It was a marginal decision, but after referral to the DRS we can confirm that Alex Bowden’s superlative King Cricket takes our vote as the Reverse Sweep’s favourite cricket blog.
Like the great master Jack Hobbs himself, King Cricket scores freely and heavily in all types of conditions: whimsical humour, longevity (a blog veteran stretching all the way back to 2006), a keen eye, quantity and quality, originality and above all brevity.
Most of us fall into the ‘time poor’ category and King Cricket certainly doesn’t mince his words. Why write a great thesis when 200 words will do? More than any other cricket blog we’ve seen King Cricket understands this best. KC simply doesn’t do written diarrhoea (whatever that looks like).
If being a fan of the site means clicking on to it most week day mornings, then we are guilty as charged m’lud. Of all the blogs featured in our Top 20 Cricket blogs it is only King Cricket and cricket with balls that we click onto on an almost religious basis.
As we said at the start, the choice between these two was borderline, but in the end we decided to go with the former not because Alex is a fellow Englishman (although that probably helped), but when it comes down to it, he really detests Matthew Hayden.
And he’s hated Hayden almost since the day he started the blog – see old Hayden and new Hayden articles.
That pretty much sealed it.
You can find Alex on Twitter @TheKingsTweets, although when it comes to Tweeting, Alex doesn’t exactly fall into the prolific category.
The first cricket blog we came across outside the mainstream media was Jarrod Kimber’s cricket with balls.
We lived to tell the tale.
Cricket with balls most definitely falls into the terrorist category of cricket blogs and is a no-holds barred, full-frontal assault on the game once played by gentlemen.
Appealing to (and I quote) “hermaphrodites, perverts, cricket fans, and anyone not related to a cricketer we hate”, cricket with balls has long been one of the most popular (and downright dirty) blogs available.
Indeed, the site has nearly as many followers as the Church of Scientology and perhaps therefore appropriately has even started its own religion – Sehwagology.
Cricket with balls has catapulted JRod from outside (as in on the other side of the world outside) the mainstream cricket media into a position today when it sometimes feels that he is the cricket media – editing Spin Cricket, appearing as one-half of The Two Chucks, writing articles for the Wisden Almanack and being one of Test Match Sofa’s crack commentary team.
That Jarrod has done all this without any sign of compromise (ok Spin Cricket maybe doesn’t have quite as much swearing as cricket with balls) is a tribute to his much mimicked but never bettered style.
Jarrod’s success particularly in 2011 has probably had a bit of a detrimental effect on cricket with balls as he clearly now doesn’t have the time to devote to it that he used to.
That said, whilst the quantity has dropped off the quality hasn’t and Jarrod was splendidly vitriolic on the Ireland/Associate/World Cup issue and also recently on the DRS mess.
“They’ve come to watch me bat, sir, not you umpire”
Arguably the most knowledgable, considered and erudite cricket blog around, The Old Batsman has been going since 2008 and with an average of one post every 3-4 days in 2011 opts for the quality over quantity approach.
Whilst we were selecting the blogs that would feature in this series, Yorkshire Len the creative genius behind the quite brilliant Last of the Summer Whine abruptly announced that:
“After three (and a bit) years, and a third of a million words, I've decided to call it a day with LotSW as I can no longer justify the time and effort required to write the blog for such a relatively small readership”.
Whilst not quite as gut wrenching a day as when The Smiths split up or Manchester United secured their 19th league title, its safe to say that the premature demise of LotSW was a sad day for us and its numerous loyal followers.
Detailed descriptions of the ups and downs of being an England and Yorkshire CC fan were interspersed with hilarious pieces such as a secret diary of Timothy Bresnan, Len’s Top Tens and picture montages of Giles Clarke in various poses (I kid you not).
Indeed, LotSW was everything Cricinfo’s Page 2 should be (perhaps without the Yorkshire bias), but quite spectacularly fails to be.
