Friday, 30 May 2008

No updates for a while

I'm not going to have my computer for a while, so I will not be updating news from the championship match against Gloucestershire. I may also miss the championship match against Glamorgan at the end of next week.

I'm hoping to be able to back in business by the start of the Twenty20 campaign on June 11th.


Thursday, 29 May 2008

Trott looking for record deal

The Mail reports today that Jonathan Trott is in hot water with the ECB;

Jonathan Trott rap for bad language.

The Raggy Bear understands, from literally hours of no research, that Trott is looking for a distributor for a hip-hop track he has recorded in which he launches into a foul mouthed tirade. Originally approached by the government to reach out to kids as part of their anti-knife crime message, Trott, 27, has used this as a platform for his potty mouth. Although he doesn't name people individually on the track, much of the vicious invective is a thinly veiled nod to his contempt of Giles Clark, head of the ECB. There is also one particularly spiteful verse about first class umpire Trevor Jesty which has reduced people to tears.

To add further confusion to the story the Mail has put a picture of Jim Troughton in it, in which he appears to be casting a sidelong look of disapproval in the direction of Trott (out of frame).


Monday, 26 May 2008

Warwickshire avoid wooden spoon

Warwickshire escaped the wooden spoon in the Friend's Provident Trophy Midlands Group by the skin of their teeth today.

After being asked to bat they collapsed to 19-2 and then 75-5, the first time being rescued by Poonia, a wise recall from the Scotland squad, then by the evergreen Frost who shepherded the tail to 187-8, finishing with 55*.

Leicestershire made a bright start against Tahir and Woakes, before Carter, bowling first change pegged them back and took the wicket of Ackerman, before Allenby was run out. Although slow scoring, Leicestershire seemed reasonably well placed before the rains came down with them at 53-2 off 19.3 overs. Warwickshire were awarded the match by 8 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis method. Neil Carter finished with 4-1-6-1.

Meanwhile Ireland again played well, taking Notts down to the last ball at Trent Bridge. Notts were asked to bat and were reduced to 22-3 before recovering to a very competitive total of 241-6. In reply Kevin O'Brien hit a 75 ball 93 to keep Ireland in the hunt and he was on strike facing the last ball, needing a six to win the match. He hit a four and Notts won by 1 run.


ECB so out of touch they may as well be govening UK Kerplunk! championship

The latest barmy ECB ideas go far beyond the normal bizarre proposals they dish up.

The ideas:

FC Championship:
Abandon the current format and move to a 3 day, regional competition, each with 6 teams. Their exact plans are not completely clear, but would seem to involve playing 10 games against the other sides in your region. Possibly with some kind of play-offs involved at the end of the season.

Change the format to two innings of Twenty20.

Play loads more of it. Being mooted is a 21 team league. (presumably the counties plus Ireland, Scotland and one other). This could mean around 300+ Twenty20 games.

OneDay Trophy:
No mention of this, so I can only assume it remains unchanged.

I have been tossing these outline ideas around and I have to say as a county member I am struggling to find anything to recommend them. The move to a three-day championship would be a disaster in my opinion. It would inadequately prepare players for test-cricket and with the increase in Twenty20 cricket it is vital that the testing ground for future internationals is not cheapened or diluted.

The Pro40 needs to die. We, as a compassionate, forward thinking society needs to listen to the doctor's advice and just let it go. Of course it will be hard for the county chairman, who have always felt very attached to it, to give the medical staff permission to pull the plug. But sometimes we have to just let things go; while we can still fondly remember the happy days of One Day league cricket. Before it became a dribbling, shambling embarrassment, dependant solely on life support and unable to feed itself. Changing it to Twenty20Twenty20 will not save it.

The drive to move to almost solely regional cricket would also be a mistake in my opinion. You could end up with Warwickshire playing every year;

10, 3-day championship games a year, 2 against Northants (or Leicestershire, or Notts),
8 one-day trophy games a year, 2 against Northants.
10 Twenty20Twenty20 games, 2 against Northants, and potentially
40 Twenty20 games, again 2 against Northants.

