2016 – The Highlights Pt 1: The Apprentice

2015 was an eventful year for me for many reasons, not all of them bad, but not all of them good. Needless to say, various events lead to some pretty big decisions this year. After 33 years and in the space of 365 days, I finally realised the significance of the phrase ‘Live for Today.’

When people have said this phrase to me in the past, I would be quick to counteract it with an argument as to why we shouldn’t, but that’s only because I didn’t truly understand its meaning. People weren’t telling me to enjoy myself and not think about the consequences of tomorrow like I thought. They weren’t telling me not to save money or not to plan ahead and they certainly weren’t telling me to be careless. I’m here to tell you that ‘Today’ is not ‘one’ day. It’s a space in time where you can accomplish something great, and the final days of 2015 taught me just that.

2016 therefore, was going to be my year of new challenges. 2016 was MY TODAY, and I can honestly say, hand on heart, that I went after what I truly wanted. I went after dreams I’ve had for years and years and the result has been one of the best years of my life.

An example being, The Apprentice. Every year I would watch the series on BBC1 and every year I’d be judging and complaining how I would do each task better – an opinion, I’m sure, that is shared by the majority of people reading this blog. This being said, I decided to stop talking the talk  and start walking the walk (awful phrase used to often on The Apprentice)! I’d never done a business plan before and I’ve never needed to learn, until now. I spent countless hours researching business plans, talking to professionals (you know who you are Lee Morgan!), reading book after book on how to compose one and ended up with a 43-page wonder for a Lifestyle Management Company. I was ever so proud, and it even made sense! Honestly, my five-year turnover was a seven-figure sum and I was convinced I was on to a winner.

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A glimpse of my business plan

Then came the online application, which truth be told, was pretty simple by most standards. The difficulty however was to follow, in the gruelling series of interviews in London. Sitting in a crowded room full of applicants, kitted out in their best business wear with their briefcases and iPhone 100s, I could easily have lost my nerve. I was surrounded by far more experience, far more business acumen and far more attitude than I had but in a situation like that, you HAVE to stop thinking about how everyone else might be better than you and start thinking about what makes you better than them. It truly is the best way to believe in your own ability and get rid of the nerves from those unhelpful comparisons.

Thankfully, potential candidate after potential candidate fell at the early interview stages that I was getting through rather happily. I couldn’t help looking around at the dwindling crowd of applicants and questioning, is this actually happening? My final interview stage which I can proudly say was very late on in the whole application process, was absolutely terrifying. Try sitting in front of two, angry-looking, hotshot, ball-busting female producers who would do everything in their power to make you not only question the turnover figures in your business plan but actual life choices and purpose on this Earth, all whilst eyeing you up and down at the end of a very large table in a room with glass walls so everyone outside the room can see you sweat. Honestly, no job interview I could ever have in future could EVER be this horrific! Sadly, this was where I failed and my Apprentice journey came to an end.

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Photo Courtesy of The Guardian

However, fail I did NOT. A week after returning home to Swansea, I had the email that my chances of getting onto the show had ended. I would be going no further in the process.

An ‘Emotional Intelligence’ lecture I once had, taught me that EVENT + RESPONSE = OUTCOME.  The event being my rejection and the response being how I would react. I quickly decided that although I didn’t get onto The Apprentice, in the space of two-months, I learnt how to write a business plan, the ingredients one needs when running a successful company, what an Executive Summary was and most importantly that I, Stacey Louise Harris, can bust balls with the best of them.

Top 10 Worst Song Lyrics

I love a good top 10 list – I do them often with my friends. I’m probably the female-equivalent of John Cusack in High Fidelity. I recall a three-hour trip to London with my friend Jade and the entire 180 minutes was spent making top 10 lists. Top 10 people I’d like to be at my ‘end of the world’ dinner party… Top 10 people I’d like to reverse over in my car. you know, the usual!

This list however, did not come to me like the others.

As you know from reading my blog, I love singing with my guitar. I also did a Welsh and Music degree 12 years ago. Combine these two facts together and you’d think I’d like writing my own songs to sing. Unfortunately, this is not the case. I can come up with funky little hooks and melodies all day long but asking me to write song lyrics is like asking J.K. Rowling to write a rap song. It’s not where our powers lie – I’m all about the long game. Over the years I’ve loved writing stories and novels but my poetry skills are somewhat lacking. Don’t get me wrong, I can rhyme with the best of them but great song lyrics aren’t about rhyme as you know. They’re about meaning, sound, flow and how they fit in with the melody. Easy-listening for the ear and all that jazz…

Lately however, I’ve started to re-evaluate my lyric-writing. Mainly due to the fact that I’ve heard so many songs where it sounds like the writers have just typed phrases onto their iPhones and autocorrect has had a field day! This then got me thinking, what are the “Top 10 Worst Song Lyrics in the World?” It’s a question I’ve tackled in this blog. Let me know if you agree/disagree or have some new ones to add. It’s worth noting too that this ‘Top 10 Worst Song Lyrics’ is not original in the slightest – there are thousands of blogs about this subject on the net, but the list of songs is very definitely my own. I’ve tried not too be too obvious and have avoided the easily-targeted ‘gimmicky songs’ (think ‘I’ve got a Brand New Combine Harvester) – these aren’t included in my list for reasons of fairness. FYI Katy Perry, you should be grateful you’re not in this list!

