Posted by: nestaquin | August 11, 2009

Ashes 2009: Pushing the Panic Button

RamprakashAustralia’s dominant win at Headingley has not only the English cricketers mired in self-doubt but, it would appear, almost the entire press core and, if bloggers are illustrative of the broader population, the English cricketing public as well.

Completely ignoring Andrew Strauss’ plea to not panic and to let the dust settle before calmly reflecting on any selection issues there are reams of column inches devoted to the restructuring of England’s batting with many ludicrously making a case for the inclusion of veteran coryphée, Mark Ramprakash.

What many refuse to recognise is that belting Second Division County attacks around on flat wickets is not an ideal preparation for excelling against a rampant Australian pace attack.

In the lower realms of First Class cricket usually all you need to do is see off the best bowler or two safe in the knowledge that there will be some relief and easy runs when the change bowlers inevitably come to crease. Against the top nations in Test cricket this is rarely the case.

Robert Key is another who has had his name recklessly bandied about but he also plays in the Second Division. At 30, perhaps he does have a case for inclusion but the step up would be extreme and if he doesn’t field in slip he will be exposed in the field.

If England are indeed looking to find a top order bat at this late stage of the series perhaps a better place to look would be the England Lions team playing at Canterbury later this week.

Michael Carberry looks a good sort as does Joe Denly and Stephen Moore, and if there are to be changes you would expect them to realistically come from this trio. If positions were reversed the Australian method would be to inform all three that whoever performs best against the tourists in the coming match would have best chance at selection.

Competition within a squad is so vitally important to prolonged success as Australia have shown on this tour with Clark, Watson, Hauritz, Lee and even McDonald all pushing for selection at every opportunity.

It is quite astonishing that England still haven’t sorted out their most important batting position since Michael Vaughan hobbled off the scene shortly after the heady season of 2005. The best teams in world cricket play their most experienced batsman in the slot and they reap the rewards. India select Rahul Dravid, South Africa, Jacques Kallis and Australia, Ricky Ponting.

None of these three began their careers there either. As younger batsman they were given time to develop before taking the responsibility and yet England continually throw their most talented youngsters into the deep end. It shouldn’t surprise anyone with an inkling of cricketing perspective that they’ll fail more often than not.

For what it is worth, if I was an England selector I’d be considering Strauss at first drop and include one of the Lions trio above to accompany Cook to the crease to face the new ball.

This would give England’s best batsman and captain some respite after a long spell in the field. It would provide some grit and protection for the middle order and allow Bopara to bat at five, a more natural and forgiving position for a cricketer of his age and experience in the cauldron of an Ashes contest.


  1. Batting at #3 seems to be akin to facing a roomfull of tarantulas while nude to England’s cricketers.. Kev wasn’t keen at all on that possy and fought to the end and beyond not to be plonked there, one of a long list of Eng cricketers who have turned themselves inside out not to be there. Rav Bopara seemed to have been doing it while ingesting some large bucketfulls of Lithium, I was worried he would float upwards at times, so clearly out of reality was he. Perhaps that was the only way he could do it, I don’t know…

    I’ve been astounded by the calls for Ramprakash, but even more astounded by the plaintive wails for Trescothick, surely the simplest understanding of managing his condition is a total avoidance of such an event as a must win last Test? It makes me wonder if medical knowledge among the general public in Britain is back in the stone age.

  2. My Pop bred tarantulas for a hobby. They’re quite harmless little critters.

    Trescothick won’t play and shouldn’t and I’m glad because he is a fine bat and decent bloke. Also, players like Haddin and Watson wouldn’t be able to resist all the obvious sledges that his condition would provoke in a Test match.

    I’m reminded of a Shield match when Michael Slater was on the slide after being dropped from the Test squad and soon after bashing a reporter for having the temerity to ask a question.

    He was playing Victoria and after every ball between guffaws and giggles Darren Berry would say tick and Shane Warne at first slip would say tock.

    They kept it up ball after ball for about the first 40 minutes until Slater couldn’t take any more and demanded just what the fuck they were on about. To put it mildly, they told him that they knew he was mentally ill and they were counting down the seconds till he lost it again and the blokes in white coats came to whisk him away to a mental institution.

