Playing makeup, wearing guitar

Indulge me.

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Tomorrow night I am going to see The Replacements.

This probably means nothing to you. And that’s okay. It means nothing to 99% of the world’s population. But it means something to me. And here’s why.

The Replacements are a seminal Minneapolis rock band who were active from 1981 until about 1991. They were known in their early days as drunken louts with a bunch of great songs that they would play at punk venues throughout Minneapolis. They were the Minneapolis sounds – sorry, Prince – before there was a Minneapolis sound. Their songs are Minneapolis.

Their shows were either trainwrecks or brilliant. And when they were signed to a major label this didn’t change. And it was ultimately their downfall. They released their last record – appropriately titled “All Shook Down” in 1990 and broke up in 1991. Founding guitarist Bobby Stinson died in 1995. Their second drummer Steve Foley died in 2008. Songwriter, singer and guitar player Paul Westerberg released a bunch of schlop records. Bassist Tommy Stinson joined Guns N’ Roses. Guitarist Slim Dunlap suffered a massive stroke in 2012. The Replacements as we knew them were gone forever.

I came to the band “late.” I bought their second to last record ‘Don’t Tell a Soul’ in 1989-ish, and bought their last album the week it came out. I was not party to the glory years of Minneapolis punk. The days of all-ages shows at 4:30 in the afternoon when they were stumbling drunk. But I went and bought “Tim”, “Pleased to Meet Me” and “Let it Be” and those albums followed me everywhere I went. They were staples of my car stereo. I lived, drank, breathed, loved those records.

(Note: I work 100 yards from the house on the cover of “Let it Be“).

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I have mentioned how they were drunks several times now, but I should probably mention the songs.

Oh, those songs.

Westerberg wrote some of the most perfect rock songs ever in existence. They are about hope and loss while simultaneously sad and funny.  He sings about rebellion and bars and Minneapolis over perfectly crafted pop guitar. It’s perfect. They are perfect. Go listen.

Last year they reunited, probably for financial reasons but who cares, and tomorrow is their first show in Minnesota in 23 years.

And I am going.

It’s at Midway Stadium, a minor league baseball park in St. Paul.

At first I was mostly excited because it was going to be a fun summer outside romp with my wife and 13,000 of our closest friends. But then this morning I read this paragraph from local writer – and Replacements historian – Jim Walsh:

there’s no preparing for the two-hour rush of emotion that happens while you’re hearing all those songs you’ve been listening alone to for so many years, but suddenly they’re unfurling in the open air with thousands of other like-minded and super-solitary souls…

That’s it. That’s it right there. It put a lump in my throat and I realized that tomorrow is going to be far more emotional for me than I ever imagined.

I have listened to “Left of the Dial” a thousand times. But each time I was alone or maybe with a handful of people. Tomorrow night I am going to hear it with 13,000 people who also have only heard the song on their car stereo for the last 23 years.

I get emotional just thinking about that.

The Replacements weren’t everyone’s cup of tea. But if you loved them, they were yours. They belonged to you. They were outsiders who sang songs for other outsiders. The downtrodden, the outcasts, the rebels. Us. All of us. All together in one place. Belting out the chorus to “Bastards of Young” all together finally and probably for the last time.

It’s going to be perfect.

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I had plans to tie cricket in here. To mention that maybe an experience at a cricket match – something I have never done – would be equally as emotional for me. To be up close, to be part of this game I have followed and written about for so long. But the segue felt hackneyed. And nothing will ever compare to seeing the Replacements. Live. Which I am doing tomorrow night.

 

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Notes from Outside the System for September 10

Cricket’s Sixes format is starting to take root in Africa, as the inaugural Africa Sixes tournament that wrapped up over the weekend was quite successful. SuperSport: “Following the success of the inaugural Africa Sixes Challenge, the organisers hope to expand the Global Softech Sixes tournament by playing the event in three Southern African countries in 2015, said Jacques Faul, CEO of the host franchise, The Unlimited Titans. … Faul said plans are under way to include Namibia and Zimbabwe in next year’s program and to play the Global Softech Sixes over three rounds from July to September.” This format has legs, everyone. Here’s the wiki. Might as well get to know the rules now.

