Damn good game of cricket on show in Bangladesh over the past few days, don’t know if you noticed? The first test in Chittagong, nice town, Bangladesh versus England of course. The usually easily rolled over Bangladeshis performed very well and with a little bit more belief could have beaten England for the first time. They didn’t of course, and largely due in the end to Durham’s own, Ben Stokes. Talk about mixed feelings. There was I very disgruntled with the English cricket establishment after their treatment of Durham and happy to see England’s posh boys get embarrassed, when one of the Durham lads pulls the assorted southern softies out of the proverbial fertiliser. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Still, look on the practical side I says, and see if this can be turned to one's advantage. And yes, I believe it can. It is my considered opinion that in the upcoming series against India England will get well and truly trounced, and the English punter being the misguided fool he so often is, and prepared to back England no matter what, this will present a number and ongoing range of excellent betting opportunities. Lump on the Indians, as John Wayne used to say. You heard it here, don’t come crying to me.
Enough of the summer game, how goes things in the real thing? Well, we seem to be going fairly well, give or take the odd upset, in the home of real football, the Northern League. Either way we don’t win or lose by many, tight games in nearly every case. But not so all round the league. There seems to be a startling rise in the number of out and out tonkings, with sides putting seven, eight or even eleven past teams, which doesn’t reflect well on things overall in my view. It used to be an occasional phenomenon at the end of the season, with teams with nothing to play for putting out weakened sides and paying the penalty, but not in the first few months of the season. What can be causing it? The quality gap between the second division and the first which has often been commented on in previous years seems to have migrated north to somewhere in the middle of the first division. No doubt money is at the root of it, but very one sided affairs are not good for the image of the league. Let's hope it rights itself before too long. It don’t seem to apply to the Ryhope Raggy lads anyway. With classic perversity we get decent results against the top teams then trip up against the also rans. It's better than being predictable, I suppose.
In the wider football world the FA are launching a campaign to improve facilities at grass roots level. They must have just noticed. Seems we are to have “hubs” in all the major towns and cities across the land, with lots of pitches, where everyone can play on 3G, have hot showers and a decent bog. Sounds a bit Soviet to me, I hope they keep it out of the hands of local authorities, we all know how that will end. Still, at least it is an effort, and a start at last. I hear we have somewhere around 700 3G pitches in this country, while the Germans have 6,000, and better beer. It's a way to go lads.