    Sure enough Slater blew his top and was out slogging soon after! Berry and Warne laughed as loud as possible as Slater trudged off where he smashed up the dressing room. Obviously, there’s more to sledging than just yelling out nasty comments.

    Some may think it harsh but they actually did him a favour. He sought help after that, retired from cricket soon after and got his life back on track with the aid of counselling and drugs to treat his condition.

  3. Dear Slats.. It’s a tough gig playing Cricket for and in Au. Gee , Nesta.. it must be one of the toughest jobs in the world being an Eng cricket fan. The wear on the nerves must be intolerable.

    I see Roebuck is up to his bloody nonsense again, trying to justify his ridiculous rubbish after the India /Sydney match.. he must be feeling safe again. Time to shoot off another email, just like 16,000 other AU’s in one hour last time..

  4. Wasn’t it Ramprakash who jumped on the bandwagon with Harbhajan etc and claimed to have been racially abused in AU ??

    That ought to get him a bit of a tonk should he be parachuted in at this stage.. abuse by leather, I suppose.

  5. Duncan Fletcher is floating the ‘inevitability’ of FatBoy Key being THE MAN for the job.. Headingly must have nearly finished Dunc off. Dunc was all wound up with indignation about Ricky and he’s been cut off at the knees a tad. To see the Punter grinning away has no doubt put Duncans hemarrhoids in a frenzy, a matter I will not refer to again unless provoked.

  6. England will be better in the next Test even if they keep the same team plus Flintoff. All this angst is unnecessary and unproductive and is a hindrance to Flower and Strauss.

    They’ve played pretty well since being within a whisker of going down by an innings at Cardiff and if the Press really want their charges to triumph they should pump them up instead of tearing them down.

    Fair dinkum, Ravi must be wondering what parallel universe he has been molested into. Four weeks ago the same mob thought he was the best young bat on Earth!

    • The way the press have been carrying on, you would think the Ashes are lost!

      These sorts of mood-swings make for tiresome reading. They could tinker with the line-up rather than chop people. I don’t see how they can dump Bell after 2 matches, regardless of how mank he has looked and I am not sure that Bopara actually deserves the coals being heaped on his head. Colly has had one decent match, Cook not much better.

      Both teams are well up for falling apart so I can’t see where the series is going.

  7. Luckily the football season’s starting which’ll save us in England from from ten days’ worth of Ramps/Key/Trescothick etc dominating the sports news. There’s only so much that can be said about the situation and I think it’s largely been covered already. The BBC are running with ‘Ramprakash in contention’ when in actual fact it’s just that Miller has said he isn’t ruling anyone out. Bit of a difference there.

    The Trescothick idea’s a nonsense, the Key one less so. Something’s awry if they’re prepared to play him at number 5 in a T20 match but not at number 3 in a test, however it was the first decisio0n that was a nonsense there. Still, he’s obviously been in and around the mind of the selectors.

    By bringing, say, Carberry in and dropping Strauss to 3 and Bopara to five, I assume you’re leaving Bell out altogether?

    • It would appear that someone is going to pay the price for Headingley and it is undoubtedly Bopara, Bell or both. My hope is that they both play because Bopara cannot read Hiflenhaus and Bell has no idea against Johnson.

      • I think there’s such a clamour to make changes that someone will go. Given that they’ve just brought him back my suspicion is that Bell will stay and Bopara will be allowed to rediscover his form in county cricket, otherwise it’ll be seen in some quarters as an admission that they got it wrong in recalling Bell in the first place. Which would give them the options of following the path you outlined above or putting Bell at three and bringing Trott in down the order.

        • I don’t expect the England selectors to do anything as sensible as I’ve outlined. They’ll cover their arse as you suggest and probably bat someone like Trott out of position at three. Bell at three would be a disaster! Australia would relish the prospect. His technical ability is a myth and Johnson and co would love another chance to prove it.

  8. Perchino has it right. The British Media have had their longest period without football (no international tournament this summer) and have no Olympics either. Ramps is a celebrity here, has lots of media connections, a smart agent and, importantly, is London-based, so it’s an easy story. In fact, a non-story. The public at large know that England need some new blood and he is the other cricketer they recognise apart from Flintoff, so there’s a bit of talk.

