Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Review of the 5th Test in India

Right, I've got the raging Ivana, as we say in North London. England finished off this shambles of a tour with a shambles of a performance. The last hour was a disgrace. It was a dereliction of duty. This Test summed up England's tour - chasing leather for much of it, clueless on how to take wickets and yet again, negative, turgid cricket from Bayliss and Cook followed by a meek surrender to a spinner. Unless your name is Karun Nair, the following will make grim reading as this was probably the most boring Test I have seen for a while on a surface that made Mother Teresa look aggressive. We still managed to get bowled out twice on it though. This is the review of the 5th Test from Chennai...

M.A Chindambaram Stadium

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Go Selecta

England have lost the series. It's 3-0 at present and soon to be 4-0. Stranger things have happened but I am expecting as much out of Chennai as Stevie Wonder's eye. Visionary? Not if you are an England selector. This tour has been a shambles from the moment that the party was picked. The Lions aren't much better to be honest and I get emails and tweets on a daily basis that certain counties' players are overlooked. The authors may well have a point. The County Championship is sponsored by Specsavers; apt, as there has been some myopic thinking on this tour. If the selectors aren't doing their job then is it time for them to go?

Whitaker...under pressure

Monday, 12 December 2016

Review of the 4th Test in India

Let's just say it took me longer to write this article than it did for England to capitulate this morning. We all knew it was going to happen but the manner of it was so disappointing. England have been outplayed by an excellent Indian side and in Virat Kohli (or "that fucking Kohli" as he is known in my house and many in the UK, no doubt. Nothing against Virat, he's just too good for us), they have a world class player. England lost the match and the series in Mumbai, as this one passed them by. Are England that bad? Are India that good? In home conditions, they are. It was the game of crucial drops, of missed opportunities and Jennings and Kohli cashed in. This was the review of Mumbai...

Wankhede Stadium

Thursday, 1 December 2016

The Lazy Man's/Woman's Christmas Present!

Want to get the old man something for Christmas? Can't be arsed wading through Christmas shoppers? Save money on shoe leather and parking fees and The Middle Stump can sort out your Christmas present right here and now for less than a tenner. Just picture his face as he opens one the best selling cricket books on the market, instead of the usual Eau De Bolleaux cologne set that you normally get him. And what's more, I'll even send him/her a personalised message. It will even keep the old sod occupied over Boxing Day too!

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Review of the 3rd Test in India

England had their pants pulled down and their bums smacked in the Third Test in Mohali. Despite winning the toss, England threw away any advantage on the first morning with some shocking shots. Injuries and temper tantrums from certain players won't hide the fact that this was a listless performance from England. Tiredness and the tour to Bangladesh won't wash with me, we picked the wrong players in the first place. This wasn't a straight jab in the Punjab, it was a left cross, a straight right and an upper cut that left England battered and bruised. This was a Test that left England fans sikh to the stomach. It was a total Honey G of a performance as India took this one by eight wickets.

Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, Mohali

Monday, 21 November 2016

Review of the 2nd Test in India

This was a weird one. Broken stumps, dogs stopping play, players getting injured walking onto the pitch, it was a strange old game. After the bland pitch at Rajkot, this one at Visakhapatnam had much more purchase for the bowlers. India bloodied the English nose by 246 runs, the second biggest margin of defeat ever but England weren't that bad if I'm fair (which generally I'm not!). There were plenty of positives, to quote numerous English sportsmen over the years but we lost after a collapse that would make the theatrics of an Italian centre forward look wooden. This is a review of the Test...

The Dr Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA stadium!

Saturday, 19 November 2016

The Cricket Club Dog

With the current Test match at Visakhapatnam being interrupted by a dog and with Christmas being just around the corner, I thought it would be give me another excuse for a shameless plug of my new book, The Definitive Guide to Club Cricket. The book is about the characters that inhabit every cricket club across the UK with 57 chapters covering various individuals. Virtually every club has a resident hound. Cricket clubs are great environments for our four legged friends and here is a chapter on the dog and a few other animals that are associated with club cricket. The book is available via Amazon at;
With a foreword by Yorkshire's Jack Brooks and proceeds helping Melanoma UK it will keep every club cricketer going over the festive period...

