The Edge DVD Review

Do you dream of being an international cricketer?

Then this film probably isn’t for you!

The 90 minute piece taps into the minds of England cricketers past and present, mostly past as it focuses on England’s rise to number one earlier this decade.

There’s some artsy shots of Jonathan Trott in a sun laden field and later a dark cityscape provides a stark contrast. Trott also frolicks under water and like Kevin Pietersen and Steven Finn, opens up about the travails of being an England cricketer. There are of course those who will shut down these privileged souls bemoaning their hard lives. No they’re not down a pit but their work is dangerous, at times unsavoury and results in lots of time away from family but in the company of people that you might not even get along with!

Monty Panesar pops up too as do many others including ex-coach Andy Flower. A pre-Ashes trip to Bavaria gets a lot of focus as does, as already touched upon, the state of mind. The Edge is not all ‘Happy as Larry’ bat ‘n’ ball tales! If you followed England during the featured era then this is essential viewing.

The Edge scores… 78

Can Notts Take any Moores?

To look at Nottinghamshire’s team, it’s hard to fathom that they’ve failed to win any of seven County Championship matches this season.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/county-championship-division-one/table

They’ve got genuine young talent in Matthew Carter, the recently acquired Ben Duckett and coach Peter Moores’ son Tom behind the stumps. They also posses proven internationals like Stuart Broad and James Pattinson, granted they may not play every game. In addition they have thoroughly decent county pros, the likes of Chris Nash, Steven Mullaney and Luke Fletcher. Not to mention Samit Patel and Jake Ball! But they’re bottom of the County Championship and sometimes struggling to post 100 let alone 200. Is their coach to blame? Twice England coach Peter Moores wasn’t Kevin Pietersen’s cup of tea and didn’t have a glittering career let alone an international one. We’ll save ourselves the trouble of listing great sporting coaches who hadn’t had amazing playing careers mind. Let’s not forget that Moores has coached two separate counties to County Championship success and basically in two separate eras.

Perversely, defending champions Surrey, led by England great Alec Stewart are also winless. Yes they’ve had injuries and lost players to both England and the IPL but they’ve still fielded a near full international side (Burns, Elgar, Foakes, Meaker, Morkel etc) sprinkled with high quality young players such as Ryan Patel. Don’t forget the wise old heads of Rikki Clarke and Gareth Batty in amongst those international players either. Though not as successful or prolonged at international level as they would’ve liked they are serious contributors at domestic level.

So what’s going wrong?

This is where I should summarise and explain why but… who knows? I certainly don’t. What do you think I am? Some sort of cricket expert!

What are your thoughts on how two such talented teams have failed to win in thirteen matches between them in 2019?

Could Selectors Call-up KP?

No no, I’m not expecting and England recall for a one Mr Pietersen but whilst the batsman that Australia have selected for their Test team were floundering in a tour match against Sri Lanka, the one that they didn’t pick, Kurtis Patterson, amassed 259 runs (157 not out & 102 not out) without being dismissed!

Unlike KP2, the hugely exciting Jhye Richardson has been called up to Australia’s Test team. This move comes following injury to Josh Hazlewood. Richardson caught my eye in the Big Bash a couple of seasons ago and has been mightily impressive in international white-ball cricket recently.

Despite Richardson’s promise, with a World Cup and Ashes tour ahead, Australia will have serious concerns regarding the fragility of their bowling line-up… let alone their batting!

Antarctic T20 Ice Blast! (Silly Point Ultra-Exclusive Story!)

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Cricket’s administrators recently proposed suggestions to help preserve Test cricket. This was in part due to the potential risk of some billionaire creating yet another global T20 franchise tournament and stealing players. Well those moves may have come too late because an unnamed mogul is rumoured to be ready to inject millions into the launching of a new T20 competition. The Antarctic Ice Blast is believed to be prepped for launch as early and appropriately as 2020. Like the identity of the league’s founder, the potential franchise owners remain unknown though TV’s Jon Snow, former Netherlands footballer Arron Winter and New Zealand cricketer Tim Southee are all rumoured to have put down a deposit. Silly Point has however seen the names of the proposed teams and they are as follows:

Bentley Subglacial Trench EmperorsLake Vostok LakersMcMurdo Station PinnipedsMount Erebus MountaineersOnyx River NematodesRiiser-Larsen Ice Shelf IcefishRoss Island Seals and Vinson Massif Explorers.

