Thursday, August 31, 2006

Tevez to West Ham?!

I went to bed last night thinking that perhaps a secret deal was in the works for the Argentian duo of Tevez and Mascherano, both of whom have impressed in recent times, even prior to the World Cup. While ultimately I would like to see home grown players (Rossi, Jones etc) vying for the vacant berths in midfield and up front, you can never argue with the signing of genuine world-class players, even though they don't always succeed as one might expect.

The one dampener to my optimism was the rumour that Arsenal were in the mix, and the London factor would be key. Turns out I was half right, but who in their right mind would have possibly expected West Ham to triumphantly announce to signing of two of Argentina's best players this morning?

Something smells rather fishy about the whole deal. It has been stressed that the pair have signed "permanent" contracts, but there is no mention as to the duration of that permanance (yes, oxymoronic I know). The fees have not been disclosed either, which is not uncommon, but only serves to the mystery. There has and will be no comment from the players, we are told, and news of their unveiling as Hammers is still awaited.

Where does this leave United? Well, we're top of the table, with 9 points and 10 goals from 3 games. If we keep our lads fit, then we have the squad to go the distance, and who knows, there are still a few hours to go before the transfer deadline. Perhaps Alan Pardew will find himself in the same position that Sam Allardyce did with Didi Hamman, and sell the pair off in a few hours, pocketing a cool million in the process.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Ramps beats Bradman!

Can't believe I missed this one -- it turns out Ramps also broke a Bradman record with his last knock, and he is now the fastest man to 2000 runs in a single season, achieving the mark in 20 innings, which is one fewer than The Don required. Hurrah!

Thanks to CricketArchive yet again for figuring this one out.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

353 not out - a new world record

At least, I think it's a new world record. And my blog is going to be the first place that broke the news :-)

In a league game in Northern California today, a batsman by the name of Shabbir Mohammad plundered 353 not out in a team scored of 630. Oh, and it was a 45 over game. He hit 25 sixes and 40 fours - that's 310 runs in boundaries.

As far as I can possibly tell, this is the highest ever score in any limited overs game of cricket, anywhere in the world, ever. It is also apparently either the fourth or fifth triple century on record. Unbelievably, 7 years ago, a triple century was also recorded - this one was 304* - in Northern California. What's more, it was on the very same ground (pictured above).

Some highlights/details:

  • Batsman: Shabbir Mohammad of United Cricket Club
  • 353 runs scored in 156 deliveries
  • 100 reached in 46 deliveries
  • 200 reached in 94 deliveries
  • At 10 overs, scoreboard read 130-0
  • At 20 overs, 259-1
  • At 30 overs, 378-3
  • At 40 overs, 529-5
  • At 45 overs, 630-5
  • The opposition, Bay Area Cricket Club, mustered 181 all out in reply
  • United's opening bowler, Ashok Kumar, took a hat-trick

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Equality and Identity (poor Pluto)

Photo from

Our solar system is in complete disarray. Indeed, with Pluto being unceremoniously excommunicated from the planetary alliance, our troubles do in fact stretch further and wider than a couple of strips of land in the Middle East. If we're not careful, the Milky Way may be banished to a parallel universe. Given all this domestic and intergalactic strife, I was stunned to hear an hour of talk radio this morning ostensibly devoted to that most pressing of issues - the organization of the tribes on the coming season of Survivor.

And then a caller touched upon one of my numerous pet peeves. You see, apparently this year, the tribes will be separated by race (or skin colour, call it what you will). Someone called in to the show to express their disgust at this notion, and proceeded to explain how this was distressing in a time when we were supposed to have learned to be colour-blind. Okay, so he didn't put it quite like that - he said that we should look at all people the same way, and not even notice their colour.

Therein lies the crux of the problem. We simply don't seem to understand what the notion of egalitarianism is supposed to be. We think that to be equal means to be the same. Instead of celebrating, embracing and accepting all people, brown, white or black, we instead march relentlessly down a path that leads us to a planet filled with people who are all a sort of beigey-grey colour.

It's not just around racial equality that this happens either - the same applies to gender equality, age equality, and probably intellectual capacity too.

If we achieve our implicit goals, the human race will be entirely comprised of 35 year old, grey-skinned, esperanto speaking hermaphrodites who are all 5 foot 11, weigh 175 pounds and have IQ's of 100. We will all reproduce with ourselves, and our offspring will all be identical as well. But hey, at least we'll all be equal, right? Unless we're from Pluto of course, in which case we no longer count.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Good old Honkers!