    I suspect my choice of Hildreth (24, plays with Langer and Tresco at Somerset, has a triple hundred this season and averages 60) will lose out to Rob Key, with Carberry the outside bet (he’s a black Hayden in build, if not skill). Key had a disappointing 2008, but I’ve seen him play a bit and he’s perfectly mobile and fit and he has a lot of strokes these days. He’ll be phlegmatic at the crease and might well succeed – he’s probably very like his ex-county colleague Marcus North, and he’s doing okay.

    I don’t see any attack being rampant at The Oval, but solid bowling may be enough to see off England, but maybe not.

    • Why is Hildreth not in the Lions squad? If he was a chance at selection for The Oval surely he’d be in that squad.

      For the record, if The Oval is as flat as previous matches in the last month indicate then surely a draw is more likely than any other result.

      And Toots, is there a yellow, green or orange Hayden hiding in County cricket too?

  9. If the England management had any balls they would have forced KP to play at 3 ages ago. I agree it’s incomprehensible that anyone who’s ever seen a test match would think it a good idea to put your most inexperienced and mentally fragile players at first drop. Then again Australia put a 20 year old in to open!

    I’m not sure it’s a good idea to move Strauss. What will the effect be on Cook? I don’t think he would cope well being the senior opener. But I can’t say who I’d bring in. I’m not averse to brining in the pieman even though he’s not exactly knocking the door down. But if he just hangs around for half an hour and lets Bell/Bopara come in later on to a soft ball and tired bowlers, then he doesn’t need to score any runs.

    • In defence of Hughes’ selection, he has broken several records held previously by Bradman and in Durban became the youngest batsman to score centuries in each innings in a Test match. He’ll be back and was dropped because he was out of form not because he was no good.

      • Hughes’ record is incredible and I completely agreed with his selection. But I also agreed with the selectors’ decision to drop him, as he needs to work or eliminating the chances his unorthodoxy presents to Test bowlers. I expect him to return in 2013 and deliver like Michael Clarke in 2009.

        • I agree Hughes is very talented and will come back and score thousands of runs for Australia. While I thought he looked very strange in SA and constantly looked like getting out, like most fans I also lapped up his runs and dared to dream that we had unearthed another Bradman.

          However I’m not sure how it can be right for him to get picked and also right for him to be dropped. Maybe if he had another year or two under his belt this technical problem would have been identified and fixed before his entry onto the test scene? A lot of Australia’s success has been built on picking players in their mid- to late-twenties rather than 20-year olds which helps to reduce the revolving door of selection as many of their flaws have been ironed out in advance.

  10. Pleasing comments for mine from Hilditch here. l’m really looking forward to these guys bowling together over the next 2-3 years and perhaps most importantly l think they are too. Credit to the selectors for some good decisions on Hilf (was no certainty first test), Hughes, Watson and sticking by MJ.,25197,25915004-2722,00.html

    Regardless of results, its so refreshing to see a younger and hungrier side after some of the somewhat jaded and heavy veterans took a while to move on. There is a real sense of fight in this unit that hasn’t actually been there for a long time (and l suppose wasn’t needed for a fair while and went out of practice somewhat).

    Personally l was as thrilled with that away SA win as any l can remember and will be extremely pleased to hold on to the urn if we can. Come home and rebuild again over the Summer and slowly get stronger again – l really like the look of Callum Ferguson, Hughes will be back and l think Jon Holland is on a fast track. For our lowest ebb in 20 years we’re tracking very well…

    • ‘somewhat’….’again’….’track’. Lazy writing on holidays….

      • I agree, Japaljarri, the criticism that the Aussie bowlers have taken is quite something, considering none of them apart from Clark have played here before. I like the look of Johnson, Siddle and Hilfenhaus as a unit, did from the first day in SA. But then I was so happy when Hilfy was finally picked for test cricket on the SA tour. Great workhorse to have around.

  11. Why not Michael Vaughan? He’s not in any great touch, mind, but he’s had recent international cricket experience (as opposed to Key) and isn’t fazed by the Aussies (as opposed to Ramps, all those years ago).

    For a one-off, knockout-type game, you don’t need to worry about the future etc, and anyway,the bit of cricketing action for England is only in 16 months or so (see what I did there?), so plenty of time to bed in Bopara et al.

