Brian Micklethwait's Blog
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Category archive: Sport
Indeed. Both of them were photographed by me, in central London, yesterday afternoon.
The first was very striking mainly because of its colour, or the colour it was showing to me. Very pretty in pink:
Seriously, I found this bus very eye-catching. You don’t expect to see a London double decker decked out in that colour.
It was selling ice lollies.
The second strange bus was this:
Something to do with Bayern Munich, as you can see. I stood as far away from this bus as I could, but the pavement was just not deep enough. But, you get the picture.
But why “Gulp”? Was “Gulp ‘82” some kind of tournament they won, in 1982? I asked the internet what gulp means in German, but sadly, all the internet wanted to tell me was the German for gulp. Anyone?
After an hour in the first test against New Zealand, England are now 30 for 4. This is exactly the sort of start the England bosses did not want, because it will amplify the clamour for the return of Kevin Petersen.
Here’s Ed: “Oh dear, an inevitably miserable summer for English cricket has now commenced ... and can already hear the plaintive cries of ‘KP, blah blah, must bring KP back ... blah, blah ... it’s SCANDALOUS, KP, blah blah, he’s box-office, you know ...’”
Well, you can see which side “Ed” is on. As for me, well, I want cricket to be entertaining and diverting. Whatever England do or do not manage this summer, first against New Zealand, and then against Australia, it will certainly be entertaining and diverting. If England win, hurrah! If they lose, then there will be all the “KP, blah blah” that Ed refers to. Sport is, among other things, soap opera, and it promises to be hugely soapy and operatic this summer, because England now look like doing very badly.
My main opinion about English cricket just now is, as it has long been, that the people running it seem to imagine that the I(ndian) P(remier) L(eague), now nearing its climax for this year, is “just another T20 slogfest”, when in truth it is the Indian T20 slogfest, which means that you can earn more money playing in it than in the rest of your year as a cricketer. Something like that anyway. It’s a lot of money, especially if you are really good at it. And money talks. Money says that the world’s best players now all want to play in the IPL, and that they will not want to play stupid test matches in England against England.
I will never forget the first day of a recent England/WI series, in England, in mid-may, when Gayle scored a terrific century. But, not a terrific century for the West Indies against England, a terrific century for the Royal Challengers Bangalore. I also distinctly remember blogging about this at the time, on the day, but cannot find anything by me about this.
Yes I can. Here:
I remember very little about that meaningless test series in England, but I do remember that on the first day of it, Chris Gayle scored a brilliant century. I watched this brilliant century on my television. But Gayle did not score this brilliant century for the West Indies, against England. He scored it for the Bangalore Royal Challengers.
You would think that the ECB would have got the message. How soon before cricket fandom everywhere just hoots with derision at these “test matches” in the sodden and frigid English spring? Such tests test nobody except the out-of-their depth second-stringers sucked into them. With the star players of the touring side missing, these tests mean very little. Sport is all about meaning. Drain the meaning from a game, and the thing is dead in the water. Literally in the water, if you are playing in England, in May, and you don’t get lucky.
So, memory does not deceive.
Well, it would seem that England still have the trick of enticing the best New Zealanders to come and play test matches in England, in mid-May. That is, the NZ cricket bosses are still able to insist that their IPL-ers come to England, in the nick of time. But this still isn’t satisfactory. I will be interested to see, when I watch the highlights of day one this evening on the telly, how big the crowd is.
England, at lunch, are now somewhat less soapy and less operatic 113 for 4, after the beginnings of a decent stand between Root and Stokes. But still very iffy.
Here is a picture I took in 2005 of Kevin Pietersen and Shane Warne, which I spotted at Waterloo Station in June of that year (it’s not one of those pictures):
Having had lunch, England are now 182 for 4, and the big stand by Root and Stokes is getting bigger and bigger. Stokes is really stepping on it. Hurrah! If England end up with a decent score, the KP clamour will fade.
And, happy coincidence, my other team, Surrey, are also right now enjoying a century stand for the fifth wicket, this time by Sanga and Roy. Roy is really stepping on it.
MOMENTS LATER: Stokes out, Sanga out, withing seconds of each other. Not so happy.
