June 22, 2010

Wonderful pointlessness, and the dullest Twenty20 team of all time

England’s edge over Australia, Bravo’s feat, the importance of Statsguru, and the answer to the question - who’s better, Steyn or Ambrose?
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Two separate Chris Tavare references in this blog, you lucky, lucky things © Getty Images

England and Australia renew a rivalry older than time itself today in a bizarrely scheduled and/or financially advantageous series of one-day internationals, perhaps the least eagerly anticipated England-Australia showdown since the Sydney and London offices of accountancy firm Scraghound, Flude & Prink met for an Ashes year-end ledger-off in 1984.

Nevertheless, with the national football team concocting some brilliantly inventive ways of embarrassing itself, and with the government about to announce an emergency budget that could involve selling all first-born children to the highest overseas bidder in an effort to balance the Treasury’s trembling books, Andrew Strauss’s team has the chance to provide the country with some light relief.

Besides, we can categorically predict that the winner of this series will gain such an insurmountable psychological advantage that they will absolutely certainly win this winter’s Ashes (and do not believe any Australians who try to hoodwink you into believing that the Ashes are taking place “this summer” – the run from late November to early January, which is, in my experience, definitely winter).

It will be a good test of England’s recent improvement in limited-overs form, selection, tactics and recruitment, which all point to them successfully avoiding a repeat of their 2007 World Cup tactics, which seemed to be based on attempting to trick the opposition into thinking they were playing a Test match by trying to score 35 for 1 off the first 15 overs, then praying for rain and hoping the patriotic Duckworth-Lewis method would finish the job.

Having won last year’s Ashes and defeated the Australians in the World Twenty20 final, if England can prevail in this one-day series, they will complete a clean sweep of their oldest cricketing enemy, and therefore, under international law, be entitled to force Australia to become a colony again.

In the Caribbean, another entry in the Encyclopaedia of Pointless Test Matches is being painstakingly inscribed, as West Indies, in a revolutionary inversion of traditional tactics, first pushed for a possible win, before then consolidating to make sure they could not lose. Habitually, teams tend to go through this process the other way round, but one down in a three-match series, and having reached 400 for 4 at a fraction under 4 runs per over, West Indies then took 61 overs (regrettably, that is not a misprint) to score their next 100. In terms of not finishing a job well started, it was eerily reminiscent of when Shakespeare, writing the first draft of Hamlet, fired off three sensational acts of drama, before scrawling, “Acts 4 and 5. Blah blah blah blah blah, yadda yadda yadda yadda yadda, bit of a fight, euurghhh, The End.” Before nipping to the tavern to see if Christopher Marlowe had left any manuscripts lying around.

Chanderpaul must have set a new all-time record for slowest progress from 150 to 166 (95 balls, after his previous 100 runs had come off 148, a perhaps unique case of having his eye in, then carefully playing his eye out), whilst Bravo, one of the more stylish batsmen in world cricket, stodged 53 off 215 to register the fourth-slowest recorded innings of 50-plus by a West Indian in Test history.

The only rational explanations for Bravo’s innings are:

(A) Bravo and the traditionally cautious Brendan Nash (114 off 148 balls) had their bodies secretly swapped by a rogue scientist before going out to bat; or

(B) Bravo’s was a tribute innings, part of the official worldwide celebrations to mark the 30th anniversary of Chris Tavare’s landmark five-hour 42 at Lord’s against West Indies. I imagine Tavare would prefer to have faced Bravo’s 119 balls from Paul Harris than the 202 hurled at him by Roberts, Holding, Garner and Croft. (And maybe a few from Viv Richards by way of humanitarian respite.) The 30th-anniversary festivities continue in Covent Garden today with a three-day non-stop ballet based on the career of Tavare, and a gala dinner at which surviving members of the Lord’s crowd from 1980 tearfully share their reminiscences of watching the innings unfold.

Here, as promised, are some more Answers to your Questions. Well, three Answers to three Questions, because I got a bit carried away with the first one and now it’s past my bedtime.