 

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Image courtesy of http://www.moviepilot.com

 

10. “Human” – The Killers – These guys start the countdown at ten. They’re a great band with some fantastic lyrics and annoyingly awesome songs but I have to say, I despise this song as much as I despise spiders. Brandon Flowers is on his knees trying to find out if we are human (which we are) or ‘dancer.’ That’s all I’m saying about this as I’m getting riled up just typing about it!

“Are we human or are we dancer?
My sign is vital, my hands are cold
And I’m on my knees looking for the answer
Are we human or are we dancer?”

9. “Happy” – Pharrell Williams – OK, I LOVE this song so I feel slightly guilty about including it in my list but the first line of the chorus just cannot be forgiven. Sorry Pharrell!

“Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof.”

8. “A Neverending Dream” – Cascada – Yes, Cascada is a bit of Europoppy fun and yes, they’re a band that we all loved to dance to about ten years ago but any song that overuses the words YouToo and Do for the sake of rhyme deserves to be struck off the ‘acceptable cheesy pop list!’ I have never wanted to evacuate the dance floor faster. Exhibit A:

“A neverending dream a dream of you, I believe I received a sign of you,tonight I want to hide my feelings too, as you do and I want to be with you.”

 

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Image courtesy of http://www.metrolyrics.com

 

7.  “Buck Rogers” – Feeder – I loved this song growing up. I remember giving it a lot of air time on my school radio station (back in my DJ-ing days – bet you never knew I did that!) and everybody loved it. Back then at age 17, I never thought about the words and what they meant, I just loved screaming it out in the DJ booth in the School Technology block. Years  later though I can’t help looking back and wondering if Devonians actually drink cider from lemons…

“We’ll start over again, grow ourselves new skin, get a house in Devon, drink cider from a lemon (lemon, lemon, lemon…)”

6. “Town Called Ugley” – Ward Thomas – This is a song I’m loathed to put in as it’s actually ridiculously catchy and hilarious to sing in the car whilst pretending you’re driving through a little town in America with your best girl-mate, Thelma. That and the fact I actually like Ward Thomas. That being said, there are are a couple of lines in this song that are just unforgivable and shoots it straight in at number six on my list.

Swerved more than a couple times for a black alpaca, delayed in every kind of way so time was a factor, only made worse by a broken down tractor…”

5. “Whenever, Wherever”/“SheWolf”– Shakira – I’ve loved singing along and dancing to the lovely Shakira since her intriguing voice and weird ‘bendiness’ burst onto the scene in 2001, but whether it’s bad translation or what, some lyrics one just can’t forgive. I’ve cheekily slotted in two separate Shakira songs here (think of it as 5a and 5b if you will).

“Lucky that my breasts are small and humble so you don’t confuse them with mountains.” – Whenever, Wherever

“Starting to feel just a little abused like a coffee machine in an office.” – SheWolf

 

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Image courtesy of http://www.vevo.com

 

4. “MacArthur Park – Donna Summer – Singing about a cake left out in the rain? I once left a tube of half-eaten Pringles in my car boot for two years. Not really inclined to write a song about it though!

“MacArthur’s Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down
Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don’t think that I can take it
‘Cause it took so long to bake it
And I’ll never have that recipe again
Oh, no!”

3. “Annie I’m Not Your daddy – Kid Creole and the Coconuts – I love the start of this song because it mentions my favourite place in the world, St. Tropez. However the song quickly goes downhill – talk about harsh!

“Oh Annie, I’m not your daddy
Mama’s baby’s, papa’s baby
See if I was in your blood
Then you wouldn’t be so ugly.”

2. “Every Picture Tells a Story” – Rod Stewart – This song came out 12 years before I was born and the seventies wasn’t really famous for being politically correct, however that’s no excuse for these lyrics. Epic fail Rod, epic fail.

