The Evolution of Fielding

Fielding has changed massively in cricket over the years, due to a wide variety of reasons. But here’s the main one. T20 cricket.

The introduction of T20 cricket, and the subsequent creativity of batsmen such as Tillakaratne Dilshan with his infamous ‘Dilscoop’ shot, and the aggression which has emerged from that into all forms of the game, by those like Virender Sehwag (Who has an impressive test match career strike rate of 82.23) has forced the bowling sides to think about how they can stem the flow of runs from the other end.

Dilshan executing his famous ‘Dilscoop’ shot.

Bowlers have long been proficient at all variations of slower balls, cutters and yorkers and death bowlers such as Lasith ‘Slinger’ Malinga and Dale Steyn are dangerous game changers, but there’s been nothing new to see for a while.

So, the bowlers aren’t doing anything new. The batsmen are getting more aggressive and more creative. There’s only one area where there’s room for improvement. In the field.

Sure the tactics have changed, but I’m not going to bore you with the details. The most notable difference for me, is actually the desire, teamwork and creativity that fielders now show. The desire Andrew Strauss showed to take this famous slip catch off Adam Gilchrist is a primary example of this. In the picture it seems as if he is virtually flying! An incredible catch.

Former England captain Andrew Strauss in mid air catching Adam Gilchrist from the bowling of Andrew Flintoff, at Trent Bridge in 2005.

Also consider, how 20 years ago a well timed ball goes flying past someone in the covers, and they wouldn’t hunt it down to see if they could save the boundary. Now, in all forms of the game, we see fielders hunt in twos. One chases it down, while another from a nearby position follows in anticipation of their team-mate diving, and sliding the ball back to them, all before making contact with the boundary rope.

Now here comes the creativity. The Natwest T20 Blast has seen the emergence of two incredible catches, both from Yorkshire duo Aaron Finch and Adam Lyth. The first of the two, is this one in the War of the Roses. Lancashire were flying on 68-1 off 6.5 overs, and then this happens.

And, then when you thought it couldn’t get much better, they produce an even more impressive carbon copy against Leicestershire later on in the tournament.

The phrase “catches win matches” has always been true. But with T20 matches often coming down to the last ball, teams are recognising just how much of significant difference fielding and creative catching can make in counteracting aggressive batting, and the knowledge and skills for this, is transferring into all forms of the game. The prospect of seeing catches like Finch & Lyth’s common place in cricket is exciting. Whatever next!?

To My Parents…

Today is apparently 3 years since I started up this blog. So on my 3 year anniversary I figured it was an appropriate time to post this little tribute to two very wonderful people…

To the Mum that gave up work so she could be at home with me full-time.

To the Dad that constantly went in early and stayed late at the office give us all a better life. (And he still does).

To the Mum that took me to feed the ducks in the park and go on the swings most weeks.

To the Dad who would help me make model cars and aeroplanes while listening to Spurs on Radio 5 Live on a rainy afternoon. (Some of my fondest memories with him).

To the Mum who spent hours making me a Thunderbirds’ Tracey Island out of paper mache for Christmas, as we couldn’t afford one from the shops.

To the Dad who would take me down the park to play cricket with me in the summer after a hard day’s work.

To the Mum who prayed with me when I felt I had no friends.

To the Dad who helped me prepare for my interview for the Saturday job I had.

To the Mum who drove me to my University open days, and asked questions and made notes.

To the Dad who advises me on workplace issues(!).

To the Mum who loves me no matter what.

To the Dad who loves me no matter what.

You are both my friends and my inspiration. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do for me. Love you lots xx

Why Do People Watch Britain’s Got Talent!?

ITV’s popular talent show is now in it’s eighth series, and amassed an impressive 10.5 million viewers in the first set of auditions two weekends ago.

I always tell myself after the end of one series, that I won’t watch the next one – especially not the cringe-worthy auditions including owls that seemingly can’t even rotate their heads 360 degrees, singers that could bring down The Shard with a solitary note, and people trying to break the world record for the most Ferrero Rochers they can eat in one minute.

In the second set of this series’ auditions – which I somehow found myself completely consciously seeking out on ITV Player – they showed us a string of awful magicians, attempting run-of-the-mill tricks your 5 year old could do with the help of a Paul Daniels kit. Any seasoned viewer of BGT could tell you what was coming next: an amazing magician. Just the way ITV like to play it; they build up the frustration of viewers to tipping point and then in comes a really fabulous act to seemingly ‘save the day’.

Another thing they love to do, is give everyone a story. Most recently, impressive opera singer Lucy Kay came on stage to reveal that she had been bullied and therefore had moved across the country due to that. It is of course, terribly sad to hear that someone has been bullied, but how much ITV like to embellish some of the stories, I and many others remain to be cynical about.

Though fantastic the aforementioned magician was, British, he was not. And neither were last year’s winners, Attraction. Yet another controversial topic surrounding BGT and it’s applicants for viewers far and wide to discuss.

So, why do we watch it then!?

