The Monday Muffin

Morning all. I hope you had a good weekend. Mine was a bit of a blur really. I made the annual mistake of watching Eurovision, drinking far too much, and then getting angry when our song finished third from bottom. But before I could say “sod the lot of them” I realised that other countries actually take this competition seriously whereas we generally sneer at the event and send C or D list pop stars. Is it any wonder that nobody votes for us? Perhaps SuRie should’ve pretended she was Annie Lennox.

Anyway, onto matters at hand. The good news is that Ireland started their first ever test match at the Malahide over the weekend. There was a good crowd in, thus proving that test cricket still has relevance, the TV cameras were there, and Ireland even started the game well too. Unfortunately it all went a bit downhill from there …

For starters Sky shunted the match over to the ‘red button’ channel as soon as the bloody IPL started. That meant that those streaming the match via SkyGo, or those who were watching on a Now TV pass, could no longer watch. This irritated me as much as Eurovision judging panels giving an inane Moldovan entry douze points. Sky had the choice of screening yet another IPL affair (one match out of God knows how many) or an historic test match … yet they chose the former. If I had any hair left I’d have torn it out.

I find it utterly depressing that a T20 match on the other side of the world – one single game out of a tournament that many people think goes on too long anyway – should take priority over a test match that Irish cricket had been building towards for decades. I can’t imagine that many UK-based cricket fans would have preferred to watch the T20. With Ireland playing Pakistan, it’s not as if the UK’s Asian communities would have unanimously chosen the IPL either. Hmmmm.

After a good start, the game also seems to be drifting away from Ireland. The debutants made a really good start when they reduced Pakistan to 159-6, but half centuries from Shadab Khan and Faheem Ashraf ultimately helped them recover to 310 all out. I thought Tim Murtagh bowled beautifully for his 4-45.

Unfortunately however, Pakistan’s bowlers have Murtagh’s skill but a little more pace; therefore they proved very tricky indeed in helpful conditions. Ireland’s batsmen just weren’t quite good enough and they struggled to 130 all out – which would have been worse without good knocks from Kevin O’Brien and Gary Wilson. Fortunately, however, Joyce and Porterfield survived the final session of the day when Ireland were asked to follow on. Perhaps there’s still hope?

The big news in the county championship was more timely runs for Keaton Jennings as Lancs notched an impressive win over table-topping Notts. With Ed Smith and the selectors meeting on Tues, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jennings replace Mark Stoneman. However, he’s probably not a shoo in at this point. Nick Gubbins and Rory Burns have also done well in recent weeks so it could be a close call.

A couple of other young players also impressed at the weekend. Joe Clarke made 105 against champions Essex, and Dan Lawrence scored 71 in the same game. As for the bowlers, Olly Stone took 5-49 in Warwickshire’s win over Northants. Jake Ball didn’t do himself any favours though. His analysis of 2-101 off just 19 overs in Notts’ defeat was rather worrying. Is he consistent enough to be an international fast bowler?

The other championship performances that caught my eye were James Hildreth’s 184, which underlined yet again his status as probably the best recent county batsmen never to have won a single England cap (in any form of the game), and young Will Rhodes’ 100 in Warwickshire’s successful chase of 179. It was also interesting to see both Craig Overton and Dom Bess make good runs for Somerset as they push for victory against Hants.

Talking of Hampshire, it was intriguing to see James Vince 60-odd not out over night. Do you think he’ll retain his England place if he goes on to make three figures today – the day before the selectors convene? One player who won’t be in Smith’s plans, however, is Graham Onions- despite his great performance for Lancs over the weekend. It was great to see one of county cricket’s elder statesmen roll back the years with 6-58 on Sunday.

James Morgan



  • I suspect your comments about SKY reverting to the IPL is a bit like the Monday Muffin ignoring most of div 2!

    • Give the man a break! Anyone who drinks too much AND watches the farcical show that is Eurovision song contest has done brilliantly to produce the Monday Muffin at all I reckon.

