Posts Tagged ‘cricket’


I have, so far, quite mixed feelings about The Hundred. On the one hand, it’s been great to see some more cricket on television, the level of skill and excitement involved has been pretty impressive (and I remain delighted – cf. T20 – that the advent of shorter forms of the game has brought about a dramatic revival in the art and importance of slow bowling, rather than, as I feared when the bush-bash style first appeared, destroying it). On the other hand, so much of it seems to be gratuitously gimmicky, revealing total lack of belief in the inherent attractions of the game itself so it’s necessary to switch to decimal, add a pointless DJ and adopt fluorescent colours that were the cutting edge of modernity back in 1986. And the franchise names. Oh dear gods, the names. The only explanation is that the marketing people were given a brief to exclude anything that gave the slightest hint of place or tradition, as that might accidentally remind people of the county game. So instead we get things that sound like cheap aftershave or rapacious hedge fund operations.

What I really like is the degree to which the women’s game is being put, if not front and centre, then at least in a much more visible position, with matches being played in parallel with the men’s as part of a day’s entertainment. After the hugely entertaining series between England and India earlier in the summer, which must also have persuaded some people that there’s just as much skill and excitement on offer here as in the regular men’s competition, this is all for the good. The one thing that’s missing is a combined table – why not treat the whole thing as a single competition? This has been noted by a few people (I owe it to Paul Cotterill, @Bickerrecord), but for some reason no one yet seems to have actually constructed said table. So, here it is – and, no, I am not planning to go down the rabbit-hole of calculating strike rates as well, unless I get seriously bored, but I will keep this updated over the course of the season…

Update: belated thought that what would be really good is if, once it becomes obvious that some franchises’ women’s teams are much better than their men, they switch round the double-header order occasionally, so the men’s match is the curtain-raiser…

[Note on the table: should be self-explanatory, but MW = Men Won, WL = Women Lost, NR = No Result, and teams on the same points total are listed in alphabetical order pending me deciding that, yes, I am going to waste time calculating their run rates…]

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Is there any topic that a Thucydides quote cannot illuminate? In this morning’s Observer, Vic Marks turns to the Melian Dialogue (what else…) to comment upon the current state of world cricket:

I suppose that if the notion of “might is right” was good enough for the Athenian Empire, it will do for the ICC. As dear old Thucydides pointed out in the pre-Boycott era, “The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” Let’s not dress up the machinations at the ICC in any other way.

It’s tempting to think of other Thucydides quotes that might be of assistance in this matter (of course, the best line on Kevin Pieterson clearly comes from the same war but a different author; Aristophanes on Alcibiades, “Best not to rear the lion’s whelp within your gates; but if you do, it’s best to learn to tolerate its little ways”). And at the same time, the analogy with cricket can work in the other direction, shedding light on Thucydides’ narrative technique. Both war and cricket, as his account shows, proceed within an apparently clear and straightforward framework (the alternation of summer and winter echoing the change of the bowler’s end every over), the combat is the accumulation of countless individual events, which are rarely in themselves absolutely decisive – even the catastrophe of Sicily did not prevent the Athenians, as we see in Thucydides’ eighth book, from mounting a successful rearguard action and comeback, so we should see it not as the fall of the final wicket but as the unexpected (well…) collapse when both batsmen had seemed to be well in, leaving the question of whether the brilliant but thoroughly unreliable Alcibiades can forge a successful long-term partnership with the number eight, or will simply throw his wicket away and start sending chummy text messages to the opposition…

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