Vir Cantium

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Category Archives: Sport

First Time at the Oval

Having been to Lords twice, I had never yet been to the Oval, which as someone from very south of the Thames was just wrong. So last night, I attended Surrey vs Kent at what Lord’s loyalists refer to as “that working men’s club south of the river”. (Whatever.)

Twenty20 cricket has sparked a less-than-quiet revolution for the game, with the shorter matches being accessible not only in terms of length, but also the timing of the matches themselves. Starting at 5:30, the game last night was clearly attracting spectators, still in suits, leaving work early.

The match – Surrey v Kent – was also a first class showcase for the format. The game swung from Kent to Surrey to finish with the two neck and neck. With less than an over left, and only one wicket in hand, Surrey were 14 runs short of the winning line. A few balls later they were just 3 runs behind – and not because of any airborne boundary shot. Twenty20 has a special timekeeping rule, to keep the games short: the 20 overs must be bowled in 75 minutes, otherwise the batting side gets awarded six runs.

So from Kent looking like they should keep the lid on the home side, Surrey then only needed 3 runs off 3 balls. Another ball and run later, 2 runs off 2 balls – surely it was all over? And it was, as the final Surrey wicket fell – a run out – leaving Kent the victors by one run. So justice was served after all.

The 75 minute rule does have its flaws. Though well intentioned, it could, in a close match, be open to a certain degree of subtle gamesmanship, with new batsmen taking the longest possible time (without falling foul of the subjective judgement of the umpire) to get to the crease. Even with the new victim sprinting to the middle, it inevitably penalises the more successful bowling side, as was the case last night, when Kent took more wickets than Surrey managed. Even if the innings had gone the extra couple of balls to the full 20 overs, we were only minutes over the time limit. Rather than keep the game short and exciting, it very nearly killed the game stone dead – a few minutes later and Surrey could conceivably have won the match the instant the penalty was announced.

So I think a modification is called for. How about a 70 minute time limit applying to, say, 17 overs? After that, if it’s the sort of tight finish that makes for a memorable game, the crowd aren’t really going to be bothered whether the innings finishes inside 75 or 82 minutes.

A final note to Surrey from a 20/20 relative newbie: get a decent name, chaps. Surrey Browncaps? Sounds like it should be rhyming slang for something.

Kent Spitfires: now that’s a name.


Sporting Socialism

When considering the old chestnut of BBC bias, much debate is had on its news and current affairs output. Yet if we are to truly appreciate the unintentional institutional nature of the bias, you have to look beyond that, and Mihir Bose’s feature on the Superbowl last night was a good example.

I am a rare viewer of the BBC’s evening news output – my PVR favourites list excludes BBC News in favour of Sky, but we stumbled upon BBC1 at the wrong moment.

Describing the funding for NFL teams, which is distributed equally(ish) to each team, we were helpfully presented with a bullet point screen headed – and yes, I did a double take as well – “Sporting Socialism”.

I kid you not. I wasn’t quick enough to take any sort of screenshot, but he has repeated the idea in the depths of his blog post on the subject.

It says a lot about the mindset of Bose and his colleagues that in order to paint a positive picture of something as benign a subject as funding in sport, they think it appropriate to label it “socialism”. You know: the same political doctrine that, in extremis, has claimed millions of lives through its totalitarian practitioners, condemned many other millions to starvation at the hands of its adherents in the developing world, and is doing its best right now, through the befuddled and incompetent stewardship of Gordon Brown, to send the UK back to the door of the IMF of the first time in over thirty years.

Funnily enough, I’ve always thought that a true socialist sport would be an achingly dull affair: you’d have to have everyone in the same strip, on the same side, playing in the same direction, making sure that everyone looked busy, but where no-one was allowed to actually “win”. There wouldn’t be many spectators, because everyone would have a role on the field – as long as they were in the right trade union. Come to think of it, a socialist sport would be bankrupt, because the few spectators left would have been charged so much for their season tickets (“cos they can afford it cos they’re rich innit”) they would have defected to the elitist competitive haven of something like cricket.

RIP The Bearded Wonder

Bill has dotted his final scoresheet.

P.S. Those who don’t know what I’m on about should find themselves a proper sport to follow.

Packing 'em in

Far be it for me to compare Labour’s control freakery with that of their political cousins in Beijing, but reading this (h/t Croydonian):

The government is working to fill all seats at London’s 2012 Games, Olympics minister Tessa Jowell has said….If they were not filled “by people who have paid the full price”, they should be filled by schoolchildren, she said.

… sounds more than a smidgen like this:

Chinese officials have admitted that they are concerned about the lack of spectators at some Olympic events.

They have hired volunteers, dressed in yellow shirts, to fill up empty venues and improve the atmosphere inside.

I thought we were all supposed to be effused with the Olympic spirit?

All £20bn of it.

Cricket and the Olympics

What a week of sport lies ahead of us! The Cricket and the Olympics. Despite the 2012 games being held in London, we seem to have missed the opportunity to push to get cricket adopted as an Olympic sport, even though more people play it than rounders baseball, for which Lords is to be dug up in four years’.

But which one to follow? One, though occasionally and historically mired in political and diplomatic argument, is a popular international sporting event preceded by some hype and a vain hope of national success, with those hopes falsely raised by occasional flashes of fine sporting prowess, yet more often than not concluding with the traditional deflation that is associated with so much British sport as we crash to another disappointing result.

The other is the Olympics.

UPDATE 15/8:

My thanks to commenter Dogevpr2 (catchy name) who brings to our attention. It’s on the sidelinks now. I suspect we are too close to the 2012 games now to succeed there, but 2016 could surely be possible.