Question (posted by “Craig lbw bowled Kirsten”): Could you give your Test XI for Insomniacs v your Twenty20 Test team, the sort of match that would have 210 all out (206 overs) plays 250 for 5 declared (32 overs), 150 for 2 (208 overs)?

Zaltzmanswer: I covered the Insomniacs XI a while ago in my All-Time Dullest XI, but here instead is a Least Appropriate International Twenty20 side, comprising some of the slowest batsmen and most expensive bowlers in international cricket’s great history (and comprising only players from the pre-Twenty20 era), to take on a World XI in a Twenty20 match:

1. Bruce Edgar. You cannot argue with statistics, particularly not statistics as conversationally aggressive as these ones: 1814 ODI runs at a strike rate of 49 (more than 1000 runs more than anyone else scoring under 50 per 100 balls in the format); and 1958 Test runs at 32 per 100.

2. Sunil Gavaskar. Included purely on the basis of his legendary 36 not out off 175 as he led India’s chase in reply to England’s 334 for 4 at the 1975 World Cup. India fell tantalisingly 203 runs short of victory with only seven wickets in hand. A work of perverse majesty. In mitigation, limited-overs cricket was new and unfamiliar, but if the great man adapted to Twenty20 with similar obduracy, he could be relied upon for a solid 12 not out.

3. Chris Tavare. First name on the team sheet. Ignore the fact that he was a very effective limited-overs player at county level. He’s still the first name on the team sheet. Could he carry his form in Tests (strike rate 30) and ODIs (48) into the shorter format? Yes. Yes he could.

4. Kepler Wessels. An ODI strike rate of 55 is not great, but the aura of dourness that accompanied the South-African-Australian-South African-again grindmeister whenever he took the field would be of great use in Twenty20. Could also chip in with a few expensive and unthreatening overs (ODI economy rate of 5.33).

5. Mike Brearley (capt). The lowest run rate of anyone who has scored 300 ODI runs – 45.53. It would be fascinating to see this captaincy genius finesse his way to victory in a Twenty20 game with this team around him.

6. Mark Dekker. Zimbabwean blocker with truly Tavaresque run-rate numbers allied to handily low average. Could share fifth-bowler duties with Wessels, but would be looking at least to double his ODI economy rate of 5.01.

7. Brendon Kuruppu (wk). Although his Cricinfo biog states that he had “a reputation as a one-day slogger”, his ODI strike rate of 51 suggests that this reputation was no more founded on fact than the rumours that Michael Holding is a woman, or that Steve Waugh catalogues every egg he ever eats and keeps the shells in a special locked vault, in which he sleeps at least three times a week. Also responsible for a 13-hour Test double-hundred.

8. Ian Salisbury. England’s greatest legspinner of the last three decades, narrowly ahead of Mike Atherton. Guaranteed to keep the boundary stewards in fear of their safety whenever he bowled in internationals, and a usefully slow lower-order batsman too.

9. Henry Olonga. Operatic anti-Mugabe hero is out on his own as the most expensive ODI bowler with more than 50 wickets to his name. His run rate of 5.79 puts second-placed Dilhara Fernando (5.19) to shame, and he also scored his very few Test runs at under 25 runs per 100 balls.

10. Devon Malcolm. Although the very-occasionally-devastating quick man ended with a relatively respectable Test economy rate of 3.35, much of this was due to bats being too short to reach his jauntier deliveries, and you feel that Malcolm at his worst could be spectacularly expensive in Twenty20. He might blast out a couple of wickets, but would more than make up for that with his old-style ineptitude in the field.

11. Heath Davis. New Zealand tearaway is one of only three bowlers to have taken 10 wickets in ODIs and gone for more than a run a ball. Reports suggest mid-90s Kiwi wicketkeepers still need counselling after attempting to stop his errant missiles flying away for four byes more than once an over.

QUESTION (posted by “kgvenkatesh”): Who is the better bowler, Steyn or Ambrose? My vote goes to Ambrose, he can bowl anywhere on any wicket.

