Because the weather is cold, wet and windy. Damn sure I wouldn’t want to be fielding at slip at Chesterfield today!
It’s been a bit parky chez Jamie for the last couple of days since the boiler pump started making noises which really belonged in a foundry. Not quite thermals under four layers stuff but it’s been on the nippier side of cold here. Thanks to Nick at Plumb Perfect for his prompt service and for educating Jamie in some of the dark arts of plumbing.
I think I know where Douglas Adams might have found the inspiration for Grunthos the Flatulent too. An encounter with a certain make of boiler pump which was making noises like Jamie’s stomach after he’s had a Pot Noodle (you really don’t want to know) might well have inspired him to name a character after it.
In the ICC World Cup qualifying tournament (where the Associate nations play each other to determine who gets places in the next World Cup), Scotland have saved their One Day International status but by a very small margin indeed. Bermuda have lost their ODI status, so we may never see Dwayne “Sluggo” Leverock (he of that slip catch against India – photos do not do it justice, it was a blinder of a catch) on our tv screens again. Ireland are through to the World Cup and Afghanistan have achieved ODI status for the first time in their history.
Huge congratulations to Afghanistan. The Netherlands’ Ryan ten Doeschate showed his class in a few games before heading back to Essex where we all hope he will have another great season. Yes, I’m a Brummie in Kent and I support Essex. Have done for years. Next year will mark 30 years as an Essex supporter.
Now I feel old.
Anyway, to the new cricket season and what’s going to attract my attention.
Now the England coach issue is settled and Andy Flower has got the job I’m more confident about the upcoming test series than I was previously. Andy Flower is one of the two men (the other being Henry Olonga) who stuck a huge middle finger up at Robert Mugabe by wearing black armbands to mourn the death of democracy in Zimbabwe. I think we can take it as read that he has plenty of bottle.
As a cricketer he was the best batsman in the world. Not an easy feat when you’re captain, opening batsman and wicketkeeper for the weakest test team at that time. Not for him the media friendly soundbites in the aftermath of a collapse. By dropping Steve Harmison and Ian Bell he has shown that complacency and mediocrity have no place in his squad. Whether or not England have the firepower to win the upcoming Ashes series is a good question. I’m not sure they do unless the ball is swinging, but time will tell. My gut reaction is a 2-1 win for Australia, 3-1 if we lose the first test of the series.
Domestically the fight for promotion from Division Two is what will interest me. Surrey and Essex are my selections to go up. Chris Adams, newly installed as Director of Cricket at Surrey, backed up by Alec Stewart, Graham Thorpe and Martin Bicknell, will be looking for a huge improvement over last season. And any chance to watch Mark Ramprakash is well worth seizing. Middlesex might be in the hunt (Yay for Shaun Udal still going strong) but I think Surrey’s firepower will be too much and I feel that this is Essex’s year to win promotion.
Division One looks to me like a two horse race – Lancashire and Somerset – unless Steve Harmison can show some decent form and bowl all season like he did in that first test match at Lord’s against the Aussies in 2005. Pace, bounce and fire is what a strike bowler is supposed to bring. Harmison is a bowler who needs to bowl lots of overs to keep his machine working. Can Durham prove their title win last year was not a fluke?
With Langer and Banger at the top of the order (sorry, couldn’t resist that one), Somerset have lots of experience, nouse and barring injury, two key players who will be available all season. This could be their year. If the weather holds in the North West then Lancashire are in with a shout, although they will miss Stuart Law (now with Derbyshire) and James Anderson when he’s on England duty.
Hampshire are my dark horse team. No Shane Warne and Kevin Pietersen on England duty. Imran Tahir reported to be injured. They are a team to keep an eye on in all forms of the game. New captain Dimi Mascharenas says he has learned much from Shane Warne.
Warwickshire are also worth a look. I’m a great admirer of Ashley Giles. Criminally underrated as a cricketer, Gilo has set about rebuilding Warwickshire. It will be interesting to watch their progress.
The one day stuff is a bit like a lottery – whichever teams turn up on form will be the ones who win. Hampshire, Somerset, Lancashire and Essex are my choices to be in the mix for the one day trophies.
But then of course, the English weather may well have a few things to say.
Twenty20 England captain? I’d go for Dimi Mascharenas. Gut feeling. It will be interesting to see what things the English players taking part in the IPL bring back from the tournament.
Time will tell. Always does. One thing’s for sure – I’m looking forward to this season.