Yes, they aren’t playing any squash today. It’s been rugby rugby rugby all the way.
First Wales knocked up a cricket score against Italy in Rome, and took the lead in the three-way race for the Six Nations. Then Ireland thrashed Scotland and took pole position. Now England and France are playing a mad game at Twickenham. At the moment it’s England 48 France 35. How mad is that? It probably won’t be enough, but England are giving it a right old go. England need about two more tries, I think, and since France are also scoring tries every so often, even that might not be enough. But. Five minutes to go, and England have just scored another try. 53-35. Bloody hell. This conversion has to go over. Then they have to score another try and convert that. Conversion over. 55-35. It’s on. It all has the air of been too frantic and unreal to work. But, maybe.
Trouble is, I’ve got a terrible headache and bunged-up face, and am in almost no state at all to enjoy it all. Maybe too much Parma ham at Christian Michel’s last night? That or the cheap white wine. But, I have most of it on video.
Game nearly over. England need one more try off, basically, the last play of the match.
No. England attacking but France hold out. Whistle. 55-35. Epic fail. But epic in a good way.
Wales were favourites after their big win in Rome, but they now have to make do with the bronze. Ireland win it. England second. A great day.
Squash? And what the hell is squash? Exactly. It’s a potentially great game, in which a couple of guys with slimmed down tennis rackets bash a black rubber ball around in a small courtyard. The trouble is that the courtyard is too small. As a result, the better the players, the harder it is to hit a winning shot. Watch a top squash game, and you are watching two of the people least likely ever to make a mistake, waiting for one of them to make a mistake. Watching paint dry is Shakespearian drama by comparison.
Well, rugby union is becoming like this. Two teams now consisting entirely of men-mountains knock seven bells out of each other for an hour. (Backs now look like forwards used to look, and forwards now look like laboratory accidents. The teams who are most depressing to watch are France and Wales, because they used to have diminutive attackers who did things like smoke, and dodge tackles instead of driving into them like human tanks the way everyone does now.) If either team gets tired, the other team might then score some tries, but if neither does, the contest is settled by the referee making incomprehensible penalty decisions, and by the two opposing penalty kickers.
Watching Ireland and Wales, two of the best teams in the Six Nations, is what is making me say this. It’s deep into the second half already, and for the first time in the entire game so far, one of the teams (Ireland) looks like it might score a try. But no. The ref has just blown his whistle, again, and Ireland fail to score. So Wales stay in the lead by four penalties and a drop goal, to three penalties.
Now Wales have just failed to score a try. The commentators are saying that this has been “a fantastic ten minutes of rugby”. No. Fantastic would have been if someone had actually scored.
The trouble is, the pitch is just not wide enough. I remember Bruce the Real Photographer saying this to me about a decade ago. He may have been right then, and I reckon he’s definitely right now.
And the Welsh have now scored, a really good try. Typical.
And now Ireland have scored, a penalty try, which is rather unsatisfactory but at least it’s a try. A penalty try is the one where the two scrums go at each other, and the defending scrum does something mysteriously illegal to stop the other scrum tanking themselves over the line. Wales 20 Ireland 16. It’s livening up.
Commentator: “It’s a thrilling encounter. It’s a shame there’s only about eleven minutes left.”
So. Squash for an hour. (One of the commentators called it “muscular chess”.) Then a quarter of an hour of rugby. This is what counts as “a fantastic game of rugby”.
Later: Wales 23 Ireland 16.
Libertarian Home have been having their meetings in several different venues of late. Last night’s event was in the Prince of Wales, Covent Garden, which is on the corner of Long Acre and Drury Lane. I got there a bit early, and filled the time by strolling along Long Acre towards where the old Alternative Bookshop once was, hoping for photoable diversion, and I was not disappointed. Through a window, just across the road from Covent Garden tube, I spied, and photoed, this:
I’m pretty sure I don’t like it, but it’s definitely a Thing worth photoing. This time I remembered to photo enough information about the place to be able later to identify it. The outside didn’t actually say what the place is, merely the address. But that was enough for googling purposes. It turns out this is a Fred Perry place, where Fred Perry and Co ... does things. And this wooden Thing is a combination of reception desk, seating and window logo. The Fred Perry enterprise makes, I assume sporty stuff and in particular sporty clothing, although that’s only a guess. That Fred Perry website is all design but bizarrely little information.