The Cricket Club Dog

With the current Test match at Visakhapatnam being interrupted by a dog and with Christmas being just around the corner, I thought it would be give me another excuse for a shameless plug of my new book, The Definitive Guide to Club Cricket. The book is about the characters that inhabit every cricket club across the UK with 57 chapters covering various individuals. Virtually every club has a resident hound. Cricket clubs are great environments for our four legged friends and here is a chapter on the dog and a few other animals that are associated with club cricket. The book is available via Amazon at;
With a foreword by Yorkshire's Jack Brooks and proceeds helping Melanoma UK it will keep every club cricketer going over the festive period...

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

How Not to Lose 5-0 in India...

So the omens aren't good are they? England play the turning ball about as well as Ben Stokes plays the stradivarius and everyone thinks we are going to lose 5-0. Me personally? Well, as I tweeted yesterday, this has got Five O written all over it as much as if Steve McGarrett jumped out shouting "Book him Danno". So how do we stop it happening? Well we need to change and we most definitely need some Lucknow. What do England need to do to stop a whitewash? Here are some tips to succeed in the subcontinent...

This could be a Hawaii...

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Cricket Loopy

Neal Foulds was ranked at number 3 in the world in the halcyon days of snooker in the 1980's. A World Championship semi finalist and now a commentator on the game, Foulds spoke with us to discuss his love of cricket. We caught up with the West Londoner recently and discussed getting sledged by an Australian in a snooker match, the current England side and their chances in India as well as his regular trips to Lord's and the Oval. Read on in this interview with one of the household names from the 1980's and what cricket means to him...

Neal Foulds

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Review of the 2nd Test in Bangladesh

So we came, we saw but we didn't conquer. On a day that the clocks went back, the English batting went back to Dhaka times as we lost ten wickets after tea on the third day. On the eve of Hallowe'en, this was a horror show, especially if your surname is Ballance or Dharmasena. Take nothing away from Bangladesh - they thoroughly deserved it and could easily have taken the series 2-0. This was a fascinating game to follow on from Chittagong. England might have toured Bangladesh and made friends for doing so but in this Test match, we didn't really turn up. This was a ghoulish performance, this was one for the road, no foreplay; just a quickie. This was a three day Test.

Sher-E-Bangla...scene of a famous win for the Tigers

Monday, 24 October 2016

Review of the 1st Test in Bangladesh

What a thriller this turned out to be. The First Test of this mini series in Bangladesh twisted and turned like the UKIP membership on their leaders, and yet this match kept us on the edge of our seats. Never mind that this was only Bangladesh (although they are hugely improved), never mind that our selectors picked a 39 year old spinner, never mind that Cook didn't have the confidence to use his spinners when it was crunch time, all is forgiven after England squeaked home by 22 runs at 4.30am. Like Lenny Henry in years gone by, we were thrilled to be up at the crack of dawn. This was a classic...


Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Viva La Manga

The Tom Maynard Trust do some excellent work supporting young cricketers who are benefitting from the monies raised. Having been involved with them in the past where a raucous night in Newport hosted our Pushing the Boundaries show, their tireless work continues. This weekend numerous cricket clubs are flying out to La Manga in Spain, where they will have a fantastic time and raise a few quid for a wonderful charity, helping cricketers. If you want to support it, the link is at the bottom and even a couple of quid will help...

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Congratulations to Mighty Middle

Middlesex became County Champions yesterday with a dramatic hat-trick from Toby Roland-Jones to beat Yorkshire in a thrilling finale. A season of dramatic twists and turns ended in victory for the pace setters as they sealed their first crown since 1993. Having gone unbeaten, it is nothing less than they deserve but there is more to this Middlesex team than just being excellent cricketers. They are a top bunch of blokes and I for one, am extremely proud of them.


Thursday, 22 September 2016

Farewell Dizzy

So tomorrow marks the last day at Yorkshire County Cricket Club for Jason Gillespie. And what a ride it has been. The man known as Dizzy will go off to coach the Adelaide Strikers, swapping Ilkley Moor for the Barossa Valley. Gillespie has been nothing short of sensational during his time in Leeds. His track record is truly remarkable and there will be a tear in the hardened eye of many a Yorkshire fan when this genial South Australian departs.

