Flower, Fletcher and Australian Limitations

5 05 2011

There has been a fair bit of cricket over the past four weeks or so in which The Compulsive Hooker has been dormant (not to mention in the other sports that we sporadically cover) and so we won’t try to make comment on it all. However, there have been several stories recently that have managed to tip ourselves out of our writing lethargy to the extent that we are now, once more, going to put (digital) pen to paper.

Flowering Again

Firstly, and in no particular order, the news that Andy Flower has signed a new contract with England is undoubtedly great news. After an unfortunate start in the West Indies during his first series, Flower’s management has even from an outsiders point of view made a difference. Often with coaches and managers it is only the people close to the team or perhaps the media whose job it is to cover them who are able to see the effects of their work – results not always being the most reliable indicator. Yet, in the case of Flower, even from a spectators point of view the difference he’s made is apparent. There is an indefinable air of calmness and confidence surrounding the team which was not present with his predecessor Peter Moores.

He is already probably the most successful coach of recent years with the only blot on his copybook being England’s World Cup and recent ODI performance. We are confident though this will improve rapidly with the series against Sri Lanka and then India being closely contested.

Fletcher Returns

The other bit of coaching news worth mentioning is of course Duncan Fletcher’s surprise appearance as coach of India. With Gary Kirsten being such a popular man with the media, fans and importantly the players, it is a hard act to follow. Opinion appears to be split on whether it is a good or bad thing with England players from his heyday as England coach back in 2003-2005 being overwhelmingly positive on the news but with most other people being either slightly puzzled or even downright disappointed.

For all that his record was tarnished by the events of 2006/7 of which few Englishman ever speak (most choose to blot it out as a temporary aberration in between the Ashes wins of 2005 and 2009) he had an excellent record as coach and could take a great deal of credit for turning England into a useful side once more.

His record of producing quick bowlers is often cited as a positive although we do sometimes wonder whether this is more to do with the fact that he happened to be around when England produced what Adam Gilchrist called the best seam bowling attack he’d ever faced. If however he is genuinely talented in this area then this could be the exact move that India need to turn them from probably the best test side in the world to being an indomitable force.

Good luck to him and we can’t wait for the series between his new team and his old team this Summer.

A Blizzard Or Just A May Shower?

Watching the IPL there do appear to be a good number of virtually unknown Aussies playing for some of the franchises and, whilst this can probably be put down to coaches from the Antipodes picking players they know, it did illustrate to us some of the problems facing Australian cricket at the moment.

In last night’s encounter between Pune Warriors and Mumbai Indians there was a young Australian opening the batting. Without Cricinfo handy we couldn’t work out who he was although there were frequent references to what would have been some very unusual weather patterns in Mumbai at this time of year (or at all perhaps!) and only slowly did it dawn on us that Blizzard was his name. (It didn’t help that the commentators were making the odd pun on his name).

He was frequently described as a prospect and someone to watch out for. The problem with this however is that he is almost 27 and has only played a handful of state games. Hardly what we would define as a prospect. Everyone is of course familiar with the case of Michael Beer and one or two others who have gained some sort of recognition recently but they too are characteristic of these problems. By the time a player is in their mid to late twenties if they haven’t broken through they probably will never do so. If in the unlikely event (as in Beer) they do get picked for the national side they are immediately going to be at a disadvantage – they will hardly know their game as well as the average international player does.

This is of course still probably part of a hangover from the days of the all conquering team of the late ’90’s and mid 2000’s when you had a further 15 players around the country who would have been good enough in any other era to play international cricket. The players who are now 26/27 would have been competing with the likes of Darren Lehman, Jamie Cox, Stuart MacGill et al for places in the state sides aged 18/19 and being mere mortals therefore struggled for game time to the detriment of the current national side.

In England over the past few years the opposite has been happening and the plethora of young, quality and consistently run scoring, wicket taking youngsters is testimony to that. With a nod to the argument that perhaps (certainly in Division 2 cricket) the quality maybe isn’t as high as it was, we know which countries supporters camps will be happier.

County Sunshine

A quick word to finish up on the County scene. Every pundit involved with the game has been very positive on the start to this years County Championship and domestic season as a whole – no doubt helped by the glorious weather the UK experienced in April. We are not going to comment at length on it here beyond saying we have wished occasionally that we did not inhabit the dusty lands of the UAE and were within reach of a county ground to which we could migrate for the odd afternoon.