    And, I’m sure Vaughan himself won’t mind – he’s no shrinking violet, and I daresay (only conjecture) he’ll want to go out a cast-iron Ashes hero, along with Freddie.

    So, my lineup – Cook, Strauss, Vaughan, Collingwood, Bopara, Prior, Flintoff, Broad, Swann, Anderson, Onions. This team will compete.

    P.S. – Does any batsman have a higher P/E ratio than Ian Bell?

    • Rajesh – MPV couldn’t buy a run in county cricket and retired in June. His eyes have gone I think.

      Japal – It’s a great feeling to see a young side fight and come through. I feel a bit of that re Hilfy who does all that I want in a bowler and if The Ashes are retained, he’d be my man of the series as he came in with barely any cricket and has stood up over and over again. Punter has batted to expectation, Clarke above that, North too, but sometimes under little pressure, but Hilfy has done it with sometimes little or no support at the other end. And if Punter had bowled him in the last hour at Cardiff, surely the Ashes would be settled now.

  12. I agree with all those who say that Eng need not panic now.The current squad has shown that it can compete.Cook is getting starts and Strauss is in good touch.

    I think Bopara should be persisted with.And if they want to fire Bell, they have Trott in the squad.Else, the Hildreth chap or Denly.

    Bopara’s problem is more in the mind than with his technique, I think. I also feel the current Australian attack is not experienced enough to suss out a batsman’s weakness and bowl accordingly.They are all bowlers with great potential, but they are still works in progress. A couple of seasons down the line, these bowlers will learn more about their games, and could even become consistent world beaters.

    So, for now, if Bopara focuses on protecting his wicket and gets into the 20s or 30s, I am sure the strokes will flow after a while.He just needs to have that patience.See some old videos of Dravid, Kallis etc.

    • Sorry..the last line in para 2 above should read: ..and could become consistent world beaters.

      • Yes, they are definitely works in progress and need an experienced player like Clark alongside them. But they look good for the future and I’m happy for the time being, win/draw or lose this series. They have to be persisted with.

        MJ drives me nuts but if he gets dropped I would only want it to be temporary, to make him get his chin out of the dirt. He has too much talent to be wasted.

  13. I disagree to some extent about worrying about the future – Hayden milk a few good years out of the 5th test in 2005.

    I have to admit I really really feel sorry for Bell, and that will double if he’s dropped for this match.

    He gets made the scapegoat for the team’s failure in one game in the West Indies and is dropped.

    The next couple of tests are played on pitches so flat and true that the matches become outstandingly boring runfests. (with hindsight we can now say – so flat even Ravi looked good)

    Then they come back to England and play a West Indies team who show a contemptible attitude to any game lasting more than 3 hours and its more runs for the batsman. (with hindsight we can now say – they were so disinterested they made even Ravi look good)

    It would have done his confidence the world of good to have played in those games. If only to prove to himself that he can face fast bowling.

    Instead he’s left to start again in County cricket, where no matter how many runs you score, there is still the “next step” to take at test level.

    Then he misses out on both a mis-firing Mitch and a very flat track at Cardiff. As he proved in Birmingham he was never going to be as wound up as Ravi in the first test.
    He gets a good half century on his return then fails with everyone else in Leeds.

    Now he is in sight of another good batting track, but his career may not last long enough for him to see it.

    If he’s dropped mid-series rather than replaced by the injured player returning, how can they ever expect him to be of any use to them again? For the future of English cricket I’d say after how they have treated him these last 6 months they simply have to keep Bell in for this game.

    I think moving Strauss to 3 is a very good option, and I’d leave Collingwood out – leaving him out until Pietersen is fit. For so long I thought England needed Collingwood for the betterment of Pietersen, but it’s starting to look more and more like it’s a proper double act and one is not as effective without the other.

  14. Bell at 5, Bopara at 6 and Prior at 7 looks a whole lot better than anything seen in this series.

    I’ve enjoyed Prior’s batting and although at a class below his willingness to go after the loose delivery from ball one reminds me of how Gilchrist played. At six he needs to be responsible but I reckon if he was able to come in one drop later he could be very damaging.

    Of course that won’t happen at The Oval but without Flintoff, going forward England need to find a balance that can win Test matches. Broad isn’t a number seven any more than Bopara is a number three at the top level so they need to sort out their bowling as well as their batting before taking on South Africa later in the year.

