Sunday, 29 March 2009

Why the Chennai Super Kings will win

Obligatory Pre-Rehab Post on CSK before I disappear.

Why the Chennai Super Kings will win:

  • They are dressed in yellow and blue.
  • They are Super Kings.
  • They have a player named Napoleon Einstein.
  • Freddie's on the team.
  • Albie is on the team.
  • Jacob Oram won't be too busy avoiding Test cricket.
  • Dhoni's hair is no longer a separate entity to his body.
  • Albie & Makhaya Ntini will be there for the entire tournament.
  • Matthew Hayden and Michael Hussey will be there for the entire tournament.
  • Dhoni's gloves.
  • Warnie's a wanker.
  • They beat Kings XI by 9 wickets.
  • They only lost the final in the last ball.
  • There is only one Englishman on the team.
  • Albie will be sending texts from "Nurse Saskia" to Warnie during the games.
  • Manpreet Gony is feeling good today.
  • They don't slap each other.
  • They don't cry.
  • I want them to.

Why the Chennai Super Kings will lose:

  • They are dressed in yellow and blue.
  • They are Super Kings.
  • Stephen Fleming is New Zealander.
  • Makhaya Ntini is a rapist.
  • There is one Englishman on the side.
  • Michael Hussey will be there for the entire tournament (NO HE'S NOT, I'M AN EVIL WOMAN.)
  • Freddie won't be there for the entire tournament.
  • They lost the final to a team captained by a wanker.
  • Manpreet Gony is married to Manpreet Kaur.
  • It is owned by India Cements.
  • Dhoni's gloves.
  • The universe is against me.

Napoleon Einstein - my new best friend

Sergeant Amy

In my spare time, I am a reporter for the New York Times.

Which is why for the next few days I am going to be AWOL. I am checking into a rehab clinic in the hopes of getting an exclusive with Herschelle Gibbs.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Jacques Kallis has a WEBSITE

And it is creepy.
But also hilarious. Very, very hilarious. Almost too hilarious.

The site seems slightly normal at first, if you're willing to disregard the fact that it's run by Jacques Kallis, which is in itself a terrifying notion. I wasn't aware he was capable of using the internetz, and my thoughts were confirmed after some poking around. On the home page, you are met with a photo which will either rattle you to your very bones and have you running off in the opposite direction, or it will have you merely shudder and press on to discover the horrors of this site.

I chose the latter.

"Heloo. I em Jaaks Kellis. I like yoong boys."

We progress onto the 'About' page, where yet another photo confronts us. This time, it is of a young Jacques, and a zombie umpire in the background.

Would Shamone want him if he looked thin and blonde?

And then there is a Biography. To give you a taste of what it is like, here is an excerpt:

"His mental strength is his primary weapon and if the Australians can’t get to him then no other side probably can. Famous for spending untold hours at the crease despite the onset of fatigue, he has a seemingly unflappable temperament which has propelled him into the elite of world cricket.

He is arguably the world’s leading batsman and seems set on staying there. He has a defensive technique second to none and the ability to stand his ground no matter what the circumstances. He is a dogged right hand batsman and muscular fast medium bowler who can swing the ball both ways off a good line and length.

In 2004, he became only the second player in history (after Sir Donald Bradman) to make a century in five consecutive matches. As one of the most enduring batsmen of his generation, Kallis' wicket has become arguably the most prized in Test cricket, with the exception of Australian captain Ricky Ponting."

Now, time to knock Jacques off the bullshit wagon. This is possibly the most egotistical "biography" (autobiography more like it) of a cricketer I've ever seen on their own website. Notice how he is build up to be simply invincible and able to instil fear into the hearts of many? "Oh no!" they say. "Not the unflappable Jacques Kallis!"

Jacques selflessly spends hours at the crease, toiling away tirelessly to inch his team's score along. Truly, the definition of martyr should read none other than "See 'Jacques Kallis'". What other elite batsman would battle on despite the onset of fatigue?

"Other batsmen fold under pressure. I say 'No, not me.'"

And when he's arguably the world's leading batsman, who can disagree?Jacques is simply so dogged and muscular that nobody gets past him alive. Surely this man's wicket has become the most prized in Test cricket? Why, yes it has! But only after Ricky Ponting, of course. In fact, forget Ponting, I'd go so far as to make comparisons between Kallis and Don Bradman.

Enough of that.

I'm being too cynical, of course. If I want real proof of Kallis's notoriety, all I need to do is check out some news articles about him, conveniently located on his website. Here we go, I think I've found a valid critical opinion on Kallis:

"Being Jacques Kallis can't be bad. Only the saintly would not envy his skill, his versatility, his discipline, his focus, his bank account. Many of us simply wish we shared that ability to run for five consecutive minutes without falling over, seizing up or throwing up."

The article goes on for what appears to be forever. I can't even highlight anything there, because then I'd be bolding the entire thing. In fact, Jacques is just too amazing for me to say anything except to marvel at his skill, versatility, discipline, focus, bank account, I'm running out of things here, help me out. His girlfriend. His car. His bulging stomach. If I say a single thing against him, I feel like seizing and throwing up. He has that great an impact on me.


This is where I am certain I will find something that disproves all of the above, and reinforce my earlier opinion of Jacques. After all, this is the guy who sleeps on the change room floor before going out to bat. Surely he must be lacking in brain cells.

As it turns out, he is. Note that in the following, Jacques must have compiled the questions himself, yet some of the answers he gives are amazingly hilarious:

1. Most memorable day in cricket and why? My first match for South Africa.

Yes, but Jacques, WHY?

2. Favourite meal - Chicken pasta

Mmm, you can't go past the chicken pasta. How much do you eat, Jacques? Tell us the truth.

3. Favourite drink - All depends on the time of day! Jack Daniels and Redds

Will anyone tell me why this is in a FAQ section?

4. Best advise you have received - If you do something, do it properly and give 100%.

Good one! Sounds like excellent "advise" you received there.

5. Advice to aspiring young cricketers - Practice and believe in yourself!

Will do! Good to see you spelling it right this time.

6. How would you change the game - Play fewer matches, more results in Test matches

Revolutionary! Although why would the unflappable Jacques Kallis want to play fewer matches?

7. Cricketing ambitions - To fulfill my potential and win the World Cup

Hope you fulfill your potential!

8. Most disappointing moment in the game - World Cup Semi Final 1999

HAHAHAHAHA, yes we all remember that one, Jacques. Wonder why you specifically chose to put this question in the FAQs.

9. Would you like to be an umpire - No!

No! Emphatic! Exclamation mark!

10. Can you cook, if so what is your strength - No can't cook

Abrupt and to the point, rapidly dropping IQ points as we progress through these questions. I like it.

11. Favourite music - All types

Thanks for answering the question!

12. Favourite movie - Enjoy most movies.

Why are you bothering to have these questions here in the first place if you're not going to answer them?

13. Favourite actor/actress - Neve Campbell

Finally! A specific answer. +1 IQ point.

14. Best book read - It's not about the Bike, the Lance Armstrong Story

According to Neil Manthorp, this is the favourite book of practically every SAfrican cricketer. Methinks Albie had first dibs.

15. Favourite magazine/newspaper - Do not read them

That was a helpful response, and also wtf kind of a person are you? Do you get all your news secondhand off Shamone? (Interestingly, her name is spelt "Sharmone" on this site. Well done, Jacques)

16. Favourite TV programme - Sport

HAHAHA. Good one!

17. Favourite dressing room - Sahara Park Newlands

Thanks for that helpful insight.

18. What car do you drive - Opel OPC

At least he answers the question.