“On the Peking ferry I was feeling merry
sailing on my way back here
I fell in love with a slit eyed lady
by the light of an eastern moon
Shangai Lil never used the pill
She claimed that it just ain’t natural
She took me up on deck and bit my neck
Oh people I was glad I found her
Oh yeah I was glad I found her”

  1. “Life” – Des’ree – Surely you guessed this song would feature in this list? This song sparked a 20-minute rant from my friend Layla and I. There are possibly too many lyrics in this song which annoy me for me to list here so perhaps I’ll stick to the first two verses and the chorus.

“I’m afraid of the dark
Especially when I’m in a park
And there’s no one else around
Ooh, I get the shivers

I don’t want to see a ghost
It’s a sight that I fear most
I’d rather have a piece of toast
And watch the evening news

Life, oh life, oh life, oh life
Doo, doo doo doo
Life, oh life, oh life, oh life
Doo, doo doo doo”

 

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Image courtesy of http://www.youtube.com

 

After thinking long and hard about this list, It’s made me realise that I shouldn’t be so nervous about writing lyrics and being judged by others. Surely there is NO WAY on this Earth I can outdo these ten beauts?

Right, CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

 

 

#CricketGirlsOnTour – Glamorgan CCC v Essex CCC – May 2012

Day 1:

Today was the first day of our #cricketgirlsontour season and Abby and I found ourselves sitting in our familiar River End stand at The Swalec Stadium, equipped with posh Lords-esque packed lunch and a bottle of South African, my favourite…

 

A lunch to rival Lords!

 

Our beloved Swalec Stadium

 

I think we must have been the only girls in the ground under 50 for this first day but we didn’t mind at all. The great thing about being surrounded by the mature and being a young lady is that you get a kind of ‘special treatment.’ They love sitting near you because they’re fascinated by you. Don’t get me wrong, Abby and I talk about the cricket at hand, we do know our stuff, but our attention spans are not as good as the full-on fans around us and most of the time we’re either bantering with players on the boundary, sneaking into studios for some commentating, drinking wine or tweeting pictures of forks in weird places on the cricket pitch…

After our posh lunch as made by Abby (I can’t cook for toffee), we were joined by Essex CCC bus driver Marc Marangou for a catch up and some top banter. I’ve known Marc since his team’s trip to St. Helen’s at Swansea back in 2007. Every year we meet up and every year he tells me his side is going to beat mine – they rarely do… The Essex cricketers shouting embarrassing things to him every time he sits by us is one of the highlights of week – you can’t beat banter at someone else’s expense! Love you Marc! – actually so much so that I avoided abusing him with ammunition given to me by Alistair Cook that evening (name-droppin’ell!).

 

Me & Marc
Marc & Abby

 

After lunch we sneaked up to visit the legendary Ed Bevan of BBC Wales to tell him of our #cricketgirlsontour this year. Bless him, I think he’s always intrigued about what we’re going to do next! We then went into the BBC Essex studio where we met up with Dick Davies – who interviewed me last season when Essex played Glam at Cardiff, about my cricket book. I had a great 10 minutes chatting about the book, and got to join in with the commentary. It’s still my dream one day to have my own commentary channel – I’m sure people would be intrigued to listen to cricket from the mind of a 28-year old Welsh lass with the attention span of Dory from Finding Nemo…

 

BBC Essex Commentary

 

Day 2:

 

The rain stopped at 11am so you’d think we’d manage to see some cricket but none at all was played on day 2. The ground is right next to the River Taff which apparently was at its highest for a while so the water wouldn’t drain. Your choice becomes: sit in the stands freezing your butt off waiting for a miracle or sit in the bar chatting to randoms, playing Who Wants to be a Millionaire on an iPad and drinking the bar dry. Natuarally we chose the second option. The Member’s Bar at The Swalec Stadium has a lovely atmosphere with a great menu which we recommend to all who visit. Abby and I, being freezing, weren’t that adventurous and went with a safe jacket potato with grated cheese! Excellence service though and a definite recommendation. A good-looking bar man also helps… Cheers also to all our followers who helped us cheat at Millionaire!

 

Member’s Bar #tweetwhatyoueat

 

In the night we hit a place that every sportsman worth his salt has tweeted about, Nando’s. I had to drag Abby kicking and screaming as she vowed never to set foot in one but we decided that if it’s a cricket tour, then we NEED to go! Just wish someone told me in time that the lemon and herb was actually quite spicy as I couldn’t feel my tongue for the rest of the night! I get abuse all the time for my ‘crapness’ with spicy food but cheers to Dizzy (Gillespie) who backed me up, I’m not alone!

 

Abby in Nando’s …which I liked!

 

Day 3:

Fair play, the Glammy groundsmen did a cracking job of getting the wicket ready for Day 3 after all the rain. As you can see from the pics below we did see a day of play but like I said, when you have the attention span as bad as mine and Abby’s you need to have distractions ready! Nail-painting is a must at the cricket, especially as that night would be spent partying in Tiger Tiger.

