The Monday Marshmallow

Evening all. I thought I’d quickly put pen to paper (or rather fingers to a keyboard) before the England football match kicks off in an hour or so. In fact, by the time you read this England will either be the best team in the world and dead certs to lift the World Cup or, more likely, Gareth Southgate will be odds on for the sack and people will be sticking pictures of Harry Kane on a wall, fitting blindfolds on their mates, and challenging them to pin a tail on his arse.

On the cricket front it was an eventful weekend. Eoin Morgan’s men beat Australia for the second game running thanks to a Jason Roy century and some pyrotechnics from Jos Buttler. Kent edged out Worcestershire in the Royal London Cup semi-final at New Road. And Dinesh Chandimal has been accused of ball-tampering. You won’t be surprised to know that I’ve already had an email from Aussie Tom (the Steve Smith apologist) about the latter.

First let’s discuss the England game. Unfortunately I’ve already forgotten what happened to be honest. C’est la vie when it comes to white ball contests. They’re entertaining to watch but they linger in the memory for about as long a debauched stag do involving profuse lashings of sambuca.

I vaguely remember Jason Roy playing very well, Australia looking a bit toothless, Jos Buttler feasting on some average bowling, and never for a second worrying that England might lose – mainly because the current Australian ODI side is the weakest in living memory, and secondly because nobody really cares about the outcome of these games anyway. They come so thick and fast that they’re basically irrelevant.

If anybody has any other recollections of the day – other than Argentina drawing with Iceland in the footie and the England rugby team screwing up the second test against South Africa – then please fill us in below in the comments. To be honest, I’m not sure if I even watched much of the game. Had it been a third and decisive test against Pakistan then I might have been more inclined to follow the action.

By far the most compelling cricket of the weekend was the RLODC semi at New Road. It was an absolutely fantastic game of cricket between two sides predominantly consisting of young English talent. The game looked all but over after an hour when my beloved Worcs sank to 48-4 with our three best batsmen (Joe Clarke, Callum Ferguson, and Daryl Mitchell) back in the hutch. However, an amazing partnership by young Brett D’Oliveira and Ben Cox, plus some late hitting by the maturing Ed Barnard, saw The Rapids reach an improbable 306.

I should give a special mention to Ben Cox here. He was simply brilliant. His innings of 122 not out was incredibly mature, especially as he’s known as a keeper-batsman rather than a batsman-keeper. In fact, some judges regard him as the best pure gloveman in the country, or at the very least a challenger to Ben Foakes in this regard. It’s amazing how many talented keepers there are in county cricket.

Kent’s innings was also a story for the ages. Like Worcestershire’s effort it floundered at the beginning with Daniel Bell Drummond and Joe Denly falling cheaply. In fact, it looked all over when the visitors required over 100 runs off the last 10 overs with just five wickets left.

Unfortunately for The Rapids, the impressive Heino Kuhn played an absolute blinder and Kent somehow managed to get over the line. They showed remarkable spirit to get there and I was incredibly impressed. As a Worcs fan, however, I was left ruing the absence of our senior bowlers.

With captain Joe Leach and England prospect Josh Tongue injured, Moeen Ali away with England, and Steve Magoffin also absent, The Rapids basically had a second string attack. We had to field two teenagers, one of whom had to bowl the final over. Although the kids did very well I really think the experienced heads would have made a difference. Just look at the performance of Darren Stevens for Kent. He’s not bad for 42 years old! It’s remarkable really.

Before I sign off we should briefly discuss Sri Lanka. What on earth is going on there? I’ve been unable to track down any footage on YouTube but apparently pictures (alledegly) showed Chandimal taking a sweet out of his pocket, sucking it for a few seconds, and then rubbing his sweeten saliva on the ball like Faf du Plessis.

The interesting thing is that Sri Lanka have denied this, despite being penalised five runs by the umpires. They also refused to come out of the dressing room on the third morning in protest. It will be interesting to see how the ICC react. They’re obviously restricted in the punishment they can dish out (just like they were hamstrung in the Smith / Warner / Bancroft scandal) so any serious sanction would need to be handed out by the Sri Lankan board. Thus far, however, the SL board are backing their players!

Obviously Chandimal should be punished appropriately if he really has been guilty of using sweets. However, before people start jumping on their high horses and demanding six month bans, it’s important to keep things in context. A precedent for this type of offence has already been set with the du Plessis incident. What’s more, using sweetened saliva to polish a ball is obviously rather different from smuggling sandpaper onto the field and using it directly to rough up the surface.

Players have been chewing mints and gum on cricket fields for decades. In fact, one of my childhood memories was watching Tubby Taylor chewing gum at slip all day and thinking “bloody hell that fat bloke must like his Orbit”. On the flip side, the ICC probably need to do more to clamp down on this kind of thing.

