Ashes Panel #002 – Cook, Smith, KP and Memories

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Mainly decent reactions thus far to the first Ashes panel, so the pressure is on for me to keep up the questions. I’m sorry, but I lapsed with question 5, and one of my respondents wrote a wonderful piece on it which I will produce at the end.

So, we have, in no particular order for this panel, Andy In Brum, a legendary Twitter presence and lover of our press @AndyinBrum; Mr Steven Melford, another Twitter follower and occasional poster @drmelf; Keen retweeter and technician extraordinaire, @pgpchappers , better known as Philip Chapman (usually the first to retweet my posts), and cricketjon, who posts here quite regularly and has stood up to the task. I’m waiting on one more, and if they get back to me, I’ll add it on.

The rules are four out of five of you respond, I put it up, and the next batch of questions will be out to the third round of panelists towards the end of the week.

Reminder – Ashes Panel #001 can be found here – with PaulE’s new answers added in!

So, here are the questions and the responses…

1. Many are saying we are riding a crest of a wave after the ODI series. Do you feel it out there? Does it compare to 2005?
Andy – No, the ODI side is so different in personnel, attitude & captaincy that they’re completely separate. Also the 2005 ODI series was against the Aussies, this one wasn’t, so I’m not sure how it’s relevant. Also 2005 came off a fantastic 2004 & winter tour against South Africa. This time we’ve had a fucking awful start to 2014, an ok middle & a fuck awful end, we’ve only managed to draw with NZ this year. 2005 had a pack of excellent quicks, good batting & a captain who knew their players, trusted them & knew how to win games.
DrMelf – When you’re on holiday at the seaside for a fortnight, and it’s been pissing down for 13 days, a small break in the clouds will always be exciting. The ODI series showed what we are capable of and it was great for fans. However, I am worried there are too many ‘old guard’ in the test team to embrace a new mentality.  I hope Bayliss & Farbrace can push the guys to rediscover their fire. Compared to 2005?  It feels like the enemy is ourself as much as it’s Australia. If we are two down after the first couple of tests I expect big changes.

PCTo be honest no it doesn’t compare to 2005. We haven’t just beaten SA and the Windies away and the team is nothing like as established. We are also not playing against one of the greatest ever teams. My view is that the England team now doesn’t have the strength of personality of the 2005 team and as a mentally weaker team are more likely to mirror the opposition behaviour than have the ability to set the tone themselves. With that in mind I don’t think it in anyway compares to 05, personally. The fantastic New Zealand attitude rubbed off on this England team in the one day series especially and, if that continues, then wonderful we are in for a treat. Not likely though. Also remember we were outplayed in the second test.

However we are in a hugely different places to where we were after the world cup so that is good news. If we have a big start in Cardiff then it might be interesting – although I think the Balmy Army may have to sing Land of my Fathers rather than Jerusalem to start the day. Realistically, I don’t think we have enough to beat the Australians.
Looking back to ’05 the other key difference is that hardly anyone will be able to watch it, the kids will be worrying about their teams football transfers and they won’t know or care who Ben Stokes is as it isn’t on free tv or covered that well by the mainstream channels. That is a bit more bah humbug than it was meant to be!

Cricketjon – I do not think this is like 2005 at all. Back then we hadn’t played them since the difficult winter of 2002/3 and the team had moved on considerably in the period between 2002/3 and 2005. We had, at least, experienced a Sydney Test which was the first one without Warne and McGrath in several years and won due to some quality batting from Vaughan in the third inns of the match and a swansong from Caddick on a dying pitch. in the 2.5 years that followed, the captain had changed and a fit, available and increasingly experienced bowling line up had grouped together with much success.  Dare I say it, KP had added some venom to a reasonable batting line up.

In that era there wasn’t a lot between the composition of the ODI team and the Test team. The ODIs were an appetiser to the main event and quite a good one although the cynically scheduled NatWest Challenge served to fill the pockets of the peeps in charge ( a sign of things to come?) On this occasion, the make up of the teams is different as is the captain though we had to burn some fuel for such separation to take place. The 2015 World Cup was the crystallisation of the chaos that ensued before and in a similar way to 1996 we have new thinking in Planet ODI ( observe inclusion of Neil Smith as pinch hitter at 3 against India in seaming conditions in May 1996 as a knee jerk reaction to Jayasariya and Kalithawana in dry conditions two months earlier). The recent announced ICC regulations will reset the dial and provides another opportunity for England to assess how to play to those regulations notwithstanding that applies to all other teams as well.
In short there may be some carry over of “intent”, “euphoria” and “bonding” but there’s no credible way of arguing otherwise that the teams and captain differ greatly. If England do play well ( and they might) it is less likely to be down to the warm gloss painted by the ODI players no matter what is reported afterwards. Little is reported of what Dermot Reeve advised them in his one day assignment but the hell for leather performance cannot be entirely coincidental. The rewiring spoke of is of a different nature for Tests.
2. Alastair Cook is seen as a key man for England, and he does appear back to some good form. How do you think he’ll go in this series?
Andy – Batting wise I’ve no idea, hopefully well, he’s looked like he remembers how to hold the bat, is still & scored runs, last year he didn’t. Captaincy wise, a burning paper bag full of dog shit could do better.
Dr.Melf – There’s no question that Cook(y) is looking better with the bat than any time in the last two years. We need his runs, so I hope he does well. However, Australia will clearly target both his batting and his captaincy. If they get to him and he personally starts the series badly? I think he will be a huge liability. As an individual he has strength but I think he lacks the aggression we need to bag this series.

PCI believe he has already agreed to step down after the summer if the team looses, so won’t be under any personal pressure to succeed as captain. That will be to his benefit. His form is good. His technique is looking stronger than it has for ages so he is in a good place. His hip alignment is much better, hence his impact, really good to see, but I have no idea why it has taken so long to sort.