I’m reminded of the famous 5 minutes when Scot Susan Boyle strutted out on stage, hand on hip to sarcastic wolf whistles. She confidently introduces herself, and manages to ‘surprise’ everyone with an enthusiastic, if a little out of place, roll of her hips.

Simon questions her, and finds she is unemployed, but wants to be a professional singer – and as successful as Elaine Paige. The crowd stifle their sniggers. Everyone is against her. No one believes she’ll be any good (Their opinions solely based on her appearance, and a two minute interaction with the judging panel remember). Cowell looks bored before the music has even begun. And surely to top it all off, she’s singing I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables – a big song.

But she opens her mouth, sings and wow. Just wow. A powerful moment, not just because she’s so good, but the whole nation feel bad for having judged Susan based entirely on her appearance and a snippet of her personality. We momentarily learn a vital life lesson – only to unlearn it before the start of the next audition.

It’s moments like that, which I suspect keeps a considerable amount of viewers who are frustrated and bored of all the things (and more) listed in my rant above, watching BGT. We say we won’t and that we’re not interested, yet we are unwittingly drawn back to watching each set of auditions for moments like that.

And that, is why millions of people watch BGT.

Interested in Football?

If you’re interested in football, and are after some alternative thoughts on the sport, go follow my friend Christian’s blog, entitled ‘Against the Run of Play’. He’s a third year sports journalism student I know, looking to get his name out there. He’s an entertaining writer with an obvious good knowledge of football. Click here to go follow him! 

With me, there’s not much going on at the moment, and so nothing to write about unfortunately – but please keep watching this space. 

Cheers

Joel

Say Farewell to Facebook in 2014

A new year dawns on us soon, a time when many choose one or two resolutions for the New Year. While Facebook (and other social media) continues to strive to make our lives more convenient and more interactive, maybe it’s time for a more simplistic approach to life and relationships? Several months ago, I left Facebook – and I really don’t miss it. Here’s just a few reasons why you should make leaving Facebook a resolution for 2014.

1) Time
Facebook is one of the ultimate time-eaters. Minutes whiz by without us noticing and there’s always something to read, meaning we constantly have it open on a separate tab – even if we’re supposed to be doing something more important. Facebook wastes time, making simple but important tasks take longer, and yet the time we have spent on the much-used social networking site hasn’t added anything significant to us, apart from news about the latest family dispute a few doors down and the odd bad joke.

Maybe we could do something with our time that is productive, something that grows and develops us – an e-learning course if we must be on the computer, or what about just spending time with our loved ones? Once time is gone, we can’t retrieve it. Why spend it on Facebook? (Or come to think of it, writing blogs…)

2) Unnecessary attention seeking
If we peruse over the statuses we have posted, and are completely honest with ourselves, we can evaluate how ‘necessary’ the update was. People don’t really need to know what you’re eating for dinner or where you’re eating it, do they? And however humble you attempt to be about your latest ‘A’ grade, lets be real; there’s always an element of boastfulness.

When it boils down to it, the vast majority of updates are to gain attention. It’s normal that we long to be in the attention of others and we crave their acceptance – and Facebook is just another outworking of that. But it’s not really an outworking that we need, and it certainly promotes an unattractive, but albeit natural, side to human nature. Facebook is basically just unnecessary attention seeking.

3) Repetitive!
With the majority of us partaking in this attention seeking status behaviour, inevitably a culture of repetitiveness is created. If it’s not one person’s Sunday roast, then it’s someone else’s full English. If one person isn’t having a hard time, there’s bound to be another person who is willing to tell you all about it, so you end up scrolling through the News Feed, reading the same content, from different people – how boring.

4) Real Friendships?
Take a flick through your Facebook ‘friends’. How many of them do you value as true friends? How many of them would be there for you in a crisis? Certainly when I flicked through my little over 200 friends before my departure, it dawned that very few were true friends of mine who I know value me just as much as I do them.

Facebook isn’t really the place to make or maintain friendships. The people who really care about you, will be happy to make other arrangements to contact you. And if anything, Facebook is far more well-known for breaking down relationships than it is building them.

5) Privacy
There has been much controversy and concern over Facebook’s ever evolving privacy policy, which no one can be bothered to read, but each Facebook user is essentially just a set of data to Zuckerberg et al. Adverts are now targeted to what pages you are connected with and the boffins based in California can see everything about you.

Criminals have been known to use Facebook too – whether it’s to groom a young teenager or just find out when you’re off on a summer holiday so they can break into your house, you’d be surprised what they can find out with some very simple software.

6) Be different
1.11 billion people are on Facebook as of March 2013. So you’ll probably cause more of a reaction to say that you’re not on Facebook, than if you are. And people might just have to take your mobile number, landline or email address in order to get hold of you *gasp* – how freakishly old-fashioned.

7) Remain professional
The less information about you that is on the internet, the better when it comes to work. Potential employers often search applicants on Facebook to see what they’re really like, but if you’re not on it, you can’t be found. Simple.

So I’ve got you convinced, right? I speak from personal experience when I say life is better without. I also know several others who have never signed up to Facebook. They report they don’t feel left out, and would never consider joining even at this late stage.