    • Actually, if Watson can be an opener, I see no reason why Broad could not be a number 3. He can be technically very sound when he wants to be, even if at times he seems to have all the luck in the world. I know most on here seem to really dislike him, but I’d argue that he has the right temperament for a 3, even if it is from the Dean “take those sweat bands off please Curtly” Jones school. Maybe England should consider trying him out there in some oneday games?

      • He may go alright in a 50 over match but a Test No.3 should have the ability and temperament to bat three sessions when conditions suit. Has Broad ever done that in First Class cricket?

        • Has he been given the chance? He’s shown he had a decent defensive technique as well and an ability to attack, plenty of raw material to work with there.

          • Good lord, JimDavis, he can bat, but he is very chancy. I have never really seen him play a composed innings so what makes you think he can bat at 3? What expectations people have of this player. He got dropped 3 times on Sun morning. Or was it Sat?

            His bowling is improving, slowly but surely though.

  15. Broad is an 8 now, but at 23 he has time to become at least a 7 and, in a different style, I can see him as prolific as Vettori with the bat.

    Prior is a top six bat whom we would love to play at 7, but I suspect he will be at 6 until a place can be found for Rashid who has the best chance of batting 6 and taking three wickets per match.

    If I were to guess, I suggest Broad will get his both his averages to 35 soon (currently 30 and 38), which will do for me. Prior is already averaging 46. England really need a 3 who can average 48 and opening bowlers who average 28 or less. Find those, and a 6, 7, 8 of Prior, Broad and Swanny (average 34) will look very handy indeed even if 9, 10, 11 are complete bunnies.

    • But Tooting you will want your 9/10/11 to shit hot bowlers, won’t you?

      Swann has been a real disappointment in this series thus far.

  16. Can someone shed more light on why Flintoff needs to play at the Oval and equally why Broad should play ?

    Flintoff – has been living on the 05 series deeds and his returns this series has been pathetic. He has 7 wickets , 5 of which came in that one innings in Lords. Yet going by what the media here says – he is a must ??? I’m sorry but I don’t see any logic in having a crocked, over hyped egomaniac playing !

    As to Broad – words fail me. His bowling avg is in the high 30’s and yet all and sundry point to the fact that he can contribute handily with the bat – WTF is that all about ???

    What England needs to understand is that they should be thanking the rain for saving them in two tests – Cardiff and also at Birmingham. I’m sorry but Aus were effectively 270/5 in that match – and I would dearly love to know if England fancied a chase of 320 odd in that match.

    Aus have hit the straps from the second innings in Birmingham and the gulf is open for all to see. What makes it worse for Eng is that, this Aus is anything but hot, and yet they have been able to humiliate Eng at Leeds !

    If I were an English selector – I would be a very worried man. Forget the Ashes, the present English team are no beter than WI !

    • The English feel Flintoff is indispensible for the very same reason many Australian’s believe the series is now in the bag despite all the inconsistencies this team have shown in 2009. As you can see by this thread alone, everyone will have their own cherry picked stats to back their own case up. It’s one of the reasons I wish there were more of these longer series.

  17. Tifosi – Test cricket seldom reduces to a single reading. Here’s mine, somewhat different to yours.

    First Test, England made 435 which gave the bowlers a chance.

    Second Test, England had a first innings lead over over 200 and won.

    Third Test, England had a first innings lead of 113 and the bowlers couldn’t take their chance.

    Fourth Test, England came second.

    So that’s chances made in three of four Tests. One more chance like those created and Punter will be awake at night, fire alarm or not, dreaming of Two-Time Ashes Loser headlines. Once that thought starts creeping into the Aus mindset, Headingley will seem a long time ago.

    Of course, there’s a lot of work for England to do, but who said Test match cricket was easy?

    • Tooting trumpet

      I’ll take the very same examples you’ve given just to highlight my point !

      1. First test Eng scored 435 in the first innings and YET came within a wicket of losing the match – not quite impressive is it ?

      2. Second test – a lead of over 200 and having set a target of 522, managed a win by 100 runs. Fair enough but there were enough incidents that could have swung the match – but will not use them as excuses. Eng won well.