With Harris looking unlikely to start the first game and him being a good player of the quick stuff, he should do well, an attack of Johnson, Starc and Hazelwood may not be as intimidating as Harris, Siddle and Johnson at their peaks, as it was in Aus last time. Cook (and the rest of the batsmen) will certainly benefit from not having the accuracy of Siddle and Harris thundering in at him. Cook’s Ashes record is mixed and it is time for that to change.
Cricketjon It is instructive he is in good form and telling that he had to venture outside of the bubble to make the changes to his game. The Australians will target him and have a better chance of frustrating him than the West Indies or New Zealand. Australia’s availability of a quality first change bowler will be the reason. How he overcomes that is both a matter for him and a matter of fortitude. His record is excellent against average attacks and less so against the quality attacks so much rests on him setting a precedent. All this with the pressures of captaincy. We shall know even more about him come the end of August than we do now and yet we have learned much in the last 18 months.
3. Stuart Broad has been clear in thinking that Steve Smith at number three might be a vulnerability. Do you think he is right?
Andy – Yes, get to him early with a swinging ball of course he’ll be vulnerable. Not that I have anyfaith that broad or Jimmy will pitch it up in the stumps to get any swing.
Dr.Melf – This has been a big problem position for Australia in recent times. On paper you’d agree with Broad(y) which is why England historically would never make this gamble. But Smith looks a like the kind of guy who loves proving people wrong, so I think he’ll rise to the occasion. He will be helped if Warner has a great series.


I think Smith’s technique is fine and we don’t play on uncovered wickets any more, we play on low, slow roads. His form is not a fluke it is a sustained period of excellence. Smith will score runs. If Rogers and Warner get a few starts it will be very messy for England. To be honest I would move Root to 3 to relieve Ballance of the pressure and to get his impetus into the top order, which would be a similar move to Smith batting at 3. But not many agree with me on that!!
Cricketjon – The media have pages and screens to fill and rent a quote Broad isn’t going to deviate too far from his tape on a loop monosyllabic responses. Number 3 is clearly more challenging than lower down the order and Warner may give him cause to test his skills early on. He looks like someone to me for whom (from an ugly stance) everything comes together perfectly at the split second it needs to. I do not know whether Broad is right or not but sides do have this habit of sending in their best player into a difficult position. To answer the point a different way, I wouldn’t want us sending Root in at 3 this summer, the burden is on Australia to demonstrate why they think this benefits the endgame at the expense of every other option.
4. If you’ve been reading the blog, we’ve been walking down memory lane. Give me an Ashes memory….
Andy – Sunday, day 4 of the Oval test 2005, Oz in a strong position with both openers getting tons. Freddy & Hoggard with a fantastic spell to get the last 9 wickets for under a hundred. That spell was as vital in saving the test as KP’S fire works the next day. Plus the Aussie players all wearing sunglasses to pretend it was really bright & all the England fans putting umbrellas up to pretend it was raining. Now that’s banter. Oh and meeting twatto in 2009, a really nice man to random fans.
Dr.Melf – Lunch at my grandparents in 1981 (aged nine). My dad and my grandad cheering as Bob Willis(y) scythed through the Aussies at Headingley. I walked in after his fourth wicket to ask “what’s going on?” My dad replied “something absolutely amazing”.  The oven was turned down and the roast was eaten late. #Hooked (#skatingonthinice – ed.)
PCSydney 2003. England bat first. It is my first Ashes test live and Lee opens the bowling with absolute thunderbolts. The Australian team is without Warne and McGrath, but Gillespie, Lee, Bichel and McGill was more than useful attack to a beleaguered England team! Vaughan was out early nicking off to a ball I can confidently say no other batsman on the planet at that time would have got within a foot of. Butcher walked out at three and batted astonishingly. He ground out a 100 when he could have been out at any time. Hussein got a pair of 70’s and Alex Stewart made runs In the Aussie innings there was the hugely emotional Steve Waugh last ball of the day 100, then we had Vaughan’s match winning second innings 180. An unbelievable innings. Followed up by Caddick’s last appearance for England by bowling out the Aussies. (should get you to write an Ashes Memory on that. ed.)
Oh and Harmison struggled to hit cut strip…
A brilliant 5 days and a brilliant holiday!
We had lost the ashes, but I was unbeaten in my part of that tour!
Cricketjon – Ashes memory. Hmmm. Sitting inside a damp rented house as a 12 year old with my mother watching ( on free-to-air)  Botham’s 118 at Manchester in 1981. When he was dismissed, the number 3, Tavare ( batting to orders because he was a dasher in the county game) was on 69 not out! My memory is of how dark it was that afternoon both in Birmingham where I watched it and at Old Trafford. For those who see those shots on the recordings now and think ” yeah ok, he was good but so what?” they need to realise that people didn’t play like that in those days. He truly was exceptional. It is fair to say that having top edged Lillee twice into the Old Warwick Road end he was millimetres from an Andy Roberts ball in the mouth repeat. He had no fear and he brightened up a very dark day and dismal rioting Britain ( sorry – don’t do royal weddings).
5. Let’s go for it. If he were selected, which won’t happen, how do you think Kevin Pietersen would have done?
Andy – If he was fit, a few infuriating 20’s or 30’s & probably a big fuckyou score & a vitally important wicket. But no thanks or appreciation.
Dr. Melf – Kevin loves a good script. Particularly when he’s the romantic lead. He is fit, playing well with a point to prove. I genuinely think he would have “mullered them” this series. I also think it’s a shame that a sport in desperate need of some exciting stories has been denied a fantastic narrative.
PC – The short version….
In short, 3 or 4 50’s and an epic, match winning 100 at some point. Because that is what he does. Also a crass interview with Jonathan Agnew about playing for the team, great to see Rooty batting so well and wanting to get 10,000 test runs. The jumpers aren’t mentioned.