 

Nail Painting – just don’t get hit by a six!
Not a bad position to be in…

 

I think the majority of the afternoon however was spent #forking, or #extremeforking as it turned into. Once again, for those who aren’t up on their #forking, just think of the YouTube sensation ‘planking’ and replace the posing people in strange places with a fork – it’s not rocket science! Our efforts started off pretty average but with the help of wine and the legendary Glamorgan groundsmen (big up to Kenny) we manage to achieve the ultimate #forking picture – I challenge anyone out there to upstage these efforts. You’ve got NO CHANCE! Make sure you tweet your efforts to myself and Abby – we’ll RT the best! (@LilMissAshes and @abbyosullivan)

 

Extreme #forking as placed by Groundsman Kenny
#forking Mark Pettini – sorry Swampy!

 

At least I did get to flash my eBook ‘Point to Fine Leg’ around on my iPad. It’s still selling but I really do need to get back on the marketing horse. Big up to @RikiWessels for helping me with that on Twitter last week!

 

Point to Fine Leg on the iPad

 

We also managed to get a lolly to Ravi Bopara who was celebrating his birthday. The lads made poor Marc hunt Cardiff for a birthday cake!

 

Abby with BBC Wales legend Ed Bevan

Day 4:

Unfortunately Day 4 saw Abby disappearing off to a hen do in West Wales so it was mostly just me all day. At this point though, the majority of my stand were talking to me so I didn’t feel on my own at all! My team weren’t having a great time of it in the field sadly, but thankfully, Welsh weather stopping play on Thursday meant the match would end up as a draw anyway.

 

The Essex lads fielding at slip

 

My cousin Alex (@Lexie943) joined me for the evening session. Alex has only ever been to the cricket once in her life and that was last year when I dragged her to a Glamorgan v Essex Twenty20 match. Not sure what it is about Essex matches? I thought she’d be bored to tears but I think my quirky commentary and drunken descriptions of what was going on in the middle kept her amused! “Watch him stare at the dude with the bat now when he hits it for 4…”

We finished the tour with a night out in Mocka Lounge and Tiger Tiger (whilst Abby was in a tent somewhere taking one for the team). It was nice to catch up with some old friends and show the visiting team the best places to go – us Welsh lasses are good like that! I got to see some top dance-offs although I still think I’m the best! #slightlybiased

 

I’m sure this drink was blue not green…

 

All in all it was an excellent first leg to #cricketgirlsontour – they’re always eventful. Cricket matches leave me with a shocking hangover every time but it’s the best kind of hangover. This year I’ll be encourage more and more girls to attend the cricket and have the fun that Abby and I have. I think I’ll be bringing them to the T20s first tho. Remember people, if you have female mates or other halves you keep trying to drag to your matches, get them to download my eBook on www.pitchvision.com/lilmissashes and that will teach them everything they’ll ever need to know about cricket!

A note to all though who plan on doing a similar tour – every tour should have a playlist. This week’s was ‘Call Me Maybe’ by Carly Rae Jepson (apologies to Alex Hales who hates this song), ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ by Gotye, ‘International Love’ by Pitbull, ‘Primadonna Girl’ by Marina & the Diamonds, ‘Rain Over Me’ by Pitbull & Marc Anthony and ‘Hot Right Now’ by DJ Fresh.

 

Image from http://www.lyrics-video-music.blogspot.com

 

Look out for more #cricketgirlsontour coming to a ground near you. I think our next entry will be from sunny Colwyn Bay – don’t worry rest of Britain, we will be driving out of Wales at some point!

 

LilMissAshes Does Beefy Walk 2012

A few weeks ago, my buddy Big G text me and asked if I’d like the opportunity to walk 8 miles with the great Ian Botham. IAN BOTHAM! The man is a legend! I immediately had a flashback to the days I would swoon whilst watching him on Question of Sport, slaying Bill Beaumont with his sporting knowledge and sexy moustache. I did not tell Big G of this crush though, I had to play it cool! I quickly said HELL YES! This was not something anyone in their right mind would turn down. I asked Big G if my mate Abby could come too as it would be a great start to our #cricketgirlsontour season whilst doing something good for charity. He said yes.

8-mile walk. Sounds quite easy doesn’t it? I’m sure it would have been too, but it was not what we had in store. Little did Big G tell Abby and I that we would have a 13-mile run facing us instead. Beefy would be walking his usual 5/6 mph pace (which is bloody fast!) and we would be next to him, randomly jogging and sprinting to members of the public asking for money. I then understood why Big G held this info back – it’s effectively a half-marathon! I train in the gym on average about 3 times a week, but definitely wasn’t prepared. 20 minutes on the cross-trainer does not equate to sprint down Bute Street trying to entice office workers to through coins from their windows into my bucket!

