Big words, big words…
It’s always a joy to hear from a member of the Interestment family, and today it’s the turn of Josh Allen – cricket and betting expert. He had this to say…
England may have beaten Australia and the Ashes may be ours once more but this time it’s not all set to end with a hilariously drunken, open-top bus tour around London. Of course there’s plenty of time to fit that in, but afterwards England are aiming not for the paracetamol, but for world domination.
Alas, it will have to be achieved without the brilliant Andrew Flintoff, who has finally given in to knee surgery and Test retirement but Freddie wants England to push on without him.
“There is no reason they cannot be the best,” Fred told the awaiting press on Monday morning.
“They have got a fantastic captain and (are) a talented team.
“If there is any lesson to be learned from 2005 now, it’s to go for domination, try to get to number one in the world.”
In order to do that, they may require a lot more luck than last time. After Ashes success in 2005, England’s plans for world domination were crushed, rather like Derek Trotter‘s plans for financial security, by a series of increasingly ludicrous misfortunes.
Most were out of their hands as injuries ravaged half the team: Flintoff, captain Michael Vaughan and Simon Jones (remember him), just three of the unfortunates to go missing for long periods. Then there was the unfortunate Marcus Trescothick, forced into retirement by a stress-related illness and finally the obligatory self-inflicted disaster as Freddie returned from injury, only to do an uncle Albert and sink a ship (well, a pedalo).
So the big question is will it be any different or are we set for another episode of predictable hilarity? Current England captain Andrew Strauss is hopeful it will be the former. He said: “Our next challenge is a massive one, away in South Africa.
“But we can take confidence from this and the long-term goal is to be the number one side in the world.”
Given South Africa currently hold that number one cricket side position, a victory for England would go some way to convincing everybody that this dream to become the best may just have a happy ending.
As with the Trotters, we’ll all just have to keep our fingers crossed and tune in next time.
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.
That’s right, we went to the Oval….
Everyone went Ashes bonkers yesterday, and in years to come, millions of people will say that they were there, at The Oval, watching it all happen. That’s because people tend to lie or exaggerate. Like when the Sex Pistols played their first gig – suddenly everyone cool was there – or when JFK took a bullet – lots of people suddenly weren’t there. So, we just thought we’d confirm that yes, there was an Interestment outing, and yes, we were there. We spent most of the day gulping down bubbling hot plastic glasses of lager, shouting “Sit down Toadfish!” at an Australian gentleman with a beard, and occasionally jumping to our feet because something really exciting had happened. Impressively, it seems that our lambasting of Harmison brought out his good side when he eventually had a bowl. Much of the afternoon was also spent fashioning a blood-red v-shaped tan on the chest (below). A fantastic day, nice work England. Just excellent.
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.
Soon just a wilting spinach leaf?
It’s always a total joy to hear from an important member of the Interestment family, and today Rory – a great mind with a sharp wit – thought he’d share some magnificent cricketing insights with us. He had this to say…
When it comes to cricket, there’s simply no arguing with Michael Atherton. He’s got the easy charm of Richie Benaud, the no-nonsense northernerness of Geoff Boycott and a cricket brain the size of Wisden‘s warehouse. So when he described as “ridiculous” the boo-ing of Ricky Ponting as he strode out to bat at Edgbaston, you had to wonder whether maybe things had got out of hand.
It wasn’t the first time Ponting had felt the sharp end of the English supporters’ beer-soaked tongues. All summer long, the Aussie skipper has had to ride a wave of abuse. It only got worse when, after the Cardiff Test, he had the temerity to suggest England had been wasting time. Which they had. Then, at Edgbaston he went and became the highest-scoring Australian batsman of all time. England’s Barmy Army acknowledged the passing of that milestone by ratcheting up the boo-level to loads. He can certainly expect much of the same when the Fourth Test gets under way today. Is it wrong? Should right-minded cricket fans cast disapproving looks in the direction of the boo-boys.