Cricketjon – He would have done ok. A 300 in division two doesn’t make him a genius nor indeed was he disengaged in Sydney ( well no more so than anyone else in the team and that is the critical point, no-one else was demonised for it ). This isn’t about KP anymore because the ECB always continue to supply us with new material but there is no doubt they could have handled the matter  better ( I suppose aplomb is a bit much to ask). His absence means that Root can take over with only a slightly soiled sheet of paper when the time comes as distinct from the reams of pungent toilet roll currently wrapped around Cooks pristine whites. Root can take it forward without the legacy issues, as far as I am concerned, let Cook deal with the legacy of KPgate since he was undoubtedly involved in the shenanigans. What goes around comes around, it’s just a shame for the paying fan.

What I strongly object to is the rewriting of history that ECBTV propagates. The absence of KP in the Billy Joel remix flies in the face of what would have been a 2-2 drawn series in 2005. Lest we forget.
So, many thanks to those who participated. I think this is working thus far, and would love to keep this going as best we can. I’ve always wanted to get you lot writing stuff, and so far, so good. And my god, have we got an ecelctic mix for the third set of questions. We have a poet, an Aussie or two, and a couple of other regulars.
I mentioned Philip’s epic on KP as a long-form answer for number 5. Instead of a separate post, I’ve added it below. Enjoy or wail, your decision.
Here is PC’s Long version of the KP question…
An alternative view of a hero/villain’s return [delete as appropriate]
After being frustrated by the Welsh rain the Australian team humbled the “new era” England team with a very aggressive brand of cricket at Lord’s. In fact England were really struggling with Bairstow already called up for Jos Buttler whose split webbing had got infected.
Gary Ballance at three had made a no impact in Cardiff and made a pair at Lord’s. As the selectors sat down to agree the squad for Edgbaston, a mysterious force comes in and hypnotises the selectors, including Jonathan Agnew who sits in on the meetings so he can tweet the decisions really time.
Somehow they agree to select a maverick former player to come back and “rescue” the team, in a selection that harked back to the days of Brian Close. Steven Davies another Surrey player was discussed, but it was felt he “wasn’t quite ready” no one was totally sure what that meant but Aggers assured them it would keep the journalists inside cricket happy and the sages would nod wisely.
When the announcement was made on Sky news the following day Shane Warne was interviewed saying “ow look, this is the best think that could have happened”
No one was sure what this meant either, but the Guardian cricket columnist suggested foul play. He then wrote a lengthy blog on the retrograde step and how Davies, an openly gay cricketer, was the future, in the “comment is free” section below the “line” there were accusations of click bait, but these were censored. Boycott mentioned something about rhubarb and his mum.
Fast forward to the morning of the third test. A fight had broken out in the dressing room, someone had already started kicking off about the new stash and a misspelt name. New hi tech Adidas woolly jumpers were thrown off the balcony and Afrikaans was heard outside the rooms. Paul Farbrace was laughing with Trevor Bayliss and ignoring the fracas. Peter Moores was interviewed about the jumpers and said they should talk later about them, but a lot of scientific stuff had gone into the design – especially so they would look great on kids from the right kind of family. There was absolutely no mention about data, I repeat no mention about the data, even for Sky. The BBC wrote another apology letter.
Meanwhile out in the middle Alistair Cook had elected to bat, said some form of waffle to Mark Nicholas about being delighted to have a world class player back in the dressing room and said Root at 3 KP at 4 and Bell back to 5.
Piers Morgan had self combusted in his private box and even his wife was said to be relieved. “there were three of us in a very crowded relationship” she was overheard saying by a Mirror correspondent.
Back in the middle Alistair Cook had started nicely, but lyth was out early from a snorter by a bowler called Mitchell. The tourists had named a 4 man Mitchell attack, with Lyon for support. Clarke said they had thought of playing Siddle, but he had refused to change his name to Mitchell so it didn’t happen.
Just before lunch with England on 69-1 The heroic skipper inside edged a full ball onto the stumps for 27 off 98 balls.
There was a hush around the ground.
Cook departed to polite applause, then the booing started. First it was the Aussies in the crowd, then the Yorkshire fans who felt Lees or Rashid should be playing not a past it, cast off Saffer with a didgy knee.
Finally a small portion of the crowd got to their feet and cheered, only to be removed from the ground by Andy Flower and Giles Clarke dressed as the ECB security guards.
First ball. The Aussies were on their toes, with a funky field of three midwickets and 4 slips.
The new batsman knocked the ball into the leg side and called for the “Redbull” run. Root responded and there was a cloud of dust as the ball broke the stumps as Root leapt for his ground.
It goes upstairs.
Fortunately Colin Graves had stepped into have a chat with the third umpire and the Yorkshire hero was adjudged to have made his ground.
In the sky commentary box Michael “Slats” Slater was incensed, letting out a strange wailing noise through his nose. David Gower was non-plused and Bumble was going nuts about his car and it not starting.  Nobody was watching anyway as the sky coverage had just been put up to £250 a month to pay for the football.
Back on the pitch Root and the South African born batsman made it unscathed to lunch.
“Honours even, my dear old things” said Blowers to his adoring fans whilst eating some cake in the TMS box.
After lunch Root started playing well and moved to a nice fifty with a cover drive. Ed Smith suggested he looked like Michael Vaughan in his pomp. At the other end, the 100 test veteran was strangely becalmed. The online ball by ball commentary suggested he was facing a more hostile environment than he received in his native South Africa for that memorable first ODI series there, after his failures in Zimbabwe.
40 mins after lunch there was a crack like a rifle shot which awakened the post lunch slumbering crowd. A split second later the ball was removed from an advertising board. The ECB marketing machine was furious with the batsman for damaging their sponsors logo, who had moved to 40 before anyone had really clocked what had happened. Not that the Waitrose chief executive minded – he was watching at Lords as Edgbaston was too far north for Waitrose.
Ruing the decision not to play a left arm spinner, Clarke (who had earlier pulled his hamstring setting a funky field) asked Warner to have a bowl and he promptly got into a fight with Joe Root, who was soon out hooking at Mitchell Johnson.
In strutted Ian Bell, showing he was up for the fight all collar popped and positive intent. He knew the Aussies were scared of him.
At the other end his partner at the crease raised his bat for a well-crafted and chance-less half century. Bayliss and Farbrace are on the balcony clapping whilst the Skipper doesn’t look up from his hymn book. Broad was too busy tweeting and Jimmy was in the match referee’s office still talking about Ravi Jadaja.
After tea it was like the apocalypse had arrived at Edgbaston. Clarke had set the field for a barrage of the short stuff for both Bell and the newly recalled batsman. While Bell bobbed and weaved, fearful that he might get out without playing enough trademark cover drives at the other end, as the Mitchell’s charged in the ball was deposited further and further into the stands.  
The crowd was going nuts now and as his 100 came up the ground stood to applaud the returning king – with many saying “he always was a player of great innings, I still don’t think he is a great player though”.
At the close of play, England are 331-3, Root with 67, Bell with 48not out and the other player with 158 not out. 
James Taylor was seen crying over at Trent Bridge as once again his county runs weren’t enough. 

