Jimmy’s Hampshire Blog: Monday 19th May

On June 5, 2008 by

We’ve a new kit sponsor this year – Canterbury have provided some great gear so far though it must be said a fair bit of it has arrived at the last minute. We’re still short of a few bits and bobs, I’m not sure which side is the main culprit but I expect it’s a mixture of the two.

As players we get pretty spoilt with kit and equipment so we can’t really complain and I’ll be keeping a good stash for the days when I’m not so fortunate!

Canterbury’s big thing is their baselayer stuff (you know, those skin tight vests things you see worn under playing shirts) – they’re very good on the whole, I think most lads wear them instead of a t-shirt under their shirts but i still don’t understand the concept completely.

Sure, if it’s cold an extra layer must help keep you warm but the spiel that accompanies the tops saying that they can help keep you cool and regulate body temperature I can’t buy into… How can an extra layer keep you cool?

I don’t care how many boffins have backed this claim up but surely our skin does the best job going at keeping us cool? It’s been developed over thousands and thousands of years to provide the best thermo-regulation yet people are claiming a man-made top developed in probably 18 months can do the job instead… I don’t get it.

We’re only the telly tomorrow – which means half the boys will have had their hair cut today and will be in front of the mirror come 1400 tomorrow.

A word of warning – I won’t be this keen throughout the season with regard to tapping away on a computer.

Written by James Adams – LHB for Hampshire CCC

All-rounder Watson joins Aussies

On June 4, 2008 by

Shane Watson has been called up to the Aussie squad for the ODIs against the West Indies. Whilst this is terrific news for him, it is a big blow for Hampshire, who had signed Watson for the Twenty20 tournament. Watson was the player of the IPL and was part of Shane Warne’s winning squad, so his Twenty20 credentials are first rate.

Jimmy’s Hampshire Blog: Sunday – Vs. Glamorgan at the new Swalec Stadium

On June 3, 2008 by

Last night was bonkers, I know Cardiff reasonably well from previous away trips and due to my missus being a local (the future in-laws live within 20 minutes or so) but the number of people out yesterday evening was something else. I suppose a few drinks in front of the Cup Final was followed by a few more.

Benny and I wandered out of our hotel, which was right in the mixer, to find a Co-op/Spar type place for some evening snacks (generally most of us eat pretty well, the lads talk a healthy game anyway, but away trips tend to raise the ‘badness’ intake – everything in moderation don’t they say?). On our way we wander down a chip/kebab alley and it seems like half of Cardiff have descended on the little side street for a quick kofta, a magnificent sight….!

We make it unscathed to the shop and deliver a variety of ice-cream, chocolate and crisps to the lads in the hotel bar. A number of the boys haven’t packed any gear ‘accidentally on purpose’ to stop them venturing out and as a hen party, then a wedding party enter the bar, it is obvious that a few of the lads are having to use all the will-power available not to head out into the night.

Sleep like a log, the beds are amazing – I know I must have slept well as Browny is up before me and already in the shower. A decent brekkie and we’re off – the bonus of the noon starts this year is that you get to fully capitalise on the full hotel breakfast spread.

We haven’t played down this way since Sophia Gardens became the Swalec Stadium and the new developments are fantastic – the changing rooms are huge and the seating around the ground is akin to many footie stadiums. I imagine it’s an awesome place to play when there’s a full house.

Lumby warms us up and we have a close game of ‘no ball touch’ a game introduced by Shane Bond – I’d like to take some credit as I had tried to play it last season (my club played it as they had a Kiwi overseas, it’s seems to be a well known antipodean game) but it had been canned by the football-loving majority. Strangely they were less inclined to speak out against Bondy, he bowls pretty sharp apparently!

A decent enough performance sees us over the line despite a little wobble in our chase. The bowlers did a great job to restrict the Dragons and our openers get us off to flier in reply – I’m almost there at the end with Browny but get out with 14 runs required, a leading edge off a long-hop slower ball that would have been a leg-side wide… cricket was the winner!