Unless, of course, you believe that batsmen have it too easy these days with their huge bats and placid pitches. Maybe letting fielders sweeten their saliva evens up the contest a bit? Ahem. That one’s for you by the way, Tom. Go on, take the bait. You know you want to ;-)

James Morgan 


  • Agree that the Worcs/Kent game was the best recent cricket, but probably the best sport at the weekend was the UK athletics u20/u23 championships at Bedford. I would much rather see one or two future Olympic champions (Ogbechie, Vincent?) than more meaningless baseball. I just hope the Indian tests are good enough to make up for the ECB ‘pass the cash’ policy.

    On Chandimal I am afraid I simply cannot understand your point James. The ball tampering rule makes no distinction regarding method – and an argument could be made that using sweets is worse as it shows slyness not as present in the rampant stupidity of the Australians. And it is obvious that if such practices have been going on for many years that they must be condoned and even planned by captains. So, if the evidence of tampering is clear, the authorities need to deal with this incident as harshly as that of Smith et al. It is just a shame that they failed to deal with it in the 90s by suspending Atherton. If they fail to get on top of these practices then the next thing you know will be bowlers taking out on the field larger supplies of vaseline than a Conservative MP on a Friday night. :)

    • Hi Andy. I disagree with using mints etc but the punishment must match the crime. I don’t think many would agree that using bottle tops and sandpaper is anywhere near as bad. For starters the latter are applied directly to the ball (rather than via saliva) and sandpaper etc damage the ball a hell of a lot more. What’s more, the effect of mints is to create a shiny ball, and a shiny ball and shining the ball is legal. Gouging the ball with a bottle top to create large cuts in the leather etc is not.

      I also don’t buy the argument that the offences should be same because the law doesn’t discriminate (or rather hasn’t caught up yet). Slapping someone can be classified as assault, as can attacking them with a baseball bat. Anyone suggesting that the severity of each crime is the same, and should receive the same sentence, would be regarded as a little odd imho.

  • Sorry James but this continuing diatribe about white ball internationals not lingering in the mind is becoming a bore. Especially when you go on about a county white ball game eclipsing your country’s. Let’s me honest if you weren’t a Worcester supporter would this article have been written? Given the choice, how many neutrals do you suppose would prefer to watch a domestic white ball game rather than England’s. Not many! As with any sport watching it live is so much more exhilarating and moments become more memorable if you are part of the scene. All my best cricketing memories are gleaned from being there, not watching it on telly.
    If you’re partial everything your team does remains in the mind, good and bad, especially your club team, who you spend a lot of time supporting. They play a lot more often than your country so require more attention. Personally I am a Warwickshire Blue Nose and my attention in taken up with those more than England. . However I am an avid England supporter when they play and suffer down my local with a load of like minded masochists, if I can’t get to see them live. The atmosphere is great whatever the result. Tonight there was very little memorable about the game, other than a bevy of bizarre missed opportunities. The result was everything and I am a firm believer that by and large this is the barometer for any supporter to judge their team’s worth in any sport. After Kane’s winner the atmosphere changed completely and everyone left happy bunnies.
    Postscript to today’s semi final. Why was James Vince ignored in favour of Sam Billings? This isn’t just hindsight, Vince has had a better season and some recent international success.

    • I may be the exception that proves the rule but as a neutral, actually I chose Worcester over Cardiff at the weekend. If anything Cardiff is easier for me to get to but yet another England v Aus odi? No, I thought I’d go to Worcester (for the first time) and watch some up and coming county players. And what a day out it was – lovely ground, beautiful setting, very friendly staff and supporters and obviously a great match. Shame that Ben Cox’s century wasn’t enough to win the match, it would have deserved a trip to Lords. Rumours that Bresnan might be coming to Worcs next year?

      • But you’re not a neutral, you’re a Worcester man, so you don’t apply in this case. I’m not disputing it mattered to supporters. It’s exactly what I said in my diatribe where I mentioned that being a Warwickshireman and Blue Nose were more important to me than being an England fan. You can’t identify with international players in the same way but try telling the England and Aussie players that the result didn’t really matter. As for the supporters, you maintain a lot more interest if you keep winning. A losing team loses support. Representing your country is the highest achievement you can have in any game if you don’t perform you’re risking being dropped and probably not selected again.
        Shoehorned or not it doesn’t alter the fact that these matches cannot to be dismissed with ‘nobody cares about the outcome of these games anyway’ tag just because you and like minders don’t. International sport is about winning, the outcome of the game is more important than how it’s played.
        No one gave a shit that we looked pretty ordinary in Russia last night after Kane got the winner. I can’t relax and watch Warwickshire or Blues as a lover of the game in the same way as I can if neither are playing, because I’ve been supporting both for over 50 years and there’s too much baggage involved, having suffered so much along the way.

