AuthorBrian Penn

21st Century Nightmares: A Suspect Middle-Order & Other Excuses

It’s an all too familiar sight when England are playing a test match these days: stumps wrenched from the ground, bails spinning prettily in the air, and fielders out for a stroll taking catches as they go. English batsmen are crossing at the pavilion gates with alarming frequency and our top scorer seems to be called ‘Extras’. Yes, it’s one of those times when England have been rolled over for less than a hundred runs, again. Failure is so much more interesting than success as the post mortem...

Speed Demons: Brute Force Or Controlled Aggression?

The standard cricket ball weighs around 5½ ounces; it can be no more than 9 inches in circumference, with a diameter of no more than 2.86 inches. Its core is made of cork which is layered with tightly wound string and covered by a leather case with a stitched seam. The ball is then coated with red or white paint for use in long and short forms of the game. Roughly the size of a tennis ball, it is solid with sharp ridges created by the seam. In the hands of a pace bowler it can be a weapon of...

Safe Hands: The Wicket-Keepers of Kent

Wicket keeper is the most peculiar of field positions with the incumbent trapped in gloves and pads for the duration of a match. A functionary with a multiple brief who often has to stop things from happening.  They gather the best and worst deliveries unleashed by bowlers; prevent leg byes, overthrows and any other brain fade that might result in additional runs being conceded. A good wicket keeper could easily save his team 30 runs an innings, but it’s far from being the only string on...

Mind Over Matter: The Curse of Elite Cricket

A few years ago my employer sent everyone off on a stress awareness course; previously happy people came back as nervous wrecks because they never realised how stressed they were. In all truth we had been fooling ourselves. An increasingly hectic lifestyle was taking its toll on our mental health. The ranks of Joe Public can manage their emotional wellbeing in private, free from scrutiny and judgement. But what about elite athletes who ply their trade in the public eye, where every move is...

A Happy Accident: The Birth of the ODI

For all its unbridled beauty cricket has always been susceptible to changes in the weather. The first hint of rain would have groundsmen scrambling to cover the wicket. In a bygone era something called bad light might also stop play. Although frustrating for the players it meant fans could adjourn to the bar that much earlier. This unpredictability would often reduce the length of games but inadvertently laid the basic foundation of the one day game. Whilst an intemperate climate might have...

I Am My Father’s Son: Nature Versus Nurture

As we grow, our parents assume hero status in an exciting and challenging new life. But how does that dynamic change when our parents are also sporting heroes known to millions across the globe? Cricket has a steady stream of sons who have matched their fathers at test level. Many have exceeded their achievements in the test arena. But what forces are at play here; is it simply a repeating genetic pattern or the hothouse environment stimulated by a talented role model? The nature versus nurture...

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