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In an extensive interview with BBC Sport, Joe Root and Gary Ballance reminisce about their early years in Yorkshire's cricket set-up and the time they spent as house-mates in a village called Idle. Root, a practical joker according to Ballance, recalls an incident involving Ryan Sidebottom and a sock that paid a quirky tribute to the legend of the Yorkshire Snipper.
Root grins knowingly, then adds: "The worst one was when I did it to (veteran fast bowler) Ryan Sidebottom after dropping two catches off him. At the end of the day's play he was sitting next to me in the dressing-room and was already absolutely furious.
"Then he got out of the shower, pulled his first sock on right up to the top of his thigh and just blew up. All the lads were trying not to look at him and laugh. I just knew I had to get out of there or I would be in a bit of pain."
In an article for Aeon magazine, David Papineau explores the idea of nature v nurture in cricket by comparing it with other sports and examines whether genetic qualities plays a bigger role in the development of cricketers than environment.
If environments matter more in cricket than in soccer, then this makes cricketing skills look less genetically heritable than footballing ones. In football, most of the differences come from genetic advantages just because there aren't many environmental differences (if you live in a soccer-mad nation, opportunities to play are everywhere). But in cricket, there would still be a wide range of abilities even if everybody had exactly the same genetic endowment, because only some children would get a proper chance to learn the game. In effect, environmental causes are doing a lot more to spread out the children in cricket than they are in football. To sum up, cricket runs in families precisely because the genetic heritability of cricket skills is relatively low.
While reviewing Chris Waters' book 10 for 10 - on Hedley Verity's record - for the Guardian, Andy Bull recounts some entertaining stories of superstitions that cricketers have followed.
Others take things further still. Duck seemed so portentous to Steve James that he refused to eat it, and wouldn't even let his children have a rubber one to play with in the bath, until after his career was over. He sympathised with Neil McKenzie, who developed an obsession that meant he would go out to bat only when all the toilet seats were down, and even went through a phase of taping his bat to the ceiling because his team-mates had once done that to him on a day when he scored a century.
Justin Parkinson, political reporter for the BBC, takes us through the history of cricket ball manufacture in the UK. From April 1914 when workers from west Kent threatened to hold the cricket season hostage by not producing any more balls until they were reimbursed appropriately. At the time they had been supplying the best quality for over 150 years, but as the 20th century wore on the monopoly went into steady decline.
Kent's ball manufacturers employed several hundred people at the time, many of whom complained of being treated like "sweated labour".
"The power of the union may be largely a thing of the past, and cricket ball manufacture, along with pretty much everything else in cricket, has now largely moved to the subcontinent", says Matt Thacker, managing editor of The Nightwatchman, the Wisden Cricket Quarterly magazine."But it's great to be reminded occasionally how deeply ingrained into the fabric of English life cricket was.
T20 cricket has been dubbed the best vehicle to sell the game across the far reaches of the globe. But what happens when the bug bites but the players do not have the requisite equipment to mimic Chris Gayle's monstrous hits or Lasith Malinga's searing toe-crushers? A town in Cuba faced this conundrum but Scyld Berry's column, in the Telegraph, explains how a charity has taken responsibility of supplying the locals all they need to fuel their passion for cricket.
To see the impact of the arrival of four quality bats in Guantanamo was heart-warming, even for a bowler, and of the first cricket helmet the players had ever seen. A useful addition, because the first ball of our middle-practice - just short of a length - went three feet over the batsman's head.
For Yusuf, birds are not just things of beauty but their continuous activity raises the energy level all around. "You never feel lonely in their company. We have an African gray parrot which mimics everyone."
Once he almost bought a camel.
"I was coming from Ajwa when I encountered a tribe with camels and their young ones. I decided to buy one from there but the friend accompanying me, informed my mother who refused permission, saying it's a big animal and it would be difficult to take care of," he says.
Eric Ravilious' vision of cricketers in top hats has featured in 76 editions of the Wisden Almanack, but very little has surfaced about the man himself. Rupert Bates, in Wisden India, charts Ravilious' history from his less-than-attentive stints on the cricket field to possible sources of inspiration for the iconic engraving.