Zaltzmanswer: Steyn. His record-breaking strike rate and millennium-leading average put him on the way to becoming a truly great fast bowler, alongside the best of any era. Ambrose, however, although a dapper batsman and neat wicketkeeper in his 11 Tests for England, has understandably never bowled in international cricket, and his one over of first-class bowling did little to suggest that he could eclipse Steyn’s achievements.

QUESTION (posted by “Mick”): Do you think you could present a good case for Statsguru to become the first World Heritage-listed website?

Zaltzmanswer: Yes. As far as I am concerned, Statsguru is of equal significance to human culture and progress as the Pyramids, the Taj Mahal and the works of US rock leviathans Whitesnake put together. In my mind, it is already listed. It may also become the first sport-statistic-calculating website to be cited in divorce proceedings. I hope not, but there are, unquestionably, three of us in the relationship now.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • waterbuffalo on July 19, 2010, 13:08 GMT

    I remember Geoff Boycott against Dilip Doshi in india he could not care less if he never scored a run in a session, now that was an opening batsman, the entire stadium fell asleep. And don't forget Mudassar Nazar, frankly I miss those guys, their concentration was immense.

  • Ariz on July 5, 2010, 5:21 GMT

    Poor Tavare.

    But I have to disagree with Wesseles, he was pretty free flowing and a pleasant bat while in Australian team, but became really dormant when he got into SA side. Watch his some innings especially in tests. I think the decline was due to his age and captaincy pressure. Another sad story. English easily accept foreigners but not Australians, dont know the whole real story though!

  • DJ on July 2, 2010, 12:13 GMT

    "a perhaps unique case of having his eye in, then carefully playing his eye out" Pure genius! DJ

  • Tony on June 28, 2010, 13:52 GMT

    MJB: Probably the best known would be Clarrie Grimmet. Born in NZ.

  • Richard on June 24, 2010, 12:36 GMT

    Andy, great blogs as ever, plenty to chuckle about! Watching the County T20 last night and Boyce's man of the match award despite being 12th man, I was wondering if you could put together an 11 of notorious 12th men, men who's drinks and glove carrying ability were second to none! Also on a related note, perhaps you could do a top ten of unfortunate captains statements given Matthew Hoggard's lapse when interviewed on Sky after the match?

  • ikrana on June 24, 2010, 7:33 GMT

    The comments from concerned people who think Andy has the wrong Ambrose are more amusing than the answer itself :D

  • Mike on June 23, 2010, 11:34 GMT

    Surely the Ambrose was Curtley Ambrose of WI and not Tim Ambrose?

  • Lekhraj Khiomal Edmead-Merani on June 23, 2010, 11:26 GMT

    To whom it may concern: The cricket-powers that be are grossly missing the point.......if test cricket is to continue to attract crowds of spectators and lots of cash for players and cricket boards.......I respectfully suggest that all, rpt all test matches be played to a finish. All worldwide countries do it in football...tennis...hockey...baseball...rugby...cycling...fencing...lacrosse, the list is endless, why not cricket test matches? 5 days of "boring-poking" is nonsense in the 21st Century.

  • Andy on June 23, 2010, 8:46 GMT

    Love the Ambrose question... I actually did a double take at first... lol

  • Saurav on June 23, 2010, 6:52 GMT

    Sunil Gavaskar? Are you kidding me? Have you ever seen what he could do to a bowling attack when he was in the mood. If given the license, he would have blown away the bowlers. Get your knowledge right. That innings was really stupid, I second that. But in no way was he a slow player, he just chose to hang around.

  • waterbuffalo on July 19, 2010, 13:08 GMT

    I remember Geoff Boycott against Dilip Doshi in india he could not care less if he never scored a run in a session, now that was an opening batsman, the entire stadium fell asleep. And don't forget Mudassar Nazar, frankly I miss those guys, their concentration was immense.

  • Ariz on July 5, 2010, 5:21 GMT

    Poor Tavare.