Farewell Dizzy...

Thursday, 15 September 2016

An open letter to the ECB

Dear ECB,

As a county cricket fan and someone that has played, followed and write on the game of cricket, I would like to say on behalf of 90% of cricket fans in England and Wales, what a monumental cock up you have made by voting for the City based T20 competition.

Obviously there are some people in the media with a vested interest - generally those who work for broadcasters or those with links to Sky or the Murdoch empire. They have been outspoken in the quest for the competition. Naturally, I don't have to be a psychic like Doris Stokes or even Ben Stokes to work out which broadcasting corporation is going to win the rights to it.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

It's the Final Countdown...

And so there are three sides battling it out. Yorkshire, Middlesex and Somerset - or in alcohol terms a pint of bitter, a lager or a cider. The Specsavers County Championship is going to give us the most exciting finish for years and there are no doubt many more twists and turns in the seven days still to play. Here we look at the potential pitfalls that all three face.

Yorkshire lift title at Lord's in 2015

Monday, 22 August 2016

City Cricket? No thanks...

OK, OK you might have read something similar on these pages before. However, with Northants win in the T20 on Saturday night, why oh why are the ECB trying to push through this City T20 with such haste? Gagging orders on County Chairmen, our best players being forced to play this City competition thus weakening the county four day game, a rush to renew Sky's deal on it and no one really wants it anyway. Something is not right here and I for one, am smelling a large rat.

Northants...T20 Blast winners

Friday, 19 August 2016

Free Chapter of the New Book

The Definitive Guide to Club Cricket has been out for just 11 days and is still in the top 10 on Amazon's cricket books. Covering a range of differing characters who permeate our cricket clubs there are 57 chapters such as the one below. With an excellent foreword by Yorkshire CCC man Jack Brooks, it is a must for all club cricketers. To get your hands on the book just click on the link below and order one from Amazon. Enjoy the free chapter...

Monday, 15 August 2016

Review of the 4th Test v Pakistan

Pakistan must love London. Feeling at home here as a Pearly King, just as they did in the 1st Test at Lord's earlier in the year, they battered England by 10 wickets in South London. Some of the Richardson gang's victims in the Sixties got less of a hiding in this manor. There was no Alastair Cook, Cook, Cook, Cookability under the gasomenter. The series finished 2-2 as Pakistan dished out some capital punishment to England. England have a bit of thinking to do, but more on that later. This is the review of the 4th Test...

South London sunshine...

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Competition Time

Here is a chance to get your grubby little mitts on a signed copy of my new book, The Definitive Guide to Club Cricket. With it going straight into the top 10 on Amazon since it was released last week, no doubt it will become a collector's item soon. Or something like that. All you need to do is tweet the link below out on Twitter along with the hashtag #Definitive and we will select one winner on Sunday 15th August from the millions that no doubt will. Good luck everyone.


Thursday, 4 August 2016

New Book Out Friday 5th August 2016

Ladies and Gents, Friends, Romans, Countrymen...I am delighted to announce that my new book, The Definitive Guide to Club Cricket is out tomorrow via Amazon. You can get your mitts on a copy by clicking on the link here;

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

The Big BundesBash

One of my ex team mates, James Peacock moved to Germany over a year ago. Here James describes his experiences of playing cricket in Frankfurt. Despite the facilities, it is great to see that cricket in Germany is growing and improving, both in numbers and in standards. The recent influx of refugees into Europe means the sport is growing, as well as the likes of Dietmar Hamann on Twitter who loves his cricket. Have a read of this entertaining piece on what recreational cricket is like in a country that isn't known for the sport...

No kits like this please, gents...

Monday, 25 July 2016

Review of the 2nd Test v Pakistan

"I am the Resurrection" sang a singer from Manchester a few years ago, but for England this was a re-birth after the loss at Lord's. England were outstanding here as they crushed Pakistan by the margin of 330 runs. Even Louis van Gaal would have smiled at the performance, but Joe Root was the Special One at Old Trafford. Here we review the 2nd Test...