      I enjoyed listening to cricket over the weekend but as usual was incensed that 5Live X kept going off to GP qualifying or something else. Dear old Kevin tells us we can still listen online but for some reason I never can get the online coverage unless it’s on 5. Is there any clever app that I should be using? Somerset CC didn’t seem to be doing their live stream either. And as for Sky, words fail me, like you James. And what a shame that with all these good young cricketers making runs in the county champs, none of it is on TV, whether you pay for it or not. Dreadful.

      • I’m sorry, but I won’t hear any criticism of a Eurovision contest that ends up with a winner that appears to be a gender shifting tribute to Mike Gatting (although I suspect that, firstly, you would not have got Gatts away from the eat all you can buffet in order to perform, and secondly, Gatts would have better musical taste).

    • I think the amount of comments I get from people upset that I haven’t mentioned their particular team (or favourite player) just shows how much the cricket watching public still love county cricket! I do apologise for missing things out but I simply don’t have time to do more at the moment. Basically I have an excuse and Sky don’t :-)

  • I would hope that after Jennings previous with test cricket he would have been given a ‘to do’ list of technical issues to work on and if the selectors are satisfied he’s improved enough they should consider him. Personally I don’t see Stoneham’s place as in jeopardy yet. He’s done nothing wrong apart from not convert to big scores and as even Root is culpable here I can’t see how singling him out is going to help. He’s certainly shown a lot more than Jennings at the top of the order. You could play both and drop Cook to 3.
    Good to see Ireland getting their deserved shot at test cricket, just a shame so many of their batsman showed a kamikaze approach. Just shows how much of a mental game the long game is. It’ll take a while for them to adjust and I just hope more come into the county game to give themselves a leg up so to speak.

  • Its a shame that sky couldn’t find room to show both the test & IPL (not that I’d have watched the IPL) at the same time across their channels.
    I have been very impressed with Peter Siddle during his 3.5 games (due to the weather) with us. He seems like an old fashioned pro. 20 wickets @ 16.10, and a couple of decent innings.

  • According to Cricinfo Jack Leach has broken his thumb & will miss the Pakistan series.

    Reprieve for Moeen? Or a chance to try out someone else?

    Lastly, the soon the UK just gives up & wheels out the Wurzels with a sped-up version of “I’m a Cider Drinker” (alternating yearly with “The Combine Harvester” the better Eurovision will be … ;)

    • Wretched typos!

      “Lastly, the sooner the UK just gives up & wheels out the Wurzels with a speeded-up version of “I’m a Cider Drinker” (alternating yearly with “The Combine Harvester”) the better Eurovision will be … ?

    • Or perhaps the Jasper Carrott version of The Magic Roundabout. It should produce an effective combination of utter confusion and complete outrage from the politically correct brigade. It might even be enough to finally bring the contest to an end.

    • As an avid collector of novelty singles I would suggest we appeal to whoever has the rights to Napoleon X1V’s ‘They’re coming to take me away’ to let Ant and Dec record it as our nest Eurovision entry.
      We missed a trick when Viv Stanshall was alive, as the Bonzos could have been our resident band for the competition with stuff like; ‘Do blue men sing the whites’ ‘My pink half of the drainpipe’ and ‘Tent’ if that’s not surreal enough to win re-issue Wogan’s Floral Dance.

  • I presume Sky went off to the IPL to attract a new audience of young mums and their children (no, sorry, that’s the 100). As I write, it looks like Ireland have a good chance of making Pakistan bat again, which would be a decent effort. Playing the Pakistan seam attack in Ireland in May was always going to be a tough ask.

    Turning to England, you ask: “Is he [Jake Ball] consistent enough to be an international fast bowler?” I don’t think consistency is the issue. He’s not good enough. He was easily outbowled by the other opening bowlers (Onions, Anderson and Broad) on show in that game. “Name me someone better, then!” Er …

  • Having amused myself with Eurovision comments I think a cricket view is appropriate. As a Warwickshire man I think too soon for Rhodes or Stone. Rhodes has not done much before his century and is still settling to county cricket. Next year maybe, after we have seen him over a season. And Stone has only just played his 3rd Championship game since 2016. Again, he needs to get a few more games under his belt to prove both form and that he can stay fit.

