Gun for hire…
It’s always great to hear from a member of the growing Interestment family, and today is the turn of Josh Allen – a cricket enthusiast. He had this to say…
Andrew Flintoff is to go it alone in the world of cricket after turning down an England contract.
Since 1999 all prospective England players have been placed on central contracts, which allow the ECB to ensure their availability for national selection. However, Freddie has decided that he does not want to be tied down in this manner and is now set to become the worlds first freelance cricketer.
The move means that he is free to parade his talents around all four corners of the cricketing world, with the possibility of short-term deals in Australia, South Africa and the West Indies, in addition to his current contracts with Lancashire County Cricket club and IPL team Chennai.
It’s a bold move for Flintoff who will now be at the mercy of England’s national selectors; a number of whom will have almost certainly spat out their cornflakes upon hearing the news. An ECB spokesman did little to dispel that suspicion, saying: “Clearly there is a lot to digest and we will make no comment until we have had a chance to consider it in detail.”
To deny the people’s champion a place in the one day and Twenty20 matches would take a brave man however and Fred doesn’t seem to think that there is anybody up to the task.
“I said when I retired from Test cricket my ambition was to become the best one-day and Twenty20 player in the world,” remarked Flintoff.
“Playing in all these different countries can only help.”
In all likelihood the decision may also relate to money. Cricketers are not footballers by any stretch of the imagination (the number of injuries sustained in pre-match kickabouts proves as much) and the ECB contract offered to Flintoff is said to have been worth just £50,000.
Just! I hear you collectively cry, in a fit of anger. Yes, just. Just compared to how much you can earn on your cricketing travels. Should the Prestonian make himself available for all of Chennai‘s IPL games he will pocket £935,000. Assuming Flintoff is not metaphorically hung drawn and quartered by the powers that be, your hero and mine is due to return to the national fold in Bangladesh next year. The tour will take place in February or March, by which team Freddie’s rehabilitation from injury should be complete.
One made it, one didn’t…
And so the Ashes has come to a glorious end, and now there’s just the small matter of a one-day series that no one really cares about. The players have done what they wanted to do, so expect a lot of half-hearted wafts at the ball, and moments when the batsman isn’t even looking when the ball is bowled. Fielders near the boundary might conceivable just wander off the pitch. No one cares. No one. Still, the test series was brill, and this would probably be the ultimate Ashes compilation team. As decided by us…
1. Andrew Strauss, England
Strauss gets in, but not as captain. He scored more than anyone else, even with a tight leather necklace on throughout the series, with a ring on it, digging right into his throat. That makes his 161 at Lords all the more impressive.
2. Shane Watson, Australia
It was a close one for the second opening spot, but Watson just out-muscles Katich, mainly because he looks a bit like Patrick Swayze. He also scored three half centuries, which isn’t bad for a man who looks like Patrick Swayze. That’s right – Patrick Swayze. He looks like Partick Swayze.
3. Ricky Ponting, Australia
Unfortunately for England, the minute someone is asked to bat third, their knees start knocking together, their arms turn to rubber, and the bat morphs into a heavy truncheon made of lead. Hence, Ponting was the only choice. He does, however, also get the nod as captain, thanks to his hilarious way of speaking in post-match interviews. It’s just a big long stream of words. No pauses.
4. Jonathan Trott, England
He played just one match, and in it he became only the second Englishman after Strauss to score a century in the series. Hence his Ashes average of 80. As with so many great starters, he will now get promoted to batting at three. Cue jelly-legs.
5. Michael Clarke, Australia
Despite having the facial expression of a man who has been trapped in an airtight horse manure manufacturing machine for most of his life – or at least until the wind changed – Michael Clarke seems like a friendly young man. So friendly that he scored two 100s and two 50s in just five matches. Pretty good going.
6. Matt Prior, England (wkt)
His opposite number, Haddin, might have scored more runs, but the manner in which Prior got his just edged it. His strike rate of 81.81 is impressive, and his “glove work” was also pretty tasty. Whatever that means.
7. Andrew Flintoff, England
It was never in doubt really. Even with knackered knees, Freddie had a few fine moments – the five wickets at Lords, the run out at the Oval. And, really, that’s it. The second best all-rounder of the series.
8. Stuart Broad, England
The best all-rounder of the series. He makes the side for getting 18 wickets, and a couple of decent half centuries. He does have the look of a rather snotty high achiever, but he can be forgiven that. Needs to start eating heavily if he really wants to be the New Flintoff.
9. Mitchell Johnson, Australia
Arrived in England as the most feared bowler on the planet, then quickly became the object of much crowd lampooning. He was pretty rubbish in the first couple of tests, then suddenly he got quite good. In fact, even when he was awful he took wickets. Smirks a lot.
10. Graeme Swann, England
The only spinner of any note throughout the series, he also had a couple of decent goes with the bat. He looks ever so slightly like Marcus from Big Brother minus the massive side burns and hillbilly haircut. Actually, on closer inspection, he hardly looks like him at all.
