What The Butler Saw – I still love cricket!

This week has been a similar week to last week. Cricket. Pre-Season and transfers have been the main topics of discussion for in the last 7 days. However, that was until last night when I noticed that in the Rotterdam Open in the snooker the players were wearing POLO SHIRTS! In a tournament, something so trivial which will divide opinion and will split fans and players alike in regards to the traditionalism which snooker upholds.

My opinion? I like it. Maybe it will be something that will become a regular occurrence in some of the lesser popular tournaments and tour events. But, having seen people talking about this new look making it to the Crucible, I believe that the waistcoat and bow tie will always be the snooker player attire in major tournaments and I don’t see anything that suggests it will change.

Like last week, the majority of what I saw was cricket. The second Ashes test at Lords to be more precise. A test that I watched with intrigue for 5 days and a test I thought showed the real difference between England and Australia. England secured the test yesterday with a day left to take a 2-0 lead heading up to Old Trafford next Thursday.
As for the test, controversy was abundant throughout. Mainly with umpiring decisions and the old foe it seems for Australia, Mr DRS. Shane Watson again referred a straight looking LBW to waste a review in the Australian’s first innings. Ridiculous to have done it again having done it last week too, once again Watson failed to do his homework.

This came after England ended their first innings bowled out for 361 after being 28-3. Trott made 58 before going with England on 127. Ian Bell and Jonny Bairstow formed a partnership of 144, a partnership which saw Bairstow hit a personally needed 66 and Bell hit a much needed 109 to spare the top orders blushes. When Ryan Harris took Jimmy Anderson for 12 he claimed a 5 for and a spot on the Lords honours board.

Day 2 and 3 belonged to England, with Australia at the crease England managed to skittle the visitors out for 128, having been 42-0. Graeme Swann replicated the feat achieved by Harris earlier in the day when he took the wickets of Rogers, Khawaja, Smith, Haddin and Harris. Advantage England, who made the decision not to follow on. And what a decision it proved to be.

Half way through the morning session on the 4th day England finally declared on 349-7; a lead of 593. An incredible innings of 180 from Yorkie Joe Root, supported by another Ian Bell half century (74) putting England in the driving seat, with the seatbelt on and the key in the ignition raring to go.
I was shocked during the second innings when Shane Watson was dismissed LBW (again) and didn’t refer it! Incidentally, it was claimed in today’s copy of The Sun that it was the first time Shane Watson hadn’t referred a dismissal since the introduction of the DRS. Surely not?

At 36-3 skipper Michael Clarke joined Usman Khawaja at the crease and they put on a stand of 98 before they both fell after getting half centuries in consecutive overs, both at the hands of Joe Root. Root showed his reliability with both bat and ball over the test match and showed that he has potential to one day be considered an all rounder. Exciting times for him in the future and I’m sure we will all be watching.

Once again the 10th wicket partnership gave Australia some heart, with James Pattinson hit 35 as he and Ryan Harris took Australia from 192 up to 235. 2-0 England, bring on Old Trafford.

Away from cricket, pre-season is getting into full swing and everywhere has the buzz of the new football season. No where else with more intensity than at Whaddon Road, where Cheltenham Town defeated Gloucester City 2-1. I didn’t go to the game but from what I have read and heard it sounded like a good game, getting heated and tasty at times like you would expect but ultimately, despite the result it appears both teams came away happy. Cheltenham happy with the win to have bragging rights and to show that this could finally be the year the Robins can gain promotion. Gloucester took heart, took the knowledge that they have a good side ahead of the Conference North and could finally pinch a play off spot as long as players like Darren Mullings and Will Morford can regain form and fitness following injuries and operations. Either way, this season could be a very good season for the teams in Gloucestershire.

To end this week, I will be doing a post next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Monday will be assessing the teams in this year’s League Two, giving my thoughts of possible promotion chasers, relegation candidates and surprise packages. Tuesday will be League One and Wednesday The Championship. Until then. Adieu.

Ryan Butler