Tuesday, 29 June 2010

A quick poll

Q) Has Watto ever read a book? I don't mean lads mags or anything like that. I mean a proper book with a beginning, a middle and an end and everything. Pictures optional.

a) Yes

b) No

If your answer is a) Yes, then I expect a full explanation.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

The kids come to town, and a golden oldie too.

The match was billed as Simon Jones' home debut. What wasn't mentioned was that it was also James Vince's home 20/20 debut (only his third 20/20, amazingly), and on the night it was the teenager with a huge future rather than the 31 year old fast bowler with a huge legacy who walked away with the honours. Having won the toss Cork didn't hesitate to bat first - the track looked a belter, and the weather was such that dew wouldn't really be a factor in the second innings. Gloucestershire had on display their latest Kiwi, Redmond, whilst their usual captain Gidman was probably off sulking somewhere as Porterfield took charge. Gloucs opened the bowling with the spinner Taylor, Lumb whipping the first ball to square leg where the boundary rider made a mess and let the ball go for four. It proved to be the first in a long string of fielding errors that blighted the match. Taylor's first and only over went for eight. Hussain found Adams' edge early on as Hampshire's leading 20/20 run scorer departed early. Vince joined Lumb at the crease and Lumb finally showed the shots that got him a place in the World 20/20 team. A rather funny moment came when Ireland celebrated thinking he had found Lumb's edge, but the Ump said no. after a few words and stares were exchanged, Ireland bowled the next ball which Lumb happily deposited into the crowd at long on.

Lumb was run out attempting a third that was never on, but that only served to bring in Neil McKenzie, who started slowly but quickly matched Vince shot for shot as the pair put on over 100, a flat six down the ground from Vince and THE perfect cover drive from McKenzie (with Adams as runner) the highlights. Both were dropped off the bowling of Dawson early doors, the drop at mid on the very worst of them, but good players don't dwell on past mistakes, as both players found the gaps with ease and 50s were the order of the day. McKenzie brought his up with a monster six but was gone the next ball stumped. Vince plowed on but feathered a Dawson ball to short third man for a brilliant 77. Ervine and Cork were at the crease and after a nudgy start Slug found his range and struck some fine 4s. Cork found the square leg crowd before he found that 2 could not be made into 3 off the penultimate ball of the innings. However that 2 brought up the 200 for Hampshire, whilst Ervine found the long on boundary with the last ball of the innings to give Hampshire a score of 205.

The Gloucestershire innings very nearly got off to the perfect start. Cork found Redmond's edge first ball but Dawson juggled then dropped the ball at first slip. He attoned however by gobbling up Porterloo next over off Wood with a diving catch to the right at first slip again. Redmond looked in good touch before first headering a ball to the boundary then edging a riser from Wood to Pothas in the 4th over. Taylor too struck well before picking out Dawson at mid on. 36-3. Then came the innings that I thought would win the game for Gloucs. Dent and Franklin made batting look easy, giving Slug serious tap including a huge six from Franklin that took about 5 minutes to find the ball. The pair got Gloucs up to 114 with no issues as even Jones appeared nullified once Dent got over the fact that an Ashes winner was bowling at him. It was Briggs who made the vital breakthrough, having Franklin caught on the boundary for an excellent 46 or something. The new man, Snell, did not appear daunted either, as it became clear that the only way to win would be to bowl dot balls. The pair put on 50 in double quick time as the required rate hung around 12-15 per over. Jones came on to bowl the 18th over with Gloucs still needing 47 to win, though with 6 wickets in hand. After a single and a couple of dots, Jones removed the bails with a nice straight one to Snell, and from there Gloucs crumpled. Jones' over went for three, as Dawson was run out by Batty off the last ball of the over and Hampshire were as good as done.