11. Ben Hilfenhaus, Australia
The cricket equivalent of a dinner party guest’s silent husband, who has become seriously wealthy and successful despite never having anything to say, nor ever having made a single other human being smile. Even for a second. And yet, the highest wicket taker in the series. Dependable.
The cavalry has arrived, they say…
As always, it’s great to hear from a member of the Interestment family, and today we’ve heard from a few of them. In this case it’s Josh Allen, here to tell us all about the next important cricket match. He had this to say…
If ever there was a time for good news in English cricket that time is now. Fortunately for captain Strauss and co that good news hath arrived. For it shall be cometh the man, cometh the hour, as Freddie Flintoff was cleared to make his last ever Test appearance in next week’s Ashes showdown.
The official assessment from the suits at the ECB is that Flintoff’s place is subject to “further rest and intensive treatment” but the all-rounder is expected to play and after revelations that he missed the Headingley test against his will, any u-turn would surely lead to widespread rioting throughout the nation’s cricketing community.
The news comes as an almighty boost to Strauss, who saw his side surrender their 1-0 lead with a dismal fourth Test showing. Indeed the batting was so poor that the 39 year old Mark Ramprakash has been strongly linked with a recall despite a Test average of just 27.32. Just as well then, that a ten day gap splits the two Tests – a sudden bout of panic is understandable, yet to follow through with a foolishly romantic notion when given time to consider, is anything but.
In actual fact major changes appear unlikely and could cause more harm than good. The ever likeable Phil Tufnell sums the situation up nicely:
“I would say no to wholesale changes,” said the former England spinner.
“We’re one Test away from winning the Ashes. The boys have got us this far – okay, we’ve had a bad match, but crikey, we’re playing against Australia, one of the best sides in the world. It’s still 1-1.”
That may mean one final chance for Ian Bell and Ravi Bopara but while that news is likely to trigger more groans than cheers amongst the England faithful, both have at least been sent away for more practice.
In a really rather clever move, the stuttering duo have been placed amongst a quintet of players (the others are Alastair Cook, Graham Onions and Graeme Swann) to be sent back to their respective counties for an extra match prior to The Oval decider. Should they impress, some confidence will be restored, should they fail, the selectors will enjoy a somewhat easier task.
The Oval epic, featuring a Freddie swansong, gets underway on Thursday 20th August but make sure you check out the Fifth Test odds now so you can make an informed Oval Test bet.
Only one of these men made it…
It’s always a treat to hear from a member of the growing Interestment family, and today it’s the turn of Betfair‘s Josh Allen – a man who knows more than a little about sport, betting, cricket and gambling. He had this to say about the next Ashes test…
England may have won the second Ashes Test to take a 1-0 lead in the series but at times the coverage at Lords was more Casualty than cricket match. Indeed the skills of Charlie Fairhead and co would have come in handy as Pietersen, Flintoff and various others limped around the pitch.
It’s fortunate for England then, that Strauss’ troops were given nine days to recover. Not quite fortunate enough for Kevin Pietersen mind; the flamboyant number four has been ruled out for the rest of the series after undergoing surgery on an Achilles problem. Fellow 2005 Ashes winner Ian Bell will take his place.
Warwickshire batsman Bell had a difficult time of it back in 2005, scoring just 171 runs in 10 innings but his nemesis throughout the series, Shane Warne, has since retired and captain Strauss assured BBC Radio 5 Live that Bell is up to the task.
“We’re fortunate to have Ian waiting in the wings” said Strauss.
“We have really high hopes that Ian Bell will be a big player in the team moving forward and he will be determined to take his chance.”
One man that has been pieced together again is Andrew Flintoff. Quite how he keeps going is a mystery to one and all but thanks to seemingly Terminator-esque regenerative qualities, the Lord’s hero is due to throw himself at the Aussies once more. Furthermore, in order to leave Flintoff out, the England selectors would have to find somebody brave enough to tell him. With this in mind Strauss said:
“He’s absolutely determined to play in these last three Test matches and it will take something pretty dramatic for him not to take the field on Thursday.”
Of the remaining Lord’s victims, Graham Onions has shaken off a knock to play, while another Graeme with a peculiar surname (Swann) has shown no signs of post traumatic stress, after surviving a barrage of aerial missiles from Australian axeman Peter Siddle.
The third Test gets underway at Edgbaston on Thursday 30th July at 11am.