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Peter Della Penna has the scoop: The USA will be going to Uganda: “After several weeks of deliberation, the USA Cricket Association is going ahead with plans to prepare a team for ICC WCL Division Three in Uganda. The decision was reached at a meeting of the USACA board last week despite a formal vote not being taken on the matter. … USACA is now in a time crunch to conduct a camp before the deadline to submit a final squad to the ICC by Friday September 26, 30 days before the start of the tournament in Uganda. The latest USACA would conceivably be able to hold such a camp would be the weekend of September 19-21, but it is unclear if such a camp will be arranged at such short notice.” Sounds about right.

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Speaking of Uganda, the African Cricket Cup is happening right now. But Cricinfo has nary a peep about it. Find the fixtures and results and live scoring on the Africa Cricket Association’s website.

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Meanwhile, in Silicon Valley (via the Guardian): “Recently arrived tech workers from southern Asia, especially India, are helping to galvanise a cricket boom, as new teams in the San Francisco bay area are reinvigorating a sub-culture that began with the 1990s dotcom bubble. … ‘Technology and cricket are intertwined. People come seeking jobs and bring their culture and sport,’ said Abrar Ahmad, a founder of the Bay Area Cricket Alliance, a non-profit that has seen its number of teams more than double from eight to 17. ‘Almost every city here has its own grounds. We’ve come a long way.’ … In addition to the men’s teams there is now also a youth league, a women’s team, an academy, tournaments, equipment stores and practice facilities.” It’s happening, folks.

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More information on that bonkers plan to play cricket at 19,000ft from The Daily Echo: “Simon Rogers, 39, from Winchester, is part of a group climbing the Tanzanian mountain to raise £200,000 for Cancer Research UK, Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation and Africa development charity Tusk. … On September 20 two teams will climb almost 20,000ft over seven gruelling days, battling freezing temperatures and extreme altitude sickness, before playing a full T20 match in a crater at the summit. … Only two thirds of the mountain’s 25,000 annual climbers reach the crater, and none have topped the feat with a game of cricket.”

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Programming note: the Ireland vs. Scotland ODIs will be streaming live on Quipu.TV.

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Notes from Outside the System for September 3

Image is in the public domain, links to original

Afghanistan cricket is something we should be celebrating, says Krish Sripada with Cricket World. Indeed. “The concoction in which the seeds of Afghan cricket were first sown almost touches the edges of a fantasy tale, a David-Goliath struggle that a decade ago was not real enough even for dreams. … Yet, the phenomenal upward curve that Afghans have conjured in the world of cricket, culminating in their qualifying for 2015’s ODI World Cup down under, already deserves a celebration, an exultation of spirit over limits, of will over debacles. … From the World Cricket League Division Five to playing for what is probably cricket’s greatest prize, in six years, the Afghanistan team and its coach Kabir Khan deserve a trophy of their own already.”

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USACA continues to be nothing but one giant hot mess. Peter Della Penna has all the news that’s fit to print.

(Plug: I will have a blog up about the USACA Constitution cluster later today.)

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Kuwait will be the first Arab nation to compete in the Asian Games cricket tournament. From the Arab Times: “The Kuwait national cricket team under the able president ship of Sheikh Dari Fahed Al Ahmad Al Sabah comprising of only Kuwaiti Nationals will have the distinction of being the first Arab country ever to participate in the forthcoming Asian games at Incheon, South Korea during the month of September 2014. Kuwait Cricket, the apex body of controlling cricket in Kuwait is under the auspicious of Kuwait Olympic Committee and has been an associate member of International Cricket Council (ICC) since 2005 and a full member of Asian Cricket Council (ACC). “

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A lovely little article from Richard Heller and the News on Sunday on how cricket inspires great writing, both fiction and non-fiction alike: “Everywhere I went in Pakistan, I was aware that people feel a huge sense of pride in their country. This pride expresses itself through the cricket team, whose white clothing against a green field neatly matches the colours of the national flag. Cricket is the game of the villages, it is the game of the towns. It is the game of the old, it is the game of the young, the rich and the poor… It is part of Pakistan’s history and  also its future. It is magical and marvelous. Nothing else expresses half so well the singularity, the genius, the occasional madness of the people of Pakistan, and their contribution to the world sporting community.”