Briggs and his spin was trusted with the 19th over and he started pretty well! An attempted reverse Dent sweep resulted in no bat-on-ball contact, though there was plenty of interaction between the pads and ball for the Umpire to rule Dent out. The slogger Lewis attempted to heave a yorker into next Wednesday, but  as so happens with trying to hit yorkers for six, the end result was Lewis walking back to the pavilion, and Briggs was on a hattrick!! The ball just missed the top of the stumps, but again it was a dot ball. The over went for very few, 4 infact, and Wood had the luxury of bowling the final over with plenty of runs to play with. Vince bucked the worrying trend by taking a diving steepler on the boundary to get Gloucs nine down, before Wood's seemingly trademark run-out off his own bowling ended the innings and a suddenly comfortable victory was the result. The end was certainly not predicted by anyone 2 and a half overs previously, when Gloucs still had 6 wickets in hand, but scoreboard pressure ultimately decided the match. McKenzie's tweaked groin means that he's out of the Essex match, and Carbs replaces him. No other changes are to be made.

DC Watch: With a slight hobble, Dan Christian took part in pre-match training, before running 3 laps of the boundary. I'm of the opinion that he'll be back available earlier than first predicted.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Jones gets a second chance (and I get to see it)

So this evening Gloucestershire visit the Rose Bowl for..... a 20/20 match, shock horror. Looking out the back door now the weather is going to be fantastic, warm and sunny. Hopefully the Royals will bathe not only in sunshine but victory this evening also, as the Gladiators come into the match on a bad run of form and probably about 85% effort. They do however have a boost with the signing of Aaron Redmond at the top, taking thier Kiwi quota to 3, their overseas contingent to 2 and ours to, umm, 0. Still no Christian obviously, though two further days have elapsed on his injury since the last blog. I don't know where Razzaq is, so don't ask me ok? The apparently 'half baked' Simon Jones will get another chance this evening after his horror first two overs on Tuesday. This does however make the batting rather reliant on the top 5, as Dawson will be at 6 and Pothas at 7 with the bowlers from 8 down. Lumb is in desparate need of runs, whilst Slug wouldn't mind a few more to boost his new found image as a genuine allrounder. McKenzie is deserving of his place this time after a quickfire half century on Tuesday, whilst I'd like to see Vince bat at 3. Given the fact that Lumb or Adams will be out in the first two overs, Vince will have plenty of opportunity to take advantage of the powerplays, not that it really stops him anyway from scoring freely. A big game for Dawson I feel, as a batting average of 0.5 isn't really going to cut it when he's only bowled 3.4 overs for 24 runs in two games. Cork and Wood should bowl better than they did agaisnt Sussex and Surrey (that's a given, surely?) whilst Briggs will be hoping to sneak under the radar again. I think that's everyone, past and present, alive and removed. The likely team:

Lumb, Adams, Ervine, Vince, McKenzie, Dawson, Pothas (wk), Cork (c), Wood, Briggs, Jones

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Ey, 'twent belly oop

So last night was the first time in a long time Simon Jones got a run out in a county first XI game (the last time was against Hampshire where he nearly got a hattrick - first wicket was Adams, who was clearly just having an off day, then Lamb, which nills any credibility of the hattrick attempt ;) ), and he was a bit undercooked first up. Mind you who wouldn't be after sitting out for two years? All credit to him, after the Davies assault made his figures Ervine-esque (oh, I can't say that now!) he came back well, cleaning up Batty then effecting a run-out off his own bowling. 1-53 is more of a reflection on his first two overs than his last two, though the initial battering was basically the difference between Hampshire and Surrey on the night. Slug continued his fine form with the ball, picking up 3 wickets to take his 20/20 tally to 11, streets ahead of Wood in second with 8 wickets. Probably the worst part was that Cork and Wood both went for lots of runs without getting any wickets. However the good to come out of that is that surely they can not perform as badly as an opening pair again? I guess it was just one of those days for them. Allowing Surrey to get to 200 was a bad showing, but I'm pleased with how positively our batsmen played. Lumb got into double figures, though Slug sadly failed with the bat. Adams piled up some more runs, taking his season total to 278, 142 more than anyone else in the team (McKenzie is on 136). Vince furthered his claim for a permanent spot in the XI by striking at nearly 2 a ball, whilst McKenzie showed he has more than two gears by blasting a 50 that was actually quick enough to be a good effort given the total. Alas it wasn't enough and we finished 11 runs short.

