Steve Smith’s Sussex stint and podcast proxies – mop-up of the day

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Mop-up of the day is a thing we do when we can’t really be bothered writing more than a sentence or two about a bunch of different things.

Sometimes we end up writing extra sentences though because it looks weird if the opening sentence, in bold, is immediately followed by a really long subheading.

Steve Smith to win the Ashes for Australia by preparing for it with a handful of games in division two of the County Championship next season

Some people are quite angry about this, but since when has playing in division two of the County Championship been such great preparation for Test cricket? We thought that was supposed to be its biggest failing?

Steve Smith has agreed to play three games for Sussex next summer, leading into the Ashes. Words like ‘treachery’ are being bandied about in some quarters. Our take is that what’s best for England is not necessarily what’s best for the Ashes in a broader sense. In these days of stunted series, we think it’s great to have this kind of prologue to the central story of the series.

The Ridiculous Border-Gavaskar Podcast

Ridiculous Border, ridiculous Gavaskar, ridiculous Border-Gavaskar.

Our erstwhile podcasting colleague Dan Liebke has gone rogue (with our permission) and started up an Australia-India cousin to The Ridiculous Ashes. We are not involved. Cricket writer Bharat Sundaresan is doing the India nominations.

As a person whose life is shaped by laziness, we are delighted that the Ridiculous Border-Gavaskar Podcast has come into existence without our having to actually do anything. As someone whose life is equally shaped by guilt, we also feel slightly guilty about it.

You can find it here. We are halfway through the first episode and enjoying it greatly, in large part due to our absence.

Fancy a bit of first person for a change? Follow us on Twitter or Mastodon.


  1. Three points:

    * I’m all in favour of letting players from visiting squads play CC matches early season if counties want them. It’s quite contrary to the notion that test matches should be the best pitting themselves against the best if you deny that opportunity to players who are good enough and choose to take up such offers.
    * Isn’t this ridiculous thing of yours starting to look a bit like a franchise KC.. There’ll soon be all manner of podcasting mercenaries – some paid by the word no doubt – milking and diluting the ridiculous brand. Don’t slay the goose that is laying ridiculously golden eggs.
    * I realised after posting in the earlier “blob” thread that I have just written up my first Heavy Rollers event – Edgbaston 1999 – which was (like it’s successor test matches that summer) really quite blobby. Here’s the write up, more food, drink, diggings and bants than blobs:

    The 2000 write up, coming soon, has an especially memorable blob in it which gained us international media attention. watch this click bait space.

  2. I feel sorry for the other Sussex players because Steve Smith doesn’t come across as a joy in the changing room. Neither will he be a sharing example of leadership. Getting someone else to tamper with the ball and them leaving them to face the consequences is just not cricket.

    1. Yeah, but at the same time he is one of the world’s greatest purveyors of part-time filth. Just think what the young Sussex batters might learn from him!

  3. A stint in the champo early doors is as likely to dent his confidence as boost it, I would venture.

    Especially if someone signs The Great Darren Stevens to bowl at him.

  4. In theory there are 12 Test teams (if you ignore the controversial Test status of the World XI in the 2005 ICC Super Series, and that the Netherlands played a Test match in 2007 in the women’s format) and so (12*11)/2=66 potential ridiculous rivalries to podcast about, although not all have actually been played. Only (12-1)/66*100% = 16.7% of those rivalries involve England so you still have opportunities to do a few more to keep you busy; but with other people taking the remaining 100% – 16.7% – 83.3% of the strain, you’ll also still have time to have a bit of a life, and maybe even a job. The interesting question is whether I’ve just, following Ged’s formulation that each equation halves the readership, reduced KC blog traffic by (1 – 0.5^3)*100% = 87.5% or whether by dint of including the readership calculation too, have I actually reduced it by (1 – 0.5^4)*100% = 93.75% or worse still, since I have including the calculation about the calculation, has it been cut by (1 – 0.5^5)*100% = …

    If you think only the top face-offs deserve a podcast, Wikipedia lists 15 named pairs of Test rivalries which, like the Ashes or Border-Gavaskar, have a perpetual trophy at stake. England are involved in four of those, but two of them (Pataudi Trophy and Anthony de Mello Trophy) are just the India-England rivalry contested in England and in India respectively. Aside from the Ashes, the other one is the Basil D’Oliveira Trophy with South Africa.

    1. What about the Wisden/Richards–Botham Trophy?

      I agree that more series need names though – England v Pakistan seems ripe for naming, for one.

      1. Some of the other named rivalries are a bit pants. The “Southern Cross Trophy” between Australia and Zimbabwe has only been contested in 1999-2000 and 2003-2004, but nothing since. That also wasn’t a great time to be playing against Australia, so the rivalry was a bit one-sided.

        I think good qualifying criteria to count as a proper rivalry is that each side must have at some point won a series against the other – and arguably both sides to have at least once won (or at least drawn) the away series.