 

 

For those who aren’t aware of what this walk is, it’s Beefy Walk 2012. Every year, Beefy walks 150 miles over 10 cities in the UK, raising money for blood cancer charities. He’s been doing it for about 25 years and 2012 was the year I was part of it. Realistically, I should’ve conked out after about 5 miles of running but somehow my adrenaline kicked into overdrive and something inside me enabled my stamina to reach levels I didn’t think were possible! At one point, Abby and I were jogging with Welsh Rugby star Tom Shanklin in-between us offering us jelly babies. A surreal moment I must say! (And what a gent he was too!) I think what kept us going was the reason we were doing it all. Not just to do it with Beefy but to collect as much money as we could for charities that help so many people.

 

 

Unfortunately, 10 miles into the 13-mile journey, my legs could run no longer! I wasn’t out of breath or tired, the top half of my body was ready to complete the final leg but my hips, quads and hamstrings were crying out ‘What the hell have you done to us?!!!’ and Abby and I had to get a lift to the finish line. The important thing though was that our job of collecting money was over and between us we had taken about a £1000 that day, maybe even more! Not bad for two cricket gals whose only running adventures involve running for a taxi after a night out! I do think the picture with Wales Rugby Beauty Jamie Roberts at the end of it all made my pain go away pretty quickly! Maybe I should have asked him to use his Doctor skills?

 

 

That day I got to meet one of my all-time sporting heroes. I’d seen him briefly one year in Blue Mango Indian Restaurant in Birmingham when I went for a meal with his statistician, but this was up close and personal, and something I’ll take with me for the rest of my life.

 

 

I know that I’m definitely putting my name down for it again next year and am encouraging everyone who reads this to walk with Beefy – It’s an amazing feeling. And what a way to kick off #cricketgirlsontour! If you’re not already, make sure you’re following me (@LilMissAshes) and Abby (@abbyosullivan) on Twitter to see what crazy things we get up to on our tour round the county grounds this year.

 

If you’d like to know more about Beefy Walk 2012 or would just like to make a donation, go to http://leukaemialymphomaresearch.org.uk/get-involved/beefys-great-british-walk-2012-0

Niall Goes to Bollywood!

Today, more and more cricketers are becoming known for their ‘extra-curricular’ activities. As the sport’s popularity is increasing, so is that of its biggest personalities.

This Winter I had the pleasure of conducting an interview with a cricketer discussing a topic I thought I never would with a sportsman! International cricketing superstar and feisty Ireland and Northants wicketkeeper, Niall O’Brien took time out of his busy schedule to talk to me about his latest venture into the world of acting. Niall and his Irish teammate William Porterfield starred in Unforgettable, a romantic Bollywood movie due for release this year.

 

Image courtesy of http://www.bleacherreport.com

 

After a long night of partying in London the night before, a slightly hungover Niall O’ Brien was surprisingly happy to discuss his latest venture with me over the phone!

S: Hi Niall, thank you for agreeing to this interview, especially the morning after the night before!

N: No problem at all!

S: First thing’s first, how does an Irish cricketer end up in a Bollywood movie?

N: Well it came about in India during the Cricket World Cup. I got approached by a friend who is a director. She needed some people for a film and asked us if we’d be keen and after some consideration we decided why not? I just thought it would be something fun to do!

S: Did you have a big part and was there a love interest?

N: Well I was only in three scenes but they were quite pivotal scenes if you were ever to see the movie. I found it quite strange they’d put someone who’s never acted before into 3 important scenes! It wasn’t a massive part but an important part. Was there a love interest? Yes, it was a romantic movie.

S: Have you got the love interest?

N: Yes, well, yes and no! It’s kind of an interesting one. If you watch it at the start you think I’m really into this girl but I’m not really. I try to help her help her fella with his eyesight! You’d say it was an emotional angle to a certain degree.

S: Has all that acting behind the stumps prepared you for your Thespian career?

N: My acting behind the stumps?

S: Yes!

N: <laughs> It’s a lot more difficult than anything I’ve ever had to do on the cricket pitch! I was most nervous for the first scene as it’s something I’ve never done before so I was totally out of my comfort zone! It’s a lot more nerve-wracking but thankfully I got through the first couple of lines and after that I was ok.

 

Image courtesy of http://www.thisislondon.co.uk

 

S: Don’t worry, that’s probably normal for first-timers! Next question, did they initially notice your Bhangra talents behind the stumps?

N: <laughs> Well I didn’t have to do any dancing unfortunately! I love having a bit of a dance!

S: Yes, that would’ve been right up your street!

