Monthly Archives: February 2011

End Of A Career

Cricketers and umpires lying on the floor

Sometimes, when bowling, I tried the slower ball...

Cricket, like pretty much all professional sports, offers nothing but a transient career. It exploits the period of your life when you’re at the peak (allegedly) of your physical condition. And then comes a point where the body cannot stand the exertions any more, leading to a career in TV punditry or pub hospitality.

There are some who have sufficient talent to make a few bob out of cricket, on the County scene if nothing else. And given the relative calm of the game when compared with, say, football or rugby, you can maybe squeeze a 20-year career out of it after leaving school. But some aren’t so lucky.

I, for all intents and purposes, am one of the latter. Any cricketing career I may have hoped to pursue was brutally halted at the age of 13 in a sobering moment of self-awareness. Any adolescent hopes of being the next all-round hero batting to win the Ashes in Sydney were smashed in just one, brief event.

Did I suffer an injury? No. Was I banned from participating in cricket in order to focus on my education? As if… my degree in media studies at Swansea Uni would testify to that. The moment my cricketing career came to its premature end came as a fledgling middle-order batsman in yet another Year 7 defeat.

We weren’t bothered about ensuring the game against another local school lasted as long as possible. We wouldn’t have batted first if that was the case. But batting we found ourselves on that balmy June evening. And in trouble we soon followed when one of our three decent players was obliged to retire on 25 not out.

The kid who ate chalk (this is embellished for comedic effect) came in before me. It comes as no surprise that he lasted a few balls. I had only been taught one shot – the Geoffrey Boycott All-Yorkshire Super Forward Defensive. Moving the score beyond 50 would require something a little more creative.

After grinding out an imperious 7 not out off eight overs – it is at this point I feel I should reveal that it was a 20 overs game, was the moment – Now, it would be docile medium pace. Back then, it was blistering reverse swinging tomahawks. I lifted my bat without so much as a forward press…

… and with the most attacking stroke I have ever dared (apart from the reverse sweeps that are always attempted in the nets every summer), I drove hard at the cherry in the most Matthew Maynard-esque manner I could. Launching the ball back, straight, over the bowlers head. Straight out of the textbook, Shastri says…

It deserved a full-blown six into the trees for its sheer elegance, with a majestic pose held for cameras and spectators alike (of which there were none). I would have settled for a four, truth be told. But then came the moment that crushed a career… the ball dropping out of the sky half way short with graceless haste.

A brief pause, and then panic. “RUN!” was the desperate cry to my partner who occupied the non-strikers end. I later found the correct call to be “YES”, but not one jot of difference it would have made. For my partner was still attempting to put his pads on. Six turned to four turned to two turned to one. Heartbroken…

I retreated to the only cricketing sanctuary I had – the forward defensive. I later fell, having spent around 13 overs in the middle for a score tantalisingly short of double figures. It would be six years until I recorded my first tenth-of-a-century; against the Teachers. I bowled 2-0-4-1 that day; the first three balls were wides.

But for the time being, the game was up. I didn’t return to the field in Year 8 – it had as much to do with the fact we were yet to win a game and I’m a bad loser. A call to come out of retirement in Year 10 was resisted. Again, it was only the lure of the Sixth Form games against the Teachers XI that brought me back.

When I look back, I search for the achievements. Did I help to take cricket to the Irish on my regular summer holidays to see mother’s family with bat under arm? No, I suspect it was there already. And I failed to taste victory at school level. The game probably was well off without me.

I don’t dare try to resurrect that once-promising career with a village club side. It would be foolish. That ill-fated drive of 1998 would only come back to haunt me.

Advertisements

More Council Cash For Glamorgan

SWALEC Stadium

England v Australia at the SWALEC

Cardiff Council has agreed to provide Glamorgan County Cricket Club with a further £1m towards the cost of transforming the city’s SWALEC Stadium into what is now a fully-fledged Test match venue. I say additional – the council has already contributed £4.5m in late 2006.

At face value, it could be seen as worrying indictment of the club’s finances and places this winter’s turmoil into greater context. But reading into the report put before councillors, it sheds a little more reassuring light on the situation – both from the club and the council’s point of view.