The Glamorgan lot are always good to play against, they play hard but enjoy it and are always good for some light-hearted banter – I don’t know if it’s because i played a fair amount of cricket with a few of them in age-group stuff but they are a far better bunch than some teams you come across….

A good win though and a good upbeat feeling on the coach as we rumble home on the M4 – a quiet day tomorrow, I imagine I’ll try and practice some hitting (it’s not a strong point – an old team-mate once asked how, for someone reasonably well-built, I was only capable of ‘clothing’ the ball and nudging it behind square) but otherwise not much before Tuesday’s day-nighter. It’s on the goggle-box so here’s hoping we do ourselves justice.

Written by James Adams – LHB for Hampshire CCC

Asif held for illegal substance

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Pakistani star Mohammed Asif has spent the past 36 hours detained at Dubai International Airport. The fast bowler has been held whilst results from a substance found in his wallet.

Jimmy’s Hampshire Blog: Surrey Day 1

On June 2, 2008 by

Woke up this morning feeling pretty good, head screwed on and feeling good for a bat but get to the ground and no-one’s got any batting vibes at all… With Creepy (John Crawley) out injured, Chris Benham is welcomed back to the side – it means I now have less space to change (he’s next door in the changing-room) but this is more than made up for by his monopolising of the music-box. Benny has a pretty decent taste in music and without him, we have to put up with Gooba’s (Chris Tremlett) R&B…

Tomo (James Tomlinson) is drawn out of the hat again to do the warm-ups over the four days and, just for a change, plays football. Two touch, one touch goal and the standard is generally woeful – today the ‘no-bibs’ win easily as Tomo picks vastly unfair teams. Some good slip-catching practice is followed by a quick hit and a little trundle to loosen up – everything is running to plan until we find out that we’re in the field.

Things start well, I take a decent slip catch in the 1st over and the dismissal of Mark Ramprakash is a welcome relief but things go pear-shaped on a personal front as I give Butcher a life at 2nd slip – not too much of a headache as it was a tough chance but you expect to take them. The inner demons really kick in though as I spill a straightforward catch off Twiggy – not long into the new rock and the big man is working up a good head of steam, quick enough that the ball goes through by fingers and hits me in the chest…

There are not many worse feelings on a cricket pitch than dropping a catch and it’s always worse when you see the next ball dispatched to the boundary. You get back on the metaphorical horse and pray that the next catch sticks so you can exorcise the doubts – fortunately Saqlain pushes at one a few overs later and the ball comes to me at near-perfect height, nice pace and I see it all the way. It goes in pretty well then pops out. Kneeling on the ground, I’ve no idea how to react – scream, throw a tantrum, thump the floor a few times, in the past they were all a viable option but the only thing I manage is a muttered ‘I don’t ****ing believe it’.

The worst feeling I’ve ever experienced on the field, a feeling that I’ve really let the lads down. My fellow slippers try their best to make light of my catching debacle and a few wry smiles and some light banter helps to ease the situation a little. However my hands are now complete jelly – I dry them with some dirt before every ball but by the time the ball’s halfway down the nervous sweats have taken hold and I’m secretly praying that the ball comes nowhere near me. Fortunately it doesn’t.

To complete a horror 24 hours Ii return the next day and register an 11-ball duck. I’m not so worried by the zero or the fact I’m on a pair – it’s the complete lack of rhythm at the crease, the horrible feeling of being all at sea. For me that’s what feels like a loss of form, the lack of runs so far this year hasn’t helped but I can deal with a run shortage if I’m confident with my game; unfortunately that’s flown out of the window, hastened by the ‘Scissorhands’ issues (a term used by the lads if you’re struggling on the catching front).

The ball avoids me in the 2nd dig as slip catches home in on Chris Benham’s safe hands at 3rd – I can regroup, get some decent practice in and get a clean slate next game. Phew.