Conversely they will play the likes of Lancashire, Yorkshire and Surrey twice each at Twenty20 only. Leaving the Twenty20 aside they will face a maximum of 48 days of cricket, 30 of which will be against Northants, Leicester and Notts. Where you have so many games, and with leagues there will inevitably be meaningless games, with largely non-existent "local" rivalries (compared to Warwicks v Worcester or the Roses match) the spectre of match fixing would be ever present. And could even the Roses match sustain 8 derby matches a year?

As for Twenty20 itself, it is not my favourite format, but it is an enjoyable evening out and is still a novelty. The real worry has to be though that the counties and the ECB would rather make marginally more money from far more games with far lower attendance and lower interest, than keep it as a money spinning, popular novelty.

Financially I assume it is not so good to have 5 games a year with 15,000 in the ground, as it is to have 10 games a year with 8,000 in, or 20 games with 4,000 in, or even 40 days cricket with 2,000 people in the ground. Hang about... that's beginning to sound like the county championship....

Of course the ECB can't stand still, after all the English invented the game, not to mention Twenty20, and now the upstart Indians have gone and created all this razzmatazz with their IPL. If they're not careful people will be making the assumption that India is no longer part of the Empire and is instead a wealthy successful nation of over a billion people with the vast majority of world cricket fans therein. Not to mention many millions of wealthy middle-class young men who will buy what merchandise they're told to.

The ECB is charged first and foremost with making a successful England team, not to propagate outdated imperial ideas that they must have more and better cricket than "the colonies". They don't need to "react" to the IPL, they need to decide what is best in the long term for English cricket (both International and County) and do it.


Warwickshire v Ireland - Rained Off

Sunday's Freinds Provident trophy match against Ireland was called off due to the rain without a ball being bowled. It was the sort of weather that makes the staff at Worcestershire nervous and there was never any chance of play.


Friday, 23 May 2008

Courting players

George Dobell reports in today's Post that Warwickshire are pursuing several players both for next season and as replacements for Zondeki and Jayasuriya.

Early favourite for the "normal" overseas slot is Chris Martin the New Zealand fast medium bowler. He has been approached and has reacted positively. Luke Pomersbach, an Aussie batsman is being lined-up as a Twenty20 recruit following a tip-off from Trevor Penney.

Players who are out of contract at the end of the season and have been approached by Warwickshire are:
Alex Gidman, RHB RM, Gloucestershire (2007 season: 1003 runs @ 40.03, 9 wickets @ 64.55 )
Steve Kirby, RHB RFM, Leicestershire (2007 season: 119 runs @ 9.91, 41 wickets @ 23.41)
Graham Onions, RHB RMF, Durham (2007 season: 213 runs @ 17.75, 45 wickets @ 33.11)
Stewart Walters, RHB (legbreak), Surrey (2007 season: 228 runs @ 20.72, 1 wicket @ 28.00)
David Sales, RHB, Northants (2007 season: 1384 runs @ 55.36, Did not bowl)


Thursday, 22 May 2008

Warwickshire v Middlesex - match drawn

Day 4
A decent performance from the 3 fit bowlers and Trott ensured Middlesex didn't have it all their own way, but in the end a solid partnership for the 8th wicket saw Middlesex to a draw. Maddy and Salisbury were a big loss in this position as they could well have made the difference in breaking the 8th wicket and going on to win the match.
Its a blow to lose 3 players, but there are positive signs in adversity in that it was Middlesex who were in the position of trying to save the game on the last day. Its a small step, but its nice to take a "winning" draw rather than a "losing" draw!

Day 3
Middlesex 124-1 (trail by 19 runs)
Warwickshire 438 all out
(Frost 90, Salisbury 81, Botha 50, Trott 50)

Some great lower order resistance and class put Warwickshire in a position from which they would normally be looking to win, however with the injury crisis during the match and with some possible inclement weather to come tomorrow a draw looks very likely from here.

Salisbury was in the field at slip this afternoon, to ensure that if his calf injury improves he will be eligible to bowl tomorrow.

Lunch - Frost has continued to bat sensibly with a couple of flourishing shots thrown in for good measure. A nice on-drive bought him four and he unpacked his hansom extra-cover drive again, which also took him to his half-century last night.