The cost of transforming the SWALEC Stadium was believed to be around £9m. But revisions to the England and Wales Cricket Board’s demands for grounds to attain international status –  a hover cover, an extra floodlight and the provision of a tri-vision sightscreen to name but a few – forced it up to more than £11m.

The council report said: “The club went ahead and met the cost overrun with extra short term funding from Mr Russell, a bank overdraft and accelerated use of staged naming rights income. Carrying the additional burden of the cost overrun has led to cash flow issues for the club.

By securing the additional £1m from Cardiff Council, the club plans to remedy these cash flow issues and ensure that it is capable of bidding for another Ashes Test in the coming years – complementing the other international games due to be held in Cardiff between now and 2014.

The cut-throat nature of the Test match bidding process means that Glamorgan have had their hand forced. Financial incentives that come with hosting such an occasion as an Ashes Test match are too alluring to pass up, but there’s a surplus of clubs to notice this – some will lose out.

Those incentives are very handy when it comes to paying off the debt accrued in the process of redeveloping the SWALEC. And this is where this winter’s mess is to make its entrance – poor Twenty20 form means matchday revenues fail to do their bit and prompted a wave of personnel changes that have been a PR failure.

Glamorgan’s proposal: “The council’s further advance would be used by the club to reduce its bank overdraft to £0.3 million and to address its ongoing cash flow challenges.” So, £1m on top of the £4.5m equalling total liability of £5.5m, minus £500,000 waived in return for a community partnership grant scheme.

That’s the ‘take’ half. The ‘give’ half from the club is that the full amount (£5m) would be repaid to the council more than four years early – October 2023, not the initial loan period ending January 2028. I’m not an apologist for the public sector bailing out the private, but at least there is compromise.

It’s in Cardiff Council’s interest to look after Glamorgan’s interest in some ways. According to the report, an Ashes Test match is incredibly valuable to the city’s economy; bettered only by a Heineken Cup Final that usually results in an army of Irishmen invading the city…

The £1m will come from the Public Works Loan Board, rather than the council’s own coffers, and if it helps Glamorgan secure another Ashes Test match (or two), the short-term outlay will be recovered. Another sweetener was perhaps a pledge by the club to provide a ‘community benefits package’. Alan Hamer told Wales Online: “The loan will be paid back in full at commercial interest rates and the club will provide additional benefits, which total in excess of £900,000.”

The issue that is the most concerning, however, is the references to Glamorgan’s cashflow. In a year that has included little on-the-field success but the visit of an England game, how will the annual results fare? Does the need for an additional £1m from the council mean that a loss is inevitable?

County cricket finances are coming under scrutiny at present, especially with the likes of Yorkshire and Lancashire staring at seven-figure losses. Other clubs have seen six-figure losses, and a minority are in the black. And Glamorgan? Time will definitely tell…

Ireland: Banging on the Glass Ceiling

As the England team collect and swap injuries ahead of the World Cup, a new rival from across the Irish Sea is looking to build on 2007 successes. And you can read all about ’em over at Clear Cricket.

Ireland: Banging on the Glass Ceiling

Criclit – TS Eliot’s The Eng Land

"How did South Africa mess this up?" - TS Eliot gets to grips with Duckworth Lewis

"How did South Africa mess this up?" - TS Eliot gets to grips with Duckworth Lewis

I – The Burial of the Dead (Ball)…

February is the cruellest month, breeding
Wickets out of the dead pitch, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull shots with spin pain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Home in forgetful snow, feeding
Ashes, live to Sky’s viewers.
Some may survive it, overcoming the injuries
With a shoulder of pain; we dropped our Paul Collingwood,
On went Oz, in sunlight, into the boredom;
The CB Series, it lasts days and hours.
Morgan broken finger; Swann out limping, and Broad.
And then there was Bresnan, straining at the calf, look;
My cousins: we’re going out on a limb,
And we are frightened. He said, “Ravi,
Ravi, hold on tight”. And down we went.
In the mountains, Dutchmen swing free.
I watch, much of the plight; odds grow long with no wins here.

