Sunday, 10 November 2019
"There's no mistake, I smell that smell, it's that time of year again" sang the Stereophonics but around the time that the clocks go back in the cricketing world, the smell of the movement of players, permeates the shires. This week Dawid Malan swapped Hampton for Headingley and went to Yorkshire, whilst Reece Topley turned down the advances of Sussex and hopped it up the A23 to the Oval. Whilst both counties have expressed their good wishes to the player, it has left such a sour taste in the mouths of some fans on social media, that even Monica Lewinsky would balk at it. So is it time to start bringing in transfer fees into cricket to protect the counties?
Monday, 9 September 2019
“Oh Manchester, so much to answer for” lamented the Smiths back in 1984 but it was a couple of other Smiths who grabbed the headlines during this absorbing contest at Old Trafford. Steven for Australia scored a double hundred, Ed for England, picked the same batting line up. This was where England lost the Ashes in Manchester but the reality is that they were lost from the moment that England persisted with a side, that was as fragile as the cotton that gave this city its Victorian wealth. It was a selection that showed myopia, that culminated in this loss down the road from Longsight. Our Prime Minister had less of a humbling defeat in the Commons this week. This is the review of those bloody Australians beating us again…
Tuesday, 3 September 2019
On the eve of the Old Trafford test match, England are expected to announce a change in positions to their top order but with the same players who have struggled this summer. Ed Smith must feel like a croupier as he shuffles the pack yet again, in order to accommodate those he has selected recently. But are England papering over the cracks? Is the reshuffle the right way to go? Is the selection totally wrong? After all we were only a bit of Ben Stokes magic away from the Aussies retaining the Ashes. We were only a Nathan Lyon misfield from having more inquests than Quincy.
Tuesday, 27 August 2019
"The Grabbing Hands, Grab all they can" sang Depeche Mode back in the early 80's, in the days when commercialism in sport stretched to a Hitachi or a JVC spread across the shirts of the odd football kit. Fast forward thirty six years or so and today sees two very proud football clubs about to go out of business. Clubs are at the heart of their communities and leave a huge hole, as sadly, the residents of Bolton and Bury could be about to find out. But is the same scenario happening in cricket? Despite the wealth of neighbours, are some of the smaller counties being squeezed out by their bosses?
|Made in Somerset and Durham|
Sunday, 25 August 2019
"Don't talk to me about culture, ah've been to Leeds", said Harry Enfield's Yorkshireman. Well this was cultural, this was oustanding and no amount of adjectives will do this match report justice. If Test match cricket is dying, this was Lazarus. English fortunes, along with Joe Root's chances of keeping his job, oscillated as they went from bleaker than an Alan Bennett play to jumping around my living room paying homage to Sir Benjamin Stokes. You get some classic Tests. Edgbaston 2005, Melbourne 1982, Headingley 1981, this pipped it. This is a review of the finest Test match that I have ever witnessed.
Thursday, 22 August 2019
There's been a lot of talk around this week about short pitched bowling. Steve Smith was hit at Lord's and missed the Headingley Test, Jason Roy got hit in the neck off a dog thrower practicing - we even saw Mark Cosgrove flick one off his head on to the slips, reminiscent of Neil Ruddock in weight and heading ability. Batsmen getting pinned isn't a new phenomenon by any stretch of the imagination. However, are they playing the quicks differently in the modern age?
Sunday, 18 August 2019
Lord's. Genteel, lovely Lord's. This was anything but. The 2nd Test was an absorbing contest, with the players on and off the pitch as the St John's Wood drainage system was put to use regularly. Ashes series never fail to disappoint and despite the match ending with honours even, this was an all time classic. It had skill, courage, more medical staff than an episode of Casualty, drama, excitement and a host of other adjectives mixed into a pot pourri of red ball cricket. Some draws have been tedious. Some draws at Lord's have been tedious. This was no dull stalemate in NW8. This will be remembered for a Sussex based Archer causing more havoc than any other since King Harold fancied a rumble with William the Conqueror down at Hastings. This is a review of the Lord's Test...
|The Home of Cricket...|
Wednesday, 14 August 2019
Regular readers of these pages know that I'm not a fan of the Hundred. To me, it's fast food, Carling Black Label, Love Island; the out of town retail park of cricket, bound to have the same effect on certain counties as many of our High Streets in the UK. The more I read about it, the less keen I am, although apparently it isn't aimed at me anyway but rather this new generation that will suddenly fall in love with the game. It's due to start next summer and I can't wait to take my holiday during it, even if there are two pounds to the Euro by then. In fact a cruise gutting kelp in the North Sea on a Grimsby trawler boat will do me just fine, just to get away. Here's my view...
