The Dobber

The cricket writing round up that is having trouble making the bails stay on with all this wind about.

Ripping yarn of Ian Botham, his attempt to 'take' Hollywood, and the shadowy, shamelessly ambitious agent that made it all happen:

That summer a new-look Botham took to the field, with longer hair and blond highlights. The establishment spluttered its disapproval but Hudson admitted he had plans for his new client to go even further. "What I wanted was for him to wear a pirate-style earring and a headband with the St George's flag on it as he walked out to bat."

Long interview with Richard Hadlee on his place among the great all-rounders of the 80s, the physical and mental challenges his faced mid-career and some of the magic moment how modern training techniques and resources could have made him even better:

The transformation from a scattergun tearaway to one of the shrewdest bowlers to grace the game had just begun, and conversations with another legendary quick, Dennis Lillee, were pivotal.

"He was hugely influential. 'Dennis, how do you train, how do you prepare?' 'Well, I do all this running, I do the sprinting, I do the stretching. I do the bowling.' 'Oh, what do you eat?' You start looking at the dietary things. And all of a sudden you start learning and get this whole package together of what you need to be, in effect, [as] a professional sportsperson to compete and survive and perform in the international arena."

The Old Batsman looks at the rise of the individual coach - and discovers the new thinking is a lot like the old thinking:

We're at a juncture, as the late Bob Woolmer pointed out in the title of his majesterial book, of the Art and Science of Cricket. The fundamental principals of the game have been known to every player since the age of Grace. Science is, at the moment, engaged in explaining why the art works. It has value, and as the demands of its formats drive further, richer evolution of its methods, it will have a widening area of study.

But the oldest lessons should always be learned first, and they don't need decorating. Watch the ball. Keep your head still. Hit it when it's under your nose. The song remains the same.

Cricket fans generally love sledging more than Charles Kane. Here's a top ten, including some some we hadn't seen before, and an old favourite:

Despite Waugh undoubtedly having a greater mark on cricketing history, Ormond well and truly came out on top of this war. Upon arrival, Waugh said to Ormond: “Look who it is. Mate, what are you doing here? There’s no way you’re good enough to play for England.” Ormond replied: “Maybe not, but at least I’m the best player in my family.”

This reader-submitted list of the greatest cricket songs ever reminded us how good the video for Roots Manuva's Again & Again is:

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