Wafting the bats they clutch, at Bangalore
Out of this dusty skirmish? Son of man,
You cannot play, or guess, for you know only
A treat of broken wickets, where the sun beats,
And Chinnaswamy gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And powerplays, no sound of bound’ries. Only
Is there singles under this dead block,
(Come in fielders, cut singles off this dead block),
India will show you something different from either
Your shadow in mourning, edging behind you
Or your shadow when bowling, diving to save two;
India show you fear in Tendulkar’s punch,
Is there a Win?
The next match to,
My Irish Kind,
What will they do?
“We gave you Ed Joyce first five years ago;
“We called up Joyce to see the world.”
– Yet when he came back, played, in that Joyce selection,
Our arms grew, and batsmen set; you could not
Strike, and bowlers failed; World Cup neither
Living nor dead, and we knew nothing,
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.
“Get Us Out Of Here”.

Madame South Africa, famous mathematician,
Had a bad cold, nevertheless
Is known to have some wizened batsmen in full hope,
From a wicked pack of cards, here KP
Is your card: The downed faux-English player,
(That’s a pearl to bring his demise. Look!)
Now are Bangladeshis, with Tamim – ne’er blocks,
The man for these situations
He misses less than he plays; now West Indies,
And here is Chris Gayle’s penchant, the scorecard,
Which starts blank, but something he carries on his back,
Which I’m forsaken to see… he’s on 99
Off sixty-one. Century by order.
I see crowds of people, walking off cricket’s ring.
Thank you, for you sent dear Mr. Strauss home,
Tell him we saw the horrors; hope it melts:
One must be so careful these days.

An exit, early;
Under the brown fog of a February dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
Stayed away from Heathrow Airport, so many.
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
Now Sri Lanka, India; we shall prepare to meet,
But where the Saints of Cricket kept the hours
At Lord’s ground under the gaze of Old Father Time.
World Cup – one to rue, and hear them, crying “CATCH ‘IM!
“Dropped Pollard in the slips at Chennai!
No caught-and-bowled, last over of the innings,
The last man ends not out; it is gloom this year.
What if the six games lost were won instead?
“Oz keep the Cup far hence; so was it meant,
“To be? One-day woes, we dug up again!
“Shoo! World Cup spectre! – mon terreur, c’etait un mare!”

Get An England Cricket Nickname – FREE!

A drunk person

Look how fun ENGLAND NICKNAMES are!

HEY! WOW! COOL! YEAH, that’s right… YOU could be just like your favourite England cricketing hero. A knowledge and a talent for the game isn’t necessary – just follow these simple steps and you can join in with the team spirit and say you won the Ashes with your very own ENGLAND NICKNAME!

STEP ONE:

Let’s get started then! Take your surname – if it has just one syllable (e.g Smith), great! You’re a step closer already. But if your surname has more than one (e.g. Cruxton-Livingtonsmyth), hey no probs – we’ll just betray your family heritage and shorten it (e.g. Crux). WOW – look at you go! You’re nearly there already.

STEP TWO:

Take that short-and-sweet sounding name. It looks cute, but hey, lets add a “Y” to the end of it (e.g. Smith – Smithy, Crux – Cruxy). Word up, we’re done! That’s how simple it is. You can now walk into England’s dressing room and fit right in. Even if you’re a girl – they play cricket too! Here’s some satisfied customers.

Tom Bartlett (‘Barty’): I never realised how easy it would be to experience the amazing bonding sensation that I get from my ENGLAND NICKNAME. Now I can say with confidence that I pretty much won the Ashes.

Bjorn Bergstrom (‘Bergy’): I couldn’t believe it when I heard that I could have my own ENGLAND NICKNAME. I only went on line to check my Swedemail and within seconds I was soaring above my friends in Bødensvøøøøøørgado.

Phillipathy Bambatron (‘Bamby’): Initially I was disappointed when they said Bamba wouldn’t work. But now I am elated that my ENGLAND NICKNAME makes me not only part of the England cricket team, but also a cartoon deer.

Stuart Broad (‘Broady’): Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee*annoyed-stomach-related-complaint*eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Maybe peeps will like me and that?