We would also like to point you, our readers, in the direction of this article by Cricinfo’s George Dobell. Mr. Dobell is swiftly becoming our favourite writer on the county game and his in depth and considered articles are always a joy to read. There are links to his previous ones at the bottom of the article and they are all worth a glance.

Thanks for taking the time to read this again – we are undertaking to write some more regular missives from now on so please check back regularly.


IPL Madness: A Few Thoughts

10 01 2011

With the cricket itself not holding an excess of allure to us until the latter stages, probably the most interesting thing about the IPL is the bidding process and waiting to see who signs who and for how much. This year, being the start of another cycle and with all teams starting more or less from scratch, it was always likely to throw up some interesting picks.

Notable amongst the eyebrow raising decisions have been the eagerness with which the IPL teams have picked up numerous lesser known Australian players (including four wicket keepers) despite a clear argument for Aussie cricket being down in the dumps – probably we feel as a result of a plethora of Australian coaches – but also as a result of some ridiculously blatant nepotism in the case of Mitchell Marsh. Practically unknown outside Australia, he is obviously highly thought of by his Dad, Geoff Marsh, who also happens to be Head Coach, and was bought for $290,000. This, just to put it in perspective, is more than established and former international stars Dwayne Bravo, Jesse Ryder, Steven Smith and Scott Styris to name but a few.

Staying within the Australian hegemony, it was also fascinating to note the enormous amount of money paid for journeyman Dan Christian ($900,000) – Deccan Chargers will be pleased to hear he picked up figures of 6.3 overs 0-66 against England today. Johan Botha ($950,000) also hit the jackpot but could hardly claim to be a big ticket player despite his status as SA 20/20 captain. Several lesser known Indian players have also benefited in some slightly strange and overly generous bids.

Amongst the bargain bucket signings was Dwayne Bravo ($200,000), Michael Hussey ($425,000) and possibly in our view the best of the lot (although we are perhaps biased) Eoin Morgan for $350,000.

Morgan was one of only a few England players picked which was a shame to see although we fully appreciate the reasons why. We are surprised in particular that Graeme Swann was not snapped up – surely he is someone who fits the bill as an entertaining yet quality player which we thought was what the IPL was all about!

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Legends, Comebacks and ‘Resting’ Players

22 12 2010

There has been a fair bit of cricket and cricketing news over the past couple of days that we haven’t had time to comment on, so, in very disjointed but hopefully lucid style, we are going to round up our thoughts on these matters.

  • Where else to start but with Sachin? Much has already been written and will undoubtedly continue to be  written about this great little man but his achievement against South Africa was of such a magnitude that we feel the need to add to the cacophony of voices.

    We remember back in 1996 on the Indian tour of England one of the Indian commentators saying that Sachin would one day be the first man to get to 100 international hundreds. At the time this was such a ridiculous number (and quite frankly still is!) that we ascribed this comment to over enthusiasm. With 50 test hundreds and 46 ODI centuries this forgotten commentator has been proved right as it is surely inevitable now.

    With age forcing the decline of other leading players in the game such as Ponting and Dravid, it is not only Sachin’s amount of runs but also his longevity and fitness which should be praised as the little Indian appears to simply get better with age. We believe there is no reason why he can’t go on for another two or three years, in which time it is conceivable that he might end up with close to 120 international hundreds. Certainly we imagine there would be fairly short odds on him reaching 60 test hundreds.

  • From one all time great to another. Jacques Kallis scored 201 not out in South Africa’s one sided game against the Indians over the weekend. Remarkably it was his 38th test match century, yet only his  first double which is an oddity in itself.

    In our eyes he is undoubtedly South Africa’s finest cricketer ever and, perhaps extraordinarily, deserves genuine comparison to the great Sir Garry Sobers. Sobers is consistently called the finest all round cricketer ever to have played the game yet Kallis has achieved figures directly comparable to the great man, undoubtedly without the flair but certainly at a similar level of effectiveness. Well played Sir!

  • New Zealand’s Dan Vettori  has been removed from his all singing and dancing role in New Zealand cricket and been allowed to concentrate on his own game and captaining the side.

    In the turmoil and angst that is New Zealand cricket, Vettori has been a consistently world class operator and effective with ball and bat. If the Black Caps are to remain competitive on the world stage they need him to be firing and so this reduced work load can only be a good thing.

  • A brief Ashes thought now as we are pleased to see that Andy Flower has committed to keeping four bowlers for the Boxing Day test match. There is talk of ‘resting’ Finn and playing either Bresnan or Shahzad in a similar way to which Greg Chappell apparently said Mitchell Johnson was ‘rested for the Adelaide test’. Pure rubbish as anyone can see – if you are removed from the side you are dropped – there is no two ways about it.