      3. Third test – inspite of having a lead of over a 100 after the first innings, somehow end of the match, Aus had a lead of 270 with 5 wickets in hand.

      So barring bad weather, it should have read Aus 2, Eng 1. And with the debacle in Leeds, the Ashes would have been retained comfortably !

      All said and done, this way atleast there is something to look forward to at the Oval!

      • Its certainly a benevolent read from you Toots. l think AUS has shaded the draws in that Cardiff was mighty close! The third test saw ENG miss a golden chance but AUS ended in a very comfortable position. And our win was more comprehensive. Not that this matters as momentum has been the story of the series. Hopefully AUS can hold on to it, it was strange how strong it felt coming out of the Third Test that AUS would play well in the Fourth. The Fifth can now stand alone as a decider and when you get down to it as much as l hope we win, l will be cock a hoop to retain the Ashes away in whatever manner.

        MJ must play the tour match l think he is the kind of guy that plays better the more he bowls. Hats off to Hilf, Clarke and North, as you alluded earlier, if we make it. Quality guts.

        • Tifosi and Japal – It is a benevolent view, but it’s intended to offset a pro-Aus view as presented by Tifosi above. It is all to play for and, with both sides making chances and failing to take them, the result may well be in doubt to the end.

        • I think the major problem for England at this juncture is the default position of playing for a draw, which dogs their mindset and is protrayed in their body language on a consistent basis. This time England must win, no ifs or buts, but the mind of English cricket players has always got a draw in the back of the mind, and quite often from the get go. It s the culture, and a lot of effort is put into it.

          A very big hurdle.

          • But AU, which only needs a draw to retain the Ashes, will be playing for a win. A draw is hardly expressed as desirable in any match for AU cricket, and is scorned mostly. The Punter won’t be thinking about a draw, talking about a draw, or whistling about a draw.

            • At Old Trafford in 2005, Punter led his side to a draw that was celebrated, rightly, by the Aus team. The most negative play I have ever seen was when Punter had the part-timers on in India presumably to up the over rate but it ceded the initiative.

              In general, Aus do go for wins and I respect them for it. England can be negative, especially in taking the light whilst on top, but the fact is that both teams can play for wins and can play for draws, be positive or be negative, as history shows. England will play positively at The Oval – they have no choice anyway – but Punter’s approach will be interesting. I still feel that he will offer nothing in the way of a target, happy with 1-1 – and fair enough, says I.

  18. repeating the mantra of Ricky as two time loser as many times as possible, wherever possible is a very necessary coping tool for your average Eng cricket fan, one that I understand perfectly. At this time, never more necessary, nor , in fact, essential, I imagine.. how else could your average Eng cricket fan survive otherwise? ..

    Of course, there is a lot of work for England to do, and of course, one has to ask, how can it be accomplished in days? And the answer to that is, hardly. The scale of the work ,and the tools wherewith to work are of such calibre that it has the aura of the Augean stables about it, and I do mean horsepuckey in no uncertain terms..

    But I expect it to be a good , if not great game, an England collapsing is really one of the highlights of anyone’s cricket year, luckily we are all, all over the world, treated to this quite often, with ever more wierd combinations of factors that it quite overtakes the actual cricket sometimes… and that’s ok, too, I don’t mind it at all.

  19. well. sending Cook , Bopara and Bell back to the county matches has been a roarin success.

  20. “At Old Trafford in 2005, Punter led his side to a draw that was celebrated, rightly, by the Aus team”
    Nope. they fended off a loss, not the same thing at all. Youre too good a cricket commentator toots, to fight battles you cant win. dont be baited.

    of course ponting will take a draw but he knows the best way to be sure is to play for a win. as he did in his last innings.

    • Fred – I agree that there are good draws and bad draws, but a draw is a draw and to say that Aus don’t play them out (as they did at Edgbaston) is wrong. The quote is, “A draw is hardly expressed as desirable in any match for AU cricket, and is scorned mostly.” Well there’s two examples in the last nine Ashes Tests in the UK with not a shred of scorn. Aus do play admirably positive cricket, but they take a draw when the match and / or series situation demands it – and why not?

      (As a postscript, had Punter declared at Edgbaston at Tea 180 ahead and England batted as they did when next they faced the Aus bowlers, we’d be 1-2 now. So it’s not all gung-ho is it?)