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Unfortunately for the Pakistani Women, they just got whipped 4-0 by the Australians. (via ABC.net)

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Raf Nicholson does a phenomenal job covering the England Women. In her latest piece for Cricinfo, she goes after the format of their series with India: “This time last year, I was writing a piece for the Cordon about the massive success of the multi-format women’s Ashes series. I wish I could now be writing the same piece about the series against India. … I can’t. … England Women’s schedule against India Women this summer has consisted of one Test and three ODIs. But the Test was standalone, and the three ODIs were a series in themselves. England will now go on and play three T20s next week – but against South Africa, not India. … Why are India not staying on to play those three T20s instead? Why can we not celebrate another multi-format-points summer of international cricket? It all makes very little sense.”

Note that the England Women vs. South Africa Women T20s are live on ESPN3.com in the United States. England won the first match by nine wickets (via SuperSport.)

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The ECB have announced their squad for the Blind Cricket World Cup in South Africa this November. (via Boxscore.) I was not familiar with blind cricket. From Wikipedia: “In terms of playing equipment, the major adaptation is the ball, which is significantly larger than a standard cricket ball and filled with ball bearings. The size allows partially sighted players to see the ball and the contents allow blind players to hear it. The wicket (stumps) is also larger, to allow partially sighted players to see and blind players to touch it in order to correctly orient themselves when batting or bowling.” That, my friends, is the power of this game.

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Finally, today, my Google alert brought me this creepy story about a “nightmarish” and cannibalistic cricket invading the United States. (via Jennifer Viegas at the Discovery Channel).

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Notes from Outside the System for August 27

Climb every mountain: Scaling Kilimanjaro for the good of Rwandan cricket, from Daily Maverick: “(The fundraiser for cricket facilities in Rwanda) will see two teams scale Kilimanjaro to play the world’s highest ever game of competitive cricket. … The expedition, which takes place in September, will also raise funds for Cancer Research UK as well as Tusk, an anti-poaching charity. Amongst the players involved are South Africa’s very own Makhaya Ntini, England international Heather Knight, former England captain Clare Connor and former England player Ashley Giles.”

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The ICC Women’s Championship is happening right nowKeep up with all the action on Cricinfo. Unfortunately, the third ODI between England and India was abandoned without a ball bowled due to rain. I realize that not scheduling make up days is tradition in cricket, but I will always continue to think that that is just silly. India flew 7,000 kilometers and they got one Test and two ODIs – AND this is a competitive tournament. Cricket has a done a great job overcoming traditions that were holding them back, but they still remain in the 19th century when it comes to other aspects of the game. Sort it out, ICC.

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Despite the US State Department saying it’s cool, USACA has worries about safety during their visit to Uganda. Cricinfo: “At the moment, USACA has not made any plans to cancel USA’s participation in the tournament, but a board meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday where the Uganda security issue and overall team preparation is expected to be formally discussed.” Today is Wednesday but I see no updates from our friend Peter Della Penna on the meeting’s outcome. Stay tuned.

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Sad story out of Singapore via Today Online, as the Singapore Cricket Club’s President fell to his death over the weekend: “The death of Singapore Cricket Club (SCC) president Michael Grice today (Aug 24) has been described as a great loss to Singapore sport. … Grice, 70, took over the helm of the storied club in April. In a statement, the SCC said Grice had passed away at the early hours this morning ‘following an accidental fall at the club’.”

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Finally this week, Allafrica.com has the news that the England Women vs. South Africa Women T20s this September will be broadcast live on Supersport International: “National women’s captain Mignon du Preez, commented: ‘This is amazing news for women’s cricket in South Africa. We are extremely excited to have television coverage of a tour for the first time and we look forward to showing the country what we’re all about and just how much talent is in this squad. … We hope that this is just the first of many televised tours and that having South Africa finally see us play will inspire other young girls to choose cricket as their preferred sport to play.'” Seriously, everyone, Women’s cricket is quickly becoming the real deal.

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Notes from Outside the System for August 20

American Cricket Federation President, Jamie Harrison, has a go at USACA in his CricketEurope column: “The fiasco that unfolded this weekend at Lauderhill was the direct result of choices and systemic failures that have long come to typify the actions of the ICC-recognized body in the United States.” A great read that sums it all up nicely.