    For all his woes at Perth Finn still picked up some crucial wickets and is the leading wicket taker in the series on either side. Leave him in, give him some confidence and he will grow in stature as a test match bowler. We personally don’t mind him leaking a few runs if he is taking wickets.

    If a change is required though, please let it be Shahzad who comes in rather than Bresnan…

  • We feel a little dirty for mentioning this competition – being as it is not one of our favourite developments in world cricket – but the IPL announced their rosters from which sides could pick. The top reserve price is $400,000 and is the level in which such luminaries as KP, Yuvraj Singh, Adam Gilchrist, Dan Vettori and Chris Gayle sit.

    Included in any IPL list for the first time and sitting pretty in this top bracket at the age of 41 and after four years of no cricket was Brian Lara. When his possible signing for Surrey was mooted earlier this year we wrote then that we thought it was a bad idea and we haven’t changed our mind now.

    The problem when legends make come backs is that they rarely enhance their previous reputations. We remember Lara as the mercurial flashing blade that won numerous test matches for the West Indies single handedly. We don’t want to remember him scratching around for 20 off 20 balls in an over hyped domestic competition.

Thoughts on the above?

A Newfound Love of 20/20

9 05 2010

Its official. The Compulsive Hooker has been converted to 20/20 cricket. We still retain our cricketing purists natural bent towards test cricket, but right from the start this tournament has been captivating and most importantly a genuine contest.

With the Super 8’s stage well under way, there are, by our reckoning, 7 teams still in with a chance of reaching the knock-out stage, current world champions Pakistan being the only ones likely to be going home. Yet even their fate is not completely decided as if they win their last game well and England beat the Kiwis there is still an outside chance. Extraordinarily England are currently the only team looking certain to qualify for the semi’s, which considering their travails in the group stage is unlikely.

Of the others Australia, typically, have looked an awesome unit. Their fielding has been better than any other teams, with their catching in particular superb. In this shortened form of the game, fielding takes on an added significance. A half chance taken, or direct hit to effect a run out can be crucial in stopping a batting sides momentum and it is interesting that the one side looking likely to go home, Pakistan, have dropped a large number of chances.

The Aussie game plan, like the South African one, revolves mainly around pace bowling. In Nannes, Tait and Johnson they have genuinely fast and intimidating bowlers, which so far in this tournament is paying dividends. This is then backed up by a level of hitting ability which is unusual in 20/20 cricket, Warner, Watson, the two Husseys and Cameron White all having their moments. Warner in particular, much as we don’t like the idea of a cricketer focused on 20/20 cricket, does seem to have been fashioned particularly for the shortest form of the game. His ability to hit more or less any type of ball for six is extraordinary. The Aussies have a genuine chance to win the tournament, although of course being English fans we will be hoping they come unstuck somewhere along the line!

South Africa, similarly to the Aussies have been relying on the pace of Morne Morkel and the, until last night, devastating Dale Steyn. To watch these two reduce Afghanistan to 32-8 was as awesome as it was sad for the Afghani’s. The fairy tale came to an abrupt end under the pace, bounce and swing of these two brilliant bowlers. Yet, as David Lloyd pointed out on the commentary during last nights England vs South Africa game, the Proteas are like a school yard bully. Tough and domineering until you take the fight to them and stick it up their noses instead, at which point they are wont to fold. Last night Kevin Pietersen, Craig Kieswetter and briefly Paul Collingwood and Eoin Morgan demonstrated exactly how to play a South African team.

England, using a more balanced method of attack having brought in Yardy who bowled his left arm tweakers very effectively, look like (and it worries us to write it in case we jinx them) the real deal. For the first time in our cricketing memory an England limited overs team looks like a genuine contender for the title. Michael Lumb and Craig Kieswetter must be praised for their positivity at the top of the order, as despite neither having made a major contribution, the fast scoring starts have been crucial, allowing England’s high class middle order of KP, Collingwood and Morgan to come in and dictate terms.

Of the others, India cannot be written off although their bowling looks a little lightweight. India have also never been the best fielding side in the world and this was illustrated against the Australians in the Super 8 stage perfectly. The number of times Australian batsman sneaked two runs to an Indian boundary fielder was astonishing.