Englishmen Samit Patel, Ravi Bopara and Joe Denly are all rumoured to have signed up for the inaugural draft as is Test captain Joe Root. There is even a suggestion that recently retired Kevin Pietersen may come out of retirement for one last Blast. English players are perceived to be a vital addition to the franchises because of their experience of playing in cold conditions. Northerners in particular, players from the likes of Durham, Yorkshire and Lancashire are particularly sought after. Franchise owners are rumoured to have been dialling the mobile numbers of Steve Harmison, Darren Gough and Andrew Flintoff in audacious bids to lure the former England trio out of retirement.

West Indies’ Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard, Indian skipper Virat Kohli, Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi, Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan and Australia’s Michael Klinger as well as former national skipper Steve Smith, are also rumoured to have put their names forward for the first draft. With Silly Point having seen exclusive advertising, we can advise that former Italy all-rounder Gareth Berg has already emerged as the league’s poster boy. Soon it’ll be hard to move around London Underground, Sydney Business District or the streets of Mumbai without seeing Berg’s flop of blond hair, his arms folded, in front of a mass of ice and a set of stumps… made of ice! That’s right, they’ll be replaced every time they’re broken or maybe they’re unbreakable ice!

It’s understood that the Blast’s benefactor is willing to contribute funds towards the building of renewable energy laden environmentally friendly stadiums for each franchise. These stadiums will have both training and accommodation facilities as well as purpose built wickets. Retractable roofs will come as standard.

Again, Silly Point has gained exclusive access to information and the names of the stadiums are set to be as follows:

Bentley Ballpark, Vostok Park, McMurdo Station, Erebus Arena, Onyx Bowl, Riiser-Larsen Cricket Ground (RLCG), Ross Dome and Vinson Field

The league’s creator is also set to launch their own airline, Antarctic Fantastic Air, to assist fans when travelling to matches.

Some in the cricket world are sceptical regarding the prospect of yet another T20 league in an already congested calendar, about the less than desirable cricket weather and how exactly fans will attach themselves to a team. For some though this is seen an excellent advert for spreading the global appeal of the game. Given the reduction of teams at the 2019 ODI World Cup, many cricket lovers as well as administrators are delighted to see cricket venture into an untapped market. The ICC are already lining up Antarctica as host for both an ODI World Cup and T20 World Cup as well as Champions Trophy venue post 2030.

One frustrating thing about the proposed tournament is that it’s expected to be played out behind a TV pay wall. Rumours are that the competition will have its own channel and will cost a one-off fee of around £250.00 before requiring subscribers to enter a 20 digit code followed by another 20 digit code on their remote control. Pommie Mbangwa, Michael Slater and everybody’s favourite insighter Graeme Swann, are tipped to be among the commentary and punditry team. Instagram and Dave are believed to have exclusive rights to highlights packages whilst if you sign up with the league founder’s rumoured planned new mobile phone company, Antarctic Connexions Mobile, you can gain exclusive access to almost immediate video wicket alerts! Continuing on the screen front, renowned film maker Werner Herzog is set to return to Antarctica and shoot a documentary about the competition’s inception, infancy and general learning to walk.

With some international teams still reluctant to travel to Pakistan for security reasons, Pakistan are rumoured to have already enquired about the possibility of playing home matches there following some disappointing results in UAE conditions. English county side Hampshire are said to be extremely frustrated to have missed out to Antarctica as an English Test venue. Because of the technicalities of Antarctic ownership, it’s understood that all nations could potentially play home games in Antarctica if they wish. Boyd Rankin, Ed Joyce and Johan Botha are believed to have already relocated to the southern continent in order to meet residency requirements ahead of rumoured bids to join the Antarctic national team. Peter Moores is slated as coach… slated, he will be if results don’t go too well! Essex are believed to have enquired about whether players, hell just people, could join them on Kolpak deals as soon as this summer.