  5. Regarding Smith in CC Div 2, didn’t Labuschagne play a few games for Glamorgan in Div 2 before playing so well in the Ashes a few years ago? I tried to look it up but when it wasn’t immediately obvious how to do so, so I gave up and relied instead on my presumably perfect memory.

    Yes yes both are exemplary players but I feel like we didn’t know that about Labuschagne until he played so well in the Ashes


    Having beaten Zimbabwe twice in the warm-up matches, Indonesia have just beaten Zimbabwe again, this time in an “official” match at the U19 World Cup.

    Imagine a Test match in Bali sometime in the 2040s might be popular with the Barmy Army. Flipping that round, probably worth it for developing countries with tourist industries to encourage the growth of cricket…

    1. Enjoyed watching Liberty Heap and Grace Scrivens batting for England Women U19s this morning. Promising young Irish players too, given that most of the latter team will still be U19 next time the tournament is held.

      Liberty Heap will be great for the headline writers if she continues to score freely.

      “Diabolical Liberty!” “Heaps Of Runs”…

      1. Seren Smale was also playing today and is another headline writer’s dream: a serene innings played at smale’s pace? “Grace, Liberty, Serenity” is definitely motto territory.

        Rwanda gave NZ a scare NZ eventually reaching their target with 99/6 off 16.1 overs. Not a sentence I thought I’d be writing when I started watching cricket and Rwanda didn’t even have any domestic teams, let alone an international one. As ever, the lower-ranked teams seem to do better with the ball than the bat. Must be difficult for their batters to manage the step up when the quality of bowling increases at global tournaments.

        Rwanda struggled with the bat to reach 71/6 off 18.2 overs (RR: 3.87) against West Indies in the Super 6, with two run-outs and three ducks (two golden and one off six balls which is arguably worse!). Good job they’d already bowled the Windies out for 70 off 16.3 (RR: 4.24) in the first innings so that was enough for a four wicket victory.

        Having beaten Zimbabwe in the group stage and (admittedly, fifteen a side so doesn’t really count) Ireland in the warm-ups they’ve had a good World Cup.

        My hot tip of Henriette Ishimwe was wicketless today and got a golden duck, so can’t claim much credit on that front. But she did bowl the match’s only maiden and 3 overs for 9 runs was an excellent economy rate. But today the damage came from Sylvia Usabyimana’s 4-0-20-4 and Marie Tumukunde’s 3.3-0-8-4, though it was captain Gisele Ishimwe (apparently no relation) who was player of the match with 31 not out from 53 balls. Only three other batters broke into double figures in the batch, the next best score being 18 by Realeanna Grimmond (who was the only West Indies batter with double figures).

        If the tournament had a sensible round robin structure, Rwanda would have one more chance at an upset by playing the only team in their Super 6 group they haven’t faced yet – Ireland, who they’d have a decent shot at beating. However in the ICC’s wisdom, every team in the Super 6 plays every team apart from one, and in Rwanda’s case that’s Ireland. This isn’t totally ridiculous – it is effectively Rwanda and Ireland’s “punishment” for sneaking through in the last qualification slot from their groups, while the group stage winners are given the “reward” of not having to play each other – but it does detract from the competition in my view, particularly because the binned matches are precisely those which you’d expect to be most competitive and therefore the best learning opportunities for developing players. So I hope the ICC won’t be repeating this format. I’ve not viewed the County Championship as “proper” since they moved to a “everyone plays everyone else except….” structure either.

  7. What is going on with this Rwanda WU19 team and its proliferation of good results and Ishimwe people?

    They have just walloped West Indies WU19 with no fewer than three Ishimwes in the team. They cannot all be sisters by dint of their ages. No more than one out of Gisele (today’s captain and player-of-the match) and Zurufat could be Henriette “Four-in-Four” Ishimwe’s sister.

    Perhaps Ishimwe is a very common name in Rwanda, like Park or Kim in Korea, or Nguyen in Vietnam.

    1. I think they’re all unrelated – Gisele and Henriette are both regulars for the full international side which was a good sign for their U19 WC prospects but they’ve outperformed expectations. In a way it’s more encouraging to see good results at U19 as it proves a grassroots youth system is there – many of the upsets at the “grown-up” editions come from teams with little grassroots participation behind them and things often fizzle out.

      Who knows how accurate these stats are but apparently Ishimwe is only the 30th most common Rwandan surname, used by 1 in 243 people. The most common surnames are Uwimana (1 in 89), Ingabire, Habimana, Jean and Hakizimana (1 in 117) but none of those are in the squad. Several other – mana names though as well as two lots of Uwase (ranked 32nd most common surname) and two times Uwera (not on the ranking list).

      Wonder if there is a surname concentration due to the sport developing mainly in certain areas, like how lots of Kenyan players had the same surname as cricket was particularly popular among certain tribes? Having said that, many of the Kenyan players were actually related. One of the Suji brothers, Martin, is the head coach for Rwandan cricket.

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