19. When last did you go to the theatre - Never

Wait, it gets worse...

20. What radio station do you listen to - Seldom listen to the radio

And worse...

21. Can you dance - No

22. Can you sing - No

HAHAHAHA, Amy's manical laughter reverberates in your eardrums long after she is gone.

23. What do you see yourself doing after your career ends - Possibly move into property development

No, Jacques, that's not going to happen.

24. Morals that I live by - Control, Focus, Implement and Honesty

What the fuck is Implement? Excellent moral, Jacques.

25. Products I use for my hair and body - I use all Sanex products for my hair, feet and body

HAHAHA. Hair, feet and body. Hair, feet and body. Hair, feet and body.

26. Items I cannot do without - Management and investment advisor

Nice item.

And that is it, or the most I am able to point out without killing myself from laughing. Jacques Kallis is one person who could do without a website. Interestingly, AB de Villiers also has one, but that is another topic for another day.


While he may have the name of a 2 year old, Albie Morkel has shown the world that he's the major reason South Africa have success in T20. And ODI to an extent. He was the sole cricketer to power SA to No. 1 in the ODI rankings, after a fabulous go at it in Australia. And then in T20, he regularly pulverises the opposition and is just plain awesome. There's a reason I'm rooting for this guy.
Oh, that last sentence was funny. I'm getting all flustered now.

While David Hussey may have been the star of the match, hitting 88 off 44 balls (told you he wants his bro's place in the test side), Albie was the definite SUPERSTAR of the SA side. He hit 39 off 17 balls, which is almost a strike rate of 200, before getting out to Johnson, who only hit 10 runs in his time on the field. Looks like somebody's not an all-rounder. Victory for Amy S!

Albie smashed 2 sixes, second only to Dave Hussey's 6 sixes (extraordinary innings), and battered poor James Hopes, who, by the end of his last over, wasn't feeling very hopeful. That's how powerful Albie is. He can made you stop living up to your name, no joke.

"What's that? A six? Not as good as my last one."

When South Africa was in trouble, chasing a score of 166, Albie teamed up with Boucher (full credit to him also, 36 runs to win the match) to give SA the edge over Australia and beat them by 4 wickets, with 4 balls to spare. Phew. Close call. I'm sure if Albie hadn't gotten out, they would have gotten there even faster. In the end, though, Albie was content with scoring the most runs on his side. Take that, Boucher!

Albie also took Ricky Ponting's wicket, as I had predicted, getting him out on 1. HAHAHA.

"Fuck, I'm awesome. Tell me I'm awesome."

Michael Hussey was run out for a duck. Although Albie wasn't the one bowling, it seems half of my prediction came true. I should start betting. Warnie tells me it's quite lucrative.

Duminy had a knock too, but was out on 21, giving Hopes his only happiness for the entire match. Amla had a surprise 26, before he gave Hussey the first of his three wickets. Funnily enough, AB de Villiers was out on 7, falling victim to Brett Geeves (total of 2 wickets, did not bat). AB was later heard in a press conference, speaking of his performance:

"Yes, next time I will perform better and beat Albie Morkel."

Poor Vaughn van Jaarsveld, my best friend ever, was out on 3, bowled by Hussey. I am not disappointed, as he is definitely talented. Rather, I am angry David Hussey was given the ball. What an overachiever. You don't pick on the little kids in the competition, Davo. BUT IT LOOKS LIKE YOU DID.

On the Australian side, David Warner hit at entertaining 38, and the rest of the batsmen folded like paper under the SA bowling attack. Wayne Parnell, soon-to-be superstar, picked up 2 wickets, bowling both Clarke and Johnson out. Excellent. Getting those two out gives Parnell a gold star.

Robin Peterson picked up 2 wickets in 1 over, which people should be talking about, because that's pretty darn good. The ones to go were Warner and Haddin, but he also bowled the ball in that same over that got Michael Hussey run out.

Haddin was also out for a duck, caught by none other than Albie Morkel, taking an entirely unspectacular catch at long-off. Still, I had to mention it to reinforce his amazingness. We will be seeing more of him in the future, folks, and when he retires he will write a mindblowing autobiography about growing up during apartheid and the cricketing world post-isolation. He will then discover the secret to cold fusion and win a Nobel Prize for this, all in a day's work. And that's not it. Albie Morkel will outshine Morne for his entire life, then write articles for a prominent newspaper dissecting the faults in Morne, which will drive his younger brother to suicide, making Albie even more famous. And the cycle will continue until Albie dies and is posthumously presented with The Order of the Supreme Companion of OR Tambo Award, which is, as you already know, the highest award of recognition in South Africa. Albie will be buried alongside a cricket bat, and I will sing Eleanor Rigby at his funeral. It was always his favourite song.

Meanwhile, in the here and now, South Africa have won the first of the T20s. They are back on the rise, Australia. Oh yes they are. Interestingly, the Aussies gave away 12 extras, compared to SA's 6. With SA scraping over the line with 4 balls to spare, what would have been the difference if Australia had not given away those 6 additional extras? The outcome of the match might have been different.

However, SA won, so ALBIE WINS. Score!

England fucks it up again

No surprise there, only it was almost laughable this time. And not in a "We just won by one run because the Windies fucked up their maths" way. This was more of a "What a piss take, England lose by 8 wickets and Chris Gayle goes berserk and hits 8 sixes" kind of thing.

Andrew Strauss has had his head done in by this England captaincy.
Ravi Bopara and KP practically threw the ball to fielders.
Soon after, Owais Shah and Flintoff said "Fuck it, we're taking off" and kindly gave up their wickets.
Paul Collingwood is likely to be smug in the change rooms, being the only one not to actually get out, after a misjudged lbw call by Steve Bucknor.
Matt Prior was next on the loser train, hitting a ball lovingly to point.
Broad was next, making little impact on the side.
Then came Dimitri Mascarenhas and Gareth Barry, who thankfully restored a semblance of dignity to the side, putting on 48. But they were also out.

England made 117, and didn't even bat out the 50 overs.
But what's even more disturbing is the next part. The Windies had wrapped up the game in 14.4 overs, with Gayle's 80 from 43 balls doing much of the work for them.
England are now 2-1 down in the ODI series.

How will England ever show their face after this? This is getting ridiculous.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Looking at SA and Australia's T20 squads

No sleep tonight. I have to be there to watch South Africa beat Australia. Excellent.

"We will rock you with disturbing feats of athleticism."

But before the match starts, I want to offer a view into the squads and analyse them till their bones quiver. It's a scary experience for the cricketers.
South Africa:
Johan Botha (Captain)- The guy who reinvented himself as a class spinner to get into the side, and whose surprise captaincy in Australia was one of the highlights of the ODI series (although Albie got the Man of the Series award, Johan was also a deserving compatriot). Stated the importance of starting well against Australia in the T20 matches, as if we didn't already know.

No, not this Johan Botha. The other one.

Yusuf Abdullah - Bowler, supposedly quite good in domestic cricket. Don't care much. Onto the big names! Although now that I've said that, he'll probably turn out to be brilliant.

Hashim Amla - I keep waiting for him to perform better in the Test side, but maybe by some miracle he'll do well in the T20 match. Doubt it, though. I'm only watching him to see how many times he can do wristy flicks without causing permanent damage to them. The man has stronger wrists than Sachin.

Mark Boucher - Wicketkeeper. South Africa need him for his experience and cool head. He will probably bat between Albie and Johan.

AB de Villiers - If he can lay off making demands from Mickey Arthur, and try his hardest not to get killed, he should be fairly successful. Maybe hit 36 in one over and take a catch involving a somersault at slip - the usual. And perhaps a reprieve from Paul Harris is all for the best in helping AB concentrate on the match at hand.