It's been a while, and today as I was catching up on the latest happenings in my cricketing hometown of Hong Kong, I realised just how long it's been.

I'm sure all sorts of records were broken on Thursday when Hong Kong racked up 442-3 and then bowled the mighty Myanmar out for 20 in reply. No surprise to see Hussain Butt scoring a 42-ball century - he's been piling on the runs for fun in the league for the last couple of years.

What struck me at a personal level though, is that there's only one guy left in that squad whom I played alongside - Alex "Jonty" French. For that matter, I only played alongside him at U-19 level, and he was barely out of nappies at the time! I didn't think I was that old, but now I'm starting to wonder, although Rahul Sharma certainly has many years on me!

It's wonderful to see that the cricketing infrastructure and administration in Hong Kong has continued to move forward. In my day, we had a senior squad, and just about had a U-19 squad working together. Today, the 11 year olds are playing internationals, and the women's squad will be facing Pakistan for a place in their World Cup! That's progress.

In the meantime, there is a battle raging over the attempted selection of a national U-15 side in the USA. I thought the political wrangling and cronyism around the senior and U-19 squad was disturbing, but USACA has reached new lows this time around. I'll probably write about it in more detail later, but it just goes to show that some things never change, and that the ICC are, if anything, too lenient in their stance on the American cricket body.

Darrell Hair

Back in 2000, I wrote an article on Rediff which briefly discussed umpires and their on-field approach to the game. Needless to say, the example of Darrell Hair was central to my thesis (such as there was one). Here is a link to the original article.

Clearly, nothing has changed.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Unheralded records

I could, of course, write someting about Darrell Hair, ball tampering, the ICC and the like. Easy targets though, and there's nobody who won't be saying something about all the fun at the Oval today.

I could have also used the words Gerrard, flagrant dive, hypocrite, and cheat in the same sentence, but that's not worth the effort either.

Instead, I think I'll make mention of two remarkable cricketing records achieved in the last fortnight, one of which I hinted at previously, and one of which has gone by completely unnoticed. Kudos to the great folk at CricketArchive who have the only complete online database of all First Class and List A cricket. Sadly, CricInfo doesn't even come close in terms of comprehensiveness, despite the vision that some of us once had for it. Once CricketArchive get their front end top-notch, we could have a fascinating battle for Internet dominance on our hands.

The first record involves a bloke by the name of Mark Ramprakash. I may have mentioned him once or twice before. It turns out that his feat of scoring in excess of 150 in five consecutive first class matches breaks a record (four) that was held for 65 years by Vijay Merchant. Several batsman have done it three matches in a row - though while the names of Bradman (thrice), Ponsford (twice), Lara, Boycott and Dravid will surprise nobody, those of Steve Tikolo and Azmat Rana (brother of the more, err, celebrated Shakoor) certainly floored me.

No less an achievement, however, was that of Cameron White, the Aussie all-rounder captaining Somerset against Derbyshire a couple of weeks back. Chasing 579 to win, he came in at 75-3, and was still at the crease some 85 overs later when the last wicket fell, standing tall on an unbeaten 260. Somerset may have lost by 80 runs, but White claimed the record for the highest ever individual fourth innings score. Anywhere. Ever.

Interesting to me of course, was the fact that one GS Blewett is on both the lists! Long live the great cover-drivers. Patsy Hendren and CB Fry are the only others on both lists. Clearly, these men could bat a bit.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Ramps goes marching on

I was a little disappointed when he was dismissed for a paltry 196 the other day, but I suspect that his achievement of scoring in excess of 150 in five successive matches will be hard to beat, so there is some consolation.

David Green of the Telegraph has written a nice little article celebrating his current run of form, and of course, bemoaning the fact that it never quite translated onto the highest stage.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Brick Lane

For the last three years I've read and heard about how Monica Ali could be the next big thing, and now that her second work, Alentejo Blue, is finally out in print, I figured it was about time to go ahead and read the much-hyped Brick Lane. Last night, I did just that. It managed to leave me overwhelmingly underwhelmed, and yet I sacrificed much-needed sleep to finish it, so it can't really have been too bad.

A review I once read described her prose as being "unflamboyant," and that turned out to be a euphemism for mundane. Perhaps the hype raised my expectations too far, for this was not The Da Vinci Code, but neither is Ali a wordsmith par excellence.

The fundamental premise of the novel, an exploration of fate and free will, if somewhat unoriginal, is still an interesting one. Anyone who identifies with a diasporic community, and the challenges faced by generations of immigrants, will find plenty to relate to in Brick Lane, in both obvious and more subtle ways. A daughter wearing tight jeans - well we've seen that one before; but the husband framing his cycling proficiency certificate was at least a new spin on an old story.