    But I have to disagree with Wesseles, he was pretty free flowing and a pleasant bat while in Australian team, but became really dormant when he got into SA side. Watch his some innings especially in tests. I think the decline was due to his age and captaincy pressure. Another sad story. English easily accept foreigners but not Australians, dont know the whole real story though!

  • DJ on July 2, 2010, 12:13 GMT

    "a perhaps unique case of having his eye in, then carefully playing his eye out" Pure genius! DJ

  • Tony on June 28, 2010, 13:52 GMT

    MJB: Probably the best known would be Clarrie Grimmet. Born in NZ.

  • Richard on June 24, 2010, 12:36 GMT

    Andy, great blogs as ever, plenty to chuckle about! Watching the County T20 last night and Boyce's man of the match award despite being 12th man, I was wondering if you could put together an 11 of notorious 12th men, men who's drinks and glove carrying ability were second to none! Also on a related note, perhaps you could do a top ten of unfortunate captains statements given Matthew Hoggard's lapse when interviewed on Sky after the match?

  • ikrana on June 24, 2010, 7:33 GMT

    The comments from concerned people who think Andy has the wrong Ambrose are more amusing than the answer itself :D

  • Mike on June 23, 2010, 11:34 GMT

    Surely the Ambrose was Curtley Ambrose of WI and not Tim Ambrose?

  • Lekhraj Khiomal Edmead-Merani on June 23, 2010, 11:26 GMT

    To whom it may concern: The cricket-powers that be are grossly missing the point.......if test cricket is to continue to attract crowds of spectators and lots of cash for players and cricket boards.......I respectfully suggest that all, rpt all test matches be played to a finish. All worldwide countries do it in football...tennis...hockey...baseball...rugby...cycling...fencing...lacrosse, the list is endless, why not cricket test matches? 5 days of "boring-poking" is nonsense in the 21st Century.

  • Andy on June 23, 2010, 8:46 GMT

    Love the Ambrose question... I actually did a double take at first... lol

  • Saurav on June 23, 2010, 6:52 GMT

    Sunil Gavaskar? Are you kidding me? Have you ever seen what he could do to a bowling attack when he was in the mood. If given the license, he would have blown away the bowlers. Get your knowledge right. That innings was really stupid, I second that. But in no way was he a slow player, he just chose to hang around.

  • james on June 23, 2010, 6:39 GMT

    This Australian XI all born outside mainland Australia needs a bit of help from its Tasmanians:

    Charles Bannerman Kepler Wessels Archie Jackson Ricky Ponting Andrew Symonds Dav Whatmore Clarrie Grimmett Brendon Julien Ted Macdonald Ben Hilfenhaus Errol Flynn

  • Christy on June 23, 2010, 6:17 GMT

    Lol - particularly that Gem of a include - "Sunny gavaskar" - today he is on the tube telling others how u need to play and fast in ODI & T20 - how ironic !!

  • Lucky malabie on June 23, 2010, 6:16 GMT

    What a boring test match between SA and WI.

  • redneck on June 23, 2010, 2:48 GMT

    @MJB i doubt you could find 11 players to make that team up! we dont have kolpak rules here + the aussies born here are good enough to do the job without the forign aid! i recon there might be half a dozen english/australian/south african players that changed teams from the early years + wessels but aside from that its kind of an excluisivly engish traite!

  • Rockie on June 22, 2010, 23:26 GMT

    Curse you, kgvenkatesh! We only had three wishes, and you wasted one by not being specific!

  • ambrose :) on June 22, 2010, 23:19 GMT

    You are the Fernando Pessoa of my generation :)

  • vichan on June 22, 2010, 22:46 GMT

    MJB, here's an Aussie Born Overseas XI for you: Charles Bannerman (ENG), Archie Jackson (SCO), Kepler Wessells (SAF) *, Percy McDonnell (ENG), Andrew Symonds (ENG), Dav Whatmore (SRI), Bremdon Julian (NZL), Clarrie Grimmett (NZL), Bransby Cooper (BAN) +, Billy Midwinter (ENG), Rex Sellers (IND)

  • Tee Zaremba on June 22, 2010, 22:29 GMT

    Trevor Franklin unlucky to miss out.