Love is a freaky thing.

JP Duminy - Should be glad Ashwell's never been a real T20 player or he'd be blamed for taking his spot again. If South Africa have a brain explosion and run each other out, JP's our man. He's also a handy fielder and made a brilliant catch in the last T20s in Australia. What fun. He'll make a classy half-century or more.

Herschelle Gibbs - Just finished writing a book entitled "Hansie, Money & I" and was recently seen exiting a support group called "The League of Those Who Have Fucked Up Match Fixing Big Time". Big hitter of the ball, attempts to avoid Indians, gets out by playing the stupidest shots. If Ashwell's the best SA leaver of the ball, Gibbs is the worst. What's more, he hits bad balls straight into the hands of fielders. But if he gets going, SA is set.

Johann Louw - Bowling all-rounder, made his international debut in a T20 match against Kenya late last year.

Albie Morkel - The real star! Is obviously going to beat AB and motor SA to a victory with a powerful ton, then be gracious enough to give some handy advice to Wayne Parnell about how it is done. Will also take at least 5 wickets, but it's not his fault if he doesn't. He already has a lot on his plate, like being a batting SUPERSTAR.

"One moment, I think I'm getting too excited."

Justin Ontong - Mostly plays domestic cricket, is the captain of a side called the "Cape Cobras". Interesting name.

Wayne Parnell - Captained the U19 team in 2008, and debuted in Australia in the same ODI that Tsotsobe unfortunately overshadowed him. Attracts laser beams from Australian crowds, but has since learnt to avoid lasers after some ninja training similar to my own.

Robin Peterson - Was once hit for 28 runs in one over in a Test match by Brian Lara, a record that AB nearly broke in the last Test. Peterson is reportedly distressed the record still holds.

Dale Steyn - Warner thinks he's Dale's bunny, so the best fast bowler in the world is understandably tentative about competing in this match at all.

Roelof van der Merwe - 23 year old spinner who takes his name after Internet slang. ROFL! A big hitter of the ball.

Vaughn van Jaarsveld - Hung out with the big boys for a bit in Australia but didn't get to smash any balls and build a huge total. Maybe tonight's his night. Inexplicably, I find him incredibly hilarious and want to be his friend.

But does he want to be my friend?


Ricky Ponting (Captain) - What an ass. Hope Albie bowls him out again.

Michael Clarke (Vice-Captain) - Also an ass, with a dracula for a fiancé. Was rather hilariously choked by Simon Katich recently, although the encounter unfortunately did not result in death. Maybe next time.

Where the bloody hell is your mask, Lara?

Nathan Bracken - Maybe he'll stop whining for once and actually pretend to be playing for his country. So what if you're not in the fucking Test squad? You'd think he'd finally get over it. Maybe his hair is hindering his ability to think. I'd happily chop it off and auction it off for charity.

Callum Ferguson - Manages to look normal with his helmet on, but ultra-freaky without it. Resembles an echidna on his best days.

"That I am."

Brett Greeves - Seamer from Tasmania who was called up to South Africa after Doug Bollinger hurt himself.

Brad Haddin - Sometimes edges his gloves in front of the bails to claim a wicket and let out an extraordinary number of extras in the last Test, but he can bat and plus, he's the only option Australia have got. Adam Gilchrist must be gloating at the relative shittiness of his successor.

"Fuck you, Dan Vettori, for accusing me! It was behind the stumps!"

Shane Harwood - Bowler. He and Warner are the only members of this squad not staying on for the ODI series.

Nathan Hauritz - At least Australia's making progress by having a specialist spinner in the squad. As for the rest, Hauritz will have to prove his worth, especially after Bryce McGain's brain explosion which may have scarred Aussie spinning hopes.

James Hopes - Chunky fellow, also an all-rounder. Does a decent job at both batting and bowling, but it extremely kind to me and manages to get out quickly when I'm sick of watching him play. Which is often.

David Hussey - His constant physical brawls with older brother Mike during their childhood years have toughened him up and made him realise cricket is a hard sport. So he's learnt to smash the ball around and take wickets, no doubt hoping he can usurp his struggling brother's position in the Test side. Sneaky bugger.

Michael Hussey - The older brother. will probably fail miserably and get caught behind for a duck. Hopefully off Albie's bowling.

Mitchell Johnson - What a bowler. Notice the last part: bowler. Not all-rounder. Maybe if I repeat this a few more times, it'll stick in his head and he'll stop dreaming big. It's disconcerting when he does, and even worse when everyone goes along with it. Mitch will probably attempt to recreate some magic and blast his way to a ton... not if I have it my way. You don't see Dale Steyn trying to pretend to bat well, do you? Oh wait, yes you do, but that was only ONE TEST. And he had JP on the other side, trying to save SA from defeat, so it wasn't all the Dale Steyn Show.

"Thank you, thank you. I hit centuries all the time. It is the way of all-rounders."

Ben Laughlin - Queensland fast bowler who performed well domestically recently and was therefore fast tracked to the T20 squad. Funny that. I seem to remember Bryce McGain also toiling (disregarding the last Test) and he wasn't moved up the ranks so quickly. Youth has its benefits, I suppose.

Marcus North - Crackhead. Notice how calling him a crackhead still does nothing to make North seem more interesting? He's just so boring and strangely typical. Hit a century in his Test debut and made some iffy scores for the remainder.

David Warner - Called himself Dale Steyn's bunny. Enough said.

Cameron White - Nothing much to be said about him, seeing as he didn't do amazingly well in the ODI series in Australia. He has the ability to hit big and score big, so maybe he'll turn it around tonight.

Morkel bowls Pietersen and de Villiers out

No, not that Morkel. It was, alas, Morne Morkel's day in the spotlight.
And no, it wasn't that Pietersen. It was a Charl Pietersen.
You probably already suspect this, but it wasn't that de Villiers. This one is a CJ de Villiers.

South Africa seem to be running out of surnames.

In a domestic match between the aptly named Gestetner Diamond Eagles and the Nashua Titans (That first name is fabulously strange), Morne Morkel decided to take on board some of the extensive coaching Vinnie Barnes has been giving him over the past few months and beat the shit out of the opposition. He took a career best of 6/43 off 15 overs, beating his previous best of 6/47. Morkel removed Pietersen (5) and de Villiers (duck) in the one over, or rather, in the space of 3 balls.

It's fortunate Morne Morkel wasn't the bowler to get the wicket of Morne van Wyk, or the similarities between all these names would have started getting even creepier. As it already is.

Reports have confirmed Morne snuck off the field to call AB de Villiers from a payphone and laugh manically, breathing heavily down the line, in an attempt to scare AB into dropping out of cricket altogether. I am not sure how well the plan has worked, as AB is still running around fielding impossible balls like a creepy robot:

"Cannot compute."

KP: "I love South Africa."

Or something similar, as KP has rather creepily taken on a strange personality which involves not sledging SA at every opportunity. Perhaps my prediction is coming true, and the next step can only be to rebuild ties with Graeme. Not that they existed in the first place.

"It will be great fun. The South African public love their Twenty20 and I'm sure it will be another great spectacle, like the World T20," Pietersen said, speaking to The Mirror. "Having some family back in South Africa means I will get the best of both worlds. We'll play in front of some passionate fans."

This is most definitely strange. Maybe someone finally took a bat to his head and permanently altered his wiring. It is also amusing to note that he suddenly decided to remember his family after taking off for England at the first sign of failure.


