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 ;-)