Frankly, Interestment neither knows nor cares. That’s because, throughout all this, we’ve been distracted by two things. One, that Ponto looks a lot like smug impressionist John Culshaw. (Maybe it’s actually him out there, while somewhere on a cruise ship, the real Ricky Ponting is doing his best George W Bush to a smattering of dozing pensioners.) But more than anything else, we’ve been transfixed by that funny little hat he wears. Have you noticed how the baggy green seems to be deteriorating with every passing over? You just can’t help feeling that the longer this Ashes series goes on, and the momentum seems to shift ever more in England’s favour, the more his cap seems to wilt. Should England win, by the time the last Test comes round, he’ll probably be stood there in the field with little more than a limp spinach leaf on is head.
It’s tempting to feel sorry for him. But then you remember he’s an Aussie, and an Aussie captain no less. That means he’s got a heart of stone, skin like leather, and he’d probably hate you for feeling any sympathy for him. And anyway, there’s no room for goodwill at this stage in the series. After all, how sympathetic were the Aussie fans being when they delivered this immortal line to Phil Tufnell when we played them down under a few years back: “Hey Tuffers, lend me your brain, I’m building an idiot.”
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.
This man can be a real meanie…
As ever it’s with a gigantic high ten that we bid good morning to Rory, a very important member of the Interestment family. He had this to say about nasty/funny things uttered on a cricket pitch…
Astonishingly, just prior to the start of this Ashes series, the Australian Cricket board issued their team with a peculiar edict: no more sledging. Seriously. Apparently they then followed this up with a letter to Graham Norton asking him to “tone down the whole camp thing” and a petition to stop zebras being all equine and stripey. Putting aside the sheer ridiculousness of their request, they seem to be overlooking the fact that if we didn’t have sledging we wouldn’t have gems like these to remember:
“Hey Tufnell, can I borrow your brain? I’m building an idiot” – Australian fan to England’s Phil Tufnell.
“Mate, if you just turn the bat over you’ll find the instructions on the other side” – Merv Hughes to Robin Smith.
“All right, which one of you bastards called this bastard a bastard?” – Vic Richardson, the Aussie vice-captain interrogates his team after England skipper Douglas Jardine complains he’d heard someone swear at him on the field.
Aussie wicketkeeper Ian Healy: “You’re a fucking cheat.”
England batsman Mike Atherton: “When in Rome, dear boy.”
Aussie batsman Mark Waugh: “Mate, what are you doing out here. There’s no way you’re good enough to play for England.”
James Ormond: “Maybe not, but at least I’m the best player in my family.”
Aussie wicketkeeper Rod Marsh: “How’s your wife and my kids?”
Ian Botham: “Wife’s good, but the kids are retarded.”
“Hey Gatting – move out of the way. I can’t see the stumps.” Dennis Lillee to a rotund Mike Gatting.
“The other advantage England have when Tufnell is bowling is that he isn’t fielding.” Aussie ex-player and pundit Ian Chappell.
“I don’t mind this lot chirping at me but you’re just the bus driver.” Nasser Hussain to Justin Langer
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.
Not including this old man…
Wow, how about that Ashes. Monty out there, eyes bulbous like a deer nervously answering questions at gun point. The other guy at the other end using his plank of wood to stop the heavy red tennis ball shattering the Spinal Tap Stone Henge wooden sculpture behind him. It was gripping stuff. Hence, we thought it high time that we list our best Ashes team, not including people from the black and white days, because we have no idea what they were like. That means no Fred Trueman, no Don Bradman (pictured), no Jim Laker, and no Richie Benaud. Sorry chaps…
1. Geoff Boycott, England
The most stubborn man to ever walk the planet, Boycott would probably struggle to lend an elderly woman three pence for a horse ride home in his native Yorkshire. All traits which made him a remarkable cricketer, who appeared to be constantly laughing on the other side of his face in between making runs.
2. Allan Border, Australia
One of the greatest Allans to take up the game – alongside Lamb – this Allan was a constant thorn in England’s side during Ashes matches, as he sternly notched up big scores without ever raising a smile. A moody gentleman.