Botha looked a bit scratchy this morning and fell shortly after making a defiant half-century, Salisbury has provided good support to Frost with some bludgeoning blows to take the lion's share of the 32 runs added since Botha departed.

More bad news however in that Salisbury injured his calf warming up and is looking very immobile in the crease (hence his Inzimam rather than Penny approach to scoring this morning). He is batting with a runner (Troughton - who has practised playing some solid looking defensive shots over at square leg) and is not expected to bowl again.

9am -
Darren Maddy needs an operation on his broken thumb and will be out of action for between six and eight weeks.

End of play Day 2

Warwickshire 272-4
Botha 41*, Frost 54* (Trott 50)

Middlesex 297 all out
(Maddy 4-25)

Botha and Frost batted very sensibly in overcast conditions between tea and the close of play to ensure that Warwickshire go into the third day only 25 behind. The picture is a little bit less rosy in that they are effectively for 5 following an injury to Maddy and with Zondeki likely to bat with a runner, and not especially reliable with the bat under normal circumstances it maybe that he won't bother.

This means that catching and overhauling Middlesex is down to the two at the crease and Salisbury, with Tahir and Anyon capable of holding up an end for a while with support.

Zondeki has had a scan and has a groin strain which will keep him out for around 2 weeks. Maddy has a suspected double fracture to his right thumb.





Apologies for the lack of coverage over the past month, a combination of changing my job and Warwickshire slide into mediocrity have conspired to prevent me finding either the time or the motivation to write anything. I realise this is disappointing to all my loyal fans and I'm hoping to be able to resume a more normal service for the rest of the season, even though much of my blogging will be from Yorkshire, where my new job is (and who know a thing or two about playing cricket).

I'm updating the player availability list HERE, but the main news is that Monde Zondeki has limped out of the current championship game with Middlesex and has a groin injury. This may keep him out for a while and South Africa have given him a central contract, this coupled with Langaveldt's international retirement means he is likely to be unavailable from June anyway, and may now not play before then. I think that Warwickshire were spoiled to a certain extent with Steyn last year, but for me Zondeki has been something of a disappointment. He has bowled much faster that anyone else in the side, but he looks too easy to score runs off at times and has not often been trusted with the new ball. A return of 9 wickets at 42 in 4 championship matches, if it is to be the last we see of him will not ensure he goes down in the memory in the same way as Steyn.
Sanath Jayasuriya has been called up by Sri Lanka after premature reports of his international demise. This means he will not be appearing in the Twenty20 cup for Warwickshire, especially disappointing as he is in great form and knows that the wooden thing is held by by the thin end and you hit the ball with the flat bit. Warwickshire's batsmen could have learnt much from him.

On a brighter note Warwickshire have included Troughton and Tahir in the team against Middlesex, both for the first time this season due to injuries. I'm a big fan of Tahir, not least because he's a local Moseley lad. Hopefully he can put his injuries behind him and go on to have a successful season.

At at the moment Darren Maddy is the team's most penetrative bowler in the championship and
this is no statistical anomaly. A couple of times he has come on as first change, and surely it is only a desire to save face that prevents him from taking the new ball. Meanwhile, comparatively Salisbury and Carter are worth their place on batting alone. Indeed based on the statistics you would probably have Carter opening with Maddy (in bowling and batting) with Salisbury coming in at 4.

I have been amusing myself in recent weeks by listening for the first "comeon WARRIX, we're better than this". Like the first swallow it is now a sure herald of the summer, although the shouts of "bring back Greatbatch" in the FP game a few weeks ago was a rare treat. I think there was a healthy dose of irony mixed in, but it is hard to tell. For the members of Warwickshire, particularly ones such as myself that don't travel to many away games, these are difficult times. In this past calender year we have seen Warwickshire win; 1 Friends Provident game, 1 Pro40 game and 3 Twenty20 games. You have to go back to April 28th last year for the last championship win at home. We have not seen a win of any kind yet this season. The one day cricket in particular has been woeful, with Maddy desperately shuffling the pack when Warwickshire bowl, his only option at times to have people bowl in 1 or 2 over spells to prevent the batsmen settling, something that has largely failed to work.

I'm off down to Edgbaston later this morning to see how the game develops, but with a bowler light I cannot see that a win is a realistic expectation.