He said the game went on "a bit too long for my liking and I began to get a little absent-minded in the deep field after tea". He made one not out in defeat, and bowled a few overs. "It all felt like being back at school, especially the trestle tea with slabs of bread and butter, and that wicked-looking cheap cake." He went on to record the comment of the Double Crown captain Francis Meynell that his bowling was "of erratic length, but promising, and that I should have been put on before. Think of the honour and glory there."
The Guardian recently published a series of photos based on the works of Prefab77, a Newcastle-based collective of artists, who have laser-etched vintage cricket bats with various designs, to represent themes inherent among English cricket fans.
The Wisden Cricketers' Almanack perhaps put it most succinctly: "Statistics are absurd for such a man." For Robert Crisp, had a remarkable life that went beyond the nine Tests he played for South Africa - from climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to surviving attacks on battle tanks during the Second World War and beating cancer later in life. In the The Spin, Andy Bull looks at one of cricket's great adventurers.
Jonathan Crisp says he has it on "very good authority from a lot of different people" that his father was recommended for the Victoria Cross, but Field Marshal Montgomery refused to allow it because Crisp was so ill-disciplined. He was demoted three times. But then he was also mentioned in despatches four times. Crisp was awarded the Military Cross instead. He was presented with it by King George VI, who asked him if his cricket career would be affected by the wound. "No sire," Crisp replied. "I was only hit in the head."
Dietmar Hamann, the former Germany and Liverpool midfielder, speaks to All Out Cricket, about discovering cricket, a "thinking man's game", in England, and facing a bowling machine, operated by Andrew Flintoff, hurling balls at 95 miles an hour.
It's a thinking man's game and that's what I like about it. You need to take a lot of things into account. Obviously, the tone of the game is changing at the moment with the shorter formats coming in. But skills-wise, especially in Test cricket, you've got to make a lot of decisions; whether to bat or bowl first, when to use your bowlers, how to set the field. Some people think it's just tossing a ball up and smacking it out of the ground. But there's so much to the game.
Jonathan Liew, a member of the Daily Telegraph, is put on Stuart Broad's diet for a few days, and tells the tale. The diet is great if you are a fast bowler, he says, or if you like the taste of pureed grass ...
The first delivery arrives in a handsome hessian box. Soulmate give you three meals and two snacks per day, to be eaten roughly three hours apart. In total, this provides about 2,000 calories, although this can vary from diner to diner. Cyclist Ed Clancy, for example, will receive about twice as much. Eagerly, I dig in. The mango and blueberry yoatie – oats smothered in yogurt – is fine; the chicken and peanut salad is particularly impressive, the meat fresh, tender and utterly lean. A pot of nuts, seeds and raisins is less enjoyable – generally, I try not to eat anything you could buy in a pet shop ...
In the Mumbai Mirror, Deepak Narayanan's complied a tongue-in-cheek list of what certain members of the cricket community would like for Christmas.
Dear Santa, I was going to ask for a 100th 100, but then I saw the Australian bowling attack and realised you’d already done your bit. Aila, Sachin
Dear Santa, What do you want for Christmas? Viru
In the Age, Greg Baum writes about that important ingredient in sport that is ever present but never talked about: luck. He tells the story of how English cricketer Ed Smith did not believe luck played a role in sport, but changed his mind when he was wrongly given out lbw in what was to be his last Test innings.
There is luck in the bounce, in the draw - we have expressions for both. There is luck in injury: severity, timing, avoidance. There is luck in selection. Ricky Ponting began his Test career midway through the third day of a Perth Test against amiable Sri Lanka, with Australia 3-422. Matthew Hayden began on a few hours' notice, with a broken thumb, against South Africa, Allan Donald et al, in Johannesburg. It made for misleading first impressions.
That sport provides communities with a way to come together has been well documented. In Mint, Rudraneil Sengupta provides a new twist on an old tale as she goes behind the bars of India’s Tihar jail and discovers cricket removes the differences between murders, kidnappers, smugglers and yes, even those who protest their innocence.
The cricketers in Tihar cover every possible crime between them—murder, kidnapping, rape, honour killing, robbery, peddling or smuggling drugs, embezzlement, even terrorism. There’s Manu Sharma, Jessica Lal’s killer; and Santosh Singh, who raped and murdered his fellow law student Priyadarshini Mattoo. But many are also undertrials, and some, even though they have spent more than a decade behind bars, still vociferously proclaim their innocence.