As I said some good can come out of this game, and I'm nowhere near as suicidal as I was after the Somerset match. Ervine must be on drugs or something, how can he bowl so brilliantly?? Adams is still amongst the runs, Vince can become the aggressor at the top that we have been lacking since Lumb lost form. McKenzie earned his salt, Cork and Wood will bowl much better, Dawson can only improve on his batting average of 0.5, whilst Briggs still appears to be a handful with that wide delivery stance that sends the ball from a tree to the batsman. A real disappointment is Nic Pothas, who appears to have lost 'it', though I have my suspicions that Slug and Adams have found 'it' and split it between them. It may be worth our while giving Bates a run in the team - he is the future after all, and with Pothas struggling with various things, age one of them, perhaps it is time to say enough's enough. Oh, and 3 days have now elapsed on Christian's injury time out :D

Monday, 21 June 2010

A right old mix

So, where to start? On Friday night a right thumping was handed out to the Royals by those idiots at Hove. Bloody Murray Goodwin. Next day Hampshire travelled to Bristol to play Gloucestershire infront of the Sky cameras (only them - there was no crowd). Gloucs won the toss and chose to bat. Pitch looked decent, nice warm sunny day and we skittled 'em for 68 (!!!). A combination of good bowling, good field work and diabolical shot selection made Gloucestershire's batting look as commanding as a giraffe on ice (bbc's new celebrity contestant show). There were two double wicket maidens, one for the mightily impressive Wood and one for Slug, who was made to look like Courtney Walsh on a minefield (ITV's new risque Saturday night show). Slug finished with figures of 4-1-12-4, as even Danny Briggs got in on the act and Dawson bowled 2 full overs for 4. In reply Hampshire seemed to have learnt the lessons of the Kent and Somerset game by chasing down the total in 7.3 overs, the fastest ever non-weather affected chase. Lumb and Adams played ok, Adams showing there was nothing in the pitch by driving 3 balls for four through the covers. Fired up Steve Kirby got rid of both openers in an over and bless him he had his moment, though not even he knew that Gloucs would get anything from the game. James Vince and Slug came to the crease and in his first 20/20 game Vince scored 26 runs, 24 of them in 4s. Slug ended up 15* from 7 balls, whilst McKenzie danced down the track to his second ball and creamed Banerjee over long-off for a one bounce 4. Gidman tried to look interested on Gloucs' behalf by moaning to the Umpires about the scoreboard, but the game was over, done and dusted, Slug man of the match and an early dinner for Hampshire.

Not all good came out of the game though. Dan Christian bowled two balls, including a perfect yorker, then hobbled off clutching his calf. He's out for two weeks and Hampshire's overseas troubles continue. On a happier note, Simon Jones is reportedly fit to play the Tuesday game against Surrey. Bloody hell.

Friday, 18 June 2010

If this was Pakistan...

So Hampshire have been docked 2 points for next year's 20/20 competition after preparing a pitch for the Somerset game that nearly killed two of our batsmen. Thankfully, we were not condemned to a tirade of abuse that accompaines every mash-up of the Wembley surface - Athers said it wasn't fit for county cricket, a couple of other people said it was a terrible wicket, the umpires submitted their report and the ECB handed out a punishment that was accepted by Hampshire Cricket. This sequence of events, however, would have played out slightly differently if the E in ECB was changed to a P:

- The umpires would have called an early end to the match, with the players and officials being lead off the pitch by security whilst being bombarded with objects from the crowd.