It would be a lot more logical to have a reception desk, some seating, and a company logo in the window, each separate, each doing their own job, each replaceable as and when, or if decreed to be imperfect in some way. Why do all these things need to be connected? They don’t. They need not to be connected. And the reception desk bit must be very inconvenient actually to do receptioning on.
Thinking about this some more, this Thing makes me think that the Fred Perry enterprise is all about “design”, way beyond the bounds of intelligence or sanity or usefulness. The website exudes the same atmosphere. It tells you almost nothing, very prettily. The whole company seems like one of those arrogantly stylish twats whose attitude is: I don’t have to explain myself. I have your attention. I am not going to deign to use it by actually talking to you. I am wonderful and wonderfully stylish me. That is enough for mere you. Consider yourself lucky to be even seeing me.
But then, I guess that I am not their target demographic. I am neither sporty (as in actually doing sport), nor stylish (as in myself wanting to look stylish).
While trying to find some kind of link to this enterprise, I learned that Fred Perry, the man himself, Wimbledon tennis champion in the year whenever it was, was also the 1929 world champion at ping pong. Blog and learn.
Yes, incoming from Michael Jennings:
As I see it, we have five teams in this World Cup who are any good and have some chance of winning it: Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lankan in Group A, and India and South Africa in Group B.
New Zealand will win Group A, the winner of the game between Australia and Sri Lanka on Sunday will come second, and the loser of that game will come third. (England will probably limp into fourth.) Barring major upsets, India will win Group B and South Africa will come second. Pakistan and the West Indies (or possibly even Ireland) will take the third and fourth places, but it is very hard to say in what order at this point.
This means in the quarter finals, New Zealand, India, and the winners of Australia v Sri Lanka get relatively easy quarter finals, and South Africa and the losers of Australia v Sri Lanka get a tough one. Given South Africa’s history of choking in World Cup knockout matches, I can’t imagine this thrills them. The possibility of playing Australia at home in the quarter final really doesn’t thrill them, I suspect.
Australia will want to beat Sri Lanka, though. Not only do they avoid South Africa in the quarter final, but that way they also avoid the possibility of having to play New Zealand in New Zealand in the semi-final. If they beat Sri Lanka and come second in the group, the only way they can play New Zealand again would be at the MCG in the final. The New Zealand crowd was apparently rather abusive towards the Australian players last week, and Australian crowds remember such things and have a tendency to want to get their own back. (The New Zealand players were apparently paragons of sportsmanship, though.)
I’m following it from here.
Alas, the team I’ve been supporting (aside from Dead Team Walking England), Afghanistan, have just been crushed by Australia, by what I am guessing is a record (of some sort) margin. These record margins have become a World Cup Thing, presumably because net run rate now looms large in qualification calculations. So, when you get on top, you make sure you stay on top and cash in. It will be interesting to see if anyone does qualify, or fail to qualify, because of run rate calculations.
The other day (to be more exact: on this day) I described England as a “dead team walking”, in the currently unfolding Cricket World Cup. So, if England now turn around and start winning and winning well, well, that’s good because hurrah England. But if England carry on losing, and losing badly, then hurrah me for being right.
How to snatch happiness out of thin air: be a prophet of doom proved right. There are other ways to place a bet besides spending money.
This explains a lot about the world, I think. Basically, as Steven Pinker has pointed out in the first half of that excellent (because of its first half) book of his, everything (approximately speaking) is getting better, slowly and with many back-trackings, but surely. Yet to listen to publicly expressed opinion, both public and posh, you’d think that everything was getting worse, all the time. And it’s been like that throughout most of recorded history. But people are not really that pessimistic. All that is really happening is that people are predicting the worst in order to be happy if the worst happens, and also happy if the worst does not happen.
If you know your cricket, you can learn an amazing amount about what just happened from a screen like that.
For me, the most remarkable bit is where it says: “80 runs, 3.2 overs ...” What we see, basically, is the moment when the game went from difficult for the Windies to win, to impossible.