Friday, 26 July 2019
So Ireland played their inaugural Test at Lord’s. England turned up the temperature as London basked in 38 degrees, playing havoc with the plethora of gingers on the pitch. Ben Stokes was rested, left to cultivate freckles in his back garden. If Test cricket was sex, a five dayer would be would be slow, gentle love making – foreplay with a candlelit dinner, maybe some wooing with a theatre ticket. This was a quickie in a back alley. This four day test, was curtailed prematurely, much to the chagrin of many a North Londoner – not the first time in my life this has happened but let’s keep this at professional level, hey? Could Boris get off to a winning start as Prime Minister? Or would he lead us blindly into the Ashes with no future ahead of us? This was a review of the Lord’s Test….
Monday, 15 July 2019
Finally, it’s over. After 48 matches, over 22,000 runs and nearly 700 wickets, it came down to a Super Over that ended with the scores level, England winning on more boundaries scored. Wider chasms have been known between Rahul Dravid’s bat and pad than these two sides who put on a marvellous spectacle. This had everything – it had drama, it had tension, it had controversy, it had us hiding behind the sofa, it had us turning to Category A drugs and it had me needing to change my boxer shorts at least three times during that wonderful Skittish Sunday in St. John’s Wood. Sponsored by the refreshing London Fields Brewery and their marvellous Hackney Hopster, this is a review of quite possibly the finest game of cricket ever played…
Sunday, 16 June 2019
Just over half way through the group stages and the 2019 Cricket World Cup is starting to take shape. Or it would have taken more shape if it hadn't pissed down with rain all week. The UK has been wetter than a mermaid's gusset this last week, which has kept the group tighter than Phil Tufnell at the bar. There have been empty seats, Channel 4 has decided to show games at times that an insomniac would baulk at and the weather in June, has been about as much fun as watching an episode of Terry and June. Despite this, we have had some brilliant moments so far...Here, in association with The London Fields Brewery is The Middle Stump Guide to the World Cup so far.
Monday, 3 June 2019
During the Cricket World Cup, I am offering copies of my latest book, The Exhaustive Guide to Club Cricket for just £6.99, whilst England are in the competition, or until they win it (you may have to hurry after today). In the meantime, here is one of the chapters from the book for free. Read on and enjoy the differences between the professionals and us clubbies. You can get your 'split webbing hands' on a copy by clicking this link here...
Sunday, 2 June 2019
Spoof social media accounts and cricket are nothing new. Kevin Pietersen was the butt of some jokes who were friends of his team mates a few years ago and some would say it was the initial lighting of the fuse that caused his departure from the England team. Some are just boring and have had their day, whilst the likes of Fred Boycott have kept us entertained for years. In one cricket league in the Home Counties, the news on the grapevine throughout clubs is of other Twitter accounts mocking other clubs. So much so, that the league have issued a statement warning the protagonists. Not only that, they have issued a statement warning anyone liking their tweets or even following them that they will be subjected to sanctions as of June 1st. Is this now taking their duties too far?
|KP...Parody Account caused issues|
Monday, 27 May 2019
It's nearly here. The Cricket World Cup is about to start on these shores this week and England have a decent chance. Can we go better than our footballers last summer, who like me after 10 pints, couldn't get past a semi? Will it be heartbreak for our lads? Will the tournament song by Dave Stewart come out the day after we get knocked out like in 1999, when Alec Stewart would have made a better fist of it? This is going to be a long, slow tournament with the final on Sunday July 14th, so be prepared for the long haul. Who will be triumphant after a mammoth eleven games? Crack open a Hackney Hopster from those lovely blokes at The London Fields Brewery who have kindly offered to re-hydrate me during the tournament, then read on for the candidates to lift the trophy...
