Kitbag End of Season Sale

Having finished my season with Iver Heath yesterday (a good win and for the first time in ages I didn’t finish my season with a duck. Woot!) I finally chucked my 8 year old cricket boots away and sent my even older jockstrap off for clinical testing at a secret bio-warfare research facility in Biggleswade so I was delighted to receive an email this morning telling me that Kitbag are holding their end of season sale with savings of up to 70%!

I’ve used Kitbag before and I have to say that I was impressed with the speed of service. I ordered online and my stuff turned up a couple of days later. Can’t ask for more than that.

They’re offering deals on everything – bats, pads, helmets, shirts, batting gloves and stock all the major cricket kit suppliers including Gray Nicolls, Woodworm, Gunn and Moore, Newbery and adidas.

I’m tempted to pick up one of the England ODI shirts but I’m a bit worried about the fit. The new technology all sounds great if you’re a finely tuned athlete but what about a bloke who drinks far too much beer and has Dominos Pizza on speed dial?

adidas created ForMotion™ to follow every curve of the athlete’s body and mimic the natural movement of sport for a better fit and greater comfort while in motion. Its sport-specific fabrics also feature extreme stretch zones that allow the garment to move naturally with the body even during the most strenuous of athletic activities.

Have any Flintoffs Ashes readers purchased one of the new England ODI shirts? I’m particularly interested in hearing from the ones who possess a six roll rather than a six pack.

Two Not Out

Somehow I managed to miss the fact that the Flintoffs Ashes blog was 2 years old the other day. Yep, it was two years ago on 13th September that I relaunched the site as a cricket blog and I single handedly forgot to celebrate.

What a twat.

So, rather belatedly, I thought I’d wish myself a Happy Birthday and look back on some of the stuff I’ve posted over the last two years.

The most popular post since the relaunch has been the Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath Little Britain post. It still gets hundreds of views a month despite being nearly two years old. It consists of 56 words and one picture. Maybe that’s the key to successful cricket blogging. Fewer words, more pictures taking the piss out of Australian cricketers. There’s a lesson to be learnt there, kids.

Taking the piss out of Australians also features in the second most popular post – Barmy Army v Fanatics and the next few in the list are all the match reports from the 2005 Ashes series so there’s a definite trend occurring here. Let’s hope England can batter the Aussies in the 2008 Ashes series and I can be top of the pile once more. Mwhahaha!

Other stuff that folks seem to have enjoyed include the one where I question cricket players sexuality, that one about sitting down, the one about the one legged bunny boiler and the pic of Forrest Clark.

Have a delve through the archives and let me know what your favourite posts have been over the last couple of years.

One of the things that disturbed me looking back through two years worth of stats is the sheer volume of people who come to Flintoffs Ashes – a cricket blog, let’s not forget – looking for pictures of Dawn French. Naked. It’s all thanks to this one blog post. I hope they go away..ahem..satisfied.

Some of the other funny stuff that people search for include

  • we are the army the barmy army we are mental
  • you smell of wee
  • collingwood strippers
  • flintoff twat
  • andrew flintoff naked
  • feeling sleepy after lunch
  • naked arses
  • tits to go
  • fat gay
  • andrew flintoff’s trousers

Sometimes I get scared when I see what people have searched for.

Big thanks to the following websites that have linked to me in the past and sent me bucket loads of free traffic. TMS Blog. The Corridor. My two cents. Cricket-Blog. AYALAC. STUmpCam. After Grog Blog.

Finally big thanks to you for reading the site. I know I don’t update it as often as I should and I know I start lots of ‘regular series’ which never quite get finished but isn’t that the fun of it all? Eh? Anyway thanks for stopping by and leaving comments. Hope you enjoy the occasional ramblings of an out of work actor who loves cricket and couldn’t back the winner in a one horse race.

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Hick sneaks out of county crickets back door

So, after 25 seasons in England’s first-class game, former England batsmen Graeme Hick has retired from the game. The 42-year-old – who has never been one to shout about his own abilities – bowed out after injury meant that he missed what would have been his final game for Worcestershire.

Instead, his ‘grand farewell’ came in a Pro40 game against Middlesex. Hick did receive an excellent ovation during this game, but he only scored 14 and many feel it is a shame that he wasn’t able to see out his final season as a professional cricketer. The player himself though was more than happy with the outcome, saying that he would have liked to had waited until Christmas until he announced his decision ‘when everyone was too busy to notice’.

Everyone knows that Hick never quite performed on the international stage and the word most associated with him was ‘frustrating’. This annoys me though. Yes, Hick was a talented batsman, but sometimes players simply aren’t cut out for international cricket. It’s the same with football. Look at Ian Wright and Andy Cole for example. At club level they couldn’t stop scoring, but for England – it never quite happened. It’s the same with Hick. Some people blame the England coaching team for ruining his confidence, but overall I think we have to accept that he simply wasn’t good enough to perform with the required consistency.

Perhaps it was a mental issue that Hick had. After all, he has recently admitted that he lacked the ‘cutting edge’ needed to perform at the highest level. I suppose that this does have substance because Hick did manage secure five test match centuries and 18 fifties. That’s not achieved by just anybody. However, his average of just over 30 tells its own story. During his 114 test match innings, he failed to make 50 on no less than 90 occasions. He failed far too often and in the end, 16 runs in two innings against Sri Lanka back in 2001 turned out to be his lot.

He has been a fantastic representative for Worcestershire though and for that he has gained nothing but respect. The cricket odds have rarely backed them to be in line for many trophies and although he hasn’t been playing for England in the last seven years, he has continued playing for his beloved county with great individual success. This highlights his love for enjoying the game of cricket and perhaps emphasises that he is happy enough going without the competitive edge of the international game.

