Badgers stop play, Pitbull starts it
The world had good news this week, because Jesse Ryder is getting better. This time last week he was in hospital and people were still worried about his skull and the induced coma. But now he's back at home and doing very well, which is magnificent news. Jesse, let your body decide what it does, it's okay baby.
The IPL went on even without Jesse, it was opened by an American rapper who named himself after a brutal and ugly dog. But it truly started when 19-year-old Jasprit Bumrah turned up. If you've ever seen a really earnest 12-year-old with a ridiculous action who looks like he might combust in a stiff breeze, you've seen Jasprit Bumrah play. After five balls he had 1 for 12, with the wicket of Virat Kohli, and every single ball it seemed like a miracle that his action didn't kill him.
Not that Bumrah was the only feel-good debut this week. A great story out of Sri Lanka is that a 39-year-old Sri Lankan reached his dream this week and played made his first-class debut for the Sri Lankan Ports Authority Cricket Club. Batting at ten and bowling two out of 74 overs in the first innings was Priyath Bandu. Bandu, who happens to be the president of the Sri Lankan Ports Authority Cricket Club and also chairman of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority, is clearly a very spritely 39-year-old, and has many years ahead of him. His net form this season has been exceptional. In fact some say there are few better 39-year-olds with no first-class experience in Sri Lanka who are president of a first-class team. The selection of Bandu in a dead rubber was a chance to blood this exciting prospect with limitless potential. This may be Bandu's last game, unless he plays two to qualify as a future SLC president, so it may be a case of love me tonight girl we won't meet again. The government official's two from 23 balls was seen by many as perhaps the pivotal innings in Sri Lankan cricket history.
Somehow Bandu has not been picked for Sri Lanka just yet. But Ramith Rambukwella almost was when he was included in a squad to play Bangladesh. Rambukwella is a big-hitting allrounder who could really clear the ropes in school cricket. At first-class level, his batting has been a little more shaky, and some people may think the 21-year-old was lucky to be selected. But selection is a strange beast, just because a player doesn't have the stats doesn't mean that the selectors haven't seen a champion rippling beneath his surface. Rambukwella may have that, but I know what he does have, he does have a father who is the minister for media and information in Sri Lanka.
The real shame is that Rambukwella might actually be a good cricketer, he might be the next Isuru Udana, or as talented as the great Jeevan Mendis. But when you pick a minister's son at the age of 21 with a very modest record at domestic level in a country where a major government official can play a first-class game if he wants, it's never ever going to look good. Luckily in Sri Lanka, as Nishantha Ranatunga reminded us last week, the game should be kept away from political interference. But as they say in Sri Lankan cricket, baby, there ain't nothing wrong, with a little bump and grind.
The crowd was bumping, grinding and writhing as Nepal played Afghanistan. Some reports said up to 20,000 Nepalis came out to support their boys. Picture that with a Kodak. The match was the final of the sexily named Asian Cricket Council Twenty20 Cup. Nepal lost but yet again proved how much they love their cricket, even if Afghanistan are better at it.
England are better at Test cricket than Australia, but they don't want to say so. It is now quite clear that England players have been told to talk up Australia's chances. Alastair Cook said not to underestimate them, Ian Bell said not to write them off. Hopefully Jonathan Trott says Australia are a hard team to beat, Matt Prior suggests that they'll be a tough proposition and Jimmy Anderson hints that they might be better suited to English conditions. I gotta feeling this party has just begun.
While this was all being said Australia failed to publicly name their 30-man Champions Trophy squad, their captain was taken to hospital with chronic gastro and they hired a former England batsman who was openly by mocked by every Australian in the '90s. Sure, the 30-man probables list is probably the only thing less relevant in today's world than the actual Champions Trophy. Michael Clarke's bowels are now back in the nets. And Graeme Hick seems to have largely been hired because he lives down the road from the Centre of Excellence. It's not a hard side to underestimate, their life is pain, struggle, hustle, and grind.
Off the field, New Zealand Cricket must be feeling much the same. They've got the country on their back and they won't surrender. This week John Parker (36 Tests, batting average of 24) helped release an unofficial, nine-page, 77-point dossier that can be summed up much quicker. They weren't at the meeting where Ross Taylor was fired, but they're not happy with how it went down. It was similar to the old adage, I don't play baseball, but I've hit a home run.
Now there is nuance to their argument, and some serious hearsay, but it's not really the smoking gun, and probably said less about the situation than Taylor admitting things were still not great. NZC have decided to not take the Parker and Friends dossier seriously. It seems they are not the only ones.
Luke Ronchi has been picked for New Zealand. It is a sideways move for a country that usually employs South Africans. New Zealand-born but a former Aussie gloveman, Ronchi gives the ball a hell of a beating and has been tearing up first-class cricket, with four hundreds at an average of over 60. In one press conference he probably said, "I'm freaky baby, I'mma make sure that your peach feels peachy baby."
If Ronchi was not trying to make it as a Kiwi, he would probably be saying, "Let's get money let's get paid" as he roamed the world playing in domestic T20 leagues like the BPL to earn his bread. As an overseas player he may do alright but, weeks since the deadline past, over half of the local Bangladeshi players have not yet been paid by their franchises. It seems T20 cricket is a licence to print IOUs.
Players will be paid in cheese steaks at the Philadelphia International Cricket Festival starting on May 2. I hear it is a great event, worth your time and effort, but I won't be going as the only ball I drop, New Year's Times Square.
The festival should be a success as USACA doesn't seem to be running it and there are no badgers in Philly. There are badgers at the Rickmansworth Cricket Club, and they have dug up the whole ground. The RCC president Mark Raine was understated: "It looks like the Battle of the Somme as it's covered in huge holes."
This has been a problem for some time and the club tried to stop it by purchasing sonic alarms. Cleary they would have been better off stuffing the badgers with home-made explosives like they did in Tremors. Rickmansworth Cricket Club has been around since 1787, and they suspect the badgers are IPL fans.
Praveen Kumar's flat got in trouble Thursday when it was raided over an allegedly obscene MMS. It may have nothing to do with Praveen at all, but the man with the best wrist in swing bowling seems to be having a bad time of it, as the incident follows on from an umpire calling him mentally unfit for cricket. Although there are many players over the years that accusation could be aimed at.
Something obscene may be happening to James Pattinson after he had to pull out of the IPL because of an injury. According to Cricket Australia, "James Pattinson will be having surgery for a non-cricket related medical condition in his lower abdominal region that has been troubling him." Shoaib Akhtar had something like that once, but the press release was better.
If you've got anything you think should be in next week's cricket news hurl, email cricketnewshurlatgmail.com or tweet #cricketnewshurl. "I got it locked up like Lindsay Lohan" is not Praven Kumar's favourite rhyme from Pitbull.