New Zealand on top

Of who, you say? Of India. The Kiwis declared at 619/9 on the second day of the Napier test. Among their significant achievers:
  • Jesse Ryder, scoring his maiden double century, but then getting out on the very next ball, trying to hit a wide ball. Such is life. And notice how he no longer gets posts devoted entirely to him? It means I am making progress in the department of treating him like any other NZer.
  • Brendon McCullum had a good day too, not out on 103 when NZ declared.
  • James Franklin, who was run out on 52.
  • Dan Vettori hit 43, and bizarrely decided to declare without hitting 7 more runs.

Jesse Ryder's 201 is the 3rd highest individual score a Kiwi has achieved against India. Graham Dowling rounds out the best with a 238 in 1968, and Bert Sutcliffe comes next with 230 n.o. in a 1955 match.

Quite an achievement.

Thursday, 26 March 2009


Mickey Arthur is sitting in an office when a letter arrives for him. Excited, he opens it right away. He never gets real mail! Except for fan mail for Mickey Mouse. Inside is a plain piece of paper with the following written on it in barely legible writing:

My demands Mickey:
1. i went you to get rid off jacques.
2. tell greame i am better looking then him
3. i went too be batting number 4
4. pretend to the newspapiers i cant wecketkeep
5. dont make me wecketkeep
6. tell ashwell he is stupid
7. also tell him i beet him ha ha looser
8. does my hare look nice
9. i went to be the best batter in the world
10. i cant think off a number 10

Mickey folds up the paper and tells his secretary to organise a chance meeting with journalists tomorrow.
The next day, on his way to Johannesburg, Mickey accidently runs into journalists, chats about the weather, and then begins a digression into the most newsworthy SA players at the moment, beginning with AB:
"We have not given in to demands from AB de Villiers that he be moved to No. 4 in the batting and be relieved of wicket-keeping responsibilities," he says, proud to be asserting his authority in such a public way.
Realising an excellent opportunity to practise impromptu speaking skills, he made up some more details:

“I had a long chat with AB and I spelt out where I thought his future lay. I said to him that I thought he should be at No. 4 in the long run, when Jacques decides to call it a day."

Little did AB know that Jacques was never going to call it a day, Mickey smiled to himself. The man was like a sloth. The journalists were looking at him expectantly, so Mickey continued to invent a story, pleased with himself:

“I think AB is the right person for that position — in fact I think he has the ability to become the best batsman in the world. To me, the No. 4 slot is where he should be. I then said to him that if he was going to bat at four, we would have to look elsewhere for a wicketkeeper because keeping and batting in such an important position would be too tiring."
The journalists were hastily scribbling down every word he said. It only took a minute for Mickey's insanity bubble to burst, as he realised what a stupid thing he'd done. If he pissed off AB, the guy would go play for England. And he was actually a useful batsman.

"The perception that AB has been making demands is simply incorrect,” he said, backtracking.
The journalists looked at him in confusion, and one opened his mouth to ask a question. Mickey interjected irritably. "Next, please," he said. "Who else do you want to know about?" And that is how they began talking Albie Morkel.

Now, Amy S is going to cut in here because her interior monologue is a thousand times better than Mickey's. When Albie debuted in the last test, I knew that he hadn't done enough with his bowling to absolutely cement his position in the side. Quite frankly, he isn't all that brilliant of a bowler anyway but I don't care SOSUEMEOKAY. At least he's got the right attitude. And the mental stamina. Yes he does.

Now sneaky Arthur's debating the possibility of Albie keeping a No. 7 or 8 spot and he's not so sure. Although SAfrica need an all-rounder in one of these positions, and a good one at that, his bowling is letting him down:
“Albie Morkel’s batting is fine but his bowling still has a question mark above it.”
Albie is a batting all-rounder, and he can handle the ball well enough, but he needs to be entirely convincing. And his pace and consistency are key issues.

“He needs that extra yard, which will make a huge difference because he swings the ball, but I think he can get faster, and consistency is a matter of constant practice.”
"Bah humbug!" says Albie, hearing Mickey's traitorous comments for the first time. "I'm bowling at or near 140km/hr!"
"Ja, Albie, but your bowling's not so precise."
"Whose side are you on, anyway?" Albie demands.
I cower beneath my chair. "Yours, of course. I'm just offering constructive criticism so that you can really get into the Test side."
Albie's never heard of that before: constructive criticism. He likes the sound of it. "Alright," he says, "you can do that. But don't tell me I'm shit. I'm really good, aren't I? Did you see me batting? DID YOU?"
"Yes, Albie, I say. You were amazing."
"I know," he says. "Did you see Morne?"
"EXACTLY!" Albie bursts into hysterics, laughing a strange South African laugh. I leave him be.

Arthur went on to say that perhaps the all-rounder would need to bat at 7, and the wicketkeeper at 8. Possibly the best thing in the article for Albie is the fact that Morne doesn't get mentioned at all. I join Albie in the laughter for this one. It's cruel, because he's got the talent, but in these matters I side with Albie.

"Now who's the talented one, Morne? The answer is me. HAHA."

In AB's apartment:
AB: *finishes licking envelope to post to Mickey's office* Done!
Morne: That was funny. We should do this again sometime.
AB: I'm so clever, don't you think? I thought Demand No. 7 was very good.
Morne: You're better than Ashwell. Do you think I'm better than Dale?
AB: Well, seeing as I'm going to be the No. 1 batsman in the world, I think I need to tell you Morne that you're not very good.
Morne: What?
AB: Albie's better than you. He was batting with me, remember? He hit 58. But I hit 163 so obviously I win.
Morne: I'm coming back for the ODIs.
AB: You only got confirmation for the first two. I bet they'll drop you for the rest.
Morne: *crying in Afrikaans - it is a strange guttural sound not dissimilar to pigs crying*
AB: Oh, and I think now's the best time to tell you that you have to move out. I can't be seen living with a loser who's been dropped from the test squad if I want to be the best batsman in the world. I'm inviting Albie to move in.
Morne: *has a crazy Gunther attack and rips off AB's head, leaving a gaping hole which he then throws a cricket ball into*

Bet you weren't expecting the end. Morne's only slightly insane, of course.

Andre Nel Retires

Yesterday, Andre Nel announced his retirement from international cricket. Best known for being the only criminally insane psychopath to be allowed to play for his country, the schizophrenic Nel has backtracked to live up to the madman-turned-saint-upon-retirement cliché that was most recently seen after Matthew Hayden's retirement.

"It is with a heavy heart that I announce my retirement from international cricket. Playing for my country for the last eight years was a dream come true for me. I would like to thank my captain, Graeme Smith, and my coaches, Mickey Arthur and Vinnie Barnes, and all my Proteas' teammates for their support and guidance."
Technically, he's only played 7 years, since his last matches for SA were in England last year. But we'll forgive him the mistake. After all, he's a nice person now.

He helps his team mates when they're feeling down...

And makes funny faces to mask his evilness.

He lets his team mates jump on him for fun.

And gives good jaw-clenched hugs to the needy.

If you cannot see the kindness now, you never will. It's a simple concept: Gunther is the evil one, Andre's the normal one - the certified accountant.

Gunther is coming to get you.

Andre's pretty thankful to a couple of other fellows:

"A special thanks to my two biggest mentors, Ray Jennings and Shaun Pollock. Without your advice and influence I would not have made it as far as I did."

Ah, Shaun Pollock, the traitorous ex-fast bowler who decided that medium-fast was good enough. He of the ginger head. Yes, I remember. Pollock's retirement speech was bollocks (sorry, couldn't resist):

"I realise I have been blessed by God and feel I have nurtured my talents to the best of my abilities."

Sounds fulfilling.