Sri Lanka, touted as the potential winners by the Compulsive Hooker prior to the tournament, have had an up and down couple of weeks. The one constant though has been Jayawardene whose peerless batting has made him the leading run scorer in the tournament. As long as he keeps firing there is no reason they shouldn’t progress to the semi finals as they have the requisite quality in all disciplines. Similarly to Sri Lanka, New Zealand have also had a mixed bag of results and probably need to beat England on Tuesday to qualify. Difficult to write off in any situation, we do feel however that the Super 8’s will be as far as it goes for this gutsy team.

West Indies, the host nation, are struggling and to our eyes look to mercurial to really threaten the more clinical teams at the tournament. Their batting hasn’t really fired and their bowling, like India’s does not look particularly threatening. All is not lost although they will have to win their next two games to have a chance. As they have tournament heavy weights Australia and India to come, we feel it unlikely that they will progress.

The most captivating thing of all, though, is that this tournament has shown that if you have good bowling attacks, 20/20 cricket can be a genuine battle between ball and bat. Watching Pietersen’s battles with Dale Steyn last night was brilliantly exciting. Some balls beating the bat, others travelling great distances and crucially one not dominating the other. Whilst there have still been a high number of sixes hit (particularly by Warner and Watson), unlike the extended slog fest of the IPL, they have been interspersed by periods where the ball has been difficult to get away and this factor alone has meant that the tournament as a whole has kept our interest.

A Proper 20/20 Tournament: World Cup 2010

28 04 2010

With only two days before the World 20/20 cup gets under way, the Compulsive Hooker thought we would take a look at what we think might happen. It is unlikely that any predictions we make will come off as our track record in this sort of thing is usually appalling.

Contrary to what regular readers might think (and to tell the truth it has surprised us too), we are actually quite excited by this tournament. For us this competition is likely to be what every 20/20 tournament, and indeed any cricket tournament, should be with the focus going entirely on the cricket itself. The IPL of course from a cricketing point of view had its moments, yet it is irrevocably sullied in our eyes by the never ending circus and incredible levels of marketing surrounding it, not to mention the alleged misbehaviour behind the scenes.

With match fixing, or more recently spot fixing, firmly back in the limelight it is crucial for crickets image that this tournament passes by without this particular shadow being cast over it. 20/20 cricket is a game which in many ways lends itself to match fixing, as in the shorter form of the game a wicket or a bad over has a larger significance than in other forms. With less money flying around in the Caribbean, and therefore less temptation to indulge in these nefarious practises, hopefully we can have a controversy free tournament.

And so on to the cricket.

Group D

England: Touted as undercooked by their coach and several pundits in the media, we have a sneaky suspicion that now they have got rid of Mr. Trott at the top of the order, England may surprise a few people. Collingwood and Morgan are key in our opinion, with the Durham man probably one of the single most important players to his team in the whole tournament. With West Indian pitches a far cry from the pacey tracks of old, Swann certainly and perhaps Tredwell could also be important in taking the pace off the ball.
Prediction: Semi’s

Ireland: Having lost their best players in Joyce and Morgan to England, this could be a tough tournament for the Irish. Talking a good game behind the scenes, yet recent results haven’t gone their way and they look limited, particularly in the batting. If the O’Brien brothers don’t fire there is not a great deal else with the greatest of respect to skipper Porterfield who is perhaps more of a 4 day player.
Prediction: Fail to qualify from group stages.

West Indies: Who knows quite honestly! If Gayle and Pollard fire then anything is possible and with the benefit of home support, perhaps this could be there year. On the other hand they are just as likely to lose to Ireland and fail to qualify at all. There is a backbone of quality there with Chanderpaul and Sarwan also being destructive players in this format, yet we worry about them! New coach Ottis Gibson needs a good tournament after their travails against Zimbabwe recently. After Afghanistan, we will be supporting the West Indies as it would be a wonderful boost for cricket in this region.
Prediction: Knocked out at Super 8’s stage.

Group C

Afghanistan: We have detailed their rise on this site before and it is truly one of the most inspiring stories to come out of that war torn country. (Click here and particularly here for more on this). With undoubted talent in their ranks and confidence overflowing it is not a totally far fetched proposition that they could beat one of India or South Africa. Officially the Compulsive Hooker’s favourite team in the tournament, we will be covering their every move.
Prediction: We would like to say Super 8’s but out head tells us that India and the Proteas will be too strong. Lets hope not.

