Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Killing the fattened calf.

Maybe it's just me, but there's an element of the above in the way international cricket is going  at present.

"Oooh, there's a four week window with no cricket, let's fly England to India for a series of utterly pointless one-day games." That was bad enough, for me. The two sides met on an even footing -  in cricket that mattered -  in the English summer and the result was patently clear. Then we whip a weakened English side out for a quick slogfest in India and India win a series that I can't remember a thing about a few short weeks later.

Now we have Australia touring South Africa in - wait for it - a TWO Test series. Two of the strongest sides in the world game and we can't even afford to cram three matches in, let alone the five that such a series deserves. In all honesty I'm not that fussed at seeing Bangladesh or Zimbabwe at this stage in their development. Both have two or three decent players but little else, so a mini series makes sense for them. Surely two strong sides deserve more than two matches though?

I hope the county game watches and learns from such mistakes. We don't need wall to wall matches with less intensity and nothing worth writing about. There needs to be enough to make a membership worthwhile, but for me the current level in the county game is about right. Dropping some of the T20 games is the right way forward and we simply need to guard against going too far.

On to county news, and Nottinghamshire look like signing James Taylor from Leicestershire. There's a surprise eh? Not like our near-neighbours to step in after other clubs have done the hard work in bringing the players on....

Meanwhile Charl Willoughby isn't retiring and heading back to South Africa, but heading to what is becoming the new Saffer enclave at Essex. Meanwhile, Yorkshire have signed Phil Jaques for next season, a solid signing who, despite his travails in his last stint at Worcestershire remains a decent batsman and solid bet for a thousand runs.

In closing tonight, I got a lovely story last night from a regular reader about Alf Pope, one of the stars of Derbyshire's championship side. He was part of a post-first class career tour in Germany, when he was in his sixties but still able to make the ball "talk".

One evening the team visited what could be best called a "seedy night club" in downtown Hamburg. The place was heaving and all sorts of...er...action was going on. Loud music, strippers, beer being thrown, people dancing on tables - the works. There was a sudden, unexpected and momentary silence and all that could be heard was one solitary voice, emanating from a seat by the nigh-deserted bar.

"And this is the grip that I use for the leg-cutter" came the voice of Alf Pope, disinterested in the shenanigans elsewhere but passionate about his cricket!

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