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If you are looking for information on the actual cricket that took place down in Florida this past weekend – such as it was - DreamCricket has you covered in “USACA National T20 Championship is a damp squib: “After the first two days of rain-affected play on Thursday and Friday, the USACA National T20 Championship quickly went from “a chance to shine” to ‘let’s get at least one day of sunshine.’   After only three games were completed by Friday, a decision was made to move six games to Saturday and reduce the overs to 10-overs per side. ” 10 overs. How very American.

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Nezam Hafiz – who died in the 09/11 attacks – was recently inducted into the US Cricket Hall of Fame. From CricketCountry: “In the USA, he started playing in the Commonwealth Cricket League, which happens to be the biggest cricket league in the US. Hafiz was then selected for the USA team that toured England where he excelled with the bat by scoring three half-centuries. He subsequently became the vice-captain for USA’s tour of Canada.”

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According to BoxScoreNews, congrats to the Ireland Women are in order: “Ireland Women clinched the European T20 Championships with two games to spare following a thumping nine wicket win over The Netherlands at Rugby today.”

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This means a clean sweep for Cricket Ireland this summer: “Ireland’s complete domination of European competition has seen tournament victories for the Women and Under 15 boys, which followed wins for both the Under 17 and 19 boys in the ICC Europe Challenge Series. In addition, the Under 17 girls beat Scotland in a three game T20 competition earlier this summer.” (Also via BoxScoreNews.)

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Spanish cricket news via The Leader: “Thursday the 25th July was a big day for the Spanish team. It was the final day of T20 and the team knew that they were second in the table behind their opponents today, SGS, the team that blew them away with the bat the day before. Reading the rules carefully the team knew that if they won today they would be on level points with the Dutch, however it is then decided by results against one another which would have the Spanish team crowned champions!” Not every day you see an exclamation point in a news article.

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A couple programming notesthe Scotland vs. New Zealand A ODIs are being streamed live on dailyrecord.co.uk, and the ECB’s YouTube channel will have the England Women vs. India Women ODIs.

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Finally, today, Women’s Cricket is slowly but surely become a professional game. Better late than never, but a shame it took the national boards this long to pay their cricketers a living wage. Here’s hoping the rest of the Test nations fall in line. Today’s contract story is from South Africa and the Daily Maverick: “In just a few weeks, the South African women’s team will make history. For the first time ever, a mostly professional squad will travel to the UK for their first tour as pro-cricketers. Earlier in the year, Cricket South Africa – thanks to some help from Momentum – announced that they would be expanding their list of centrally contracted women from six to 14. … For the laymen, this means that the women who needed to work while also trying to play international cricket can now focus just on playing cricket.”

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The Founders

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. 

– Margaret Mead

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Cricket. It gets in your blood. It gets under your skin. It sinks its teeth in you and doesn’t let go. It becomes a part of you. You fall in love it with every morning when you wake up, and you stand in slack jawed wonder at it every day as it finds a new way to thrill you.

Cricket. It’s your food, your drink, your lover, your brother in arms.

And this love of the game is quite evident in six of the league presidents of the American
Cricket Federation:

Manas-Sahu- Manas Sahu of the Massachusetts State Cricket League, who has served as hisleague’s president for three consecutive terms, leading his league – a nonprofit organization of players, members and volunteers – with a simple mission in mind: to grow the game he loves;

 

Shahid- Shahid Ahmed of the Michigan Cricket Association, who fell in love with cricket whilegrowing up on the streets of Karachi, Pakistan, moved to the United States in 1990, formed the MCA in 2001 and grew it from six teams to 40 teams in just ten years;

 

 

Avinash- Avinash Varma of the Washington Metro Cricket Board, who has guided his organization since 2010 – an organization that boasts over 300 cricketers throughout the Washington DC area;

 

 

Lesly Lowe- Lesly Lowe of the Commonwealth Cricket League, who has played cricket in America since he was 13, and grew the CCL from just two teams in 2001 – his team and his dad’s team – into the largest cricket association in the United States;

 

leighton- Leighton Greenidge of the Southern Connecticut Cricket Association, whose league was one of the first associations in the country to implement a self-umpiring system, fostering a respect for game as well as its laws;

 

 

Rod2- Rod Gohil of the Arizona Cricket Association, who moved to the United States from India when he was only ten years old and founded his association – that he calls his family – in 2003 and which features one of the most picturesque grounds and well kept wickets in America.

