Andy Bull

Author's details

Name: Andy Bull
Date registered: October 8, 2014

Latest posts

  1. Jason Holder plots an easier path as West Indies do it the hard way — August 27, 2017
  2. West Indies players and fans alike left out in the cold and horribly exposed | Andy Bull — August 21, 2017
  3. Adam Peaty: patriot, performer, and the best breaststroker in history — July 29, 2017
  4. All Blacks defeats are so rare they make it their duty to learn from them | Andy Bull — July 2, 2017
  5. Jos Buttler encapsulates England’s braveheart approach to risk-taking | Andy Bull — June 13, 2017

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Aug 27

Jason Holder plots an easier path as West Indies do it the hard way

Tourists’ admirable captain held things together with bat and ball on the third day at Headingley and has given his side a chance of victory in the second Test

Jason Holder was running late on Sunday morning, caught short, like everyone else, by the startling start to the day’s play. Jimmy Anderson dismissed Shai Hope with the first ball and Shane Dowrich with the second. Hope left with his head high and his bat raised, Dowrich went eyes down, like sad Charlie Brown. Then there was a short pause, probably while Holder was scrambling to get his pads on. By the time he made it to the middle, Anderson was waiting at the end of his run and England’s eager fielders were gathered close around, five slips, a gully, a short-leg, a short mid-on. The Test was alive again, the innings back in the balance.

Holder has sounded a little sorry for himself in these last few days. “It’s not an easy job,” he said right after the first Test. “It’s not easy,” he said again just before the second, “But I enjoy it. I don’t think I would shy away from it, I don’t think I would ever give it up.” He said that he needed to “put my hand up”. And now, after all that glorious batting by Hope and Kraigg Brathwaite, the game was already beginning to slip away. West Indies had three wickets left and were only 71 runs in front. It was not enough, nothing like. And here came Anderson, bowling irresistibly well.

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Aug 21

West Indies players and fans alike left out in the cold and horribly exposed | Andy Bull

Windies supporters seem to have all but given up on their losing team after the salad days of the last century

When England defeated West Indies in the summer of 2000 the English public were so keen to see them play that the groundstaff at The Oval had to lock 5,000 people out of the ground on the last day of the Test. There were just not enough seats to go round. West Indies have not won a Test in England since. And while play was winding down in the first Test last Saturday evening, the groundstaff at Edgbaston had to open the gates to let at least as many fans back out of the ground. The game was not over but it was late, people wanted to catch the bus or beat the rush and, besides, the cricket was hardly worth stopping to watch. The only thing left to see was England dot the i’s and cross the t in fait accompli.

Ten years ago a film crew went to Barbados. They were working on a documentary about West Indian cricket, famous now, Fire in Babylon. They wanted an extra to shoot some action scenes, a bowler, someone who looked the part. One of their interviewees, the Calypso singer Mighty Gabby, knew just whom they should use. The boy of a good friend of his, a 15-year-old kid called Jason Holder.

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Jul 29

Adam Peaty: patriot, performer, and the best breaststroker in history

Initially, the British swimmer didn’t want to give up the things other teenagers take for granted. Then he caught the Olympic bug

While you’re on the way to work, Adam Peaty is already in the pool. While you’re eating lunch, he’s in the gym. When you’re getting ready to leave, he’s back in the pool again. And while you’re winding down at night, he’s already asleep.

Peaty gets up at 6am to train, completing three two-hour sessions a day, six days a week. Then he’s in bed each night by 9pm. “To be embraced and sustained by the light green water was less a pleasure,” wrote John Cheever in his famous short story, The Swimmer, “than the resumption of a natural condition.” In peak training, Peaty, 22, will swim seven miles a day, every day but Sunday. That’s 1,680 lengths a week, up and down the same lanes. Why? He says it’s because deep down he knows he’s no good at anything else.

Related: ‘He’s our hero’: Adam Peaty’s swimming club celebrates his success

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Jul 02

All Blacks defeats are so rare they make it their duty to learn from them | Andy Bull

The days of New Zealand going into mourning after any defeat are over – they see it as a chance for their team to grow and to come back stronger

Twenty-three All Blacks woke with the strangest feelings on Sunday morning. It was not their aching bodies, the sprains, strains, and bruises, stiff shoulders, throbbing legs, sore chests – all that was familiar enough. They expect nothing less after a Test. But another, more novel, sensation, altogether more painful. Defeat.

Their captain, Kieran Read, is about to play his 100th game. In the past 99, he has experienced this 11 times. His mate Sam Whitelock, who has won more caps at lock than any other All Black, has lost seven. Beauden Barrett, who just won his 50th cap, four. On Sunday we asked their loosehead prop Wyatt Crockett how many Tests he had lost. “Two,” he said, quick as a shot. Crockett has played 61 games.