- Discontent would spill onto the streets of Southampton, as many thousands of angry people would display their anger by trying to set fire to clumps of soil.

- A High Court investigation would follow, with the umpires flown to a different part of the country, then flown back again just so that the media could say that the umpires were flown in to give evidence. A late-night break-in of the groundsman's house would be carried out by MI5, seizing 'evidence' such as 4 copies of 'Gardeners' World' magazine, a lawnmower from his shed and a few potted plants.

- The heavy roller at the Rose Bowl would deny all knowledge of the wicket in question, however a shaky video would then be released as an 'exclusive' to the news channels showing a late night, unofficial meeting between the pitch, the heavy roller and the groundsman. The heavy roller would then hold an emotional press conference admitting to its involvement in the scandal, saying that it felt used by the groundsman, and that it was threatened with being replaced by a shiny new one if it did not comply in the pitch preparation. Accusations of taking money would be flatly denied.

- The court case would rumble on for about 4 months, as various groundsmen from around the country, officials at Hampshire, players, unpires, tv crews and the Somerset 12th man would give evidence in relation to the pitch.

- Hampshire captain Dominic Cork would suddenly retire from all levels of the game and move to the south of Spain straight after. After the 4 months, the High Court would rule in favour of the umpires, deeming the Rose Bowl wicket to be unsafe for all levels of cricket, claiming it to be a danger to the game in general. Neil McKenzie would be handed a 16 month ban for getting an 8 ball duck, whilst Hampshire Cricket would be deducted 20 points for each of the following 10 seasons for their involvement. The Hampshire Groundsman would be handed a life sentence, but would go into hiding ala Imran Khan at the first site of government officials. The heavy roller involved in the debacle would be sentenced to the scrap heap, whilst Nic Pothas, Sean Ervine, Michael Lumb and Abdul Razzaq would each receive twelve month bans. Marcus Trescothick would receive an 8 month ban. Jimmy Adams, the only batsman to play with ease on the pitch, would receive a six month ban. Each player would be fined £20,000 for their involvement too.

- 3 months after the ruling, the head groundsman would come out of hiding and be installed as head groundsman at The Oval, Cork would come out of retirement, return from Spain and take up the captaincy again. The heavy roller would be put back together again, whilst the bans on all of the players except Neil McKenzie would be lifted. All fines would be reduced to £5 each for administration fees, whilst the umpires would be elevated to the ICC Elite Panel. The punishment handed out to Hampshire cricket would be reduced from 20 points for the next 10 seasons to a 2 point deduction for next season only.

If this was Pakistan, and the PCB oversaw the this incident, we'd get the same eventual punishment. It would take 7 months, but we'd get it.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Hail to the King

A rather apt comment was made over the microphone during the post match interview as the Hampshire fans and that bloke in a Surrey shirt made their way to the exits.

There were a few things we had to put right
You can bloody well say that again. After a performance that left me devoid of the ability to manipulate my vocal chords for two days, I was expecting rather than hoping for, a decent showing yesterday. Sunny sunny skies, a nice warm atmosphere and plenty in the crowd, if Hampshire didn't pull their fingers out then I may have gone through with my threat to Wes (though obviously not directly aimed at my favourite Ossi) and punched somebody nearby in the kidneys. Thankfully everybody who attended the match are still able to filter their urine without trouble, as the mighty Jimmy Adams smote a wonderful, slogless century as he carried his bat through the innings. The total of 201-2 proved too much for the Surrey Lions (hahaha) who finished on 191-9. Actually the match was more comfortable than the scoreline suggests. Lumby and Adams finally did what they did so well last season and played their shots rather than friggin leaving balls - if it's wide of off-stump just cut at it rather than leave it. Anyway Lumb got past the first and the second over, AND got into double figures as he recorded his first boundary of this season's 20/20. He fell for 18 but it got us into a decent position first up. He was replaced at the crease by the self-styled golden one, KP. I half-heartedly joked to a kind Aussie next to me that he would get out hitting to mid-off. I was halfway there as a Schofield legbreak got snaffled up on the long-off boundary as Pietersen returned to the dugout for 15. Slug joined Jimmy at the crease and it wasn't long before the pair hit their straps, and people in the East stands.

