AuthorBrian Penn

Playing The Fielder: Friction Burns & Occasional Glory

The fielder is cricket’s labourer; the unsung hero who toils to save runs for his team. There is rarely any glory in this functional but vital role; the plaudits are usually taken by the bowlers especially when a delivery sends the stumps flying in a frenzied visual delight. But periodically the fielder steps into light when he takes a catch or engineers a thrilling run out. Breathtaking running in the outfield or reflex actions at slip can turn a match. However, a dropped catch can be...

The Bad, Embarrassing and Downright Painful

For a non-contact sport cricket does have a habit of generating a wide range of injuries both on and off the pitch. The game is an uneven mix of energy and inactivity where athletic prowess hasn’t always been a prerequisite. Like any sport played on grass, players regularly negotiate knee and ankle injuries; strains, pulls and split fingers are battle scars for any cricketer. But players have a curious tendency to collect unusual injuries that are typical of the game’s eccentricity. An...

Happier Days Down Under

With the Ashes lost before England’s rearguard at Sydney, fingers are already beginning to point. A slavish devotion to the white ball game is one of many contributory factors. But it might be cathartic to look back and remember happier times on tour in Australia. It hasn’t all been bad… In all honesty Brisbane hasn’t been the happiest of hunting grounds for England. They have a notoriously poor record at the Gabba, having only won two test matches at the ground since the end of the Second...

Multicultural Lions: The Pioneers

For a sport consumed by a desperately sad race scandal, it’s easy to forget the outstanding contribution that black and Asian players have made to England’s test side. In light of recent events their achievements seem all the more remarkable given the routine provocation they must have faced. To wear three lions on their chest should be the pinnacle for any English cricketer. But how much harder must it have been for the pioneers – the multi-cultural lions who first broke down the...

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...

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