India: As at the last tournament, they go in as odds on favourites and have bags and bags of talent. With Sachin at the top of the order and class acts such as Raina, Gambhir, and Yuvraj Singh it is truly a batting line up to give opposing bowlers nightmares. The bowling however is relatively weak and will be relying on the batting to win them games. Under the huge pressure of expectation as always, we feel that this could be their year.
Prediction: Finalists

South Africa: Crickets perennial chokers have as good a chance as anyone in this years tournament. With quality throughout their ranks and in all departments (providing they get rid of JP Duminy), they should provide India  with genuine competition for top place in the group stages. Look out for Kallis to continue his IPL run scoring antics and prove to everyone that he is not the one dimensional player of legend. Loots Bosman could also be key on as a big hitting opener.
Prediction: Semis

Group B

New Zealand: Solid performers in 20/20 cricket, they are the only people to have beaten Australia this Summer down under in any form of the game. If McCullum and Taylor come off more than once, Oram and Bond stays fit and Vettori continues to weave his magic spells, then they have a real chance. Strength in depth is not their forte, they could suffer if one of these five get injured. Unlike some other sides, the Kiwis will be looking to win matches with their bowling for which Shane Bond in particular is crucial. Probably one of the best fast bowlers of the past 15 years, it is a crying shame he has not played more. As cricket fans it is important to enjoy watching him while he’s fit.
Prediction: Could easily win it, but we are going to go for the Kiwis to be knocked out at the Super 8 stage.

Sri Lanka: Another dark horse with high levels of innate quality that could see them all the way. Sangakarra, Jayawardene and the evergreen Jayasuriya they have plenty of runs in them. Look out for Dilshan and his famous ‘scoop’ shot, though, as in the past year he has lost little in comparison to Sehwag, which is saying something. Murali will keep it tight although it is more than likely that, like India, they will be relying on their batsman to win them games.
Prediction: Winners. Big call but we have to pick someone!

Zimbabwe: Fresh off a brilliant win against Australia last night in the warm up games, and having taken a couple of wins of the West Indies recently, they should not be underestimated. Tiny Tatenda Taibu, Hamilton Masakadza and newly signed county overseas player Elton Chigumbura will be the most valuable players in this side. Andy Blignaut has recently come back into the side after a self imposed exile and will be keen to make up for lost time too.
Prediction: Sadly they having picked the other two sides from this group to go through we must say they will exit at the group stage. Don’t be surprised if they manage to pull something off though.

Group A

Australia: Australia are coming off an exceptional home Summer, only having lost to the Kiwis in any form of cricket. A very effective unit with big hitting capabilities in the shape of David Warner, Shane Watson amongst others, they will be very hard to beat. The bowling is strong with Doug Bollinger in particular looking like he will be a real handful. Johnson too will be a threat, although he is the type of bowler that could end with figures of 3-42 from four overs as easily as not. Look out for Dirk Nannes and (even though we hate to say it) Nathan Bracken too.
Prediction: We hope first round exit, but we think it will be Super 8 stages. Equally it would be typically Australian to go and win the whole thing, yet we have picked the Sri Lankans for that so Super 8’s it is!

Bangladesh: A side that despite having a number of talented players, never quite seem to perform all at the same time. We suspect this could be a tough tournament for Bangladesh unless Tamim Iqbal fires regularly. Shakib will provide control on the bowling side of things, yet in a tough group we feel it will be too much.
Prediction: Group stage exit.

Pakistan: Last years champions and as dangerous a team as you could find on their day, we however feel they will struggle in this years tournament. In fighting has been rife and with several important players banned/retired in a fit of pique, this could be a tricky tournament. ‘Boom Boom’ Afridi captains and remains key to their progress, providing of course he doesn’t get hungry again….
Prediction: Super 8’s. Inconsistency to let them down.

Hallelujah! The IPL Has Finished!

25 04 2010

Finally. The IPL has come to an end, with a comfortable victory for Chennai Super Kings over Sachin Tendulkars Mumbai Indians, despite Kieron Pollard’s best efforts. No more ‘DLF Maximums’ (sixes), no more MRF Blimp camera shots, no more ‘Karbon Kamal Catches’ and, thank god, no more Lalit Modi.

Readers of this website will know that our feelings towards the IPL are not entirely positive, however we have been forced to admit that the closing stages of this tournament have been both compelling and quite honestly an excellent sporting spectacle. Despite the ridiculously annoying advertising and the quite extraordinarily bad and inane commentary, the cricket has shone through and our worries about the lack of balance between bat and ball have been assuaged somewhat.