Live 2014 without Facebook tying you to the keyboard and gluing your eyes to the screen. All you have to do now is go and deactivate. You know you want to.

Gareth Bale, or…?

Gareth Bale: £85.3M

OR…

2000 newly qualified staff nurses
500 speciality doctors
420 paramedics
200 consultants
All employed for a year

OR…

6000 community water projects in Africa (Serving up to roughly 500 people each)
and
2225 projects to provide water for a school or medical centre in Africa

OR…

Building 10,662 classrooms
and
Sending 110,721 children to school for a year in Ethiopia

OR…

22,155,844 insecticidal Malaria nets, reducing the episodes of illness by up to 50%. (Malaria kills one child every second)

Just some examples of what could be done with the money Real Madrid have just spent on one player. It’s ludicrous.

Sources:
NHS Careers pay rates
The Water Project
Building Schools For Africa
UNICEF Malaria Factsheet

University Survival: Kit List (Part 2)

Here is a standard kit list for a student heading off to university.

Study, stationary and similar
Laptop/Computer and accessories
One accessory I found useful is something like this. It’s powered by the USB port of your laptop and keeps your cuppa warm while you’re engrossed in an assignment!
USB stick
Get a Dropbox account to back-up your uni work online – for free! It’s also good for sharing files, either photos of your adventures with parents or group work with uni peers
Academic diary
Desk items e.g. pen pots, paper trays, photos of friends and family etc
Plastic wallets and lever arch files or similar method of paper storage
Post-it notes (Plenty of them!)
Biros, highlighters and coloured pens
Calculator
Notebooks – your choice what size
Sellotape
Printer
Any textbooks you have already bought, or from previous study which may be useful
Folder with your bank information and passport, birth certificate, national insurance number card, NHS number, driving licence – paper and card, confirmation letter from your university confirming your place
SHARPIE PERMANENT MARKER TO NAME YOUR STUFF

Personal Items
Clothes, nightwear, shoes, coats
Slippers (Hard kitchen floors in halls or shared accomodation will make your socks filthy!)
Handbags/rucksacks etc
Toiletries
Alarm Clock/Radio
Sewing kit (In case you lose a button on a shirt)
Shoe cleaning stuff
Instrument(s) you play (If you’re unlucky like me and play drums, you won’t be able to take much, if any, of it with you!)

Homeware
Pop-up laundry bin and laundry bag (Pound shops are great for these)
Bath mat
Mattress protector
Duvet, pillows and 2 sets of covers/sheets etc
Bath towel
Hand towel
Waste paper bin (If not already supplied)
Desk/bedside light
Electric blanket
Mini electric heater (Halls heating can be dodgy)
Clothes airer
Ironing board and iron
Clothes hangers (Many Halls provide a rail, but no hangers themselves)
Doorwedges (Halls doors are fire doors and so close automatically. A doorstop will mean you can prop your door open in the first few weeks and invite your new flatmates in for a chat!)
Extension lead (Not a massive one, but perhaps a little 1m one like this)

Kitchen
Tupperware storage tubs (That are suitable for freezer)
Cling film or foil (For your sarnis!)
Flask
Biscuit tin
Lunchbox
Mixing bowl
Measuring jug
Measuring spoons
Kitchen scales
Colander
Tin opener
Kitchen bin bags
Kettle
Toaster
2 Saucepans of different sizes
1 frying pan
1 wok style pan (Optional – good for stir-frying meat and adding sauces etc)
Kitchen utensils (Wooden spoon, scissors, spatulas, plastic spoon, vegetable knife, cheese grater)
Sieve
You can buy ‘kitchen starter’ sets from places like Argos which are cheap and great for students
Mugs
Drinking glasses
Dinner plates
Side plates
Bowls
Student Cookbook. (I have this one)
Food blender (Good for milkshakes, smoothies and soup)
Oven gloves
Tea towels
FOOD (Take tinned and packet food etc with you so you only need to buy fresh stuff when you get there)
Washing up liquid and scrubbers!
Kitchen roll

Cleaning items
Kitchen cleaner
Bathroom cleaner
Bleach
Duster
Spray polish
Oven Cleaner
Dettol spray
2 sets of yellow gloves. (1 for bathroom, 1 for kitchen)
Cleaning cloths
Bathroom cleaning wipes
Toilet brush (May be supplied already)
Laundry liquid and ‘ball’ (Most industrial washing machines like the ones you’ll find in Halls don’t have a drawer where you put the liquid in)

Medical
Ibuprofen
Paracetamol
Antiseptic cream
Box of plasters
Lemsip or similar
Dioralyte or other oral electroyte powder
Anti-diarrhoea tablets
Throat pastels
Muscular heat rub
Bandage(s)

Other
Collapsible boxes (Like these)

Supermarket homeware departments and pound shops are great for many of these items – shop around. Don’t spend too much on the stuff, because you can’t be too precious over stuff if you’re living in shared accommodation. This is a humungous list but I hope it helps you!

Thanks

Joel