To celebrate the recent publication of our 100th issue, AOC staffers and contributors put their heads together and came up with list of the hundred things that made our century what it was (starting May 2004). In no particular order, here is the second 10 of our ton.
Shiv Spins Right Round
The willowy Guyanese has probably never been compared to Ronnie Sarwan let alone Ronnie O’Sullivan, but just like Chigwell’s finest, Shivnarine Chanderpaul has made a career, and a prolific one at that, of subverting the rules of engagement. While the Rocket’s charm lies in his ability to pick off an opponent with whatever limb takes his fancy, Shiv’s own ‘switch hitting’ has been a year-on-year departure from orthodoxy that has transformed his technique from classical to French. These days, no one knows – least of all Shiv – whether he’s left or right-handed. Sam Stow
Why we love it: A two-fingered salute to orthodoxy.
The Rise Of The Blogger
The mass panic in the Edgbaston press box during the ’09 Ashes was not caused by anything on field, but by something online. Phil Hughes (actually it was Hughes’ agent’s IT consultant) told the world that he had been dropped on Twitter. A few of the hacks were well ahead of the story and had already blogged on it for their papers, others were heard saying ‘What is a Twitter?’
Cricket reporting had changed. Whether you are Gideon Haigh or a blogger called ‘Are you a left-arm Chinaman?’, your thoughts can be read online in an instant by anyone in the world. It has opened up journalism and writing. In the case of Jon Hotten, from the Old Batsman blog, we’ve been given one of the best cricket writers on earth because of this medium. Through Pitch Invasion and Test Match Sofa we now have alternatives to the corporate-friendly commentary systems. And podcasts give anyone the chance to host their own radio show.
That doesn’t mean blogs, podcasts, forums and Twitter don’t also have a dark side. Cricket forums have bile-inducing, vitriolic attacks on players, umpires, coaches, administrators and the media. If you’re a player who has had a bad game, the worst thing you can do is search your name on Twitter after it. Blogs can be just as unfair.
The internet is like a big cricket-themed bar. There will be people you avoid, people you hate and people who abuse you. But if you use it right, you can sit in your corner with friends, while eavesdropping on other conversations. It’s the best way to enjoy the cricket, other than being there, and if you are there, you can still tweet about how damn sexy Gary Wilson looks in fluro yellow. Jarrod Kimber
Why we love it: Power to the people.
The Slow-Ball Bouncer
A new addition to the fast bowler’s armoury; a short-ball delivered with not as much force, but just as much intent, with maybe a hint of tweak, which either finds its way to the boundary or into the hands of a fielder. Vithushan Ehantharajah
Why we love it: The acceptable long-hop.
Third Man On Sky Sports
Third Man is a tough gig. The producer isn’t spoon-feeding the pundit info to work with. Far from it. Whether it’s Athers, Nass or Bumble in the hot-seat, they’re effectively director of their own mini-show, calling up archive footage to compare barely detectable nuances in a batsman’s technique, and presenting their findings in an informative and, at times (Bumble), hilarious way. Jo Harman
Why we love it: Knowledge is power.
Winning At The Wanderers
After a Marcus Trescothick batting masterclass, Matthew Hoggard bowls out the Proteas with his own Magnificent Seven-fer to put them on course for a series win in 2004/05. It showed exactly what Michael Vaughan’s team would be capable of. Andy Afford
Why we love it: Tres and Hoggy put England in Wander- land.
Sulieman Benn’s Flares
At 6ft 7in Sulieman Benn was always going to have sizeable strides, but few of us expected them to be on his legs. On Warne’s stumpy pins, the bootleg look only serves to add more suet to the dumpling, but when the lofty left-armer lolloped onto the international scene in 2008 with a couple of sails round his ankles, he looked seriously cool. Sam Stow
Why why love it: Travolta without the Scientology.
Netherland By Joseph O’Neill
An assessment of post 9/11 New York through the prism of cricket and the American Dream. O’Neill uses cricket more as a tool than as the actual focus of his superb novel but anything that allows pulls, hooks and drives to find their way into the New York Times must be pretty impressive. The exploration of ‘bush cricket’ in America goes some way to showing what makes the sport quite so special. Henry Cowen
Why we love it: It isn’t a whimsical look at village cricket.
Penguins Stopped Play By Harry Thompson
One of the best books about cricket ever written, this story of the Captain Scott Invitation XI’s attempt to play cricket on all seven continents is charming, funny and reassuringly eccentric. Given added poignancy by the author’s tragic death shortly after completing the book, the afterword by his wife stays with you longer than any Blackadder Goes Forth finale. James Holland
Why we love it: It’s about the team you’d love to play for.
Bar the gradual decline of racism, the DRS has been cricket’s most vital development in my lifetime. It’s improved umpiring, heightened drama, encouraged spinners and imperilled pad-play – what’s not to like? Sadly, it has also come to symbolise the tyranny of the BCCI. Happily, the umpires seem to be conspiring to win them round. Rob Steen
Why we love it: There are fewer wrong decisions than ever before, and you can’t say fairer than that.
Lily Allen’s Crush On Graham Onions
Graham Onions was the subject of some unlikely attention when, during the 2009 Ashes, pop pixy Lily Allen announced on TMS that she thought he was a bit of a hunk. Her initial crush was on Freddy Flintoff before – in a move that is rumoured to have pre-empted Team England’s switch to four bowlers – she switched her allegiance to the hirsute Durham man. “She’s obviously not seen me in real life,” responded Onions. Henry Cowen
Why we love it: You’ve got to love an underdog story.
Stay tuned for the rest of the gear, gizmos, gaffes and spine-tingling moments that made our century what it was.