Saturday, 28 January 2012

Back Again

I'm not going to talk about England.  I fear anything I say today will be too emotional, too reactionary and of no relevance to the actual cricket that took place.  May mention something about it next week when I've calmed down...or the week after.


Watched this flick on Thursday night.  I'm a big fan of both Depp and Bale, and had heard good things about it.  So with Kate out at Frankie & Bennys with her chums, an Asda beef and rosemary potatoes ready meal and a four pack of Caffreys were my companions as I threw the switch on the DVD player.

The Caffreys was the best part of the night.

Aside from a lot of tommy gun fire, the film did absolutely bugger all for me.  It may as well have been a cartoon.  Nothing was done to bring the characters of Dillinger and Purvis to life, so (spoiler alert) at the climatic end of the film when Dillinger is gunned down outside of a Chicago theatre, the only emotion I felt was relief that I could go and wash the dishes (made dirty by a woefully insubtantial peppercorn sauce) and get on with my life.  Very disappointing.


I had to pause before writing this next bit, as I had to remember that it is somewhat fortunate that I'm able to write it at all.  I probably shouldn't even be here.

It happened on Tuesday night, just outside Ormskirk.  It seemed such an innocent thing to do, but on reflection it could have been the last thing I ever did in my short life.

I tried to bowl one of my filthy slow off cutters.  Nothing scary about that.  I pitched it up.  Quite unusual, but nothing alarming.  To Mark Waring. OK, now its getting scary.  My God, I just bowled a lollipop to the best straight driver at Maghull CC, and I'm standing....STRAIGHT DOWN THE GROUND FROM HIM! My god he hit it hard, and using my super reflexes (and a natural inclination towards cowardice) I jumped out of the way.  Got a lovely centre parting for my trouble, mind.

Still not going to talk about England.  See you next week.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Sorry for the Delay

I have delayed writing this weeks blog until all the major sport I follow had played out, just to ensure that I would have ample material to rant about.  Oh I did I hit pay dirt.


England succumbed to only their 5th Test defeat since January 2009 this past week, losing inside three days to a rejuvenated Pakistan side.  Since England wiped the floor with...pause to spit out the name...Salman Butts side in 2010, Pakistan have enjoyed a period of stability unlike any I have witnessed in my time watching Test cricket.  Under the steady hand of Misbah-Ul-Haq (possessor of one of the finest forward defensives in the world), they have shown a ruthless consistency in all forms of cricket.  They are a very good side.  England did not lose to the 2010 side, so the term "humiliating" defeat should only be used in the manner of the defeat, not in terms of who beat us.

It was...very disappointing to see the way a top order that had made hey against Australia and India surrendered so meekly to the "spin" of Saeed Ajaml.  It was so tentative, it was shocking.  Only Matty Prior (1st innings) and Swann (both) showed the necessary approach to quality spin.  Go after it.  To use popular Maghull CC jargon, "Get it Biffed".  However this approach doesn't work when a) you are on 0, and b) you get a shoulder high bouncer.  To see Pietersen two innings, days after his "I never make runs in tour matches" outburst, was to see someone who maybe just isn't worth the "On his Day" tag anymore.  I don't know, I'm not an International Test captain.  But all I will say is, when I am captain, ANYONE who practises as shoddingly as Pietersen would not be considered to get to the big games to try to see if it was "his day".


Can you kick straight from 20 yards through a large pair of posts? Can you catch a ball and run without letting it get through your fingers? Call the Harbaugh family home, ask to speak to either John or Jim, they have a job for you.

It was quite a shame to see two teams miss out on Superbowl berths due to boneheaded plays.  I'm sure anyone of us would rather lose to a moment of genius rather than forever be muttering under our breaths dark threats regarding people and their families (seriously though, death threats on Twitter to Kyle Williams? He dropped a football you dumb sons of bitches.  Get a life.)

So we see a repeat of one of the greatest Superbowl upsets of all time, Superbowl XLII between the Patriots and New York Giants.  In Indianapolis.  The House that Peyton Manning Built hosts a shoot out between his greatest rival (three time Superbowl champion Tom Brady) and his younger brother (one time winner Eli).  Maybe it was indeed Peytons destiny to bring balance to the Force, not through his own work, but from the one in his family that came after him.  Though that would make Lucas Oil Stadium the Death Star Mk II, and I'm not sure that comparison will make many people visit Indiana any time soon.


As I wrote this, I read that Tilakartne Dilshan has stood down as captain of Sri Lanka across all three formats.  This is not at all surprising.  He has had a bad run of results in all formats, not helped by the complete retirement of Murali and the Test standing down of Lasith Malinga.  But most noticeably has been the impact of captaincy on his own batting.  Aside from a magnificent counter attack at Lords last summer, he has just not produced anything to suggest that his added responsibility was a lifelong dream.

It seems apparent that Angelo Matthews will step up to replace him.  He's probably the best next in line, but that doesn't make him the best.  Sri Lanka host England after we deal with Pakistan.  On their own turf they have been a tough nut for anyone to crack, but that was with Murali.  Their struggles look set to continue.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Things I think this week

India are shit.