Related: Lions must beware vengeful All Blacks and their own ill-discipline in decider | Robert Kitson

Related: ‘I am a happy clown this week,’ says Gatland after Lions beat All Blacks

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Jun 13

Jos Buttler encapsulates England’s braveheart approach to risk-taking | Andy Bull

England’s batsmen now know they are allowed to fail and are protected from the old culture that saw them pilloried for playing the reverse sweep

The ball was just fine. The speed gun clocked it at 89mph, which made it one of the quickest the left-armer Trent Boult would bowl all day. It landed short, in line with leg stump, and, delivered from over the wicket, shot on towards the top of off. Only this time, just fine wasn’t good enough. Jos Buttler was on strike and before Boult had even released the ball he had begun to move his right leg square across his stumps, switch his grip, and bring the bat down and around to lift the ball over his left shoulder and away above the head of the wicketkeeper. Buttler turned to watch it fly, with the wind, up over the sightscreen and into the gantry, where a startled cameraman had to turn and stoop to fetch it and toss it back down below.

Related: Mark Wood enjoying making the difference for England in Champions Trophy

Related: The Recap: sign up for the best of the Guardian’s sport coverage

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Jun 04

Paranoia, infighting and Alastair Campbell: the 2005 Lions tour from hell | Andy Bull

Whitewashed, battered and humiliated, Clive Woodward’s men left New Zealand with their reputations tarnished – and their anger burned for many years to come

In the spring of 2005, the first postcards arrived. “They’ll be ready,” the cards read, “are you?” Soon after, wristbands came, sent by special delivery. They had “Power of Four” written on them, which, it turned out, was the official motto of the 2005 British & Irish Lions tour. It was all part of Clive Woodward’s grand plan. Woodward had spent 12 months scheming and made “no apologies for believing this is the best-prepared tour in the history of Lions rugby”.

Related: It’s not arrogance but New Zealanders are expecting a 10-0 sweep of the Lions | Nick Evans

Related: Lions race for No10 under way as Sexton, Farrell and Biggar audition for top job | Robert Kitson

Related: Jonny Wilkinson warns Lions to keep things simple or risk chaos of 2005

Related: Lions 2017 squad: player-by-player guide – interactive

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May 25

Ben Stokes set for scan after injury scare against South Africa

• All-rounder injured left knee in victory against South Africa
• India captain Virat Kohli identifies England as Champions Trophy threat

Ben Stokes has given England an injury scare with less than a week to go until the Champions Trophy, and is due to have a scan on his left knee on Thursday night.

The all-rounder was injured during Wednesday’s ODI win over South Africa and though he returned to the field, he did not bowl again and appeared uncomfortable at the conclusion.

Related: Doug Bracewell blames killing of pet cockatoo by dogs for drink-driving

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May 24

Steve Smith allays fears of Ashes boycott but backs union against board

• Australia captain says: ‘We certainly want to be playing in the Ashes’
• Australian Cricketers’ Association negotiations deadlocked

Steve Smith has stressed he and his Australia team-mates are “sticking really strongly together” in the dispute between Cricket Australia and their union, the Australian Cricketers’ Association.

After a training session at Lord’s, where his team are preparing for their first Champions Trophy warm-up game against Sri Lanka at The Oval on Friday, the captain spoke publicly for the first time to say the Australia players are “backing what the ACA is doing back home”. But he played down the opener David Warner’s suggestion there could be a strike unless the board agrees to meet some of the union’s demands.

Related: Picket fences or picket lines: is an Ashes strike really likely to happen? | Sam Perry

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May 16

Misbah and Younis did more than serve Pakistan – they served cricket

One of the great Test partnerships has ended with the retirement of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan, who carried Pakistan through their darkest years

Some retirements leave you feeling older all of a sudden, as if time has just moved on in a leap. There were two such on Sunday night. Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan played their final games, a Test against West Indies at Windsor Park in Dominica.

Related: David Warner’s Ashes power play strikes blow for players left behind | Vic Marks

Related: Sign up to the Spin

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Apr 18

Cricket’s slow-burn satisfaction nods to the notion faster isn’t always better | The Spin

Nothing in sport matches sitting in a sparse crowd like a content pigeon savouring the rhythm of the day. It’s like a secret only a few know about

Sometime around a quarter to 12, Mark Stoneman lunged out towards Steve Parry, missed the ball, and was stumped by Alex Davies. Surrey were 66 for two then, and still 85 runs behind. “C’mon lads,” said one of the fielders, his voice ringing out loud around the largely empty ground, “we’re in the game here.” It was the last time in the match that this was true. Kumar Sangakkara was next man in, and in the mood. He batted as if saving the game was as simple a matter as his making the decision to do exactly that. So his score advanced inexorably through the day, passing like the second hand of a clock. And the century he eventually scored seemed as inevitable as the arrival of 10 to five, when the match was called off as a draw, the two captains both happy that there was nothing left for either side to gain.