    • I can only write what I think. Sorry Marc. The reason the ODI was boring imho and the RLODC semi final was interesting is because the result really mattered in the latter. You could tell that it meant everything to the teams and the crowd were tense. When the World Cup or champions trophy are in progress, and the result matters, I don’t write that white ball contests are irrelevant! Everyone is immersed in the action and we desperately want England to win.

      The problem with the current ODIs is that they’re shoehorned into the calendar and most people are sick of the sight of Australia at the moment. But of course you’re entitled to disagree. By the way, I also think it was relevant to write about this particular game because it featured Kent, and Marco wrote a very good piece last week talking about how the county was improving and coming of age. The game was also relevant because it was an absolute classic. When the Hundred starts the RLODC will be completely devalued and many of the best players will be missing. We need to savour these types of days for county cricket while they’re still around.

      • I have no objection to anyone writing what they think, it’s supposed to be a free country, but there’s the rub. It’s what you think, so prefix comments with something to that effect, not just a throw away ‘nobody cares about the outcome of these games anyway’ as though it was a statement of fact.
        That’s just careless writing, and gets no respect. You’ve been better than that on this blog.

        • With respect, I think most people around here know that I just write what I think. I’ve never claimed to represent everyone. But I do think that the majority of cricket fans are a bit tired of playing Australia now. The general feeling I get (especially on social media and my interaction with friends and other fans) is that very few people care about this ODI series. I appreciate that some do but I think they’re in the minority.

          • That’s fine, you used I think. I’m not being patronising, just asking for fair minded criticism with perspective. You’re probably right as well, but it doesn’t alter the fact that those attending these games, of which there are many thousands, as all England’s white ball Internationals are well attended, are clearly elated by English success in these formats. For many of those attending it will be the only time they see their national team in the flesh all summer, so it will certainly stick in their minds.
            Incidentally social media is not a medium commonly used by people looking to praise. Criticism far outweighs it on all issues, as this allows more room for self expression. So you would expect the majority using it to have a point to make against rather than for the status quo.

  • good comment on yet another ODI (yawn). England playing Australia A doesn’t hold much interest at all. My late night viewing for this month is the World Cup, I can at least get excited about the games, unlike the ODI cricket on offer.

  • The point here is the OD I series is rather meaningless because the sides are so imbalanced. With Australia missing at least six key players it’s really all rather one sided, so it makes even Willey and Wood look good. Sorry chaps but you ain’t International standard. Vince is a terrific one day player -why isn’t he playing? Tom Curran is by far the best death bowler, but the EC B don’t like Surrey.
    I’d agree with James that on balance the domestic one day cup has been far more watchable and a quarter of the price!

    • As an Aus fan, I’m pleased to see Jhye Richardson and Stanlake getting international experience. You can’t tell yet with either of them if they are up to it. It’s too early.

      But odis that appear to have littleshort or even medium term context can’t be of as much interest as domestic matches that very much do have context for the teams and the fans.

      • Think they both look fantastic meself…

        Good to give them some exercise in a well supervised environment. Human rights, redemption and all that whatnot.

  • I agree that the ODIs are meaningless. Who really cares who wins? The Aussie team has probably been sent over here as some sort of a punishment. They might just have some success in the county 2nd XI arena.
    The one day cup game at Worcester was terrific because there was something to play for. The sides were pretty evenly balanced and some players put in superb performances. That was entertainment.
    The Hants- Yorks game was nowhere near as exciting because one side completely dominated but Vince made a good case for himself. Who is this Billings guy anyway? To whom in power is he related?
    Football – not interested. Ball tampering – perhaps they should legalise it, like cannabis.

  • Anonymous at 8.00am was me. Purely accidental – I’ve nothing to hide, unlike,say, the ECB.

  • Well I do a lot of work with disability sport. It’s fantastic to watch the joy in these kids faces when they just play the game. International sport, including cricket, is getting full of rather ordinary grossly overpaid, sometimes not very intelligent, “players” , most of whom you’d never entertain at a dinner party, playing in lots of pointless competitions promoted by the money men. Vastly diluting sport. I for one am beginning to get rather bored by it all, including the current ODI ‘s.

  • As a spinner I always make sure to munch a bakewell tart or similar if I’m going to be bowling after lunch.

    Not for the ball but for my fingers. Gobbing all over my mitts and letting them dry helps a wee bit with gripping the ball. I don’t consider this to be anywhere even close to cheating or sharp practise and would be surprised if anyone did.

    I could point out that other bodily fluids are even more effective but won’t as we spinners already have enough reputations to uphold. :D

    Unless they’re going to ban tea itself and outlaw anything but gruel and water. or nipping to the bogs for 10 minutes..

  • I see there was yet another hit-a-thon yesterday. Scores like that are not ‘great’, it’s even more boring than usual. So tiresome these white ball games.. literally nothing to keep your interest as there is no balance.. it’s simply who can out hit


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