N: I would’ve enjoyed a bit of Bhangra! It was actually more of an action scene I did, with a fight. More my thing really, with my cheeky attitude!

S: Did you get to do a fight scene?

N: There’s a fight scene in it yes, but I kind of stop the fight though.

S: Oh ok, that’s slightly opposite your usual character on the cricket pitch!

N: Well yes but that’s it, you’ve got to be able to evolve as an actor, you know?

S: Of course Niall! Of course! Now, do you see yourself as the next Colin Farrell?

N: I’d like to be the next Colin Farrell but I don’t think I’m going to be! You never know though! Already there’s been a bit of interest in India and they want me to do another movie in Cuba. I might not be the next Colin Farrell but there are opportunities there you know?

S: Sounds good to me! Go for it, I say! I really need to see this film.

N: You do have to watch it!

S: Is it on DVD yet?

N: It comes out Valentine’s Day.

S: Aww, romantic! Right, who’s the better actor, you or William Porterfield?

N: Me, but he did do well. The director said he was more suited to romantic movies and I was more suited to action movies!

S: I bet he loved that…

N: Ha, no he hated that!

S: Bless him! Are you interested in acting in any other film genres? Maybe a horror movie?

N: No, I’d like to be in an Irish movie if possible. An Irish, historic movie would be nice.

S: Let’s hope some director picks up on this interview then! Now, any tips for other cricketers wishing to pursue a film career?

N: Learn your lines in advance! It’s quite a pressurized situation when you’re trying to learn your lines in the morning and you’re filming a few hours later.

S: Did you forget any of your lines?

N: I forgot a few lines but generally I did pretty well.

S: Well done. Any more films in the pipeline?

N: Well there’s that one in Cuba, but I think it’s going to fall in the cricket season so I’ll have to watch. I do have to go to India in January to film some commercials.

 

Image courtesy of http://www.telegraph.co.uk

 

S: Are you huge in India yet?

N: I wouldn’t say huge yet but I’d like to get my name out more – there’s a huge market for cricket players over there.

S: I can believe that! Right, last question, what’s in store for Niall O’Brien in 2012?

N: Well, first and foremost, a big, successful season for Northants. I’ve got a big Twenty20 Cricket World Cup Tournament playing for Ireland in Sri Lanka in October. It would be great to play some T20 cricket in the IPL, fingers crossed!

S: Who would you most like to play for in the IPL?

N: Oh, any team!

S: You must have a favourite?

N: No, they’re all great. My last thing is I hope to have all round good health.

S: I wish that for you too Niall! Thank you for the interview today, no one like an inquisition when they’re hungover.

N: <laughs> Anytime!

S: But you Irish can handle your drink! Good luck for this year.

N: Thanks very much!

You can see Niall in action on Thursday 5th April in the LV County Championship as Northampton kick off their county campaign away to Derbyshire. If you can’t wait until then you can always watch his film Unforgettable on Valentine’s Day!

 

The Ocean’s XI Series: The Final Test

 

Umpires: M. Freeman, C. Eastwood

The George Clooney XI: G. Clooney, A. Banderas, R. Crowe, B. Pitt, R. Pattinson, J. Depp, A. Kutcher, H. Grant, P. Brosnan, C. Farrell, D. Craig.

The Matt Damon XI: M. Damon, B. Affleck, D. Day-Lewis, R. Downey Jr, J. Foxx, W. Smith, T. Cruise, B. Kingsley, E. Norton, D. Washington, M. Clarke-Duncan.

 

The George Clooney XI and the Matt Damon XI arrived this week at the Los Angeles Cricket Ground for the final match in this two-test series. The series winner takes home £10million, donated by Daniel Radcliffe. In his pre-match interview, Clooney expressed almost an over-confidence being already 1 nil up, including his usual mind games,

“Failure is not an option for us. We came here knowing that we’d be taking home that money. Matt’s an old friend of mine and his team have come very close a few times but our depth and talent has just proven to be too much for them. Our lower-order batting has been firing recently. The boys have been nagging to move up the order!”

Matt Damon however, chose not to retaliate to Clooney’s boasts,

“We’re one nil down but we’re going to play this match as if it’s still nil-nil. The £10 million might be out of our grasp but the £5 million split isn’t!!

The LACG was packed to the rafters within 30 minutes of the gates opening with all 80,000 tickets being sold. The tension throughout the ground was immense. They were silent for the coin toss, which Damon won to rapturous applause from the 15,000-strong Good Will Hunting fans. He chose to bat this time, stating he would not make the same mistake again like when he put Clooney in to bat first during their previous match.

