philmophlegm: (Flag)
Let's be honest, cricket is not an exciting spectator sport most of the time. Apart from a tiny, tiny number of people, most people who say they "follow the cricket" mean that they vaguely keep an eye on the score and maybe have the Test Match on Sky Sports or Radio 4 on in the background while they do other things. Typical attendance at county first class matches is just a few thousand for one of the top counties on a good day.

But...but...

On those rare occasions when cricket is exciting, it's all the more memorable simply because it's so rare.

Which brings me on to Great Sporting Moments Numbers 2 and 3. The 1981 Ashes Test at Headingley. (Note for readers from non-cricket countries: 'The Ashes' is the series of test (i.e. 5 day) matches played between England and Australia. It's probably the most important cricket for English and Australian fans.)

Ian Botham had started the six match series as England captain. He was England's biggest star at the time. At his best, both a big-hitting batsman and an effective fast-medium pace bowler. However, after two matches, Australia led 1-0 and Botham's personal form was poor. He had failed to win any of his twelve matches as captain and failed to score a run in the second test. He was removed as captain (but kept his place in the side) and replaced by former captain Mike Brearley - not regarded as a particularly talented player, but a clever captain and motivator.

The change didn't have an instant impact in the third test at Headingley in Leeds. Although Botham took six wickets in Australia's first innings, Australia declared on 401-9. England's batting response was poor - 174 all out (although Botham made 50). Because they trailed by more than 200 runs, Australia chose to force England to follow on (to bat again immediately). England were reduced to 105-5 when Botham came out to bat. England still needed 122 to avoid an embarrassing innings defeat. They avoided the innings defeat because Botham hit a brutal 149 not out, unquestionably one of the greatest test match innings ever.



At the end of England's second innings, they had a lead of 130 - a very gettable target for Australian batsmen high on confidence. Even more so when they got to 56 for 1. At that point, Brearley made a crucial tactical change. He switched his bowlers around, allowing fast bowler Bob Willis to bowl down the slope from the Kirkstall Lane end. Willis had bowled poorly in Australia's first innings, but followed Botham's lead and went for all out attack. There were bad balls, and no balls, but there was plenty of pace and bounce and hostility...and it worked. He took eight wickets for just 43 runs as Australian crumbled and England amazingly, miraculously won the match. It was only the second time in the history of test cricket that a team had won having followed on.



Australia weren't the same after that. England came back again to win the fourth test, and then Botham slaughtered the Australian bowlers with an innings of 118 that included six sixes to win the fifth test and clinch the series. England regained the Ashes.
philmophlegm: (Targaryen)

Some of my favourite things from 2011. Also, some of my not-so-favourite things.
Warning: may contain sport. I know most people on my friends list don't really do sport, but…well tough. This is my review of the year. Also contains books, games, television and a whole host of other stuff.

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philmophlegm: (serval)
England's wicket-keeper Matt Prior has a test match batting average of 44.4 in seventy-odd innings. Can anyone think of a better test batsman who has generally come in no higher than 7 in the batting order?
philmophlegm: (Ben Folds)
Shane Warne has retired from cricket. He managed to take a wicket in his final over. He was one of my favourite players, and I'll go so far as to say he was the best spin of the modern era. Murali obviously has to come into that discussion, but I always felt that of the two, Muralitharan's statistics were somewhat inflated by playing so much cricket on the sub-continent's spin-friendly pitches. Warne was a match-winning leg spinner on any wicket.

It's tempting to commemorate this with a video of 'The Ball of the Century' (if you don't know what that is, look it up on YouTube). Instead, I'm bringing you a song about that very delivery: 'Jiggery Pokery' by The Duckworth-Lewis Method.


philmophlegm: (Chiyonofuji)
Right, you've had a day. Here are the answers:

Answers behind the cut... )

20:20

May. 17th, 2010 09:20 am
philmophlegm: (cyberleader)
Didn't England* do well? While seeing England win isn't necessarily that unusual, seeing England really thump the opposition in a final is.

It's a shame that with all the election coverage, and the build-up to that other World Cup, that this tournament has somewhat slipped under the radar.



* Well, ok - England plus a few key foreigners...
philmophlegm: (Bush Tucker Man)
Anyone else see any of the South Africa / Australia test match?

Phil Hughes. 20 years old. Second test. 115 first innings. 136 not out second innings. Youngest player ever to score two centuries in the same test. And you should have seen some of the shots he was playing.

England need to start working out how to get him out in time for the Ashes.
philmophlegm: (Sid James)
Today is apparently 'International Women's Day'. It seems somewhat unfair that half the world's population only get one day a year. Presumably men are entitled to the remaining 364 days.

Anyway, what prompted this post was the thought that none of the socialists, communists and feminists behind this "occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women" probably intended that this should be an excuse for the broadcasters of the England / West Indies test match to bring us shots of all the scantily-clad women in the crowd.

"Gratuitous", as lanciatore would say.
philmophlegm: (kithill)
Because I was able to finish some work last night in my hotel (the Watford Hilton / Linton Travel Tavern), I didn't need to work on the train this afternoon. This left me free to play International Cricket Captain.

I was leading England through a triangular one-day tournament against Australia and Bangladesh. Now in my England one day side at the moment, I have Marcus Trescothick batting at number 3.

What makes this surreal... )
philmophlegm: (Bush Tucker Man)
Chelsea footballer Shaun Wright-Phillips
Barbary Apes
First year trainee chartered accountants
A particularly unpleasant, loud-mouthed, Australian cry-baby of a cricketer called Andrew Symonds.

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philmophlegm: (Bush Tucker Man)
Probably not of interest unless you're into either cricket or computer games, preferably both.
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philmophlegm: (Default)
Is it just me, or does Andrew Flintoff seem like an alcoholic?

The thing that most amazes me is that there were apparently coaches with him!

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