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In his piece for the Guardian's Spin, John Ashdown draws on his childhood memories and mulls on how the seemingly rigid rules of cricket can be warped - with a little creativity - to allow its practitioners a quick game anytime, anywhere.
Problems occurred whenever our dad could be persuaded to bend his back for a couple of overs. The problem for the batsman was two close catching fielders, Valderrama on the off side, a (usually) far less reliable human on the on. The problem on the scoreboards was that the new bowler would refuse to play the role of any cricketer since 1970, invariably nominating himself Fred Trueman or picking a random object from the kitchen. This led to several destructive spells against the cream of the world's early 90s international middle orders for Fiery Fred and the occasional frustratingly random "BC Lara c Valderrama b Teapot 48" in the books.
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.
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.
Corey Anderson began 2014 with the fastest ton in ODI cricket and has since moved from strength to strength to become something of a phenomenon. Belief forms a big part of his game and it's been cultivated ever since he picked up a cricket bat. Anderson reveals his stunning rise from backyard cricket to national hero in an interview with Alan Perrott for the New Zealand Herald
In 2006, Anderson's form saw him named secondary school player of the year - alongside current Black Cap fast-bowler Tim Southee. It also attracted the attention of the Canterbury selectors and Anderson got the first shock of his life when the provincial team's coach, Dave Nosworthy, called to offer him a professional playing contract. "That still amazes me," he says, "I hadn't even played a senior club game or anything. But I'd been tossing up which sport to follow and that kind of made my decision for me, I jumped at it." It wasn't until later that he found out the coach had already discussed the offer with his parents. At just over 16, it made Anderson the country's youngest professional cricketer in 59 years and Canterbury's youngest in 129 years, achievements that were always going to attract media attention.
There have been plenty of low moments for Australia in recent years, but Sunday at the SCG made them feel a lifetime ago. The Ashes celebrations will carry on for a while yet and, writing for the Guardian, Aaron Timms takes a detailed look at what the nature of the whitewash means
Was this the best series victory Australia's cricket team has ever produced? I have no idea; in any event, "best" is a bland superlative. But there's little doubt that this was the most carnal of victories - carnal because it was a pure product of desire, an achievement so driven by lust it could easily pass as a Pedro Almodovar film ("La Revancha: Los Ashes"). And it was a victory that, more than any other in recent memory, the country as a whole could relate to at a deep level, a feast more enjoyable for the famine that preceded it, the kind of win to make you believe in progress, and self-betterment, and the very perfectibility of things.
Where would you find Steve Waugh and Matthew Hayden rubbing shoulders every day - on the field and off it - with Sehwag, Sachin and Yuvraj? In Thangachimadam village, about 550 km from Chennai, whose good folk have reflected their passion for cricket by naming their children after their favourite players. "In a recent cricket match, I hit a sixer off the last ball when we needed just one run to win," Steve Waugh, a class eight student, told Times of India.
Sehwag, Sachin and Yuvraj are siblings named by their father George after his favourite cricketers. "Everyone in the village and in the school knows my sons only by these names," said George.
Not just cricket, the net's been cast farther to WWE as well. "When my nephew was born a year ago, I suggested he be named after Irish wrestler Sheamus," Castober, a 20-year old from the village, said. "My brother-in-law is very pleased with the name." Sheamus will have Big Show for company.
Names, though, are no guarantee of sporting excellence. Sachin, for example, has showed zero interest in cricket. "I hope Sehwag and Yuvraj will not disappoint me," their father says. Big Show has similar news: "I don't know whether it is because of my name, but I am not good at cricket like my friends Steve Waugh and Hayden."