4th over: South Africa 15-1 (Amla 8, Du Plessis 2) Another quietish over, just four from it – it’s funny really, for all the master blasting at the top – and surely that’s what Stevie was talking about – now it’s serious we’re back to the wickets in hand. The more things change and all that.
3rd over: South Africa 12-1 (Amla 5, Du Plessis 2) One off the over, a single to Amla driven into the covers. I wonder If Amal Clooney types Amla as often as I’m typing Amal.
Look at Abhijato Sensarma, effortlessly blending two riffs. “Many cricketers from the subcontinent,” he says, “(where English isn’t a native language), especially in the good old days, have one common reserve phrase which they use as a reply to all questions asked in a foreign accent they can’t comprehend – ‘The boys played well’. It’s one of the things everyone knows and laughs about, both in as well as outside the professional cricketing circle. A few years ago, when our biology teacher asked my witty classmate a question none of us knew the answer to, he stroked his imaginary beard for a while, then sagely said – ‘Ma’am, the boys played well’. He ended up getting a school, um, ‘vacation’ the next day, but it was a shared classic moment in all of our childhood highlights reel.”
My word, if that was the standard for suspension, how was anyone ever there?
2nd over: South Africa 11-1 (Amla 4, Du Plessis 2) Du Plessis drives to extra cover and they take a second – presumably at Amla’s behest, given the look he receives – and Du Plessis has to charge home. That should have blown the cobwebs away.
WICKET! De Kock b Boult 5 (South Africa 9-1)
No there will not! Boult is full of length, gets a little bit of nip off the surface as De Kock makes room to drive, and that’s all he needs, stumps splattering like broken fingers.
2nd over: South Africa 9-0 (De Kock 5, Amla 4) Boult is fairly charging in, but his third ball slants across De Kock and he glances it for four more. I doubt there’ll be many more of those.
1st over: South Africa 5-0 (De Kock 1, Amla 4) De Kock has a nervous flail at Henry’s second ball, doing well to avoid edging; he quickly chases down the other end with one into the leg side. Amla is then served a gift, on the pads to flick for four, and he’s away.
“A leak in my bathroom has led to me working from home this morning,” exculpates John Butler. “So now obviously watching the build up and ‘working’. Interesting to hear Amla is struggling to deal with the short ball after being hit by Archer just prior to the World Cup. Stuart Broad has never been the same batsman after he got a double black eye by the ball that got through his grill. I also got hit in the face when I was 14, which I blame for both ruining my chances of becoming an international sportsman and model. When I got hit, I just naturally reverted to playing off my back foot for what must have been a year. I wondered whether professional cricketers get counseling about this sort of thing because it’s a little like mild PTSD. Or, perhaps, even hypnosis would be useful as a therapy?”
I’m sure it’s available to them, but we’re dealing with hardwired stuff – I remember accidentally turning the hot tap on my daughter when she was less than a year old, and she baulked every time I went near it for quite some time afterwards.
Out come De Kock and Amla, the former in form and the latter so out of it he’s forgotten that good form even exits.
South Africa: Amla, De Kock, Markram, Du Plessis, Van der Dussen, Miller, Phehlukwayo, Morris, Rabada, Ngidi, Tahir.
New Zealand: Guptill, Munro, Williamson, Taylor, Latham, Neesham, De Grandhomme, Santner, Henry, Ferguson, Boult.
“I remember that Gooch catch,” tweets Mr D Johns, “and it was one of the moments that made me fall in love with the whole absurd ‘circus’ (thanks, Richie Benaud). Weird the clip is labelled as lucky when there are at least 2 moments of athletic brilliance.”
Yes, agreed – it should not be forgotten that Gooch was a more than useful footballer and on West Ham’s books.
“Re cricketer placeholders,” tweets Jim Baxter. “It’s an obvious one, but the Australian tendency to start every sentence with ‘ah, look’ seems to be spreading to cricketers of other nationalities.”
I’ve read Carter Beats the Devil – I heartily recommend – so think this is what they call misdirection. Keep your eyes on the hands at all times.
And for anyone old thinking yeah, whatevz, seen that before – well you have.
“I’m sure Ian Rubenstein’s school pastime can be adapted to the 21st-century workplace PowerPoint cricket,” says Adrian Armstrong. “A single per bullet point, 2 per hyperlink, 4 for an image, 6 for embedded video. A wicket falls, naturally, at the end of each slide. Refinements welcome.”
I’m Theodore Donald Kerabatsos here, but think we need to allocate runs for particular phrases: blue sky, imagineer and such.