 

But these six people share more in common than just their passion for the sport of cricket.

They also all understand that this great game does not belong to them. It belongs to their
children, and their children’s children, and as such it is their responsibility to treat the
game with the respect it deserves, to shepherd it safely into the future and to protect it
against forces that look to use it for their own selfish gains.

“Cricket runs in our blood; and we just want to see it thrive,” is how Ahmed eloquently puts it.

And because of this love for the game, and their respect for its legacy, these six leaders stood up to the United States of America Cricket Association (USACA) and said: “No more. We don’t like how you are treating us, but more than that: we don’t like how you are treating this game that we have played and cherished our entire lives.”

It was a decision that was uniquely American, both in its action and its motivation.

In action, for this country was founded by a similar group of brave, like-minded people who shared a passion for liberty, saw injustice and banded together to make it better not just for themselves, but for everyone, for centuries to come.

In motivation, for Sahu, Ahmed, Varma, Lowe, Greenidge and Gohil’s decision was a
response to USACA violating that most hallowed of all American rights: the right to vote.

In 2012, when USACA denied certain associations a voice in league elections, that was the
end. “They had hired a lawyer – that they paid for with our member dues – to figure out a
way to keep us from voting,” Sahu reflects.

“They knew we weren’t going to vote for continued corruption and fraud, so they took our vote away from us. That’s how we saw it,” added Ahmed.

That was the moment when this small band of like minded people stood up for cricket, for cricket’s future, and for their right to be involved in how the game is run in their country – a right that they had earned by spending decades growing the game with no assistance from the association now denying them a voice.

And so, out of a mutual love of cricket and justice, the American Cricket Federation was
born. A federation that was American not just in how it was formed, but also in how it
was governed. “ACF is democratic and open,“ describes Varma. “USACA is autocratic and
opaque.” And Lowe remembers, “Nothing could have stopped us from breaking away from USACA because we knew we were doing the right thing.”

It was the right thing to do for cricket in America, but the right thing is not always the
easiest thing.

The easy route would have been to be quiet, play politics and just let USACA run roughshod over the game in America. But that is not the route that these trailblazers chose. They chose the route that left them open to threats, once bribery had failed to turn their heads. All for the love of the game, and for the love of their associations, which they have nurtured since their inception.

Gohil was approached by representatives from USACA who asked him to rejoin, but the
offer was immediately rejected. “I was told I could be a member of USACA as well as ACF,” he recalls. “However I saw no reason for such a thing, as USACA has never offered anything of value to improve and grow cricket in Arizona or anywhere else.”

Lowe experienced an attack directly on the youth in his organization – the future of cricket in America. “There are about 400 cricketers in our league below the age of 22,” Lowe said. “And about 150 under 19 years old. We knew that if we joined ACF our players would be blacklisted and that is exactly what happened.” But he soldiered on, and his membership followed him, despite the risks, knowing ultimately that Lowe only had the best in mind for his organization and the young cricketers it was fostering.

And like many organizations, Varma’s was blatantly lied about. “Long after WMCB officially parted ways with USACA, USACA continued to claim that WMCB was part of USACA in order to boost its membership claims.”

But all the leaders stuck to their guns, and are already reaping the benefits of their bravery, foresight and leadership, for the league and its members are thriving.
A national domestic league started in 2014 – with a championship tournament to be held in October – is just the first of many such competitions to be held in the future. The federation is interested not in dollar signs or ODI status for the national team; it is interested in building the game in the schools and on the playgrounds, fostering its growth at the grassroots level. It is about infrastructure. It is about listening to its members, cooperating with them, facing challenges together and sharing common experiences despite different backgrounds. “The members place their personal interests aside and do what is best for the game,” says Sahu.

In other words: it is an American Cricket Federation.

These six people do not credit themselves for standing up to USACA and founding the ACF.
They give credit to the game, to the support of their league members. But it is about them in this case. They saw an injustice and they took a stand.

“In the end,” says Sahu, “it was a simple decision.”

A simple decision that took bravery, and that will grow the game and ensure that is
protected for generations of Americans to come.

