The Light Roller: This one-day series needs some sparkle

Diary of a cricket obsessive

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The Independent Online

ODIs ought to be appetisers, not after-dinner mints

Jason Gillespie reckons Mitchell Johnson could play a leading role in this winter's Ashes.

That, it seems, is the big news going into the third one-day international at Edgbaston tomorrow, which rather suggests the level of excitement is as low as Johnson's arm at the point of delivery.

It is hugely difficult to engage with a one-day series when it comes hot on the heels of a highly-anticipated Ashes. And while everyone can be thankful that we're only in for five games (well, maybe four), rather than the seven of 2009, the glorious summer of 2005 showed how ODIs can whet the appetite if played at the right time.

50-over games do have the capacity to provide enormous entertainment in their own right. But this series - played between one team happy to rest its stars and another desperate to convince itself it has a decent stock of bowling resources - feels like a rather desultory affair so far.  Let's hope for an upturn in Birmingham.


Neutrals will be rooting for Simon Jones and Glamorgan at Lords next week

Somerset's pummelling by Nottinghamshire in last night's second YB40 semi-final means we won't see Marcus Trescothick take on Simon Jones in the Lords finale on 21 September.

Trescothick has had a poor season, as have his county. But it's hard to imagine he won't continue in 2014.  For Jones, whose career has been so blighted by injury, the final may be a last chance for cup glory since he is out of contract this year. Assuming he plays, he will have many a neutral on his side.

But Notts are very firm favourites. Broad, Swann, Lumb, Hales, Taylor, Patel and Read can provide oodles of class and experience. But yesterday, they were set on the path to victory by the youthful Jake Ball, who took a career best 4-25. 

And when the YB40's done, he and Uncle Bruce (French) can move on with the more important matter of putting together an uncles and nephews XI to take on a best of father and sons XI.


No rest for the Bickers

They say you never lose it. (Some say you never had it, notes Mrs T.L. Roller sagely.)

But at the age of 46, most professional cricketers have thought better of it, turning either to the Garrick-esque comfort of the Sky Sports commentary box or the bosoms of Bruce and Tess for a season of Stricly Come Dancing.

So a serious nod must be made in the direction Darren Bicknell, who is currently turning out for Cambridgeshire in the final of the Minor Counties Championship against Cheshire. With a first class century for each year of his life, it is moderately perplexing that Bicknell never opened the batting for England. Most others of his generation did.

Sadly, the winds that sweep uninterrupted from the Russian steppes to the East Anglian fens have made Wisbech and its environs no country for old men. Bicknell's 1 out of a total of 296 means Cambs have it all to do in the second innings.


Everything is not alright, up on the roof

I have a (previously) private theory that the paucity of great English spinners in the late '80s and '90s coincided with ever-lower roofs on outdoor nets.

The days of open-topped practice facilities, when admittedly a young twirler risked being belted back over his head for miles, were lost, to be replaced with closed nets which, as often as not, impeded a perfectly flghted googly before its trajectory had even in earnest begun. 

I was reminded of this hypothesis when walking past a net with my daughter last week and, seeing a stray ball, decided she might like to see a bit of the old magic. Sure enough, after a hop, skip, jump and a roll of the wrist, the ball pinged off the first strut of the net's roof, almost careering into my child's startled face.

'Would have pitched on a length,' I muttered, wondering again what might have been.