75 thoughts on “Ashes Panel #002 – Cook, Smith, KP and Memories

  1. Rohan Jun 29, 2015 / 9:49 pm

    Another enjoyable read. The KP story at the end from PC is hilarious and very well constructed, yet I so wish it could come to fruition! I love ‘Michael Clarke pulled a hamstring setting a funky field’.

    One thing I was surprised about was that Cook received an easier ride than I thought he would. Maybe I have become ‘blinded by hate’ or blinkered in my views, but I struggle to see anything positive about captain Cock the captain, or the batsmen.

    Yes I know he may score important runs, but if he had been dropped when he should have been, his replacement might now be well established. They could be batting like Joe Root, Steve Smith or David Warner. Then we would have a dynamic opener and who knows, Cook’s replacement as captain, might actually be able to captain!

    Liked by 2 people

    • d'Arthez Jun 30, 2015 / 4:06 am

      Honestly, if you give your average county opener about 12 innings against Sri Lanka and India at home, and another 6 in the West Indies, you’d expect them to score one or two tons. That Cook eventually managed one against the West Indies, is not proof that he should have been retained.

      He may be looking better, but, remind me what he did (and looked like) against the West Indies in 2009. The results in the Ashes later that year were not exactly earth shattering for Cook either. What is more, his idiotic retention has actually weakened Cook (certainly as a captain, almost certainly as a batsman). The rest of the squad seem more occupied with shoring up Cook in press conferences, than actually playing cricket in their respective natural way(s).

      New Zealand’s inexperience (Henry made his debut, Craig is still a new kid on the block), and lower quality attack (compared to Australia) may have given some much needed respite to the batsmen. If there is no obvious weak link to score runs against, batting becomes a wholly different proposition. I honestly would not be surprised if England under-appreciate Lyon, hit out against him and get out …

      Liked by 1 person

  2. metatone Jun 29, 2015 / 11:00 pm

    If Cook is in form and can survive the opening bowlers, he may actually present an interesting challenge to Hazlewood. However, I have to say I’m finding it very hard to judge whether and of England’s batsmen are in form to deal with Johnson/Starc. We just haven’t seen that kind of pace recently…


  3. thebogfather Jun 30, 2015 / 7:29 am

    Chappers – that story really made me smile this morning! Thanks


  4. Mike Jun 30, 2015 / 8:07 am

    I think many of us here would all agree that Cook the Captain is at best neither a handicap or a bonus. I’ll say no more. as a batsman, I’d imagine he’ll play up to his home Ashes average, he might squeek out a century or a couple of 50s but there be not a lot else in between.

    On Steve Smith, I’ll be amazed if he scores less than 350 runs this series, in fact I’d expect him, if he carries on the way he’s been going, to get well over 400. Whoever our spin option is, he’s going to absolutely murder their bowling.

    One does worry about Ballance at 3…


  5. Philip Chapman (@pgpchappers) Jun 30, 2015 / 8:44 am

    glad people are liking the story – sorry there are so many typo’s in it, it was written on my phone on the way into work…!

    On Cook – we all know he isn’t a great student of the art of captaincy. But if/when he scores runs we will do well. The rest will look after itself.


  6. Sherwick Jun 30, 2015 / 8:55 am

    Cookie is still learning captaincy. Give him time…

    Liked by 2 people

    • escort Jun 30, 2015 / 7:19 pm

      Would you describe Cookie as a quick learner?


  7. SimonH Jun 30, 2015 / 9:21 am

    Newman has an article up saying Monty Panesar played for Essex 2nds last week and is in line for selection in the tour match.

    Liked by 1 person

    • metatone Jun 30, 2015 / 12:59 pm

      Much appreciated, I really enjoyed reading that.


    • escort Jun 30, 2015 / 7:49 pm

      A good article. Brearley was obviously a good captain but he didn’t captain against the best side of his time (West Indies). Nasser, in my view is equal if not better than Brearley because he took over the England team when it was genuinely on it’s arse and turned it around. Brearley took over a winning team from Tony Grieg and was lucky to have Ian Botham and Geoff Boycott on good form to start with (1977) and then again in 1981 when Botham was just totally unstoppable. I think Nasser achieved more with alot less although i guess we judge England captains on how many Ashes series they win don’t we?


    • metatone Jun 30, 2015 / 1:05 pm

      Feels like there are a lot of lessons here for the England setup.
      A lot of troubles started for Eoin Morgan when they tried to regularise his technique.

      Going a bit further back, I think a number of Asian-heritage players (Owais Shah, Solanki come to mind) also could have gone further if England had worked with their existing approach to improve, instead of trying to turn them into Ian Bell.

      Finally of course, this all seems to go treble for the England bowling coaching.