Silly Point is delighted to present this exclusive story to you and will keep our loyal followers abreast of any further developments.

Archer’s Eligibility?

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England were missing an all-rounder during the Ashes, somebody who could have made significant contributions with both bat and ball, somebody who has been playing in that region this winter. No not Ben Stokes, Sussex’s Jofra Archer.

I’ve held off writing an article regarding Archer’s eligibility whilst I tried to research and understand it but I don’t so here we go anyway!

Barbados born Archer’s father is English yet he won’t be eligible to represent England until 2022. Of course Kevin Pietersen’s mother was English and he had to live and work in England in order to qualify to play international cricket for his mother’s country. Football is a different sport but the likes of Wilfried Zaha and Alex Iwobi seem to have been able to switch/choose allegiance on a whim. When Jamaica rocked up at the 1998 World Cup in France with a load of Englishmen, had Robbie Earle and Deon Burton etc had to reside and work in the Caribbean for years before pulling on the Reggae Boyz jersey? Did Danny Higginbotham and the rest have to live in Gibraltar before playing for their national football team? Did they already have Gibraltar passports or walk straight in based on their parents or grandparents? Chris Birchall anybody… there are many examples but football is different and seems to have varying criteria.

It really annoys me that players like Ryan Campbell (Australia/Hong Kong) and Luke Ronchi (Australia/New Zealand) have played international cricket for more than one nation. I thoroughly accept though that the world is constantly evolving and the determination of nationality needs to be more fluid and flexible than may have been the case at previous times in history. I doubt Nat Sciver considers herself Japanese and whilst the West Indies may not like it, why shouldn’t Bajan Archer be able to play for England now?

There’s a whole can of worms to be opened here. Mahela Jayawardene is able to play in England as a non-overseas player because of EU laws and the fact that his wife is Danish! My wife’s French, our daughter has two passports so am I correct in saying that she could play football for France immediately but not cricket… though a call-up for a one-year-old is admittedly unlikely either way!

Archer lives and works in England, he’s got an English parent and seems to be under the impression himself that he has ‘English residency’. He’s not classed an overseas player when he’s turning out for Sussex. So why can’t he play for England immediately???

Unnecessary Umpires?

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Do we actually need umpires, on-field ones at least?

My nephew plays Ultimate (Don’t call it frisbee!) and they don’t use umpires.

I think that it was Kevin Pietersen who hinted at such, that on-field umpires needn’t call no-balls but a third umpire in the box complete with screen could simply add the run to the score, a notification could come up on the big screen and the players could refer to the scoreboard to know if there was still a delivery remaining in the over.

Umpires get some stick for making the wrong call but how can you possibly check for a no-ball with your head facing down then look up and keep up with a ball being bowled in excess of 90mph? You’re head is bound to not always be straight and therefore not in line with the stumps. There are those that say umpires didn’t get these decisions wrong in the past but the truth is that video replays weren’t there to challenge that assumption.

In regards to run out calls, these often tend to go the big screen anyway. Even when it doesn’t seem a close call, there’s often a check as to whether the wicketkeeper has dislodged the bails legitimately.

In terms of general decision making such as LBWs and caught behinds, not having on-field umpires could quite possibly bring a batsman’s integrity to the fore. Obviously we currently have DRS implemented with a cap but if a batsman knows that the decision is going to the screen for everybody to see then if he or she knows they’re out, they might realise that the sensible thing to do is to walk.

Like playing, umpiring is not easy. Standing in excessive heat, having to concentrate for 600 deliveries a day with TV stations across the globe analysing and criticising your decision making is almost like being a player but without the glory for doing your job well.

In baseball, I believe that they have a central hub for decision making. The third umpire or their equivalent are in a studio possibly miles away.

Could we have this set-up for county or franchise matches that are being played simultaneously?

