James Astill: The Great Tamasha Book Review

As with Peter Oborne’s A History of Cricket in Pakistan, when reading James Astill’s The Great Tamasha, not only do you learn about cricket but the country as a whole.

Firstly, let’s get the criticism out of the way. Occasionally Astill dismisses the careers of some domestic players whose batting averages weren’t particularly lofty. Whilst he draws attention to the fact that many players were presented with opportunities that they didn’t merit, one or two mentioned deserve a little more respect. There are ranges in people’s abilities in all walks of life and not every batsman in Indian domestic cricket can average north of sixty.

Moving on, what rings true in Astill’s work is that he’s clearly immersed himself in local culture. He’s lived and breathed the streets, slums and cricket fields of India and not just the tourist spots. Astill performed many interviews with folk who are or were involved in the game at all levels of the cricket spectrum. It is interesting to have read this book five or six years since publication. The IPL is clearly still very much part of the cricket calendar even though there was great uncertainty and controversy during and before the time of writing.

Lalit Modi courts a lot of page time as do the owners of the IPL franchises. Astill’s explanations of why Indian’s watch cricket and their reasons for doing so are particularly insightful.

For enthusiastic fans of the global game, this is essential reading and scores…

84 not out

Cricket 19: What Will You Do?

Cricket 19 will be with us in May… May!

Check out the teaser trailer below…

It leaves you wanting more doesn’t it?

Big Ant’s fourth attempt at a cricket game will hopefully be their most polished yet.

Don Bradman Cricket 14, its follow up in 17 and Ashes Cricket all had their qualities but far too often steps forward were compromised by as many steps back.

What do you intend to do on Cricket 19?

A career mode as yourself or maybe a family member or celebrity. I’d love to do some career modes as my daughters. I’ve got one down for left-arm spin and the other as a right-hander, maybe a modern-day attacking batter.

Maybe you’ll create some leagues. I’ll be revisiting my Test league as England. I don’t think that I’ll over do it with the number of teams and might keep white-ball cricket for some separate triangular tournaments. You know I love a good triangular!

Maybe you’ll find some unlikely heroes. Adam Lyth’s 120 in an ODI against Nepal will live with me forever!!!

Who will you hand out international caps too?

As the anticipation builds, be sure to look out for my match reports and reviews coming soon.

Failing to Find Fifty!

When I started writing this blog, I anticipated that I’d share my playing experiences with you but in truth my career has somewhat petered out.

I didn’t take up the game until quite late, about seventeen or eighteen. I had early success with the ball complimented by some steady progress with the bat. Figures of 6-25 would remain a career best but there would be back-to-back four-wicket hauls for the second XI, even if they did straddle two different seasons. Unfortunately, playing for the second XI usually meant that if I bowled one bad over then I didn’t get to turn my arm over again for a whole fortnight. Couple that with batting at ten or eleven, ie: basically not batting for two years or with little to gain when I did and the sum total is that I was ruined as a cricketer. I should stress that I’m talking about the lowest regions of an amateur league in Yorkshire with many many divisions.

When sent back to the third XI, I reinvented myself as a stoic opening batsman and managed to occupy the crease for all of forty overs or more on more than one occasion. Despite being able to find the boundary, there’d be more dots beside my name in the scorebook than your average dot-to-dot. I’d struggle to score at, on average, more than one run per over. An innings of 47 from all of 43.1 overs, last man out having opened and top scored by far was as good as it ever got. Had I actually managed to execute the shot that brought about my dismissal as intended, the ball would have rolled down the hill for four and with it a maiden fifty. A few weeks later in a run-chase, I scored an unusually quickfire 26 in an opening fifty stand before being absurdly caught and bowled, only to get demoted in the order the following week. Soon I’d find myself scheduled to bat at eleven and not bowling, so traipsed off to find another hobby… and some lovely holidays in Scotland and Ireland.

After a couple of years in the wilderness (The actual New Zealand and Australian wilderness), I returned to find that the 2005 Ashes effect had turned division seven into Test match cricket. Kids who had been inspired by England before the death of cricket on terrestrial television and now with a few years honing their skills under their belts were bending it like Beckham (Or Waqar) and nearly taking my ears off!

A few games into my return, I made a defiant 27, taking nearly thirty overs to do so but hinting at being able to contribute like before. I can remember the moment it all went wrong though. A duck curtesy of a gift to slip in the next game and I never recovered. There then followed a few years of being uncomfortable playing only as a batsman. Not bowling meant that I didn’t feel involved and put pressure on myself to perform solely as a batsman. When I should’ve been relaxing I tensed up instead. I’d be dismissed by old men, kids and everything in-between. My defence fell apart and the odd flirty twenty or thirty was the best that I had to offer, usually either side of a month or two of single figure scores and more ducks than at a frois gras farm!

I did improve my Twenty20 game, managing to turn those dots into singles and produced a match-winning 40 not out in a chips down run-chase but with the target attained a long dreamed of half-century remained out of reach and now seems likely to elude me forever.

Whilst amateur cricket stalwarts up and down the land prepare (Or don’t prepare!) for the 2019 village campaign, I just can’t justify all the ducks and DNBs in the hope of finally finding fifty. A wife and two kids deserve a little more attention on a Saturday afternoon. Never say never but my career best seems set in stone frustratingly three runs short of fifty on 47.

Balbirnie Journey

Nothing endears a player to me more than ineptitude and so Irish batsman Andy Balbirnie’s pair on Test debut made him an instant favourite.