Says Lowe: “I envision the day when cricketers from around the world will want to take
advantage of the cricketing opportunities in the US much as is the case now where baseball continues to attract the Central, South American and even the Japanese players. I believe that there will be a time when cricket in the US will change the game on the global stage and possibly rival the ICC.

“The current leadership of the ACF will contribute immensely to this vision, simply because they are so forward thinking. With proper funding, the world is the ACF’s cricket oyster,” says Lowe.

With leaders like Sahu, Ahmed, Varma, Lowe, Greenidge and Gohil at the helm of cricket in America, that is not a prediction, but a prophecy, and it is a promise of a new dawn and a bright future for cricket in America.

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Notes from Outside the System for August 13

In the world of Women’s Cricket, the big news this week is the upcoming India vs. England Test at the historic Wormsley Ground in England.

Worthwhile reads on the match can be found at The Telegraph, Wisden India and The Cordon. (That last one is from your friend and mine, Raf Nicholson.)

Unfortunately, the match will not be available to stream online. Which is a real shame. (All three England vs. India ODIs will be available, however.)

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You certainly haven’t missed this story, but just in case: Cricinfo has the scoop on Lendl Simmons’ now infamous “drug bat”: “Simmons was travelling through the country between games for Guyana Amazon Warriors in the Caribbean Premier League when his bat attracted the interest of customs officials. In a sure sign that cricket remains a mysterious and largely unknown sport in the USA, the officials feared that the bat could be used to transport illegal drugs so drilled several holes into it to enable closer inspection.”

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Congrats to the ladies from Nottinghamshire on clinching the T20 title. The Nottingham Post has it: “At the NatWest Women’s County T20 finals day at the RAF Sports Ground in London, Notts Ladies narrowly came out on top after bouncing back in fine style to losing their opening fixture to Kent.

With Middlesex having already beaten Kent by 45 runs in the first game of the day, it gave Notts a chance to make amends in the three-team event.

And they took the opportunity in fine style in a crushing victory over Middlesex in the final game to clinch the trophy on run-rate after each side won one and lost one.”

(As kind of an aside, the first sentence of that article is more than just a little sexist.)

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Speaking of sexism. From the Daily Maverick: “…for all the propaganda the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) likes to bang on about, there is still something curious about the way they treat the longest format of the women’s game. Starting next week, England and India will contest a Test match for the first time in eight years. It’s a great thing for women’s cricket and refreshing to see women’s teams other than England and Australia playing each other. But there is one small problem. The match is not easily accessible to the general public and, when it comes to putting women’s cricket on the map, accessibility is one of the biggest stumbling blocks.”

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Oh, USACA, you so crazy. Cricinfo: “Just three days out from the USA Cricket Association National Tournament, no arrangements have been made for USACA’s incumbent selection panel to come to the event in order to evaluate talent for the country’s next international assignment in October – the ICC WCL Division Three in Uganda.”

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For great stories on what’s happening at the farthest reaches of the cricketing world, be sure to “like” the nonprofit Cricket Without Boundaries on Facebook. Stories like this one via the New Times on Rwanda’s impressive showing so far in the U-19 ICC Africa Division Two tournament in Lusaka, Zambia.

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I would be remiss if I did not mention the Caribbean Premier League knockout stages start this afternoon. The matches will be live on ESPN3 here in the States. In other programming news, the Scotland vs. New Zealand A ODIs will be streamed live on dailyrecord.co.uk.

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Cricinfo has the news that India are buying Afghanistan a new stadium in the suburbs of Kandahar. Whether or not this means they will be able to host international matches down the road is not mentioned in the article.

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Absolute bonkers stuff out of the Netherlands. Story via the good people at CricketEurope: “Last Sunday’s match at Thurlede between Excelsior and Hermes was never likely to be a cozy affair, with potential escape from a four-way relegation battle on the line as well as the usual pressure of a Scheidam Derby. But few expected things to get as ugly as they did, with consistent over-appealing and rising tempers eventually culminating in Luuk van Troost finding himself on his back in the middle of the pitch courtesy of a body check from Borg Lenstra, prompting Excelsior players to storm onto the pitch to remonstrate – the most egregious of several regrettable scenes in a game which saw no less than three players written up by umpires Jansen and Hilhorst.” The whole article is worth your time.

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Tips to limitedovers (at) gmail (dot) com. 

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