It may be felt that the appeal, that a bowler turning and pleading to an umpire may be lost from the game but as it stands that umpire’s decision is going to be questioned anyway. If a team really wants to appeal, their captain could use the current standard signal or even push a button on some sort or wristband that notifies that particular matches designated umpire at the central hub. The decision then comes up on the big screen for all (Players and spectators) to see. In terms of time taken out of the game we can tie this into unnecessary breaks in play and these being eradicated from the game e.g. a batsman should not be allowed to change his gloves or any equipment unless it’s broken during a session or you’re only allowed a drink during an official drinks break. This is possibly an article in itself. I have a habit of doing that, writing an article that spawns another!

There are lots of intricacies to the game of cricket but checks for height related no-balls and dismissals off them are amongst other things, elements of the game that with a little polishing, could all be done by in-studio umpires without stemming the flow of the game too much.

Like many walks of life, technology is putting people’s livelihoods at risk. In this case tech and the human mind could work together. Umpires would still be needed if not actually on the field.

Score Assumptions and Naivety in Sport

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Don’t worry, my review of Roy Morgan’s Real International Cricket will soon be with you. I’m about half way through it. As previously advised, the font size is about 8 so please be patient, it’ll be with you as soon as I’ve read through all 280 pages.

On Page 114 when detailing a match between Malaya and Commonwealth XI, Morgan writes as follows:

“Marshall mis-hit Gurucharan to the long-off boundary, only for Navaratnam to drop the catch with the team score at 126. Four runs later, Baig mis-read the spin of Delilkan and steered the ball to short fine leg where, again. Navaratnam failed to take the catch. What could have been 130-3 went on to become 175-1”.

I have some issues with this statement but please let me be clear. This is in no way a dig at Roy Morgan. His book is, for a cricket tragic like me, an absurdly detailed piece of work that I’ll dedicate a whole article too, as soon as I’ve completed what is currently a throughly enjoyable read.

Let’s assume that Marshall had been caught by Navaratnam. Then Kanhai would have joined Baig at the crease with the score 126-2. At this point, we can’t assume that four runs later Baig will mis-read the spin of Delilkan. Even if in reality, the drop was to the last delivery of the over then Baig struck a four before being dropped, just the fact that Kanhai would have walked to the crease would have changed the whole flow of the game. Even if Baig did then hit four, it wouldn’t have been the same four as if when Marshall was at the crease and the likelihood of Delilkan bowling exactly the same ball as he actually did is extremely unlikely. Just a few millimetres difference in either line or length would change the trajectory of the ball and the decision making of the batsman. If indeed Marshall had been caught then everybody that followed might have been out first ball and Commonwealth XI would have been all out for 126 but had Kanhai come in at that point then maybe he and Baig would have both made double hundreds in a partnership of four hundred plus!

Forgive me in committing the ultimate sin on a cricket blog but I’m going to refer to football.

The score of a match is 0-0. A team misses three great chances then the other team scores and wins 1-0. The commentator says “It would have been 3-1 if the other team had put away their chances”. That is the sort of thing you’ll here a commentator or reporter say.

But could it have been 3-1?

Possibly, it’s not an overly obscure scoreline but it’s unlikely. Say the team that lost 1-0 had actually scored their first chance. Well then the next passage of play would have been kick-off not a goal kick or just the continuation of open play as actually happened. From that variation the rest of the game would play out completely, yes completely differently. The same passes, the same shots, the same everything would not have happened. It may be that from the kick off the other team equalised then the match goes on to finish 2-2.

Every little thing changes the course of everything. Just like when you got in your car, ummed and ahed about whether to change the CD, did so, missed the green light by half a second then that driver rear-ended you.

Shane Warne dropped Kevin Pietersen in 2005. If he’d held that chance then maybe Australia would have won the Ashes but maybe England just wouldn’t have lost another wicket and won anyway. I could go on forever but what I’m getting at is that a lot of people, including professional observers of sport just don’t understand that after every goal, dropped catch or misfield etc, the whole passage of play from that point onwards is different. Different batsman of different ability under different pressure of different hand, some who glance at the scorecard more than others or run quicker than others come to the crease.

Sport is not simple. Never assume.