3. David Boon, Australia
With Merv Hughes unable to make the team, in comes Boon with the all-important comedy moustache. A very handy batsmen, he didn’t only look hilarious, but he once reportedly drank something like two hundred beers during a single flight. Very roughly.
4. David Gower, England
If Boon can get away with joke moustaches, then Gower deserves massive props for his brilliant curly perm. Blonde as midnight snow, he was an elegant striker of the ball, who can now be found doing an impression of Des Lynam, only minus the furry lip slug.
5. Steve Waugh, Australia
Anyone who switched on their television sets during the late 80s to watch cricket will only ever have seen Steve Waugh bat. An unnervingly Australian man, he could stand in one place for weeks at a time without blinking.
6. Adam Gilchrist, Australia
Like so many marvelous sportsmen, Gilchrist was cursed with gargantuan ears to compensate for his unbelievable cricketing skills. This wasn’t a problem while he was smashing the world’s finest bowlers about the pitch, but now that he’s retired and prowling for skirt? We shall see.
7. Ian Botham, England
Ahh, Beefy. Beefy would walk into any team with his crazy antics, his impressive gut, and that delicious early 80s beard which soon morphed into a sexy mid 80s moustache. These days he can be found talking at length about some of the funny things him and Lamb used to say to each other in front of glazed over groups of extremely disappointed cricket fans.
8. Shane Warne, Australia
The bad boy of Australian cricket, Warney had the look of a man who would happily join a bongo circle and have a toke on a peace pipe in between test matches. But with those zany twisty-turny balls, he might just be the greatest bowler ever to walk the earth. Above, he’s hilariously dressed up as a woman.
9. Dennis Lillee, Australia
As the photo depicts, Lillee was probably the Tom Selleck of cricket for a time, and was occasionally known to sport a curious headband when he bowled. His raw pace obliterated many a fine opposition, while his metal bat (below) was just weird.
10. Glenn McGrath, Australia
If Warne was the wild one, McGrath was Steady Eddie, known for his dogged consistency, eroding batsmen like he were a strong westerly wind and they were a withered rock on the edge of an old hill. As with cruel nature, the wind always wins.
11. Bob Willis, England
And finally, another Englishman joins Beefy in the bowling attack, and no, it’s not Kevin Keegan’s older lankier brother, it’s Bob Willis – a tall man, who fashioned early attempts at the white-fro. He could bowl the ball pretty fast, so they say.
Say adios to this man…
The Interestment family continues to grow and grow, and today we welcome Josh Allen to the site – he’s a betting and sport expert. He told us this about the upcoming cricket…
Vaughan ready to retire as England prepare for Ashes assault without him
Former England captain Michael Vaughan is set to retire from all forms of Cricket after missing out on the Ashes training squad.
The 34 year old has struggled for form and fitness in recent years and has not played for England since relinquishing the captaincy in August 2008. His likely omission from this year’s Ashes squad all but ended any chance of an international comeback and and he is now expected to confirm his retirement at a press conference on Tuesday.
Upon announcing the training squad, national selector Geoff Miller (pictured) said that Vaughan would have to “make runs consistently in county cricket if he is to force his way back into the squad.”
However ex-county team mate Paul Grayson told BBC Sport that Vaughan had become disillusioned with that form of the game. He said: “You have to be really motivated to play county cricket and he [Vaughan] felt he did not have the motivation to keep going”.
Despite his best efforts, Vaughan has only managed 147 runs in seven Championship innings this season and according to Grayson he didn’t want to hold back the progress of any of Yorkshire’s younger players.
Vaughan will retire as England’s most successful Test captain ever, with 26 victories; his most famous win coming against Australia in the 2005 Ashes series. Ashley Giles (pictured) was one of Vaughan’s team-mates throughout the series and said: “Vaughany’s been a great servant to cricket, a good friend of mine and great player for England and a great captain so it would be a loss to the game”
“He treated everyone as an individual and believed that guys should express themselves and not have the fear of failure and gave us all a bucket load of confidence.”
Andrew Strauss is the man charged with repeating Vaughan’s 2005 success and he will lead England out for the first Test with Australia on July 8th.