Faf du Plessis would also have fielded, but hopes that the blue sky will help the ball come on nicely. He says that the win over Afghanistan was good for self-belief and has made one change: Lungi Ngidi is back, but we’ve not yet been told who he’s replacing.
New Zealand win the toss and will field.
They’re unchanged, and Kane Williamson notes that they’ve gone 11 days without playing.
It’s sunny and all, so here we go to Mark Nicholas, resplendent in, er, petrol blue. Michael Holding is in navy, what a man.
Er, it’s half past the hour and we’re still watching highlights.
“Johnson is surely Ian Botham?” tweets Stanlei. “Raab is Tony Greig.”
I had Raab as Mark Lathwell – unfit for purpose and gone as soon as he arrived.
“‘If Tory leadership candidates were England cricketers of the 80s and 90s?” begins Gary Naylor. “Well, Johnson and co would have to be a lot more right wing for a start – the PCA was once described as the only trade union further to the right than its employers.”
“My first thought on reading Ian Rubenstein’s words was, ‘You don’t have to be old to have gone to school and used blackboards.’” emails Matt Dony. “My second thought was a sad, sad realisation. I’m off to listen to I Don’t Want To Grow Up by Tom Waits, and cry a little bit. I really need the cricket to start soon and distract me from the inexorable march of time.”
Yes, cricket definitely has no relationship whatsoever to the slow expiration of life.
“Thanks for the Ian Bell ‘Like I said’ video,” says Peter Salmon. “Got some mates,” he boasts – are you sure you’re on the right webpage – “who share my obsession with this sort of thing – how is this phrase functioning for him? Obviously it’s a placeholder, but everything he prefaces with ‘Like I said’ is something he hasn’t said. So he’s drawing on general cultural norms – he reinforces his platitudes by appealing to another to verify them, in this case himself. And, perhaps reminding himself of the party line. Our main obsession is the use of ‘probably’ by sportspeople, ‘Yes, we probably played well today and we probably had the best of the umpires but the West Indies are a good side and probably they will be back and I probably like batting here etc.’ No definitive statement without a probably. We tried having a drinking game based around it, but spent too much time hammered.”
The great Gary Anderson is also a firm fan of this one, often using it to begin a sentence. In fairness, these lads have to do a lot of talking, generally to people they’d rather miss, about things they speak about a lot. So they might mean “like I said” every bloody time I’m asked this question you deem pertinent, poignant and unique.
I just found myself thinking that, if the Tory leadership candidates were England cricketers of the 80s and 90s, who would be who (whom?)?
Of course, it’s quite hard to do this on a family website, but I’ve got Rory Stewart as Peter Such: started well, but brief investigation revealed him to be the indistinct from the rest of them.
“I can’t claim any actual school cricket heroics,” says Ian Rubenstein, but we did invent a pastime called “Gesture cricket” which was played in the classes of some of our more fidgety educators.
Touching the nose a single, glasses two. Telling a student to stand up was a boundary, out of the classroom a six.
Dismissals were signalled by a thump of blackboard (I’m old) or desk. One teacher had a fit of anger, thumped his desk repeatedly and engineered a batting collapse that saw my team dismissed for 10 runs total. Cue the four of us playing at the back of the class rolling around on the floor in hysterics.”
I love this! Can someone please engineer me a route back to school just to play this – toilet cricket was as far as we got.
Who doesn’t want more Eoin Morgan – what a human being he is. I still find it hard to grasp how few Tests he’s played, and would be seeking a way to get him back in.
“I’ve been out of the country for 20 years,” brags Tim Maitland. “Does your mention of Vimto mean you’re proper northern or has it become the ironic drink of choice by ukele-playing, man-bun wearing, moustache-waxing southern hipsters?”
I’ve worn many insults, but hipster is not one of them – I am pure unreconstructed in the proudest tradition of the OBO. I grew up drinking Vimto because my dad is Manc – we’d come back from my gran’s with carloads of that and kuchen, a kind of tea-loaf but nice, kuchen meaning cake in Yiddish. Depending on the variety selected, it came with icing, raisins, glacier cherries, cinnamon, jam and cheese and was absolutely spectacular, though think it has pretty much ceased to exist.
Ok, seeing as we’re here for a bit, one of my other school, er, holidays: reciprocating a Nescafe handshake offered from a bus window, only to accidentally trigger a rather large confab the following afternoon.
“This match is at least the prince if not the king of the roundrobin stage,” reckons Amod Paranjape. “And if South Africa are knocked out today, then are we again allowed to use the C word mate?”