On the field though, they are bowlers, batsmen or wicketkeepers, listening attentively to their 74-year-old coach Rajinder Pal’s instructions, padding up in anticipation, shadow-practising under the shade of a tree, running into the field with water bottles when needed, helping each other stretch or warm-up.
Homies & POPz, a cricket team from Compton, a city in southern Los Angeles County, have returned from a trip around the world and now want to use the game to get kids in Compton and LA out of gangs and off the street. Regina Graham interviews the team for intersectionssouthla.com and finds out why they like cricket and what they think it can do for their community.
In 1996, Haber and Hayes decided to expand their horizons and bring the game to Compton where they thought young people could benefit from the game that teaches proper etiquette and sportsmanship. They began by teaching a workshop on how to play the game at Willowbrooke Middle School. Some of those students grew up on the team and are still active on the green grassy fields. They love to play, but they also enjoy helping change the city’s negative reputation.
Steve James, writing in the Daily Telegraph, relives the - rather hilarious - experience of having the ball come crashing through the window of the room where he was commentating during a Glamorgan game in Taunton.
...So as the ball was making its unerring way towards us, with [Edward] Bevan becoming more and more anxious as he described its path, I decided it was time to duck. The thought of glass flying into my face was too much to bear. Bevan also decided to turn his back, but obviously a little later. Listen to the clip and the sound of breaking glass is simply comic. Just writing this now I am struggling to contain my giggles.
As cricketers from across the globe do battle in the IPL, a home-grown revolution is happening 3000 miles away. Easter sees the 15th staging of the Bali International Sixes. Its motto is ‘Developing Cricket for Indonesians’ and for the first time in its history, Indonesian teams outnumber their ex-pat and visiting counterparts, writes Simon Fry in the Independent on Sunday.
Only four teams competed in the inaugural event which was won by the Rebels from Jakarta, Java. Fourteen years later, 12 teams featuring players aged from 16 to 70 will gather at the Bukit Oval, Udayana Cricket Club’s ground on Bali’s Jimbaran Heights, where cobras and monitor lizards await fielders retrieving balls whacked beyond the boundary.
India’s World Cup victory has led to many paeans about MS Dhoni’s leadership skills, as well as examinations of the various traits and characteristics of various members of the team. The Times of India went a step further and commissioned OD Alternatives, an organisation development and consulting firm, to map the personality and leadership styles of the playing XI using the Enneagram tool- a globally accepted personality profiling method.
Of the nine personality types, Type 3 and Type 1 dominate with two cricketers respectively falling into the category. While none of the cricketers fell in the Type 4, 5 and 6 categories, some had overlaps of Type 7 and 8 together; 3 and 8 together and 2 and 8 together. Since little information was available on Munaf Patel, his personality type could not be ascertained. Read on for the details.
TYPE 3 | M S DHONI & VIRAT KOHLI: Optimistic, adaptable, success-oriented, self-assured, and charming. They can also be status-conscious and highly driven for advancement. They are diplomatic and poised, but can also be overly concerned with their image and what others think of them. Consequently, they can be impatient and image-driven. They seek to be loved for performance and achievement. Masters at appearances-they are able to recover quickly from setbacks and charge ahead to the next challenge, staying informed, knowing what's going on, competent and able to get things to work efficiently and motivate others.
Ever wondered how cricket bats are made? The Daily Telegraph visited Gray-Nicolls in England and provides insight through pictures.
James Anderson's appearance in the new issue of the gay magazine Attitude has confirmed his status as one of our most admirable sportsmen: clever, charming and – above all – courageous, writes Simon Briggs in the Telegraph.
While same-sex marriages have become routine events across the civilised world, homosexuality in professional sport remains a forbidden frontier ...
"If there are any gay cricketers," Anderson told Attitude, "they should feel confident enough to come out, because I don't think there is homophobia in cricket. Football fans can be quite abusive and quite harsh, [but] cricket fans are generally quite placid."
This is probably right, even if one can imagine the beery hordes at the Melbourne Cricket Ground coming out with a few ugly chants. Yet most people are less worried about the fans than they are about their own peers.