Cricket South Africa's CEO Gerald Majola was quick to assert himself as the master and Andre as the slave:

"He has been a good servant to South African cricket and I wish him all the best."

"That last part is a lie. I hope Gunther takes over his brain and blows up the whites."

Mickey Arthur is under the impression Andre was "a passionate player who always gave 110% for his country". Where does the extra 10% come from? Gunther? Or Nel's facial expressions?

But this isn't the end of Andre Nel, as he's contracted to play for Surrey in the English county season. Graeme Smith is so confused from tennis elbow that he interpreted this as Andre moving to England to play international cricket for them. He sought out Andre and had a verbal sparring match with him:

Graeme: How could you, Gunther! You're more treacherous than Kevin!

Andre: ARGH!!! I am Gunther!!!

Graeme: You're slating South Africa!

Andre: You're an absolute muppet, Graeme.

You can't escape the muppets, Graeme.

Graeme: I never want to see you on the field again!

Andre: ...You won't. But you'll be seeing GUNTHER again.

Surrey appears to be looking to boost their ranks by having an evil mastermind in their midst. They'll be hoping Gunther is coming down from his oxygen-deprived home in the mountains for a holiday, because they'll be needing his expertise in the field.

"Madness? I AM GUNTHER!!!"

Ryder keeps going and going, Warner says "me too"

Jesse Ryder scored his second test century, alongside Ross Taylor scoring his third, on the first day of the Napier test match. In an extraordinary feat of discipline and long-awaited exercise, Ryder batted out more than seven hours to remain unbeaten on 137 at stumps. He and Taylor also broke a NZ fourth wicket batting record, but it's a NZ record, so that's not saying much.

Taylor said it was "good to get there" in regard to his century, but he wasn't going to take all credit for NZ's momentary success:

"A lot credit has to go to Jesse. I think he played outstandingly well and to still be there, after over six hours, he's been great."
"I'm not making a fat joke, I swear," Taylor insisted.

Notice how he sneakily tries to downgrade Ryder's achievement? "Six hours". We're onto Taylor. Kiwis can't be trusted, least of all their cricketers.

David Warner, one-time Aussie superstar, has been talking to the press as well. He's in the T20 squad for this week's matches, and is planning to "take it to them" - them being the SA bowlers, in particular Dale Steyn. Warner uses particularly colourful phrases when referring to how he plans to perform in the T20s against Steyn:

"You don't want to be on the back foot to them because if they are going to get on top of you, you're cooked. He is definitely one of the best bowlers I've faced. He has got me out a couple of times. I think I'm his bunny."

The only question that remains is what kind of bunny?

That is a more disturbing thought than I am willing and able to stomach.

Graeme's Hindi might kill AB

So suddenly Smitty wants in on the IPL. Tennis elbow is only for tennis players, he says. I play cricket. Confidentially, he has advised me that the tennis elbow is really only a fake injury to make him appear saintly and all-sacrificing in front of audiences. And it worked. His dastardly plan to fake a broken finger in Australia and later return to bat it out worked like magic. "The Aussies are lapping this shit up," he tells me, his South African accent particularly amusing today.
But Graeme has been giving others better interviews. He's bought a new Hindi For Dummies CD and is working hard to be able to call himself trilingual and therefore better than KP:

"My broken finger is recovering well, and I should be ready for the one-day internationals against Australia, starting on April 3. In the meantime, my elbow is also doing well, and depending on how it goes during the ODIs, I might play for the Rajasthan Rajahs after all."

On the other side of town, AB is still gloating over his 163 runs in the last test against Australia, and is determined to keep playing the same way for the T20 matches:

"At this level we're all professional enough to make the change. I'll still bat the same way, use the same technique, I'll just be more positive and try to hit a few more boundaries."

A few more boundaries? Is 4 consecutive sixes in a Test match not enough for him? Apparently not. But forget boundaries, AB has more worrying things on his hand. Like a Mortal Kombat situation with the SA team. On the topic of SA's lacklustre performance in the 16 Pro20 internationals they have played:

"I don't think our record's that bad and a lot of our inconsistency is down to the nature of the game, you can lose at any time. It's not like test cricket where you play for five days and it's more about your skills; in Pro20, if one player comes off it can kill you."

It's a fight to the death and AB's just trying not to get killed.

South Africa & IPL - The Real Truth

It wasn't because of the weather.

Shame, shame, shame

Apparently Warnie thinks it's a shame the IPL won't be hosted in India. In the same interview, at various points throughout it:

"It won't be the same as it being in India."

"Hopefully the South African public will get behind it and turn up to the ground and make it a great spectacle."

"South Africans love sport, they're very passionate about their sport."

"Hopefully they get some good crowds."

"It'll be nothing like if it was in India, and it's a shame it can't be in India."

"It is a shame we're not in India, it would have been nice to be there."

So if I'm interpreting this correctly, and I may be wrong so feel free to correct me, he thinks it's a shame the IPL can't be held in India?

The first match will be at Newlands on the 18th April.

Tales of the Bizarro World

Probability of the South African crowd suddenly falling in love with KP and the government backflipping in order to present him with the highest South African honour? Probably zero. But the chances that this new friendship between Graeme Smith and Shane Warne will lead to the two SAfricans becoming best friends is looking at its highest. It's only a matter of time, I'm thinking. Maybe Warnie will present an ultimatum:

"Stop fighting or I'm leaving both of you."

"...And reinventing myself as a robot."

And since everyone knows KP just wants to be loved, his insecurities would cause him to let down the hostilities and declare his love for Graeme. Meanwhile, Michael Vaughan would be hastily texting KP trying to fill the quota of 5 texts per day in order to boost KP's ego and convince him that he has friends. But Vaughan will soon be forgotten because KP has got better friends now.

As it turns out, there is probably no one in the world who does want the highest South African honour. It is rather hilariously named "The Order of the Companions of OR Tambo" and broken down into three awards:
Class 1 = Supreme Companion of OR Tambo (Gold)
Class 2 = Grand Companion of OR Tambo (Silver)
Class 3 = Companion of OR Tambo (Bronze).

And you get a walking stick with each award. I, for one, would love to be the Supreme Companion of OR Tambo, as opposed to just the Grand Companion.

I bet KP's shitting his pants trying to qualify for one. Because then at least OR Tambo will be his friend.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Interview with Ishant Sharma

Ha! You didn't really expect it to be lengthy or official at all, did you? Well, it isn't. But I'm making up for the lack of words with an excess of pictures, as is my way.

Cast your mind back to India's 2007-08 tour of Australia. Ah yes, you say. I remember now. There was much monkeying around, and many supposed monkeys running around. Back in the days when Huss was the one running out of partners, not the one running partners out. When everyone truly realised how obnoxious India had become and how inflation and inflated heads had nothing to do with economics. Yes, those were the days. Ishant Sharma, a young 19 year old bowler was making his Test match debut, and after the infamous 'monkey' incident in the Sydney test, tensions were running high. (In Bhaji's defence, he was really only using a Hindi abuse that sounded similar to monkey) I caught up with Ishant a few days after the Sydney test during a practice match against the Prime Minister's XI...

Amy S: Hello.
Ishant: *mumbles* Hello.
Amy S: I love your hair.

It is the latest style

Ishant: Thank you. -disappears to field a ball-
Upon returning...
Amy S: How is it going with the team?
Ishant: We are bonding well.

Yes. Yes they are.