The old saying that cricket is a batsman’s game rather than a bowlers has always applied to a certain degree. This is, though, a misleading impression of cricket with the best matches and series always involving a balance between crickets two major disciplines. During the final three games of the IPL (excluding the 3rd place play-off), the balance was restored somewhat with some exceptional bowling performances in the end providing the difference. Doug Bollinger and Muralitharan’s efforts for Chennai Super Kings probably did more to ensure they won than any other player throughout the tournament as a whole.

Regarding the final itself, in the end it was a fairly simple victory for CSK. The classic cricketing adage that ‘catches win matches’ has never been proved more apt with Mumbai Indians dropping at least three, two of them coming from the bat of Raina who ensured that CSK made a competitive total. Once it was MI’s turn to bat they hardly helped themselves with Kieron Pollard being demoted to 8 in the order with Harbhajan Singh of all people promoted to 3. Singh was LBW playing a horrible tail enders poke for 1, before Pollard threatened to do the impossible and drag the MI’s back into the game.

Some time ago we picked 5 young players we thought could excel over the next ten years and some of you were surprised to see Pollard amongst those listed. Some of his shots tonight (and indeed throughout the tournament) have been breathtaking, amply demonstrating his innate talent. One 6 in particular off Doug Bollinger, pulled over long on’s head for a total distance of 107 metres, was quite simply one of the most amazing shots we have ever seen. That it came on the second ball he faced makes it all the more incredible. We hope that Pollard can transfer these abilities to the first class and test match arena in time as it would be a crying shame if the West Indies lost such a talent to 20/20’s sirens call.

We are not quite done with the 20/20 circus yet as the ICC’s World Cup 20/20 competition is kicking off on the 30th of April in the West Indies. The Compulsive Hooker is actually looking forward to this as due to Lalit Modi not being in charge, we can go back to calling a six a six amongst other things and let the cricket do the talking. A preview of this tournament will be published in the coming days with our picks of who might have a chance.

A Legend Returns

18 04 2010

Very surprising news has surfaced this weekend, with the announcement that Brian Lara will be signing for Surrey to play in their 20/20 campaign this Summer. This news has elicited mixed reactions from us at the Compulsive Hooker, with excitement at seeing the great man play once more mingling with concern that he will tarnish his enormous reputation.

Lara, although he seems to be a player from very recent cricketing history, is actually a dinosaur in that he came from the pre 20/20 cricketing age. Having played his last test match in 2006, he missed the explosion in popularity of 20/20 cricket in the game by only a short while, and now being almost 41, it will be interesting to see how he goes. During his pomp Lara was a breathtaking player, having the ability to hit good balls almost anywhere that he wanted when set, and like the current greats of Tendulkar, Sehwag, Kallis etc, surely he would have been a masterful exponent of the shortest form of the game. The prospect of him seeing him play 20/20 is therefore potentially a mouth watering one.

Lara himself is always going to be the best judge as to whether a comeback is a good idea or not, and we hope for his sake that he is making the correct decision. There are many examples of legends returning to their chosen sport, only to see it go wrong. Possibly a current example unfolding before our eyes is Michael Schumacher’s attempts in Formula 1, although he does have the mitigating factor of an arguably less good car than his rivals. Lara, on the other hand, can hardly blame his bat if he doesn’t score any runs….


There have been a host of strange overseas signings in the past few weeks, Lara being just one of them. At least with the great man you can at least partially understand the logic. Other signings include Elton Chigumbura of Zimbabwe who is going to Northamptonshire and Tino Best of the West Indies who has signed for Yorkshire. Chigumbura is known probably only to the most avid of international cricket followers, and to tell the truth is a handy cricketer, one of the few who regularly pull Zimbabwe out of the doldrums with a fighting 60 from numbr 7 or 8, yet we are doubtful he has the quality to be a star overseas player. Tino Best of course is known mostly, not from any exploits with ball in hand, but from being ‘sledged’ out by Freddie Flintoff in a test match at Lords. Flintoff’s ‘mind the windows, Tino’ winding the Barbadian up so much he was promptly dismissed.

Admittedly the IPL and Indian board’s intransigent and slightly, it appears, revengeful attitude to the ECB’s decision to not alter the County Championship schedule so it does not clash with the 20/20 Champions League, mean that perhaps there are less high quality players available. Yet, it seems to us, a sad indictment of our County Game when players such as these are being signed. Surely Yorkshire and Northamptonshire have homegrown players who, at least, have the potential to be as good as these two?

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