Archive for June, 2010

Tamim the Untamable

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

There’s been much debate over the last few days about whether Bangladesh should be playing Test cricket. Geoffrey Boycott has famously made his opinion on this known – an emphatic negative – and the day after he voiced this patronising piece of codswallop Tamim Iqbal hammered a Lord’s century, so that kind of back-fired in a “point and laugh” kind of way.

All I’ll say on this matter is that England are as capable as any minnow of playing like complete muppets, and no-one ever suggests they should be stripped of Test status.

Anyhoo, on Saturday I moseyed up to Old Trafford to watch Tamim in action on Day 2 of the 2nd Test. England were 5 wickets down; Bell and Prior were at the crease. Bell brought up his century and worryingly guaranteed himself a seat on the plane for Australia. Prior’s innings I can’t remember a damned thing about, other than that he seemed to grind to a halt during the 90s and time slowed to a considerably less-exciting approximation of the Incredible Hulk when he’d rip doors off cars in slow-mo in that old TV series; every one of Prior’s singles seemed executed in a burst of barely-restrained apathy. To say I was relieved when he got out 7 short of his 100 may be an exaggeration, but not much of one.

England were eventually all out for 419; Shakib took 5 wickets; the sun shone; the temperature started to climb.

When Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes came out to open the Bangladesh innings I said to myself, “Even if Tamim only scores 20 or 30, it doesn’t matter, because I will have seen him bat, and it will probably be the most exciting 20 or 30 I will see this year.”

I got what I wished for, and then some. Destiny and I have a peculiar understanding when it comes to cricket, but I’ll write about Eng v Australia, Day 5 at Lord’s last year, some other time.

Let’s just say I’d prayed for England to bat first, which they did, and then when wickets started falling and they ended up 5 down at the end of the first day I sighed with relief that Prior and Bell had halted the collapse.

Tamim didn’t piss about when he came to the crease, but then he never does. His batting is a peculiar form of art, and the combination of Sehwag-type aggression and Pietersen-style virtuosity creates a style of batsmanship that is very much his own. Although he brought up his 50 with a 6 smashed over long-on off the bowling of Graeme Swann, this was a more measured innings – if that is possible with Tamim – than that explosive knock at Lord’s, though any pretence at watchfulness deserted him when he got into the 90s, swinging wildly at several deliveries like a man with a rolled up newspaper being harassed by a particularly aggressive wasp. The shot that brought up his century was a boundary smashed with glorious abandon off the toe of his bat through point, and even though he went soon after, edging a wide delivery from Anderson to Matt Prior, I knew I’d seen something very special indeed.

Tamim Iqbal

Tamim Iqbal at Old Trafford

Tamim celebrates
There were other reasons to remember this day. I found a Jack Fingleton book I’d been looking for at the LCCC book stall. An attempt to construct the world’s largest beer snake was kiboshed not long after the plans were formulated. At one point a bloke in blue body paint dressed as a smurf ran on to the field and was promptly tackled by the stewards, who kept his hat as a trophy.

But that’s not why I’ll remember last Saturday.

All hail Tamim Iqbal. Long may you entertain.

When your home is not your own

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

It’s weird, the transformation that occurs to my second home during a T20 match.

It’s like coming home after a day’s work to find you have all these distant relatives who you don’t know and who have turned up for a big party. The kids are jumping on the furniture and the adults have raided the drinks cabinet and are playing shit music on your stereo. Everyone is rowdy and talkative and having a good time. The only thing you can do is think “well, this kind of family reunion only happens once a year at most, so I may as well just go with it.” And while you’d not relish this kind of thing happening every day, and you know you’ll be glad to see the back of them, you realise that you are enjoying this while it lasts, and you are having fun.

Today was the first T20 match of the season at Grace Road. Instead of just rocking up late morning/early afternoon, pushing through the turnstile after swiping my card and parking myself on a bench in front of the pavilion with a sigh of serene contentment, I had to negotiate security staff doing bag checks, stewards with walkie-talkies which squawked suddenly into life with loud bursts of static, kids chasing each other in front of the pavilion, long queues for the bar and the burger van and scantily clad young ladies handing out 4 and 6 cards. It was great. No matter what you may think of T20 – and I’m one of those who enjoy it in moderation – you know summer’s really here when they pull in the boundary, crank up the amplifiers and announce every new batsman’s arrival at the crease like they’re Russell Crowe in Gladiator.

Good crowd in

Good crowd in

Leicestershire and Derbyshire are pretty well matched as sides. T20 is historically Leicestershire’s preferred format. We lost today, by 11 runs. As a Leicestershire member I’m used to this. My last post was written back in April and I couldn’t believe we’d started the season so well. Since then it’s been one long immersion in the bollock-shrivelling icebath of reality, with Leics on the receiving end of hammerings by Scotland, Sussex, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Glamorgan.

Still, hope springs eternal and all that, and there were some good things to take away from this match.

Harry Gurney

Harry Gurney

Harry Gurney was our standout bowler – he’s another young talent who I hope we keep on our books for as long as possible – who stoppered up the runs in the early overs aided in fine fashion by Captain Hoggard at the other end. Andrew McDonald was magnificent with the bat, smiting 8 fours in a superb innings of 67. But aside from a useful partnership with Nixon, no one else managed to stay with him. Brad Hodge gave his wicket away and looked extremely rusty (and I’m being charitable here) with the ball; he and McDonald were particularly expensive.

Nevertheless we do have a fairly good T20 side and I’m hopeful we can get it together in time for our next encounter versus Northants at Wantage Road. Kipling’s imposters – triumph and disaster – I’m used now to meeting on equal terms, but more of the former and less of the latter for a change would be nice.