Garethianton Twatterson (‘Twatty’): How cool is my ENGLAND NICKNAME. It is literally like the best thing ever. When I have kids, I’m giving them all one of these monikers so that they can be, like, the coolest kids, like, ever. Facteroid!

Pimposity R Chlahmsenby (‘Clammy’): Ma rents dint realy dig it @ 1st but dey dont no how gr8 ma ENGLAND NICKNAME iz. I iz blates top in da Guildford Crew wif dis tag… hu wud argue wif me naaaaaaahhhhhhhwwww? LOLZ.

Bob Willis (‘Willy’): No. This is quite possibly the worst thing to ever happen in the history of marketing. I’ve seen less horror watching Devon Malcolm bat…

There you have it. ENGLAND NICKNAMES are that simple. And that damn cool.

Disclaimer: ENGLANDNICKNAMES does not take responsibility if you have to use your first name (Matty Prior) or can’t use a Y at all (Eoin Morgan). Or feel obliged by the weight of pressure and a lack of intellect to resort to just two syllables. Your chances of playing for England can only go down, never up… James Foster.

My Limited Overs Dichotomy

Wet Wet Wet

Roll on the English summer

Warning: This blog post is liable to contain asinine whining and unapologetic petulance of the highest order. And this after having two days to calm down…

I don’t understand the dichotomy. In its simplest terms, I find it hard to stomach England’s latest abject failure in limited overs cricket. And yet, if it were Glammy falling short against the Unicorns, I’d accept it with unquestionable obedience.

It is something that has bothered me for literally hours. Having given less-than-considerate thought in the brief moments of solitude that occasionally permeate modern man’s existence, the allure of moaning like a child – or like a Sir Ian in objection to a contentious fielding policy – does occasionally give way to rational conclusions. It is a great feeling of elucidation tempered by its transience.

Of course it’s natural to be irate with England surrendering the CB Series timidly – it comes at the hands of an Australian side that was mercilessly de-constructed for all to see at the SCG a few weeks ago. The CB Series might not matter (it most certainly does not, if you’re asking) but who wants to lose to the Australians…

Let’s face it. Shane Watson does not need another ODI century to boost his ego…

Meanwhile, successive seasons of limited overs mediocrity in the Pro 40, the T20 and the ABCsuperbangbang100 means that it often comes as a surprise if you tell me that Glamorgan have won; I needed a stiff drink and a sit down when I heard that the Dragons had wrapped up their third straight T20 win at Essex last year.

But if there is a modest total for Glamorgan to chase, I don’t bat an eyelid if the first three batsmen are back in the hutch after five overs with seven runs on the board. But as soon as Kevin Pietersen or Luke Wright hole out attempting a big shot as soon as the RRR tops 6.01 an over, I rewrite the book on expletives.

Perhaps I’m being harsh. Or perhaps England are now measured against greater expectations. With the World Cup around the corner, the Ashes triumph and the World Twenty20 title should suggest that the players are capable of altering their mindset to a different format. Although in Colly’s case, he gets out regardless…

Injuries will inevitably take the blame for some of the predicament – not an issue that Glamorgan face (take away the front line attack, and there’s little else). That England miss Stuart Broad is perhaps a pertinent point, but only because it gives Luke Wright renewed hope.

And then there is the absences of Tremlett and now Shahzad. Perhaps amid what is undoubtedly a poor run of form, England will turn to the last bastion of hope – blind panic. When I say Liam Plunkett’s selection is wide of the mark, please take that literally…

Part of me could just adopt the Glammentality and give up on England’s hopes of doing anything significant in the remaining games of the CB Series. But I can tell you that I will still go to sleep and wake the next morning in the hope that Oz are teetering on the brink. Until the latest have-a-go Hastings starts taking the piss.

[tweetmeme source=”petehayman” only_single=false]I don’t know why I bother. But bother me it shall. And yet the Dragons will take a hammering at whoever happens to step off the team bus, and I’ll greet it with wry humour and the salutation of another glorious county cricket season where hope is but an aspiration in itself. It’s a dichotomy and its one that is unlikely to be solved.