C for cricketingly challenged? Definitely.
Shaun Pollock reckons 75 minutes and we’ll be out there for a full 50-over game. From your mouth to his ears, old mate.
Reinspection at 11.
The umpires have reinspected, “it’s improving” says Umpire Gould, and we’ve got another inspection at 11. The outfield is wet, all of it, and they need the sun to come out to dry stuff out … AND THERE IT IS! There’s a good chance of play soon, they reckon, and the thunderstorms predicted for last night failed to materialise.
“In this BCCI world cup feat. ICC,” emails Krishnamoorthy V, “should the schedule be so blatant to give a red carpet treatment to India? The India-Pakistan match on Sunday (holiday in India but not in Pakistan), gaps between matches so long that a world tour is possible between them.”
The thing that was extremely wrong was how long India waited to get going so their players could recover from the IPL. I think I know what Barry Galahad would say about it, but he’d be wrong.
“Kia Ora” begins Hari Shankar. Thanks – Vimto for me. Sorry, that is an awful joke, but here we are. Anyway: “Hello in kiwi tongue, from the southern hemisphere, where it’s dark, wet and cold. Just like your English summer. Will we have a game on? Would be fun to start the game with a haka to startle the Saffas.”
Yes, I’d say we will have a game. There’s a possibility of thunderstorms, imminently and this afternoon, but we should have enough to get something through.
The umpires are checking the rain radar – there might be another shower imminent – but the pitch is uncovered, which is a good sign.
Email! “That photo looks positively doomsday-esque,” says Ben Bernards, “could we be looking at a rain-inspired 20/20 slap-a-thon at last? As a Kiwi, I feel the team is seriously undercooked right now. The favourites for the cup all possess openers that more often or not go big before they go home – Finch, Warner, Roy, Bairstow, Sharma & Dhawan. By way of comparison, their black-clad equivalents: Munro (one 50 in 19 innings, unlikely to ever stay longer than 10 overs) and Guptill (clearly not in form) look a poor man’s version. So much rests on Taylor and Williamson who have performed solidly rather than spectacularly, and the lower order has failed its only audition with the bat thus far vs Bangladesh.”
Yes – if New Zealand get it done, it’ll be because they win the toss, field, and their bowlers have a good day in helpful conditions.
Cricinfo tells us that the umpires are making their way to the middle…
I loved Robin Smith growing up, I guess because I identified with him more than his contemporaries, who were either a bit this or a bit that. And also because when he posted that wondrous 167 not out against Australia, I was home from school with a box of Superkings, suspended for setting the floor of the science labs on fire. And obviously England still lost.
Anyway, regale us with tales of your school derring-do while we wait for some progress in the middle.
Look at this! Here’s Robin Smith being interviewed by Don McRae.
And here’s Robin Smith’s autobiography, ghosted by OBO guru Rob Smyth. It’s as brilliant as you imagine because sometimes, the cosmos just works.
There’s going to be an inspection at 10.15, after which we’re expecting nao drahmahs. This might be a good toss to win – I’m sure New Zealand will be desperate to get South Africa in.
There’s been a lot of overnight rain and we’ve got a delayed toss. It’s dry now, though, and Baz McCullum – yeah, we’re on nickname terms – Isa Guha and Shaun Pollock have come in matching petrol blue suits, so.
Absolutely nothing to do with cricket, but to warm ourselves up, let’s enjoy the phenomenal standard of itiswhatitising from Barry Galahad.
Psst … psst … are we … are we … back? After a riveting start which suggested this strange format was to all our benefits because it gave us lots of matches involving lots of fine teams, the rain intervened and things started going exactly to form. The top four seemed settled – perhaps it still is – and the individual feats of derring-do dried up too.
Not no mo. On Monday, Bangladesh battered West Indies – not a seismic shock, but the emphatic nature of it was as memorable as it was majestic – then yesterday, Eoin Morgan reinvented our conception of the possible. Now, here we are today.
South Africa are in the brown stuff. They’ve been rubbish so far and looking at their batting order it’s not especially hard to see why, missing pacemen or not. But they’ve still got enough to trouble anyone, and surely they can’t play this many matches without happening upon a performance at some point – they’re not quite out yet, but they need to win today.
New Zealand, meanwhile, are doin the do like Betty Boo, seeing away everyone you’d expect them to as they prepare for final or semi-final defeat … except that this time they combine fair and solidity so effectively that maybe, just maybe, things’ll be different. Given their last two tussles are against England and Australia, they need to cement that possibility – if one can actually cement a possibility – with victory today. If they cannot, they too have a problem.