As I write this, the Indian batsman are in the process of rewarding the fightback of their bowlers earlier in Day Two by capitulating once again to the Aussies.  I find it hard to believe the lack of fight the Indians have shown in tough situations SINCE the World Cup final (Gary Kirsten's last game as coach).  Its the same players who, at that point, were the best Test side in the world.  Gambhir, Sehwag, Dravid, Sachin, Laxman are as good a top five (on paper) as ANY team throughout history could command.  Yet, in these closing days on their careers (at least four of these boys MUST be looking towards the Test match exit sign), they seem to have decided that they can't be bothered scrapping for their team, their country, or even themselves.  Sehwag seems to be batting from memory (commentator speak for "doesn't have a clue"), Dravid has just discovered what it feels like to be castled, and is determined to enjoy the experience time and time again, Sachin looks like he is tempted to stay on 99 International hundreds so as to leave something for the young generation to shoot for, and Laxman seems to have swapped his batting boots for divers ones.  Very awful.

The bowlers, though they have shown some ticker today, are NOT blameless.  From the start of the 2011 English summer, the Indian attack have allowed Pietersen, Cook, Bell and Clarke to amass double (in Clarke's cases, a triple) centuries.  (VVS just guided to slip for a duck as I write this.  No feet.)  Not all of these innings were against Zaheer, but even when he has bowled he has looked about as threatening with the new cherry as me (right arm piddle).  The body language of the team is awful, and a lot of this stems from the captain.  When things are going well, Dhoni's captaincy style is called "relaxed".  When the enemy are at the gates, it is called "non existent".

When England were dismantling the Top Test Team in the world last summer, I was proud to win the four test series 4-0.  Watching them against the Aussies, I'm gutted we didn't beat them 5-0.

Tebow Time

The Denver Broncos visit the New England Patriots this weekend in the NFL Divisional Playoff round.  The Patriots are the only team to win three Superbowl's in the era of Free Agency and Parity.  They have Tom Brady, the greatest 6th round draft pick of all time at QB and former Superbowl MVP.  They have an effective offence and a head coach who has the ability to "take one thing away from an opponents offence".  They are at home.

Denver has Tim Tebow.

For those not familiar with the former Florida Gators QB, I shall summarise briefly.  Tim Tebow is God's personal representative in the NFL.  He is a deeply religious young man, with a charming (annoying) habit of clapping his hands together as if in prayer after he scores a Touchdown (this has become known as Tebowing).  He has an uncanny ability to perform impressive comebacks when all things seem lost.  This was never more evident than last week, when he threw 316 yards against The Pittsburgh Steelers, averaging 31.6 yards a completion.  The significance of these numbers? His favourite Bible passage is John 3:16.

From a footballing sense, this should be the Pats game.  But if the Almighty sticks his oar in....I'm reminded of the story of the great Yorkshire bowler Emmet Robinson, who once prior to a Roses game between Yorkshire and...the Champion County, bowed down to the Lord and thus intoned "Lord, you are the greatest umpire of them all.  Today, Yorkshire face Lancashire.  If it be your will that Yorkshire are the best side, they will win.  If it be your will that Lancashire are the best, they will win.  If you should decree that rain and bad light are needed, it will be a draw.  But Lord, if you could just keep your nose out of it for the next few days we'll knock bloody hell out of them."

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Here We Go

I've been asked by many people...I've been asked by some people...I've been asked by one person "Neil, you talk a lot of rubbish.  Why don't you write a blog?" My answers...answer was always "I wouldn't think of anything to write".  This was always a lie, but I never wanted to hurt the people (person) asking feelings.  However, when 2011 gave way to 2012, I decided instead of giving up chocolate that I shouldn't be eating anyway, I would take up the electronic equivalent of a pen, and do some scribbling.

For those of you who don't know me, I suppose I should make a token effort to introduce myself.  My name is Neil J Dutton.  I'm 31 years old, despite a physical abnormality that makes me appear older.  I live in Rainford, just outside St Helens, with my incredibly tolerant girlfriend Kate.  I have played cricket for Maghull Cricket Club since 2002, and in the ten years that have passed I have held a variety of posts both on and off the field.  The role that has defined my very existence however I came into at the AGM in 2004, when I became captain of the newly formed 5th XI.  I will write a lot about this team in this blog, so I wont give too much away at this juncture.

There is an awful lot of information in my head, most of it I consider to be the truth.  Whether the wider majority agree with me has never really entered my thinking, so I shall reveal some things that I know to be true to Me, as an introduction for those who don't know me.

I PREFER WATCHING AMERICAN FOOTBALL TO ENGLISH FOOTBALL.  Have done for some time.  I was introduced to the NFL by my good friend Ian Mullin.  It was he who decided that, to increase my enjoyment, I should adopt a team.  He allocated me the Philadelphia Eagles, while he rooted for the New York Jets.  In the 11 seasons I have followed Philly, I have seen the team go to FIVE Championship games and One Superbowl.

MY ENGLISH FOOTBALL TEAM IS SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY. This fact may explain why I would seek solace in a completely different sport.

AFTER MY GIRLFRIEND, A LONG AND DISTANT SECOND PLACE, I CONSIDER NATALIE PORTMAN THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN ON THE PLANET. This is one of the facts that I always find hardest to understand why people disagree with me.

I GENUINELY ENJOY WINDING PEOPLE WHO DON'T LIKE ME UP. A trait I share with my dad.  If at first impression you don't like me, you'll probably never like me.  So I ain't wasting time trying to change your mind.

I AM AN UNASHAMED TREKKIE. I've been watching Star Trek since I was three years old.  I cried at the cinema during "Nemesis" when Data died.  Hey, I'd known Data for 16 years at that point.  I hadn't know my oldest friend that long.

There are many more facts like this, but an openers job is to see off the shine, not go for the jugular from ball one.  I will be back.  You can count on it.