series to win, and now is not the right time to be making drastic changes."

Geoff is probably right, to be fair. Now is indeed not the time to be making changes. That time was July 2009, when it became very clear to all but the tedious ex-player commentators and the absurd selection panel, that Cook was not up to test cricket at the highest level, even if he could fill his boots against village Bangladesh/Windies bowling.

So Cook is a battler? Bottler more like. And anyone can be positioned as a battler if they are given chance after chance to score runs, as Cook has. Jesus, what about Hick, Ramprakash, Bopara, Shah? Imagine how they must be feeling, watching Cook scratch away time after time, clearly way out of his depth, just cos the selectors like him. A battler indeed – what a load of patronising bullshit. I feel personally insulted and may well have to take this to court for hurt feelings. So the team has to carry a patently outclassed opening batsman because they keep winning? They are winning despite, not because of Cook. He is a drag on the team, a weak link in a strong chain. He is the reason we will lose the ashes again.

Next: “we back our players”. Translation: “we will just keep on digging, as Cook will never, ever be dropped”. They didn’t back Carberry did they? Nor did they back Darren Pattinson (I use him only as an example of crap selection and completely inconsistent selection policies, not because he should have played test cricket – indeed his selection actually had me questioning my love of the game, so insulting was it). But when it comes to Cook, they back him?

Next:”we’ve a series to win”. Geoff, the series is already won, you tool. It is mind boggling he could say all this with a straight face.

On to the stats:

Overall, Cook’s test averages are still just about acceptable: 4238 runs at 42.80.

However, we need to look a little deeper.

V Australia: 498 at 26.2
V India: 527 at 40.5
V Bangladesh: 401 at 66.8
V Windies: 991 at 61.9

Spot the pattern?

In an astonishing calculation, if you take away the runs he has scored against Bangladesh and Windies, his average (including taking into account for not outs etc.) drops to 36.9.

How about from the beginning of the last Ashes? 951 runs at 36.6.

And in 2010 alone? 584 at 41.4, which includes an astonishing 401 at 66.8 v the mighty Bangladesh.

These stats point to a player NOT UP TO TEST cricket. There can be no debate. No wish to “support” players. No argument whatsoever. It is perfectly clear that Cook has unfairly been singled out for selection, at the expense of other, better players. Using the language of the playground, it is simply not fair. Cook is very clearly, undroppable. How on earth can this be allowed to happen? It actually beggars belief. At test level, a player is being selected in the hope he may score runs, when the evidence does not just stack up. It is beyond bemusing – it is an affront to the game and to national sport.

As I have stated previously, I can see Cook scoring runs at the next test – the law of averages simply says he has to. But it will only be in the first innings of the test – he will fail again in the second, but the media (and the selectors) will be all over it with slavish, orgasmic delight claiming “he was always going to come good… a man of his caliber is too good to fail” etc when in fact he has been failing for over 2 years.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Cook saga part 2

Some quick analysis of KP and a word (or three) on my favourite player, Alastair Cook.

Since Feb 2009, KP has scored 1158 runs, at 42.

However, this is boosted by his filling his boots (Cook style) against the most feeble bowling attack in world cricket – Windies, against whom England played 8 tests, home and away.

Take away the Windies and start from the Ashes in July and the picture looks very different: 703 runs at 39 (just). Needless to say, this is again boosted by a series against Bangladesh.

He has not scored a ton since March 2009 and he averaged 25 against SA.

Many will remember my thorough analysis of Cook’s batting average as well, predicting he would almost certainly fill his boots and bump his average up in the mickey mouse Bangladesh series. Sure enough, his cumulative average of 42.65 at the end of the SA series, bumped up to 44.97 during the Bangladesh series. Just to repeat, his average has declined consistently from his first test. His FIRST test.

This is sound statistical analysis of two players who no longer deserve to be picked for the Test side. It’s really as simple as that. Cook in particular has shown time and time again, against the better teams, he will fail. Yet he continues to get picked. Think of all the other players who could have been trialed I the meantime. Cook is NOT UP TO IT. Jesus, if he had any balls he’d admit it and go back to play for Essex. How does he sleep at night, in his free sponsored Jag, comfy central contract, posh central London apartment and all the trimmings.

Cook’s ever declining average is a sure sign of someone who is not up to international cricket. It’s all there in black & white.

He WILL fail in the rest of this series as Asif and Aamer are good fast swing bowlers. Just as he WILL fail against the hateful Aussies and the WILL fail against SA. But he will score runs against India, Windies and Bangladesh. It’s not just likely, it is statistical FACT.

I say again, his being picked for the Ashes is tantamount to fraud and a Class Action should be brought against the ECB. Lawyers, do please advise.

I could go on, but I am close to incandescent rage and my typing will only suffer.

As for KP, mentally he is shot. It is plain for all to see (apart from the ECB). He should go and play club cricket for 3 months, followed by country cricket for 6 months (in other words, write off an entire year’s international cricket) before being considered again. Let’s see if he wants it enough. I am dubious. Watching him scratch around is just painful and a complete waste of time – he is never going to improve on the international treadmill.

The Cook saga part 1

I am prepared to put my neck on the line and predict Cook will score heavily in the first innings of the Oval test.

He will fail again in the second innings, almost certainly, but he will score 75 plus on a beautiful track.

It’s simple really. The law of averages says Cook will score some runs.

And of course when Cook spawns a few, it sets the selectors off again, saying they were right to keep selecting him, while all the spineless ex-player commentators (Boycott a notable and welcome exclusion) will also be able to say it was right for him not to be dropped. I note, everyone is saying he should not be dropped as you should not drop an opener… JESUS, at what point DO you drop the bastard then? Nasser, Athers, Stewart (Tower), Agnew (WHO IS TOO BONE IDLE to even write his own effing BBC blog), Hughes. Every one to a man saying keep Cook in but adding lame caveats like “he is on notice”.

Can you imagine what it must be like to be in a England selectors meeting? All nice small white sarnies with the crusts cut off, smoked salmon, coronation chicken and scones. Nice tea in a proper tea pot, served by a uniformed goon in a beautiful room just off the Long Room at Lords. But just who are they?

Geoff Miller: average test player. In since 2000. Staid, out of touch, spineless.
Ashley Giles: the King of Spain – a club player who got very, very lucky. How on earth has he managed to get onto the selection committee? He picks his mates. Schoolboy stuff.
James Whitaker: a county player for god’s sake.
Flower: an introverted Rhodesian.
And Lord Snooty who spends more time fiddling with the annoying ring necklance, cos his marriage is BETTER THAN YOURS, ok?.

Oh, and we now have TWO Australians in the management set up. Again, I say class action against the ECB for crimes against cricket, negligence and all round cowardice.

*gives up*