  • mike on June 22, 2010, 22:04 GMT

    Gavaskar's innings remains a towering monument to failing to have any idea of what was happening in the game being played.( Maybe he thought he would be reincarnated during the course of this knock.) It would be good to have Gavaskar's views on his achievement. The glowing testimonies to the mighty snail-Chris Tavare- should represent the start of global year long appreciation of this player. 'Death in Motion' might be the title. I for one remember his stalwart efforts to slow down the Tests in 1981 to a complete halt before the wretched Beefy would come in and totally wreck them with his wild agression.What a tribute to the game he was.(Tavare that is!)

  • swami on June 22, 2010, 21:33 GMT

    As for England's woes in football, I believe its time for them to repeat the "cricket act". Like getting mercenary Proteas from South Africa, football could get mercenary Oranje players from Netherlands & maybe they could be in with a chance in World Cups

  • RYAN on June 22, 2010, 20:53 GMT

    Bloody hilarious. I nearly fell off my seat when i read your response re : Steyn v Ambrose. You continue to produce these literary gems. hats off to you sir. On a more serious note i have one piece of advice for Mr. Cool ( Gayle ) - 100 runs behind with just two days left in the match.....consider a declaration to try and open up the match.

  • Saif on June 22, 2010, 19:29 GMT

    Great article, as always!

    Had a quick look at Statsguru and it seemed to suggest that Sreesanth with a 6+ economy rate is even 'better' than Olonga in this department.....or am I getting my stats wrong?

  • Woofy on June 22, 2010, 18:41 GMT

    To Mr. Zaltzman and all others who commented:

    Try re-answering kgvenkatesh's question considering CURTLY AMBROSE - a destructive dude from Antigua who played for WI not so long ago (late 80s to early 2000s)...

    Go! Give it a try...pull up some old VHS

  • abidlatki on June 22, 2010, 17:59 GMT

    enjoy ful year for afridi. Congratz boom boom keep it up.

  • Abhijith on June 22, 2010, 17:54 GMT

    I want the world cricket podcast back...

  • Disgruntled Whitesnake Fan on June 22, 2010, 17:51 GMT

    Andy, a potentially great article let down by referring Whitesnake as "US rock leviathans". Surely a man with a classical education such as yourself realises that the beating heart of Whitensake is front man David Coverdale who founded the band near his childhood home in Teeside, Northern England. Shame on you.

  • PJ on June 22, 2010, 17:38 GMT

    Yes, the skippy's like to bag England for having players who were born and raised in other countries, played in other country's domestic competitions and then played for good ol' England. All the names tossed around to counter this, excepting Wessels, were either born in Australia or were raised in Australia and played Australian domestic cricket. To wit: Nannes, Symonds etc. Cheers ;)

  • Sekhar on June 22, 2010, 17:24 GMT

    Curtly Ambrose and Tim Ambrose..ROTFL :) Zaltzmann rocks!

  • Fantoos on June 22, 2010, 17:16 GMT

    Evevybody is comparing Steyn with Tim Ambrose while i believe he meant "Curtly Ambrose" who is one tall fiery fast bowler dominated all the opponents alongside Courtney Walsh..... And yes he does have a point Ambrose can bowl anywhere on any wicket and i mean West Indies bowler Curtly Ambrose.... get your point straight Zaltmanswer and everybody else without even considering there might be one legendary bowler Steyn is being compared with...... In my point of vies Steyn is still the best bowler thany any Ambrose....

  • Jose Cyriac on June 22, 2010, 17:04 GMT

    Another masterpiece from Andy :) ROTFL :D @ "(A) Bravo and the traditionally cautious Brendan Nash (114 off 148 balls) had their bodies secretly swapped by a rogue scientist before going out to bat;"

  • Arvind on June 22, 2010, 16:40 GMT

    One of Rahul Dravid's masterpieces also deserved a respectable mention. So once upon a time, India had England on the mat with a first innings lead of 319, then Rahul Dravid (who happenned to be the captain) decided to treat the fans to a real Test match classic.