Amy S: Do you like playing in Australia?
Ishant: .... *mumbles* No.
Amy S: Why not?
Ishant: ...I don't like the people.
Amy S: -laughing internally- Oh, really?
Ishant: -fiddles with thick bands of religious necklaces- Yes.
Amy S: Well, that's too bad.
Ishant: Yes. -noticed Dhoni gesturing and disappears to have a bowl-

Well, there you go. That's all of it. It's bloody brilliant, really. I think I'm well on track to getting a permanent job as a reporter. Much of the above is true. The important parts are, anyway. The young Ishant Sharma was brutally honest about his opinion of Australia and a few small conversations with him revealed what he thought of the locals, which was basically an extension of his feelings towards the Aussie cricket team. At the time, it seemed a shame his first experience of Australia would be negative, but he seems to have grown into a typical Indian cricketer in the meantime, being considerably in love with himself.

I do wonder whether he still wears the bands around his neck... And yes, apparently he does:

They give him lift.

And in fact, he doesn't seem quite as tall in real life as he does in photos. Although perhaps my vision was impaired, because it seems some people are actually tall. The best way of discerning this is to place said cricketer beside a famous celebrity to highlight the height difference. Now how could I find a way of doing that? Oh, wait...

I believe Elmo put it best when he said, "What the fuck?"

Dale Steyn talks IPL

Quoted: "It will be interesting to see what can be achieved at such short notice. The reception was amazing last year. We were treated like rock stars everywhere we went."

Yes, Dale, but that was before KP was named the captain of the Royal Challengers. Who's willing to bet they'll be treated to more boos and insults everywhere they go? At this rate, the best reception Dale Steyn will be having is mobile phone reception. And even then, he'll have to pay his own bill. CSA won't be footing the bill for calls home to loved ones, because they'll be home.

Being a cricketer can be so hard.

I, like, totally relate

Cricket Australia chief executive, James Sutherland: "We want to make sure cricket is a sport that welcomes women, is accessible, and they can relate to it."

As it turns out, I'm Roy Symonds' illegitimate daughter. Now if only cricket were more accessible. Free tickets for women, maybe?

Who's that in front of the Harbour Bridge?

Why, none other than the English women's cricket team, of course! Also known as winners. It's almost strange to see that word associated with England when John Dyson's name isn't being thrown around, but the winners of the World Cup returned to England after a welcome victory. Before they went, however, they had one last job to do...

Notice the interesting player colour scheme - coincidence?

I wonder if the men's cricket team is made to wear sailor-esque skirts and pose in front of a Sydney landmark. Well, it's not as though we could ever know. You have to win to be asked to do it.

Soon after the image was released, Andrew Strauss was seen stealing one of the skirts featured in an attempt to steal some of the womens' luck. Well, he called it luck, but we call it talent.

Prince's Protected Species Mix-up

About a week ago, Ashwell Prince was reported to have been involved in a sledging match with AB de Villiers and Harris the Monster during a domestic game. Now, Amy S. loves sledging as much as anyone else (or anyone Australian, actually) but something struck her as odd about Prince's claim that AB was a "protected species". Sure, white South Africans were once protected species, but this wasn't what he seemed to be talking about.

So I did a little investigating, and made a shocking discovery which could change the face of cricketer names as we know it. Due to his highly disorientated state after accidently hitting 158 in the match, Prince made the simple mistake of confusing AB's identity with another up-and-coming and utterly-shit-for-test-matches player known by AB McDonald.

AB de Villiers; AB McDonald
One's a protected species, one isn't.
One's a blonde, one's a ranga.

Who's the protected species now?

"Why hello there, I notice your hair is a highly inappropriate colour."

Nobody blames Ashwell for the mix-up. He's too upset nobody wants him in the IPL. But in order to prevent this mistake from occurring again, I propose AB de Villiers change his name to ABC de Villiers. It's for the best.

Mickey Arthur is confused

Yes he is. Apparently he cannot fathom why South Africa "struggle" in the first test of a series. Well, someone's being unnecessarily kind to the SA team. It's more of a complete and utter soul-crushing collapse than a "struggle". Struggling is what you call England, in fact it is a term reserved for England. England is perpetually struggling. We take pity on them and leave it at "struggling". But SA on the other hand have regular brain explosions. They cannot win without being the losing side first. It's almost a way of life.

Mickey's also prepared to move to the Australian outback if that's what it takes:
“There are just too many commitments and things in Johannesburg that deflects attention. Players are asked to do things for team sponsors and even their own sponsors. I believe the team will prepare a lot better in a small city or town.

Yes. You heard it here first. Forget nuclear testing and rabbit proof fences, we're gonna start renting out our land to the SA cricket team. Maybe they'll find happiness in Boggabilla in remote SA. It's even more perfect because Mickey Arthur can convince the dumb players that South Australia is really South Africa. So I guess that means the entire squad.

Although I'm sure Albie would figure it out.

"My hair may be thinning, but my brain isn't."

South Africa to host the IPL

Somewhere in a closet inside my house, Albie hears the news and smiles gleefully. Excellent, he says, MORNE'S GOING DOWN. LET'S SEE WHETHER HE GETS CALLED THE NEXT LANCE KLUSENER!
Meanwhile, Morne is still crying in AB's arms after being dropped from the SA squad for the last test match. Deadrubber? he says. What deadrubber? Rub my back, AB.

So it's official. South Africa are staging the IPL. No big news actually, seeing as everyone was expecting it. I wonder how many people will turn up to the matches. It should be fairly amusing.

"Yes! My turn to be the successful brother!"

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Irfan Pathan: Top Bloke

Every once in a while, you come across a cricketer who's generally (note, generally, not always) nice on the field and a nice person outside it. Meeting them is like the ray of sunshine in a normally dull world... Well, not quite so dramatic, but when you meet a cricketer who's a downright nice person, it sticks with you for a while.

Which is why I'm bringing into play the Top Bloke series. Based on past interactions with, or a general consensus in the blogging world, I will highlight those cricketers who are truly top blokes. And the women are included in here as well. Who says they can't be called blokes for convenience's sake? They may even outweigh the men, who knows.

The first in this series is the one and only Irfan Pathan. He's completely accommodating to fans, which is exactly what you want. Snooty glares and an uptight attitude does cricketers no favours, and in fact, probably just embarrasses the fan as well. That's why, when I had the good luck of meeting Irfan Pathan, I was blown away by how kind and humorous he was. I probably had about 2 whole minutes to glean this, which was long enough for me to realise that Irfan Pathan, the nice guy who jokes around and doesn't hesitate to take photos or sign autographs for what must be the umpteenth time, is a true top bloke.

He had this title under wraps from the first "Hello? How are you?"

Let's hope he gets his swing back.