      • Philip Chapman (@pgpchappers) Jun 30, 2015 / 2:13 pm

        absolutely – can already see this problem with my 5 year old who has just started being coached at a local club.
        They are teaching foot to the pitch of the ball, move you head etc. As a result none of the kids can actually hit the ball…

        at home I tell him to move his head to the ball and just try to smash it. we also practice on the swing ball – so backhand and forehand shots.

        The idea of that happening in most English clubs is unheard of. But it happens regularly in Aus.

        Bowling coaching is getting better, I think…


      • metatone Jun 30, 2015 / 2:27 pm

        To be fair, I can see the idea behind teaching young kids some points of “orthodox” technique.
        However, once someone gets to a certain age, retooling their technique seems quixotic.


  8. Mark Jun 30, 2015 / 10:53 am

    The only comparison with 2005 is in the media’s deluded mind. Then, Australia were the number one side in the world and had been for 20 years. England had been on the wrong end of decades of humiliation. However England came in as a team on the up with very good results over the previous 2 years.

    In a pathetic effort to inflate the ever greatness of Captain Cook the media is trying to pretend Austrailia are much better than they really are. They certainly are not as good as 2005. No Warne or McGrath and the top order batting nothing like as good as 2005. Even though Englad lost the last series 5-0 there were a few times we had the Aussies in trouble; like Brisbane in the first test match when Aus were 100 /5 at lunch time on the first day. But our inability to finish sides off is very unlike our bowling team of 2005.

    Cook is claiming that if we win it will be his grestest ever achievement. Which doesn’t say much about is other achievements. Watch out for the eulogising of Root in this series. He is the ECBs anointed one, and the media will go into overdrive if he is about to take over. English cricket may be about to have a new coronation of another insider. And the media will sing the ECB song as large as they can to prove their loyalty to the ECB crown. A leopard never changes its spots.

    Liked by 1 person

    • SimonH Jun 30, 2015 / 11:27 am

      100% agree Mark. I’d rate either of the away Ashes win or the win in India (probably the latter) as Cook’s greatest achievement (unless England win thumpingly this summer and Cook’s personal contribution is as stellar as it was on those two occasions). This Australian team are better than those two teams but that is more than off-set in my book by those wins being away from home.

      Part of the ‘bigging up’ of this summer has been a sly running-down of that Australian team by the ECB-media complex and their BTL useful idiot supporters. One that got my goat recently was the claim that Warner-Rogers is a better opening partnership than Hayden-Langer. Just look at their respective career stats and ponder how any sentient being can try to argue that.

      Liked by 1 person

      • SteveT Jun 30, 2015 / 3:07 pm

        FFS, they’ll be telling us Brathwaite/Smith is better opening partnership than Greenidge/Haynes next!

        Liked by 1 person

    • d'Arthez Jun 30, 2015 / 11:39 am

      Mind you that Australian side of 2005, had basically just won wherever they went. Since the retirement of McGrath and Warne, the record in Asia is P:15 W1: L:10 D:4. This includes 3 series whitewashes suffered. 2-0 in India in 2010. 4-0 in India in 2013. And the recent 2-0 result against Pakistan in the UAE; so out of the last 4 series in Asia, Australia were whitewashed three times (the other being a 1-0 victory over Sri Lanka in Lyon’s debut series in 2011). Somehow I doubt that these are the results of an “all conquering side”.

      Does the ECB think that we cannot look up results and read them?


      • Arron Wright Jun 30, 2015 / 12:28 pm

        It seems to think that we find anything other than dumb cheerleading and Ashes hype “boring”.

        “Next question”…

        Liked by 1 person

    • ArushaTZ Jun 30, 2015 / 5:55 pm

      Let’s not re-write history Mark. Australia assumed the mantle of ‘best in the world’ when they beat the West Indies away in 1995/6. By 2005 they had beaten everyone home and away in those 10 years. Although they lost the Ashes in 2005 I think Australia remained top dog until South Africa won in Australia in 2008/9. By then South Africa were the team who were winning away series, winning in Asia, which I reckon are the hallmarks of a great team. South Africa still haven’t lost an away test series since 2006, in Sri Lanka. So, for me Australia had 12 years at the top.

      The media are certainly deluded. In the last 5 years, South Africa have played 37, won 20 and lost just 6 for a win/loss ratio of 3.33

      England are next best with a ratio of 1.44 then Australia at 1.32

      In the last 3 years, the gap is even wider. There’s no question, South Africa are the best team in the world and have been for yonks. The ECB would rather that fact didn’t reach the wider public, lest they begin to question the ridiculous schedule which presents us with Australia and India every fucking year.


    • BoerInAustria Jul 1, 2015 / 7:14 pm

      My hero – still suffering from back problems using his sling bowling action
      (never could get my sleeve to roll down as I bowled…)
      Best of luck Clive


  9. SimonH Jun 30, 2015 / 6:46 pm

    From George Dobell’s latest:

    “Footitt, with his pace and his swing harnessed by the coaching of Graeme Welch, could yet prove to be the most influential left-arm pace bowler in the series”.

    Nothing against Footitt, and with all due respect, but this is insane. (I’ve read it and reread it and it doesn’t read to me that he means just English left-arm pace bowlers).


    • d'Arthez Jul 1, 2015 / 6:25 am

      Excellent points in that article. The only positive move in that respect is that the ICC finally pulled the plug out of USACA for the third time. It was after all USACA that made it next to impossible to expand cricket in the USA. It remains highly doubtful that the ICC can see beyond milking the ex-pats for money though.

      Most sports are expanding and diversifying their player-base. Whether it is a solo sport or a team sport. And thus a run of good results can really draw audiences in. Narratives can be created on the fly; they never grow old, because ten or twenty years ago they did not exist, or if they did, they mostly have been dormant. Unlike the Ashes, which seems to be played every 6 months or even more often, judging by the idiotic Ashes narratives that go through the media. India – Pakistan still has that ring to it, but that is mostly due to geopolitical issues preventing long bilateral series between those two countries. Otherwise, I would expect Sri Lanka, New Zealand and West Indies making way on a consistent basis for Pakistan.