    Rather than enforce follow-on and win the game early, he chose to bat again. Pretty soon, India were 3 down thus setting the stage for the genius act. Then, Mr. Wall launched an onslaught on the hapless England bowlers, and raced off to 12 runs in just 96 balls, thereby destroying any little hope England had of another embarassing defeat.

  • Sha on June 22, 2010, 15:34 GMT

    I usually avoid eating while listening or reading your articles... to avoid death through a specifically deadly and consistent South African disease. Also, there's too many funny passages here to put up on my fb page to tell all my friends how I'm feeling... Ambrose v Steyn? Bravo (B)? Salisbury? or WhiteSnake? I just listened to the 80s version of "Fool for Your Loving" with Steve Vai laying his guitar on the floor

  • vejai on June 22, 2010, 13:46 GMT

    James, don't you know by now playing the game of Test cricket reqiures timing and application, reference to your comment of Chanderpaul/Bravo scoring 50 in 3 hours. That why Test cricket lasted 5 days. Unlike Baseball every ball the striker swings his bat against.

  • Jim on June 22, 2010, 13:28 GMT

    Yes, Ambrose can bowl anywhere on any wicket, if only the pitch starts beyond the batsman and extends beyond the keeper Ambrose. He can bowl anywhere on any wicket after each bowler bowls to him.

  • Levi on June 22, 2010, 12:41 GMT

    Great stuff as always, I have a question. Despite fantastic and always surreal, ridiculous answers why do people keep asking you cricket related questions - this isnt Bowl at Boycs .....

    I once met Andy Zaltzman at the fateful exit of Eng at the Oval during the T20 World competition in England - softest hands in the world. Very dissapointed with the handshake though not enough conviction for me.

  • ramesh on June 22, 2010, 12:38 GMT

    now that is a good idea, the holding of the ledger ashes

  • Agnel Pereira on June 22, 2010, 11:37 GMT

    I am new to Andy Zaltzman - started with his "well done, Dwayne" piece. Went there on curiosity to see what actually Dwayne did in that test match!!Simply top of the world stuff this by Andy. We have pure magic in every sentence, so there is no scope to skip a few words or lines of his article, like we do for other serious cricket analysis stuff. Probably you missed Ravi Shastri as the opening batsman who slowly and steadily won India the 1985 cup (not because of himself, but because Srikkanth on the other side invented his hit & miss stuff in desperation of seeing Snail-stri bat). The reason may be, that there is also that element of 6 sixes in an over which can obscure T20 strike rates, meter scales measuring distances and hit a couple of beer sipping big tummies in the stands.

  • Shreyas on June 22, 2010, 11:18 GMT

    Awesome article... the second question sent me into a fit!

  • Rahul Pathak on June 22, 2010, 11:11 GMT

    Q2 :

    My gosh that was a beauty. Googly, Chinaman, Doosra what do call it

  • Stephen Horton on June 22, 2010, 11:07 GMT

    " ... reminiscent of when Shakespeare, writing the first draft of Hamlet, fired off three sensational acts of drama, before scrawling, “Acts 4 and 5. Blah blah blah blah blah, yadda yadda yadda yadda yadda, bit of a fight, euurghhh, The End.” Before nipping to the tavern to see if Christopher Marlowe had left any manuscripts lying around." is (hopefully) more than redeemed by " Henry Olonga. Operatic anti-Mugabe hero ...". - post colonial.

  • Aiber on June 22, 2010, 10:57 GMT

    Phew, thank goodness there's no mention of my hero Hanif.

    Keep up the great work Andy - maybe you could take up match commentary for Test Matches such as the present WI vs SA and ODI's Pak vs Ban - that would kill off any Aussie-related rebellions about the state of these games!

  • Saif Shah on June 22, 2010, 10:47 GMT

    Please stop 5 day test matches and start new kind of test match which should consists of 2 innings for each team of 25 overs. So it is like 4 innings total at least it would finish in One day and would be full of entertainment. We have to make it fun by having fake dramatic anger and fights among rival teams. But later that must be explained it was just for fun. Moreover both teams must challenge and promise to destroy each other specially certain players. This would be also fake and fun.