Accordingly, we’ve decided to feature LotSW in our Top 20 posthumously in the hope that Yorkshire Len will resurrect the blog once Stuart Broad has been dropped by England and Yorkshire have survived the County Championship Division 1 relegation door.
Now over three years old, 99.94 offers “Considered Cricket Analysis From Beyond the Boundary”.
The sheer variety on offer is perhaps understandable giving that the three writers come from different parts of the globe: Nestaquin in Sydney, The Trumpet from Tooting (one of our old stomping grounds) via Liverpool and Rajesh Kannan in Singapore.
Like The Old Batsman blog, 99.94 offers a more considered and sober style, but this does not detract one iota from the fact that it is well-crafted and a damn good read for any cricket lover.
Our favourite feature (despite him being an Everton fan) is The Trumpet’s marvellous County Cricket’s Last Over of the Week (now featuring also on Spin Cricket) and its close relation the Final Over of the Day, where the post is distilled into six succinctly written balls (just like an over).
Given that The Trumpet (aka Gary Naylor) is also one of our favourite commentators on Test Match Sofa, it would seem that along with our Dad (who is also a Toffee) we’ve found a second Everton fan to like.
The Full Toss proclaims itself as a voice of the England follower and does exactly what it says on the tin.
As fellow long suffering (albeit with the odd highlight interspersed between the mediocrity) England fans we have sympathy with the description of The Full Toss being the village cricketers debating the latest selection dilemma over a pint after the game and/or the punters who fork out £60 once a year for a day at the Test.
As such it is not that surprising that we richly enjoy the blog’s honest and at times blunt assessment of England performances and selections. The Full Toss is certainly not afraid to discuss some potentially sensitive talking points such as its assessment of who the ODI wicket keeper should be:
“I won’t get into this, as it’s a can of worms bigger than the one Sir Ian takes on fishing holidays, but I suspect that Steve Davies will never play for England ever again – although I hope I’m wrong. Phil Mustard would have been my choice…”
It’s honest and amusingly written pieces like this, that will see us continually visiting the site whenever England are in action.
See if you can play their deceptive deliveries on Twitter @thefulltoss
However, personal contributions aside, it really is an excellent cricket site being much more than a blog and featuring a plethora of talented writers from around the world (hence the name?), as well as the aforementioned podcast and video highlights.
The whole shebang is expertly marshalled by editor David Siddall out of Melbourne – a Pom making a big impression on enemy territory.
Cricinfo’s Page 2 generally leaves us cold. Other than the odd occasional gem it mostly just isn’t funny. Andy Zaltzman’s splendid ‘The Confectionery Stall’ is the one notable exception to this rule.
Its heady cocktail of stats, satire and humour is one that ticks all the right boxes down here at the Reverse Sweep. We particularly like Zaltzman’s use of similes and would confidently predict that he is a fellow fan of the majestic Edmund Blackadder.
As a comedian, political satirist and author, it is perhaps hardly surprising that Zaltzman brings a rather unique and refreshing style to the world of cricket writing. It certainly works for us.
Describing England’s stunning final day Test victory over Sri Lanka in Cardiff, Zaltzman offers this appreciation of Chris Tremlett’s bowling:
“Yesterday’s win was facilitated by Tremlett, who surgically dismantled the high-class Sri Lankan top order in such a way that it would not have been entirely surprising if, at the post-match presentation, Mike Atherton had marched up to the Surrey paceman, said, “Come on Scooby, let’s see who he really is”, and ripped a latex face-mask off to reveal Curtly Ambrose underneath, before concluding: “I thought I recognised the way you were bowling.””
Follow Zaltzman on Twitter @zaltzcricket – although don’t expect him to follow you – he only follows two people the last time we looked.
Both on and off the field, Pakistan cricket certainly provides plenty to write about. No one however makes more sense out of the madness and translates it more succinctly than Kamran Abassi with his Pak Spin blog on Cricinfo.