Ex Hampshire physio bench regular, Tremlett, started off with hostile bowling, before getting into his grove and sending down juicy back-of-a-length balls that were greeted with plenty of hooking (mainly for six). The number of boundaries was only matched by the number of extras as no-balls became the delivery of choice for Tremlett, Nel and Dernbach. The (once?) great Symonds served up plenty of crap for Slug and Jimmy to hammer away especially on the short side. Jimmy moved to 50 then onwards at a rate of knots, finding the gaps all over the place. He moved from 91 to 97 in one delivery, then some fantastic running between the wickets got Adams to 99*, one over left. A four off the first ball of the last over, then a single got Slug his 50 and Adams on strike. Next ball Dernbach bowls a full toss that Adams swings to long-on and is caught, but it's a no-ball! Adams gets in before the catch is made so moves onto 100, his first 20/20 century and only his second limited overs century in his career. The full toss was infact Dernbach's second above waste height so is removed from the attack and the last 3 balls are bowled by Symonds. Yum, says Slug and Symo finishes with the unenviable figures of 2.3-0-37-0. A standing ovation rightfully accompanies Jimmy off the field.

Having bought a few cold ones and navigated to decent seats on the shorter boundary, Surrey are ready to start, opening with RH-B sauce and that chap on £150,000 a year, Davies. They started ok (read as keeping with the rate) before a brilliant slower ball from Wood makes the sauce man send a simple return catch. As a bit of comedy is always needed now and again, Surrey were the providers by sending Gareth Batty to the crease at number 3. Lumb cut short the japes with a direct hit that sent Nora back having faced only one ball for a massive 0. Sadly this brought Ramprakash to the crease who actually is pretty good and can bat. Davies isn't too bad either but he was no match for my favourite Aborigine Dan Christian, who got Davies to spoon the ball to Pietersen. Slug got tapped by the new pair at the crease, as Ramps and Symo again took advantage of the short boundary to pepper the poor crowd further. Cork though was up to the challenge in terms of his captaincy by bringing on young Wood to break the partnership, and it worked. Christian again took a wonder catch at square leg to dismiss Symo but Ramps was still striking those boundaries. My nerves were not relieved by the fact that joining Ramps at the crease was Younis Khan, though an unconventional technique was used to break the partnership before it could get going. Carbs had the nouse to field the ball with his privates and spent the next 5 minutes crumpled in a heap on the floor. Those nasty umpires didn't stop the innings clock so we eventually got penalised 6 runs, but it was worth it - once Carbs was no longer bent over double, play resumed and the first ball bowled (by wonder kid Christian) resulted in Adams taking the decisive diving catch off of a Ramps pull. Game over effectively.

The short boundary meant that fours still turned up, but Cork put stamped out the game by cleaning up Younis then having Spriegel caught same over, again a fantastic catch by Danny boy. Jimmy couldn't stay out of the match and ran out Nel, with Schofield being caught off Wood again by Christian. The penalty runs and a couple of boundaries meant that Surrey got some respectability but the game truely belonged to Jimmy Adams. A perfect response to Friday, and yet another fine performance by the king of the Rose Bowl. Just hope England don't get a hold of Adams...

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Hampshire in pictures

As words still fail me, I shall deliver my opinions through the medium of pictures (!?)

