Cow Corner

Albion Knight Riders

Cow Corner

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Matthew Hoggard, Owais Shah, Rob Key and Graeme Swann are among the old heads in a rather arthritic-looking pride of England Lions announced yesterday.

Until last year, the Lions were known as England A, which is, Cowers will admit, a strange name for a B team.

But at least it had a certain integrity to it. You knew where you were with England A. It was Ilott and Udal, Gallian and Wells. Good, honest players, but men whose own grandmothers knew they would never cut it in the full Test team.

Now the team sounds like a rubbish IPL franchise. If you're going to go for a rebranding exercise, you might as well go the whole hog as the Indians have done.

After all, who wouldn't want to play for the Albion Knight Riders? Or the Magnum PIs? Or - to square the circle - the England A-Team? 

And the ECB have let a prime sponsorship opportunity go begging by letting Chennai get their hands on the 'Super Kings' tag.

You may remember England made Hoggard (above, fighting Freddie Flintoff) and Steve Harmison joint scapegoats after a lacklustre performance in the first Test in New Zealand.

It seems a bit much lumping England's most reliable bowler of the last decade together with Harmison, whose form has dipped dramatically since losing his drinking buddy Fred from the England team.

Northern Rock spokesperson Harmison has also flounced his way out of one-day internationals, and averaged 61 last time England played the Aussies; his 10 victims merely taken by surprise when he located the corridor of uncertainty (in his case anywhere between second slip and off stump).

There is no Flintoff, who will be given a chance to up his batting average from 11 to, ooh, maybe 15, before he is inserted back into the international fold.

Still Peter Moores remarked that Flintoff "seems in a really good place". He did not add whether or not that place was The Bishop Blaize pub around the corner from Old Trafford.

- - -

ECB chairman Giles Clarke revealed yesterday that a system of yellow and red cards is being considered to cut out sledging at amateur level.

"The yellow card system is under debate as to whether it should be introduced for repeat offences of sledges," he droned, utilising a little-used and barely comprehensible sentence structure.

Given that football's malign influence is held responsible by many for the decline of gentlemanly conduct on the cricket field, it seems a strange sport to borrow your disciplinary system from.

Forty years of increasing disrespect towards the b****** in the black show that cards in football do nothing to improve behaviour.

Cowers suggests the ECB borrows whatever system they use in crown green bowls - a sport in which disciplinary problems seldom seem to flare up.

- - -

The Mumbai Indians are off the mark in the IPL, claiming their first win by seven wickets against the Kolkata Knight Riders.

The Indians have had Harbhajan Singh banned for the rest of the tournament for his happy slapping while skipper Sachin Tendulkar has yet to take the field because of injury.

But they chased down a paltry target of 138 with ease thanks to the "efforts" of Knight Rider Ricky Ponting, who was run out (possibly on captain's orders, Boycott-style) after compiling a painstaking 19 from 31 balls.

The equivalent scoring rate of 61 per 100 balls is only three better than he has managed throughout his entire Test career. Had the whole team scored as slowly, Kolkata would have reached a miserable total of 73.

Luckily for the Hoff's boys, that was Punter's last game before going off on international duty.

- - -

THE "I THOUGHT KOLPAK WAS A LEADING BRAND OF TOOTHPASTE" AWARD GOES TO: Leicestershire, who feature six South Africans in their team against Warwickshire following the additions of Botha Dippenaar and Dillon de Preez.

TALKING POINT: Cowers gets the feeling hiresh_hk might not be an Aleem Dar fan based on these three posts: "aleem dar is rubbish," "aleem dar is c**p," and "aleem dar and rudi are useless."

craig.washington launches an unprovoked attack at the East Midlands: "It must be difficult to umpire in this day and age. I mean how can the poor ump even see the stumps with the Timotei-esque locks of Mr Sidebottom blowing in the wind? No wonder he moved away from the tough streets of Huddersfield to nancy Nottingham!!"

'Nancy' Nottingham has the highest murder rate in Britain, Craig. Better not show your face at the Goose Fair or the St Ann's Crew will pump hot lead into your sorry ass.

Today - Alternative names for the England Lions, anyone?

COMING UP: If it ever stops raining, New Zealand will resume their tour match against Kent - follow the stoppages with our LIVE SCORECARD. Meanwhile the Transvaal Wildebeests, aka Leicestershire, are one of the sides in action in the CHAMPIONSHIP. Finally, a 100% Ponting-free IPL encounter from 3.30pm - DELHI DAREDEVILS v BANGALORE ROYAL CHALLENGERS.

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