      The administrators refuse to expand the horizons of the game, and are obsessed with minting money out of it. I fear that cricket will end up as something similar to WWE. Good thing that it will be in T20, because, I am not sure if Alastair Cook can read that well from the cue cards …

      Liked by 1 person

  10. SimonH Jul 1, 2015 / 8:43 am

    James Anderson interview in the Independent-but-not-of-the-ECB:

    ““At the moment, the make-up of our team is different from any other series that I’ve been in. It’s quite a young side, I would say the most talented that we have had”.

    More talented than 2011? That team beat New Zealand and had won more than just one of its last five series. On direct match-ups – Lyth more talented than Strauss? Ballance more talented than Trott? Root more talented than Pietersen? Buttler more talented than Prior? Ali more talented than Swann? Stokes more talented than Collingwood? Wood more talented than Tremlett/Bresnan? (I’ll grant two, maybe three, of those at most).

    “What we have done well in the last few months, and certainly in this one-day series, is allowing the younger guys to go out there and really show off their talents,”

    When the senior players weren’t playing. This is the Cook argument that the positivity of the Lord’s Test somehow seeped over into the ODI series. Fair enough – if you air-brush Headingley from history (which is exactly what they’ve done)

    ““When you bowl at Jos in the nets and you look at him you think he can be as good as anyone: an AB de Villiers type of player. Obviously he is not there yet, and he has a lot to do”.

    This must be on some sort of ECB Press Office crib-sheet because this AB line keeps appearing. Couldn’t it wait until he has scored at least one Test century? (And while on the subject, Mark Wood looks promising and seems a decent chap – but he hasn’t taken an international four-for yet).

    “[Root] is frighteningly good.The way he adapts his game throughout the three formats is extraordinary. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone in an England shirt do that as well as he does”.

    Well, I can think of one…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • SimonH Jul 1, 2015 / 8:50 am

      Just to be clear, of course Anderson is going to talk the team and the young players up. No problem with that. But there are ways of doing it that don’t insult the intelligence (and it is the Press Office, not Anderson, I’m mainly blaming for this sort of guff).

      I like Australia’s description of Johnson as a ‘once in a generation’ player. It says they think he’s a special player – without trying to claim he’s better than Dale Steyn or Dennis Lillee.


    • Mark Jul 1, 2015 / 9:38 am

      And so the bigging up of Root begins………Just as I predicted the other day. (Not that it was difficult to predict if you have been following The North Korea media model of the ECB)

      “[Root] is frighteningly good.The way he adapts his game throughout the three formats is extraordinary. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone in an England shirt do that as well as he does”.

      Let’s examine that statement in all its glory. Was it written by a ECB lawyer? He adapts his game to all 3 formats. As Simon says, who does that remind you of?…… But of course KP was a trouble maker when he could play Test cricket and 20/20. (Can’t wait for Root to be offered a trillion $ contract to play IPL and watch the rules be changed for his benefit.)

      “I don’t think I’ve seen anyone in an England shirt do that”…….. In that one scummy sentence it air brushes out KP from history, and starts the same ludicrous triumphalism for Root that has been applied to Cook……… KP has scored 12000 odd runs in all formats. You would think that would warrant a bit of respect. Not it appears for the haters at the ECB

      By the way, the Australian players are rolling around laughing after initially being dumbfounded by Andersons call for a sledging truce.

      I really want to like England but this sort of dumb arse fuckwitery just pisses me off even more. It’s very difficult to love a corporate entity that speaks bollocks in press statements all the time. I like Joe Root, but if he is going to allow himself be turned into another Cook, with moronic homoerotic hero worship then it won’t end very well.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Jul 1, 2015 / 11:09 am

      I get it that the ECB don’t like KP.

      But don’t make yourselves look like pillocks by trying to pretend he didn’t achieve anything. Especially when so many things are now changing in line with what KP claimed needed doing.

      Newmams bitter claim that KP would only be remembered for his book shows why Newman is not a serious cricket journalist. It would seem most of the ECB are not interested in being serious about England and its history.

      Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH Jul 1, 2015 / 1:25 pm

        I’m not a Psychologist (I’m a Historian) but I’ve heard of the warm-cold effect and it seems to me some of the stuff about KP is almost a textbook example.

        Solomon Asch told half a class of students that their new teacher was a warm person and half the class he was cold. The teacher then gave a lesson in a very neutral tone. Those who’d been told the teacher was warm gave him much higher ratings than those who’d been told he was cold. Most relevant to KP, students in the warm group rated the teacher not only better as a person but better on professional competence.

        The stuff from journos and BTL that KP was overrated, never that good, had a career of two halves etc seems a living example of that. Tell people that someone is unlikable and many will think they’re not only unlikable but worse at their job. Okay, splendid chap-c*** isn’t quite the same as warm-cold but it is pretty close.

        Here’s a link to a paper about a modern re-running of the experiment:


      • Mark Jul 1, 2015 / 1:58 pm

        One of the reasons this stuff won’t go away is because the ECB want this model to be the norm for all future players. “Don’t rock the boat, don’t criticise your betters, even when they are morons, and make sure you grovel before us.”

        It’s why we are getting these spineless, sugary press releases and ludicrous statements about how fantastic Cook is as a captain. it make sthe players look like jerks and makes the EXB look like a laughing stock.


  11. SimonH Jul 1, 2015 / 11:11 am

    Second tour match under way – Harris not playing with knee trouble so that must rule him out of Cardiff. Newman’s tip that Panesar would play proves about as accurate as most of Newman’s reporting.

    There’s going to be plenty of Strauss in the news in the next day or two. The main presser is tomorrow (according to CWOTV) but he has given a R5 interview (reported in the DM but oddly not on the BBC that I can find). A couple of lines stood out:

    “An Ashes series there’s going to be higher emotions, more pressure”.

    So there is less pressure when England play SA? Thank heavens for that – I hate to think how badly 2012 might have gone if there had been pressure as well.