Including one of these guys…
It’s with the usual jumping up and down squealing with delight that we say a fond hello to the magnificent writer, Rory – a very important member of the Interestment family. Today, he thought he’s turn his attentions to the cricketers who didn’t just bat and bowl, but also grew clusters of hair on their top lips. He had this to say…
Don’t worry folks, you didn’t dream it. England really did grab their first win at Lord’s in about 289 years. Thanks to Sir Frederick of Flintoff, we’ve got a proper Ashes summer to get excited about. So why is that one can’t escape the feeling that there’s something missing from this year’s series? You can feel it can’t you? Even if you can’t quite put your finger on it. Let Interestment be of assistance. That thing you’re missing is elaborately sculpted, luxuriant, macho/borderline-homosexual facial hair. OK, so there’s Peter Siddle with his fluffy micro-jazz-beard and Ben Hilfenhaus, who couldn’t look clean-shaven if he had an army of Turkish barbers working on him round the clock, but that’s about it. Never mind that though, instead of bemoaning the current state of the follicly-challenged game, let us instead celebrate the mightiest facial furniture of yesteryear.
The hard-hitting, big-drinking Keg On Legs is famous for once drinking 52 cans of beer on a flight from Australia to London. Obviously he was concerned that all of this still left some in doubt as to his macho-ness, so he went and got himself a big broom on his face.
The owner of one of sport’s most famous face-rugs, Big Merv as he was inventively known, spent the 80s and 90s terrorising English batsmen while looking like an aggressive extra from the Blue Oyster Bar. He even went to the trouble of insuring his trademark ‘tache for £200,000.
With his flailing hair and headband Lillee was an aggressive, ill-tempered genius with the ball in his hand. Such a maverick was he that he even used a metal cricket bat once. It didn’t catch on. These days he’s lost all his hair and dispensed with the headband. Thankfully, the tache remains as immovable as ever.
With a nickname almost as inspired as Big Merv Hughes, Allan AB Border sported one of Aussie cricket’s more unfortunate ‘taches. While his compatriots all went for the rugged handlebar look, AB elected for the dirty-porn-star/war-criminal vibe. The results: unpleasant.
England’s most South African batsman of all time, Smithy was affectionately known as Judge or Judgy by his cricketing colleagues. This was on account of the fact that he resembled a judge when he grew his hair long. Really? What kind of judge? A judge of wet T-shirt competitions? A judge who supplements his income by working as a gas station assistant in Alabama? A stupid judge?
Most people lose their hair and compensate by cultivating some sort of elaborate facial structure as a distraction. GG went the other way – when his hair started falling out, he went down the hair loss therapy route and was so impressed with the results that he quickly whipped off the tache so no-one would be diverted from the luxuriant new tresses spilling down his gorgeous face. This he did with scant regard for those who dreamed up his nickname Zap (after Emiliano Zapata). How inconsiderate.
No moustache compendium would be complete without a nod to the myriad styles of face fluff brought to the world by His Beefiness of Botham. There was the full beard, the sexy porn tache and just about every other style in between. Botham being Botham, he could have gone for the full Hitler and no-one would have even batted an eyelid.
A scruffy little tramp of a man who bore more than a passing resemblance to a fancy dressed child pretending to be Freddie Mercury, Jack Russell has now given up cricket in favour of painting. Bizarrely, he seems to have forgotten what sport he used to play as he also does a spot of goal-keeping coaching for Forest Green Rovers. No word on whether he still sports the mid-80s-soft-rock-style tache though.
Ahh, heady days those…
As ever it’s with warm smothering arms that we joyfully welcome Rory, one of our most prolific and excellent writers, to the Interestment fold. Today, he thought he’d share some interesting cricket knowledge with us. He had this to say…
Here’s a little fact to get you revved up for the second test: England haven’t beaten Australia at Lord’s since 1934. Ahhh, that took the wind of your sails didn’t it? At least, it would have done if England’s limp and flaccid display in the first test hadn’t already left your sails sagging like an aged orang-utan’s breasts. Anyway, that’s probably enough of the laboured metaphors for now. The point is, England will have to play very well (and Australia very badly) to stand any chance of winning at Lord’s. To distract you from this inevitable defeat, we’ve knocked up a list of Ashes facts and trivia…
– Having met 311 times, Australia have amassed 126 victories, whereas England have won only 97. There have been 88 draws.
– In 1989, the human broom, David Boon, drank a staggering 52 cans of lager on the flight over from Oz, shattering the previous record of 45 set by Rod Marsh. The keg on legs went on to become the face of Australian beer VB.
– The lowest score in an Ashes test was not, repeat NOT, scored by England. That dubious honour goes to the 1902 Aussie team who were skittled out for just 36 in the Edgbaston Test.
– The biggest and smallest cricketers to appear in Ashes series were Australia’s Warwick Big Ship Armstrong (6ft 3in and 21 stone) and England’s Alfred Titch Freeman who stood at a mighty 5ft 2in.
– In 1961, at Hedingley, Fred Trueman (pictured) levelled the series by taking an astonishing six wickets for five runs on the way to dismissing the Aussies for 120. All this despite having spent the night sleeping in his car outside the ground having been kicked out of his house after a row with his wife.
– Regardless of the winner of the series, the Ashes urn always remains in the Lord’s Museum. If it had been allowed to travel home with the winning side, it would have travelled 220,689 miles by now, almost enough to see it to the moon.