Why The News Is Good For The Australians!

I’m a pessimistic sod and so, as an English fan, expected bad, bad things going into the Ashes. Now, of course, that pessimism has been somewhat chastened but I’ve desire to let myself get too confident: that way a Ponting a hundred and a good, old fashioned English batting collapse lie. Here, then, is that case for Aussie optimism. Naturally I hope that all these speculations will be proved about as right as Tony Greig‘s, Glenn McGrath‘s or General John Sedgwick‘s.

  • Australia’s batting slump can’t go on forever. Phillip Hughes and Steven Smith are talented young batsmen; Michael Clarke has found his feet; Hussey’s yet to fail this series and it’s foolish to expect that Ponting won’t hit back in time. Remember, Britons, with a shudder, the second innings at Old Trafford.
  • Against this imposing line-up England have a crippled unit. Stuart Broad, their fastest bowler, has been lost to injury while Tremlett, Bresnan and Shahzad were as effective as a—well—Bollinger this weekend. No, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more runs than a nervy English debutante that no one warned not to eat out in India.
  • Australia’s bowlers could be more effective in this test. Perth should suit Ryan Harris and, if he can get his act together, Mitchell Johnson better than Brisbane or Adelaide. And, while Peter Siddle had a rotten game last week, a man who took a hat-trick against England and, remember, skittled them out for a hundred last year isn’t just an, er – angry porcine face. An on-form Shane Watson and, perhaps, some leggies from Steve Smith will give Ponting the extra firepower that Strauss call upon while, though even a piece as facetiously Aussiephilic as this isn’t going to predict marvellous things for Michael Beer, it would be foolish to discount an unknown quality. Nick Cook, Peter Taylor and one Graham Swann were all obscure or unexceptional performers who made a quick impact on the international scene.
  • They’ll be bowling at a team who’ve yet to really prove themselves. Three innings—one of which was a failure and another of which was enacted by the top three batsmen—aren’t enough on which to judge a batting line-up. Strauss, despite a brilliant hundred, has looked shaky early on; Collingwood seems of touch and Prior’s hardly got a bat. Naturally any one of those, or the in-form Bell, or last game’s centurions should could superbly but against a strong attack and on a less friendly pitch it’s dangerous to assume they will. Against the Aussies, Pakistan and even Bangladesh England have looked fragile at times. They’ve got much to prove.
  • England have had all the luck. Injured opponents? A freak run out? Pietersen getting a wicket? Let’s face it, England have played well but they’ve had all the luck. Well, except for the first three days when the Australians ran riot. Oh ye sons of Albion, that pendulum shall swing again!
Published in: on December 11, 2010 at 7:24 pm  Comments (4)  
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An All-Round Failure…

A spectre is haunting England – the spectre of a new Flintoff. It would be as welcome as a socialist utopia but it’s just as likely to be achieved. Who could take the mantle? Bresnan is a decent player but in terms of the boost he’d give the side he’s a pro-plus to Flintoff’s 4o,000 volts. He’s more like a new Mark Ealham. Broad’s a talented strokeplayer but anyone who’d feel assured to watch him mosey out at six is hopelessly naive or, er – Australian. No one matches up and yet I fear that the selectors might pursue Sir Humphrey’s old maxim, “Something must be done. This is something. Therefore we must do it.” We need an all-rounder. Here is an all-rounder. Therefore, pad ‘im up and send ‘im in with four wickets down.

This would be a singularly foolish move: pick an all-round average player and they might get a duck, feed Ponting’s run-lust and waste room on the team coach. It’s akin to doing away with a serviceable bike in favour of a car that doesn’t start. You can’t always get what you want.

About the only worthwhile option might have been Samit Patel. As well as being a fine batsman, he could have doubled up with Swann on spin-conducive pitches like Sydney and Adelaide. Regrettably the selectors feel he doesn’t match up to their ascetic fitness demands. To use an out-of-place proverb, you can’t have your cake and eat it.

Published in: on November 8, 2010 at 1:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The English Anticipated…

In these disconcerting times of England being above average it’s good to take a look back to when, season after grim season, we’d scrape a win over Zimbabwe or New Zealand and go on to receive a 4-1 kicking in the Ashes. What better way to celebrate those times than by remembering our ineffectual stalwarts: those players who burst on the scene; made a 30 or took wickets on debut and then slid into a pattern of county successes, anticipation and beleaguered test returns. Push aside your Best 11s and spare a nostalgic thought for the English speculated…

  • M. Lathwell
  • N. Knight
  • M. Ramprakash
  • R. Key
  • J. Crawley
  • M. Ealham
  • C. Read
  • M. Bicknell
  • R. Kirtley
  • An English Shane Warne
  • A. Mullally

One could rely on Ramprakash to hit a lovely innings every fifth game or so, inspiring whispers that he’s finally arrived at test level. Chris Read, meanwhile, would prompt suggestions that he’d have flourished if Alec Stewart, Geraint Jones, Matt Prior and whoever succeeds him hadn’t blocked the way. After their opposing side, the Australian Sadists, had flayed An English Shane Warne and picked up an inevitable duck from Al Mullally we could sigh and murmur, “Ah, well, next time“. At least we’d know there was a next time.

Published in: on October 29, 2010 at 11:43 am  Leave a Comment  
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We Want You To Do To Australia’s Batting What The Germans…

This training schedule for the England team is wonderfully surreal…

As well as boxing sessions, the camp in Germany included hiking and abseiling and was rounded off with a visit to the former Dachau concentration camp.

The first three might build team spirit but — Dachau? I wouldn’t want to play cricket after seeing Dachau. I barely want to live after even thinking of the place. Still, perhaps it does the trick. Next April I’ll pay a visit to the gulag at Vorkuta. That might fix my dodgy backlift.

Published in: on October 16, 2010 at 1:27 am  Comments (2)