  • The Bear Jew on June 22, 2010, 10:44 GMT

    WHAT AN ARTICLE!!!! Mr. Zaltman you surpass yourself. The Steyn-Ambrose comparison was PURE GOLD. kg venkatesh, this is not a place for serious questions; i feel sorry for you. Mr. Zaltman, is there anything or anyone that can outwit you?

    In your next blog, could you cook up something at the other spectrum from your eternal favourite Tavare? something more Afridi-esque?

  • Ram on June 22, 2010, 10:41 GMT

    Why not Andy in this T20 list??? Your stats r just brilliant.....

  • Windcheater on June 22, 2010, 10:36 GMT

    Windies test pointless? They made sure they couldnt lose - which is a miracle in itself. So Smith wont be able to get another whitewash after all. Im surprised he didnt complain to the umpires about chanders run rate. They should impose penalties for slow run rates like they do for slow over rates.

  • Jacob on June 22, 2010, 10:32 GMT

    I wrote this in a local news site's message board during a topic of 20/20 XIs. Maybe it is worthy...

    "Another excellent time waster would be the "Totally Unsuitable for 20/20 XI". One can only wistfully imagine the immaculate forward defence that the opening combination of Sir Boycott and Sunil Gavaskar would produce. Bowlers would spend 17 bemused overs trying every combination of yorker, slower ball, bouncer, slow yorker, slow bounder, slower slower ball, and bouncing yorker to remove them, until Boycott purposefully runs out Gavaskar for 7 for scoring too quickly. But never fear! Mark Richardson will stride out manfully at number three to ensure that there is no panic."

  • Athol Henwick on June 22, 2010, 10:14 GMT

    Mr Zaltsman, you are a genius. You never fail to amuse. I loved the Steyn/Ambrse comparison, the temerity to even suggest...... Keep it coming.

  • Souvik on June 22, 2010, 9:28 GMT

    Boycott should be a part of the team.... He can also be the captain if required.. But without Boycott I cannot agree with this team !!!

  • Amit Jain on June 22, 2010, 9:20 GMT

    " .... Ambrose, however, although a dapper batsman and neat wicketkeeper in his 11 Tests for England, ..."

    HA HA HA ... Please keep them coming !!! Made my day :)

  • Gerald on June 22, 2010, 8:27 GMT

    Excellent article, however I disagree on you saying that bravo is 'one of the more stylish batsman in world cricket'. He is (usually) more of a flamboyant batsman.

  • MJB on June 22, 2010, 8:22 GMT

    Try this one.

    Pick the best Test Team from players who played for Australia but were born in other countries.

    I would like to get one back on the Skippy's who bag other Countries because they have used percieved foreign players.

    Wessels could be one.

  • tom on June 22, 2010, 8:19 GMT

    love the Ambrose question!

  • Ali on June 22, 2010, 8:03 GMT

    Given the rich bain of form, I guess the English Cricket team should play in the Football World Cup instead of the Football Team. At least they have Keiswetter who doesn't fumble the ball and Eoin Morgan who is innovative!!

  • Hardik on June 22, 2010, 7:56 GMT

    Hi Mr. Zaltzman.. I am a big fan of your writing. I eagerly await and check cricinfo as soon as I have read the last word of your latest work... (well.. almost). I have a question for you.. Last week pakistan's Salman Butt rediscovered his form against India and to some extent Shoaib Malik and Imran Farhat too.. In the tournaments before (T20 WC and Zimbabwe tri-series), Tilakratne Dilshan rediscovered his form in some of those 'few' epic Ramayan battles! Can you find out the likelihood of a batsmen rediscovering their long lost form against Team India?

  • Vivek Bhandari on June 22, 2010, 7:23 GMT

    another gem but the comparison of bravo and tavare takes the cherry on the cake...also that of ambrose and steyn...that must have shattered the heart of the questioner...lolz

  • Ajinkya on June 22, 2010, 7:15 GMT

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA the answer to question 2 did it for me! You are a LEGEND.