Related: County cricket talking points: old pros prevail for Kent, Surrey and Lancashire

Sangakkara was like a great actor performing in front of a sparse audience

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Mar 20

But for one England try the Six Nations would have been a five-way tie | Andy Bull

It was a tournament to savour, with the standard of play and level of ferocity increasing, but unfortunately the Italians are being left behind

Come Monday morning the players will be back at work with their clubs, getting ready for the next round of league fixtures.

Their schedules leave them precious little time to heal their wounds, even less to rest and reflect on what has gone on these past few weeks. Rugby has never been an easy living but in this Six Nations some of the Tests, especially the three between England, Ireland and Wales, were so ferocious that watching them felt a guilty pleasure.

Related: New Zealand media on England loss: ‘Stuffed plastic bags in need of a trolley’

Related: Emerald flytrap shuts on England once again in Six Nations | Robert Kitson

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Mar 14

Holding to Boycott: the greatest over ever, or just the most memorable?

Michael Holding says he bowled plenty of faster and better overs in his career, but the six balls that assailed and finally dismissed Geoffrey Boycott in Barbados 36 years ago today do take some beating Continue reading…

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Mar 13

England happy to wait until they can step out from All Blacks’ shadow | Andy Bull

New Zealand’s superior statistics in their 18-game winning run do not deter England’s Eddie Jones from insisting his team aspire to end up as world No1

Back in the early 1980s, there were few more futile things a man could do than try to pursue a career in competitive squash. Because to be the best, you had to beat Jahangir Khan. And between April 1981 and November 1986 Khan won so many consecutive matches that even statisticians lost track of the exact count. Most figure it was around 555, making it the longest winning streak in the history of sport. “It wasn’t my plan to create such a record,” Khan once said. “All I did was put in the effort to win every match I played and it went on for weeks, months and years.” Khan’s rival Ross Norman once admitted that it got so deflating that everyone else just “accepted the inevitable”. The best strategy, Norman reckoned, was to wait. “One day Jahangir will be slightly off his game,” he told himself, “and I will get him.”

Related: ‘Congratulations England’: reading between the lines of New Zealand’s reaction

Related: England and Jonathan Joseph thump Scotland to seal Six Nations title

Related: Ireland fail to set up showdown while Wales must convince against France | Paul Rees

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Mar 07

The Spin | The first step on a long, difficult but welcome road back to cricket in Pakistan

The news that the country is to host international cricket again will be greeted with joy there and caution elsewhere but can only be good news for the game

Last Sunday there were a dozen games of cricket going on in one place or another, domestic fixtures in towns and cities across Bangladesh, South Africa and Zimbabwe, a one-day international in North Sound, Antigua, another, between two women’s teams, in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand, and the second Test between India and Australia in Bengaluru.

Related: Pakistan to host international cricket again with T20 series versus World XI

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Dec 27

Rio 2016: amid the politics Olympics were a kaleidoscopic fortnight of sport | Andy Bull

From Usain Bolt’s golden triumphs to a green pool and Michael Phelps’s herculean achievements, the Games were swept along by a crazy rhythm in Rio

On the seventh day of the Games, it seemed, for a brief, bewildering moment, as though a bomb had gone off in the Olympic Park. A thunderclap sounded around the aquatics stadium and echoed across the food court. No one fled. Instead everyone sped towards the scene. It turned out that Brazilian police had detonated a discarded rucksack – they later explained that it had contained a jacket and a pair of socks – and then opened the gates to the basketball arena, where Spain were about to play Nigeria. All those running people were just in a rush to take their seats. Otherwise, no one blinked because it was the third similar incident in a week. There had been another detonation during the men’s cycling road race and a third outside the Maracanã. That familiar phrase, “controlled explosion”, seems now to sum up the Rio Olympics.

Related: Simone Biles the bandleader of a US quintet that might never be bettered | Bryan Armen Graham

Related: Why is the Olympic diving pool green? The good news is it’s not urine

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Nov 27

England crowd warm to Chris Robshaw as he never stops trying | Andy Bull

A year after the then captain and his team were booed at the Rugby World Cup there is respect for his doggedness and not only because of their winning run

Odd little memories stand out crystal clear from the great mêlée of Saturday’s match, which was otherwise one long blur of flying bodies, boots and balls, reset scrums, rolling substitutions, red and yellow cards. One is from 25 minutes in, when Facundo Isa leapt to catch Ben Youngs’ box kick. Isa spilled the ball forward and it landed slap in the lap of Chris Robshaw. He puffed out his cheeks, punted it 30 yards downfield and set off in pursuit. Robshaw galumphed along like a happy labrador chasing a stick on a beach, passing tacklers as if he was dodging promenaders. It was a brilliantly exuberant bit of play and, when it was done, Robshaw of course buried himself neck deep in the nearest ruck.

Related: Autumn internationals: five talking points after England’s win over Argentina | Paul Rees

Related: Battle with Argentina reveals England’s enormous progress | Andy Bull

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