Match report here.
I had the radio on all night to listen to this game, woke up at about 7am when SA were about 320 off nearly fifty overs, listened until they were 378 with one over to go, went for a piss, and came back to find them having finished on 408. 30 off the last over, including four sixes. I then switched off, in order to get back to sleep quickly enough for it to be worth it, confident the game was over as a contest. So it proved. Gayle made 215 in the previous Windies game, but I was not surprised to see him get out for a small score against SA.
I also had the radio on for the previous night, when Afghanistan beat Scotland, in a see-sawing thriller.
I am now suffering from World Cup lag. I think as reason why I am enjoying this tournament so much is that England are a dead team walking. They were a long shot going into the tournament, and it would now take a total miracle for them to win it, by which I mean about three miracles laid end to end. That means I can relax and enjoy all the other teams knocking seven bells out of each other. And if those miracles do start happening, I can enjoy them too, as a bonus.
I said it twelve years ago
Triple Chess and a Four Wheeled Pedal Board
It feels like Sunday already
Some batsman – some neck
BMdotcom (mathematical (and sporting)) quote of the day
I’m an adjective!
Home advantage and hoping for the best in the World Cup
Early tries by my guys
Only with a computer
On meeting an American lady friend who likes to read my stuff about cricket
On not letting either God or (the other) God do everything
The localness of London’s weather
Brazil 0 Germany 5 after forty minutes
My favourite Tour de France in London photo
More Big Things from the Oval
Big Things from high up at the Oval
Will England get lucky?
Surrey doing rather well shock
Quota photos of and from Tate & Lyle Park
Compact Cats buried under London’s poshest homes
Last night at my place
0.080519 would still have beaten 0.074163
Cricket news: Surrey win – IPL – The Big Wosname
Premier League soccer news
T20 fun and games
England ahead of the game in Rome - but in the end not by enough
Cricinfo just said it didn’t rain in Port Elizabeth on February 24th until after lunch
Ashes Lag recovery continues
Games lovely games
Strata quota photo
Will Kevin Pietersen now play lots of cricket for Surrey?
England crush Australia and keep the Ashes
Talk at Christian’s – then NFL on the telly
“O my Hornby and my Barlow long ago!”
On having written about the 1958/9 Ashes series before the 2013/4 Ashes series had started
Tough going in Australia
Jane Austen’s naval brothers
Ashes to ashes
Gloomy Earl’s Court picture
Broad thrives properly on getting abuse
Conquer the Pillars of Islam
Ashes black out
Who was the youngest batsman to reach 7000 runs in Tests?
Otherwise blogging (and a Burgess Park butterfly)
Stuart Broad has a kitten heel
Why I admire short term weather forecasts but why cricket people don’t
Chess set made of London’s Big Things
A day in and around Olympicland with Goddaughter One
Australian selection inconsistency and getting the causal link the wrong way round
Quite a morning
Monty Panesar: “I piss on your short pitched fast deliveries aimed at my body!”
Australian cricket is doomed! - or maybe not
Women of Japan – better luck next time
Should Broad have walked?
On the pleasure of assuming the worst
Samir Chopra on how match fixing turns cricket into not cricket
Funniest run out ever?
Wembley Arch with balloons and with umbrellas
Me and the Six Nations under the weather
Six Nations joy
Monopoly Cat replaces Monopoly Iron
Me going to bed causes collapse
Carnage at Adelaide
Australia v South Africa starts now
Surrey win their relegation battle
A memorable scoreboard surrounded by empty seats
Surrey might not be relegated after all
Back there and now back here
Usain Bolt takes photos of photographers!
Self portrait with sunburn
Well that was close!
Surrey have a short but sweet day against Sussex
Latest C4 logo sculpture
Nerd spin talk overheard by Jarrod Kimber
The Big Olympic Thing from nearer
Steve Baker MP
Ancient and modern (but mostly ancient) cars in Regent Street yesterday
More NFL Fan Rally pictures from last Saturday
That Clive Woodward gets around
NFL fans and their name-and-number shirts in Trafalgar Square on Saturday
The England rugby aftermath
Jarrod Kimber on biased cricket commentators
France beat England
England squeak through against Scotland
Another Surrey fast bowler gets an England call-up
Davies and de Bruyn get promotion for Surrey
How England have dropped catches yet still won matches
WWWhat a great afternoon!!!