Most of the formal reviews of Brick Lane have been very generous, almost sycophantically so in some cases. To be fair, there are some aspects of the novel that few would disagree were handled well. For example, the way that Ali pointedly avoids any exploration of the local geography, as if to illustrate the tight confines within which many immigrant families operate such that they are able to imagine that they are back home where they feel they truly belong. Also, the use of religion, in a non-judgemental fashion, as a guiding force for the majority of characters, albeit in differing guises.

Ironically, the construct that truly kept me turning the pages was the one that has been most criticised by both 'expert' reviewers and the general public - the letters from the protagonists sister, Hasina, back in Dhaka. They were intelligently used as a means for chronological advancement of the plot, but for my money their content was integral to both the story, and my enjoyment of it.

They managed to provide a sort of tragi-comic relief, while simultaneously allowing us to connect the two worlds, and further our understanding of the events leading up to and including the (not entirely) climactic moments. The way in which Ali used broken and twisted language really helped build on everything from character to culture and social structure, and those nuances were furthered by Hasina's philosophically astute and sophisticated observations of her world. Those thoughts were shrouded in a veil of simplicity and naivete, but much like the forthright statements of a five year old who does not neccessarily appreciate the inherent complexities of what he is considering, they succinctly and comprehensively depict an entire scenario.

Overall, a decent read, but neither well enough written nor constructed to genuinely move or impact me. Of course, the last book I read that really achieved that was The Kite Runner, so the bar is set pretty high.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Inzamam the Wookie

That's not my headline, it's stolen from the Daily Telegraph, in which Simon Briggs has penned what is ostensibly a mildly amusing article about Inzamam's comic dismissal yesterday.

The dismissal itself was quite something to behold. I've just watched it again frame by frame, and it only gets funnier. Only Inzi could possibly have got himself out in such a farcical manner.

But here's the thing. At what point does there cease to be any value in extracting humour, juvenile or otherwise, from Inzi's largesse. See - I've just done it again with a particularly bad pun. Yet when something gets this predictable, the joy is really taken out of it. I'm starting to think that, just as Sidhu-isms are now recognized as inanities, comments like
"Never has a Test batsman more resembled an elephant climbing over a garden fence."
are really getting old, even if the Inzamam-Chewbacca analogy was at least a new spin on the man's girth.

My point is simply that Inzamam has proven himself over the years to be the eternal fount of entertainment. Let his acts speak for themselves - we don't need every journalist working overtime to come up with half a dozen new euphemisms for "fat man"

Friday, August 04, 2006

Ramps 301*

Wow. What can I say? The last Surrey player to score a triple century was John Edrich in the 60's, but he was playing for England at the time. The last player to do it for Surrey was none other than Jack Hobbs, way back in 1926.

Now if only his 292 against Gloucestershire earlier in the season had been a triple as well. I was joking about taking him to Australia, but damn it all, the truth is there still isn't a better batsman in the country, and I have little doubt that he would actually perform if taken.

You can see the highlights on Surrey TV. Enjoy some top notch driving straight down the ground, and on both sides of the wicket, off both front and back foot.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

On the Ramp-age

As I write this, my man Ramps is resting peacefully on 174* in the latest instalment of his drive to take Surrey back into the first division of the County Championship.

It's been a tremendous season for one of the finest batsmen England has ever produced, and I'm starting to wonder if he can't go on and beat his own personal best from back in 1995. That year he scored something like 2250 runs, with 10 centuries. The performance stands out in memory because the only other person to top 9 centuries in a county season that I can recall in the last couple of decades was the South African Jimmy Cook. Cook had that stupendous season in 1991, the year in which Ramps made his Test debut, scoring nearly 3000 runs with 11 centuries. Brian Lara had 9 centuries in 1994, one of them the trifling 501*, and Rob Key hit 9 two seasons ago, and that's about it.

As things currently stand, Ramps has 1624 runs and 7 centuries, at an average of over 100. With games against Worcs, Gloucs, Essex, Glamorgan and Derby to come, he's probably got about 7 or 8 innings remaining this year. I wonder - if he reaches 12 centuries and 3000 runs, will he be headed over to Australia this winter?

I've got my Ashes seats secured, and there's nothing I'd like to see more than Ramps taking on Lee and Warne in Perth. He averages 40+ against the Aussies, and he once took the wicket of Justin Langer, at the WACA, so why not?