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What AOC Learnt This Week

In a new regular column, Sam Stow uncovers some surprising truths hiding in cricket’s nooks and crannies.

They say knowledge is power, but if you can find a way to use any of the below information for a practical purpose I’m Keith Dutch’s uncle. Not that it matters, of course – today’s news is tomorrow’s fish and chip paper after all, and at least you’d get a cheap laugh or two if you wrapped your battered sausage in these column inches.

With this in mind, every Friday I’ll be sharing five light-hearted lessons I’ve learnt over the course of the week. They may not change your life, but hopefully they’ll put a smile on your face. Enjoy…

Lesson 1. The solution to spot fixing is a mystery
The minutes of the MCC World Cricket committee are seldom a hotbed of hilarity, but I couldn’t help but raise a smile this week when I read the MCC Anti-Corruption Working Party’s recommendations to the ICC’s Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU). Still with me? Number eight on the list of 10 reads: “8 – ‘Mystery shopper’ operations should be considered, preferably directed at somebody already suspected.” Who would have thought undercover retail therapy was the solution to stopping naughty cricketers bowling no-balls?

Lesson 2. Standing up to the stumps is still a stinker
It was more a case of the fog of war than the heat of battle in Dubai this week, with England’s pre-match preparations not the only thing to backfire in the face of Saeed Ajmal… or rather wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal. As this Hot Spot image shows, Ajmal’s myriad variations were far from the only breaking deliveries that Pakistan’s stumper had to deal with. I’m just glad they weren’t using DRS when Paula Radcliffe squatted down by the side of the road seven years ago.

Lesson 3. Seats at Old Trafford are cheaper than you think
As Lancashire’s elaborate re-development continues, local cricket clubs have been benefitting to the tune of hundreds of… old seats. Over 30 clubs have taken advantage of Lancashire’s laziness (I’m assuming they just couldn’t be bothered to go to the local tip) with Burscough Cricket Club, in West Lancashire, taking away 170 seats. What price on The Point turning up in Pontefract in the next five years?

Lesson 4. A wicket must be dry
Perth curator Cameron Sutherland found himself under the microscope this week when it emerged he had enjoyed a couple of beers on the WACA wicket the night before the third Test between Australia and India. They were captured on camera by an Indian television network relaxing on the strip, beers in hand. Graeme Wood, the WACA chief executive, explained the event and said at no stage was the surface in danger of damage: “It’s a traditional event. The groundstaff have put an enormous amount of work in at getting the wicket and the ground up to a magnificent state.” More interesting, however, was Sutherland’s own assessment, which hinted at a less than professional attitude to the groundsman’s noble art: “Up until the toss of the coin we can do anything we want to the wicket.”

Lesson 5. Batting’s a bit tougher than it looks
This week saw AOC’s intrepid editor Phil Walker head to the Lord’s nets to face some chin music from ‘demon quick’ Joe Denly. As you can see, Middlesex’s new signing clearly has pretensions as a tearaway quick, and our Phil (one minute in, if you’re wondering) isn’t quite the force he was back in his Essex U16s days. Before Phil drags me over the coals, I’ll hasten to add that we’ll soon be posting a slightly longer video, during which our glorious leader makes slightly more meaningful contact with the little red spherical thing.

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