Rose Bowl:

Giles White:

Michael Lumb:

Neil McKenzie:

Hampshire Cricket: 

Friday, 11 June 2010



Thursday, 10 June 2010

Getting priorities right

It has come to my attention that I haven't written anything about Hampshire for a while, which is ironic given the blog's title and description. To be truthful Hampshire have been ok, not great, B-. After trying their best not to win an easy game against Kent (113 to chase is tough in 20/20 you know), they were then all over Essex in a 4 day game until persistent precipitation put paid to those hopes of victory. I say all over them, I went to the first two sessions of day one and we were terrible in the afternoon. That aside the brilliant Corky weighed in with some decent scores with the bat to set up our chance of winning. The wicket was the next one along from the one used against Kent, and both favoured the medium pacers, and was difficult to score meaningfully off of. Then onto Cardiff and the chance to watch Hampshire play on S4C - they actually show more than just a picture of a circus tent, as I found out to my suprise - though the game was marred by a) Hampshire losing b) Hampshire losing badly c) Robert Croft was on the microphone speaking in welsh d) The blasted commentators (of which there was 5 or 6 of them on at the same time) throught the game blabbing away constantly in welsh and not really watching the cricket. Lumb is still yet to get past the first over of the innings, Adams isn't in great form, neither is Carberry, Ervine, Pothas. McKenzie is doing ok, though not spectacular. Razzaq was butched wholely unfairly by the bbc because he has played 2 games and hasn't struck 60 runs off 22 balls each game. Christian took a wonder catch off Briggs.

So where now? Somerset come to the Rose Bowl tomorrow evening, and to say I'm not confident is an understatement. Our record against Somerset in one day games is terrible (we've never played them in the 20/20), and they have Tresco, Kieswetter, Hildreth, Pollard, and Trego. Hopefully they'll shorten the boundaries for when Hampshire bat. Then on Sunday Surrey are the visitors, with Younis, Symonds and a whole lot of hecklers in tow. We'll apparently have the wonderful Pietersen to score 13 runs, hit straight to mid-off, then spend the whole time fielding with his hands in his pockets. I hope he remembers the way to the Rose Bowl. 

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Finn put on 'witness protection' style programme

The ECB have come under heavy criticism in light of reports that young fast bowler Steven Finn has been put on a witness protection style programme in an extraordinary move in the lead up to this winter's Ashes series down-under. The saga started with news that Finn would not be playing in the one-day series over the next few months to instead undergo a strength and conditioning programme. There were rumbles that England did not want Australia to get a look at Finn before the Ashes, though it seemed plausible to explain Finn's absence with the fact that he had not featured in any one-day squads previously. However this assumption was turned on its head when rumours broke that Middlesex administrators had spent the entire morning erasing all evidence of Finn existing at the club, let alone playing for them at any point. When queried about this move, Middlesex captain Shaun Udal appeared to be part of the cover up too; "Finn? Never heard of him. Tall, young and lean you say? No, Middlesex CCC have always held the rule that only short, chubby ageing pros can play for us. Oh I think you have been mistaken, Mark Cosgrove plays for Glamorgan, not Middlesex. He must be the one you are after".

However, an insider leaked information on the plot, revealing that Finn had assumed a new name and has been shipped abroad to continue playing cricket away from the gaze of Cricket Australia. "They've gone absolutely flippin' mad, the ECB have" the insider told us. "The kid plays decently against a mediocre Bangladesh side and suddenly he's the next Larwood. They have completely jumped the gun and are nervous as anything, thinking the Aussies are spying on them - Giles Clarke nearly started a diplomatic incident this morning when he got the guy who delivers the post to Lord's arrested 'cos he looks a bit like Merv Hughes" The insider had heard reports that Finn, or Christophe le Canard, as he has been rumoured to have had his name changed to, is most likely to have been flown to Nepal to play in their domestic leagues until the autumn. The England team have denied that any person by the name of Finn ever played for them, whilst the Bangladeshis apparently accepted the news that a number of their batsmen had infact simply been given out by the umpires for ineptness during the recently concluded test series.