    I cannot see Jennings for Stoneman. You cannot ignore Jennings 2017 form (or lack of it) just because he has scored a few in April/May. I see the big problem as there not being any convincing challengers for test places. No one stands out batting, and it is difficult to see an argument for changing bowlers unless it is to bring in someone with 90+mph speed. Stone is not ready and he is the only quickie to look the part this season. I like Coad, but he is distinctly fast medium rather than express (and we have better in the side, although he may be next off the rank). The only change I can see a strong case for is to fit Foakes into the side, as a decent bat and a big improvement with the gloves. How to do it is the problem….

  • Going off on a bit of a tangent, Brendon McCullum’s said in an interview in the latest Cricinfo Cricket Monthly online magazine that he expects that down the line T20 will kill test cricket,as too fewcountries will be able to afford to play tests – I sadly can see the game reaching a point where only series between the Big 3 are played, as other countries’ players are all contracted to T20 franchises :(

    • That’s bloody sad. McCullum probably knows what he’s talking about.

      • He is speaking as a player who now only plays the shortest form of the game. So vested interest ? As New Zealand are performing well in all formats under their current captain maybe he is also out of the picture. Kane Williamson is a classic Test batsman who adapts brilliantly to one day cricket and T20.

        • McCullum & KW are quite close – so I’d say it’s unlikely that Baz’s comments are jealousy.

          NZ are performing well in all formats. But they only played 4 tests in the last home season, at each end of the season, peak summer was devoted to ODIs and T20s. Granted 7 tests last season, but 4 again the prior year – the smaller nations are playing less and less tests

  • Another annoyance in Ireland’s first Test has been that the ICC couldn’t be arsed to fund any DRS. Shadab and Joyce, to name but two, got dire LBW decisions. Also, Amir has been limping with a knee injury and must be doubtful against England. He’s already stated that he wants to be rested from some Tests to prolong his one-day career.

    • It will be very disappointing if Amir doesn’t play. He might not be the force of old (not quite) but he’s still a fine bowler.

  • I can’t get very excited over Ireland playing Test cricket, sorry, but I reckon they were a better team 5 years ago.
    Just back from seeing Surrey annihilate a poor Yorkshire for the first time since 2002. Yes really. If your worried about England’s test line-up worry more: Root could hardly get a run, dismissed twice in one day by two 19 year olds, Sam Curran who took 10 wickets in the match and Amir Virdi who Lyth said turns the ball more than any other spinner currently in county cricket. Add batsman Pope, 20, and there’s 3 definites for England in the near future. Probably the best all round Surrey performance for a long time.

  • I have real problems seeing Curran (either of them) as more than a 4th test seamer, which is not to say they could not be that in future. He is very much in the low to mid 80s group of English seamers (and so I assume he will be told to speed up like Woakes was for 5 years). I also wonder about his physical development. I know that Warwickshire, over the winter, were saying Henry Brookes – who is 15 months younger and has had a good start to the season – had another 2-3 years of physical development. I do think the one Surrey player who has an unanswerable case is Foakes. We need a proper keeper.

  • The prospect of watching Eurovision whilst hammered sounds at least preferable to watching our upcoming ”The Hundred”!

  • Frankly anyone watching Eurovision deserves all they get. I saw an interview some some woman who claimed that the contest united the world and demonstrated the real power of music. ‘What music?’ I wondered. Then I realised that she sounded just like the appalling Graves and probably inhabits the same fantasy world.
    I watched Joe Clarke score a fine ton on Saturday but it was sad that he and young Tongue finished on the losing side.
    I don’t think Clarke will get an England call-up just yet. The XI selected by readers of the BBC website was remarkably familiar.
    Perhaps the selectors will be more adventurous but I doubt it.
    As for Foakes – why? YJB is doing a perfectly decent job as keeper and has said he doesn’t want to give up the gloves.


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