Cricket is a funny game – one of the strangest team sports in that it is probably the most individual team sport going. It’s great when things are going well but on the flipside it becomes a pretty lonely place when the chips are down. Players work hard on their games and there is often barely the time do the things you’d like to, let alone help with someone struggling with theirs. There are guys who are great at this though but it is often the case that their services are in very high demand!

Fortunately my old opening partner and away-trip room-mate, Michael Brown is in good knick at present and I’m able to get a few things off my chest by chatting to him. A good mate to chat too can work wonders and with my 2nd innings looming I’m feeling much better about things.
31 runs. It might not seem much but a huge weight I’d lifted, I feel like I can play cricket again – I’m never the world’s most fluent and this wasn’t pretty but given my state of mind 48 hours ago, I’ll take it.

We draw the game – a little disappointing as we were well placed to register a much-needed win. We’re on the bus to Cardiff, no doubt I’ll be rooming with Browny – our room should be a happy place, he’s in good knick and playing a rare game of one-day cricket tomorrow and I’m not feeling sorry for myself anymore!

No doubt Browny’s body will be in bits by this time tomorrow (in the past he’s admitted to having the body of someone twice his age) especially as he’s keeping wicket!

On the bus things are very much as normal – cricketer’s are creatures of habit.

If I do well wearing a particular shirt, I’ll be making sure it’s clean for the next day as I’ll need to wear it again and will do so until things go wrong. So far this year there has been a fair amount of chopping and changing! So on the bus, I’m in the same seat as I’ve sat all year with Lumby in the seat behind and Dimi in the one in front playing poker with the usual poker crew.

Carb’s is further back with Lamby and Browny while Tony Weld (our scorer and the world’s nicest man) sits quietly at the back. If we stop at a services, you can be sure PT (our coach Paul Terry) will stock up on pic’n’mix, the Zimbabweans will get their nicotine hit and Griff will buy them out of chocolate and Starburst.

At the hotel, we’ll check in and most will order their morning paper. Anything with a good sports section or, as it’s a Sunday tomorrow, with decent supplements will suffice most. I should add to that the need for some flesh on Page 3 for a good number of the lads – Lumby is one of the red top devotees; a cup of coffee and the latest drunken antic’s of the celebrity world and he’s a happy man! Browny is the exception as he sits in bed mulling over the FT checking on his shares.

Anyhow, I’m running out of juice, my bum is numb and I’ve crapped on enough – got to make a few calls, find out how my club did today and remind the other half to water the plants. Exciting stuff.

Written by James Adams – LHB for Hampshire CCC

Jimmy’s Hampshire Blog: An Introduction

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Where do you start with these bloggy things – it’d probably make sense to give a quick recap as to the story so far but generally I’d have thought most people will already know the result aspect of Hampshire’s cricket so I’ll try when i get round to it to waffle on about odds and sods happening behind the scenes… But to start…

We had a pretty chaotic pre-season to be honest. No Warne, Udal or Bruce led to a few furrowed brows while the news that Dimi was joining the IPL coupled with Nic Pothas signing for the ICL caused further consternation. The uncertainty other the ICL’s legality was also causing headaches for the management as to Shane Bond’s availability.

Fortunately Bondy was cleared to play in time for the season opener and everyone was fit (well fit enough at least). Alas the clean-ish bill of health was not to last. A month or so in and our physio is having sleepless nights – there have been injuries galore as Nic Pothas, John Crawley, Shane Bond, Chris Tremlett amongst many others have been forced to miss games. So much so that at Taunton last week we handed a debut to young all-rounder Hamza Riazuddin and had four different wicket keepers over the game.

Written by James Adams – LHB for Hampshire CCC

IPL will not kill Test Cricket – Lloyd

On May 6, 2008 by

I know of a lot of people who believe that Twenty20 cricket will kill the traditional form of the game. I think however that it is ODIs that should be worried about the success of the shorter form of the game.