Though the ECB have maintained a cloak and dagger approach to the increasingly farcical situation, the Australians and in particular team captain Ricky Ponting seemed laid back about the news. "They can do whatever they like" Ponting told reporters "It's up to them how they deal with a bowler, I mean before the last Ashes series we stuck Mitch (Johnson) on a calendar, then had a great time teasing him about all the front page spreads of his fiance and mum arguing. Everyone's different. We'll keep an eye on this, of course, and I'm sure he'll turn up on our radar at some point". Ponting was also very candid about keeping a lookout for Monsieur le Canard, revealing the spy network he had set up to track England players. "Haydos (Matthew Hayden) has his academy in India, Lillee too, so any appearance in the Ranji Trophy won't go unnoticed. AB (Allan Border) is tracking the Highveld in South Africa so if Finn or whoever he is now tries to cross into Zimbabwe then he'll snare him (literally). Warnie has Nevada covered, for some reason, though I haven't heard from Big Merv (Hughes) since yesterday evening, he's in London."

Monday, 7 June 2010

Give Creepy a consultancy role!

There is no doubting the obvious talent of James Vince with the bat, but it is becoming frustrating seeing him stroll to 30, 40 odd with no apparent issues, then lose his wicket. He has passed 50 only 3 times in 27 CC innings, yet has an average of 30, showing that there appears to be some sort of block or sticking point once he seems set at the crease. Liam Dawson is similar too. It is a worry that they may continue in this way and so struggle to nail downs spots in the team that they deserve. This is where I think John Crawley could be invaluable. You don't get to play in an Ashes series by scoring 30s and 40s in the Championship, and in his prime Crawley could put together mammoth scores. Take for instance the 311* he scored against Nottinghamshire where he occupied the crease for nigh on nine hours. Crawley clearly knew how to apply himself, and knuckle down and make starts count.

I think Hampshire should make use of Crawley's knowledge and experience by using some of the money free from Afridi, Mendis and Lee's no showing to employ him as a batting consultant for the younger players (and Benham). I believe that once Vince finally passes 100 runs in an innings, he will progress very, very quickly and all that is needed is that push to get him there. In my view Crawley would be the best man to add the grit and concentration to the flashy shots and confidence that are already parts of Vince and Dawson's games.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Nathan McCullum to receive honours, Vettori on the move (again)

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has announced a number of honours that are to be bestowed upon Nathan McCullum in recognition of his feat in Florida two weeks ago for the Black Caps. The second 20/20 against Sri Lanka resulted in New Zealand being bowled out for 81 in 17.3 overs, with the Sri Lankans chasing down the target to win by 7 wickets. However, Prime Minister Key felt that McCullum's superb effort to end up not out in the Black Cap innings deserved rightful recognition. May 23rd has been declared a national holiday in New Zealand, whilst a telegram was received from the Queen congratulating McCullum. There has also been rumours of McCullum being added to the New Year's honours list, whilst Ladbrokes have placed the younger brother of Brendon as firm favourite to pick up overseas Sports Personality of the year for 2010. McCullum was obviously quite overjoyed by the news. "Aw it would be a dream come true, to be handed that award by perhaps Gazza or maybe Frank Bruno. It feels quite surreal, all of this, ever since that match it has been like a dream. A knighthood would be the icing on Jesse's (Ryder) cake. I can't take all the plaudits though - I couldn't have done this without the other 10 guys in that match. To end up not out has been the highlight of my career, not many New Zealanders can claim to finish a game not out, let alone do it with a double figure score."

The celebratory events were tarnished, however, by the news that captain Daniel Vettori had resigned with immediate effect from his post as captain following the match. News reports revealed that Vettori had been seen posting a letter of resignation through his own letterbox once the team had returned to New Zealand. Vettori gave a brief press conference soon after, explaining his decision. "I realised not long after I had gotten out in that match that I was no longer up to the required standard to lead this team." Vettori said. "To be the sixth wicket to fall in the match was the lowest point of my career, to not be scrapping it out with the tail feels like a failure, pure and simple. I do however feel that Nath has shown himself to be my rightful heir, and will take over the captaincy immediately." It is reported that Vettori will be attending school matches to look for another wicketkeeper to take his place as a 'specialist' batsman in the team. One of New Zealand's 3 fans, the angry one, welcomed Vettori's resignation. "Look, if he can't carry the whole team on his shoulders, then he really isn't fit to take to the field with them." The fate of Vettori's 'mongoose' bat, as reported about a month ago, has yet to be decided.