    “‘From my point of view and certainly in my experience with the England side, if you can play with as little emotion as possible and control that emotion then you’re going to get a slight edge on the opposition”.

    That worked for Strauss – and you need some players in the team like that. But I hope that isn’t seen as a universal template. Some of the greatest players have been a seething mass of emotion. Every Viv Richards’ innings was like an exercise in controlled fury. Control and harness the emotions, yes – but “play with as little emotion as possible” is a worrying line.

    Liked by 1 person

    • SimonH Jul 1, 2015 / 11:19 am

      Clarke’s got a first baller in the tour match. Warner’s rattling along though. After Starc, I reckon Warner is Australia’s most important player for this series.

      Watson and Mitch Marsh are playing as expected suggesting a straight shoot-out for the No.6 berth in Cardiff.


      • metatone Jul 1, 2015 / 5:26 pm

        What I find odd is that every keeps paying attention to Marsh vs Watson with the bat, but for their quicks to retain their edge, they need both Lyon and the all rounder to be able to hold up an end…


    • Mark Jul 1, 2015 / 11:46 am

      Strauss was on 5 live last night if you want to hear it on BBC radio I player.

      He was very keen to point out that the new coach liked to simplify everything, and not bog players down with too much stuff.

      Hmm,…….it was almost exactly what those outside cricket and KP have been complaining about. Funny that. But we are idiots who know nothing of which we speak.

      Liked by 1 person

      • d'Arthez Jul 1, 2015 / 11:59 am

        Well, Mark, if they actually paid attention to what we were saying, instead of imagining things about what we are saying, they might actually have noticed. Sadly, that is beyond the self-absorbed narcissistic nature of the organisation.

        The ECB refuse to admit to their own incompetence. They even have to create facts out of thin air, just to hide their lunacy from plain sight. That is why the ECB were beaten by a non-existent media campaign by Kevin Pietersen in 2014. Mind you if the intellectual towering point of the ECB campaign was to call him a c**t on live air, then I do wonder what the lows were. Their incompetence is there for all to see. It has been at least ongoing for 18 months, and there is still no sign of it abetting anytime soon.

        That is why the medical team suddenly have come up with notions of “play-time management”, or whatever bollockese they call it now. Never mind the fact that several players complained, quite vocally about that. Only to be branded mercenaries …

        That is why people actually like the new ODI side. Because they are not constrained in some arbitrary size 0 straitjacket. People have been going about it for years below their line, only to have the lackeys and several BTL idiots question their allegiance.

        Allegiance goes to the sport first, the team second (whoever you support), and a distant last, the governing body. The ECB and their useful idiots make it out as if the cricket is an irrelevance, a redundancy. Yeah, that is going to win the supporters over …

        Liked by 2 people

      • SimonH Jul 1, 2015 / 12:08 pm

        Who was asking the questions Mark?

        Did they point some of this out to Strauss? Or offer to plump his cushions?


      • Mark Jul 1, 2015 / 1:05 pm

        It was Mark Chapman (who is pretty good usually) and Michael Vaughan. They didn’t point out it was what many had been saying. Lawrence Booth was also on and tried to pin down Strauss about Cook and if this would be his last series as captain. Not surprising Strauss was very reluctant to say. But he has got full confidence in Cook, so that’s ok then.

        Michael Vaughn did an interview with Mike Brearley as well about captaincy, and they talked about dealing with players with big egos like KP, and could it have been handled differently? Both admitted they had dealt with KP when starting out (in Vaughns case ) and Ian Botham (in Brearleys case) but they both would like to have had the opportunity to try to sort it out.

        Not sure that would have been possible when you had someone as blinkered as Flower and the ECB board in the background.


      • Mark Jul 1, 2015 / 1:07 pm


        It’s almost comical how orchestrated it all is.


      • Arron Wright Jul 1, 2015 / 1:08 pm

        Matt ‘Uriah’ Prior, anyone?


    • escort Jul 1, 2015 / 6:37 pm

      “An Ashes series there’s going to be higher emotions, more pressure”.

      I think i would agree with Strauss on this occasion. England v Australia is the fabric that International Cricket was made from. Would you not agree that it will mean more to either sides than any other series they play in?


      • SimonH Jul 1, 2015 / 8:44 pm

        I’m rather immune to excessive Ashes’ worship I’m afraid. Perhaps it’s a generational thing – I started watching cricket in 1975 so for my first decade Australia were not the best side and series against the West Indies were every bit as big. Those whose formative years were the 1990s perhaps have a different outlook.

        I think the series against the best side is the biggest one. Currently that is SA – and the Australians regard that series as a massive one for them as well. There was some hyping up of the 2012 series as “the shoot-out for No.1” but that was conveniently forgotten after the disaster at the Oval.


  12. SimonH Jul 1, 2015 / 1:34 pm

    Rashid and Finn in the Test squad:


  13. alan Jul 1, 2015 / 2:17 pm

    Re George Dobell. Presumably Footit will have to be selected before he can become the most influential left armer in the series. Not off to a good start then


    • SimonH Jul 1, 2015 / 3:01 pm

      Perhaps he’ll be sprung on the Aussies mid-series like a new Richard Ellison – or a new Mark Ilott.


      • escort Jul 1, 2015 / 6:52 pm

        When it’s too late then!!!


  14. SimonH Jul 1, 2015 / 3:04 pm

    Tim Wigmore on the Ten-Team WC:

    He has some terrific quotes, especially from Preston Mommsen, and there is a very revealing closing detail about cricket in China.

    The Ten-Team WC isn’t just for 2019 – it’s agreed for 2023 as well. The qualifying tournament for 2023 is in…… Zimbabwe.


    • Mark Jul 1, 2015 / 3:52 pm

      I would love to see a bit of player power over this. About time the so called big 3 got a bit of pushback. I would love to see players threaten to boycott these ICC events.

      Won’t happen of course, but let Giles Clarke have to go out and bat because there is no one else to play for England.