      • There is also two examples in the last nine tests where there was plenty of scorn.

        • Australia is never gung ho. noone said they were. generally theyre coldly professional. and they take a draw as a last resort. weve seen enough ridiculous victories, like adelaide, and sydney vs india, to see they never give up.

          • Never give up is right for any Aus team at anything – but that’s a different point.

            My example of Punter not having a little go at Edgbaston surely shows that a draw has currency for Aus as it does for all sides. In the same position, I wouldn’t have wanted England to declare at Tea 180 ahead with thirty overs to be bowled, but I could see a case when one-down and someone would have said “Typically negative England.”. I was slightly bemused that Punter didn’t release Siddle and MJ to bowl some bouncers and attempt to rattle England once the asking rate was 10 an over.

            No criticism of Punter – just illustrating that Aus settle for a draw, as do all countries.

            • youre stretching things too much to make your point. declaring to require 10 an over for 30 overs is suicide. Aus never had a chance at edgbaston. not “having a little go”? you mean a huge risk with downside of possible 2 0 down?
              releasing mj was a highly dubious prospect at that point too. he was already very “released”

              • Fred – I agree, but I think Aus play for the draw sometimes.

  21. Bell with 1 Bop with 1 and Cook with 4.

    It is almost too cruel.

    but then, . being Australian.. nothing can be cruel enough, really..

  22. Things are so desperate , Fred, all my dreams might come true..

    yes!!!… Saj, and NIXON!!..

    Hang in there, Saj!!!…

    • The last time the Aussies saw Nixon, he was celebrating a win in the ODI series.

      • Was that the one just before we won the World Cup :)

        • Japal – It might have been!

  23. Trott gone too, now.. oh dear, oh dear oh dear..

  24. Tooting, agree with you about Hilfenhaus. Considering half the cricketworld was saying Hilfenwho? when he was picked to open the bowling at Cardiff, (with 3 tests under his belt) he seems the most unruffleable (is that a word) of characters and has been by quite some margin the most consistent bowler in the tournament.

    • Nesta really bigged up Hilfy, so I expected a lot when I saw him vs SA. I wasn’t disappointed and was very keen that the selectors prefer Lee or Clark in the First Test. I rate Clark too, but I couldn’t see him playing five Tests in seven weeks and didn’t want him coming in late in the series to prey on batsmen who were playing for places.

      For all the excellent batting of Clarke and North, if Hilfy had been playing for England, I think we’d be ahead now, so I think he’s the biggest difference in the sides.

      • I was so pleased when he was picked for SA and I thought he bowled excellently without taking too many wickets. And when I saw he was starting in Cardiff I actually cheered out loud and I was at work.

        I have been waiting for him to get picked for tests for about 2 years, it feels like.

  25. oh no Toots.. no no no.. .. we all saw Nixon in the worlds odi’s.. oh dear.. probably not tactful to mention that particular episode for England..

    the fear!!!… I shall always remember the fear on Vaughans face, and then Bells, then .. was it Strauss?? Collingwood, then Pietersen and so on.

    and Nixon.. 101 balls to go and 99 runs to get.

    fluffed it. Frozen with fear. I can’t remember who was his partner, surely it wasn’t Saj??

  26. apropos of Nixon, I see he has stormed out of Liecestershire.. cranky about something or other, thrown the towel in.

  27. When they do the big end of summer clearout at Leicestershire they’ll probably find umpteen sets of blue teeth that Nixon left behind, and an old dusty corset, as well.

  28. he got so close so many times, Lou.. . so close. sometimes he was 12th man and I thought, . oh yes. this time,.. …. it was a long long wait.

    I’d like a bit of the other Tas bloke, Geeves, as well. Maybe in the odi’s, or 20/20.. I think he is awfully good.

  29. I don’t think Geeves is as talented as Sids, Hilfy or Johnson so I don’t know where he will fit.

    Probably mentally stronger than MJ, but then who isn’t?

  30. Geeves writes a very funny blog though.

  31. Mitch is much better since someone from the Brudders donged his Mum on the head. Lots of people chipped in and sent Mum Johnson on a cruise to Mawson Base, I think.

  32. his and Ian OBriens (NZ) are fabulous stuff and right on the money , too. Ian is merciless to AU, and when he gets a tizzy on about AU bowlers, it’s terrific.