After failing to secure a spot in the Australian side last year via his freemantle-made prescription glasses, (read original article here), which broke on the flight to Melbourne after he sat on them, Vettori is once again hoping to revive his career by applying for Australian citizenship through a watch he found in a drawer in his bedside table. "I bought it from a bloke who had family in Canberra, plus I've had the watch for four years now, so I tick all the qualification boxes." When asked if he felt he could get into the Aussie side even if his qualification application was approved, Vettori was firm in his reply; "Yes, easily. Ever since (Nathan) Hauritz mysteriously disappeared during the tour to England, nobody has been able to nail down the spinner's spot, and I may take up a place in a monastery if I'm not batting at eight this time next month for the Baggy Greens - afterall they picked Jason Krejza once, for goodness sake".

Thursday, 3 June 2010

What has Greg Lamb been eating???

Currently India are 111-5 against Zimbabwe, and two of the wickets have fallen to Greg Lamb, who has figures of 7-0-28-2. It wasn't so long ago that Lamby was struggling to get into Hampshire's team at all, as he was that bad. We tried hiding him at 7 in the one day team and I alone saw three first ball ducks in one season from him (bowled against Kent, lbw against Worcs, lbw against Sussex) yet here he is scheduled to come in at number 4 for Zim against India (!!). Further to that he captains his home domestic team in Zimbabwe, batting in the middle order and scoring runs for fun. He was impressive in the Champions League and again at the World 20/20. So where has this improvement come from?

When Hampshire told him he no longer had a contract with them, he was the definition of my sort of allrounder - couldn't bat, couldn't bowl. Trusted with the main spin duties for Hampshire he was terrible. To bring on Lamb was seen as an effort to relieve all pressure on the batsmen, whilst his batting, mentioned above, was embarrassing. He was nice as pie, but you just knew what was going to happen when he either came in to bat/waft bat in general direction of ball, or came on to bowl/send down juicy long hops. Perhaps it says something about the level of International cricket at the moment, but I like to think that maybe, just maybe this fairly decent player who became absolutely woeful, has somehow found a bit of umph again. Good on you, Greg, maybe you could come back one day?

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Give me an A!!....Give me a J!!....

Give me an A, N, T, H, A, M, E, N, D, I and an S. Please, mark July 1st in your diaries. Not only does my blasted rent start that day but it marks the arrival of the worked-out one. Abdul Razzaq will be wishing he was playing against Hampshire rather than for us. Younis Khan will have a field day. For the rest though, it could well be their worst nightmare. It will be a year since we announced the signing, but in exactly one month time, Mr Mendis will finally put in an appearance at the Rose Bowl. Of course, I'll be on holiday then, so will miss his first few games, but boy am I excited. Even better, rumour has it he'll be available for ALL games following, now isn't that something to smile about? Well yes after the terrible news that Shahid was no longer available at all, and we were looking like having virtually no overseas player all season. Herath has one week left with us, then he's heading home. His bowling has been average at best, but he will be remembered for that vital partnership with McKenzie at Trent Bridge that got us our first win. I'd never seen a Sri Lankan hug a South African on Sky Sports news in the middle of a field before, and I don't expect to see it again anytime soon.

So with Mendis arriving where does that leave Hampshire? Well without him for another 4 weeks but White can start to plan how he is going to resurrect the team further (5 game unbeaten run currently, did you know?), and continue the Hampshire tradition of a late season surge towards respectability.