A response to Wright Thompson’s “Test of Time”

Hutton Cricket Club, Essex
The best place to understand cricket, inside the boundary rope.
Dear Mr Thompson,
I’m writing to you in response to your article “Test of time: In defence of a game that lasts 5 days.” I appreciate the time and effort that you have put in to watching and writing about cricket in the past year. However something comes across in your writing and that is a lack of understanding of the game as it is played. Cricket really is a simple game at heart, if one of intricacies and subtleties. Take the issue of the fielding side in a test being the “defence”, have you stood at the end of your run-up, with a ball in hand ready to bowl at a batsman? If you had you might understand that the act of bowling is an attacking one, as a bowler you challenge the batsman by asking them the question “can you keep this delivery out, can you survive or even score runs off me” it’s one that you ask ball after ball, over after over, session after session, match after match. In one-day cricket the question is often reversed and bowlers have to respond to the batsmen’s question of “can you stop me scoring runs.”
I enjoyed your article, although I won’t admit to agreeing with a lot of your points about the viability of test cricket in the long-term (if only because BSkyB & ESPN between them have valued the exclusive rights to English cricket matches at £350m over four years, and England are the team that play the most test matches of all teams in world cricket) a fresh perspective and view is always to be welcomed.
Kind regards,
Paul Frame.
PS If you ever want to come and have a practice session or play a game, feel free to come down to Hutton Cricket Club in Essex (only 30 minutes train journey from the centre of London) and give it a go?

The last word

“When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets outside into the open and has other people looking at it.”

AA Milne, The House at Pooh Corner.

Claire Taylor.

Claire Taylor retired at the end of England’s Quadrangular ODI series with India, New Zealand & Australia.
She signed off with a useful 30 that resulted in an England win once again over Australia.

No career can ever be summed up entirely through statistics, but Taylor’s are without a doubt very substantial indeed. In 126 One Day Internationals (ODIs) Taylor scored 4101 runs at an average of 40.20 amassing a haul of 8 hundreds. In 15 tests Taylor made 1030 runs at an average of 41, impressively making 4 centuries in just 27 innings.

Of themselves those statistics would warrant a blog following Taylor’s retirement. However, not many English cricketers have won not just one world cup, but two. In fact up until May 2010 the only 3 previous world cup wins by English sides were all won by English cricketers with two X chromosomes, rather than their higher-paid, better resourced counterparts from the mens side.

So Claire Taylor is really special, part of a group of cricketers that in 6 months won the ashes in Australia, the 50-over world cup & the twenty20 world cup.

Let’s put that in context, this winter Andrew Strauss’ side won the ashes (albeit in a longer series) but could not rise to the challenge of winning their first ODI world cup and limped out at the quarter finals stages.

Taylor holds any number of records for an England player; the highest number of ODI centuries (8), her 4 test centuries puts her 2nd on the all time list for England. Perhaps the single stand-out statistical achievement is to have scored nearly two thirds of the runs (156) in one ODI innings at Lord’s than Sachin Tendulkar has (240) in 12 test & ODI innings at HQ. That’s right Sachin Tendulkar at Lord’s is nowhere near as good as Claire Taylor (If saying that Tendulkar isn’t as good a batsman as an English woman doesn’t get you untold web hits nothing will).

She brought a professionalism to her game and the team that saw them go on an unprecedented and domineering run of form that saw them acknowledged as being the best in the world in all forms of the game.

Scyld Berry, when editor of Wisden, thought her good enough to warrant a place in the cricketing pantheon as one of Wisden’s five cricketers of the year in its 2009 edition. The selection is often a personal one, but it reflects just how well regarded a player she was, especially when one thinks back to early 2009 and remembers just what a shambles the other ECB first XI were in. England had lost 3 test series in a row and were a mess after a bitter winter that had seen the coach & captain sacked by England. Little wonder then, that Claire Taylor was chosen, her England side had seen them rise to the top of the world, arguably the men have been trailing in her & the rest of the England womens team’s wake.

So a batsman averaging 40 in tests & ODIs has retired, it’s a testament to her though, that there is a pool of players wanting to prove themselves as worthy of replacing her. That’s not a bad legacy to leave English cricket with.