Saturday, 30 August 2008

Cod you Believe it?*

Forget the Fredalo incident; cricket has a new bad man of the game and his name is also Andrew: Andrew Symonds.

Symonds was banned from playing in the ODI against Bangladesh today, after missing the team meeting before the game (and an optional training session). And this was no rock and roll mistake. There was no booze, pedaloes or women involved. Symonds went fishing.

At least when Freddy decided it was a good idea to swim back to Britain after drinking half of the West Indies it was after England played the game.

Still, Australia, ever the professionals, posted a healthy score of 254 after losing the toss (wait a second, England managed 296 against the second best ODI team in the world, what's Bangladesh's rating?....minor point, I won't dwell). Bangladesh were all out for 74.

Symonds will play no further part in the ODI series and has been banished back to Queensland where Michael Clarke hopes he can "have some time away from the game." (Never a good sign when your captain needs to remind you that "you need to be committed 100%.").

Nightwatchgirl had the pleasure when she was in Australia to catch an inspiring interview with Andrew Symonds about his hobbies outside the game. All Nightwatchgirl can remember is the sentence: "oh, I like fishing." It seems some habits will come and bite you in the....

There were too many possible headlines for Nightwatchgirl to choose from, so she thought it was probably best to include the others that didn't make the cod, I mean cut.

*Sweetlips Symonds is skating on thin ice.
*Symonds Flakes out of ODI.
*No Wahoo for Symonds.
*No Plaice for Symonds
*Symonds makes a mist-hake.

Further suggestions are welcome.

Friday, 29 August 2008

So Kevin was right all along: he is Captain Fantastic

England beat South Africa today at the Oval by 126 runs, leaving England with an unreachable lead of 3-0 in the ODI series (out of a possible 5).

And what a great day of cricket. England had the all-round performance of a team that is well assimilated, highly skilled and hungry for success.

The England openers set about the South African bowlers like they were a broken cash machine spurting out free money. Bell (73) and Prior (33) gave England the start they needed to go on and score the runs with confidence. And apart from a little blip involving Pietersen (only 5, but who's counting at this stage?), Flintoff (78 not out and surviving a nasty smack to the forehead from a zippy ball) and Patel (31) ensured the total of 296 was always going to pressurise the South Africans after their Trent Bridge debacle.

The South African innings started exactly as England would have hoped, with Gibbs caught brilliantly by Shah for 12. And it seemed the task of getting 297 was just out of their reach. Apart from Amla (46), the rest of the South African batsmen failed to make any sort of indent in the run chase, as the required rate climbed to above 10 an over.

An obvious hightlight (and a relief) was that Morne Morkel did manage to find his way back to the Pavilion without the detour via the groundsmen's shed (Sat-nav installed in his helmet?).

The only downside for Nightwatchgirl was being sandwiched between three very annoying ten year-old boys who couldn't sit still (I blame the Fanta) and old men intent on filling in their scorecards (the cricket equivalent of Bingo).

Nightwatchgirl is also pretty lucky to still be alive, after a six hit by Albie Morkel made a beeline for the stand she was in. Luckily it was skillfully caught by a man in the back row with one hand (nice), saving Nightwatchgirl from certain death (chivalry still lives).

Still, with no rain, an ODI series under their belt and some brilliant and inspired performances from Flintoff, Patel and Harmison, Nightwatchgirl feels that today has been a great day for KP, for England and, frankly, karma from the Test series.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Hold the Front Page

Ever since Marcus Trescothick opened up about his love for Murray Mints, the Australian press have had a field day. Cries of cheating have been shouted out from the rafters; the Ashes win of 2005 was only possible because England had an unfair advantage.

Trescothick claimed that after having a mint, his saliva was rubbed on to the ball and was helping it to swing. Technically, this is cheating. The rules state pretty clearly that players are not permitted to do anything to the ball that will make it do something it shouldn't.

Now, Nightwatchgirl is not normally the one to be quoting journalists on her blog, but today feels like an exception. Patrick Kidd, sports columnist from The Times, has written a brilliant article today about this very subject:

The Australian press "got the story wrong. As Trescothick's autobiography makes quite clear, the mischief with the Murray Mints did not happen in 2005 but during the Ashes summer of 2001. England lost that series 4-1, proving that when it comes to cheating, we suck." (The rest of the article can be found here).

Therefore, the Ashes 2005 remains a series that England won fairly by playing well and out-thinking the Australians. It remains a great series of two top sides going head-to-head with the greatest players in the world at the time. And it remains, that for some dark and historical reason, the Aussies won't give England the credit that they deserve for that series.

Nightwatchgirl wishes to start a group filled with England and Australian supporters that can discuss the cricket, talk about past games peacefully and skip happily through meadows with flowers in their hair.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

England are Un-broad-evable

It is a rare and precious thing when an England side, criticised and over-looked for so long, can bowl so brilliantly, accurately and consistently, leaving South Africa with their lowest total ever against England. It begs the question: where has this England team been hiding? And please can they stick around forever?

With bowlers like Stuart Broad (5-23) and Andrew Flintoff ripping into and destroying the South African top-order batsmen, England, in this state, look unbeatable.

South Africa had trouble from the start, with Herschelle Gibbs (10), Graeme Smith (9) and Jacques Kallis (6) all struggling to score. These batsmen are normally more reliable than the number 3 bus in totting up the runs, but today they had no answers for the England bowlers.

When Andre Nel, the tailender, is the top scorer of the innings with 13, it becomes pretty obvious that it has been England's day so far. And to bowl out the second best One Day side (England are a measly sixth) in 23 overs for 83 runs is pretty remarkable.

Ian Bell and Matt Prior came out to bat with the only obstacle being trying to finish off the run-chase before tea at 6pm. This they did with relative ease, only needing 14 overs to finish the game and win by 10 wickets.
England played an unbelievable game with the bat and ball, and if they manage to win at the Oval, they will have wrapped up the One Day series in only three games (out of a possible five).
Nightwatchgirl won't count her chickens yet, but the fact that it is even possible shows that England should not be underestimated by any team.

Monday, 25 August 2008

It's as simple as 1 2 3

With the next One Day game between England and South Africa at Trent Bridge starting tomorrow at 2.30pm (BST), Nightwatchgirl has been made aware that there are some poor folks out there that are not so familiar with the rules of the game.

Nightwatchgirl therefore feels that this is the perfect opportunity to quickly go through the basics so that everyone can enjoy the match tomorrow.

Here beginneth the lesson. Please sit quietly.

The One Day game lasts 100 overs. One side will bat for 50 overs and then the teams swap and the other side will bat 50 overs. It is literally a game in a day (genius).

The side batting first must aim to score as many runs as possible, so that when it's their turn to field and defend their total, they have a chance to prevent the other side from scoring more runs than them. The team batting second just need to score one more run than the total set to win.

To win an ODI, one side must score more runs than the other. It really is that simple. And unlike in Test matches, to achieve a draw, the scores must be level (it doesn't matter how many wickets have been lost).

Now who said cricket was complicated?

Any further questions are welcome. Email