      You’re nothing but an administrator Mr Clarke. Cricket does not belong to you. Time for a player strike.


  15. Boz Jul 1, 2015 / 3:21 pm

    Is the Panel calling a press conference to outline their thoughts on the Ashes England team?


  16. SimonH Jul 1, 2015 / 5:38 pm

    There are some good discussions going on about the relative merits of Ali and Rashid.

    And there’s Selvey on Twitter.

    However award for Tweet of the Day must go to:


      • SimonH Jul 1, 2015 / 6:41 pm

        He’s never tried to grasp why that statement gained the traction it did.

        I see interviews appearing in various papers with Bayliss. What’s the betting that if England lose in Cardiff all the MSM focus will be on him?


    • escort Jul 1, 2015 / 6:44 pm

      What”a Strauss” you are Paul. With thinking like that i’m really surprised he isn’t cricket correspondent for the institutionally biased BBC


    • Arron Wright Jul 1, 2015 / 6:44 pm

      I don’t know how MS ever had the gall to call someone else a relentless churl.

      Liked by 1 person

      • northernlight71 Jul 1, 2015 / 8:04 pm

        MS is irrelevant. Let’s just relax and remind ourselves that nothing he writes anymore is really worth reading, and before too long his employers will notice the huge reduction in hits that his pieces receive and act accordingly.
        I’m in a huge amount of debt, have no job or many prospects of much any time soon, live in a small one bedroom flat with a partner and our school-age daughter, dreading the next round of tax credit cuts by the lovely George Osborne . . . but you know, I’d still rather be me than be Mike Selvey. At least I have my self-respect.

        Liked by 2 people

  17. Arron Wright Jul 1, 2015 / 8:38 pm

    Can’t wait for Ed Smith to tell us that social media is unrepresentative and the silent majority of working sports fans who took nearly three hours to get home really, actually love “Wimbledon 2Day”.

    I support FTA sports coverage in principle, but Barbara Slater’s directorship of BBC Sport has been an unmitigated fucking disaster.


    • Mark Jul 1, 2015 / 9:29 pm

      My tin foil hat informs me there are people in the BBC who are sabotaging it from within quite deliberately. Iam a big supporter of the BBC and its funding model. But in recent years they have decided to dumb down almost everything they touch. They are a hollowed out shell of what they once stood for.

      Wimbledon2day was a piece of shit. At least Monday’s was. I have not bothered since. The BBC has lost the plot on almost everything they touch because they have arse hole managers who won’t let the experts just make programmes. They run everything through focus groups and are terrified of upsetting the current govt.

      The crapification of modern life continues apace. Sad times indeed.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Arron Wright Jul 2, 2015 / 8:44 am

    Tee hee:

    Liked by 1 person

    • d'Arthez Jul 2, 2015 / 9:08 am

      Way to besmirch the players from 1989 up to 2005. They did not want it enough. Tell that to Nasser Hussain and Michael Atherton.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Jul 2, 2015 / 9:27 am

      He’s a third rate vaudeville act.

      And someone appointed him editor of the cricketer magazine. It’s money for old rope.

      If England lose, Hughes will not be writing pieces that say Cook did not want to win the Ashes desperately enough. He won’t be questioning Cooks desire. He will have dreamed up another excuse.

      The trouble with Hughes, and Selvey, and Agnew ,and Ed Smith and all the munchkins is they don’t understand or value talent. They are obsessed with phycologists and mental strength. They think that is all there is too it. So when you have a genuine world talent they would dump him because trust is more important.


    • dvyk Jul 2, 2015 / 9:31 am

      …Or The Ashes might be won by the team that didn’t sack its best player for looking out a window. Strange how that kind of data never figures in The Anal-est’s analysis.

      (I noticed Bumble the other day said KP was the best English batsman he’d seen.)


      • SimonH Jul 2, 2015 / 10:04 am

        I see from his Twitter page that he’s signed up to Betway (his first contribution is to tip Nathan Lyon for top wicket-taker – Lyon’s an admirable cricketer but if he takes more wickets than Starc or Hazlewood I’ll eat my hat*).

        It would make my day if he turned up in the Betway advert (“I get the stars from A to B…..”).

        * Not legally binding.


  19. dvyk Jul 2, 2015 / 9:25 am

    I read somewhere that a journalist asked Vaughan if he thought that England would be able to exploit M Clarke’s “unpopularity” within the team. I hear this kind of thing a lot from the English press. Does anyone know if anyone seriously thinks that Clarke is so unpopular that a bit of sledging from various poms will drive a wedge between the Australians and affect their onfield performance? And anyone who thinks the players don’t like Clarke, should ask themselves what the players think of Anderson Root Broad and Cook. And anyway, I thought England had given up sledging.

    And if their so interested in finding out which players don’t like their captain….


    • Mark Jul 2, 2015 / 9:37 am

      The best way to drive a wedge between Clarke and his team mates is to keep knocking him over for low scores. That will cause more internal strife than any sledging.


    • escort Jul 2, 2015 / 5:57 pm

      Hasn’t “Aggers” threatened to attack both Australia and Clarke about What they preach as regards sledging and on field behaviour post Philip Hughes?


  20. d'Arthez Jul 2, 2015 / 12:34 pm

    So, 562 all out, after just 111 overs. Lyon trashing it a bit at the end (he can bat), after Mitchell Marsh was the 9th man out for 169. Unless Watson bowls brilliantly, he may have edged it for the sixth slot in the batting order. Now this may not have been the strongest county attack, but still.

    I wonder why they can’t set up the schedule in such a way that touring parties get to play say Yorkshire for winning the CC last year? – it is a nice reward for a good performance for Yorkshire. Or at least reward CCC teams for good performances, rather than for being at the bottom of the table.


    • Arron Wright Jul 2, 2015 / 7:51 pm

      “Strauss is too classy to be smug.”

      Sorry, but that really made my mouth feel like something just died in it.

      Liked by 1 person

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