Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Chris Martin: A Rabbit's Tale

(A version of this article appeared on Cricinfo's "Inbox" blog in October 2009)

Tailenders. They just don’t make ’em like they used to. The genuine rabbit – a creature prone to prod meekly at balls outside off stump and liable to leap out of the way of anything close to the body – is now an endangered species in international cricket. Everywhere we look, tailenders are working hard at their batting and scoring more and more runs. The members of the Aussie fast bowlers' union are the “worst” tailenders of the lot. Glenn McGrath – surprisingly but fittingly – led the way in 2004 by reaching a half-century at the 115th time of asking. Since then, we’ve seen courageous final stands in the 2005 Ashes, fifties aplenty, Johnson’s heroic hundred and Dizzy’s frankly ridiculous double. Here in England, Duncan Fletcher orchestrated a ruthless rabbit cull. Dear old Monty managed to survive, but only because he is every bit as industrious as he is inept, in contrast to his undeniably indolent predecessors Phil Tufnell and Devon Malcolm.

However, all is not lost for rabbit-lovers. In seamer Chris Martin, New Zealand, a warren of some pedigree – Ewen Chatfield, Danny Morrison and Geoff Allott spring to mind – have produced a very fine specimen indeed. What's more, there is a strong case for anointing Martin as the worst batsman Test cricket has ever seen.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

The IPL - it's big, it's brash, it's biblical...

(A version of this article appeared in Varsity in April 2009)

NFL: The Global Sport Summit
Is Lalit Modi really cricket’s Moses? It was Ravi Shastri who first described the IPL supremo as a “Moses of the game, who has shown the path to blazing success.” There is, of course, a fair chance that Shastri only made this pronouncement because his contract as an IPL commentator explicitly required him to do so. Nonetheless, it’s worth contemplating this comparison for a minute, especially given what Modi himself has said about his agenda: “We have taken some bold steps. We're going forward and trying to change the world order.”

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