Friday, 30 April 2010

The real deal?

Cricinfo's headline seems a bit harsh on WI and Ireland, ahead of tonight/tomorrow morning's match.

Thinking a bit further, it would seem to be just as slack to NZ and SL. Just what does count as the real deal in this tournament?

I'm still not convinced Australia (the team) sees the tournament as a whole as the real deal, but they could pull off a fair bit if the bowlers fire.

The whole thing doesn't seem too predictable - partly because of the format, but also because international T20 is still pretty rare.

Friday, 23 April 2010

The bard and battleflags

To tear or not to tear - that is the question
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to respect
The bookshelf contents of outraged parents
Or to take down amid a sea of protests
And while ignoring, rend them.

Well, not outraged, but on this, the anniversary of the death (and traditional birthdate) of William Shakespeare, I note that my daughter seems to have developed a predilection for his work - in the sense that a not-yet-one year old child ever appreciates the printed word.

There are other reports of icons taking a beating on their special day. This day is also St George's Day, and as usual its (lack of) celebration raises the questions of whether there is a positive form of English nationalism which is missing in action. One of the stories that seems to pop up every year is the idea that the patriotic Englishman may be somewhat ashamed to fly the St George's Cross flag (unless the football is on), since it has been appropriated by the racist extremists.

The racist extremists at the back of Leichardt Town Hall could certainly be said to have appropriated the cause of defending the Australian national flag at this week's debate on changing it, filmed for a 60 Minutes segment to be aired this Sunday, being Anzac Day. The timing itself drew criticism, seen as an attack on a flag 'sanctified' by the military on the day sacred to them.

I expect the loudmouths and tv producers see the dramatic results as mutually beneficial - I was to some extent expecting more of the rational discussion, but I guess those with more reasonable views are less likely to involve themselves for the sake of a flag, old or new.

I would question the trends regarding nationalism and the use of flags on the day of remembrance, whether the flag is constant or not. With perhaps a more mainstream comment, I also suggest that the values often ascribed to both the diggers and the flag are more important than which symbol is used for our nation. O for a debate that actually reflects this.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Supporting acts

The ECB decided to shorten their limited-but-not-as-limited-as-some-these-days overs tournament, split it into three groups, and then realised that would work better with an extra team. They decided to fill the team with anyone who hadn't made it somewhere else.

I'm not sure where such a team would find supporters, but I learn through a tweet (that at first went over my head) that they, like the Lions team, have been named after one of the supporters in the royal arms of the United Kingdom.

Making up the numbers, I doubt they're expected to win much. Indeed,
The lion and the unicorn
Were fighting for the crown
The lion beat the unicorn
All around the town.

What's surprising is that an English team has been given that name. Surely someone in the ECB knows that the unicorn is the Scottish counterpart to England's lion?

Of course, according to Lewis Carroll's White King, even the winner does not get the crown, but the nursery rhyme continues
Some gave them white bread,
And some gave them brown;
Some gave them plum cake
and drummed them out of town.

and Alice does give the lion twice as much plum-cake!

Heavy on bats

It's the time of year when we find out which players will be paid by Cricket Australia from 1 July onwards. There's nothing too surprising in the list, although there's always something to talk about. Jrod wonders why Lee gets more allowances for injuries than Bracken. Tony wonders about the magic number of contracts, pointing out the absence of T20 write-ins.

I'm not sure where the Jaques story fits in the injury picture, and I can see why a T20 position might not be considered that important, but 25 contracts does seem pretty arbitrary. It also seems to me at first glance that the squad, if we can call it that, is fairly balanced in terms of bat and ball. This is slightly surprising, given the effect of both injury rates and recent selection tendencies on the number of batsman and bowlers likely to be actually required for national duty.