Does Kevin Pietersen have a weakness against bowlers?
The boy from Egham Dunn good
Today there is cricket and there is cricket
Friday link dump
Meaning in sport
The fluctuating fortunes of Praveen Kumar and the devastating impact of Lasith Malinga
Rugby shirts on drugs
The most celebrated sporting win ever
NZ doing a bit better than England
New bridge in Melbourne
Ireland beating England in Dublin
Pronouncing on the Six Nations
Ireland lose - England trying to
Sportsmanship by us – bullying by them
Crushed cricket minnows - missable soccer goals - Ashton’s swallow diving
Bouncing bombs and spinning cricket balls
Thoughts on England not just keeping the Ashes but winning the series 3-1 (with asterisks)
Australia so nearly 55-0 (plus thoughts on the impact of Twenty20 cricket)
Boxing Day morning at the MCG
No wickets in the first over shock
The Ashes: chickens and now a swallow
How quickly the mood can change!
And it resumes …
A down and up weekend
More blood to Australia
First blood to Australia
Ashes highlights on ITV4
Twenty ten twenty ten
Greenies make a video saying: “We’re a bunch of vile greenie-nazis!”
I don’t usually approve of swear blogging but …
Zaltzman on Clarke
Andy Flower urges England fans not to punish cricket for being corrupt
Ten thoughts about the Pakistan cricket corruption story
Graeme Swann on drink-driving charge after 3am dash to save kitten
Big Singapore Thing
Cricket technology and its imperfections
Farnborough (5): Supacat Bloodhound Falcon
Snappy quote from Victor Davis Hanson that may or may not actually be true
Another world cup photo of photographers
Photoing the World Cup
On cricket and death
Strata from Waterloo
Cricinfo gets its clock in a tangle and Pyrah bowls an unforgivable no ball
A response to the cyclist menace
England beating Australia – Germany beating England
Curse you Friends Provident t20
Balls balls up
A serious disappointment
Lucky we didn’t go to Lords
Cats and bridges on Pixdaus
Surrey are now crap at cricket but they are sitting on a gold mine
Muralitharan and Hayden carry on doing badly
London is about to be Kapoored with a big new Olympic Games Thing
Six lions on a white Mercedes bonnet
Watching IPL cricket beats watching England play rugby
IPL on ITV4!
Separating the men from the toys - the future of warfare and of sport?
Is Martin Johnson another Kevin Keegan?
Nasa and Gordon Brown both have their uses
Reds against Blues in Munich
Cricket talk tonight
Two New York stadiums temporarily next to each other
Three more headlines and how the internet remembers it all
Andrew Hughes on making heroes of cricketers
London cricket roof clutter
India looking good against Sri Lanka
Talking with Toby Baxendale
Forget the fifth of November - and the Brown curse strikes (again)
Graeme Swann - twitterer but no twit
Gordon Brown dithers about rugby - cricket’s on the up
Making the IOC feel important with a personal lubricant
The curse of Gordon Brown is now ruining the England cricket team
When Cricinfo doesn’t supply the info
Changing faces of Europe
More recorded cricket chat and some further Oval hindsights
How the BBC ignored the problem of how to pick two from three equal-ish teams
England and me both upset
Photo by me in a newspaper!
