Cow Corner

  • Partying on grassy banks is the future for Test cricket

    Test cricket is changing beyond all recognition, of that we have been told to the point of tedium. But it is finally becoming clearer as to what we can all envisage for the future of the game.

    Beyond a genuine 'Super Series' or The Ashes, there are few Test matches that can comfortably command a suitably large crowd or drum up a vast amount of interest for the wider public on an international level. That is surely accepted by now.

    We are constantly hearing sorry tales of woeful attendances and the perceived-to-be irreversible demise of the game in the harsh reality presented by the modern era

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  • Stuart Broad: mercurial talent or frustrating underperformer?

    While Kevin Pietersen may be the one to grab most of the headlines, few England players polarise opinion more than Stuart Broad.

    His ardent supporters regard him as a hugely talented - albeit enigmatic - all-rounder who has the ability to change a match single-handedly; his critics believe he is an overrated, ill-disciplined bowler who flatters to deceive.

    Every time his place is considered to be in doubt, an impressive performance vindicates Andy Flower's seemingly unwavering loyalty to the Twenty20 captain, but his stand-out displays are ultimately rare and fleeting.

    The seamer's brilliant

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  • Are characterless pitches spoiling Test cricket?

    James Anderson, Alastair Cook and Matt Prior take a close look

    The groundstaff of venues the cricketing world over are being unfairly accused of spoiling Test cricket by producing consistently placid and docile wickets that favour only the batsmen and the chief executives. But it is not entirely their fault.

    For every groundsman who wants to turn out a competitive, challenging deck for both batsmen and bowlers, there is a 'suit' behind them extolling the value of having five full days' worth of 'bums on seats'.

    It is presenting a major problem for the game, of that there is no mistaking. Wickets across the world are becoming increasingly equilibrated and

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  • Cook not ‘as good as anyone, barring Bradman’

    We've all heard some outlandish quotes in our time, and not just from Warwickshire stars during the mid-90s.

    But Brendon McCullum was forced to hastily backtrack after 'bigging up' Alastair Cook to such an extent that he left reporters, and his opposite number, utterly stunned.

    The New Zealand captain said that, on current form, Cook is as good as anyone who has played the noble game after Sir Donald Bradman. With a straight face.

    "He's obviously a genius batsman, his record is testament to that," McCullum said of Cook. "Where he is at in his career at the moment, he's as good as anyone who

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  • Black Caps still hungry for Test glory

    Any lingering suspicions that the New Zealand players do not really care about Test cricket can be discounted.

    The fifth day of the first Test ended in a draw as England batted for 170 overs in their second innings before New Zealand captain Brendan McCullum bowed to the inevitable and shook hands with not-out batsmen Ian Bell and Matt Prior ahead of the final hour.

    But McCullum was a reluctant hand-shaker. The New Zealand captain would have told his bowlers to carry on for another 15 overs, but for the fact that he expects them to do it all again in the second Test in Wellington in four

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  • Compton proves that he fits at top of order

    The retirement of Andrew Strauss meant not only the appointment of a new captain, but the dissolution of England’s most productive opening partnership in history.

    Yes, Strauss's form had ebbed away as his career came to a close, but together with Alastair Cook he had helped put on 4711 runs for the first wicket over the course of his Test career.

    Now Cook's part in the partnership was under little scrutiny because, as has been established and weaved into cricket cliché, he (1) is a run machine (2) never gets bored and (3) doesn't break sweat.

    But the choice of partner was crucial, especially

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  • England players look on frustrated in West Indies, 2009 - not much has changed in tour openers

    Somewhere through the middle of day three, the current Test series with New Zealand appeared to begin in earnest for England.

    James Anderson, several shades angrier than the Bruce Banner would need to be to turn green and crush things, made the second new ball talk and scored England some precious wickets. The only problem, of course, was that by the time he did England had sleepwalked their way into a Hamish Rutherford-sized hole, dismissed cheaply and staring down the barrel of a huge lead.

    Anderson’s persistent sledging and chirp – his send-offs to dismissed batsmen could yet land him in

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  • The story of KP’s five golden ducks in Test cricket

    England’s wretched start to the Test series against New Zealand was perhaps best exemplified by Kevin Pietersen’s golden duck. The batsman simply didn’t pick up a fuller ball from Neil Wagner, misjudged the length, and was plumb lbw.

    The dismissal represented KP’s 10th duck – and half of those have been first-ballers. It's still a little way short of the world record - 14 - held by Muttiah Muralitharan, or indeed the England record of 9 by Steve Harmison, but for a recognised batsman it's a high figure, and a high ratio. Mark Waugh, with seven golden ducks in 128 Tests, is the leading

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  • Is surgery the beginning of the end for Graeme Swann?

    Graeme Swann’s absence from the first Test was something of a shock, but it would not be a great surprise if this spelled the beginning of the end of his Test career.

    Instinctively, if the spinner is a doubt for the Ashes, it feels like a major hit to England's hopes. Having seen Australia buckle in successive Tests in India this past fortnight, it was clear that England enjoyed a significant advantage in the spin department. Swann, England’s most prolific off-spinner, a fixture of the team for approaching half a decade, still rated one of the world’s top 10 Test bowlers, was surely a

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  • One bowler’s ‘bad habit’ leads to a bizarre law change

    The rule-changer: Steven Finn

    It is generally accepted that if a sportsman repeatedly does something wrong, unhelpful or against the rules then they will be punished for it or admonished; it is less likely to directly result in a positive and welcome rule change.

    England paceman Steven Finn is far from an awkward or controversial type, and is as nice a man as one could wish to meet, most often to be found Tweeting inanely about his love of boybands, hair products and breakfast cereals.

    But it is his 'bad habit' of clumsily hitting the stumps on his follow through that has prompted a sudden and, previously considered

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