  • Pietskiet on June 22, 2010, 7:09 GMT

    Brilliant article, just to add to kgvekatesh's question: Steyn took 5 fors in SA, Aus, India, SL, Pakistan and West Indies, so I don't think that your argument of Ambrose being able to bowl anywhere on any wicket is a very strong one.

  • Usman Ahmed on June 22, 2010, 6:49 GMT

    "Steyn. His record-breaking strike rate and millennium-leading average put him on the way to becoming a truly great fast bowler, alongside the best of any era. Ambrose, however, although a dapper batsman and neat wicketkeeper in his 11 Tests for England, has understandably never bowled in international cricket, and his one over of first-class bowling did little to suggest that he could eclipse Steyn’s achievements."

    pure magic... poor old Tim Ambrose... :D

  • James bowled Waqar 0 on June 22, 2010, 6:42 GMT

    Thanks for this hilarious article... I lost the will to live after watching Chanderpaul/Bravo score 50 in 3 hours. This has definitely cheered me up. If only Devon Malcolm and Chris Tavare had been batting together for Windies!

  • sulaiman on June 22, 2010, 6:20 GMT

    zaltzman. you. are. the. funniest. man. alive.

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  • sulaiman on June 22, 2010, 6:20 GMT

    zaltzman. you. are. the. funniest. man. alive.

  • James bowled Waqar 0 on June 22, 2010, 6:42 GMT

    Thanks for this hilarious article... I lost the will to live after watching Chanderpaul/Bravo score 50 in 3 hours. This has definitely cheered me up. If only Devon Malcolm and Chris Tavare had been batting together for Windies!

  • Usman Ahmed on June 22, 2010, 6:49 GMT

    "Steyn. His record-breaking strike rate and millennium-leading average put him on the way to becoming a truly great fast bowler, alongside the best of any era. Ambrose, however, although a dapper batsman and neat wicketkeeper in his 11 Tests for England, has understandably never bowled in international cricket, and his one over of first-class bowling did little to suggest that he could eclipse Steyn’s achievements."

    pure magic... poor old Tim Ambrose... :D

  • Pietskiet on June 22, 2010, 7:09 GMT

    Brilliant article, just to add to kgvekatesh's question: Steyn took 5 fors in SA, Aus, India, SL, Pakistan and West Indies, so I don't think that your argument of Ambrose being able to bowl anywhere on any wicket is a very strong one.

  • Ajinkya on June 22, 2010, 7:15 GMT

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA the answer to question 2 did it for me! You are a LEGEND.

  • Vivek Bhandari on June 22, 2010, 7:23 GMT

    another gem but the comparison of bravo and tavare takes the cherry on the cake...also that of ambrose and steyn...that must have shattered the heart of the questioner...lolz

  • Hardik on June 22, 2010, 7:56 GMT

    Hi Mr. Zaltzman.. I am a big fan of your writing. I eagerly await and check cricinfo as soon as I have read the last word of your latest work... (well.. almost). I have a question for you.. Last week pakistan's Salman Butt rediscovered his form against India and to some extent Shoaib Malik and Imran Farhat too.. In the tournaments before (T20 WC and Zimbabwe tri-series), Tilakratne Dilshan rediscovered his form in some of those 'few' epic Ramayan battles! Can you find out the likelihood of a batsmen rediscovering their long lost form against Team India?

  • Ali on June 22, 2010, 8:03 GMT

    Given the rich bain of form, I guess the English Cricket team should play in the Football World Cup instead of the Football Team. At least they have Keiswetter who doesn't fumble the ball and Eoin Morgan who is innovative!!

  • tom on June 22, 2010, 8:19 GMT

    love the Ambrose question!

  • MJB on June 22, 2010, 8:22 GMT

    Try this one.

    Pick the best Test Team from players who played for Australia but were born in other countries.

    I would like to get one back on the Skippy's who bag other Countries because they have used percieved foreign players.

    Wessels could be one.