|Lord Eoin of NW8...|
Monday, 6 May 2019
In my last two books, The Definitive Guide to Club Cricket and The Exhaustive Guide to Club Cricket, I have written about various individuals that permeate our clubs here in the UK. One individual that I forgot about, is a man who is in every club across the land. He is a conman, a man who you really wouldn't buy a used car from, a fraudster, or as they say in posh circles - a cad, a bounder or a rotter. Ladies and Gents, Friends, Romans, Countrymen, I bring you, the non turning, short, fat, left arm spinner.
|One of this breed...|
Monday, 22 April 2019
Rivalry is a natural thing. Pull back your bedroom windows and I bet the bloke over the road wants a nicer place than his neighbour next door. I bet he wants a flashier car, he thinks his wife is prettier and parts of his anatomy are bigger. Cricket is no different. Yet is it becoming more like football with abuse on social media? Are fans becoming more abusive behind the anonymity of their keyboards? Is it cricket's issue, or a problem for society as a whole? Read on...
|Surrey...everyone's favourite to abuse|
Saturday, 20 April 2019
The Royal London One Day Cup. Enjoy it this season folks because one day cricket as we know it, is about to become extinct. It will be consigned to history - the woolly mammoth, the dodo, the sabre toothed tiger. Why? Because the people that run our game at the top, have now declared that this will be a development competition because there is no room in the calendar for a premier all day, one day tournament. The 100 ball game, aimed at all of those new 'cricket fans', will replace it and at the same time, replace a lifetime of memories for many of us.
|Oh Lancy, Lancy...one day kings in the 70's|
Friday, 5 April 2019
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends”, wrote a well known Warwickshire fan but the season cannot come soon enough for those who love the County Championship. One of the best competitions in any sport rears its beautiful head again, as 18 teams, virginal in their pristine April whites, will be around the block and worn out, come September. Here we give our predictions again for the 2019 season. Please note that before you visit your favourite illegal Indian bookie and bet a fortune on the recommendations of this blog, we do get it wrong. And regularly. When the fun stops, stop and all that. On the eve of the Grand National, here are the runners and riders in Division One…
|Ciderman Brooks...quality signing|
Sunday, 3 February 2019
There are various degrees of shit. This was up there, or should I say down there, with the very best. If it was a tv series it would have been Eldorado, it was that bad. At least Eldorado was entertaining. Having all predicted that England would win, albeit closely against a spirited Windies, they have gone and got stuffed. Not just beaten but battered, sunk without a trace. This one in Antigua, was so much a Bermuda Triangle of a performance, I'm surprised Barry Manilow hadn't donned the whites. This is a review of the downright dreadful second Test...
|Sir Vivian Richards stadium|
Saturday, 26 January 2019
So England arrived in Barbados. A month and a bit had passed since they were last on duty, for those cricketers who moan about tiredness and playing twelve months a year, apart from those who filled their time off picking up a few Aussie dollars in the Big Bash League. They had arrived in the Caribbean to surely win a series easily? A nice bit of sun, sea, a few rum punches and an easy 3-0 series win would be a far better way to spend January than scraping ice off your car in the dark at 7am. Did it play out like that? Erm not really. England were as undercooked as botulism chicken. This is a review of the Bridgetown Test.
Sunday, 13 January 2019
OK, first things first, let me show my hand here. I'm biased. If the Walker family hasn't left part of their vast estate I wouldn't have played cricket for the last thirty five years at such a beautiful ground. I also know the author, he's a top bloke and someone who sleeps, breathes and eats cricket. So this isn't going to be a neutral review of a great book but it is one I'd recommend to all Middlesex cricket fans out there, to see how their club was formed. It is one that is packed with information and local knowledge and Jouning deserves great credit for his research.
Tuesday, 1 January 2019
Here we go again. Happy New Year to you all, may your year be full of joy and if you're a batsman, awash with leg stump half volleys. As usual, we give you the ones to look out for in the coming year. No one we have mentioned before gets a mention and with most of them being born this century, I feel geriatric writing this article, looking at their dates of birth. I was in Baghdad, when this lot were in their dad's bag. Having had successes with the like of Olly Stone, Ethan Bamber and Ollie Pope in recent years, we hope that this year's thoroughbreds will be ones to keep your eye on. Here are the runners and riders for 2019...