What You Can Get Away With » cricket

Going back over my old blog posts, I’m reminded that I created the ‘alternative Ashes’, tracking where the trophy would be if every Test cricketing nation was allowed to compete for them, not just England and Australia.

In our last update, the Ashes had made their way to Sri Lanka but now they’ve moved on again. Australia won this year’s series between the two countries 3-0, so as well as winning the Warne-Muralitharan trophy, they’ve now claimed the Ashes back as well. Their first defence of them will be against India next month.

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Back in January 2011, I looked at what would have happened if cricket’s Ashes weren’t restricted to being won by Australia and England. As much cricket has been played since that time, I thought it was time for an update to see what had happened since then.

At that point, India held the Ashes, holding them after a drawn series with South Africa. Their next series was in summer 2011, when they visited England, and lost 4-0, thus handing the Ashes back to England.

England, however, weren’t able to hold onto the Ashes very long, and lost them 3-0 to Pakistan in their first series. I believe this is the first time the Ashes changed hands outside a Test-playing country, as the series was held in the neutral territory of the UAE.

Pakistan also failed to keep a grip on the Ashes, travelling to Sri Lanka and losing the series there 1-0. Sri Lanka remain the holders of the Ashes, and will make their first defence of them against New Zealand at home in Novemeber.

Following that, the alternative Ashes will next be up for grabs in the Australia-Sri Lanka series around New Year, or in England’s visit to New Zealand in early 2013.

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It has come to my attention that I made a couple of typos in my predictions for 2011 post.

These occur in prediction 2 where, obviously infected by Ashes fever, I typed ‘cricket’ when I meant ‘rugby’ and ‘India’ when I meant ‘New Zealand’. This is obviously an honest and genuine mistake and not in any way a hasty bandwagon-jumping correction to reflect the fact that a side that can lose so spectacularly to Ireland obviously isn’t going to a World Cup final, while the English rugby side has suddenly become rather good.

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A thought struck me as I was looking at the Cricinfo archive yesterday – what if the Ashes hadn’t stayed as purely England vs Australia series, but – when other countries started playing Test cricket – had been seen as an accolade everyone could play for?

Googling didn’t reveal any cricketing equivalent of the Unofficial Football World Championship which traces its origins back to the first England vs Scotland international and then proceeds in a ‘man who beat the man’ style to have Japan as the current world champions. So, I decided to waste some time and work out who would hold the cricketing version.

The rules are the same as currently with the Ashes – the team that holds the trophy retains it if they win or draw the series. The challenger can only take the title by winning the series. The trophy can also only change hands in games that are generally recognised Test matches and series.

Read the rest of this entry

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If you’re a cricket fan, you can waste hours on the stats section of Cricinfo, finding out increasingly obscure, but interesting, information. Today, after looking to see where Shane Watson’s 161 came in the all-time list – 28th – I took a look at the progression of the highest individual score in one-day cricket. If you want to see how the one-day game has evolved over the years, it shows some interesting data.

Back in 1972, Dennis Amiss scored the first century in an ODI – 103 for England against Australia in the second-ever ODI. Nearly thirty-eight years and three thousand matches later, Sachin Tendulkar became the first batsman to score a double century in an ODI, when he managed the feat against South Africa. What’s interesting is that Amiss took 134 balls (more than an entire side gets in a Twenty20 game) to score his 103, while it took Tendulkar just 13 balls more to score his 200.

I’m not going to be foolish and declare that Tendulkar’s record will never be broken, but just what is the upper limit for an ODI innings? Are we going to reach an era where balls that don’t result in a boundary are the exception and the record starts edging towards 300, or are bowlers going to learn more tactics of control to keep it down around 200? Or will the ODI die out and be replaced entirely by Twenty20, in which an international double century is surely impossible?

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I looked, and lo, the internet did provide these morsels of interest:

Save the Sea Otter Pups from No2AV flippancy – Beneath the jokes about dead wildlife, Duncan Stott asks an important question about why the No2AV campaigners think a military dictatorship is a good advert for their cause.
6 Real People With Secret Identities That No One Saw Coming – there’s a reason I love Cracked.com, and articles like this are part of it. The story of Hal Turner, for instance, reads like Vonnegut’s Mother Night being enacted in real life.
10 Reasons Poms Won’t Win – Yes, it’s time to ironically look back at Australian pre-Ashes confidence. Choose your favourite disproved theory from the list – mine has to be the assertion that England have no strength in depth while Australia apparently have eight Test standard fast bowlers waiting to play. Insert obvious joke here.
Wakefield’s article linking MMR vaccine with autism was fraudulent – Possibly the first and only time I’ll have need to link to the British Medical Journal, but this is important.
The Facts In The Case Of Dr Andrew Wakefield – In artistic form, but still getting over more relevant information in a smaller space and time than most newspapers manager.

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So, the team in blue were leading throughout most of the campaign and seemed set to coast home easily. The red team, the defending champions, really didn’t live up to expectations but a flurry of activity helped them out in a close close finish, though they still ended up in third place, with the final battle between the seemingly-unbeatable blues and the yellows, who’d got there on the back of some great performances by their leader. When it came down to it, though, the blues just couldn’t seal the deal and the yellows won comfortably.

But this is a General Election post, so why I’m talking about today’s Indian Premier League final, where the Chennai Super Kings beat the heavily-tipped Mumbai Indians to take the title, I don’t know.

Today was another day of playing sorting office, and working through several boxes of letters in the office to check they were all arranged correctly and ready to be delivered. Not quite a dirty job – the advantage of dealing with stuff in envelopes is that you don’t get your hands covered in printer’s ink – but a rather boring one that someone has to do.

Meanwhile, the Labour campaign is convulsed with rows over the appearance of an Elvis impersonator at a campaign event, and as a result, Armando Ianucci and the team behind The Thick Of It are have probably thrown out all their planned scripts for the next series because they’re just not silly enough to be realistic.

It’s been a quiet electoral weekend for me, but we’re about to head into the final sprint for the finish, now we’ve got two-thirds of the campaign behind us. In a fortnight’s time, it’ll all be over. For this election anyway.

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Just reading the news that Andrew Flintoff will be having knee surgery following England’s Ashes victory, and a thought strikes me. As the England team have inconsiderately chosen to have lots of other matches this summer, is this the chance for the papers to get shots of a bleary-eyed Flintoff struggling to walk to match last time?

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