How technology has improved detention
Thinking thin at the top
More sign photos
IPL continues to literally trump proper cricket
At Samizdata: cricket - crime - Kevin Dowd quote
What the previous two postings here have in common
Indian Premier League trumps test cricket
Angleterre formidable - France merde - Italy crap
By bus to Sheffield
It could be a rather small funeral
Cricketers don’t have to get along – they just have to turn up and play
Nothing today but link to Samizdata
A little drunk blogging
Keeping up with the NFL
Another Samizdata piece
Why Willem Buiter blogs and why I do
England sinking fast
Dongling at Michael’s
Metaphor muddle alert
The Great River Race
On the perils of recording to your TV hard disc at the midnight hour
Smog returns to Beijing
Vaughan steps down
Blue sky in Beijing
Collingwood comes through and The Internet is a hat trick
Twenty20 cricket on Sky TV
“The air is apparently not getting better …”
Everything changes today
Posting at Michael’s
Pietersen not humbled
Seven Napiers – three Ansaris - Gilchrist
More Beijing smog-blogging
Bird’s Nest in smog
I predict that Germany will win
I’d be cheering
152 not out in a Twenty20
Guido Fawkes gets Douglas Jardine wrong
New Zealand crumple at Trent Bridge
Bowlers who look like actors
Avoiding barbarism in the street
Bowled Harmison bowled Harmison
Cozier cheers up
First Jaques – then Ponting – then Katich – then Hussey cleaned up
Giant table football table and hamster powered cars
They play a lot of snooker in China – and in Essex
The IPL is a new face for India but Harbhajan slapping Sreesanth is no big deal
Head Men need to be a bit wrong in the head
Slow day here
News Media Coalition versus Indian Premier League
Ramps carries on where he left off last autumn
Fourth innings heroics
Meltdown in Russia … and New Zealand
Ed Smith on how baseball defeated cricket in America
Thank you very much Ambrose and Collingwood
It really is about bloody time Jonathan Davies learned how to pronounce Jauzion
Watching paint dry at the end of a Six Nations game
Me talking about the great twentieth century musical divide
Lucky I don’t take cricket seriously
Flat horse pictures
Billion Monkey Maria Sharapova lookalikes!!!
The Lord is watching
Democracy for sale – starting with football and beer
Weather to go out
Rain stops Murali
Probably not right - but definitely written
I hope I’m wrong about this
More rugby talk
Ramprakash at his level of competence
Australia out! – New Zealand out! – pass forward!
The blue and gray men are slaughtering the gray and blue men
Nine points better than last time!
Alisher Usmanov is now better known for being nasty
When inimitable means very imitable
Lots of links
Cricket lovely cricket
Test match special
Depressed about the Windies
Bicycling Billion Monkeys!
Surrey crash to earth
Maybe not quite so amazing after all
“A fitting end to a very badly organised tournament …”
A double cricket surprise
Old gits at the Oval – and Shane Warne
Cricket blogging by me elsewhere
He’s for ever blowing bubbles
Cricket is ruining the youth of India!
Footbridge in the dark and cricket
Four Nations still in it!
Clever old Catt
An improbable England win in the Six Nations
Tall chess men and tall buildings in the evening
“You will struggle to ever see a better caught and bowled than that!”
Displacement photo of Billion Monkey!
That Rooney goal
Empty football stadiums on TV
Pictures of the world for the world
Ashes 2005 to Ashes 2006/7
Alice in Texas on form - England in Australia not
In a bad way - but recovering
They are only games
Foreigners on film
Not much here today
“Are you telling me I don’t know my own brother?”
Podcasting with Adriana tomorrow
Lords pictures from last Monday
Something to bore everyone
England versus Pakistan – first test – final morning
“We are looking for a Cricket obsessive . . .”
Antoine gets Mexican election right
I’m hot and I’m happy
Twenty20 Sri Lanka and World Cup ejection
Quota photo and Surrey weirdness
Ethereal India photo
Cricket with landmark
Big Media crap and football cock-ups
County cricket - great and not so great - and what to do about that
It is very hot
Dnalgne no emoc! - Billion Monkey snaps mental Maradona!
Latest Brian and Antoine elections around the world mp3
Wisden on the back foot
Zooming in on the Wembley Arch
Chinamen playing cricket
So does Flintoff really look like Jessop?
The latest Brian and Antoine mp3
Lightning strikes twice
Disaster in Paris
Unplugged and writing about sport because sport Doesn’t Matter
Blogging takes a back seat
Only a game
More ancient rock and rollers photographed from off of the telly
What it was only better
The father of invention
The Superbowl is live on the telly!
The animal spirits of Six Nations
Organised games as a way to control boys
I will never flirt with religion again
I am now thinking of abandoning atheism
Vive le rugby
The new stand at the Oval
Pictures I took of yesterday’s Ashes celebrations in Trafalgar Square
Douglas Jardine and Spike Milligan