School’s out right? Wrong. Stop imagining yourself on a sunny beach, waves lapping at your bronzed feet and having sex on the beach. As in the cocktail; nothing else. If your life weary, permanently angry, frustrated teacher is not allowed abroad, then neither are you. Instead we sit here in this stuffy classroom, humidity at 83.5%, sweat pooling around our armpits, to learn about cricket. I’ll try to make it bearable, but can’t promise anything. Roll up those sleeves for some english, gardening, mechanics and more…
Let’s start with something simple shall we? The return of English county cricket. After several weeks out, due to that booze fuelled, silly hat wearing bonanza they call T20 cricket, the county champ returned in blazing sunshine this weekend. Most noteworthy it returned in style! At time of print, seems like only three of eight matches are to be decided, with four having finished within three days.
That doesn’t even include Kent versus Leicestershire where the hosts self-combusted in just two days. With only a single defeat all season, this was quite a shocker. Considering it coincides with opener Heino Kuhn’s departure from the Garden of England, Kent may struggle in the remainder of the season. Leicestershire were outstanding with ball in hand; Mohammad Abbas pitching it up with 4-55. Young Zak Chappell, with six wickets in the game, looks a promising kid.
Elsewhere in Division Two there was drama aplenty at Lord’s. Chasing 203, Warwickshire stumbled to within 18 runs of their target, before James Fuller bowled Chris Wright for 19. The Bears will suffer from the green eyed monster of jealously, as their lead at the top has been cut to just seven points after Sussex tonked Glamorgan.
Up top, Surrey were inspired by ‘Oh captain, my captain’ Burns’ 153 to post 592 against Notts. Superb bowling by Morkel clinched victory as the Outlaws were arrested for 199 in their second innings. Increasing their lead at the top, after a fifth successive victory, Surrey looks as impressive as England did in Russia. Unlike the three lions though, they are roaring to the county championship trophy.
With all this hot weather, gardens look as straw coloured as Donald Trump’s toupee. Flowers droop; apart from roses. You see roses have been blooming over the past week, with bountiful cricket being played between Lancashire and Yorkshire.
A sell-out crowd on Friday were privy to a pant stretching tight T20 finish. Restricted to 14 overs a side, Lancs exploded. Skipper Livingstone continued his blistering form with 79 off 35 balls. Backed by Lilley and Clark, the Red Rose made 176. Old Trafford swelled like a rock gig, with the Gallagher brother’s blaring out of the speakers.
‘Little By Little’ though the White Rose edged closer. ‘Some Might Say’ Adam Lyth should be given another chance for England as he struck 60 off 26 balls. Promoted, Willey and Plunkett ‘Cast No Shadow’ as they belted two almighty sixes. Joe Root cried out ‘Stand By Me’ chaps as he needled.
Despite Joe’s best efforts Yorkshire required 48 off three overs, which was surely ‘Half The World Away’. Feeling ‘Supersonic’ the puppy faced batsman, fuelled by ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’ (Editor – no factual basis to this comment) struck 51. It came down to 4 required from the final ball. ‘All Around The World’ spectators were rooted to TV screens. Yet a slower ball by Lester meant Root could only swing the ball for three and the Red Rose triumphed by one run. Root’s ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’ wasn’t quite enough and Lancashire erupted, sending jets of ‘Champagne Supernova’ into the sky.
For Yorkshire players it was a case of ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’, as come Monday morning they had thrashed Lancs in the county champ. Being one point above the relegation zone, Livingstone and co need a mammoth effort to ensure they don’t ‘Slide Away’. ‘Stop Crying Your Heart Out’ lads!
3) Bell Ringing
Standing on the doorstep to the England team, furiously ringing the bell is one Ian. The 36 year old Warwickshire batsman has been in tremendous form. Rolling back the years this week, Bell struck 11 fours and 7 sixes in a magnificent 131 against Northants. Timing the ball with the finesse of an expert bell ringer, the sound off his bat was the sort of resonating boom you associate with the bells of Big Ben come 12.01am on January 1st.