The Ashes 2009

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The Ashes in 2009 aren’t that far away. In 2005 the Ashes were the biggest sporting event in the country by a long, long way. Will the fact they are on Sky Sports hurt or will the country get encapsulated by the game once more?

Hair’s back…

On April 29, 2008 by

Darrell Hair is back and will return to Test cricket in England this summer.

The last time he stood in a test match was in 2006 at The Oval. What happened next is one of the most infamous incidents in modern cricket history. Along with his colleague, West Indian Billy Doctrove, Hair penalised Pakistan five penalty runs for doctoring the ball. Neither he nor his fellow umpire saw any incident but after inspecting the ball decided that there was no doubt Pakistan had cheated. No TV cameras picked up anything either despite BSkyB having 33 in use at the ground for that test.

Pakistan captain Inzamam ul-Haq was not amused and at the Tea interval after a meeting between his players and the Pakistani Cricket Board members, they decided not to take the field in a protest against the umpires for their decision. That impasse led to the umpires declaring the game forfeited and awarded the victory to England.

Following on from this incident the whole cricketing world seemed to revolve around this umpire. Inzamam was acquitted on the charge of doctoring the ball despite all the ICC officials at the game agreeing that the ball showed sign of being unfairly altered. He was banned for four ODI’s for being the game into disrepute by not coming out to play after the Tea interval.

The ICC held a two-day meeting about Hair and allowed the ten full member nations to vote on what to do. Seven members (West Indies, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka) voted to ban Hair from officiating at Test level. Only Australia, England and New Zealand voted to keep Hair around. He was subsequently banned from umpiring at the top level.

His return has caused mass outcry from the sub-continent and the ICC has already said that he will not umpire any Pakistan games. How can you have an umpire or any top flight official in any sport and not allow them to umpire or referee certain teams?

This umpire has been a controversial figure in the game for far too long and by bringing him back, the ICC are going to open up yet another can of worms. Bringing him back into the game is a bad move and it isn’t a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’ will he be making headlines instead of the players on the pitch.

ECB warms to Twenty20 SuperLeague

On April 25, 2008 by

Cricket is changing. It is becoming glitzier and its becoming shorter. The IPL has led the way and now the ECB and ready to follow suit.

Rumours have been bubbling away under the surface for the past couple of weeks or so. Since the launch of the brand new Indian Premier League, cricket chiefs in the UK have been kicking themselves wondering how they let the IPL launch first.

Twenty20 first came to fruition in the UK and was an immediate hit. The yearly Twenty20 cup has been a lifeline to the first-class counties bringing in much needed revenue in the height of the summer. Playing in front of full-houses, the players quickly learned to enjoy the game despite early misgivings from many.

The Australians had in general, long been against the shorter form of the game but have grown to enjoy it. Those opinions may have been swayed with a little bit of help thanks to the huge paycheques they are receiving for playing the game over in India, not that I’m a cynic or anything…

The main question is whether a huge new tournament can work here in the UK. They are unlikely to go up against the IPL so that means the tournament can only occur at the end of the domestic calendar.

The ICC really needs to keep an eye on the situation, Twenty20 is loved but so is Test cricket. They need to create two six-week windows to allow both competitions to go ahead, thus enabling the World’s top players to play without having to turn their backs on their country.

Cricket is at a crossroads and some traditionalists would say that it is in crisis. I wouldn’t go that far but there can’t be too many of these tournaments around the world, there just isn’t enough time and it would dilute those that are there if too many were held.

Also it is unlikely that all eighteen first-class counties would be involved as it seems as though they wouldn’t bring in the revenue. So does that mean that we’ll have teams from say London, Birmingham, Bristol, Sheffield, Manchester et al competing?

There are so many questions to be asked but the future of cricket seems to be a very different place to the history of it.