You would always be happy placing a cricket bet on Hick getting some runs for Worcestershire – in any form of the game. He is a man that has broken countless records, making 526 first-class appearances and scoring an incredible 41,112 runs along the way. The fact that he averaged over 50 in a career spanning 25 years really is quite something.

I would sit here and list all the records he has broken, but I’m pretty sure they will all be on display in various columns and blogs during the coming weeks as English cricket says farewell to one of its most respected and successful cricketers of all time.

Thomas Rooney - Freelance Sports Journalist

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Emerging Broad on ICC shortlist

Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Alastair Cook. Naked. Ewww...Everyone knows that Stuart Broad is going to be in and around the England team for many years to come. After making his international debut in a one day international against Pakistan in 2006, is has been clear to everyone that he was born to play international cricket. Since then, he has become an established member of the England team and this has been recognised by the International Cricket Council. Broad is one of four players shortlisted for the emerging player of the year award.

It is good to see that his achievements at the tender age of 22 haven’t gone unnoticed. He may have struggled slightly with the ball in the Test matches this summer, but since Kevin Pietersen took over the captaincy there appears to be significant improvement. In the Test match at The Oval he took five wickets and then in the ODI series he helped England dismiss South Africa for 83 by taking five wickets in an impressive ten over spell. The fact that Pietersen opted to give him the new ball in the ODI games has done wonders for his confidence.

Of course, had it just been for his bowling, I’m not sure Broad’s place in the team would be quite so secure. Nor would he have been nominated for any awards. This is because the thing that makes Broad such an exciting talent is his outstanding natural ability with the bat. In the nine Test matches he has played, he averages 37.20. In the games against South Africa this summer he averaged 53.66. Not bad for a number eight batsman is it? There was even talk that he should have moved up to number six in the batting order to accommodate Andrew Flintoff’s preference to batting at seven. This has obviously now changed with Freddie’s return to form, but it does show how much belief people have in Broad’s batting.

For the future though, I think that number eight is his position. The England batting line-up looks a lot stronger if Flintoff is in form at six, then Matt Prior as the wicket-keeper at seven and the talented Broad at eight. This has a healthy and balanced look to it and it has a lot to do with the batting ability of Broad. It is, of course, his bowling that needs to be his main discipline though and I’m confident this will be the case based on his recent displays.

Young shaver Stuart BroadSomething he needs to do is work out what type of bowler his is. I have witnessed him mixing up his line and length and trying to be an out and out quick bowler. It is my belief though that he should adopt a Glenn McGrath style of bowling. Bowl every single ball in the same areas. Frustrate the batsmen and rely on consistency. If he did this, I would place a lot of my cricket betting money on him taking plenty of wickets for England. With the likes of Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff in the side, Broad doesn’t need to be an over-the-top aggressive bowler. Instead, he should plug away with consistent line and length – something he has done with success in the games since the change of skipper.

For what it is worth, I think it is unlikely Broad will actually win the award for the emerging player of the year. I think the cricket odds will tell you that new Sri Lanka spin king Ajantha Mendis is in line to pick up the award. He has taken an incredible 26 wickets in three test matches and 33 wickets in 13 ODI’s since making his debut in April 2008. He seems a remarkable talent and one who will end up being the long-term replacement for Muttiah Muralitharan.

Broad won’t be too concerned about this though. He should be more concerned with resting up ahead of the winter tours of West Indies and India. I mean, if he continues to improve his bowling and continues to maintain his excellent batting form, this certainly won’t be the last award he will be nominated for during what should be a long and successful career with England.

Thomas Rooney – Freelance Sports Journalist

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Is Kevin Pietersen God?

Well he’d certainly like us to believe he is and, if you were to go along with some of the stuff that’s been written recently, it’s a view shared by journalists and pundits alike but just how good is he?

Now don’t get me wrong, our performances since he took over the reigns from Vaughany have been pretty impressive. We won the final Test match of the series and are 4-0 up in the ODI series with just the final match to be played tomorrow. Freddie Flintoff is back amongst the runs and Steve Harmison is back amongst the wickets. On the face of it he’s performed miracles since taking over. A win tomorrow lifts England up to second in the ODI world rankings but let’s just put things into perspective for a minute, shall we?

The win in the final Test was against a South African team who had already done what they set out to achieve which was secure a first Test series victory on English soil for over 40 years. Sure there’s the professional pride thing but I’m sure that as far as the Saffers were concerned they’d already done the job. To a certain extent that attitude has spilt over into the one day team. They weren’t helped by the injuries to key players but I can’t help feeling that their heart wasn’t in it. I’m not saying they’ve rolled over and kicked their legs in the air but I feel that if the Test series had gone the other way that we’d be seeing a different South Africa team.

Ian Bell gives us an interesting insight into Team KP in this quote from the BBC website:

Kev (Pietersen) sat down with us before the series started and gave us an honest chat about where he thought we were as a team…It’s pretty obvious to see that at times we can play outstandingly well and at times we can be pretty poor…The one thing he has tried to mark on everyone is that we have to have consistency and everyone has bought into that…

So the key ingredient to Pietersens success is by getting highly paid professional sportsman to stop being shit, then. Getting the players to agree that they need to perform consistently doesn’t strike me as being revolutionary and, if anything, says more about them than it does about him.

Maybe it’s just the curmudgeon in me. Possibly it’s because I wanted Fatboy Fat to take over but for whatever reason I’m still not totally sold on Pietersen as skipper.

Bring home the Ashes next summer and then I might reconsider.

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