Abassi’s blog is sub-titled ‘the mysterious world of Pakistan cricket’, which sounds just about right, as he expertly unravels the highs, lows, controversies and downright ‘you couldn’t make it up moments’ in a direct and erudite style that befits his day job as editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. Indeed, Abassi applies a surgeon's method in the way that he slices his way through the uncertainty, rumour and revelations that are part and parcel of cricket in Pakistan.
Certainly, every bizarre twist and turn that the world of Pakistan cricket (match fixing, bans, defeats snatched from the jaws of victories, resignations, you name it) takes has us clicking onto Pak Spin (and not just because its author is a fellow Liverpool fan) to read how Abassi deciphers and assesses the situation. More often than not he is right on the button.
Warning - If your name is Ijaz Butt, you may not want to read Pak Spin.
You cannot please all of the people, all of the time and getting a list of our favourite cricket blogs down to 20 is an excellent case in example.
Over the last few days we've counted down numbers 20 to 11. Before we hit the top ten (can you bear the suspense?), here are some of those (who in our view at least) were close, but not quite close enough on this occasion.
The nearest to making the cut was the amusingly named Holding Willey, which is certainly one of the most original blogs out there and pulls in writers from the four corners of the globe.
Are you a left-arm Chinaman? was one of the first cricket blogs we came across in 2009 and it is wonderfully acerbic and straight to the point. However, the number of posts have tailed off over the years. Just another victim of the rat race it seems.
We also like Play For Country Not For Self a German based (I kid you not) cricket blog that provides a a truly unique combination of Mark Cosgrove, Middlesex and the lower reaches of the ICC Associate and Affiliate leagues.
Finally (and apologies to anyone else we’ve forgotten), we’ve also been known to peruse Dave ‘The Bard’ Bird’s cricket rhymes on Birdfolk as well as Third Umpire, and Bangalore Royal Challengers fanatic Poshin’s World.
The newspaper that is more right wing than Oswald Mosley, that German guy with the comedy moustache and even David Beckham is the unlikely home to one of the finest cricket blogs in the mainstream media – Lawrence Booth’s award-winning The Top Spin (there’s no direct link, but you should be able to find it on this page).
Strictly speaking, it could be argued that The Top Spin is a weekly column rather than a blog, but as it is our list of cricket blogs, we’ll decide what gets allowed in and what doesn’t.
Given that Wisden has recently appointed Northamptonshire fan Booth as its new Editor from 2012, it would seem that we are in pretty good company in enjoying The Top Spin.
The “alternative cricket commentary” isn’t strictly speaking a blog (it would be in the top 2 for cricket commentaries though!), although it does contain the musings of Dan Norcross - Test Match Sofa’s very own answer to Jonathan Agnew – on the Sofa’s blog pages.
However, as we’ve written before Test Match Sofa actually saved our lives when we were desperately scrabbling around to hear commentary of the momentous Newlands Test of 2010, so it would be wrong not to include the Sofa here.
The popularity of the Sofa has soared since its inception in the 2009 Ashes series and we’re not surprised given that it is a worthy alternative to the more austere Test Match Special, which of course is practically an institution.
Unlike, some of the Sofa’s listeners, we’re also big fans of the ‘other TMS’ and the fact that we share our loyalty between the two is perhaps the biggest statement of our appreciation of the Sofa.
The blog itself, which although not updated quite as often as we would like, is just like Dan’s commentary – articulate, amusing, sometimes controversial and intrinsically English.
Not just strictly a cricket blog as football, golf and other sports also feature on Harris Sportsthoughts, the vehicle which Nick Harrison uses to vent his musings on the world of sport.
However, cricket features prominently and as Harrison writes in an amusing and innovative way the blog certainly finds its way onto this feature of our favourite cricket blogs.