Chasing 232, Bell freed up his arms and let fly. Kids were open mouthed at this guy’s prowess. Surely he needs to play for England? What’s that? He’s already made 118 appearances, averaging 42.69. Aw shucks should have paid attention to your history lessons!
Arguably Bell is staking a claim for a recall. Over six innings in the Vitality Blast he has 1 hundred and 2 fifties. During the One Day Cup he averaged 56.50, with top score of 145*. Whilst in eight county matches he’s made 3 hundreds, 2 fifties and averages 55.72. In fact he sits third in terms of runs scored, with 665.
Alright that may be a lot of numbers to crunch, but the upshot is; Bell is in terrific form. 2018 is turning into a resurgent year for the aging batsman. Despite being in the twilight of his career, is there a case to bring Bell back into the England test fold? He has the experience, mind-set and form. Only age will prevent him. Where Bayliss and co will opt for younger players, they can mould. Seems a bit ageist if you ask me Trev. I would take Ian Bell over Malan or Jennings any day of the week right now. Monday, Tuesday, Wedne… you get the idea. Don’t be a bell-end England.
Vroom. Vroom. Start the car; the Women’s Kia Super League eased into first gear on Sunday. Spinning wheels on the anniversary of England’s World Cup triumph in 2017, the format was key to giving players experience on the big stage. With six teams in action, all given snazzy names like Western Storm and Surrey Stars, the competition is hoping to attract more of a following this year.
Unlike in previous years, each side will face opposition home and away, thus allowing more game time for the players. Somebody who’s carried on that form is England skipper and Western Storm star Heather Knight, who was a cyclone of destruction in her 97 against Yorkshire Diamonds. Set 163 for victory Smriti Mandhana and Knight rained on the Diamonds parade with a partnership of 80. Five 6’s were blown over boundary ropes by Knight who fell just three short of an inaugural T20 century.
Last year’s beaten finalists the Southern Vipers strangled Surrey Stars to just 141. Slithering and sliding their way to the total, Tammy Beaumont (62) and Mignon Du Preez (48) coiled up victory without hitting a single six. Trus-s-s-t in me, I’ve researched the facts. That’s a Jungle Book gag by the way. And one which is bearly necessary. Yes, I know you wanna be like me, but we can’t all be blessed.
A team who carry on their cursed form is Lancashire Thunder who managed only 72 versus Loughborough Lightning. In the battle of the weather, Lightning struck off the runs with ease, illuminating the deficiencies in Thunder’s attack. With only three wheels, Lancashire’s car is going to need some serious mechanic work attempted if they are to challenge. But then again, if ‘Cars’ proved anything… it’s that teams in red can steal victory.
5) Foreign Relations
We’ve had the poppadum’s, onion bhaji and samosas. Very soon the main course arrives; a fiery, meaty madras, packed with a punch. It will leave you breathless, sweaty and often rushing to the loo. We’re talking of course about Test Match Cricket.
India showed off in the T20 series, before England regained One Day pride. Now the real stuff begins. This time next week, England will have collapsed to 50-4 against an Indian attack, which is bolstered through the spin of Kuldeep Yadav. Superb in limited overs, Kuldeep will be seeking to continue his bamboozling. When you consider Alastair Cook is susceptible to left arm spin, England could be embarrassed. Like the red face I wore, having tasted a mouthful of Spoons’ vindaloo, Cook will be back in the pavilion quicker than you can say ‘Brahmaputra.’
India are the best team in test cricket. Fact. England are not even sure on their best eleven. Fact. Presumably Jennings retains his place, but Malan? Is Mo back in his meadow in place of Bess? Who gets the nod as third paceman? Tomorrow the squad will be announced and, let’s face it, there will probably be no real shockers. Would you want to hand a debut to Rory Burns or Ollie Pope, against the likes of Kumar and Bumrah? No chance.
As a result the series is sure to be a cracker. Our tummies are rumbling and waiting to be filled.
Well that was a chore. There is homework this week; read up about the first bell foundry, give a rose to your crush and stick a rude bumper sticker on your mate’s car. Honk, honk. Now I’m off to have myself some sex on the beach.
Who mentioned anything about it being a drink? Class dismissed!