Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A day at the G (in the Members Reserve)

Writing on this blog has been hard work for the past few months. And in the last week, traveling has made it even harder. But I'm in Australia now, surrounded by cricket (especially as I'm in Melbourne). So, as the heat rises on this blistering December 30th, its time to stay out of the sun and pen a few words on this trip's cricketing experience.

That the Boxing Day test is an institution is a cliche. It is also an "invented tradition", for as Tony T points out,
Since 1950 there have been a bare 28 Tests start on Boxing Day. That's 28 out of 59 seasons. The first match to start on Boxing Day wasn't until 1968
And indeed, as recently as 1994, an MCG test began instead, on Christmas Eve. But no matter. For in a cricketing world that has seen just about as much upheaval as it can handle, the Boxing Day test is a nice solid reminder of how it possible to build up a great cricketing occasion, and to instill it with just a little gravitas.

But I couldn't make it to Boxing Day at the MCG (that day, instead, was spent touring the countryside outside Melbourne). But on the 28th, Tony T, who happens to be a member of the Melbourne Cricket Club, very kindly scored me guest passes to the Members Reserve, and off we went to spend "a day at the cricket."

The MCG is, after its extended renovation that began in 2002 and which was completed a few years ago, perhaps the most comfortable cricket stadium in the world. It is hard to believe any ground in the world could compete with its spaciousness, easy access, good sightlines, amenities for spectators and the like. The Members Reserve is done up spiffily: a bit of posh by way of contrast from more plebeian sections. Tony and I stood the entire day by choice, and watched the action from a nice vantage point. The action was good: Umar Akmal dazzled in the morning and Mohammed Aamer made the evening crackle with a fiery burst of left-arm pace bowling. May these lads go from strength to strength; test cricket will be the better for it. In the meantime, Tony and I found plenty to chat about: cricket history, India-Australia cricket relations, blogging, and cricketing flame wars!

Finally, the cool breezes in the higher reaches of the MCG got to us, and we left shortly before close of play. But a memorable day on all counts: good cricket, good weather, excellent conversation with a fellow cricket fan, and a good chance to see how well cricket can be run, and made pleasurable for its lovers.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Shane Watson goes teenybopper

The best writing on the web can be found in the comments sections of YouTube videos. No, not really. But every once in a while, a gem shows up there that deserves to be highlighted. For instance, four hours ago, a worthy nicknamed xxImSexy7272xx, wrote the following in response to Shane Watson's celebration of Chris Gayle's dismissal:
What an absolute TOSSER. He looks like a fucking 12 year old girl after winning tickets to the see the latest Twilight film.
Could I have said it any better? I don't think so.

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Stuart Broad doesn't like umpires

Will Stuart Broad ever, I mean ever, get nailed for dissent? No other modern international cricketer throws as many tantrums as this kid and gets away with it. What is it that makes him untouchable?


Friday, December 18, 2009

A complaint-worthy pitch

The WACA Perth. 395 runs on the second day. 16 wickets on the third day. Terrible stuff. Surely the ICC match referee will report this alternating flat-road/fire-breathing pitch to the higher-ups? Test cricket's survival depends on it.

I know I'm flogging a dead horse but its worth it. Somehow, somewhere, reporting on test cricket needs to get its head out of its posterior regions and not make the facile assertion that lots of runs or wickets in a day equals a bad pitch, Especially when we are constantly reminded that test cricket is dying because there is not enough entertainment, whether because of the pace of scoring or taking wickets.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A good brew beckons

Another potentially interesting finish brewing over at Napier even though New Zealand lost their best chance of winning by their failure to take more than four wickets by the close of play yesterday. Still, if the last three wickets fall in reasonably good time, New Zealand will have an interesting chase on their hands. In a way, their bowling, despite the inability to take more than seven wickets in 180 overs, has done the next best thing: kept things close enough to keep them in the hunt after lunch on the fifth day.

58 overs still remain. New Zealand still need those three wickets, and when they come out to bat, they will face a close-to-200 target. That won't be trivial, and given the Pakistani bowling, we could have a treat on our hands.

Here's hoping for a little "Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble." If we're going for a stew, it'd better be good.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

"Fearless, courageous at times"

That is how Martin Crowe describes Umar Akmal. He is also better looking than his brother. And, I think, he will prove to be a better batsman as well. But, Martin, if he is "fearless", why is he only "courageous at times"? Why the constant fearlessness but the merely sporadic displays of courage?

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