************************

Damon and Affleck started the innings with gusto, sending a message to Clooney that they were not going out without a fight. Brosnan and Farrell proved expensive resulting in the reaction from Clooney of introducing the spin of Hugh Grant pretty early. This proved to pay off as opener Affleck was caught by Banderas for 35 off the bowling of Grant.

Captain Damon was next to go for 65 off 111, dismissed by Craig who’s wayward bowling was lucky to get him a wicket. Robert Downey Jr. failed to make an impact, also falling to Craig for 3, Craig shouting to him as he walked off,

“Can’t believe you got out to my pies, mate!”

Umpire Morgan Freeman was not impressed with this outburst and Craig was later fined 25% of his match fee.

At 146-3, Daniel Day-Lewis stepped up for the first time this series. He hit 9 fours in his 58 runs, prompting Clooney to try something different and giving Russell Crowe 6 overs. Crowe eventually had him caught by Keeper Kutcher.

Jamie Foxx was unlucky to fall 5 runs short of his half century after being removed by Brosnan. All-rounder Smith however pushed on to score 102 from 132 balls eventually succumbing to a Daniel Craig LBW, with the score at a respectable 418-6.

Wicket-keeper Tom Cruise provided excellent support to Smith scoring 85 himself before getting caught and bowled by Farrell. Hugh Grant was brought back on by Clooney and removed the last wickets for just 27 runs, leaving Michael Clarke-Duncan not out on 15. Damon’s team had posted the competitive total of 477 on a very two-paced wicket.

The Matt Damon XI 1st Innings

Batsman

M Damon   b D Craig 65 111
B Affleck c A Banderas b P Brosnan 35 64
D Day-Lewis c A Kutcher b R Crowe 58 99
R Downey Jr. c A Kutcher b D Craig 3 5
J Foxx c A Kutcher b P Brosnan 45 108
W Smith lbw b D Craig 102 132
T Cruise c and b b C Farrell 85 149
B Kingsley lbw b H Grant 15 35
E Norton c A Kutcher b H Grant 10 28
D Washington st A Kutcher b H Grant 2 6
M Clarke-Duncan not out   15 27
Extras   25nb  1w 1b 15lb 42  
Total   all out 477  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bowler

 

O

M

R

W

P Brosnan

32.0

2

131

1

C Farrell

32.0

3

122

1

D Craig

24.0

4

97

3

H Grant

29.0

4

102

4

R Crowe

6.0

2

9

1

 

Clooney admitted before their first innings that they would not get complacent as they were already one-nil up in the series. A two-nil whitewash was what they would be aiming for.

Edward Norton however had different plans of how this innings was going to pan out. Banderas could not deal with his swing and was out LBW for a 27-ball 7 runs. Crowe too had no reply to the reverse swing of Clarke-Duncan and was LBW for 1. Pitt was next out for 1 also to an in-swinging yorker off Norton.

Clooney’s team were ‘up the creek’ in the words of David Lloyd on commentary on 22-3, still 455 runs behind. Clooney himself could not stick around much longer and was caught by Downey Jr. for 27 off another Norton in-swinging yorker.

Robert Pattinson and Johnny Depp provided a little more resistance but were dismissed on 36 and 45, respectively, leaving them faltering on 157-6.

Questions of a follow-on were being thrown around with Clooney’s men still needed another 121 runs to avoid it, with only 4 wickets remaining.

Despite his excellent bowling in the first innings, Grant failed to add to the total, falling to Clarke-Duncan for a first-ball duck. 6 runs later, Kutcher was bowled by Smith for 27. Farrell lasted 5 runs but Brosnan was the one who fought to the end and showed the batsmen how to successfully face swing on that wicket, top-scoring with 47 from 44 balls, which included 3 massive sixes.

The George Clooney XI were all out for 218 and this the follow-on was enforced by Damon.

The George Clooney XI 1st Innings

Batsman

G Clooney c R Downey Jr. b E Norton 27 59
A Banderas lbw b E Norton 7 27
R Crowe lbw b M Clarke Duncan 1 6
B Pitt lbw b E Norton 1 3
R Pattinson lbw b D Washington 36 53
J Depp c B Affleck b M Clarke Duncan 45 66
A Kutcher c B Affleck b W Smith 27 36
H Grant c R Downey Jr. b M Clarke Duncan 0 1
P Brosnan c R Downey Jr. b M Clarke Duncan   47 44
C Farrell   b M Clarke Duncan   5 7
D Craig not out   3 9
Extras   16nb  1w  2lb 19  
Total   all out 218  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bowler

 

O

M

R

W

D Washington

9.0

1

48

1

E Norton

15.0

3

70

3

M Clarke-Duncan

14.1

4

44

5

W Smith

11.0

1

54

1

 

The win for Clooney and his team was looking unlikely at this point and you could see from the batting that they were happy playing for the draw. Clooney himself dug in hard allowing Banderas to play a little more flamboyantly. This plan failed however when Banderas holed one out off the bowling of Will Smith for 26 off 41 balls.

