Pakistan 3 – England 0 (Tests); Pakistan 0 – England 4 (ODI): spot the difference?

Pakistan out-played England in the recent Test series, in the United Arab Emirates.  The 3-0 “spinwash” marked the slump that the more pessimistic of England’s followers almost wished on the team.

“England can’t play on sub-continental pitches” (the soil for the Dubai strips was shipped in from Pakistan).

“England’s batsmen can’t play spin”

And all this, apparently, without Saeed Ajmal’s teesra – more often than not, England simply failed to hit the ball (Pakistan’s batting was only slightly better, at times) – 32 of the 60 wickets to fall were LBW or bowled.

So, come the ODI series, England fans expected more of the same – only for the team to confound those expectations with a 4-0 series win, and commanding batting, from skipper Alistair Cook and Kevin Pietersen, in particular. Continue reading Pakistan 3 – England 0 (Tests); Pakistan 0 – England 4 (ODI): spot the difference?

Saeed Ajmal’s new mystery ball – could this be the teesra?

Will Saeed Ajmal unveil a new mystery ball in the series against England?  Perhaps the fabled teesra?

I would love to see it, and especially to see how the England batsmen, now so well supported by their coaches and intense video analysis, react to the new challenge…if it exists.

Is Ajmal playing mind games?  Graham Gooch seems to think so – but what if Ajmal really does have something new?

It should be fun to watch!

John Arlott in conversation with Mike Brearley

I watched the BBC’s newly edited version of “John Arlott in Conversation with Mike Brearley”, with some trepidation.  Here was the owner of the voice of cricket from my youth, about to be quizzed by one of England’s most successful captains, the man with the reputation of having perhaps the most probing mind amongst all England cricketers.

In the days when I had time to watch or listen to broadcast cricket matches, I longed to hear more of Richie Benaud’s expert dissection of the play – Benaud could tell you exactly what had just happened, and why – but Arlott remains the only commentator, ancient or modern, who could describe a cricket match with his poet’s eye and entrance sports fans and non-fans alike.

The original programmes were not scripted-for-TV interviews.  The pauses, for thought and for another glass of wine, might not be allowed in a modern broadcast (maybe even not in 1984, when the original interviews took place, but for the remit of the then recently launched Channel 4 to provide an alternative to then existing channels).

But “John Arlott in Conversation…” is a most moving portrait of a truly human human being, who also happened to be the greatest commentator on cricket, ever.

“What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?” – CLR James

John Arlott knew so much more than cricket.  But let’s not talk about that any more.