With Test outings for the Shamrock side few and far between, I’m desperately hoping that cricket’s not most famous AB gets another chance to shine. In the meantime he needs to dominate domestic and international white-ball cricket. Today, he did just that…

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.newsletter.co.uk/sport/cricket/andrew-balbirnie-shines-as-ireland-beat-afghanistan-1-8835562/amp

Fingers crossed that the Dublin Dabber gets to at least double his Test cap tally and turn his batting average into an integer… oh, it could be against England, against Jimmy and co. on a seaming green Lords deck!

Disclaimer: It escaped my mind that before they take on England, Ireland play another Test in Afghanistan. It won’t be easy but it will be an opportunity for Balbirnie to get up and running.

It’s a Numbers Game

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132

New Zealand opener Jeet Raval’s maiden Test hundred scored against Bangladesh in Hamilton. Raval’s first ton at the highest level came in his 28th innings and also took him past 1000 Test runs

49-2-246-2

Bangladesh spinner Mehidy Hasan Miraz’s bowling figures in the same innings that Raval reached his maiden Test ton.

22, 5, 41, 11, 6, 6, 14, 0

Australian opener Aaron Finch’s current run of scores in ODI Cricket since a knock of 100.

16, 3, 47, 1, 0, 3, 1, 7, 27, 0, 28, 0, 8

Australian opener Aaron Finch’s current run of scores in T20I Cricket since a knock of 172.

228

Ashton Turner became Australia’s 228th ODI cricketer when he made his debut against India in the same match that Finch registered his latest failure.

6.5

Ashton Turner’s T20I batting average having registered scores of 0 (5) and DNB on his return to the side.

10074

West Indian opener Chris Gayle’s run tally in ODI Cricket following scores of 135, 50 and 162 in the series against England!

52 off 35

England spinner Liam Dawson’s batting exploits in his latest innings for Peshawar Zalmi. Perennial England fringe man Dawson is flourishing in the PSL and not for the first time.

5-85

Adil Rashid’s bowling figures in the fourth ODI against West Indies. By a full twelve runs this was the most expensive five-wicket haul in ODI history yet perversely, still a match-winning performance.

99

Michael Vaughan’s ODI shirt number and Goa’s sum total in a T20 encounter with Saurashtra earlier today.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8661/scorecard/1157201/saurashtra-vs-goa-group-c-syed-mushtaq-ali-trophy-2018-19

76, 59, 59-9, 38, 25, 86-9 = 343-58 = 5.91 runs per wicket

An extremely tough time for Kuwait’s Women in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Asia Region Qualifier. Their batting averages make for extremely grim reading…

http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/records/averages/batting_bowling_by_team.html?id=12866;team=4550;type=tournament

86-9 in their final game was their highest total though and hopefully they’ll be better for the tough experiences gained.

Cricket Captain 2018: Test Hat-trick!

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India, done! Ireland, done! Zimbabwe, done!

That’ll be three one-match Test series wins out of three then. Having previously benefited from an opposition bowler getting crippled in each of our first two Tests, this time it was ourselves who had the misfortune of going a bowler down. After an impressive World Cup, Rashid Khan finally won a Test cap but retired hurt having made 13 before even having a chance to bowl!

It mattered little though as yet again all our players contributed in one way or another. After losing both openers a little early, Nasir Khan, promoted to three after making 72 on debut, made 53 in an impressive partnership of 127 with another youngster, Waheedullah Shafaq.

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Shafaq won his Test cap on the back of impressive performances at the World Cup and went onto make 102 in his first Test innings.

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Captain Ashgar Stanikzai also picked up where he left off at the World Cup to make a national record 167. Zimbabwe spinner Graeme Cremer claimed a solitary wicket for all of 142 runs. Ouch!

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Left-arm pacer Shapoor Zadran, who after an impressive start to the World Cup failed to take a wicket in his last six matches, repaid the faith with fantastic figures of 5-30. That analysis, as well as his match figures of 6-82, were, like his skipper’s knock of 167, a new Test record for Afghanistan. He was far too hot for Zimbabwe’s cool batsmen.

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In the second innings, spin bowler Mujeeb Ur Rahman stepped up in the absence of Rashid Khan. Selected for the Test on the back of strong T20 form, Ur Rahman claimed figures of 3-31 to ensure that no batsman made forty let alone fifty in the entire match for the hosts.

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Having defeated bottom placed sides Ireland and Zimbabwe, next we set our sights on hauling ourselves above Bangladesh in the Test rankings. We also play West Indies before long and will be seeking World Cup revenge as well as Test superiority. First though are some white-ball games against the Chevrons.

Rooted!

Why is Joe Root so comfortable walking out to bat at three for England in ODI cricket but so reluctant to do so in Test cricket?

If Root were willing to operate at three in Tests, it would make it so much easier for England to accommodate a promising middle order player… or James Hildreth!

It’s the sort of inconsistency that irks me and talking of things that irk me… I wish that England were playing a Test tomorrow and Jason Roy was playing because I can’t stand all these ‘clever’ sods claiming that Roy could be our saviour in red ball cricket any longer. I CAN understand the logic if he scores over six hundred runs at the World Cup and the England management want to go with the flow but after all the talk of needing batsmen to reign in their attacking instincts, people want a feast or famine white-ball dasher who is at best a First Class number five to open in Tests against Starc, Hazlewood, Cummins and Lyon!

Oh and the Mark Wood bubble has burst already… 7-0-49-0!

Sorry, I’m being cynical (Or just joking) which is the reason why I stopped following 95% of all the other cricket blogs on WordPress!