Surrey’s attempt to sex-up T20 at The Oval drew this gem from Harrison:
“This misguided venture overlooks the fact cricket is not a sexy game and it is predominately followed by sexless men in slacks who smell of scotch eggs. Many of this ilk make up the membership of Surrey Cricket Club…”
We’re not sure if this is a blog or if it is a real-life version of Alan Tyers’s Crickileaks. The answer is probably a bit of both for WICB Exposé is without a shadow of a doubt a unique inclusion in our top 20 cricket blogs feature.
For if its claims are true, WICB Exposé is a window into the running and soul of the West Indies Cricket Board. The categories on the site are in alphabetical order: Abuse of Power, Corruption, Dirty Tricks, Financial Erosion, Hypocrisy, Mismanagement, Nepotism and the more mildly named but perhaps revealing Official Docs. As we said, not your average cricket blog.
The information it reveals is shocking but sadly no surprise given the very public incapability of the WICB to function as a fit and proper organisation – just ask Chris Gayle.
The best cricket blogs have you absorbed for hours when you first stumble upon them. WICB Exposé does that and a whole lot more.
Keep up the good work, whoever you are. The fate of Caribbean cricket may rest on your shoulders, sources and continued investigative powers.
It’s certainly one of the most original and amusing cricket blogs out there.
There is also a wonderfully altruistic nature too with The Alternative Cricket Almanack 2011 (buy it here), which features 29 articles by 20 different authors, packed with visceral humour and brutally honest opinion. All the proceeds go to a scholarship for underprivileged cricketers in Afghanistan.
All the more reason to check out the site and buy the book.
Follow the funs and goings on at Alternative Cricket on Twitter @AltCricket
Former Assistant Editor of Cricinfo, Will Luke started The Corridor (a cricket blog) way back in 2004, which (probably) makes it the oldest genuine cricket blog around. In other words, The Corridor is the W.G Grace of cricket blogs - the pioneer.
Although the number of posts have tailed off in recent times (otherwise The Corridor would be much higher in our list) even with the acquisition of excellent co-writer Rich Abbott, the quality is invariably high with the sometimes strong opinions carefully well argued.
Will announced in May that he was taking a ‘break’ from the site, which will be a great shame. However, given that only a while later he wrote an excellent post on Fire in Babylon, it may well be that The Corridor will be around for some time yet.
India are currently the big noises in cricket with the number one ranked Test side (although not for long!), the World Cup holders and that advertiser’s dream the IPL.
So it hardly surprising that with just the odd fan of cricket numbered amongst India’s considerably small population, there are probably more Indian authored cricket blogs than that of any other nation.
Our favourite by a country mile is Bored Cricket Crazy Indians, which takes a more satirical, succinct and less vehement/sycophantic/one-eyed (delete as appropriate) view than most other cricket blogs emanating from the sub-continent.
If we had been compiling this list of our 20 favourite cricket blogs a couple of months ago then Paddle Sweep – where cricket had been a stream of thought ever since we first stumbled upon it in 2009 - would certainly have featured amongst their number.
For Paddle Sweep, the future is unclear. There have only been a handful of posts since Ant and Warren left (well there had been when we wrote this at the end of June in any rate). However, for its continued excellence over the last few years, it deserves to share Wicket Maiden’s place in our top 20 for now.
Wicket Maiden (featuring more than just cricket) has made an excellent start and we continue to enjoy Ant’s pieces in particular. It’s just a shame that she supports Arsenal. Well, you can’t have everything can you?
The refuge sack is just where Australian cricket finds itself at the moment, which means that Thoughts from the Dustbin has plenty to complain and write about.
And it does so in an enjoyable and amusing way whilst disgracefully featuring Swann, Strauss and KP (okay you can have KP) on its Smack List.
The blog is updated regularly and although the focus is primarily on all things Australian (as we said, there is plenty to write about with the continued attempts of Cricket Australia to mirror the PCB and WICB in its idiocy), it’s a site we find ourselves visiting on a fairly regular basis.
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