On the Front Foot: Middlesex are caught in the middle of a right muddle

There is something faintly ridiculous about the Twenty20 Champions League.

It is silly, for instance, that England have only one representative – Middlesex, for whom the worst can be feared when the tournament starts in Bangalore next month. Sooner or later it is to be expected that the Board of Control for Cricket in India and the England and Wales Cricket Board – the former having utterly outflanked the latter in the league's formation – will kiss and make up. They need each other. But there are other unsatisfactory aspects to the competition that reflect the worryingly unstructured nature of the T20 competitions being formed hither and thither. Take, for instance, Albie Morkel, a player any T20 side would want – and whom indeed many have had. In theChampions League, Morkel will represent his home side, Nashua Titans, based near Johannesburg. But Morkel has also played for Chennai Super Kings of the Indian Premier League. So on 7 December, Morkel will play for Titans against the team for whom he scored 241 runs and took 16 wickets, and will again represent in the IPL next year.Mike Hussey has decided against playing for his home team, Western Australia Warriors, and will instead play for Chennai on the grounds that he has never played a T20 match for the Warriors. But he will still have to play his hometown colleagues should both teams reach the semi-finals. Dirk Nannes, however, has electedto play for Victoria Bushrangers despite playing an instrumental role in Middlesex's triumph in England. And they said T20 was the simplest form of the game.

On-song Singh breaks records

England will play their 500th one-day international tomorrow. This cannot be worse, presumably, than their 499th on Friday, which they lost by 158 runs, the fourth heaviest of their 105 defeats when batting second. The resplendent innings of Yuvraj Singh (pictured) was the most effective ever played against England in terms of its sustained assault. Of the 77 hundreds against them it was the most rapid – 138 not out off 78 balls at a strike rate of 176.92. This beat two innings in 2006 – 159 by Sanath Jayasuriya off 99 balls, a strike rate of 153.54, and pushed a knock of 103 from 76 balls from a certain Yuvraj Singh at Margao earlier that year into third place. And never before had three England bowlers conceded more than 70 runs in the same match, Stuart Broad and Stephen Harmison both doing so for the fourth time. Oh! Happy Rajkot days.

Time to be clean as a whistle

Splendid to note that Martin Bodenham has been elevated to the list of first-class umpires next season. At 58, and not having played at the top level of the game, he has broken two taboos: the ideas that you have to be young and also to have played professionally. It also makes him the first (and probably the last) of the sporting official all-rounders: he used to be a Football League referee, and took charge of one League Cup final and two FA Cup semi-finals. While it is feared that misbehaviour on the cricket field is growing, players would be well advised to avoid crossing Bodenham. He once sent off both Vinnie Jones and, while he was being carried off on a stretcher for the tackle which had preceded it, the now Sunderland manager Roy Keane.

At last, a double-edged sword

Not before time, a double-sided bat has been developed in Australia by one Stuart Kranzbuhler. It is still in its prototype stages, which leaves plenty of time for both the MCC and the ICC to ban it. You will not be surprised to hear that its designers expect it to have a big future in T20.


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