Crowe came in and batted positively also in support of his captain. Unfortunately for Clooney, the spin of Kingsley was just too great and he was caught at silly point for 61 off 112 balls.

To add salt to the wound, Crowe who was cruising along nicely was run out on 48 by substitute fielder Joaquin Phoenix, who was on for an injured Michael Clarke-Duncan. Crowe, who had had a ‘run-in’ with Phoenix earlier in the year in Rome, yelled up to Damon balcony on his way back to the dressing room, shouting about Clooney’s constant, ‘unnecessary’ use of specialist substitute fielders. This single act of petulance would later see him docked 75% of his match fee.

Brad Pitt could only add 13 to the score but Pattinson and Depp proved harder to shift for Damon. Pattinson eventually succumb to Norton’s swing for 56 off 170 – probably the slowest innings he had ever played in his life. Kutcher added on 11 before a stunning LBW from Norton. Depp also dug in with a 59 off 183 balls.

The George Clooney XI tail-enders were determined not to make the run-chase easy, and scored some valuable lower order runs. Grant’s was probably the most significant. He fell to his counterpart, spinner Kingsley for 45 of 42 balls. Washington soon removed Farrell and Craig, leaving Brosnan stranded on 26 not out. Any other day 387 would be a competitive score but given the follow-on circumstances, it meant that the Matt Damon XI needed only 129 runs to win the Test.

The George Clooney XI 2nd Innings

Batsman

G Clooney c R Downey Jr. b B Kingsley 61 112
A Banderas c B Kingsley b W Smith 26 41
R Crowe c run out   48 89
B Pitt c T Cruise b W Smith 13 30
R Pattinson c T Cruise b E Norton 56 170
J Depp lbw b D Washington 59 183
A Kutcher lbw b E Norton 11 11
H Grant st T Cruise b B Kingsley 45 42
P Brosnan not out   26 39
C Farrell c T Cruise b D Washington 19 26
D Craig   b D Washington 4 16
Extras   14nb 1nb 4lb 19  
Total   all out 387  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bowler

 

O

M

R

W

E Norton

27.0

7

72

2

M Clarke-Duncan

4.0

0

15

0

D Washington

30.0

5

93

3

W Smith

29.0

4

83

2

B Kingsley

28.0

3

107

2

R Downey Jr.

6.0

2

12

0

Clooney set a very attacking field right from the start of the run-chase. It wasn’t so much about slowing the rate, as 129 is not a lot to play with. It was about taking wickets. This resulted in all the top 3 batsmen which included Damon, Affleck and Day-Lewis being bowled cheaply by Hugh Grant. At 57-3, the pressure seemed to be getting to them.

Brosnan was next in the wickets column removing the next 3 batsmen in order, Downey Jr., Foxx and Smith. Grant then claimed Cruise as his fourth and Damon’s team were faltering on 116-7. They were only chasing 129 but Clooney’s bowlers were proving a potent force under pressure.

The pressure however was not too great for tail-enders Kingsley and Norton who managed to hit the remaining 13 runs, winning the match for the Matt Damon XI. Damon and his team, who had been sitting on the edge of their seats on the balcony watching their teammates, rushed the field in excitement. The Ocean’s XI Test Series was drawn.

 

The Matt Damon XI 2nd Innings

Batsman

M Damon c R Crowe b H Grant 27 22
B Affleck c R Pattinson b H Grant 23 37
D Day-Lewis c A Banderas b H Grant 0 6
R Downey Jr. c C Farrell b P Brosnan 3 20
J Foxx c A Kutcher b P Brosnan 23 34
W Smith   b P Brosnan 26 34
T Cruise c C Farrell b H Grant 3 13
B Kingsley not out   7 17
E Norton not out   8 13
Extras   5nb 4lb 9  
Total   all out 129  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bowler

 

O

M

R

W

P Brosnan

12.0

0

51

3

C Farrell

2.0

0

19

0

H Grant

13.5

2

31

4

D Craig

4.0

0

24

0

 

During the match presentation, it was explained that the £10 million prize money would be split 50/50. Both Captains Clooney and Damon agreed that they would be donating the entire £10 million to charity.

The match was played with a phenomenal amount of both passion and aggression, as most of the matches are between these two rivals, but all the players were in good spirits after the match and looking forward to their next encounter. This heated series saw both teams tasting blood, and there is no doubt that the next instalment between these two will be even more tantalising…

The George Clooney XI             1

The Matt Damon XI                  1

SERIES DRAWN