What's The Point? Old Trafford...

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

The Definitive Guide to Club Cricket

My new book, The Definitive Guide to Club Cricket will hopefully be out by the end of August. It is a satirical view of the club game, taking a closer look at the characters and idiosyncrasies that make up our summer sport. The books contains an excellent foreword by Yorkshire CCC's Jack Brooks, himself someone who has graduated into the professional ranks via club cricket. Will keep you updated in the next few weeks but here is a guide to the 59 fun filled chapters from the Contents below...

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Review of the 1st Test v Pakistan

The second half of a miserable summer if you are English. This series promised fantastic cricket and Lord's looked, well like Lord's. Pakistan pressed on and pressed up as England, like the pound, have suffered general devaluation since last playing Test cricket in early June. This was a game of brilliant cricket, front runners Pakistan getting their noses in front and staying there, although magic moments from Chris Woakes kept the hosts in the game. Here we review the first Test versus Pakistan...

The Home of Cricket

Thursday, 14 July 2016

A different Pakistan?

Pakistan seem a different team than the usual sides that have come over here. Charming, polite and extremely well led by Misbah-ul-Haq, they have made friends since their arrival. In Taunton in a warm up game, they went out of their way to sign autographs and helped speak to Somerset's young players. They have been media friendly and they look the antithesis of some of their predecessors who have arrived here. It hasn't always been the case though. Here we look at some of the rumbles between England and Pakistan.

Misbah...a different approach

Thursday, 30 June 2016

The Definitive Guide to Club Cricket

Firstly I must apologise for the lack of movement on these pages in the last couple of months. I can confirm that I haven't been trailblazing on Boris Johnson's leave campaign or just sitting on my arse taking advantage of this glorious summer that the UK is currently experiencing. The reason why is firstly that I have been busy with weekly articles in The Cricket Paper with my look on outgrounds and festival cricket county by county. That will run for the next sixteen weeks. Secondly, there is a new book coming out and I am hoping that it will be in your grubby little mitts by the end of the summer.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Review of the 2nd Test v Sri Lanka

Firstly, apologies for not doing a review of the first Test last week from Headingley. England walked it if you haven't been anywhere near a newspaper or the internet. So they went further north to the a town that might sound French in Chester le Street but shhhh don't tell the people of Hartlepool down the road. We've already had one primate shot this weekend in a zoo. I digress, so after their lashing in Leeds, Sri Lanka turned up in Durham on another pitch that offered seam movement. This one may have been another easy win but it was the Test of the magical milestone.

Beautiful Chester le Street...nowhere near France

Monday, 23 May 2016

A message from Ryan Sidebottom

Malignant Melanoma and Skin Cancer in general is on the rise. An alarming rise actually, with five times as many people as forty years ago suffering. Sunbeds and solariums are one of the main reasons why more people are dying but cricketers and cricket fans are also at risk, being outside in the summer months. Melanoma UK ambassador Ryan Sidebottom is more than aware of the dangers that face all of us who love the game and here is what he has to say to all cricketers, cricket fans and anyone associated with the sport.

Ryan...covering up

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Headingley Headaches

The international summer is upon us, starting off at wonderful Headingley. Despite tickets selling as well in Leeds as a dinner date with Massimo Cellino, there is still something wonderful about the home of Yorkshire County Cricket Club. A magical ground it evokes memories of Botham in 1981, beating South Africa in 1998 and then losing to New Zealand in 1983. Yes we really did get skittled by the three C's. Who needed the three W's of the West Indies, when the Kiwis had Cairns, Chatfield and Coney? For every Botham, there's a Benaud or a Bell. For every Willis, there's a Warne. Not everyone has hugely happy memories of the place. And here's plenty below...