  33. Nesta, that thing about informing them that the best performer will be picked doesn’t hold always. Otherwise Hilfy might not have been picked for Cardiff. I thought he had bowled himself out of contention for the series in the warm-up matches and I was pretty peeved in consequence.

    And it doesn’t hold at all for MJ.

    • I was confident Hilfy was going to play. The reason he didn’t play the second tour match was because he was already in the team. Lee muddied the waters and confused many outsiders by bowling very well but in truth that only put pressure on Siddle. If Lee hadn’t broke down the attack would have been Hilfy, Lee and Johnson. If Lee bowls spectacularly in the two day match that might be the attack at The Oval too.

      Also, when Hayden was booted Jaques and Hughes were put under pressure and told that whoever bats best in the remaining Shield match would be most likely to get his position. From memory, it was in Newcastle, at least two selectors were present, and Jaques failed whereas Hughes scored a big ton.

  34. Really? I wouldn’t have guessed that. I saw Lee careering towards the team as soon as they picked him to tour.

    That is why I was so pleased about the Hilfy Cardiff selection. It made so much sense to me, he was the one bowler I thought would do well here.

  35. Journalists must be loving how the current series has developed. It seems the same stories are being rerun now as were run after Lord’s with only the names changed. Must make for such an easy life

    Anyone remember Justin Langer saying he would play the third test for nothing if asked for Edgbaston? It caused a little stir, but nothing like the Ramprakash story now.

    As a side note: I wonder if the release of the Langer email the day after Watson had scored his third 50 on the trot was retribution for opening his mouth about the Hughes issue?

  36. I’m astounded at the unrelenting garbage about who goes in, when it hasn’t been stated who goes out, as yet. It just won’t go away.

    In relation to this, there was something very awful about sending Cook and Bop and Bell and etc ‘back to the counties’.. it had the air of nannyish exasperation that truly has no part in adult sport. The results could well have been forseen, if not worse than what they were.

    I truly thought it was cruel and about as non productive, and forseeably non productive as it gets. There was nothing worthwhile in it, practise in private would have been more reasonable ( isn’t that what high paid coaches are for? all the professional attendants etc?? ) and the public horridness was .. well. .


    There are some strange undercurrents in English cricket that do not bear close examination. Doors should remain firmly shut.

  37. I don’t think it matters who England pick.

    If Australia play to their best, then any English line up will not be good enough to beat them.

    If is a big word though. I’m desperate for MJ to have a couple of spells like he bowled in SA and the ashes will be all but secure.

    Can’t wait.

    • MJ only needs one of those spells to do real damage, but who knows how his head is? It should be in the right spot after a win and a great bowling spell in the second innings, but I wouldn’t dream of second-guessing him.

  38. Dang!!… Dyson sacked from the WI.. hopefully, this won’t mean a shambolic tour this summer by the WI in AU.. urrgh. Strikes, sulks, snarls..

  39. and here’s a nice letter from Ramps to his dear old Mum..,25197,25925631-5001505,00.html

  40. Still Ramps can be a short term solution……..

    Think you know alot about cricket???
    Test your cricket knowledge


  41. yet again, with unrequested yet predictable generosity, England selectors have continued the program of gifting the usual 10% of any score to any opposition, SA, SriLa, Ind, WI, Au, Banga, whomesoever, but this time they have even surpassed my expectations, with Bell.

    Such generosity to Australia, at this time, is quite over the top, yet , there is something so familiar about it all.

    What can one say? Thankyou doesn’t seem big enough, really.

  42. If they do drop Bopara, I hope they do so with an apology for not realising he wasn’t up to being a No 3 so soon, and for not sticking in the more experienced Bell there and dropping him down to, say, No 5, with the more experienced Collingwood expected to shoulder a bit.

    And I hope Bell thanks the umpires for letting him off three times on his way to 50 in the third test, and for organizing a pair for poor ol Ravi in the next.

    And both of them plus Trott should thank Vaughan for playing paintball instead of properly preparing himself for a comeback.

    And they can all thank the ECB for the excellent mental disintegration job they did on Pietersen over the last 10 months or so.

  43. Bell at number 3? I bet MJ is licking his lips already.

    Bring it on.

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