The death of the death of Test cricket
As West Indies celebrate their incredible victory over England at Headingley, and Bangladesh enjoy their unprecedented win over Australia, spare a thought for the hand-wringing editorials and despondent lamentations about the long, slow demise of Test cricket, which now will largely fail to be published for at least a month. The reasons for the decline of the Test elegy over the next few weeks are many, but to name a few: they will lack context, they will struggle to gain an audience, and there are too many bloody millennials who only want to read about what is wrong with ODIs and T20s.
Still, if the last decade has proved anything, you can never keep pronouncements on the death of Test cricket down for long. Sri Lanka are due to play Pakistan in the UAE, and to tour India by year's end.
The corporate synergy
Sanath Jayasuriya may have resigned, the fans may be raucously unhappy, and the coach may have taken shots at the selectors, but at least in one area, all of Sri Lankan cricket was on the same page this month. SLC president Thilanga Sumathipala has been a long-time proponent of four-day Tests, and although during the recent series India kept threatening to elongate matches by racking up scores of over 500 in each first innings, Sri Lanka went to great lengths to finish each game comfortably inside four days. Some batsmen even trashed their own averages to carry out the board's vision.
The new euphemism
The sport that gave us "bowling a maiden over" and "batting on a sticky wicket", has added a new phrase to the lexicon - this one even more dodgy than the others in existence. When James Anderson ran in from the new James Anderson End at Old Trafford, he was, by most accounts "bowling from his own end". This does not sound at all like something that should have been allowed to happen in public, and all those who let children witness it will have to live with that decision all their lives.
The great injustice
Non-Sir Geoffrey Boycott suggested last month that knighthoods were handed out "like confetti" to West Indies greats, and that he might have stood a better chance of having his own approved if he would only "black [his] face". What better way to nix any chance of ever getting a knighthood?
The return of the prodigal
Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels have been recalled to West Indies' ODI team in September, after both had been left out due to an impasse with their employers. Who knew all their return would take was a more conciliatory approach from Cricket West Indies?
The return of the prodigal II
Seventeen years after he left the Kwazulu-Natal side due to disenchantment with the system, Kevin Pietersen is due to come back to South African domestic cricket, when he plays in the Global T20 League this year. Who knew all his return would take were fantastic sums of money?
The haves and have-nots
The media in Australia has reacted strongly to the loss to Bangladesh, with statements like "A pack of overpaid prima donnas" and "Base-rate foes take millionaires to cleaners" splashed across the sport pages. The narrative here is that the Australia players - who recently emerged from their contracts standoff with Cricket Australia with a profit-sharing deal - were defeated by a much more modestly paid outfit. So pervasive is that line of thinking that former player Rodney Hogg even tweeted: "World cricket is a massive inequality. Some of those Bangladesh lads who beat us yesterday probably only have 2 sets of whites."
As yet it is unclear what effect this kind of reporting and commentary has had on the teams playing the series. David Warner and Steven Smith have not been seen outside their hotels, which have diamond-studded walls and mattresses made of unicorn hair. Shakib Al Hasan, meanwhile, was apparently too busy atop a ladder trying to untangle a pair of shoes from an overhead telephone line.
Nero fiddled while Rome burned, but he will have to be second-best to MS Dhoni now, who napped while the Pallekele crowd threw projectiles. For at least a quarter of the 35-minute disruption to that game, Dhoni was lying face-down beside the pitch, eyes closed. Effectively, he was as relaxed about crowd disruptions as he often is about rising required rates - which he has often made a mockery of with his last-over finishes. If he saw a tsunami coming in the distance, he might quietly make himself a cup of tea, then ride spectacularly out of the garage on his motorbike just as the wave inundates the house.
The almighty nurdler
Congratulations to Alastair Cook, who became the highest Test run scorer in England, surpassing Graham Gooch's 5917. The runs, however, have not been without cost. Cook's batting has been so predictable in so many of those innings, and so characterless in a way, that England's selectors have had to field 12 different openers opposite Cook just to shake things up and retain viewer interest.
The website redesign
The Briefing has occasionally been told it is too critical, so we will take a moment now to reflect on some positive news. As many of you will have noticed, the last few weeks have seen a major cricket publication undergo a substantial makeover. We are pleased to note it has gone without a single hitch, has been totally bug-free, and has been universally beloved of readers, fans and cricketers.