Handsome Headingley

Monday, 2 May 2016

Absolutely Foxed

From time to time, you get a book and you just can't put it down. Those nice chaps at Simon and Schuster sent me Absolutely Foxed and they took up two days of my life. However, the autobiography of Graeme Fowler has enriched my experience of not only cricket but of life too. This will be the cricket book of the year. A book that takes you to the boundaries of emotions at times, it is brilliantly written and totally engages the reader.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Talking Lids

There's been a lot of chat going around the media about helmets recently and I am not talking about certain journalists. The ECB have enforced the fixed position grill helmets that all professionals should wear and certain high profile batsmen don't like it. Alastair Cook wore one reluctantly whilst Jonathan Trott downright refused to wear the new style lid. Cricket is split. Should the players be forced to wear one? Will it just stop at helmets? Should the players be allowed to wear what they want? Is this a nanny state? Questions abound about safety...

Andy Lloyd in 1984

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Division 1 Preview

Division One of the Specsavers County Championship promises to be tighter than Phil Tufnell at the bar. Not much separates the top sides this year and it will be a close run race. We expect Yorkshire to win it but only just and with two sides going down this year, Marlon Samuels and Ben Stokes are likely to have less of a scrap. Here are the runners and riders in Division One...oh and if you do take our advice and gamble on the following, please don't come and visit us when you are homeless come September.

Will Gale lift it three years in a row?

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

James Taylor

Cricket was shocked and saddened this morning to hear that James Taylor, the Nottinghamshire and England batsman was forced to retire from the game due to ill health. Eyebrows were raised last week when he was left out of the Nottinghamshire side and the news this morning that he suffers from the incurable ARVC heart condition, has saddened many within the sport. Taylor now faces bigger battles than he would anywhere on the cricket pitch. To see a sportsman in their prime, one who was just burgeoning into an England regular, having their career closed down has left me stunned.


Division 2 preview

We're back having had a break where real work has got in the way and we look at the Division Two County Championship. Sponsored this year by Specsavers we look at who will be wearing top of the range Hugo Boss bins and who will be sporting a pair of NHS ones held together by sellotape. With only one team getting promoted out of Division Two due to the restructure it promises to be tighter than an asthmatic's chest. See where we think your team will finish this year...

Worcester...where the title is bound?

Monday, 15 February 2016

A Bowler's Game?

Rob Johnston looks at the dark times that batsmen face. No second chances, no next times, there is something final about a dismissal. Anyone who plays club cricket should have a read and no doubt nod your head, as you identify with much of what Rob says. Rob can also be found with his words of wisdom in Cricket World, The Cricket Paper and the Essex Enquirer. His articles are always worth a few moments of your time. In the meantime, give him a follow @wobblybob25. Have a read on as he dissects the frustration of many a batsman...

Clarke...tough times as he is bowled by Finn

Friday, 12 February 2016

The Blast from the Future

Shhhh. Whisper this really quietly but I am starting to warm to a few ideas that the ECB are coming up with. Two months ago we wrote on these pages about Matt Dwyer and promoting the game to all ans sundry at grass roots level and now they have finally seen sense. It looks like the franchise agreement is going to get scrapped. Today's Telegraph reports that a working party will propose keeping the 18 county system in a two division line up in the shorter format, having rejected the idea that we move to a smaller, city based franchise, such as employed by The Big Bash. Even better, the ECB look like they are listening too. This can only be good news for all of us, England and the game in general.

Lord's...the corridors of power

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Find us Keepers

It's been a tough few weeks for international keepers. Cameron Bancroft missed Suresh Raina off the Indian match winner's second ball, in a moment that defined the recent Australia v India one day series. Jonny Bairstow's travails have been well documented on these pages as teams all around the world try and fit the extra batsman into their side. However, it's starting to cost them dearly. As they are finding out, Gilchrists don't grow on trees.


Thursday, 28 January 2016

Plenty of Questions still for England

So the series was won and whilst going to the number one ranked side in the world and gaining a win in their backyard is nothing to be sniffed at, I can’t help feeling that there will be plenty of questions for the England management to ponder. A fourth innings defeat where we were skittled for 101, needs to be consigned to Room 101 as we wrote the other day. A dead rubber, a meaningless Test perhaps some might say but in international cricket there is no such thing and for the experienced England fan we have seen the problems before. At the end of every tour there is more of a 360 degree appraisal than a post mortem. However the truth is staring us in the face that England have serious problems in some key positions and until those are tackled this young, promising team won’t get any better. It’s the difference between being number one in the world or to be happy and content to be amongst the pack.


Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Review of the 4th Test in South Efrica

England lost the fourth and final Test in this series as they played like a side who had celebrated their series win in Johannesburg with a visit to a wine reserve. Less of a diamond performance, this one was more like a lump of coal. This was one to forget in a showing described by Trevor Bayliss as "limp". This one boys and girls, was limper than my bedroom antics after twelve pints. From the sublime to the ridiculous, England's Lions were beaten by the gladiatorial South Africans in their Centurion heartland by 280 runs as they were bowled out for 101 in a batting performance that should be consigned to Room 101. Read on for a review of the fourth Test.

Centuwion, sorry Supersport Park

Friday, 22 January 2016

The Sam Robson Interview

Sam Robson is one of the nicest blokes in cricket. With an English mother and an Aussie father, he was wanted by both countries a few years back before choosing his mother's side. One of the heaviest run scorers in recent years in the domestic game in recent years, here Sam waxes lyrical about Tim Murtagh's musical tastes, the poshness of Nick Gubbins and the golfing ability of Olly Rayner. Having opened the batting with three of the outstanding openers in Test cricket over the last few years in Andrew Strauss, Chris Rogers and Alastair Cook, Sam gives us the lowdown on their approach to opening the batting in this intriguing interview. We caught up with him recently whilst in Australia and here's what he had to say...

Robbo tonning up for England

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Review of the 3rd Test in South Africa

The beauty of South Africa is its diversity. A rainbow nation, there are eleven different official languages spoken in the country. Cricket in the country is no different with the tropical Durban, the backdrop of Cape Town and then we had the heartland of Jo'burg. This is the Wanderers, this is their manor and what a Test match it produced. For two and a half days this one oscillated, swung back and forth and favoured each team like a female member of the Giggs family. It then exploded into life. This one was a classic as England sealed the series with a victory on the veldt. Read on for our review of the third Test...

The Wanderers

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

I'm a bit bored of T20....

There I've said it. Countless people across the world won't agree with me, but I am. Nick Hoult in today's Telegraph backed up by Michael Vaughan think Test cricket will die in a few years, citing the case of AB De Villiers. I have to disagree. For me Twenty Twenty cricket has become boring, the goose that has laid the golden egg has been over fed, fois gras style by cricket administrators and here is why Test cricket is still the ultimate game.

Vaughan...worried for the future of Test cricket

Friday, 8 January 2016

The Nervous Nineties

The nineties can be a nervous time for anyone. I am not talking about the decade where Bill Clinton had to go and explain to his missus Hilary that the Monica Lewinsky story was about to break, although I can imagine that he was twitching a bit. I am not talking about Britpop, Blair, the IRA ceasefire, the advent of the Premier League or the England cricket team getting smashed by the Aussies. This piece is all about why batsmen get out in the nineties...

Athers about to get run out for 99

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Review of the 2nd Test in South Africa

There is something magical about Newlands. Table Mountain, which isn't what Gary Ballance does before he has a boogie in a nightclub, overshadows the ground and any stadium that has a brewery next door gets the thumbs up from the Middle Stump. 12,000 members of the Barmy Army took advantage of 22 rands to a pound, as England looked to over turn their abysmal record here. Newlands in turn produced a 'Chief Executive's pitch' to makes sure that their hard earned was spent for the full five days. Here in the UK millions of us trudged through the rain cursing our jobs but no matter how bad your career is, just pray that you aren't a bowler on this surface. The bowlers averages went up like a price of train fare. This one, was honours even.

Beautiful Newlands

Friday, 1 January 2016

Ones to watch in 2016

Every year on New Year's Day, we give you the names to look out for in the coming year. These are the ones to watch, the players who will light up the future of English cricket. Sometimes we get it right, sometimes our picks are stacking shelves in a supermarket the following year. Here we look at some of the brightest names coming through the ranks, and we are pleased to say that the future looks extremely bright. Happy New Year boys and girls...

Tom Curran...prospect