Kolkata Knight Riders: The Evil Truth

On a pitch at night, several weeks before the start of the IPL:

Shah Rukh Khan: Brilliant! It needs to be brilliant. Do you understand?
Lowly Secretary: Yes, sir.
SRK: You need to understand this. The uniform must be dazzling. I want to take one look at it and have my mind blown away. Okay?
LS: Yes, sir.
SRK: Why aren't you writing this down?
LS: I'll write it down, sir.
SRK: Excellent. -observes LS writing- Your handwriting's filthy. Improve it or I'll fire you. There's a line of unemployed people desperate to have your job. Do you understand?
LS: Yes, sir.
SRK: I'm very important. Okay?
LS: Yes, sir.
SRK: And add to your notes that the uniform must match my complexion. I have to be promoting the team in this. I want to look the best. Write that down. I need to be the best looking person wearing this uniform.
LS: Yes, sir.
SRK: And do it fast. We need to do it fast. Preity's trying to upstage me, I can tell. Her and her Kings XI.
LS: Yes, sir.
SRK: You don't seem very angry.
LS: I am, sir.
SRK: Good, well tomorrow I need you to spy on her. Find out what colours her team uniform is. Then make mine better.
LS: Yes, sir. I will, sir.
SRK: That's more like it. Now, here's a list of colours that I look good in: mauve, not purple. Only mauve. Light Turquoise, yes it exists. I wear it all the time. Medium blue, not too dark or I'll look like a Sri Lankan. -laughs-
LS: ...
SRK: Wasn't that funny? It was, wasn't it?
LS: Yes, sir. It was.
SRK: I thought so. Next time, laugh sooner. And louder. Another colour is lemon yellow. And see if you can get a colour named after me. I want it to be called SRKhyphenThehyphenBest. Did you get that? Hyphens between the words, okay?
LS: Yes, sir. Is that it, sir?
SRK: What do you mean 'is that it'? Do you think only a few colours match my complexion? Do you think I'm so dark that only a few colours look good on me? What do you think?
LS: I think nothing, sir. I was just asking, sir.
SRK: Yes well, it sounded more like an insult, didn't it? Your job is already in such a precarious position, why are you calling me a blackie? I'm not. I don't even know why I hired you in the first place, you're so dark. I bet light turquoise looks terrible on you. They say it only looks good on fair people. That's what I am, by the way. I'm fair.
LS: You are, sir.
SRK: And what's that rubbish gold box you're holding anyway? It's distracting.
LS: It's my sister's birthday present, sir. I giftwrapped it for her. I was going to go to the birthday party, sir, remember? But then you called me here, sir.
SRK: What are you implying? That I'm dark?
LS: No, sir.
SRK: Yes you were. I know you were. I can see it in your eyes. You blackies can't be trusted with anything. Here, give me that present. I want to see what it is. -grabs at gift-
LS: -holding onto gift- No, sir. You can't, sir.
SRK: Why not? Give it to me. I want to see what it is.
-a struggle breaks out and eventually SRK wins, yanking it out of LS's hands-
LS: Ahhh!!! My eyes!
SRK: Your eyes. What eyes? Your eyes are too dark to see.
LS: You blinded me!
SRK: What are you saying? That my skin is so fair it blinded you?
LS: No, the giftwrap! The gold giftwrap! It blinded me!
SRK: So I'm not fair?
LS: The giftwrap!
SRK: You don't say...

A few weeks later, at a press conference, SRK unveils The KKR's uniform:

The Kolkata Knight Riders: blinding the opposition, one man at a time.

Interview with Ishant Sharma

(A real one, involving me speaking to his face. No lies, but terms and conditions do apply)

Coming soon...

South African Fever

As an Australian fan, it's hard not to notice if you've been afflicted with South African Fever. It's a non-infectious disease, and it's pretty difficult to acquire, but if you are in close enough contact (through a television screen will do) with the carriers of this disease and are of a particular temperament, it's pretty difficult not to get it.

South African Fever first makes itself evident through an increase in Google activity. A quick search of 'History' can reveal whether a family member of fellow computer-user is afflicted. If the person in question is Australian, you are safe to leave them be to drown under the disease. But if they belong to a minority group (note: Bangladesh, Zimbabwe; they could always do with retaining their current fans) do not, under any circumstances, sacrifice them to the Fever. This is vitally important to maintaining equality in the ranks.

I cannot even describe the later symptoms of South African Fever (commonly abbreviated as Safrican Fever) as the disease strikes fast once identifying a victim. Life afterwards will be hard in some respects. Surviving in Australia is a particularly difficult task, but we can all take comfort in knowing that there are possibly others out there like us, although the incidence of the Fever is less than 1 in 1,000,000.

One of the greatest country music artists of 1950-60s wrote a song about the Safrican Fever, in an attempt to reduce suicide rates among the inflicted:

Safrican Fever - Johnny Cash
Safrica is a burning thing
And it makes a fevery ring
Bound by sweat and fever
I fell into the Safrican Fever

I fell into the burning Safrican Fever
I went down, down, down
And the flames went higher.
And it burns, burns, burns,
The Safrican Fever,
The Safrican Fever.

The taste of Safrica is sweet
When feverish individuals meet
I fell sick soon like a child
Oh, but the Fever went wild.

I fell into the burning Safrican Fever
I went down, down, down
And the flames went higher.
And it burns, burns, burns,
The Safrican Fever,
The Safrican Fever.

Australia tour of South Africa, Match Fixtures

And you thought I was going to start talking about Hansie Cronje and Herschelle Gibbs. Ha! They come later.

Friday 27th March - 1st T20, New Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
Sunday 29th March - 2nd T20, SuperSport Park, Centurion

Friday 3rd April - 1st ODI, Kingsmead, Durban
Sunday 5th April - 2nd ODI, SuperSport Park, Centurion
Thursday 9th April - 3rd ODI, Newlands, Cape Town
Monday 13th April - 4th ODI, St. George's Park, Port Elizabeth
Friday 17th April - 5th ODI, New Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg

Neil Manthorp: Top Bloke

Recently on ABC's radio coverage of the Aus vs. SA test matches, Neil Manthorp was commentating with an Australia reporter (someone or another, wasn't Glenn Mitchell). In the cricketing world, there seems to be a unanimous agreement to LOVE NEIL MANTHORP. And it's entirely justified. He's the most enjoyable commentator around, possibly second to Richie Benaud. Who will be leaving us soon, as it is. How we will miss his voice.

In any case, a listener sent a text in to the commentators, which the Australian commentator then proceeded to repeat to Neil Manthorp:

"Neil Manthorp's such a top bloke, you'd think he's an Aussie."

Following this, there was an awkward pause in which Neil seemed unsure of what to say. To clarify the rather embarrassing statement, the Aussie commentator went on to say, "That probably the highest compliment you can give someone in Australia."
That's right. Best. Compliment. Ever.

Soon we will see a slate of young Aussies telling others, "You're so awesome, you'd think you were me."
"Ricky Ponting's such a good batsman you'd think he was me."
"Daniel Vettori's glasses are so cool you'd think they were mine."
"Kevin Pietersen's such an arrogant prick you'd think he was Australian."
And so forth.

Spot the difference

It doesn't take much to realise how typically in-love-with-myself and Australian the comment was. Honestly, only an Aussie could say something like that and convince a commentator it was the best compliment ever. So after another minute of umming and ahhing, Neil finally comes out with a gracious, "Thank you."

Neil Manthorp: Top Bloke


Spotted: Yuvraj Singh on Cricinfo

IPL - where is it going, where has it been?

"Anybody in a recession would want to have us." - Lalit Modi, OFFICIAL PERVERT

Anybody in a recession would want to have anyone but you, Lalit.

England staging the IPL, who could have thunk it? Forget the ECB almost refusing to allow its players to participate in it, this could bring $100 million into the British economy, says Modi, taking time off from observing Preity Zinta's anatomy. Bring it on, say the ECB. You're no Allen Standford, so it's going to be a cash bonanza for us! Let's have some muddy cricket for a change. CRICKET IN APRIL, WHAT A BLAST!

Clearly, they need to consider the weather. But Modi is still clinging to the dead hope of the first IPL match being held at Lord's. Sorry, Mr. De-lalit-icious, but I'm afraid that's not going to happen. They play cricket in England when you're not watching, you know. In any case, England is barely prepared to stage the IPL, so who next? It's vital we get this right. Don't overlook the obvious countries who are willing to do this, keep your mind solely focused on Lord's and how much you'd love to watch a match there. Keep thinking, keep thinking....

Oh right. South Africa. Apparently they're willing to be friends with the cricketing superpower, AND they'd be able to host the event and get organised before the IPL begins. No way! Well, says Modi, FINE, I'll fly over. You people never let me do what I want to. And with reports that rain in England could affect up to 70% of IPL fixtures there's no kidding around. This shit is headin' DOWN SOUTH, folks. That's right. It's only a matter of time before it's official.

The Home Secretary of India has been quoted as saying "The IPL is more than a game. It is a shrewd combination of sport and business. There is no reason to add politics into this combination."
Right he is. It's a very serious event.

Now, who's a tad sad the IPL's moving out? Why, none other than Freddie Flintoff, of course! The poor guy's disappointed the event won't be held in India. He loves the crowd's jibes--oh sorry, I went vibes. But nobody loves the Indian crowd more than Andrew Symonds, of course. Fred has a lot of experience playing T20 games in front of Indian crowds...
"I love playing cricket in India, particularly one-day cricket. I've never played a Twenty20 match over there but I can imagine it will be an unbelievable experience because as a player you don't get a chance very often to play in front of big crowds of 40,000 to 50,000 people. It's unfortunate but if we don't do that this year then hopefully we can do it again next year."
Wait, what's that? He's never played a Twenty20 match over there before. Well, that's alright, because there's always next year, right? If you're willing to go there, that is. Who's to say there won't be "security concerns" next year? FOLKS, I THINK WE'VE JUST DISCOVERED THE SCARIEST THING TO HAPPEN TO FLINTOFF YET. He has never played a T20 match in India before, and he never will. Years into the future, a reporter will ask him how he liked played T20 in India, and poor old Fred will have NO IDEA. It'll be the make-or-break moment of his post-cricket writing career, and he will fail miserably.

All because the IPL was moved out of India in 2009.

Morne, Graeme make a hasty return

Well then, it looks like Morne's (can't be bothered with the annoying French accent, so sue me) back on the SA team after being included in the ODI squad. Oh, and Graeme Smith. Seems he isn't too busy geting injured by a certain fast bowler. News from the streets is that the two had a confrontation in a bar on the weekend, as South Africa had a victory party and Australia drowned in their sorrows. Apparently Mitch threatened to glass his left leg, and then move onto the other leg when the first had healed. Smith ran screaming out of there. This is a serious offence and it must be reported. We cannot have Johnsons running around trying to kill every vaguely quality batsman in the Saffa side. Or else Albie might be next.

So Procter's overlooking the troubles with consistency in line and length with Morne (we think mornay exchanged hands) and is putting his faith behind our giant. Let's hope Albie does better than him. But I'm not entirely cruel. I wanted Albie to do better than Morne, and for Morne to do better than AB de "I want to be the No. 1 batsman in the world but fuck me if you try to make me keep wicket" Villiers. It's the natural pecking order.

"I could have danced all night, I could have danced all night, and still have begged for more."

Also note that South Africa is No. 1 in the ODI rankings. They'll be getting their 175k sometime soon. That, and a 75k for 2nd place in the Test rankings. Meanwhile, the Aussies are getting 1st in Test and 2nd in ODI. THE MONEY BALANCES OUT. That is how it is meant to be between these teams, until South Africa gets on top of Australia. In which case, all prize money should go to SA. They need it desperately. Really, they do. How else will they afford to keep Albie on the T20 squad during the Champions League? Well, him and Morne.

Procter has said they may add players to the Saffa squad depending on performances in the Pro20 games, being held this Friday and Sunday in Johannesburg and Centurion respectively.

The first one-dayer is in Durban on April 3.

Squad: Graeme Smith, Herschelle Gibbs, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Albie Morkel, Mark Boucher, Morne Morkel, Johan Botha, Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini, Hashim Amla, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Wayne Parnell.

Albie Morkel's Test Debut

I waited for this for too long. It might not have been documented here, but... too long. At first it seemed almost impossible to dream up a sequence of events which would land Albie a PRIZED TEST SPOT. Meanwhile, his inappropriately-named younger brother (in that he is nowhere near as evil as his name suggests) Morné was hanging out with Ntini and Smith and basically HAVING A BLOODY GOOD TIME.

So, says Albie, what to do? What to do? He's 27 and stuck in a fucking ODI squad. The Indians adore him. DIDN'T THEY PAY MORE FOR ME THAN FOR MY BROTHER? he says.
Yes, Albie, yes they did. But they also paid more for Jacques Kallis than they did for you. So that doesn't count.

Yes, I agree, but Lance was one of the oafs who lost South Africa the 1999 World Cup. Remember that, Albie?

WELL.... FUCK, he finally concedes.
I agree, I say. But, I have a cunning plan to put into effect which may get you into the Test squad. As I smile my mysterious and slightly creepy smile, Albie looks up slowly, a glint in his eyes. A slow smile spreads onto his face, and I know what he is thinking. It is exactly what I am thinking. We will take down Morné. Oh yes, we'll make sure he spends the rest of his life eating lobster mornay, watching Albie smash the ball on telly. Brilliant. Cunning. Those are two words often used to describe me.

A trip to Mike Procter's office and a hypnotist later, it appears Morné has been dropped from the squad. Oh woe! What will we do! He showed promise, so much promise, our gargantuan fast bowler, and now he's been DROPPED! Sorry, says Albie to his younger brother, secretly hiding his smile of glee. Maybe I shouldn't have told you to pitch anything but a good length. I thought it would through the Aussies off, but it appears they just smashed you for fours all around the ground.
Well, says Albie, so did Shane Warne. But he thought about hot English nurses, Mornee-Wornee, not cricket.
Morné sighs dejectedly and cries himself to sleep that night in AB's arms. He is so glad AB de Villiers is his roommate. He spoons better than women.
Meanwhile, me and Albie are PARTYING in my house. SHAKE YO BOOTY, Albie screams in delight. I remind him he is married. Nevertheless, we party because very soon, Albie will be DEBUTING, OH YEAH.

"All you need is love, love, love."

So, talking seriously. How was Albie? He was alright. Good, even. A 58 on debut is bloody brilliant, but not as brilliant as, say, Marcus North's century, or Phil Hughes' duck. Even the duck was better than a half century. Why, you ask? Well, we all knew Hughes was going to come back again anyway. Hussey has been out of form for a while yet HE hadn't been dropped. Yet.

Albie had seen how quick the selectors were to freak out and dump McKenzie and Morné. If he really wanted to cement his place in the team he needed something AMAZING. MIND BLOWINGLY GOOD, actually. And I'm afraid 1 wicket and 58 runs doesn't quite cut it. Okay, well, the batting definitely cuts it. South Africa needs a player like him to cut in in the tail and blow the opposition's guts out. In all formats of the game, it seems.

But the bowling. 1 wicket. That hurts to look at. Harris the Monster is running around squealing in delight because he's jumped into No.8 in the top ten bowlers in the world. Hilarious. Meanwhile, Albie needed some sort of miracle Test in terms of bowling. Ponting's wicket is great, but what about the rest? Granted, he didn't get as many opportunities to cause damage as the attacking bowlers did, but he went for a few runs along the way as well. He isn't as naturally talented as Morné is, but he's more mentally prepared for bowling to a good opposition. We needed something special.

I've been waiting for Albie Morkel to debut in a Test for almost as long as I've been a cricket fan. It's pretty long. And with South Africa's explosion of excellent cricketers in recent times, to maintain a fixed place in the team, he needed to produce something extra special. Maybe he did cut it, maybe he didn't. We won't know until closer to the England series anyway. In the meantime, he's most definitely in the ODI and T20 squads, so hurray for that.

Besides, we all know he's going to blast Australia for a dozen sixes in one match, and that's ALL THAT MATTERS.

"I like to move it, move it."